newpalm.gif (5880 bytes) 

Back to Hot Calaloo



October 2002

New elections: T&T- Oct 7; Ja -Oct 16

Prime Minister Manning could hold out no longer. So he has called for new elections for October 7, 2002. The government dissolved Parliament and called for early elections after a lingering political deadlock stopped legislators from electing a speaker of the house. These elections will be the third election in three years for the twin-island nation.

Faced with a looming political and financial crisis, Prime Minister Patrick Manning reconvened the parliament, which had last met in April in a failed attempt to elect the speaker, to try again. But the party of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday blocked the vote again on Wednesday, forcing the government to dissolve Parliament and call for early elections.

Panday's United National Congress party and Manning's People's National Movement canceled out each other's votes during Wednesday's election for a speaker. A majority of votes is needed.

The government's budget expires at the end of September and even with emergency funds, the money would only last until October. The last elections, held in December, resulted in an 18-18 tie that reflected the oil-rich Caribbean nation's split on ethnic lines between those descended from African slaves and East Indian laborers imported after slavery was abolished. President Arthur Robinson resolved the draw by appointing Manning as prime minister. Panday, in turn, said the appointment was unlawful and has since blocked votes to elect a speaker. Still, there is no guarantee the same impasse won't occur during the October elections.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister PJ Patterson has announced that general elections shall take place on October 16, following nomination on Monday September 30. Jamaica’s electoral laws require 5 days before nomination day, and then 2 weeks for election day.

  Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

NDM founder re-joins JLP

Bruce Golding, the prime founder of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) party and its former president has rejoined the Jamaica Labour Party on the eve of general elections. He is reported to have held long extensive talks with JLP leader Eddie Seaga to reach agreement on conditions for his return. Upon his return, he heaped lavish praise on Mr. Seaga. Meanwhile his NDM buddies were reportedly in shock by his sudden and unexpected departure from their ranks. And why not since his return came only days after he denied outrightly any return to the JLP. Not a single word did he give to the NDM executive of which he himself was still a member.
Days after, another prodigal and co-founder of the NDM, rejoined the JLP. He is Russel Hammond, a veteran politician and former vice president of the NDM.

  Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

FTAA and CARICOM (Part 3)

The Free Trade Area of the Americas is supposed to help the CARICOM. Because of it CARICOM goods will be able to enter rich markets like the mighty US without tariffs. CARICOM trade will boom. So they tell us, but, I think not. I can find no evidence to support that in this tariff-free trading that CARICOM will be competitive enough to improve their trade position at all. This is an illusion.

I myself conducted recently a radio interview with a CARICOM ambassador, Odeen Ishmael of Guyana. I could detect that even the ambassador was not a fan of the FTAA. I was specific. 
"Will FTAA improve our sugar trade?" "No."
"Will FTAA improve CARICOM banana trade?" No."
"Will it improve  the Guyana or Jamaica bauxite trade? "No."
It will not improve tourism. Every one of the major CARICOM industries, the bread and butter of CARICOM, will not be improved by FTAA. I was unable to find any specific CARICOM product that would be improved by FTAA. Instead there is some vague generalisation about how good it will be for trade and that it will simplify trade regulations. Simplify! Big deal! A database of the regulations of each country is an easier way to simplification.

These "benefits" to CARICOM are very doubtful, but the consequences to the local CARICOM markets of tariff-free imports could spell disaster. Small poor countries must be allowed to continue to set their own tariffs for as long as they are small poor countries.

Enlightened Trade -A new and legitimate world trade emphasis
Hot Calaloo has opposed FTAA but has come to realize that this is the wrong tactic. The CARICOM perspective is all wrong. Instead of trying to fit in to the plans of the US and others, CARICOM should seize FTAA as a chance to not follow rules but set rules in our own interest. Now is the time to demand the special rights for small poor countries. We do not want to depend on begging. We do not want to depend on selling ganja. We do not want our CARICOM citizenry lining up for miles outside the US embassy in wind and rain for the slightest chance of migrating to an America who does not really want them.

We need a Marshall plan. We are not demanding that all countries buy our protected products. But what is wrong with our friends or enlightened rich countries doing the noble thing just to help alleviate our poverty by choosing to buy them? It is high time that a whole new criteria be considered by these powerful international organisations. The hallowed "free trade" is not a worthy criterion. Free trade is not fair trade so it is not a worthy criterion regardless of what the well-heeled proponents ram down our throats. The fact is that big powerful developed countries who act as if they have some divine right to make trade policy for all are marginally affected by the protected trade and tariff policies of small poor countries. Even fair trade is not good enough. It is time to embrace a criterion which directly uses trade to reduce the dire poverty of such countries by doing the opposite of the trend and instead giving them special protection, rights and privileges to improve their lot.

