newpalm.gif (5880 bytes) 

Back to Hot Calaloo



cover River Woman by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
  The Rio Minho in Jamaica provides much more than a setting for this potent, accomplished debut by Jamaican-born Donna Hemans.


cover  For the Life of Laetitia by Trinidad -born Merle Hodge  Price: $10.54
a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.



December 2002

Threat to British and US interests in T&T?

A number of US and British intelligence agents have rushed to Trinidad and Tobago to investigate two planned terrorist acts against their business interests there.
One involves a call received by the British High Commissioner on Thursday informing him that a south-based Islamic group, led by one "Abdullah", intends to target British interests in Trinidad and Tobago around Carnival time, 2003.

The other involves an intercepted cell phone conversation in which Abdullah’s name was mentioned. Over the course of the conversation, there was talk about an Islamic group planning to strike against American business interests on December 22. The call was subsequently traced to Cell District 36 which is Cunupia.

This "Abdullah" is a key focus of the investigation. According to an FBI informant, who was recruited ten years ago:

  • Abdullah has in his possession copies of plans for the American Embassy and the Twin Towers in Port of Spain.

  • Abdullah’s organization (name given but withheld) has ambitions to have an Islamic government in Trinidad and Tobago.

  • The group has recruited persons through a pyramid system where cells of three to seven persons are formed. Chosen members are said to be given training in information gathering, weaponry and other military type of activities. Some have been sent abroad to establish connections and to further their training in weaponry and military activities.

  • Training is said to be taking place in South Trinidad, Rio Claro, the Northern Range and in an area in Central Trinidad. Two or three individuals are trained at any given time.

  • Ten months ago, an additional and ongoing program began in which members are trained to drive big trucks and buses.

  • Abdullah is a very powerful, articulate and cunning individual.

  • He is about 35 years old, slim built, weighing about 150 pounds.

  • Abdullah’s organisation plans to attack US-owned businesses operating in Trinidad and Tobago

  • The group brought in a shipment of arms from Germany into the country at the end of June. This shipment included pistols, Glocks, Tec-9s and AK47s which was "a gift" for a favour owed.

  • Abdullah is in possession of two warheads.

PM says "Not true"
Subsequent news reports have identified Umar Abdullah from Princes Town as being the man behind a plot to attack local, US and British businesses. A picture of him appeared in the Daily Express. But Prime Minister Patrick Manning insisted there was no basis for the news reports and said such stories damage the national image.
The PM also denied the Express report that international intelligence agencies are investigating Abdullah.
"It is just not true," he said. "There is no unusual FBI, CIA or MI6 presence in Trinidad and Tobago."

Back to Hot Calaloo

Banana war over but Caribbean losses increase

We lost. The banana war is over but as predicted the Caribbean is still reeling from the consequences. Our readers will remember that the banana war started when the non-banana-growing US objected to a long-standing European quota system which was deemed detrimental to the 'dollar banana' - distributed by multi-nationals including Chiquita, a company that donated money to the US Democrats and Republicans. They called in the World Trade Organisation in 1996.

The WTO ordered the EU to open up its markets even though the quotas were designed to sustain banana growing in impoverished former colonies such as the Caribbean's Windward Islands as opposed to, say, marijuana or coca growing.

The US got its free trade and banana farmers are going out of business at an astonishing rate:

  • By 2000 only a third of the Windward Island farmers recorded in 1993 were still growing bananas.

  • St Lucia's Banana Growers' Association reported that half its members went out of business between 1992 and 1997.

  • It estimates that a third of the survivors have since gone under.

  • The banana boats still arrive every week thanks to a venture between Fyffes and Windward Isles who bought the Geest interest. But a year after the quotas all but disappeared they collect far fewer bunches.

  • In St Vincent and The Grenadines according to its Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, banana exports are worth $50m in 2002 compared to $120m in 1993. But recent developments in the UK indicate that they will drop even more.

