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November 2001
Table of Contents


Sept.  2001
 Hot Calaloo Update




November 2001

Ganglords, crime, bring Jamaica to the brink of anarchy

Jamaica continues to teeter on the brink of anarchy. Not just crime, but ganglords threaten the authority of the Government directly. Police have their backs to the wall. Do I exaggerate? Read the following articles to see the scope, menacing nature, and the severity of the problem. Then decide for yourself.

Thugs target and threaten schoolchildren
It does not get much worse than this. It is worse than the September 11 attack on America. Then it was a random attack. But in violence torn areas of Jamaica, these terrorists seek out school children, look them in the eye and demand that they participate in roadblocks and demonstration or they will firebomb them in their schools! This was reported by Dr. Adolph Cameron, the general secretary of the Jamaica Teachers Association. This was all part of the violence in the Mountain View Avenue area reported in the October update of Hot Calaloo. The poor children! In addition Dr Cameron reports that

  • At Mountain View Primary children defecated on themselves when shooting broke out. The school was forced for a week and attendance dropped to 50.
  • At Norman Gardens Primary, 197 out of 913 attended school on October 1 and 176 the next day. Later that week the children had to be evacuated because of a bomb threat. A JTA officer reported that children at Norman Gardens Primary and also the Junior High were in "a daze and it was unusually quiet for children in a school". It was also reported that a music teacher who brought a drum to class was forced to discontinue using it as the children began screaming, saying the "sound of the drum was the sound of gunshots".
  • At Windward Road Primary and Junior High where 1,759 students are enrolled, that school was closed on Monday, October 1, and on Tuesday, October 2, only 50 per cent of the students attended.
  • Maverly All Age School school remained closed during that period and the principal refused to comment as to whether there were threats against the lives of children in the school. He instead chastised The Sunday Gleaner specifically and journalists generally for "swarming down" on his school in search of negative information.

The JTA has also indicated that during the violent attacks in the Mountain View area, attendance to at least four schools in the city's western end have been significantly reduced. Falling attendance have been seen at schools such as St. Anne's, Denham Town, Haile Selassie, Trench Town, Charlie Smith and Tivoli Gardens high schools. The majority of these schools are located in Western Kingston.

Editor's Comment: In 1968 I taught at St. Andrew Technical High School which is located in West Kingston. Even then it was a high crime area, but teachers and students were never targets of criminals and I personally never felt threatened there ever. Sadly, how things have changed!

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The "don", a brief primer on Jamaican ganglords
Many small neighborhoods or communities in Jamaica are dominated by "dons"or ganglords. They are more likely to occur in poor neglected neighbourhoods. Their power might originate from political contacts or criminal activity. Some may have done political favours or received political favours. Government resources are so strapped that these communities receive low priorities and suffer from neglect. Traditionally police abuse instead of police protection has been their plight in what is usually high crime areas. 
In recent years the "dons" receive complaints, provide protection, mete out some sort of justice, and dole out permissions. They have even had beneficial effects in some areas, such as depressing crime in certain areas. In this way and by fear they gain control and often the allegiance of the community. So, if they order residents to block roads, they block roads. They exert almost imperial control. Residents cannot rely on police to protect them from the dons. Moreover, even the most benevolent "dons" probably run afoul of the law. For in meting out their justice for example, they might have a wrong-doer beaten up or worse. This would be of course clearly illegal but they consider themselves both above the law of the land and the law in their community. Add to this, they are well armed, ruthless, fortified with gang members and seem to be becoming militarily stronger every day. In some areas, they are so entrenched that they challenge even the police to venture into their community or garrisons as it is called. These dons of course can deliver the vote to political parties, so you have PNP garrisons and JLP garrisons. Turf wars between dons are big sources of violence.
Of course, these garrisons are a threat to law and order in Jamaica and will lead the island down the road to anarchy if unchecked.

