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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.



January 2003

Guyana opposition leader dies

Desmond Hoyte, leader of the opposition Peoples National Congress party of Guyana died on December 23 of an apparent heart attack. He had served as president of Guyana from 1985 to 1992. Born in Georgetown, Guyana in March 1929, Mr. Hoyte received the B.A. and LL.B. degrees from the University of London. He was a British trained lawyer, a Barrister-at-Law of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and a Member of the Guyana Bar. He was appointed to Queen’s Council in 1969, which designation was changed to Senior Counsel in 1970 when Guyana became a Republic.

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Conference on Guyana in Washington DC

On Saturday, December 14, 2002, gloomy prospects dominated the conference on Democratisation and Conflict Resolution in Guyana, which was held at Howard University in Washington DC. This conference was sponsored by the University of Guyanaand the Atlanta University Center Partnership Project. It featured panelists comprised mainly of Guyanese university professors from all over the US, Canada and Guyana itself.

The gloom arose from reports of the severity of the crime wave, the political crisis, and the racial polarization in Guyana. Constitutional reform to give black Guyanese an equal or at least stronger voice in government and to create a more efficient and responsive government was a popular sentiment and dominated the conference..

Hot Calaloo’s evaluation
It seemed like constitutional reform should be a matter of low priority at such a time when Guyana faces:

  • territorial threats to large sections of its country from Venezuela on one border and fellow CARICOM member Suriname on the other
  • a serious threat to its main export market for sugar from Brazil and Australia that could decimate its agreiculture industry
  • the continuing threat to its vital rice trade
  • and so on

Besides, constitutional reform in that hostile atmosphere is not feasible. The constitutional reform debate was big on some sort of racial power sharing but very vague on specifics. One idea was for some sort of alternating the presidents on the basis of race after every two elections.

Once again, as we hear everywhere else, was the call for some mythical leader to emerge and lead Guyana out of its troubles. This academia dominated conference was often just that, academic. It seemed lofty ivory towered discourse divorced from the reality of global and the everyday pressures in Guyana.

  • They called for new leaders but criticized President Jagdeo for being too young and inexperienced
  • Many called for strong government but were silent on the forces that were deliberately weakening it
  • Many called for better communication but I did not notice any censure of the opposition for withdrawing from parliamentary discourse.

Many treated the flaws in the constitution as unique to Guyana. It is not and if a genuine concern for the welfare of Guyana rather than personal political gain was paramount, it would not be the obstacle that it is portrayed to be.

There is no question that political exploitation of race has poisoned the Guyana landscape. To expect constitutional reform to ensure some sort of political equity is unrealistic here or anywhere else in the world. The reality is that, sadly, race-based politics will not go away and is all over the world. Instead the focus needs to be on good government, to make sure that this race-based government does not discriminate, and if and when it does, address that specific problem then. The conference failed to stress the strength of diversity. The confluence of two cultures usually result in the formation of a stronger culture. That has happened in Guyana and needs to be acknowledged. I think many of the leaders need sensitivity training. But, we can’t leave it up to leaders. Every one of us, including myself and I am not even Guyanese, need to make a personal commitment to not just talk, but to work towards building that unity, trust and harmony that we in the West Indies typically enjoy.

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The healing of Crown Heights

It has happened in Crown Heights. It can happen in Guyana and the garrisons of Jamaica!

Crown Heights then
In 1991 in the Brooklyn section of Crown Heights, a 7-year-old boy, Gavin Cato, whose family was from Guyana, was struck by a car driven by a member of the entourage of the Lubavitcher Grand Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, a very orthodow Jewish sect. The child died.
Three hours after Gavin was struck, Yankel Rosenbaum, a 29-year-old Hasidic scholar from Australia, was fatally stabbed by a black mob. For two more days and nights, rioting followed. It was Jews against blacks, which included a large number of West Indian immigrants.

Crown Heights now
Recently, symptomatic of how good relations have become, the Community Council president, a Jewish woman, was nominated by a black woman. The previous president was a black woman.
"The goodwill of people is causing all of this," the incoming president said. "People want to live in peace. They want to have good relations. They want to be good neighbors." Her election is just one more sign of the community's ever-increasing spirit of cooperation between blacks and Jews, many observers said.