The UK is virtually the only export market for Caribbean bananas. In the UK, demand for bananas has not fallen. They are the number one edible item sold by British supermarkets. Only petrol and lottery sales outperform them. However, enter another war, the British supermarket price war. And, enter another powerful US corporation, Walmart. Through its subsidiary supermarket in the UK, Asda, it negotiated with another big American banana producing corporation, Del Monte, for exclusive discount prices for bananas. So Asda receives a big advantage over the other British supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury's and Safeway and was able to slash their prices by about 22%. Del Monte has no Caribbean bananas, only the "dollar bananas". In this price war, inevitably the more expensive Caribbean bananas are being forced out.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Serious sugar trade crisis brewing

We lost the banana war to US multinational corporations on the WTO battlefield. Now the other main agricultural product, probably even greater than bananas, sugar, seems to be next. This time the challenge is coming from Australia and Brazil. They charge that the EU subsidised sugar export is creating distortions in the world market and harming their economies. They have taken their case to the WTO.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific/European Union (ACP/EU) Sugar Protocol guarantees export prices and market for specific quantities of cane sugar. The leading sugar producer among CARICOM countries, Guyana, has an agreed quota of 159,410 tonnes annually  which represents 70 per cent of its total sugar exports. Recent estimates put it even higher to as much as 80%. So 80% of its total sugar exports could be in jeopardy! An adverse WTO ruling could be a colossal blow to Guyana. Guyana is able to keep its sugar industry alive only because of subsidised prices paid by the EU.

Much of the Caribbean has pit their fortunes on sugar. In Jamaica, like many other Caribbean countries, the production costs exceed the ridiculously low world prices. Cuba, once the leading sugar producer and up to recently, virtually totally dependent on it, is cutting back dramatically. Sweet sugar is getting sour.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Jamaica goes it alone

Jamaica has spurned the other CARICOM members by negotiating its own air-traffic treaty with the US. The CARICOM secretariat says Jamaica’s go-it-alone decision will weaken CARICOM efforts to strike a unified deal. CARICOM was further disappointed when Jamaica ignored a request to allow other Caribbean countries to join their negotiations. The "Open skies" agreement gives US and Jamaica airlines unrestricted access to each others market. Now the Bahamas and Belize are expected to follow suit and negotiate their own treaties with the US.

Editor’s Note: This is an unfortunate  retrograde step. Jamaica should be a driving force for CARICOM unity. Otherwise CARICOM will continue to be kicked around in trade negotiations and have no respect internationally as a block. In these harsh trade times, Jamaica’s action is very sad and disappointing.

Let us know what you think. Email us at

Back to Hot Calaloo

St. Lucia PM urges Jamaica to support Caribbean Court

The Prime Minister of St. Lucia Dr. Kenny Anthony has urged CARICOM governments and Jamaica in particular to do more to support the formation of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Jamaica got special attention because the court has become a political football in Jamaica. The Seaga-led Jamaica Labour Party  opposes it. There seems to be no such opposition in other Caribbean countries as the court is regarded as a unifying Caribbean force and a more appropriate replacement for the existing Privy Council of Great Britain as the top Caribbean court of appeal.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Highway Russian roulette in Jamaica

On my trips back home to Jamaica, crossing the streets there often seemed like highway Russian roulette from the busy speeding traffic. According to the recent statistics from the Police Traffic Division it might well be. It lists 265 fatal traffic accidents between January and August 2002. For the same period last year, there were 285 fatalities from 258 accidents.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Grim murder statistics from Jamaica

It is very bad. Jamaica’s murder rate is the second or third highest in the world. Two out of every 3 of these murders are gang related and are committed by a gun. By the end of September, 830 persons had been murdered this year (2002). According to police records of this 830:

  • 102 were women

  • 14 were children (a number of the children being killed in the last couple of weeks)

  • 257 were killed as a result of reprisals

  • 241 arose from domestic disputes

  • 125 were gang related

  • 100 were killed in robbery

  • 25 drug related

  • 11 were political

  • 7 from mob action

  • 6 raped and killed

  • 2 were cut down during police/criminal confrontation

  • 55 from undetermined motive

Since the end of September, this total has climbed alarmingly fast over 900 and seems as if it will match 1139 murders recorded last year.

Editor’s Comment: I risk criticism for more bad news, but it would be plain negligence not to report these grim statistics. While on this subject of murder, I strongly urge readers to go see the Michael Moore movie "Bowling for Columbine ".