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Residents protest police killing of area don
In Grants Pen area of St. Andrew, Jamaica, police shot and killed a man whom they identified as an area don The police say he was killed as he exchanged gunfire with the police. Three other persons were also arrested. Although he was on the police's most wanted list, his death sparked protests from the residents of the Grants Pen community. They blocked roads and looted businesses in the area. The police had to impose a 6 pm to 9 am curfew.

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Ja Police find arms cache
It seemed like such a peaceful upscale house in a quiet residential suburb of Kingston. But this innocent house in Havendale yielded a large cache of guns and ammunition to a police raid. During a dawn raid, the policemen found

  • 3 MK3 sub-machine guns with 3 magazines
  • 1 intra-tech 9-mm sub-machine gun
  • 1 MK point 4-5 pistol
  • 1 Charles Daly point 4-5 pistol
  • 8 M-16 magazines 
  • 1,060 rounds of ammunition of which 860 were M-16 rounds, which are used in AK-47 assault rifle. The AK-47 seems to be the popular choice of thugs and the police are troubled that no such guns were found so they are probably still out there.

Five persons were arrested for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition including 3 women.

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Another cop brutally killed
Constable Michael Sutherland was shot to death in his home at about 7 pm right in front of his 3-year-old daughter by gunmen. He is the 12th policeman to be killed for the year. KD Knight then Minister of National Security said of the senseless killing "It is abundantly clear that terrorists are at work and the collective power of the society is needed."

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Arms cache found in Tivoli Gardens too
In the strife-torn West Kingston community and Seaga stronghold of JLP leader Eddie Seaga a cache of arms was found recently. Items confiscated included:

  • 1 Para P-54 9mm pistol
  • 1 Calico .22 rifle fitted with bi-pods
  • 2 9mm pistols
  • 338 assorted rounds of ammunition
  • 7 magazines including an extra-ordinary oval shaped one that carries over 100 rounds of ammunition
  • several army fatigues

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Police station attacked and bombed again
The seizure of arms in Tivoli Gardens was carried out by police from the Denham Town Police Station. Earlier that week a man was killed in the area in a shoot-out with police and the police confiscated a 9mm pistol. These gun seizures enraged elements in the community. They wanted the 9mm pistol back and in the words of a policeman " Somebody called the station Thursday night and said we should put the gun in a scandal bag and throw it over the wall on Albert Street. If we fail to do so, then they will do to the station what the terrorists did to America." It was no idle threat. The police station had been attacked twice before during the July violence.
In broad daylight, about 10 am, the attack begun. The station was more vulnerable then  as 20 police personnel had just left on assignment. First, the gunmen shot and injured a motorcyclist at the station gate. The man was coming to the station to deliver a package. Then they then stormed the station and threw an explosive device atop the roof. The explosion shook the entire building, blew a huge hole in the roof and shattered several window panes. The gunmen then made their escape leaving behind the few policemen who had been left to guard the building in mortal fear for their lives.
Seaga apologises
In the wake of that bombing, Mr. Seaga  condemned the bombing and apologised for it. He volunteered his help and that of the Denham Town Community Association to help repair the station. Then Minister of National Security, KD Knight, declined the offer, saying it was inappropriate. Obviously even police stations are vulnerable in the Seaga stronghold. 

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Criminals attack bus personnel frequently
Finally the Government has succeeded in providing public bus service, but now these bus and personnel are crime targets. Within the last three months, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses have been attacked more than 60 times, incurring millions of dollars in damages.
Since it began operations on New Year's Day 1999, four JUTC employees have been killed and several others injured. JUTC officials report that in July there were 22 attacks on 22 different buses. In August it was the same and in September it was 19. The total damage for that period is estimated at J$8.7 million. Damage have usually coming from stoning of the bus often by individuals who refuse to pay their fare. However one bus was firebombed. The buses are also under increased attacks by robbers particularly in certain areas. Nevertheless, the JUTC official says worker morale is high and bus passengers have given high praise for the service.

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Violence curtails KPH
Even Jamaica's biggest hospital, the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) has been virtually closed down by the violence. In the height of the mid-October violence in communities near the hospital:

  • The hospital was open to emergencies only
  • Patients were urged to stay away
  • Soldiers were deployed to beef up security
  • Special arrangements had to be made to escort staff to work
  • The staff was traumatized
  • Despite shortage of blood, donors were diverted to other hospitals.

