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Items from October & September 2000 Hot Calaloo Update

US elections loom

November 2000

Venezuela oil deal - good or bad for CARICOM?

Cheaper Venezuelan oil is now flowing in Jamaica to the tune of 7,400 barrels a day. This is the result of a special preferential oil deal, the Caracas Energy Pact, offered by the President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Jamaica was not alone to receive this offer, but it was made to the 11 countries of the San Jose Accord and Cuba. But, conspicuously it was not made to Guyana. Venezuela has renewed its border dispute claiming vast portions of Guyana territory. CARICOM countries are on record on supporting its fellow member Guyana. These factors had prompted a call by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Lester Bird, for members of CARICOM to decline Venezuela’s offer.

Caracas Energy Accord
Generally under this agreement with the 11 countries of the San Jose Accord, namely Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, and Cuba :

  • Venezuela will help finance the oil purchase over a 15 year period with a 1 year grace period
  • A repayment at 2% interest per year
  • Prices will range between US$15 to US$30 per barrel
  • Agreement with each country is a state-to-state arrangement with the exclusion of private multinational corporations, so EXON and Shell need not apply

But how about Guyana?
With the entire world reeling from high oil prices, Venezuela’s offer is hard to refuse. Despite Antigua’s PM Bird’s original opposition, CARICOM countries are falling in line. Jamaica has already signed and Chairman of (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir James Mitchell, has been quoted as saying that "it does not appear that the non-inclusion of Guyana in the Caracas Energy Accord, is due to its territorial dispute with Venezuela".
     Really? Venezuela has even told CARICOM leaders that it is willing to include Guyana in the deal, but not long afterwards Jose Vincente Rangel, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, was quoted in the Venezuelan press as saying that "oil has always been used as a weapon", and he made it plain Caracas was trying to force Guyana's hand on its claim to the western Essequibo region. Very ominous!

Deal raises questions
This deal raises many questions which go to the heart of CARICOM. Some of these questions are:.

  • Does signing on compromise CARICOM’s support for Guyana in the territorial dispute?
  • If it does, what does this do for CARICOM solidarity and support for a fellow member?
  • Why do CARICOM members not get all their oil from fellow CARICOM member Trinidad and Tobago anyhow?
  • When will CARICOM show some real unity instead of knuckling under into "each country for itself" in almost every test such as "shiprider" and vote on World Trade Organisation chairman.

To be sure the desperate poverty in the region forces desperate decisions It must be acknowledged that often Governments have to go along or face serious political consequencies at home. But, until all those breeches in CARICOM are shored-up, it acheives real unity and solidarity, and receives genuine commitment from its members right down to the people level, it will not be effective and will gain little respect from the outside world. It can achieve a lot, but obviously has yet a far way to go.

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Wiretap scandal in Jamaica

Even the phone of Prime Minister of Jamaica, P J Patterson, is reported to have been illegally tapped. The phones of others bugged include cabinet ministers, a senior Peoples National Party official, some area leaders and a high ranking police official. It was supposed to be an attempt to track illegal drug connections. But, who authorized it? Not the PM obviously. The Police Comissioner and the Minister of National Security have denied any involvement or any knowledge about it. Suspects are certain unnamed police officials and members of the now disbanded Civilian Intelligence Unit (CIU). The PM has ordered a high-level investyigation.

Editor’s Note: What a sinting!…Illegal wiretap…hmmmm sounds very American to me. Could the US CIA be involved? I know there is no evidence but modus operandi…… I wonder…

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UN and US elections

The Republican congress continues to hold billions of dollars in back dues to the UN. They have unilaterally demanded reforms, and when these reforms were made, they still have not paid. President Clinton has made many appeals, but these Republicans will not budge. Furthermore, they want to transform it into a rubber stamp for US policy. It is abundantly clear that a vote for Republican presidential contender G.W. Bush is a vote against the UN. So, if you value the UN and the indispensable work it does, you have to vote for Gore.
This multi-billion dollar debt is overdue for years and is vital for the UN to continue to serve the world in these wide-ranging international crises. The debt is similar to the case with the Exon Valdez. Harpers Magazine reports that amount of $5 billion punitive damage that Exon was ordered to pay in punitive damage in 1994 for the 1989 Exon Valdez Alaskan oil spill that it has paid $0. Estimated money that Exon has earned by investing this money in the meantime: $5,000,000,000.

