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Study War No More!


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.



March 2003

Caribbean joins worldwide opposition to Iraq war

CARICOM has released a unanimous statement that they are opposed to the use of armed force against Iraq by the US and its allies when it is clear that diplomatic efforts have not yet been exhausted. Their communiqué urged Iraq to "co-operate fully" with the terms of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1441 on disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and permit "total access" to the weapons inspectors to verify compliance with relevant UN resolutions.

Urging the United States and its "military allies" to exercise restraint in their approach to "this complex international crisis", the Caribbean heads of government said they were "deeply troubled over the humanitarian tragedy that an outbreak of war could bring about and the disastrous effects which it could have on global economic stability".

With all of the 15 member states of the 30-year-old Community represented at their just-concluded 14th Inter-Sessional Meeting in Port-of-Spain [Haiti and Belize were represented at ministerial and diplomatic level respectively], CARICOM leaders declared in their statement: "Total support" of the position taken by the UN Secretary General [Kofi Annan] that "this is an issue not for any one state alone, but for the international community as a whole". The Caricom statement also emphasised that any unilateral action taken outside of a UN Security Council mandate would undermine the integrity of the United Nations and considerably weaken the multilateral system and its machinery for preserving peace and security.

US pressure
Total support did not come easy as reports are circulating that the US pressured unsuccessfully the Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Dominica distance themselves from the statement. At one stage in the process, pressures even threatened "the very unity of CARICOM", according to some ministerial and diplomatic sources.

Jamaica, Barbados and Puerto Rico join protests
A group dubbed "Jamaicans Against War" demonstrated outside the entrance to the National Stadium on February 12 where Jamaica was playing the US in a soccer friendly. The relatively newly formed group was comprised of persons from different sectors of the society. Saturday, a few days later, with increased numbers , they joined the worldwide protests. Outside the US embassy, they brandished placards calling for America to fight problems such as poverty and diseases and not the people of Iraq.
In Barbados, the anti-war movement, dubbed the Clement Payne Movement also staged their second march. The first, in late January targeted the US embassy, but the second aimed at the Office of the British High Commission. They also have engaged in gathering signatures to petition the United States, Britain and the United Nations against waging war on Iraq.
The President of the group, David Comissiong, said the majority of British people was strongly against Britain’s war policy and said it was important for us in Barbados to join hands in support with the British people to stop Blair and his government’s support of Bush’s plan for war against Iraq.
About 900 Puerto Ricans chanted anti-war slogans against the possible invasion of Iraq. One man waved a U.S. flag on which the stars were replaced with skulls.

The rest of the world
Millions of protesters — many of them marching in the capitals of America's traditional allies — demonstrated Saturday, February 15,  against possible U.S. plans to attack Iraq. Ironically, the largest number of protestors came from countries which support the US war on Iraq, countries like Italy, UK, Spain and Australia, and whose leaders seem to show nothing but contempt for the voice of their people. Based on AP supplied estimates, the number of protestors per country are as follows:

  • CountryCity Police Estimate Organiser Estimate
  • Italy/Rome 1 million/3 million
  • UK/London 750,000
  • Spain/ 55 cities several million
  • Spain/Madrid 660,000
  • Spain/Barcelona 500,000
  • Spain/Seville 60,000
  • Australia/Sydney 100,000
  • Holland/Amsterdam 70,000
  • Germany/Berlin 500,000
  • France/Paris 100,000
  • France/Toulouse 30,000
  • USA/New York 500,000
  • USA/Los Angeles 100,000
  • Norway/Oslo 60,000
  • Belgium/Brussels 50,000
  • Sweden/Stockholm 35,000
  • Ireland/Dublin 80,000
  • Switzerland/Bern 40,000
  • Scotland/Glasgow 30,000
  • Denmark/Copenhagen 25,000
  • Austria/Vienna 15,000
  • Canada/Montreal 20,000
  • Canada/Toronto 15,000
  • Mexico/Mexico City 10,000
  • South Africa/Cape Town 5,000
  • South Africa/Jo’burg 4,000
  • Japan,Tokyo 5,000

In Tel Aviv, Israel, 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians marched together against the war. Also in divided Cyprus, 500 Greeks and Turks braved heavy rain to briefly block a British air base runway.

