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Items from December  2000   Hot Calaloo Update


January 2001

Panday wins  T&T general elections

Trinidad Prime Minister Basdeo Panday won re-election as his party, the United National Congress (UNC) won 19 of the 36 seats on December 11th. However, despite undergoing a bruising campaign, oft tinged with racial tensions, to win, he still faces a bumpy road. The biggest bump in that road is T&T President, A N R Robinson, a president that Panday himself appointed in 1995. Then they were part of a ruling coalition, Robinson being head of the National Alliance for Reconstruction party. Obviously a rift has developed between them and Robinson has joined with the opposition to erect obstacles to a smooth transition and the creation of the new Panday government.

The main opposition Peoples National Movement (PNM) challenged the results in 3 of the closely contested constituencies won by the UNC.

  • Robinson postponed the swearing in of the Panday as PM until certified results were in.
  • The certified results took a week.
  • President Robinson did not swear in Panday as PM until 9 days after the elections.
  • The PNM challenged in court the validity of the victory of 2 UNC candidates on the basis that they had dual citizenship with the US. The two candidates were calypsonian Winston "Gypsy" Peters and Bill Chaitan.
  • The cabinet was sworn in, reduced in numbers to 17 members and did not include the disputed members Winston "Gypsy" Peters and Bill Chaitan. Among cabinet members are Ralph Maraj, former Foreign Affairs Minister; Kamla Persad Bissesser, former Education Minister; and Manohar Ramseran, former Minister of Sports. The previous cabinet had 23 members.
  • A few days later, President Robinson plunged the country in a constitutional crisis when he refused to swear in 8 of the Cabinet members. In addition to the two facing court eligibility challenge, the other six were refused because he did not think it appropriate since these appointees had been defeated in the elections. This opinion of the president is just that, an opinion, but probably does not satisfy constitutional validity. Nevertheless, at the time of this writing, they have not been sworn in and some confusion reigns. Consequently the country is without even a minister of national security.


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US Drug war drags on all over the Caribbean

The US war on drugs has dragged on now for 30 years. Is the US winning that war? It has intensified.
The latest barrage has been Operation Libertador. It has been a model of regional cooperation between 36 Latin American and Caribbean countries and territories.

Police reported arresting 2,876 people and seizing 20 tons of cocaine, 29 tons of marijuana and 82,170 ecstasy tablets during the Oct. 27-Nov. 19 operation. They said they also dismantled 94 drug factories and seized 100 tons of chemicals for drug-making.

Among those arrested was drug lord Martires Paulino Castro, whose apprehension in the Dominican Republic ended a two-year investigation in four countries. Agents say Paulino's 10-year-old network stretched from Dutch St. Maarten to New York and was capable of moving 4,400 pounds of Colombian cocaine a month to the United States. Paulino was arrested by American and Dominican authorities and will be tried in his native Dominican Republic on drug trafficking charges.

Nice haul but is victory in the drug war imminent? They have won a battle, a big battle, but only a battle, as it seems the war is far from over.

But instead:

  • Nations have ceded their sovereignty without apparently denting the trade
  • Smuggling is at an all-time high. In 1999 more than two-thirds of the estimated 506 tons of cocaine produced in South America, America was shipped through the Caribbean -- the first time Caribbean smuggling outstripped Mexico's, according to the United Nations' Barbados-based drug monitoring program.
  • There is a pervasive rising tide of violent crime.
  • Corruption has increased significantly as small island states have become more vulnerable to drug lords whose fortunes dwarf those of its governments and poorly paid police. Drug scandals brought down the government of St. Kitts and Nevis in 1994. Britain dissolved the government of its Turks and Caicos Islands territory in 1986 after then-Chief Minister Norman Saunders was convicted and jailed in Miami on drug-trafficking charges. Saunders was reelected in 1995.
  • The war jacks up drug prices, which in turn fosters vast smuggling networks that are well financed, armed and organised.

Quotes from those in-the-know
"We will be able to win this scourge….but not in your liftime or mine" - Michael Vigil, head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s Caribbean operation.

"We now have guns, ammunition, gang warfare that we didn’t have before"Rear Admiral Richard Kelshall, one of Trinidad’s top drug fighters.

`What the drug war has done is to drive the price of drugs up, so the more the price of drugs goes up, the more money there is to corrupt people….. `until we remove the profit out of trafficking, nothing will change.'' Trevor MacMillan, former comissioner of Police Jamaica.

The solution
The solution, McMillan and others say, is decriminalizing or legalizing drugs, then using the money now spent on the drug war to pay for education and addiction recovery programs that would reduce demand for drugs.