Back to Hot Calaloo

No toy guns in Jamaica

Jamaica’s Ministry of National Security has announced that it will be enforcing more strictly its ban on toy guns in Jamaica. They are already illegal to import, distribute and sell under Jamaican law.

Back to Hot Calaloo

More positive stories requested by Hot Calaloo reader

Dear Editor,

I have just returned from Jamaica where I had the most enjoyable time. If I had followed all the negative news I have been reading I would not have gone. Is it because Jamaica is such an important country why it features so much negatively?
I was so impressed with the beauty of the country and hospitality of the people.I will continue to go back as long as I can afford the fare.
By the way I visited to receive an award " The badge of Honour for Meritorious service to Jamaicans in Canada. The ceremony was very well organized and did me proud.
So lets have some more positive stories!

Lucinda Gordon

Back to Hot Calaloo

Computers donated to school in Jamaica

Recently the Kiwanis Club of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA, donated 7 computers to the Jackson Primary and Junior High School in St. Mary, Jamaica. The purchase of the computers were made possible through collaboration between the Kiwanis Club of Port Maria and its counterpart in Pottstown. Dr Garland Fisher of the Pottstown Kiwanis Club presented the computers to the school and this presentation coincided with the handing over of a 20-inch television and a video cassette recorder to the school by the Parent Teachers' Association (PTA). The school Principal, Beverly Hylton, noted that the new computers would place the school's computer program on par with those of many other institutions in St. Mary, adding that the school would be establishing an outreach program to offer computer education to members of the community.

Editors Note: I have an ulterior motive in selecting this article. I am sure many of our readers with new updated computers could donate their old ones to a school back home. Better yet, Caribbean organizations could launch computer drives to obtain computers for schools back home. So many ways to make a difference!

Back to Hot Calaloo

Jamaica special-ed school needs help

In Jamaica and all over the Caribbean, mental illness suffers from neglect. The Hope School in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is trying to do a good and vital job with mentally challenged children. The school has 35 students in three classes but the principal has had to turn away many more for lack of space. So, they have launched a fund drive. In addition to more classrooms, a staff room, canteen, sick bay and sporting facilities are also needed. So, Hot Calaloo readers, lets spread some hope for the Hope School by making a Christmas contribution.

Back to Hot Calaloo

US scrutinize Canadian permanent resident visitors

Lots of people from the Caribbean have taken up permanent residence in Canada. Now they, like all other permanent residents, are facing new requirements when visiting the US. Legal Canadian permanent resident status was all they needed to visit the US. But, not if a new US proposal takes effect, as this proposal would require visas for Canadian permanent residents to visit the US. US claims it wants to keep track of everyone that crosses its borders, but the Canadian Government is not happy about the change.

It could have been worse for West Indians, since they are not Arab Muslims. This proposed policy change has caused somewhat of an uproar in Canada coming right after the US has started to fingerprint Canadian travellers, citizens and non-citizens, who were born in selected Arab Muslim countries. Nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen have been affected by this new measure.

In a related incident, Canada's Privacy Commissioner, George Radwanski has asked the federal government to drop "place of birth" from Canadian passports. In an open letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham recently, Mr. Radwanski said, "the information is irrelevant since a Canadian citizen is a Canadian citizen, without distinction and it is also potentially misleading".

He said the information "constitutes an unjustified and unnecessary disclosure by the Government of Canada of personal information about individuals to anyone who has occasion to see their passports." The Privacy Commissioner further stated that the inclusion of place of birth on Canadian passports could possibly expose Canadian citizens to physical danger.

I hope people in Canada from the Caribbean are not next on the US list.

Back to Hot Calaloo

"Obeah made me steal!"

Another case of a good man gone bad. It took place in the Lucea Residents Magistrate Court, Jamaica. 
The charges: housebreaking, larceny and possession of ganja. 
The defence: Someone had worked obeah on him. Or to put his defence in his own words that he uttered to the judge, "Somebody set hand pon mi, sah!. Mi working, and have money in mi pocket and mi just find myself stealing."
The judge did not buy it and found him guilty.