So CARICOM let us not beg for time extension of our preferential treatment. Let us advocate the use of trade to reduce the poverty of nations by extending more preferential treatment not less. We certainly do not demand the US or any big development country to give us preferential trade treatment. It would be a nice gesture though. But do not punish any other country who extends that privilege to us. We can use the FTAA as a milestone. We can do it. We have 15 votes out of 34 countries in FTAA. Our cause is just and the free trade is unjust, insensitive and downright cruel.

Let the FTAA be just the beginning of our new enlightened trade direction. We have faithfully followed The World Bank, the IMF, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) advice to get ourselves in the current economic disaster. So now they have mortgaged our citizenry  to bone-crushing 3rd world debt. Their currency liberalization has turned our money into worthless paper. Their structural adjustment has accelerated poverty and discontent. Their globalization now threatens to take away the little market we have not only abroad but right at home. These organizations need to change their focus to removing the scourge of poverty. It is this and not the aggrandisement of rich countries which will make a better world.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Let us know what you think. Email us at

EU dairy subsidies enable cows to fly

(Hot Calaloo thanks reader Tony Clarke for alerting us to this must-see CAFOD website )

Mooooo….Cows flying? Well not literally, but rich subsidies can make them fly and ,at the same time, destroy farmers in developing countries. According to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, CAFOD), they could fly. The British based charity in a scathing but humorous e-animation film on the web contend that the European Union subsidies for the dairy industry is so much that it could send all EU cows on a plane trip around the world.

Check out their website for their film which highlights the devastating effect EU farm subsidies can have on the Developing World. The charity charges that EU governments spend enough money on the Common Agricultural Policy every year to fly all their 21 million dairy cows around the world. By comparison, dairy production in Jamaica has collapsed due to the dumping of EU skimmed milk powder.
Rich cows
The website cartoon movie called "Mooster's Millions" shows the lucky herbivores stopping off in a series of exotic locations, including Hong Kong, Brisbane, Raratonga and Los Angeles, and being given £400 spending money each.
"The e-animation is a funny way of looking at the EU. Unfortunately the reality is not so humorous," said CAFOD campaigner Sam Goddard. "The support that EU governments give to the dairy industry - £11m a year - means that the average European dairy cow has a yearly income of more than half the world's population," she said. At the end of the film, surfers are asked to send a postcard to the European Commission calling for a cut to EU farm subsidies and the introduction of measures to protect farmers in the developing world.

Once again, this is a must-see CAFOD website. Check it out the rich cows, the flying moosters, and see if you don’t agree.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Isadore and Lili storm through the Caribbean

Tropical storms Isadore and Lili, without even becoming strong enough to be a hurricane, has left a path of destruction in the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica and Cuba.

First Isadore doused Jamaica and Cuba with torrential rain and high winds. There was substantial flood damage as roads, houses, and agricultural crops were washed away.

Lili followed but carved a long path of destruction through several Caribbean islands.

Barbados – It was the first hit with violent winds and downpours in which:

  • 600 homes were damaged
  • 2,500 people were displaced from their homes and were staying with relatives or friends
  • the Government deployed 130 soldiers, civil servants and volunteers to help rebuild

St. Vincent - Lili unleashed a mudslide that crushed the wall of a house, suffocating a woman and three of her children.

St Lucia - Lilli destroyed about half of St. Lucia's banana crop, the country's main export. The government said it was seeking $2.7 million in foreign aid to restore banana plantations.

Jamaica – Before Jamaica could recover from several days of Isadore flood rains, along came Lilli. Like Isadore, it was more flooding and destruction  over the whole island. Lilli even lingered longer. Floods killed at least 3 people and washed away or damaged at least 200 homes, crops, livestock and roads.

Cuba – Lili did the most damage here as it hovered over the island the longest. Cuba’s west coast took a severe beating. Eight people are reported killed. Even Cuba’s tobacco renown for its world-famous cigars were threatened.

(Already overseas Caribbean organisations are sending relief supplies and Hot Calaloo urges its readers to pitch in to help in whatever way they can.)

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Dual citizenship – a personal statement

Recently dual citizenship has come under fire in the US media. Most Caribbean countries allow dual citizenship. I myself am a citizen of US and am still a proud citizen of Jamaica. I am very grateful for becoming a citizen of the US and the outstanding rights and privileges it bestows. But, this will never be at the price of turning my back on Jamaica. Despite my dual citizenship, I know I am a better US citizen than many of these flag-waving finger-pointing critics. I have been very active in my community. I not only vote but am active in political activities which shape this country. I am glad to serve on juries and participate in all the responsibilities that US citizenship requires.