Editors comment: That solution will never happen in our lifetime. The US policy ruled by hysteria rather than pragmatism will never permit it. For example, in November 1998, the District of Columbia, the only US colony on the US mainland, had a referendum on the legalisation of medical marijuana, and after all that expense of the referendum, the US Congress and a Federal courts ganged up on the DC residents to ban release of the results! So to this very day, the public has no idea what the results were. Australia has its kangaroos, the US led by the Supreme Court, has its kangaroo courts.

(For comments,  email

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Caribbean takes precaution against mad cow disease

Mad cow disease, technically bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which has wreaked havoc throughout Europe, has undergone a resurgence there recently, specifically in France and Germany. The disease has been linked to 80 deaths in the UK and now German and French meat has been banned.

  • Jamaica has imposed a temporary ban on European beef and beef products. The Grace Kennedy and LASCO companies have withdrawn certain brands of corned beef.
  • St Kitts continues to ban beef and pork from the UK.
  • Antigua and Barbuda are preparing to reinstitute the ban on importation of meat imports from the UK


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Brutal, bloody attack on churchgoers in St. Lucia

Hundreds were in attendance in a pre new years mass in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in downtown Castries, St. Lucia. Suddenly four or five men rushed in armed with machetes and a flammable liquid. They began slashing the members in a bloody viscous attack and dousing and setting fire to others. The attackers are thought to be members of an anti-Roman Catholic cult as they all wore the same clothes.

One nun, Sister Theresa Eglin, who served as an educator for many years, was chopped to death. Initially, 12 other people were taken to hospital for treatment for cutlass wounds and burns. Several others were injured in the stampede as worshippers sought safety from the flames and the cutlass wielding men. Since then arrangements are underway to fly 12 of the injured worshippers to the US for medical treatment.

During the attack, one of the men was subdued and held for the police by the worshippers. Since then another has been captured and a 24-hour-a-day manhunt continues for the others.

Unfortunately, this shows that the Caribbean too is not immune from such horrible senseless acts of violence that seems to afflict the US and other parts of the world.


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Making Caribbean Volunteer Organisations Better: Part 4

Meetings Revitalization

Many an organisation is in trouble. Valuable organisations too. The biggest culprit responsible for this problem is boring meetings. From my experience, monthly meetings have become boring mind-numbing rituals in most organisations. I have often felt that any newcomer at one of these meetings, would not want to ever come back. But, meetings are one of the most important features of any Caribbean volunteer organisation. For the most part, meetings have become meaningless rituals, which try patience instead of generating enthusiasm. Yes, meetings can and should be generating enthusiasm among its members. But, we must abandon the current way meetings are conducted.

  • First of all, we should recognize and set this revitalization as a goal.
  • We should seek to consciously create a warm and friendly atmosphere, especially for new members or visitors.
  • Seek to attain as much participation by as many attendees as possible.

How to do this
Here are some suggestions on how to do this:

  • Abandon the lecture style seating for a round-table or seating-in-the-round type format. This alone will create a friendlier atmosphere and encourage more widespread participation.
  • Tell members that they are strongly encouraged to mix and socialize at meetings. Name tags should be provided and new members’ tags should have their name underlined so that they can be identified and receive special welcome and attention.
  • Instead of only some limp sign-in sheet, new members should be formally introduced and welcomed.
  • On the agenda of every meeting, schedule an informal meeting for at least 15 minutes. No recorded minutes would be kept for this part of the meeting, just truly informal. It could be

Just a light-hearted informal chat on some topical and even trivial subject or subjects. Even gossip!

  • Someone could read a poem.
  • Someone could relate a personal experience.
  • Someone could tell a few jokes
  • a sing-a-long
  • someone could play a guitar or some other musical instrument

I am sure people like to participate in this type of thing. So let’s reach out to the people by including this scheduled informality in our meetings. People want it. It actually takes place right now in most organisations spontaneously. Unfortunately at the wrong time, during serious business, and is disruptive and an obstacle in that context. This way, it will make these meetings more enjoyable as well as improving discussion of the vital business of the organisation. So, lets give it a try. Too many organisations suffer from static or falling membership and could very well die leaving a void which may never be filled.

(For comments,  email

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Bad polio vaccine causes polio in Dominican Republic and Haiti

According to the Associated Press, a mutated strain of polio traced to a vaccine has infected at least three people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, causing the first cases of the disease in the Western Hemisphere since 1991, a regional health organization said. "This is not a desperate situation from the view of outbreak control...but it is still a surprise," said Pan American Health Organization spokesman Daniel Epstein. The organization is part of the Washington-based Organization of American States. The cases have been traced to the same oral vaccine that experts have used to eliminate the disease in many countries. Polio is a highly infectious disease that usually strikes children under 5. It damages the spinal cord and brain, causing paralysis and sometimes death.

The vaccine, known as Sabin 1 oral poliovirus vaccine, uses a weakened version of the virus to teach the body how to identify and fight active viruses.


