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Abuse of homosexuals in Caribbean
The scandalous abuse of homosexuals in the Caribbean is not just restricted to dancehall lyrics. It is much worse as it is enshrined in law. Sir George Alleyne, the UN’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, has called on regional leaders to re-examine laws banning same sex relations across the region. Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization in the world issued a blistering report on the victimization of gays in Jamaica and urged change in these laws. Predictably, Prime Minister Patterson, not wanting to risk political suicide, said an emphatic no. All human rights groups in Jamaica, including the conspicuous police bashing Jamaicans For Justice are silent on that flagrant injustice. Everyone is afraid to speak up. But, silence is complicity, so Hot Calaloo is obliged to speak up against this shameful abuse and discrimination. I want Jamaica to be fair and just.
Even educated Jamaicans say homosexuals deserve this abuse for choosing such a lifestyle despite evidence that shows clearly that homosexuals are born that way and is not a matter of choice. I myself know a once proud Jamaican family. One of their sons turned out to be gay and the family is proud no more. Instead they and the son have withdrawn into humiliation, isolation and embarrassment. Who would choose such consequences?
But, they are lucky. When you read the type of victimization homosexuals face in Jamaica exposed in the recent Human Rights Watch report, you will realize that no one in their right mind would choose such a lifestyle. See Undiluted for excerpts from the Human Rights Watch Report "Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence and Jamaica's HIV/AIDS Epidemic" which was cited in the Gleaner newspaper.
Jamaica signs gas deal with T&T
Caricom giants Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago has signed an agreement for the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) which is described as historic. It bodes well not only for boosting trade and economic cooperation between both countries but for the entire CARICOM. The "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU), signed at the Hilton Trinidad within half an hour after the close of the 10th Caricom Special Summit. would do much more than boost trade and economic cooperation between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
In the agreement T&T will supply Jamaica with LNG for the next w20 years at an agreed upon price to be announced. This is a serious attempt to reduce runaway oil prices, which has been killing Jamaica. In 1998, it cost Jamaica US$316 million to import its oil needs. In 2003, the bill reached US$809 million for 27 million barrels of oil. This year, it will be more than US$1 billion.
Additionally the agreement also involves trade in the aluminum sector with Jamaica apparently supplying T&T with bauxite for a US$1 billion smelting plant to be constructed there by Alcoa.
Call for one regional airline
All the Caribbean airlines, Air Jamaica, BWIA, and LIAT have something in common. They are all going broke. Privatisation has not solved their ills as they have continued to rack up massive debts. Some Caribbean leaders are calling for a merger of these three airlines as a way of coping with mounting massive debts.
Infighting forces Seaga to remain head of JLP
For many years, Eddie Seaga and many of his followers have maintained that the JLP could not do without his leadership. It seems that is true even now.
Pearnel Charles and Bruce Golding are waging war for leadership of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) ever since Eddie Seaga announced his intention to finally step down at the end of this year. A bitter fight to succeed has ensued. Now the battle has moved to the courts as the year runs out with no resolution in sight.
Mr. Seaga should have been replaced as leader on November 11 at the JLP's annual conference at the National Arena. The conference was, however, postponed, following an injunction granted to Mr. Charles. His contention was that there were more than 2,000 questionable and illegally added names on the delegates' list. Mr. Charles was successful in getting a seven-day ex parte injunction, preventing the election of a new party leader. So no conference was even held and will probably be held next year.
US deports over 6,000 to Caribbean
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement have released figures that show 6,124 persons have been deported to the Caribbean for fiscal year 2004. The numbers include the English, Spanish, French and Dutch-speaking Caribbean and represents a mere 4 percent of the total 157,281 criminal and non-criminal immigrants deported by ICE globally. Criminal aliens are defined as those who are "eligible for removal based upon a criminal conviction in the United States." A six-month Associated Press investigation, released in November last year, found that deportees are responsible for the crime waves overwhelming police and security forces in some countries across the region
The breakdown of the deportees to the top 10 countries in the Caribbean is as follows:
UN praises Cuba on HIV/AIDS program
The United Nations Program on HIV/Aids has recognised the low incidence of HIV/Aids in Cuba saying the island represents the exception in the Caribbean. The UN office gives the credit to the policy of taking patients into specialised centres since the 1980's and the later treatment with anti-retroviral medicines. Estimates by the Cuban Health Care Ministry says the highest level of HIV/AIDS is in 35 to 44 age group followed by those between 20 to 24 years while people between 15 to 19 have maintained a stability in the last few years.