This is not the first time as in recent months KPH has been unable to fully operate for extended periods because of violence.

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UWI students terrorized too
Fear and anger have gripped the student body of the Mona campus of the University College of the West Indies. Students launched a protest against inadequate security by blocking entrances to the campus and disrupting activities for a day. The students claimed armed invaders had been reeking mayhem and terror on the campus. They said students had been raped, assaulted, attacked and cars stolen and with little help from the campus security force. This campus security force has a J$46 million contract, employs 135 guards with an average of 35 being on duty across the campus.
The student protest resulted in a top level meeting between student representatives, the vice chancellor and campus officials. Implementation of a number of security measures were agreed upon.

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Govt. call out the reserves to battle crime
The Government of Jamaica has called out the army reserves to battle the crime wave which has gripped the island. The reserves, which number in the hundreds, have been called up for duty for the period of October 12 to November 9. The army has become essential in supporting the Jamaica Constabulary Force as they battle heavily armed gangs.

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"Ah wha we ah go do?"
The solution to this problem is very difficult. This solution is as former Minister of National Security, KD Knight describes "the collective power of the society is needed." Unfortunately, there is not much evidence of that. Instead the attitude is "leave it up to the police and security forces", while giving them minimal support. Unless people rally behind the police, the problem will continue and probably worsen.
Hot Calaloo's "Operation Respect for Law " spelled out in the October update of Hot Calaloo is the way to go. Without respect for law and order, there certainly will be anarchy.

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Partisanship, loyalty and politics

(Part 4)
Dear M....,
Your and JLP leader Eddie Seaga tries to portray himself as some Che Guevara championing the cause of the poor of his west Kingston constituency. I think not. He milks the unrest. He travels abroad claming to seek assistance from human rights groups. Does he visit Jesse Jackson, Congressman Charles Rangel, TransAfrica's Randall Robinson, the Black Caucus, all leaders of the AfricanAmerican community and friends of jamaica? No!  But, according to a Gleaner article, he visited Republican congressman, Trent Lott of Mississippi. The right wing Trent Lott is an enemy of African-Americans. Years ago terrorist leader, Jonas Savimbi of Angola, visited right wing Republican leaders and went back home to plant land mines all over the country which has maimed and continues to maim record numbers of innocent people. Che Guevara ….. no, Savimbi ….. maybe.

Prime Minister PJ Patterson and  former Minister of National Security, KD Knight are criticized all the time in the media. Even the local human rights group have ganged up with the BBC and Seaga to smear Supt Renato Adams, the special police Crime Management Unit, the Police Commissioner, and the police in general despite the almost daily vicious murder of policemen and policewomen. Even the judge brought in from Canada of Grenadian origin to head the commission of inquiry into the July violence is the target of the most vicious lowdown criticism by Gleaner columnist Dawn Ritch. Even sport heroes are targets of criticism. During the last Olympics, Jamaica's greatest female athlete, Merlene Ottey, was crucified! But, no one criticizes Seaga. 
Despite the fact that Seaga did not lift a finger to help when the July violence engulfed his constituency and spread to other parts of Jamaica, there was no criticism of Seaga. Except for the PNP, no one criticizes Seaga . Certainly not the Gleaner newspaper! It was silent except for providing a platform for every wild unsubstantiated story attacking the besieged cops that Seaga could come up with. Why? Two reasons.
One, if you criticize Seaga, you will be labeled PNP. Of course, by writing this article, I have been so accused. For these critics of mine, the idea that there could be objective criticism of Seaga is beyond their comprehension. A variation of this is that regardless of what Seaga does, he should not be criticized unless you criticize his political opponent too. Hot Calaloo will not be put into that straight jacket. We will not be muzzled! Absolutely not. Mr. Seaga and Mr Seaga alone has undermined the police and brought the country to near anarchy for political expediency and he alone should pay for his atrocious ruthless misdeeds.