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"Mister, pay me my rent!"

Many Barbadians will be hearing this, but it will not be the strains of that old calypso. Instead it will be demands from the bailiffs of the Barbados National Housing Corporation. This is because the government owned corporation needs to recover US$4.75 million owed by renters and loan defaulters.


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EU to donate US$6 million to fight AIDS in WI

The Caribbean and Europe signed a multi-million dollar program in Georgetown, Guyana, recently designed to strengthen the institutional response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region. At a ceremony in the headquarters of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) officials of the regional trade group and the European Union (EU) initialed a document for an infusion of 6.9 million euros (US$6 million) for the project. The program is designed to reduce the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) in the Caribbean, particularly in the worst-affected countries.


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Former Suriname president’s body cremated

The people of Suriname have paid their final respects to former Prime Minister and Vice President Henck Arron, who died in the Netherlands recently, following a heart attack. The body of the 64-year-old politician who led the former Dutch colony to independence was cremated during a state funeral, following three days of official mourning. The funeral was attended by delegations from countries including the Netherlands.


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Death of an Icon, Sir Phillip Sherlock

On December 4th, Jamaican historian, Caribbean public servant and academic, Sir Phillip Sherlock died at the age of 98. He was one of the most notable sons of Jamaica, this distinguished scholar and educational pioneer, gifted poet and author, and acknowledged leader of the nations litererary and intullectual community. His most memorable contribution was his service to the University of the West Indies, which he helped to establish and which he served in many capacities, leading to the final distinction as Vice- Chancellor.

Phillip Sherlock

  • Was educated at Calabar High School
  • Began teaching as a junior master when only 17
  • In 1987 he gained BA from London University  by private study on his own
  • Taught 2 years at Manchester High school, then moved to Wolmers Boys School
  • In 1932 he was appointed headmaster of Wolmers  when he was 30 to become the youngest headmaster in the island
  • After 20 years in the schoolroom he was appointed Secretary of the Institute of Jamaica, the national center for the promotion of literature and the arts.
  • In 1945 he Joined with Jamaica national hero, Norman Manley, to create the Jamaica Welfare philantropic organisation  as Education Officer
  • In 1950 he worked in  establishing the University College of the West Indies, the forerunner of The University of the West Indies (UWI)
  • At the College he served as the first director of Extra-Mural Studies, Vice-Principal and later Principal of the Mona Campus in Jamaica, founding principal of the campus of St. Augustine Faculty of Engineering in Trinidad, which also incorporated the former Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture
  • He received the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1956.
  • In 1964 he rose from Pro Vice-Chancellor of UWI to succeed Sir Arthur Lewis as the Vice-Chancellor. Under his leadership the university grew in importance and prestige.
  • He was knighted by the Queen in 1966
  • In 1969 he retired as Vice Chancellor  only to spearhead the creation of the Caribbean Universities and Research Institute, an organisation linking tertiary institutions in the Caribbean and Central America, including the University of Guyana.
  • In 1971 he received honorary degree Doctor of Letters from the University of Miami in the US
  • In 1978 Venezuela honored him with thee award of the Band of Honour of the Order of Andres Bello in recognition of the success of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institution(UNICA), of which he served as Secretary
  • In 1989 he was awarded the highly-esteemed, and rarely-bestowed Jamaican national award, the Order of Merit for "eminent international distinction in Education and learning".
  • In 1991 he won the Pelican Award from the Jamaican branch of the Guild of Graduates of UWI for distinguished service to the university
  • In 1992 he received the Norman Washington Manley Award for Excellence for his work in the field of Education and Culture.

As a poet, author and folklorist some of his publications include "West Indian Story", Land and People of the West Indies", West Indian Folk Tales, Shout For Freedom", and "The Story of the Jamaican People" (in collaboration with Dr. Hazel Bennett), which he completed in 1995 when he was 94.

No wonder UWI Chancellor Sir Shridath Ramphal eulogized him as a man "who inspired a generation of West Indians to the compulsions of being true to themselves and their West Indian heritage."


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Air Jamaica: Airlines no! Vacations yes!

Vacations yes!
The tour operating arm of the Jamaica’s national airline, Air Jamaica Vacations is making big bucks. It posted record profits for the year 2000 amounting to some US$1.5 million. This represents a huge increase over last year’s figures of US$75,000. Since restructuring Jamaica Air tours to Air Jamaica Vacations in 1995, the company has flourished. . Since then the number of tourists it has transported to the island has grown from 12,000 to almost 60,000 last year. They expect 80,000 this year.

Airlines no!
For the airlines itself, it is a different story. It is running massive arrears to the Government in taxes and fees. Some of these delinquent payments are:

  • About J$200 million in travel tax , which it collects from passengers on behalf of the Government, but has failed to fork it over
  • About J$600 million to the airport authority for landing fees. All the other airlines are up to date on their landing fees.

