From April Hot Calaloo update
New York recruits teachers in the Caribbean
First it was nurses who were heavily recruited in the Caribbean. But, now many teachers will be packing their bags for New York. Why? New York State Board of Education came to Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica to recruit teachers. Not surprisingly, they were greeted with an overwhelming response. Jamaican teachers who have been battling for a pay increase and saw 300 of their colleagues virtually laid-off were very enthusiastic. The recruiters considered the venture very successful, having signed up a reported 600 in Jamaica alone. Teachers recruited ranged from beginning teachers to veterans with more than 20 years experience.
Jamaicaís Education Minister says this brain drain will not affect the schools. That is hard to believe in a system which already suffers from overcrowded classrooms. Furthermore, with the success of New York State, won't other states be mining the Caribbeanís underpaid overworked teachers too? The fact is a serious crisis lies ahead.
Free Trade Area of the Americas
The Free Trade Areas of the Americas met in Quebec and was host to all the leaders of the Western Hemisphere except Fidel Castro. The agenda is to make the entire hemisphere a free trade zone. Caribbean leaders are salivating to follow that path. But, there is lots of evidence to show that path leads nowhere. It has got lots of high powered propaganda. What has it done for NAFTA partner Mexico? NAFTA was supposed to create jobs. One of the impacts of NAFTA in Mexico is that the trade pact has driven large numbers of Mexican farmers, small business owners and laborers out of work, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle (10/15/98). These people are left with few options but to seek a better life in the US even as an illegal alien. (Extra June 2001)
It is not here yet, but already Caribbean countries are feeling the consequences of free trade. Head of the Barbados Manufacturers' Association, Clifton Maynard, says there is some concern among manufacturers about the opening up of the market, facilitating free trade. "You only have to look at the supermarket shelves to see the vast variety of products that has suddenly come into the market," he said in an interview with the Business Manufacturers Authority (BMA), published by the Nation Group of companies. He said the BMA's concern was that "each and every one of those (products) will cost us foreign exchange and we will have to find foreign exchange to pay for them. "If that is going to be the effect of free trade and we are going to find ourselves in difficulty finding foreign exchange, then, one would say that free trade isn't good for Barbados."
Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) is not happy either. They accuse Thailand of dumping cement on the Caribbean market. Of course dumping is illegal under free trade terms. But only the big developed countries can prove and enforce it. Caribbean countries, forget it. No one will even pay any attention. In the meantime, TCL has seen profits decline by 4% from T&T$23 million reported in the first quarter of 2000 compared to T&T$ 22 million in the 1st quarter of this year.
Bet this is only the beginning!
Chirac champions the cause of poorest nations.
"Poverty and insecurity drive drug production and the proliferation of organized crime and illegal immigration networks. The struggle for survival accelerates deterioration of soil, depletion of water resources, deforestation and pillaging of natural resources."
These were the words of French President Chirac as he addressed a U.N. conference in Brussels, Belgium, on how to lift the world's most destitute countries out of crushing poverty. The Caribbean is poor, but these countries are so bad that Haiti was the only Caribbean country poor enough to qualify! Most of the countries are in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia with a total population of as much as about 650 million. Of this 650 million, one half live on less than US$1 a day.
Although the conference hosted leaders of the poorest countries, in addition to President Chirac, other EU officials, US Aid head and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan attended.
While the conference aimed to get the United States, Japan and the 15-nation European Union to increase their aid budgets, impoverished countries are also looking for access to rich export markets for their goods and a real commitment to debt relief. To this end, President Chirac invited other developed countries to "take inspiration" from the EU's move this year to open up its markets to almost all goods from the world's poorest countries, not including arms. That deal passed, however, only after France won a postponement of up to eight years for bananas, sugar and rice - products it gets from its own tropical regions and former colonies.
There were promises of solidarity from rich nations and proposals to make better use of aid, trade and private investment. But, President Chirac warned that, "The international community cannot assist corrupt, oppressive and predatory regimes."
The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAS) considered the general elections held in Guyana last March 19 to be "orderly, peaceful and incident-free". That was the essence of an oral report Elizabeth Spehar Executive Coordinator of the Organisation's Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD), delivered to the Permanent Council at its meeting on Wednesday. The UPD had organised the team of OAS monitors that numbered 33 on Election Day in Guyana, covering some 25 per cent of the polling stations.
Unrest in Guyana spreads
The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAS) considered the general elections held in Guyana last March 19 to be "orderly, peaceful and incident-free". However, that report did not halt more post-election violence since. Worse yet, the violence is no longer confined to the capital Georgetown but has spread to the lower east coast of Demerara. There 3 persons were murdered execution style as racial tensions rose and fear gripped the region. Many schools were closed, and the Government considered imposing a curfew. Police patrols were stepped up.