The second reason is fear. People are afraid to criticise Seaga and it is a legitimate fear. They are safe to criticise the PNP leaders, the police, the army without fear of a bullet in their stomach or their house firebombed. Since I began these critical articles, even from far away US, I have been warned to "watch my back". I have also received no less than four viruses attached to my e-mail. But, once again, Hot Calaloo will not be muzzled.
Gleaner columnist Dawn Ritch loads her column with identical criticisms as Mr Seaga uses against the presiding judge of the Commission of Enquiry and menacingly includes in her column where the judge is staying. This is a clear message to the judge and to the thugs that "We know where you live." It is an obvious attempt at intimidation. I sure hope this visiting judge is not assaulted.
So with no objective criticism of Mr. Seaga, he is allowed to do whatever he wants regardless of how ruthless. Now in the midst of a crime wave, which is bringing Jamaica to the brink of anarchy, Mr. Seaga leads his party in relentless attack and undermining of the police for political expediency. He attacks them at the Commission of Enquiry on the July violence and on the campaign trail all over the island. He rushes abroad to attack them. Without public support for the police, the battle against crime will be a losing one. No wonder the criminals are so brazen and powerful while the police must be dispirited.

Political loyalty to Mr. Seaga is blind loyalty. Put loyalty to Jamaica first. Jamaicans, especially members of the JLP, empower yourselves in the selection of your leader. Do not vote JLP as long as Mr. Seaga heads the party. Bermuda also just got a new leader of the Opposition. For a chance for peace, true democracy and the rule of law, lets do that in Jamaica too.
Yours truly,
Michael Phillips, Editor

(See Part 3 -Oct 2001, Part 2 -Sept 2001, and Part 1 -August 2001)

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General elections for T&T Dec 10

The Basdeo Panday government is not even 1 year old, but the PM has called for elections on December 10. With defections of three of his cabinet ministers, he lost his majority in the parliament, hence the sudden call for new elections. Panday has been hit since then by a fourth defection as senator in the now dissolved senate Stanley Ryan has tendered his resignation from the ruling United National Congress (UNC), stating that political leader Basdeo Panday's vision of national unity was a farce.

Both Prime Minister Basdeo Panday and former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj are leading two factions of the party. Each held separate meetings with the elections commission (EBC) recently to convince the commissioners that he represented the real UNC, and both expressed confidence after the meetings that they would get use of the name and symbol -- the rising sun.Sources have said the faction that is denied use of the name and symbol will take the matter to the court for final determination. Both factions have registered new parties. The Panday faction has registered a new party called National Unity, while the Maharaj faction has registered a party called Team Unity. 

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More fallout in the Caribbean from the attack on America

In the words of Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Omar Davies "It is important that Members of Parliament and all citizens realise there is indeed a crisis." This is a consequence of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Tourism, other revenues and economic activities are way down and the Government will need to borrow money to make up for shortfalls. The Minister said he would be leaving the island for Washington D.C. in November to continue discussions with multilateral development banks with a view to accessing additional long-term loans for this purpose.

The Barbados government  announced a Bds$31.8 million (US$15.9 million) intervention package to shore up the economy in the wake of the fallout from last month's terrorist attacks on the United States and an anticipated global recession.

St. Lucia
Declining occupancy rates have forced the 256-room Club Med resort there to close. Worse yet, company officials said the hotel would not reopen for the normally busy winter season.

Ironically, even Cuba is reeling from those attacks. Tourism, a major source of US dollars, has dropped substantially plunging that country into an economic crisis. The crisis is so bad that it is compared to the crisis created when the Soviet Union fell.

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T&T born author wins Nobel prize

Trinidadian-born author Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, (better known as VS Naipaul) has won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature. The 69 year-old author was educated in Port-of-Spain and won a scholarship to Oxford University in 1950 when he was 18. He gained a BA there and made England his residence. He has been a prolific writer and has been nominated for the award many times.

He has been controversial heaping criticism on the land of his birth, his Hindu heritage, India and Islam. He is not a favorite of the third world because of his often scathing portrayal of the Caribbean and India.