This delinquency on landing fees have complicated plans to privatise the airport. Air Jamaica CEO, Butch Stewart, however contends that despitpe his massive delinquent taxes, the airlines is bringing in an estimated J$850 million per year to the island. Once again it is reported the Government has made some accommadtion to pay off the arrears. This is the very same government which is battling severe economic adversity and one which the CEO is not shy to criticize.
So, it seems the wholly Butch Stewart owned Air Jamaica Vacations are reeling in big profits, while the jointly Butch Stewart- Government of Jamaica owned Air Jamaica Airlines is awash in debt.


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3 die in mystery blast at Guyana military base

Three soldiers died and 11 persons were injured in a mysterious explosion that rocked the Army Camp on the Linden Soesdyke Highway, about 46 miles outside the capital, Georgetown, Guyana. The Government has enlisted the help of the US in investigating the blast. Already three US army officers have arrived in Guyana to begin the probe.


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Trade gap for Jamaica widens

Unfortunately, Jamaica’s trade gap continues to widen. In the first 8 months of 1999:

  • Imports rose to US$2 billion, an increase of 11%
  • Exports rose slightly to US$888 million, an increase of 5.8%
  • Imports of consumer goods rose by 3.5%
  • Imports of raw materials rose by 16%
  • Imports of capital goods by 13%
  • Imports from CARICOM rose to US$257 million, an increase of 20%
  • Exports to CARICOM rose to US$30 million, an increase of 12%


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Jamaica’s Pantomine turns 60

Ah how many times we Jamaicans have enjoyed Louise Bennett and Ranny Williams in Pantomine!
Pantomine is basically a British art form. However, Jamaica has adopted it and it is now an established Jamaican institution. The pantomine has been produced annually since 1940, so is celebrating its 60th year. This seasons colorful humorous splashy dance-filled production which opened on the traditional Boxing Day, December 26, is "Jack and the Macka Tree", a take of Jack and the Beanstalk.


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Australia takes Test Series 5-0

Its all over as the Aussies clobbered the West Indies 5-0 in one of the greatest humiliations the West Indies have ever suffered in Test cricket. At least two of the last 3 tests were competitive and performance by young newcomers Wavell Hinds, Ramnaresh Sarwan,  Marlon Samuels and Mahendra Nagamootoo is cause for hope. Let us hope these become building blocks for a new powerful team, like the good ol’days.
Results of the last three tests are as follows:

3rd Test
1st inning :WI 391 (Lara 182, Adams 49, Samuels 35, Gillespie 5 for 89, Miller 5 for 81); Aussies 403 (Ponting 92, Slater 83, ME Waugh 63, Martyn 46 n.o.,
2nd inning WI 141 (Lara 39, Miller 5 for 32) Aussies 130 for 5 ( Langer 48)
Australia won by 5 wickets

4th Test
1st inning :Australia 364 (SR Waugh 121 n.o., Dillon 4 for 76) ;WI 165 (Samuels 60 n.o., Bichel 5 for 60)
2nd inning Australia 262 for 5 dec. (Langer 80, ME Waugh 78 n.o.); WI 109 (Samuels 46, Gillespie 6 for 40) Note J. Adams 0,0; Lara 0,

5th Test
1st inning : West Indies 272(Campbell 79, Hines 70, MacGill 7 for 104) ;Australia 452(SR Waugh 103, Slater 96, Gilchrist 87)
2nd  inning : WI 352 (Nagamatoo 68, Jaacobs 62, Campbell 54, Sarwan 51, Miller 4 for 102); Australia 174 for 4( Slater 86 n.o.)
Australia won the test by 6 wickets and the series by 5-0.


Britain to ban food supplements containing nandrolone

A British government agency is to order the withdrawl from sale of all supplements containing nandrolone, the anabolic steroid at the centre of dozens of positive drug tests in sport.
Olympic athletics champions Linford Christie of Britain and Dieter Baumann from Germany, Czech tennis player Peter Korda, winner of the Australian Open, and France's World Cup-winning footballer Christophe Dugarry are among those to have been banned after testing positive for nandrolone.

In Britain alone, 24 competitors from 10 different sports tested positive for the steroid in 1999-2000, with most of them protesting their innocence. Many said they had only used legitimate supplements bought either over the counter at health food stores or by mail order. While many such supplements do not contain banned substances, there is a rapidly growing market for products that include nandrolone precursors -- chemicals that, when consumed, are converted by the body into nandrolone and which have the same medical effect as the steroid.

Sales of such products through one manufacturer are estimated to be worth more than five million pounds (US$7.39 million) a year. Britain's Medicine Control Agency is now to issue notices to manufacturers in the new year ordering the products to be removed from sale, under provisions of the Medicines Act 1968.


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