UN failure in the making
A lot of faith is put on the objectivity of the inspectors. I have seen them browbeaten on American TV to force them to come up with the goods on Iraq, not to mention by the Bush administration itself. Even small CARICOM countries got pressure from the Bush cohorts, so one can only imagine the pressure on the inspectors. The Bush cohorts, from Colin Powell down, has used lies, exaggerations and distortions showing an obvious lack of integrity. Consequently, I believe bribing the inspectors is a real possibility. The American media continues to be an instrument of American foreign policy. The UN is the only hope. It is supposed to prevent war, but can it withstand the US onslaught? The UN failed the half a million massacred in Rwanda. Will it fail another half million in Iraq to the US bombs and other war machinery?

Editor’s Comments: This war is unjustifiable, morally reprehensible, and a crime against humanity. It will undermine the UN, belittle world opinion and make every small country like Caribbean countries more vulnerable. 
Isn’t it a shame that Colin Powell has turned into Bush’s Goering. When is he going to resign from using classic propaganda to push this war, this crime against humanity? What a shame!
Congrats to Shirley Nathan-Pulliam,  Jamaican born delegate to the Maryland State House. Our Shirley has showed bravery to introduce an anti-war bill. For the text of this bill and a very important anti-war speech by US Senator Robert Byrd click here.

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New WI federation/confederation ?

Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Patrick Manning has in the past urged a political union involving Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and he used the opening of the 14th Inter-Sessional CARICOM Summit here to reiterate the need for closer political union among CARICOM members. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves even proposed that the union would take the form of a confederal political arrangement, similar to that of the European Union, but with variations to suit the Caribbean realities. But, any hopes of another type of federation faded when the Prime Ministers of Barbados and Jamaica said no to any sort of political alliance at this time.

Editors Comment: Much work needs to be done before any consideration of any type of federation should be considered. CARICOM needs to at least show much more unity and operate like a bloc. Typical is their vote for head of WTO in which each member voted its own way with little consideration for unity.

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CARICOM members make real deals with each other

Too often CARICOM only talks about the single market and unity but often spurn fellow members to trade outside CARICOM. CARICOM should be backing up unity talks with greater focus on trade which complements and strengthens each member from outside competition. It is good therefore to see recently two deals which will do just that.

Jamaica and T&T natural gas deal
Anthony Hylton, energy policy adviser to Jamaica Prime Minister has announced that the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Government has offered to finance 50 per cent of the cost of a feasibility project which is aimed at developing Jamaica's conversion to the large-scale use of natural gas. If all goes well, T&T will supply Jamaica with liquified natural gas (LNG) at significantly reduced prices.
He said the decision by the Trinidad and Tobago Government to foot 50 per cent of the bill was a "prelude to possible equity participation in the project" and that a feasibility study had already been completed. The switch to LNG is estimated to reduce Jamaica’s energy bill substantially, especially electricity costs. The importation of LNG will initially meet the demand of the power and bauxite/alumina sectors.

Jamaica and Guyana rice deal
Jamaica has upped its imports of rice from Guyana. Rice exports are a lifeline for Guyana. In recent years, subsidized US rice imports and from as far away as Viet Nam to Jamaica had cut into Guyana’s share and had become a cause for serious concern.

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T&T oil in big demand

Many nations have turned to T&T for oil since the ongoing strike aimed at ousting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has crippled that country’s oil industry and sparked gasoline shortages. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the western hemisphere second to Mexico.

Trinidad’s state owned oil company, Petrotrin, produces about 150,000 barrels per day. It sells one third to smaller Caribbean Islands, another third to larger countries in the region, including Jamaica, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, and the remainder to the US. The Iraqi war threat and the Venezuelan crisis has pushed up oil prices in the Caribbean. T&T has already served notice that if war erupts, they will not be able to honor requests from Caribbean and Latin American nations to hold oil prices at a "pre-Iraq war " level. This is just another way the Caribbean will suffer from Bush’s war.

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Rasta now official religion in Jamaica

The Constitutional Court of Jamaica has for the first time recognized Rastafarianism as a religion by means of an out-of-court agreement. The agreement states that Rastafarian prisoners are entitled under the Constitution of Jamaica to have their church conduct acts of worship with them.

It was part of the settlement that the Church of Haile Selassie I has the right to have access to inmates of correctional institutions and conduct acts of worship with them, on similar terms afforded to inmates of other religions. However, they will have to use the traditional wafer and wine as ganja was not permitted to be used as a sacrament.