"Crown Heights is a very exciting community," said New York Police Department Brooklyn South Commander. Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, president of Community Board 9 since 1980, added, "People are working together and sitting together."

In the words of Crown Heights City Councilman James Davis : "Crown Heights is a community of African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Latino-Americans and Asian-Americans all living in harmony. ... We are a shining example of what dialogue and communication can accomplish."


  • Leaders credit former Borough President Howard Golden, other elected officials, community board chairmen and district leaders and the police for their work immediately after the riots to restore calm.
  • There were also groups such as Mothers to Mothers, founded by Henna White, a Lubavitcher, and Jean Griffith Sandiford, an African-American whose son, Michael, was fatally struck by a car while running from a mob of whites in Howard Beach. The two women worked together to establish talks among women - talks that continue to this day.
  • The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center was set up and Project CARE was organized for networking among community groups. Organizations such as the United Coalition of Block Associations address basic neighborhood concerns, such as where traffic lights are most needed.
  • Medgar Evers College, established in Crown Heights in 1970, has played and is expected to continue to play a major role in preparing young people for leadership. Jewish leaders hail the school's president, Edison Jackson, for his efforts to make the college a place where all are welcome.
  • The103-year-old Brooklyn Children's Museum has provided programming for children of the community.
  • The Jewish Children's Museum, a $23 million project on Eastern Parkway, is expected to open next year. This will not be just for Jews but "It will be a museum for all children, a place where they can come and get a taste of what Jewish history and culture are all about."
  • The precinct council also was planning more activities for black and Jewish children. In addition to an annual family picnic, there will be an end-of the-year party this month and a skating party early next year.

Surely there is a valuable lesson to be learned here in Guyana, the garrisons of Jamaica and many troubled spots all over the world. In the words of Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was born and raised in Crown Heights
"There are wonderful, wonderful things happening. Out of horrible adversity has come an openness to learn."

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Security patrols bring peace to ‘garrisons’ in Jamaica

Security patrols in hot spot areas of garrisons in Jamaica have been welcomed as peacemakers. A joint military/police team has been carrying out a holistic crime initiative in communities in West Kingston and South St. Andrew, for more than a week, as part of the Government's new crime-fighting initiatives. They have been cordoning certain areas in these communities and conducting spot checks and searches, their main aim being to recover illegal weapons, drugs and wanted persons, ultimately putting a dent in crime and criminal activities. Under the operations, the security forces are also clearing roadblocks and other makeshift blockades as well as garbage and unwanted debris, so as to allow quick and easy access to the law enforcers. Some of these roadblocks were made by the residents after attacks by gunmen from neighboring communities. As a result of this, many of the residents began throwing rubbish and other debris at these blockades resulting in the creation of dump heaps.

The Hannah/Denham Town border was the cordoned area in West Kingston. Last year, the border between both communities became a war zone resulting in the killing of several persons, the burning down of several homes and forcing many to flee from the area.

The security forces may remain in these areas for up to six months or as long as it takes to achieve their objectives. Similar operations are to spread to several other communities.

Having the security forces in these crime 'hot spots' have normally not gone over well with the residents, who have accused them of being brutal and intimidatory, and have often called for their removal. But such calls are not coming from residents now. Instead several inner-city residents have given members of the security forces high praises for the courteous and calm way they have been conducting themselves in their communities.

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Jamaican herb might cure cancer

A Jamaican folk remedy might be a potential cancer cure. Jamaican Dr. Lawrence Williams outlined his findings based on 15 years of research conducted at a German university on the local plant, petiveria alliacia, known in Jamaica as guinea hen or strong man’s weed. He stated that in his work with scientists at home and abroad, one of the plants compounds, dibenzyltrisulphide (DTS), has proven successful in attacking and shutting down cancer cells without affecting healthy cells. He added that over the last few years the plant has become very popular in medicine and is now being sold over the internet for use in improving immune function. He stressed that DTS is now being tested on animals and if successful a cure could be completed in 5 years.

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Killer bees send 25 to hospital in T&T

A swarm of "killer bees" went on the rampage in a village in the San Fernando region. Twenty five residents, including 10 children had to be rushed to the hospital, were treated and sent home. However, The bees killed two dogs as their owner watched helplessly from the safety refuge of his car. The African bees had been living in two nests in an avocado tree about 30 feet from the home of the owner of the dogs.

