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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.



November 2003

 Jamaica blacklisted? US State Dept. says no but…

"We are no longer permitted to conduct business with persons residing in Jamaica. We are also prohibited from maintaining any previously established relationships with clients residing in this country, even if their residency in that country is only temporary. Consequently, it is with sincere regret that we must advise you to cease all activity of any kind, including checkwriting and Visa debit card transactions, and give us written instructions to immediately transfer and/or liquidate your assets and pay the proceeds to you."

These ominous words were from A. G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. operating out of Norfolk, Virginia to the Jamaican engineering firm George P. Lechler. The American financial company is reported to have explained that the U.S. State Department had indicated to his company that Jamaica was on a list of countries that harboured money launderers and that there were serious penalties to pay if they continue to do business with persons residing - even on a temporary basis - in Jamaica.

Since then the Jamaica government checked with the US State Department and they denied that Jamaica was on any such blacklist. So far I am unaware of any explanation for the A. G. Edwards action. Furthermore, since that State Department denial another business in Jamaica received an almost identical letter of rejection from Bank of America. See a copy of this letter for yourself here.

Editor’s Comments: Colin, where are thou? US Secretary of State, Colin Powell has lied blatantly to the UN about Iraq. Son of Jamaican parents, Colin Powell is head of the US State Department. The US State Department cannot be trusted. I think they are lying. Is Colin Powell sinking the knife in the back of his ancestral Jamaica? What more infamy is he gonna do for Bush? (Belafonte was so right. see:Belafonte vs Powell..Nov 1, 2002) What other explanation could there be? I doubt it is because of any money laundering. Instead I think it’s US political reprisal and intimidation. Jamaica and the world could be in big trouble and might as well get ready to kiss their sovereignty goodbye. I hope I am wrong.

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Activism from your armchair

Hot Calaloo calls upon its readers to be activists. You don’t have to go protest marching in sub-freezing weather as I did on February 15, 2002. Thanks to the Internet you can be a powerful activist right from your armchair. Let your voice be heard. The following sites enables you to join together with tens of thousands of others and make your voice heard. Bookmark these sites now and I implore every reader of Hot Calaloo to participate wherever they can.

  1. Working Families e-Activist Network
    There are many important campaigns here to support but Hot Calaloo specifically urges every reader to vote right now to Stop the Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA). The FTAA will allow big multi-national corporations to decimate local Caribbean producers and render Governments impotent to protect them in their own country. So vote to stop the FTAA now.
    For more information on the FTAA check
  2. Move On Organization
    Join more than 2,000,000 online activists in one of the most effective and responsive outlets for democratic participation available today.
  3. American Civil Liberties Union
    Oppose the abuses to immigrants and civil liberties in the Patriot Act
  4. Act For Change
    Help stop cruise ship pollution
    Cruise ships ply our Caribbean waters. Every day, a single cruise ship produces thousands of gallons of sewage and can legally dump it in the ocean only 3 miles from shore. Graywater -- the water from sinks, showers, galleys, laundries and beauty salons -- doesn't get treated at all and has been shown in tests to contain contaminants exceeding sewage standards by as much as 50,000 times. Sewage carries bacteria and viruses that are harmful to human health, and can also sicken and kill marine life, including corals. This pollution is preventable.

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Anti-police protests shut down Mobay

The police engaged in a shootout with gunmen in the Flankers community of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The gunmen escaped and instead the police shot three innocent elderly persons, killing two men and injuring the third a 60+ year-old woman. These shootings enraged the community and they took to the streets in great numbers in protest, blocking roads and highways with debris and fires. As fast as police cleared the streets new roadblocks were set up and soon the area looked like a war zone. The unrest forced a major shutdown of most sections of the resort city and a dramatic scale-down in commercial services, as vehicular and pedestrian traffic could not get in or out of the city via its eastern thoroughfare for several hours.

The protesters lit fires and used boulders, old vehicles and tree limbs to mount barricades along several sections of the Flankers main road. Montego Bay is not only the heart of one of the largest tourist area in Jamaica, but also houses airport access. With roads blocked, many tourists were trapped in their hotels and could not get to the airport. So several tourists and other travellers had to be transported to the airport by boat. Part of the airstrip was opened to accommodate vehicular traffic after throngs of commuters were stranded in downtown Montego Bay.

Police officials have removed all officers involved in the shooting and have announced that a very transparent and thorough investigation will take place. There is a hue and cry for the blood of these policemen from government officials, the political opposition, community leaders down to the man on the street.