The fact is dual citizenship means dual responsibility to me. The US is a big powerful country. Jamaica needs me more. But, I am not bound by any selfish nationalism, but consider myself a citizen of the world. I have not only a right to but a duty to criticize and I do not intend to give that up. My fist allegiance is not to the US. It is not even to Jamaica. No, my first allegiance is to justice, fairness, the rights of all, and I will not compromise these for any nationalism.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Race mobs rampage in Guyana

Annadale and Buxton are towns along the the northeast coast of Guyana. They are very close together separated by a narrow dam. But they are far apart ethnicly. Annadale’s residents are Indians and Buxton’s black. In early September, groups of armed bandits from Buxton have been committed robberies on civilians in Annadale. One of the days about 40 armed youths reportedly invaded the town of Annadale, beating and robbing residents.
To prevent this from breaking out into a race war, Guyana’s President Jagdeo has beefed up police in the area.

Editors Note: I am deeply worried about Guyana. If weapons ever become available, there is no doubt in my mind that we could have a Ruanda or a Kosovo with all their horrible atrocities and ethnic cleansing. It is clear that this condition will persist as long as Desmond Hoyte is leader of the opposition. Still I see no peacemaking role by responsible institutions like the churches, overseas organizations and academia. Their silence and inactivity is inexcusable when we consider what is at stake. I hope they act before it is too late.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

T&T radio stations face boycott for bias

THE Advertising Agencies Association of Trinidad and Tobago (AAATT) is threatening to have clients stop advertising with any radio station which shows outright political or racial bias. AAATT president Ian Collier said the association would lobby its clients to pull their ads from stations who were found to be guilty of bias.
With elections imminent and the two major political parties support based substantially along racial lines, it is a very volatile situation. Already one radio station, 102FM Gladiator, is being warned for inciting racial violence. Talk shows just like here in the US are big culprits.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Education - A tale of 2 countries

As Jamaica battles the teacher exodus to provide education for its children, its neighbor Cuba scores higher and higher.

Hundreds of thousands of Cuban students returned to schools with more than 5 000 new teachers and many renovated schools as part of President Fidel Castro's "education revolution". Before a gathering of the 5 329 new teachers at Karl Marx stadium in the capital, Castro said education "is always one of the fundamental objectives of our epic struggle for a society truly just, free and humane".

The 746 schools for Havana's two million residents were repaired, painted and in certain cases expanded to allow for classes of a maximum of 20 children, "an end often desired but rarely achieved, even in developed countries," Castro said.

"New technology in our classrooms will improve classroom learning," the official daily Juventud Rebelde said on Sunday as it announced that each classroom will have a television set, a computer and no more than 20 students.

Castro admitted that the fall of communism and years of economic crisis had badly hit the island. Teachers have had to deal with crowded classrooms and crumbling infrastructure.

But in less than two years, Castro estimated, the renovation of Cuba's schools and the training of new teachers will become "the most extraordinary experience of education and cultural development ever achieved by any society in history," and all with "the minimum of economic resources."

Cuba's adult literacy rate of 97.2% is one of the highest in the world, according to international organisations. It is the only country in Latin America where every child goes to school from nursery age. All schooling is free.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

OAS votes to restore Haiti funds

Since April 2000, US$500 million in funds earmarked for Haiti has been withheld on the grounds of election irregularities. So that impoverished nation has had to struggle without these funds which severely aggravated their misery, instability and poverty. Despite the crisis it created in Haiti, the US, no friend of Haiti's President Aristide, held up the funds all this time during which CARICOM countries lobbied constantly for their release. Haiti is the newest member of CARICOM, although it has been independent since 1804 and the only country in the world where former slaves became rulers.

Back to Hot Calaloo

"Legalize it" says Canadian Parliament Committee

A Canadian Parliament committee has called for legalizing marijuana use by adults, increasing pressure on the government to shift drug laws far from the zero-tolerance policy of the neighboring United States.

The report by the Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs released Wednesday recommended that criminal records for possession of marijuana should be erased, with the nation adopting a system that regulates marijuana in the same way that alcohol is regulated. It also called for immediate action on permitting eligible medical patients to legally obtain marijuana.

"There is no good reason to subject the consumers of cannabis to the application of criminal law," Sen. Pierre Nolin of the Progressive Conservative party said. "In a free society as ours, it's up to the individual to decide whether to consume cannabis or not."