On the other hand in Jamaica, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections are the second leading cause of death for Jamaican men and women aged 30 to34 years. AIDS killed 277 persons in the first six months of this year 2004 compared to 377 in 2003. The 27 per cent decline in mortality rates is attributed to increased access to anti-retroviral drugs. However, when averaged, approximately 11 persons died every week of the disease in 2004. The rate of HIV infection increased by 12 per cent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year. The rate of new infections in women between 20 and 24 years of age is increasing more steadily than men in the same age bracket.
Earthquake jolts Dominica
Natural disasters continue to dog the Caribbean in 2004. This time it was not a flood or hurricane that hit Dominica, but the island was rocked by an earthquake. The massive tremor, measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale, destroyed many buildings and injured several people. It also triggered landslides and damage estimates run in the millions.
The earthquake also shook the neighboring islands of Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda. In Guadeloupe, scores of buildings were damaged on the island as well as the small nearby islet known as The Saints where about 2,000 people live.
Because of a shortage of engineers in Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago has sent a technical team of structural engineers and Barbados has also sent four of their own to assist.
Migrating teachers and nurses to be monitored closely
Caribbean teachers and nurses migrating to developed countries to assume job opportunities presented to them by foreign educators are to be monitored more closely by their governments. Foreign recruitment of such valuable human resources has been a matter of great concern. The project, called the Trade and Development Project for the Managed Movement of Teachers and Nurses in the Caribbean, is a collaborative effort among Caribbean countries that collectively are concerned about the issue of migration of its health and educational professionals to foreign shores. It is being funded and implemented by the Commonwealth Secretariat and hopefully will stem the potentially dangerous brain drain.
It was agreed that teachers would:
The recruiting country will have the responsibility to ensure that the recruiting agencies observe the protocol and that local teachers and nurses are given equitable terms of employment when recruited.
Grenada benefits from Venezuelan generosity
Venezuela is to help construct more than 100 low-income houses in
hurricane-battered Grenada. Venezuela will donate the prefabricated
houses for a new housing project, to be called the Simon Bolivar Complex
in the parish of St. David's.
Central America coming together
It is a welcome historic move in Central America. In a region beset by border disputes, Guatemala and El Salvador have formally eliminated their border immigration and custom controls. With the changes, Guatemalans and Salvadorans can cross the four checkpoints on their borders without having to stop and produce identification. Now all they have to do is fill out a form beforehand containing information about themselves that they can deposit in an information box as they cross. Airline passengers will travel under the same rules that apply to domestic flights. This is the first concrete step towards integrating the economies and various policies of not only these two countries but also Costa Rica and Nicaragua. With countries all over the world breaking apart, (Nevis wants to break away from St. Kitts; Even Tobago wants more autonomy from Trinidad), this is a welcome development.
Canada offers US$170 million to Haiti
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin made his first visit to Haiti. His trip was aimed at boosting international commitment to rebuild and stabilise the poorest country in the Americas. Shortly after his visit, Canada announced it would give US$2.5 million for disaster relief to flood victims. Canada also has promised US$17 million in humanitarian aid to Haiti and another US$151 million over two years for reconstruction and development.
Problems with insurance claims for ‘Ivan’ in Grenada
Almost 90 percent of Grenada’s houses were damaged by Hurricane Ivan on Sept. 7. Now insurance companies stand accused of failure of settling claims satisfactorily. In most cases, policy holders are being told that their properties were under insured and are being awarded a small compensatory package that cannot cover the rebuilding costs; the repair of vehicles or the re-opening of businesses.
The Government has been forced to step in and create the Grenada Homeowners Solidarity Trust. The objective is to ensure that insurance companies fully compensate homeowners for the damages done to buildings as a result of the hurricane. The Ministry of Finance has also said there is a supervisor of insurance whom policy holders can turn too to settle any policy disputes or differences arising between an insurer and a policy holder.
Six more judges selected for the CCJ
Despite delays in the inauguration of the Caribbean Court of Justice, six more judges have been selected to serve on it. They are:
The inauguration for the CCJ should have taken place on November 6 in Trinidad, but has been pushed back to March 2005 because some countries have not yet passed legislation to make the CCJ the final court over the London Privy Council. Trinidad’s parliament has not yet debated the issue even though the island is the headquarters of the proposed court.