He was trapped in his car by the attacking bees but was able to shout to his wife to phone the Ministry of Agriculture for help. Two hours later, officers attached to the Bee Abatement Section of the Ministry arrived on the scene and destroyed the main colony with an insecticide.

A ministry official, confirming that it was African bees that attacked the villagers and dogs said: "Although the colony was destroyed the land owner has to cut down the avocado tree otherwise a new set of bees will return to nest."

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‘Profiling' Jamaicans – UK style

A very high number of Jamaicans travel to the UK as cocaine smugglers. The numbers are so great that the UK was considering requiring Jamaicans to obtain visas. Instead a joint operation between Jamaica and the UK was devised to intercept these drug ‘mules’. It is basically a sophisticated ‘profiling’ system and it has worked well. It has weeded out many a drug mule. But, the inevitable flaw has occurred. The innocent also suffer.

The innocent this time was a police constable from Jamaica on a visit to the UK. The constable said that he traveled to London for the first time via Air Jamaica, where at Heathrow he was treated like a common criminal, at the mercy of an immigration officer who admitted that he didn't like Jamaicans. He was detained at the Heathrow International Airport in London. He said he was placed in a heavily secured detention center with drug couriers and other deportees for the night before being sent back home. Being a Jamaican policeman made no difference to the immigration but was a source of humiliating derision for his fellow detainees. First thing the next morning, he was put on an Air Jamaica plane with the other detainees and sent back to Jamaica.

The matter has been reported to the police commissioner and communication is to take place between the policeman, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the local British High Commission.

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The US black vote, Trent Lott and Seaga

It is estimated that 90% of the black vote in the US goes to the Democratic Party. There is not a single Black Republican in the US House of Representatives. So, there is not a single black Republican serving on the Black Caucus since it is composed of black members of the US Congress. Typically leaders from the Caribbean visiting the US seek out known Caribbean advocates like Charles Rangel, Maxine Waters, other members of the Black caucus, Trans Africa, Jesse Jackson etc.. So it is very puzzling that Jamaica Labour Party leader, Eddie Seaga, in the height of the unrest and rioting in Jamaica of July last year, came here to visit Republican US Senator Trent Lott instead as reported in the Gleaner last year. Hot Calaloo expressed its concern then.

Now, we find that Trent Lott, in honoring the rabidly racist segregationist Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday, has said that he thinks that the US would be better off if Thurmond had won the Presidency in 1948, when Thurmond's racism was at its height.
Here are his exact words:

"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for
president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest
of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all
these problems over all these years, either."

By "problems," Lott means the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act -- laws that finally freed black men and women from the racist Jim Crow laws enacted by people like Trent Lott to keep blacks enslaved.

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Privatisation of MoBay Airport in Jamaica underway

Jamaica is about to swallow the privatization hook again. This time the target is the management and operations of the Donald Sangster Airport in Montego Bay. This has been in the works for a long time. The new managers of the facility will be YVRAS Consortium out of Vancouver, Canada. They will upgrade the airport at a cost of US$200 million. Ironically this divestment is opposed by the Jamaica Labour Party. It is ironic because the government Party, the PNP, was the party associated with government ownership of the major resources – socialism, and the JLP was for private ownership.

In the words of JLP leader, Eddie Seaga, " The time has come when we must stop thinking of public property as something destined for divestment. It doesn't mean that every state asset must be divested."

Editors Comment: I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Seaga on this. Selling our assets like this might be a short term solution but will be like the historical exchange of beads and trinkets for Manhattan in the long run. Selling such an important resource, a vital gateway turned over to a foreign corporation, is like selling our birthright. We will never be able to afford to get it back again long after the money we receive for it is gone. Hot Calaloo has deplored the running of the airport before and is positive a PWP solution would provide much greater benefits for Jamaica than this privatization hook.