Only days before, police had battled organized crime gangs in the nearby community of Canterbury. It was no Canterbury tale as it was an 8-hour gun battle with police up against gunmen some toting AK47 assault rifles. In the end, 3 gunmen were killed, 3 policemen injured and a large cache of ammunition was seized.

Jamaica’s lifeblood, tourism, has been hurt. The police’s credibility and reputation has been hurt. The police’s ability to enlist the public’s cooperation to fight the vicious widespread crime wave has been hurt. On the other hand, attempts to create anarchy and make Jamaica ungovernable have received a tremendous boost.

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Sweet sugar news from Guyana

Guyana is leading the way. The state-owned Guyana sugar company, Guysuco, says sugar production has increased by 154 per cent between 1990 and 2002, when production figures were 331-thousand tons 12 years ago.

The company says there have been improvements in the Tons-of-Cane to Tons-of-Sugar ratio, from 13 to 11 between 1990 and 2002, while the amount of land under cultivation had increased by 12 per cent over the same period.

In addition Guysuco says there has been an increase in the tons of cane milled, which was recorded at nearly two million in 1990 and 3-point-6-7 million in 85 percent increase.

The Guyana Information Agency says Guysuco has also been involved in several initiatives including the development and execution of the Agricultural Improvement plan and the Factory Improvement Plan ; organic sugar production; and the introduction of a policy on HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

The information agency says Guyana has been ranked among the top African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) suppliers of sugar due to the improvement in sugar quality. It added that the sugar industry is the highest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product, and the largest foreign export earner that garnered 133 million US dollars in the overall sales of sugar and molasses in 2002.

And all this without privatization!

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AP study show devastating impact of deportees

According to a six-month Associated Press (AP) investigation, the 'ripple effect' of the massive deportations from the US to countries in the Caribbean, as well as Latin America had triggered crime waves that were overwhelming the efforts of local law enforcement officials. The AP investigation included interviews with more than 300 police, deportees, church leaders, social scientists and government officials in the United States and abroad.

The disturbing report along with information from local and other sources found that:

  • in Jamaica, one out of every 106 males over the age of 15 is now a criminal deportee from the United States.

  • deportees in Jamaica have formed criminal networks that trade cocaine for North American weapons

  • that the majority of the over 17,000 deportees sent back to Jamaica within the past seven years come from a pool of American street gangs, said to number about 800,000 strong.

  • some of these deportees are now the backbone of 70 criminal gangs operating across Jamaica with at least 30 of these gangs active in the Kingston area and St. Catherine.

  • more than 500,000 criminals in the US have been rounded up and deported, according to US government figures, and this year they are being banished at a rate of one every seven minutes to more than 160 countries around the world.

  • Eighty per cent of the deportees are being sent to seven Caribbean and Latin American countries - Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic -- places where jobs are scarce and police resources are limited. Mexico leads with 340,000.

But they are not all dangerous criminals
There are many dangerous criminals. But many others are guilty of minor offences such as petty crime. They have lived in the US since they were small children and now find themselves deported to a country completely unknown and alien to them. They have no money, no family, no friends and no job prospects. They are feared and shunned as criminals. Many of these fill the destitute ranks of the homeless. For them, the punishment for their crime never ends and for the most trivial of crimes, deportation is a harsh life sentence.

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Train teachers and nurses for export proposal

Jamaica Prime Minister on a trip to Hartford, Connecticut, USA, has proposed a really new idea for export. Nurses and teachers. Rather than watch helplessly as these professionals leave vital Jamaican assignments to seek their fortune overseas, this proposal would set up special training facilities in Jamaica in cooperation with the US for the specific purpose of exporting nurses and teachers. Obviously with the raids of these professionals by overseas recruiters, there is a big export market for them especially at this time when traditional export products like sugar and bananas are doing so badly. Both nursing and teachers associations in Jamaica have supported the idea.

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Another Jamaican market closed for repairs

Unsanitary and dilapidated conditions forced the closure of the Spanish Town market in that old capital of Jamaica. Hot Calaloo will continue to bemoan the deterioration of these open air markets in Jamaica, which forms such a vital part of Jamaican life. The recent delegation to Mexico to study their markets gave some hope, but the repairs underway seem stopgap and inadequate and give no indication that the lessons learned in Mexico will get any consideration. So, what was the point of the delegation? see Mexico’s vending markets impress Jamaican delegation

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Abortions remain illegal in Caribbean

A woman’s right to choose abortion is pretty much nonexistent in the Caribbean and will probably remain so. The St. Lucian government bravely launched a reconsideration of the laws to make abortion legal in certain circumstances but ran into a flood of protest including from its own Home Affairs Minister Sara Flood-Beaubrun. The Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) , has been lobbying the government in Kingston for changes to the current laws on abortion, which date back to 1864.