Among his 25 literary works are The Mystic Masseur, written in 1957, The Suffrage of Elvira in 1958; Miguel Street (1960); A House for Mr. Biswas (1961); and A Way In The World (1994).

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Cabinet reshuffle in Jamaica

Prime Minister of Jamaica, PJ Patterson has reshuffled his cabinet. The most prominent change is he has shifted KD Knight from the Minister of National Security and Justice to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. The old position itself is split in two, with Dr. Peter Phillips leaving Transport and Works to become Minister of National Security. The other half, Justice, will be assumed by the Attorney General, A.J. Nicholson. Robert Pickersgill will move back to become Minister of Transport and works.

State minister Colin Campbell becomes the new Minister of Information, taking over from Senator Maxine Henry-Wilson. Senator Henry-Wilson volunteered to step down from both Senator and Minister so that she could concentrate on her duties as General Secretary for the Peoples national Party (PNP).

Dr. Paul Robertson also resigned as Foreign Affairs minister to become campaign Director for the PNP. With Seymour Mullings named as Ambassador to Washington DC, his Ministry of Land and Environment will be taken over by Mr. Dalley. Mr. Anthony Hylton becomes the new Minister of Public Utilities and Transport.

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More Jamaica nurses for US

Recruiters are back in Jamaica to sign-up 200 more nurses. Jamaica expects to graduate a total of 127 nurses this year so this recruitment will worsen the already severe shortage in the island.

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Gleaner columnist hits new low

The Government of Jamaica went out of its way to bring in an impartial Judge to head the Commission of Enquiry into the July violence in west Kingston. They imported Canadian Justice Julius Issac. Although Canadian, he is originally from Grenada, educated in Canada, where he rose to become a chief justice. Gleaner columnist Dawn Ritch did not like some of his rulings against the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the Enquiry so she berated him in her column, challenging his integrity, his competence and urged the Canadian Government issue his immediate recall. In her vicious diatribe she included his place of residence obviously so that enemies arising from the Enquiry would know how to get him.

Attorneys representing the PNP, the police and the army, as well as the Justice himself, denounced the column. Ian Ramsay, attorney for the Jamaica Constabulary Force, characterized it best when he said, " I never thought somebody could do that to the Commission or even to a guest" and that the country would pay a high price when freedom of speech degenerates to that level.

Hot Calaloo has warned about that notorious columnist before in an article written in 1996. Here is a re-issue of the article, still very important today.

(From Hot Calaloo Vol 4 #5, Feb 1996)
Responsible Journalism
It is about time the Jamaica daily newspaper realise its responsibility and abandon its blatant one-sided politically biassed columnists and embrace more objectivity. If the Caribbean is to advance, it must seek out new ideas, evaluate them objectively, and adopt them if they so deserve. Instead, too many columnists, poison the air of fair discussion, by finding all sorts of convoluted ways to tie acceptance or rejection of these ideas to their political bias. Sure, there is a place for political criticism, but too many of these journalists treat every subject as an opportunity for political haymakers. Columnists like Morris Cargill and Dawn Rich are prime examples and should both be writing political tract in some partisan paper, not in a purportedly independent journal such as the Gleaner. Virtually every single column, regardless of the topic, has that same tiresome drumbeat. Their appeal is less to reason but more towards cheap emotionalism. This has set the tone, because I have noticed even academics, writing the occasional column are inclined to steep their comments in this same type of unnecessary emotionalism. Is this a criterion?

The Gleaner like similar newspapers in the Caribbean must be more responsible. It is a powerful organ and very influential. Are the bigwigs of the Gleaner satisfied to have their columnists continually politically polarizing its readership? How about trying to bring people together instead? Do they care? Do they think they need to promote or to at least maintain this destructive political tribalism to sell newspapers? For God's sake, they need to take a good look at what they are doing now and their potential. They are needed to play a greater role in making Jamaica a fertile ground for new ideas based on merit and also to harmonize the strident political discord that continues to ravage our beautiful island even today.