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Mother of sniper suspect Malvo deported to Jamaica

THE MOTHER of teenage sniper suspect John Lee Malvo has been deported to Jamaica. She had been living in the Seattle area and had entered the US illegally in 2000. Malvo, 17, and John Allen Muhammad, 41, are suspected of shooting 18 people, killing 13 of them, in Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

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Jamaica’s Island Grill close overseas restaurants

After only a year operation, Jamaica’s fast food chain Island Grill has decided to close its two outlets in the US. Both were located in Florida and had experienced an economic downturn since 9-11 terrorist attack. Company officials say they might return to the US if economic conditions improve. In the meantime, they have added 5 new stores and are planning to add 5 more in Jamaica bringing their total there to 15.

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Miss Guadeloupe crowned Miss France 2003

An engineering student from Guadeloupe was crowned Miss France 2003, the first time a young woman from this French overseas department has won the event since 1993, event organizers said. Miss Guadeloupe Corinne Coman, 19, was elected in Lyon, France from a field of 48 candidates.
The judges were presided by Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida. Coman, a fitness and swimming aficionado, succeeds Miss France 2002 Sylvie Tellier of Lyon. Last year, former Miss Guadeloupe Sandra Bisson was runner-up. Miss France 1993 was Veronique de la Cruz of Guadeloupe.

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CARICOM leaders meet in Cuba

Thirteen of 15 Caribbean heads of state and Government flew aboard a Cuban plane to Havana recently for a weekend summit to honour the region's trailblazing efforts exactly 30 years ago to open relations with Castro's Cuba. It was the largest group of CARICOM leaders to ever visit Cuba, an indication of how important both sides view relations, officials say. CARICOM Secretary-General, Edwin Carrington, said he hoped the leaders would back suggestions to act as a go-between with the United States and Cuba.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations say they are ready to ratify a trade deal with Cuba and hinted that the country's entry into its regional club is inevitable. "We have made it clear to all our friends in the international and regional community that this is the way to go. Grenada would be the first one to support it," said the country's Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell.

Ironically, Grenada broke off relations with Cuba after U.S. soldiers invaded its shores in 1983, but restored them in 1997 and now has more than 100 students studying there, on scholarships largely funded by the Cuban Government.

About 2,500 students from CARICOM nations are studying in Cuba.

Several Cuban-trained nurses and doctors also work in Grenada, as they do in most CARICOM states.

Castro promised more assistance to his neighbours, including an annual increase in the number of academic scholarships offered to students, and co-operation in the region's fight against the HIV-AIDS pandemic by

  • doubling the number of health workers, now approximately 1000
  • paying their salaries.

This generous offer is so important and timely when we consider that approximately 440,000 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. There were 60,000 new infections in 2002 and 50 per cent of HIV cases are women. About 21,000 persons in Jamaica are estimated to be infected with HIV/AIDS.

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US wrecks cheap drug deal

While Fidel Castro was promising more valuable medical assistance to the Caribbean, US vice-president Dick Cheney was blocking a pact to help poor countries after pharmaceutical firms lobbied White House.
The Guardian newspaper of the UK reports that Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, blocked a global deal to provide cheap drugs to poor countries, following intense lobbying of the White House by America's pharmaceutical giants.
Faced with furious opposition from all the other 140 members of the World Trade Organisation, the US refused to relax global patent laws which keep the price of drugs beyond reach of most developing countries. Talks at the WTO's Geneva headquarters collapsed after the White House ruled out a deal which would have permitted a full range of life-saving drugs to be imported into Africa, Asia and Latin America at cut-price costs. Earlier the drug lords of America's drug industry had expressed confidence that its lobbying of the Bush administration would pay off and they sure were right.

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Democracy faces grave peril in hemisphere

Democracy is facing a grave peril. But, who cares? Who cares when democratically elected leaders who champion the poor, the downtrodden, the voiceless come to power and are overthrown? Their governments are rendered ungovernable by mob action. Right at this very moment in our hemisphere, this is happening in Venezuela, Haiti and Guyana. The leaders of all three countries are disliked by the Bush administration and would welcome ‘regime change’.

Of course the Bush administration is actively and openly pursuing ‘regime change’ in Iraq and in the Palestine Liberation Organisation. As soon as the UN arms inspectors identify just how weak and ineffective Iraq defenses are by their report, the US will use this report as a guide to attack Iraq to effect ‘regime change’. To effect ‘regime change’ among the PLO, the Palestinians  will have to kick out their democratically elected leader, Yassar Arafat.

Now the US would love regime change in these three countries in this hemisphere, especially Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Aristide in Haiti. How far would Bush go to achieve this?