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 Charles sworn in as Dominica's PM

Former schoolteacher Pierre Charles was sworn in as prime minister of the small Caribbean island of Dominica on Tuesday, replacing Roosevelt Douglas, who died of a heart attack. Charles, 46, deputy head of Douglas' Dominica Labor Party, was sworn in by President Vernon Shaw. Charles promised to continue efforts to diversify Dominica's sluggish economy, which relies heavily on banana exports and tourism.

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Protest-happy Jamaicans undermining the country

Enough already! Protest-happy Jamaicans are wreaking havoc all over the island. And in the case of the Olympics, they even took it to Sydney, Australia to Jamaica’s great embarassment. But Jamaica itself has been the brunt of a seeming never-ending destructive protests as in the last month alone:

  • In Fern Gully, protests gave tourism a black eye as protestors created massive roadblocks, creating mayhem and forcing all tours to the popular tourist attraction to be closed for more than a day. This included a cruise ship passengers which numbered 3,000. This was the 4th demonstration in less than 4 weeks. The road itself , police vehicles and Jamaica’s tourism were severely damaged.
  • In Hanover a string of 2-day long roadblocks by residents protesting against deplorable road conditions in various local communities have taken their toll on the police, says the Parish Police Superintendent. The police not only have to restore order, but must clear the streets of massive debris, tolerate abuse, and maintain a 24 hours a day presence. The Public works Department does not clear the roads, but the police do. And we are talking heavy trees, big boulders and other debris. Fortunately the police have built up a good relationship with the communities, but even this is coming under a tremendous strain. The police superintendent contends that the areas’ political representatives have not interceded to restore order, leaving everything to his overworked, stressed-out policemen.
  • In recent months residents in St. Mary, St. Thomas, Portland, St. Catherine and various other areas across the island have blocked roads to vent their frustration and anger at poor road conditions and lack of water and other resources. The protests have left commuters stranded and have kept police and other authorities busy. In the most dramatic event last month residents of St. Johns, St. Thomas for hours prevented their visiting Member of Parliament Fenton Ferguson from leaving the community because the roads had not been repaired as promised.
  • In a number of instances, protesting mobs have even sheltered suspects of capital crimes from police because of the suspects popularity and because of distrust for the police.

Protests have become quite a fad. Peaceful protest are legitimate means to redresss injustice and other wrongs but require discipline and responsibility. To organise a protest knowing full well it is likely to degenerate into mayhem, destruction, and lawlessness is irresponsible and deserves condemnation. Regardless of the intentions, some of the consequencies that these protests have done:

  • Worsen the crime wave by depleting police resources
  • Siphoning away the tourist dollar
  • Breeds lawlessness
  • Interferes with and undermines legitimate police work
  • Takes away money from already underfunded social programs in order to repair and recover damage
  • Ruining Jamaica’s reputation

Strange Protest
In the midst of all this, a strange protest took place recently. It was the Women Working for Transformation (WWT) Millenium March. It included Rastas, Jamaicans for Justice, whistle-blowing yellow-shirted women, men, and children waving Jamaican flags. The theme of the march was "Jamaica is our land, lets take it back." Why was it a strange protest? It was a peaceful protest, a constructive protest, very strange and unusual in Jamaica these days. Congratulations WWT!

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UN: Big foreign investment hardly help poor

Foreign investment is supposed to be the saviour of developing countries. Well foreign investmant surged to $865 billion last year, but most of that money went to mergers and buyouts of existing businesses, and it did little to help the world's poorest people, the U.N. has reported. The data, which came from an annual report issued by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, said 1999's total foreign direct investment worldwide was up from $640 billion the year before. Such a boost would appear to be good for developing countries, which need foreign investment in an era when foreign banks have been growing increasingly stingy with overseas loans. But of the 1999 total, 83% went for mergers and acquisitions, the report said, and most of those deals took place among a handful of rich countries.

Far from helping poorer workers, corporate consolidation often leads to plant closures and layoffs. It can snuff out local competition, particularly in countries that lack a strong government to offset the growing concentration of economic power in private hands, according to the report.