The report emerged from months of hearings with Canadian and international experts, police and drug enforcement agencies and ordinary citizens. While not binding, it will force the Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien to formulate a response that explains what provisions it accepts or rejects and why.

"Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue," the committee chairman said.

David Griffin of the Canadian Police Association rejected those arguments in criticizing the report.

South of the border of Canada, eight U.S. states have taken some kind of step toward permitting the medicinal use of marijuana: California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Colorado. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled last year that there is no exception in federal law for people to use marijuana, so even those with state medical-exemptions could face arrest if they do.

Back to Hot Calaloo

Jamaica population now 2.6 million

The 2001 report of the 2001 census conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica puts the population in the island at 2.6 million. In 10 years since 1991, the Jamaican population grew by 218,668 representing an average annual growth rate of 0.88 per cent, a slight reduction from the 0.93 per cent growth seen in the previous decade.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Cops reject JFJ firing demand

THE JAMAICA Police Federation says it opposes the request from Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) for the removal of a detective inspector formerly attached to the Hunts Bay police station in Kingston. The JFJ  has linked him to six fatal shootings since 1999. "Not so", said the Federation. In a recent statement , the Federation said that its investigations had revealed that in most cases cited by Jamaicans for Justice, the detective inspector was not present at the scene, "let alone to be involved."

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Alumina company re-organisation produces job losses

Former Alcan Jamaica Co., now the West Indies Aluminum Co. (WINDALCO) has announced that it is divesting its mining operations at Kirkvine, Manchester in Jamaica. This function is to be taken over by the Henry Walker Eltin (HWE) company in order to achieve greater efficiency. A union official claimed that HWE would be contracted to mine roughly 2.5 million tonnes of bauxite annually. This bauxite would supply the Kirkvine alumina refinery and that the objective was to reduce mining costs by an average US$1 per ton and to ensure reliability. However, it will mean that 87 permanent employees will lose their jobs. HWE will hire all new employees.

Editor’s comment: This sounds suspiciously familiar. Change name of company. Fire all employees and hire new ones at lower salaries. This slick operation happens all the time in US. But, not in Jamaica too with its powerful unions!

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Jamaica businessmen stage shutdown

Businessmen in Kingston , Jamaica, backed by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, staged a shutdown of their business to protest illegal vendors squatting on the sidewalks of their commercial establishments. These illegal vendors make access to these legal shops almost impossible. It is estimated that the businessmen stand to lose J$40 million by the shutdown.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

BWIA in financial crisis

Lawrence Duprey, the chairman of BWIA, the  Trinidad and Tobago airline,  has announced that the airlines lost US$9 million in the first half of the year. He warned that unless there is a restructuring plan in place by the end of October the airline could go bankrupt. Already the company:

  • Is holding talks with its unions to develop a restructuring plan that includes layoffs. BWIA has 2,400 employees
  • Has announced plans to reduce its fleet of 13 planes by 3.

     Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

T&T’s Panday faces charges

T&T’s former Prime Minister and current Leader of the Opposition has been charged with hiding assets in a London bank account he held with his wife. He has been ordered to appear in court on November to answer the charges  of making false statements to an independent commission. The bank account reportedly had sums amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars between November 1997 and October 2001. Under Trinidad law, MP’s are required to declare assets to the commission. Failure to comply can result in a fine of US$41,ooo and a ten-year jail term.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Bike taxi in Jamaica

Hard pressed Jamaicans are showing their resourcefulness once again. In western Hanover, lack of proper transportation and poor road conditions have spawned the emergence of a new commercial transportation system, bike taxi. Motor bikes can go where automobiles fear to tread. Thes are really motor scooter ranging from 50 to 100 cc’s. The operation has spread from a single bike to over 100.

Are the bikes legal? Of course not . In addition police say:

  • some drivers as unlicensed
  • some motorbikes are unlicensed.
  • Many riders violate the law by not wearing helmets

As a result police seize about 10 bikes per week. It beats walking and seems to fill a legitimate need.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

The good news and the bad about Brian Lara

The good news is that Brian Lara scored a century to propel the West Indies cricket team to a victory over Kenya. The bad news is much worse. He complained about feeling ill during the match. He was so sick he could not take the field in the last innings and was unable to collect his Man-of-the-Match award. He has since been diagnosed with hepatitis. This has  forced him to withdraw from the upcoming tour of India to seek medical attention. His place has been taken by his T&T countryman Darren Ganga.

 Top        Back to Hot Calaloo

Let us know what you think. Email us at