Back to Hot Calaloo

More depressing news about AIDS

[See Save the world - use a condom...reprint from 1994 (May 7, 2001)]
The latest UN report on AIDS is out. More depressing news. It reports that an estimated 100,000 people will die this year in Latin America and the Caribbean due to AIDS, compared to about 15,000 lives lost in the United States and Canada. In these two countries there is better access to the costly anti-retroviral drugs that prolong life by slowing HIV's progression to full-blown AIDS. Also according to the  UN report:

  • During the next 8 years, the AIDS epidemic could double, infecting 45 million more and killing 65 million by 2020

  • 20 million have died in the three decades

  • the epidemic is fuelling famine in Africa

  • worsening poverty in countries like Haiti and Brazil

  • AIDS could destabilize trade, military and social policy as infection rates explode in the populous countries of Asia and Eastern Europe

  • the epidemic now claims as many women as men.

  • some 42 million people worldwide will be infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS by the end of the year

  • Five million of those people were infected this year alone, and 3.1 million more died in 2002.

  • Despite declining drug costs and a global fund established last year by the United Nations, only one-fifth of the estimated $10 billion needed to stall the spread has been pledged and little of that has even been spent.

  • The price of drugs is now down to about $1 a day in many regions, but that's still out of reach in countries like Haiti where most people earn about $400 a year.

  • Worldwide, only about 4 percent of the infected have access to anti-AIDS drugs.

  • Sub-Saharan African, where 30 percent of the population is infected in some countries, still accounts for nearly 70 percent of the world's cases. But infection rates are growing rapidly in China, India and Eastern Europe.

  • Thailand, Cambodia and Uganda have rolled back their HIV-infection rates with high-profile prevention programs.

  • In Latin America, Brazil and Argentina have made progress with prevention programs and better access to drugs.

In the Caribbean:

  • Haiti is the worst by far with more than three-quarters of the region's 440,000 cases. Nearly 6 percent of the country's adult population is infected.

  • Bahamas is next with an estimated infection rate of 3.5 percent. Both rates are among the highest in the world outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

  • In the Dominican Republic, HIV prevalence among pregnant women may be leveling off. This is attributed to increasing condom usage and other preventive measures among sex workers (prostitutes) there.

Cuba reports decline in AIDS
In contrast to most other countries, the number of AIDS-related deaths in Cuba has dropped significantly over the past 1.5 years following the development of several local treatments, a leading local expert said in an interview recently.
"It was a political decision by Cuba to start the generic production of these medicines to save the lives of human beings," Dr. Jorge Perez, director of the island's lead AIDS treatment center, told the weekly newspaper Trabajadores.

Dr. Perez also pointed out that:

  • Cuba began producing generic antiviral drugs for treating AIDS in May 2001

  • During the first 10 months of 2002, 66 people in Cuba died from AIDS-related causes, lower than was expected

  • Authorities anticipated a death rate of 25 percent for AIDS patients this year, but so far have seen a death rate of only 7 percent.

  • 743 Cubans with AIDS are currently receiving the locally produced treatments

  • The locally produced treatments, which help people with AIDS improve their autoimmune defenses and slow the virus' progress but they are not a cure.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Mining companies in Jamaica upset residents

The three large aluminum mining companies in Jamaica bring in a lot of money and employment to Jamaica. However, they are also bringing a lot of hostility from residents. Residents are complaining bitterly about the environmental damage.

WINDALCO (formerly ALCAN) and Alpart have come under fire from residents in Kendal, Grove Place, Porus and other communities in South Manchester. Residents of Knockpatrick, for years, have been battling Alpart. Some of these residents became so disgruntled that they set fire to Alpart's belt line, causing in excess of one million (US) dollars in damage and disrupting the company's operations for several months. The nine-mile belt line carries mined dirt from Knockpatrick to its plant in Nain, St. Elizabeth.

The residents charged that the mining activities of the companies and the dust that is produced are responsible for:

  • respiratory problems as well as other ills.

  • the destruction of farms

  • cracks in walls

  • decaying roofs of the houses

  • the contamination of the water supply

Residents of Russell Heights, near the WINDALCO’s Kirkvine plant have a different complaint. Their gripe is that they have been waiting for more than six years to receive the title for land (purchased from the then ALCAN).