Barbados seems to be unique. As far back as 1983 they passed legislation permitting abortion in certain circumstances. The National Organisation of Women in Barbados credits legal abortion with saving a large number of lives that would otherwise be lost to illegal unsafe abortions.

The Trinidad-based Advocates for Safe Parenthood: Improving Reproductive Equity (ASPIRE) estimates that more than 20,000 abortions take place in Trinidad annually and it costs the country more than US$166,000 per month to care for women suffering from botched abortions.

In the Caribbean public opposition to abortion regardless of the circumstances is high and intense. So only illegal abortions will continue. It is a political hot potato which will remain unchanged despite the fact that:

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that every year, unintended pregnancies lead to at least 20 million unsafe abortions, resulting in the deaths of some 80,000 women.

  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported last year that five million women aged 15-19 have abortions every year, 40 per cent of whom are performed under unsafe conditions.

  • WHO reports that developing countries show unsafe abortion as a high risk for death among women, with one out of 250 procedures resulting in a fatality. For developed countries where the practice is legal, it is one in 3,700.

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Bill Clinton arranges cheaper AIDS drugs for Caribbean

Nine Caribbean countries are welcoming a deal brokered by former United States President Bill Clinton for pharmaceutical manufacturers to cut the cost on anti-retroviral drugs for persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and Africa. Caricom's spokesman on health issues, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Denzil Douglas, had initiated the discussions with President Clinton on behalf of the Caribbean states in Barcelona last year.

Caribbean countries that will benefit from the 50 percent reduction in the cost of the drugs are the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

The deal was struck with the Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited of Johannesburg,South Africa; and three Indian companies " Cipla Limited, Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited and Matrix Laboratories. The initial agreement covers two commonly used combinations of first-line anti-retroviral drugs.

Dr. Douglas says the Clinton Foundation had also assisted the Eastern Caribbean nations in their bid for assistance from the United Nations Global Fund on AIDS. 
The region has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, behind sub Saharan Africa.

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T&T and Cuba rated least corrupt in Caribbean

Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba tied for being the least corrupt of the six Caribbean countries rated by the Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index 2003 (CPI). This index charts levels of corruption in 133 countries. The CPI 2003 score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people, academics, and risk analysts.

 Seven out of ten countries scored less than 5 out of a clean score of 10, while 5 out of 10 developing countries scored less than 3 out of 10. Cuba and T&T tied for 43rd with a score of 4.6. Belize placed 46th with a score of 4.5. Jamaica was 57th with a score of 3.8, Dominican Republic 70th with 3.3 and Haiti 131st with 1.5.

Finland topped the list with a score of 9.7, followed by Iceland 9.6 and Denmark and New Zealand tying for 3rd with 9.5. USA tied with Ireland for 18th with a score of 7.5 and the table below will show how these and some other countries stacked up.

Canada 8.7 12
UK 8.7 12
USA 7.5 18
Cuba 4.6 43
T&T 4.6 43
Belize 4.5 46
Jamaica 3.8 57
China 3.4 66
Dominican Republic 3.3 70
Russia 2.7 86
Haiti 1.5 131
Nigeria 1.4 132


Editor’s Comments: This is a very ambitious study but these results seem to depend too much on subjective opinions to be considered very accurate. This could also make them vulnerable to bias.  Nevertheless where there is smoke there is fire so still can serve as a valuable guide and trend spotter.

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Ja. Govt. spurns local for foreign printer for textbooks job

There is something very rotten in the state of Denmark….well not Denmark but something stinks!

The Jamaica Department of Education has awarded a contract for the printing of its textbooks to a foreign company instead of the local Gleaner Company. With local Jamaican companies dropping like flies, this action is a matter of deep concern.

For 16 years these textbooks had been printed by the Gleaner Company, but this year it was awarded to an overseas company Von Hoffmen Inc. Von Hoffman bid $51.7 million and the Gleaner bid $54.98 million for the 2003 contract, a difference of $3.28 million.

In addition to the bid price, the Government complained that the Gleaner delivered consistently late. The Gleaner confessed to some sporadic lateness because of tardiness of local subcontractors and mechanical problems but did pay the financial penalty of $385,016 for lateness. However, the Gleaner maintains that it had established a good record in general.