Shell oil divests in Caribbean
One hundred and eleven Shell Oil retail service stations, 30
distribution depots and and liquefied petroleum gas business scattered
across Barbados, St. Lucia, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts & Nevis,
British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Grenada, St. Vincent, Antigua, Dominica,
Belize, Guyana and Suriname are being divested by the Royal Dutch/Shell
Group of Companies.
Belize begins export of organic rice
Belize made its first shipment of 56,000 tons of organic rice to
Europe. The Belize Marketing Development Corporation says it is planning
to export about 500 tons to the European market. Organic rice is grown
without pesticides and other chemicals. A statement from the Belizean
government says there is growing demand in Europe and other parts of the
world for organic products.
Overseas Jamaicans donate to boys' home in St Mary
The Jamaican diaspora in South Florida recently presented two donations totaling US$5,400 to the Swift Purcell Boys' Home in Carron Hall, St. Mary. Consul general to the south-east United States Ricardo Allicock recently toured the facility and made the presentation on behalf of the South Florida community. One check for US$4,000 was donated by members of the Jamaica/United States Chamber of Commerce in South Florida, while the check for US$1,400 came by way of funds collected from the congregation at the annual Jamaica Independence Service held in Fort Lauderdale in August.
Security forces patrol Port-of-Spain
Just like Jamaica, high crime wave has forced security patrols by joint police/army personnel in the T&T capital Port-of-Spain as well as in other areas.
National Security Minister Martin Joseph said the initiative, expected to run until December 31, would be extended to malls and shopping centres in the parish of St. James and other areas for the Christmas season. Mr. Joseph said residents would also see a heightened police/army presence because of the early Carnival season.
Grenadian students enroll in T&T schools
Several Grenadian students have been enrolled at primary and secondary
schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
Plans to accommodate the students, particularly fifth and sixth-formers,
were implemented after Ivan wreaked havoc on Grenada on September 8,
destroying about 90 per cent of its buildings.
World Cup – T&T in, Jamaica out
Trinidad and Tobago held off a spirited St. Vincent and the Grenadines team 2-1 to secure second place in their group and thus advance to the final CONCACAF round of the World Cup. Jamaica bit the dust and is out. Although they had a creditable 1-1 draw with the US in Columbus, Ohio, they had to win. Panama made sure of that as they recovered from a 6-0 drubbing by the US and a previous 0-3 beating by El Salvador to turn the tables on El Salvador by a hungry 3-0 victory. So Panama moves up with group winner US to join other group qualifiers, Mexico, T&T, Guatemala and Costa Rica for the final playoffs next year.
Since then, heads have rolled in Jamaica. The contract of the Brazilian coach, Lazaroni, and his staff has been terminated automatically. In a surprise move technical director Karl Brown has been abruptly fired and replaced by former national juniors coach Wendell Downswell. The Jamaica Football Federation has also announced they intend to rebuild by focusing on youth.
US medal forfeit means Jamaica and Bahamas gain
For about a year noe there has been reports of a large doping scandal in US track and field circles. Now, the world governing body of athletics, the International Association of Athletics Federations, has stripped the United States of its 1,600 relay gold medal from the 2003 World Championships after Calvin Harrison's second doping violation.He was found guilty in 2003 and ten years before in 1993. As a two-time offender, the 400-metre star was suspended for two years in early August this year and dropped from the American team for the Athens Olympics.
As a result of this forfeit, France has been declared the gold medallists, Jamaica moves up to silver and the Bahamas to bronze. The Jamaican team members who ran in the final are Brandon Simpson, Danny McFarlane, Davian Clarke and anchor Michael Blackwood.
Jamaica bobsledders in impressive win
Jamaica 2-man bob-sled team had an impressive victory recently in Calgary, Canada. They beat the Canadian team into 2nd place ahead of some very prestigious teams. A Slovakian team came third and a US team, like Lazarus, came 4th. A release from public and media relations manager of the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Tom LaDue described Jamaica's victory as "a shocking day in race two of the Americas Cup two-man bobsled race".
Jamaica was represented by Winston Watts and Wayne Blackwood. Soon after, Vikings Promotions of Montego Bay announced there financial backing of the team to the tune of US$200,000. The team needs this level of sponsorship " so they can continue their quest to shock the world", according to the team manager Anders Vestergaard.
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