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Libya offers to buy all Windward Isles bananas

Libya has offered to buy all the banana produced in the Windward Islands at above market prices. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who led a delegation to that country confirmed the offer, but said he did not take it seriously. Strange? Even stranger yet, the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company (WIBDECO), said that any decision by the islands to sell to Libya, could seriously damage its position in the traditional British Market.

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Virus threaten Jamaica citrus industry

The Jamaica citrus industry is facing a crisis, created by a new virus which has the potential to wipe out local production within the next decade. This virus, citrus Tristeza or CTV attacks orange trees. The virus affects the trees yield, shortens its life span, resulting in a substantial decrease in fruit yield. Already it is blamed for decreased production.
In efforts to prevent this, the Government has launched a replanting program of virus resistant trees. This program has targeted over 7,000 acres, and aims to see a quarter of this amount planted this year. The new certified virus resistant plants have been imported from California.

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Suicide terrorists were in the Bahamas

Three of the suicide terrorists killed in the New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania crashes on September 11 were in The Bahamas in May, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has disclosed. The prime minister said two of the terrorists were refused entry because they did not have visas, while the third spent several hours on a Family Island on a flight training exercise.

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Air J stamp duty debt reaches J$400 million

Air Jamaica has been making all sorts of strides, opening new gateways, buying new planes but not making much headway on its debt to the Government. It continues to owe the Government millions of dollars in stamp duty which the airlines collected from passengers. The amount has now topped J$400 million. Payment of the arrears is likely to put a heavy financial burden on the company, which continues to reel from the dip in air travel, following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Immediately following the attacks, Air Jamaica reported that it had lost US$11 million.

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Bush Pays Off Two-Thirds of UN Debt

Right wing Republicans have been blocking the payment of US dues to the UN for many years. Clinton could not budge them. Now there seems to be a sudden change of heart.
The Bush administration has moved quickly since Sept. 11 to pay off two-thirds of the U.S. debt to the United Nations and to promote the UN's key role in fighting terrorism and building a future government in Afghanistan. After paying scant attention to the United Nations since he took office in January, U.S. President George W. Bush is now paying $1.67 billion by the end of the year and pushing for the world body to take over "nation-building" once the U.S.-led military campaign against Afghanistan is finished.
Now suddenly U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell last week praised the UN's "invaluable contribution to the global campaign against terrorism" and the Security Council's "trail-blazing resolution" adopted Sept. 28 which requires all 189 UN member states to deny financing, support and sanctuary to terrorists.

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Belize hit with 40-million-dollar bill from hurricane Iris

The tiny Central American nation of Belize was still tallying the destruction dealt it by Hurricane Iris when the storm with 220-kilometre-per-hour winds struck. The death toll remained at 22, according to the Belize embassy in Mexico City, with 8 people reported missing in the southern Stann Creek district, which was heavily battered by Iris Monday night. Embassy spokeswoman Abigail Waight said Iris had left 20,000 people homeless in the southern districts of Stann Creek and Toledo, areas populated primarily by indigenous people. She said that despite the large destruction of Mayan Indian communities, damage to Mayan archaeological sites was minor. Losses to Belize's banana, citrus, rice and other crops were estimated at 40 million U.S. dollars, Waight added. The storm also destroyed bridges, piers and restaurants in some tourist resorts and also strongly affected forest wildlife.

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Bermuda's opposition leader resigns

Former Finance Minister, Dr. Grant Gibbons, was yesterday confirmed as Bermuda's new opposition leader following the resignation of Pamela Gordon Now if only Jamaica's opposition leader would resign too!

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Guyana wins Red Stripe Cricket

Guyana defeated Barbados in the final of the Red Stripe Bowl cricket competition. In Jamaica. Barbados batted first and recovered from 57 for 3 and 79 for 4 to reach 221 for 5 in their alloted 50 overs. Guyana passed that total with 6 wickets in hand and 3 overs to spare. Guyana and West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, with a score of 80 was named MVP.

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Where in Boston

Reader "dowallac" writes:
Are there any Jamaican associations in the Boston area?

(reply to

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