Awarding this contract overseas will

  • Take "bread out of the mouth" of local printers and auxillary employees subcontracted by the Gleaner

  • Decrease the taxes which employees contribute

  • Will send hard currency overseas

  • Will pay no taxes on the books they printed while local companies have to pay custom charges on the raw material to produce the textbooks of over $1 million.

Editor’s Comments: In the present economic climate in Jamaica, for the Government to spurn a local company for those reasons is just not acceptable. Increase the penalties for tardiness and other measures could have been taken. This shows a callous disregard for the harsh economic conditions that Jamaican businesses and workers face. We certainly do not expect that from the Government. Instead they should be reaching out to work with them.

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T&T Prime Minister warns BWIA

Privatisation of BWIA has not improved the airlines very much and the T&T government seems to be losing patience. Prime Minister Patrick Manning says the financial situation facing BWIA remains unacceptable and has warned that hard decisions will have to be made on the airline's future. Mr. Manning said his government was not willing to pump any additional resources into the airline, while expressing disappointment over BWIA's inability to meet any of its performance expectations.

The Prime Minister expressed his dissatisfaction even though BWIA reported it had a relatively good summer season and did not require any additional state assistance for September. BWIA has benefited from about 60 million of a 117 million dollar loan from the government since the beginning of the year. In January, the airline retrenched 617 workers and four months later its lessors, International Lease Finance Corporation, seized two of its aircraft.

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Doping scandal involving several US athletes about to break

An athletic doping bombshell is about to explode. American anti-doping chiefs revealed that a new anabolic steroid, which up until now has escaped all known doping controls, has been found in the test samples of several American athletes who competed at the national championships. The United States Anti-Doping Agency, which has refused to name the athletes concerned, named the product Tetrahydrogestrinon (THG) - a synthetic anabolic steroid. USADA said in a statement the substance was initially found during analysis of the contents of a syringe handed in, under anonymity, by a "top" athletics coach who claimed the drug came from a well-known laboratory in California.

The USADA statement added: "In the last few days, several positive A sample results for the steroid THG have now been reported to USADA. These results have come from samples collected in-competition at the 2003 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and samples collected out-of-competition by USADA. The athletes, USA Track and Field, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) have all been notified of the positive A sample results."

Further In the words of a USADA official:

"What we have uncovered appears to be intentional doping of the worst sort. "This is a far cry from athletes accidentally testing positive as a result of taking contaminated nutritional supplements. Rather, this is a conspiracy involving chemists, coaches and certain athletes using what they developed to be undetectable designer steroids to defraud their fellow competitors and the American and world public who pay to attend sports events."

Past actions by the USA Track And Field (USATF) have come under scrutiny. They cleared quarter miler Young without any explanation after he failed a drug test in 1999 so that he could be on the victorius Olympic mile relay team. He recently won the 400 m in the World Champioships. This and other US medals could be in jeopardy. It is so serious that the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) has told the governing body of American athletics it must resolve doping issues and restore credibility to the sport in the U.S. or face possible sanctions, including "de-certification." That would mean stripping USA Track and Field of its powers and replacing it.

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Guyana wins Red Stripe Bowl

Guyana beat Barbados by 27 runs in the 2003 Red Stripe Bowl cricket final at the Kaiser Sports Club in Discovery Bay, Jamaica. After a rain stoppage, Barbados, set a revised target of 184 off 37 overs as they responded to Guyana's 212 for nine off 50 overs, finished on 156 all out off 36 overs.

Scores: Guyana 212-9 off 50 overs (Lennox Cush 41, Ryan Ramdass 37, Neil McGarrell 25, Sewnarine Chattergoon 24; Ian Bradshaw 3-37, Pedro Collins 2-35). Barbados 156 off 36 overs (Sherwin Campbell 33, Dwayne Smith 29; Neil McGarell 3-45, Rayon Griffith 2-51).

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Lightning strikes cricketers in Red Stripe competition

A bolt out of the blue….
It was a preliminary game of the inter Caribbean Red Stripe cricket competition  at Kensington Oval in Kingston Jamaica. West Indies fastbowler Mervyn Dillon, while batting for T&T, and pace bowler Fernix Thomas, bowling for the Windward Islands, were suddenly struck by lightning. There was no warning as it was a bolt out of sunny blue skies. Both victims were taken to hospital and were released hours later.

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Boom in remittances from overseas to Jamaica

What is the greatest source of foreign exchange in Jamaica? Remittamces. Over the past five years, remittances from Jamaicans in Britain, the United States, Canada and other parts of the world had doubled the earnings gained from tourism and bauxite. So keep sending money home and keep remittances number 1.

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