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NAACP: Hotels' record on blacks bad

The 11 major American hotel chains have not kept their promises to improve business opportunities for blacks, the NAACP said Monday in urging people to avoid "underperforming" companies. In its fourth annual report card, the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization gave the chains a grade of C-minus. Last year, no chain got a grade lower than a C, so things obviously have gotten worse. The grades in declining order are as follows:



B Marriott International
B- Cendant Hotels
C+ Hyatt
C Best Western, Bass Hotels and Resorts (which includes Holiday Inns), Choice Hotels International (which includes Comfort Inn and Quality Inn,
C- Hilton, Starwood,
D+ Radisson Hospitality Worldwide, Omni
D Wyndham


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Jamaica has worst income disparity

The rich are getting richer it seems and especially in Jamaica. According to data from the World Bank and United Nations Development Project (UNDP),Jamaica has the highest level of income disparity in Latin American and the Caribbean.

In Jamaica, 83.7 per cent of the wealth is held by 20 per cent of the population. The richest 20 per cent is 44 times richer than the poorest 20 per cent. The poorest 20 per cent has only a 1.9 per cent share of the country's income.

The information was released recently during a Resources for Children workshop. The workshop is part of the fifth Minsterial Meeting on Children and Social Policy in the Americas which took place recently at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.

"The gap between the rich and the poor (in the region) has widened considerably," said Julio Tresiarra, Programme Co-ordinator for the workshop. He told representatives from countries including Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia, that

  • the region had made the least progress in the area of development.
  • 40 per cent of the region's children still live in poverty
  • health, education and income statistics still lag far behind the developed world.
  • four out of every 10 children in countries like Peru, Bolivia, Mexico and Venezuela lived on less than $2 a day
  • the average income in the region was still between one sixth and one tenth that of developed countries.

On a more positive note, Mr Tresiarra said there was:

  • now better access to education and basic commodities like drinking water.
  • also progress in the area of health with contagious diseases like measles being under control and infant mortality dropping from an average of 41 per 1000 live births in 1990 to an average of 32 per 1000 in 1998.
  • an improvement in maternal mortality 
  • an increase in vaccination rates.

He suggested that poverty reduction should begin with children and that governments, non-governmental organisations and other partners make the necessary investments in education, basic health care, water and sanitation systems. He also suggested reallocating existing budgets in order to address areas that would benefit children.

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"Who let the dogs out"

Trinidadian Anselm Douglas wrote the song "Who let the dogs out" for Carnival there in 1998. The song did not win, but since then it has blossomed internationally. Everyone in the U.S. seems to know it now. Kids know it from Disney and Nickolodeon programming, teens know it as a top 5 MTV video, adults and sports fans know it because every sports team is using it at their games. The song became an anthem for West Indians and for cricket lovers all around the world. In 2000, the song was recorded by the Baha Men, a trio from the Bahamas, and "Who Let The Dogs Out" and is running wild and barking everywhere. Woof!.


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A Look at Fund Raising

(This is Part 2 in the series prompted by the greater and more vital role Caribbean organisations need to play in response to recent anti-immigrant sentiment here in the US.)

The need to raise funds is crucial to the success and effectiveness of these organisations. At the same time they must compete with other organisations and worthy causes for these same funds. Most of the times our organisations do not stack up too well with the competition because we do not acknowledge this competition and persist with traditional methods whether they work or not.

"Why are you having a fund raising?" Let people know and they will be more responsive if they know the specific reason for the fund raising. For example, a cause such as hurricane relief is able to galvanise our community into such a spontaneous outpouring of generosity.

People are suspicious and justifiably so. Even the most prestigous and highly respected charity organisations in the US, such as the United Way and others, have stolen people's money in the past. A recent study of charitable organisations in new York showed that after "business expenses" were deducted, only 38% of the money went to the charity. So, people need reassurance. They want to be sure that their contribution goes to the intended cause. Dr. Keith Warner of a T&T organisation, Love in Action, uses what he calls "middle-of-the-night-accounting". Wake him up in the middle of the night and he can account for every penny. Make every effort to report to every single contributor how much money was collected and exactly how it was spent. It will make fund raising easier in the future.