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Crucial strikes in Jamaica and T&T

Jamaica - teachers
Teachers in Jamaica’s public school system went on a two-day strike recently. The teachers' action closed down basic, primary and secondary schools across the island. Although they returned to school, there is still great uncertainty as their wage demands far exceeds the offer from the government. As in former years, the strike had a strong influence beyond teachers as no school meant a headache for parents, a cut in daily take-home for bus and taxi drivers, operators of snack counters, restaurants and vendors alike. Of course the menacing backdrop is the incursions into the teaching ranks of dissatisfied teachers by overseas recruiters.

T&T - doctors
About a hundred doctors whose contract with the government expired at the end of last year went on strike. They were unhappy with terms of the new contract and demanded renegotiation. The strike crippled T&T’s public hospitals leaving patients to wait long hours and emergency rooms to treat only extreme cases. The doctors decided to go back only after the government agreed to renegotiate new terms.

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Suicides rise in Guantanamo Bay prison

The suspected terrorist prisoners from the Afghanistan war held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison by the US continue to commit suicide in increasing numbers. There has been 5 suicides in 3 weeks recently. Including the 10 in all of 2002, the latest case brought the total to 15 since the high security prison was built on the US naval base there a year ago. Amnesty International has protested the prolonged detention and uncertainty the men face about their future, saying it may cause physical and psychological harm. Some of the approximately, often held blindfolded in small cages, have been there more than a year under interrogation by the military without charges, trial or access to lawyers or their families and in contravention of the Geneva accords.

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Iraqi travelers detained in Jamaica for FBI

Ten Iraqis in transit, including a family of eight, were detained by the Jamaica Police at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The Iraqi family consisted of four men, two women and two children were all Iraqi nationals but the other two were naturalized Canadians of middle eastern origin. Police said that Jamaican officials discovered irregularities with their travel documents, held them and summoned the FBI. A team of 20 FBI agents flew down, interrogated them, offered asylum to the family, then withdrew the offer, and then released them.

The Iraqis had arrived on a flight from Havana, Cuba, and were scheduled to depart for Belize. Instead they had that unexpected stay-over in Jamaica, the two Canadians flew back to Canada, and the family returned to Cuba on their way back to Iraq.

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Dominica PM in T&T for CARICOM meeting hospitalized

Pierre Charles, the 49-year old Prime minister of Dominica arrived in Trinidad for the 2-day CARICOM heads of state meeting. Shortly after arrival, he was taken to the Eric Williams medical center complaining of chest pains. He was hospitalized and was reported to be in stable condition. In June, PM Charles complained of chest pains and underwent a series of tests in Martinique. He became Prime Minister in October 2000 following the death of Prime Minister Rosie Douglas.

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Mass nude weddings at Runaway Bay in Jamaica

Hedonism and marriage does not seem to go together, but at Hedonism III resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, a mass wedding of 29 nude couples took place on Valentines Day. This was the largest number since the event was started there three years ago and is a contender for the Guinness Book of World Records.

The couples, including a Russian, a Canadian and an American Indian from the Crow Tribe, exchanged wedding vows at an hour-long ceremony held on the lawns, near the hotel's nude beach. Appropriately, the ceremony ended with Afro-Tech Steel band playing a version of Bob Marley's hit song "One Love".
Maybe next Valentines Day some of our readers might be saying "I do" there.

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PNC to rejoin Parliament in Guyana

The opposition Peoples National Congress party has been boycotting the Parliament. With the death of PNC leader Desmond Hoyte, Mr. Robert Corbin has succeeded him as the new leader. Since then Corbin has written the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, requesting a meeting of Parliament on Wednesday to debate a motion on the electricity crisis and other issues of urgent national importance.

This return to Parliament and participation in government is long overdue and could well signal real dialogue and the beginning of the end of the political unrest that has so badly marred that country.

But in Jamaica, Seaga threatens
However, in Jamaica, opposition leader JLP’s Eddie Seaga has threatened to "oppose, oppose and oppose this regime until we bring it down", as if his irresponsible actions in the riots of last July was not enough.

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US House bill to ease Cuban embargo weakened

The bill passed by the US House of Representatives in July 2002 that would ease the US embargo on Cuba has been drastically weakened. The bill has been gutted of provisions which would have:

  • Made it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba

  • Made it easier to send remittances to friends and family in Cuba

  • Made it easier to finance the sale of farm products to Cuba

  • Provided additional funds for cooperation with Cuba on counternarcotics

  • Imposed greater accountability by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in the process of issuing licenses for Americans to travel to Cuba.

Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat, and Chuck Hagel, a Republican, introduced a bill to lift the embargo, including removing restrictions on trade and lifting the travel ban.
"This legislation represents an important step toward normalizing the United States' economic relations with Cuba and opening a dialogue between our two nations," Baucus said on the Senate floor.

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"Scratch" Perry wins reggae Grammy

LEE 'SCRATCH' Perry, born Rainford Hugh Perry, is the 45th Grammy Awards winner for 'Best Reggae Album' for his 2002 release Jamaican E.T. The Grammy Awards were presented yesterday at New York's Madison Square Garden.With Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd, Perry is often credited with the creation of reggae and dub. He produced, among others, Bob Marley and The Wailers, creating such songs as Small Axe and Duppy Conqueror before the group signed with Island Records in 1973.

His Black Ark studio in Kingston saw the creation of the most innovative reggae in history before it burnt to the ground in 1983 and Perry went into self-imposed exile. He is now a resident of Zurich, Switzerland.

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Jamaica ranks 8 in number of deportees from the US

A TOTAL of 2,111 Jamaicans were deported from the United States from September 2001 to October 2002 (that country's fiscal year 2002), according to figures from the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. A total of 1,511 of the deportees were categorised as 'criminal', with 600 being classified as 'non-criminal'.

In the U.S. fiscal year 2001, the number of deportees sent back to Jamaica was 2,017, with 1,298 being classified as 'criminal' and 719 as 'non-criminal'.

Jamaica ranks as high as No. 8 in terms of deportee destinations from the United States. Mexico tops the list with 108,287 deportees. The rankings of the top 20 are as follows:
1. Mexico; 2. Honduras; 3. Guatemala; 4. El Salvador; 5. Dominican Republic; 6. Brazil and 7. Colombia, 8.Jamaica, 9. Haiti, 10. Pakistan, 11. Canada, 12. Peru; 13. Nigeria; 14. the Philippines; 15. Ecuador, 16. the People's Republic of China; 17. Argentina; 18. India; 19. Nicaragua, 20. Trinidad and Tobago.

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American group make Havana preservation plans 

A group of Americans announced an initiative on Monday to help Cubans preserve the dilapidated architectural treasures of Havana from the looming arrival of capitalist urban development. The architects and urban planners fear that if U.S. sanctions against Cuba are lifted as some expect, developers will move in and destroy the identity of one of the world's most eclectic cities. Havana's architecture ranges from Spanish colonial mansions to art deco gems and mobster-built hotels of the 1950s.

"There will be a rush of capital to Cuba ... The best way to prepare for the onslaught of capitalism is to have a good plan," California architect and city planner Jeffrey Horowitz said at a news conference. Horowitz led a 32-member delegation -- including two U.S. legislators -- that met with Cuban officials. A larger conference is planned for June.

"Havana and Cuba is one of the unique places in the world that has so much to preserve, so much to build on without destroying the cultural and historical essence of this island and the heritage of this great city," said Rep. Sam Farr, a California Democrat.

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Trial clears Reggae boy Whitmore

The Falmouth Resident Magistrate Court in Jamaica has freed Jamaica reggae boy soccer star, Theodore Whitmore of manslaughter and reckless driving charges. Whitmore was on trial for the death of former reggae boy, "Shorty" Malcom, who died when a car owned by Whitmore, was involved in an accident in the parish of Trelawny some two years ago.

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WI out of cricket World Cup

West Indies hopes for the cricket World Cup crashed as they went down to defeat by Sri Lanka by 6 runs. Sri Lanka had set a modest total of 228 for 6 to which the WI batsmen struggled to 222 for 9. Previously the WI had beaten second favorites South Africa by 5 runs, lost to New Zealand, tied Bangladesh in a rain abandoned game, and beaten Canada.

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Ottey comes 2nd

There is still some kick in the 42-year-old Merlene Ottey as she placed 2nd in the 60 meters on February 11th 2003, at the Ghent International meet . The race was won by Ukraine’s Zhanna Pintussevich to match the fastest time of the year held by Jamaican Veronica Campbell, 7.09 seconds. Ottey had the 6th fastest time in the world this year. The Jamaican is now representing Slovenis and is in her 24th year of international competition.


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