Back to Hot Calaloo

Bob Marley jam session tape to be auctioned at Christie's

Pack up a big bag of money and come to the famed auction house, Christies, in New York on December 20, 2002. That day they are auctioning one of Bob Marley's taped jam sessions.

The tape is owned by musician Jimmy Norman, whom the then-unknown Marley met while on a visit to New York in early 1968. Eight songs they played together in Norman's Bronx apartment are on the audio tape. Marley plays guitar and Norman plays piano on the tape. Marley's wife, Rita, and Norman's wife, Dorothy, sing backup.

The initial asking price for the item, a reel-to-reel tape which is said to be in "fragile but good playing condition," is US$15,000. "That's a pretty reasonable price for a rare piece, and considering it's by Marley," said Margaret Barrett of Christie's.

Norman, now 65, said he stumbled upon the Marley tape in his Manhattan apartment in June. Two months ago, he approached Christie's to sell it. Among the songs on the tape are "I'm Hurting Inside," an early hit for the Wailers, the group Marley co-founded with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Guyana to create 1.5 million acres natural conservation park

The Guyana government has agreed to establish a wildlife conservation area over 1.5 million acres in southern Guyana while environmentalists survey the area's plants and animals, officials said recently. The government signed an agreement with Washington-based Conservation International to create the Southern Guyana Protected Area over a remote and largely uninhabited stretch of jungle and savanna land.

According to the agreement, signed recently in Georgetown, Conservation International will pay US$2 million to help Guyana manage the protected area. The group will also send environmental experts to take inventory on the area's diverse flora and fauna over the next eight months.

There are more than 200 Wai Wai Indians living in the wilderness area who will be consulted in the inventory and management process. The area would become the third such reserve in the South American country, joining the Kaieteur National Park and the Commonwealth-run Iwokrama Rainforest System in central and southwestern Guyana.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Women top UWI graduation

Once again the number of women have topped University of the West Indies graduation at the Mona campus in Jamaica. The number of graduates at the recent graduation ceremony totaled 2,280. Of that number, 171 were awarded their degrees with first class honours. Approximately 75% of the graduates and 80% of the first class honorees were women. Even the Chancellor of the University, Sir Sridath Ramphal bemoaned the relative deficiency of male graduates. Over 5,000 persons graduated from the three campuses of the UWI this year.

Music icon Ernie Ranglin was among those who received special honorary awards. The world famous guitarist was instrumental in the creation of Ska and reggae music and for musical arrangements like Millie Small’s worldwide hit "My Boy Lollipop" and many others.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Brian Lara cleared of taking bribes

West Indies batting star, Brian Lara has been cleared of all match fixing charges. He was alleged to have taken bribes to underperform in two 1-day matches in the mid 1990’s in India.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Jacobs appointed interim WI captain

Ridley Jacobs (LI) has been appointed captain of the West Indies cricket team for the tour of Bangladesh. Jacobs, the vice captain and wicket-keeper for the recent tour of India, will take over from Carl Hooper who will undergo knee surgery in Australia. The WI will play two test matches and two 1-day internationals.

The rest of the 15 member squad includes Shivnarine Chanderpaul (G), Chris Gayle (J), Ramnaresh Sarwan (G), Wavel Hinds (J), Pedro Collins (B), Marlon Samuels (J), Corey Collymore (B), Jermaine Lawson (J), Cameron Cuffy (WI), Darren Powell (J), Vasbert Drakes (B), Daren Ganga (T), Ricardo Powell (J), Mahendra Nagamootoo (T)

Back to Hot Calaloo

Blacks protest FBI agent acquittal

In South Florida, Jamaicans and other blacks protested the acquittal of David Farral, a former FBI agent of charges that he caused the death of two brothers by driving drunk the wrong way on Interstate 95. He was accused of drunk driving in a crash that killed youth minister Maurice Williams, 23, and his half-brother , Craig Chambers, 19, a college student. Farral received a slap on the wrist in the form of a misdemeanor conviction for drunk and reckless driving by the jury.

Dozens of cars drove slowly to the county courthouse, tying up morning rush hour traffic to protest the acquittal.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Let us know what you think. Email us at