Venezuela would be the prime target. Chavez is a friend of Fidel Castro, a champion of the poor and because of OIL! Because of oil, Venezuela may be considered the Iraq of the hemisphere. Oil represents 30 percent of Venezuela's $100 billion gross domestic product and 70 percent of exports.  Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and a major provider to the United States. Although  Venezuela is an oil rich country the majority of its people have been living in abysmal poverty. The strike and unrest has virtually shut off oil production there and has helped push international oil prices above $30 per barrel. The unrest there is almost identical to the circumstances which overthrew Salvador Allende in Chile and installed the ruthless dictator Pinochet with documented CIA help.

The US has made no secret of their dislike for Aristide. They have undermined his government by withholding US$500 million badly needed funds under the pretext of election irregularities.

These countries have been ravaged and are teetering badly. Lets hope these leaders survive for if they fail it will be an ominous message to any leader right here in the Caribbean or anywhere else in our hemisphere who champions true independence and real change to benefit the poor. And, it will make democracy a lie and a fraud.

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Street vendors pose problem

Street vendors continue to be a problem in some Caribbean countries. Typically, they block the sidewalk, and obstruct pedestrian and auto traffic as well as interfere with business of adjoining shopkeepers. Police have to be called in to move them. There is hostile confrontation and vendors keep coming back as fast as they are removed.

Georgetown, Guyana
It could be downtown Kingston, Jamaica, but it's Georgetown, Guyana. The Georgetown City Council and Mayor Hamilton Greene have been trying to move sidewalk vendors from Water St. and relocating them. A series of relocation sites have fizzled and tempers of the vendors and businessmen have sizzled with anger.
Relocation sites proposed include the vicinity of the East Coast bus park., the Tootsie Persaud plot, a section of Merriman Mall between Cummings and Light Street, and the Stelling View Market also known as ‘Donkey City’. The Water Street vendors who have been engaged in a long court battle with the Council and were ordered by the Court to remove from the pavements by June 13, 2000. As of December2002, this is still unresolved and continues to frustrate all parties. Even intervention of Guyana President Jagdeo has not helped and the advent of Christmas has aggravated the situation.

Santa Cruz and Linstead, Jamaica
New towns are cropping up all the time facing this problem in Jamaica. These two Jamaican towns are symptomatic of the vendor problem. The vendors have abandoned the market buildings for the streets. They claim that the markets are badly maintained, run-down and unsanitary.
I have no doubt that these conditions do exist in towns all over Jamaica. Black River is building a new market, but I am not too optimistic. This is because markets do not receive anywhere the priorities they deserve. Hot Calaloo is on record for advocating a much higher priority for markets. These markets play a vital role in the lives of so many people. It is the heart and soul of many a town. But, often they are left to decay. Hot Calaloo has proposed its PWP formula for this type of market as well as craft markets.

I am positive the new Black River market will be just some marginal building hastily thrown up. No more of that. These market buildings should be professionally designed, maintained, and run so that they become shining  centerpieces of the towns that attracts vendors and buyers alike. In other words they should become what malls in the US have become instead of the dingy hovels with filthy inadequate toilets. Check for more details in previous article on the subject.[Fixing the Markets the PWP Way - crafts markets, food markets deteriorate in Jamaica (12/9/98)]

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Jamaica trade worsens

For the first half of 2002, Jamaica’s trade deficit widened, while both imports and exports declined. During that period:

  •  the deficit moved from US$1.03 billion to US$1.08 billion 
  • imports fell by 2% 
  • exports fell by over 13%. 
  • the ‘consumer goods’ category of imports increased by 8%
  • the ‘capital goods’ category increased by almost 12%. 
  • Domestic exports declined by almost 12% to over US$446 million.

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Hampden sugar Estate in Jamaica closes

More bad news about sugar continues. The Hampden Sugar Estate in Trelawny, Jamaica has closed. The government stated they had to close the estate because it was: 

  • too old
  •  bankrupt
  • owing J$1.6 billion dollars
  • needing another J$100 million to keep it going for another year with the likelihood that it would lose a similar amount 

The government has pumped J$6 billion in the industry. The cane farmers of the estate are very angry as they see their livelihood in serious jeopardy.


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