No condoms for Jamaica prisons - Government
The Government of Jamaica, with widespread public support has embarked on a policy which will cost the unnecessary loss of lives. Jamaica's Health Ministry said it had no immediate plan to issue condoms to prison inmates to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. Four years ago, prison commissioner George Prescod undertook such a plan. This issue provoked deadly riots. Prison guards virtually mutinied and have since defied the commissioner every opportunity they had. "Dem make people tink we are all homosexuals!" was their vociferous complaint.
The commissioner was isolated and vilified with virtually no one coming to his defense. But, Hot Calaloo did. Commissioner Prescod deserved praise for his pre-emptive action against the scourge of AIDS/HIV. The prison guards are ignorant and donít know better. The institutions like the church, the press, and civic organsiations who do, witheld their support. The opposition probably reveled in the public beating the government took for bearing responsibility for this proposal. The timidity of these institutions to act responsible in a life threatening crisis like this was cowardly and disgraceful. Just like in Guyana, these institutions there seem also unwilling to risk their popularity to heal the racial political divide and censure the country-destroying tactics of PNM leader Desmond Hoyte.
In the meantime, (as reported in the previous-May- update of Hot Calaloo) AIDS/HIV has risen in the Caribbean to second behind only Africa, In Jamaica, it is now at a rate of 40 persons per 1,000. That's 4% of the entire population! The prison population continues to be particularly vulnerable.
The government with elections imminent obviously fears more adverse but ridiculous public reaction. So they have abandoned that political minefield. Instead, Acting Chief Medical Officer Deanna Ashley said the ministry and the prisons service were developing a program for education, training and better care for both inmates and guards in response to a rise in HIV and AIDS cases in the prisons.
(See "Save the World - Use A Condom" from previous -May 01- issue )
CARICOM Health Ministers negotiate cheaper AIDS drugs
As we learnt from last months Hot Calaloo, the Caribbean has the 2nd highest AIDS rate in the world, second only to Africa. So itís welcome news that CARICOM Health Ministers are negotiating a major reduction in the price of drugs used to treat victims of HIV and AIDS. The ministers had undertaken the initiative in view of the "prohibitive" cost of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS victims. Barbados Health Minister Philip Goddard was given the task of spearheading the talks with drug companies on obtaining a price reduction. Good luck will be needed from the well known record of South Africa to get cheap drugs and the obstruction manufacturers put up. Brazil has a model drug program, but the US is obstructing it at the behest of the big multinational drug company. Shades of South Africa again.
Brazil AIDS program draws US threat
"There is gold in them thar Jamaican hills!"
Jamaica opened its first commercial gold mine in Pennants, Clarendon.
The mine is being managed by Australian company Ausjam Mining, which
displayed samples of some of the metal on site. The Australian firm, which
has been operating here from feasibility stage since 1995, invested US$7.5
million in the project which employs 35 people, most of whom are local
Mining companies enrage residents
"Iím mad as hell and I ainít gonna take it anymore!" This famous line from the movie "Network" best sums up the mood of certain townsfolk in three different villages in the Caribbean. Manufacturing plants in their neighborhoods had been bombarding their homes with excessive noise, dust, stench, or damaging vibrations produced by their operations. The residents finally responded with angry protests.
In Stevens Road, Manchester, Jamaica
In Woodside, Jamaica
In Bendal, Antigua
Editorís Note: Three separate unrelated incidents like this! Are there more? In the the State of Maryland in the US, I have first hand knowledge about protection of citizens from side effects of blasting. Blasting must be approved beforehand by the State. This requires the submittal of a blasting plan design to show that any explosion will be within acceptable specified limits. Furthermore:
It is crystal clear that the governments have to be more vigilant in protecting its citizens from big powerful companies riding roughshod over these small rural communities.
U.S. voted out of UN rights group
The United States, a vocal critic of human rights records of China and Cuba, lost its seat on the top U.N. rights body for the first time since the commission was established in 1947. The U.S. ouster comes the same day Sudan and several other nations with poor track records on human rights were elected to the panel. Diplomats gave various reasons for the U.S. loss, including the current absence of a U.S. ambassador at the world organization and retaliation for frequent American criticism of rights abuses in other countries. In voting for spots on the 53-member U.N. Humans Rights Commission, the United States was edged out by three European countries - a loss that means the United States will not be able to vote for at least a year on commission resolutions.
Of course the US massive debt to the UN and the US congress arrogant refusal to pay has not helped. The US debt is about US$1.9 billion, approximately 56% of the total UN debt.
A US$13.7 million technical assistance package will become available through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to member-states of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). Member-countries will be assisted in increasing public sector savings, containing public debt within manageable limits, and increasing the level of economic and social infrastructure development in their respective societies. CARICOM Chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur signed agreement establishing the financial package on May 8, paving the way for the start-up of the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), which will focus on strengthening the financial sector within CARICOM Member States.