Types of fund raising
Dinner/dance is probably the most popular fund raising method. It ranges from fancy ball with a name band such as Byron Lee and the Drgonaires. They have very high overhead, with top-notch entertainment, elegant Hotel or ballroom, and gourmet meal. They tend to be annual affairs, popular with high school alumni organisations, are very enjoyable, relatively expensive and usually financially successful. They require expert planning and advertisement, and big bucks up front. However, often these become an annual tradition, with people looking forward to it each year.
Then there are smaller dinner/dances all the way down the line. Although some are catered, many depend on services of members entirely. Services such as: cooking, set-up hall, collecting tickets, clean-up, etc.. These small dances are the bread and butter of many organisations. However, often they do not raise that much money, and burden members down with too much work, usually the same few members each time. This can lead to burn-out. Even dinner dances held in commercial clubs, which spare members a lot of hard work, end up with most of the profits going to the club proprietors.

Raffle - We have all sold raffle tickets at some time. Raffles may have low overhead especially if the prize such as airline tickets are donated. So seek out donatios as prizes

Concert - Some organisations will bring down a popular artist from the Caribbean. Once again this is high overhead activity, requires same sort of planning and up-front expense as as the fancy ball, but if done right can be financially rewarding.

Telephone and letter solicitation -American organisations seem to base a lot of fund raising on telephone and letter solicitation. Its popularity must mean that it is effective. Caribbean organisations seldom use either. Why not? We need to reach those thousands of West Indians who will not come out to a concert or dinner, or dance, but are willing to contribute to our worthy and deserving causes. Telephone or letter solicitation might and deserves to be tried. But, do it right, paying special attention to detail, wording and tact.

Be innovative
Organisations, if these West Indians don't come to your functions, then encourage them to have their own functions. Organisations could urge individuals to hold their own fund raising parties. A sort of $20-a-plate dinner amongst say 6 to 10 of their own friends in their own home. Give the evening an additional caribbean focus by mixing in a video of Louise Bennett or Carnival or have someone read some dialect or Caribbean poetry.

The Jamaica Progressive League in Washington DC came up with a new fund raising method. It was a bus trip to Atlantic City casinos.
We need to look at what others are doing, what works, and to be more innovative.

( Hot Calaloo welcomes comments and ideas especially on this vital topic ( Next issue Hot Calaloo tackles the scourge of many organisations, infighting and bickering.)

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Guyana's Parliament speaker dies

Derek Jagan, the speaker of Guyana's Parliament and brother of former president Cheddi Jagan, collapsed and died Sunday (10/15/00) while doing yard work. He was 70. Jagan was found dead Sunday morning by a security guard at his home in suburban Georgetown. People’s Progressive Party officials said they suspected a heart attack. A prominent lawyer and a lawmaker for more than 20 years, Jagan had been speaker of the Parliament for the last eight years. Cheddi Jagan was president from 1992 until his death in March 1997. Cheddi Jagan's wife and successor, Chicago native Janet Jagan, succeeded him as president until stepping down for health reasons last year

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PM fires T&T Minister

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Basdeo Panday has finally fired Dhanraj Sing as the Local Government Minister. For many months now there have been calls for his dismissal, especially when his name became linked to a suspicious death.

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Utah man is king of corn maze

Corn mazes in the US continue to boom. (see last month’s Hot Calaloo article "A-maze-ing Corn, Why not sugar") Here is more evidence.

Brett Herbst is the king of the corn maze. He carved out his first in 1996, after seeing a photograph in an agricultural magazine. At the time, his only design experience was mowing patterns in his front yard as a kid. That maze drew 18,000 people in three weeks, and soon thereafter Herbst created his company - The MAiZE. He now makes a living transforming corn fields into complex foot mazes, a sort of down-on-the-farm take on the hedge mazes found on English manors.
Herbst has designed and built mazes from Hawaii to Rhode Island, Louisiana to Alberta. This year alone, he has created 60 mazes and has received 25 inquires for next year, mostly from farmers struggling to make a profit.

Hot Calaloo continues to urge Caribbean countries to do the same with canefields. It is just a matter of time before other countries will cash in on this. The time to act is now as the tourist season fast approaches.

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Jamaica Crime Plan Questions

Despite the latest crime plan, the crime wave in Jamaica seems to be continuing. Of course, no one expected this or any plan to immediately break the crime wave. However, is the plan working? Have aarrests gone up? How is the plan evaluated? There seems to be not much information on critical obvious questions like these and Hot Calaloo invites answers from anyone with such information.

Also it seems that if the police carried out more "sting", stakeout, and undercover operations, they would bag a lot of criminals. Are these type of operations widely used, sparsely used, or virtually not at all?


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