A regional framework is being put in place to coordinate youth development activities across the CARICOM region with a new emphasis on issues relating to Health, Poverty, and Human Resource Development of Youth. This plan evolved out of a two-day meeting in Trinidad of CARICOM Directors of Youth from May 7 to 9. The impact of the wide-ranging discussions, which primarily framed the regional strategy for Youth Development across the Caribbean, set out plans for training youth workers and young people. The plans include proposals for an accreditation process.
Agreement has been reached in principle for the 50 year old Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) and the six-month-old United Labour Congress (ULC) to join forces, opposition leader Michael Baptiste has confirmed. They plan to cooperate under the banner of the GULP and will maintain the star as the party's symbol. Baptiste who heads the ULC said both parties have decided to take the proposal back to their respective executive councils for ratification.
The government in Nevis, acknowledging the dangers posed by global warming and the high costs of fuel, is looking into the possibility of using wind power as an alternative source of energy. Premier Vance Amory made the observation Wednesday after receiving a report by a Guadeloupe-based renewable energy research organisation, Institut de Cooperation Franco Caraibe, that had conducted a fifteen-month survey on wind potential on Nevis. The report indicated that Nevis has an inexhaustible wind potential and urged for its tapping.
British Petroleum Trinidad and Tobago (BPTT) said it has made another major gas discovery, about 42 miles off the country's east coast. BPTT said the discovery of one trillion cubic feet of gas was made in the Cashima 1 well. The Cashima 1, the first of four exploratory wells planned by BP for 2001 was drilled to a depth of 13,160 feet in 263 feet of water.
Sharpton in Jail for Vieques Protest
A federal judge sentenced the Rev. Al Sharpton to 90 days in jail for
trespassing on U.S. Navy land as part of a protest against military
exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. The New York civil rights
activist was arrested May 1 with 12 other protesters on Navy land. At
least 180 people were arrested during the exercises April 27 to May 1.
Because Sharpton had prior arrests for civil disobedience in New York, he
was sentenced as a repeat offender. He also was fined $500.
Jamaicans beat two invincible Olympic champs
Defending 100 m Olympic men's champion, Maurice Green, is not invincible anymore. In the Prefontaine meet in Eugene, Oregon, Greene was beaten into third place by Jamaicaís Patrick Jarrett. Jarrett won in a wind-aided 9.89, the fastest in the world this year. Second place went to Tim Montgomery of the US. Jarrett was a quarterfinalist in the last Olympics, but has obviously come a long way since then. In that race he beat some other powerful contenders as the results below shows.
Gail Devers was the other Olympic champ defeated. She came 2nd to Jamaicaís Deloreen Ennis-London in the women's 100m hurdles, once again the fastest time in the world this year.
One Olympic champion still reigned supreme, Marion Jones. She won the womenís 200 m very comfortably. But Jamaicaís Juliet Campbell notched 2nd place.
100 hurdles -- 1, Deloreen Ennis-London, Jamaica, 12.68. 2, Gail Devers, U.S., 12.69. 3, Anjanette Kirkland, U.S., 12.88. 4, Michelle Freeman, Jamaica, 12.90. 5, Vonnette Dixon, Jamaica, 12.96. 6, Dionne Rose, Jamaica, 13.02. 7, Sharon Couch, U.S., 13.36.
Former Jamaica national soccer coach and architect of their march to the 1998 World Cup finals in France is now in the coach of Trinidad and Tobago under-17 soccer team.
On "United Fruit Co."
On Caribbean students in Cuba
The Jamaat al Muslimeen group in Trinidad will get more money from the government for the destruction of its buildings in the aftermath of a 1990 coup attempt, a high court judge ruled at the weekend. Justice Carlton Best awarded TT$625,000 (US$99,187) to the group for the destruction of the buildings at their Mucurapo headquarters in the western township of St James. The group had been earlier given an interim payment of TT$1.5 million (US$238,050). The Muslimeen group led by Yasin Abu Bakr had made a claim for TT$12 million dollars.
It seems they lost the revolution but won the money!
Bermuda hotel staff share profit
Bermuda's hotel workers are set to get their own "piece of the pie" with a profit-sharing program which will earn them up to 1,000 dollars (US) a year, the Royal Gazette newspaper reported. The scheme will see hotel staff earn extra cash if they hit productivity targets agreed between their employers and the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU). The BIU, Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA) and the Hotel Employers of Bermuda are delighted with the "Success Sharing Program", which they say will benefit quests as well as workers.
Caribbean countries oppose whale sanctuary
Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines all voted against the establishment of a Southern Ocean whale sanctuary at last year's 52nd meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Australia. They are set to oppose it again at the meeting in July. Australia is lobbying to get at least three of these countries to abstain to give the resolution a chance of passing. The countries explanation is that they are pro-whaling, but unfortunately seems that pro-whaling means anti-whale.