Attack on America
Caribbean leaders have expressed their shock and support for America for the vicious cruel attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11. over 6,000 people are estimated dead or missing. These numbers include nationals from many countries. Early estimates put 60 of these as being from the Caribbean, with 10 known to be Jamaicans.
As the US economy struggles to cope with the economic destruction, so too many Caribbean countries must cope with economic consequences. Since Caribbean countries are so dependent on tourism, they are especially vulnerable.
Big powerful airline companies in the US face bankruptcy. People are afraid to fly, resulting in layoffs in the thousands. The US government is preparing a rescue package in the billions for these commercial airlines. Air Jamaica has announced losses of about $11 million for the days when the FAA grounded all planes in America. They have stated that they do not intend to layoff any staff and have called for financial help from the government. The Government has promised assistance to the tune of US$8 million.
Meanwhile all over the Caribbean, hotels have been faced with massive cancellations. The losses here are expected to be so great that some expect it to take many years to recover. Throughout the Caribbean, not just hotels will suffer, but also water sport operators, taxi operators, restaurants, car rentals, tour representatives, travel agencies, to name a few. For some specifics:
Cruise ship cancels
Dissension plunges Panday Govt. in crisis
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Basdeo Panday’s government is in big trouble. It seems their days are numbered. Three rebellious ministers are no longer members of the cabinet. PM Panday fired two and a third has quit, effectively reducing the Government’s majority in the Parliament. New elections seem inevitable as it seems the Government will not survive an imminent no-confidence vote. Panday fired Attorney General Ramesh Maharaj first. Then Minister of Information Technology resigned. Not long after, Panday also fired Food Production and Marine Resources Minister Trevor Sudama .
Corruption charges and internal party rift
The four ministers headed by Attorney-General, Ramesh Maharaj, have been pressing the government to appoint a Commission of Enquiry into alleged widespread corruption in government, running into millions of dollars. The other rebel ministers are Information and Technology Minister, Ralph Maraj, and Housing Minister, Sadiq Baksh. But Panday would only say those who have evidence of public corruption must take it to the police. Both Maharaj and Food Production Minister, Trevor Sudama, have been severely critical of the Prime Minister's handling of a number of issues. Attorney General has stated publicly that:
PM Panday threatened to fire his rebellious Ministers, but if he did he would lose his majority in the Parliament. Attorney General Maharaj stated he had no intention of quitting and subsequently became the first fired. The split in the party originated from the June internal executive elections of the party which catapulted the Attorney-General Maharaj to the post of deputy political leader.
Opposition Leader Patrick Manning has already held talks with the former Ministers in preparation for the no-confidence vote. Prior to this crisis, Manning added to the PM’s woes when he by produced a picture of a house in South Kensington, London, which he claimed was owned by a top Trinidadian politician. A local paper also carried a report and copy of a cheque for US$50,000 which showed it was payable to one Basdeo Panday.
Mountain View Ave turned into a war zone
I remember when Mountain View was a peaceful tranquil residential neighborhood in Jamaica . I had a godparent who lived there. Now all hell has broken out there and this once tranquil neighborhood has become a war zone. There is terror, gunfire, violence, and death. Just like in the west Kingston violence in July, this is depicted as a war between Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), the opposition party residents and Peoples National Party (PNP), the Government party, residents. But is it?
According to CVM TV news, senior police officials describe one of the attacks there as a sophisticated, brutal and a deliberate assault on the community by as many as 100 persons including women. They struck late in the evening. Reliable sources report that the assailants were dressed in police uniforms portraying the ranks of corporals and sergeants. They came gunning for specific PNP residents in order to retaliate for the killing of 4 residents previously. It is also reported that these JLP attackers were not local residents but invaders drawn from several communities in and around the surrounding areas. They killed three persons and firebombed houses in the area.
Trouble had been brewing for the whole month of September, but on September 24, heavy gunfire between political factions broke out. This forced motorists to seek alternate route, despite police presence. On September 25, police moved in with large numbers and set up a buffer zone between the warring groups.
Nevertheless, gunfire continued as if to instill terror in residents and drive them from their homes. Many residents have packed belongings in vans and fled their homes, leaving some areas resembling a ghost town. Other residents stay, but are tapped in fear in their homes, afraid to go about their daily business. Residents are terrified by threatening political slogans emblazoned on the walls of the community. Attendance at several schools in the area has declined greatly.
The government set up a bipartisan community meeting to bring the police and warring political factions together, but area JLP politicians and JLP residents failed to show up. Instead of such a dialoge to try to resolve differences and make peace, the JLP had their own meeting the following day.
Despite heavy police presence, the killings continue. Not just here but
is spreading like a horrible cancer with 6 killings taking place on Monday
October 1. As this cancer spreads, will anyplace in Jamaica be safe?
Editor’s Comments: The fact is this is not just violence
anymore. Assailants disguised as police, organized, well armed with
sophisticated automatic weapons. No, this is urban guerilla warfare.
Warfare requires a military solution.
Operation Respect For Law
Partisanship, loyalty and politics
Undermining the police
Yes, M..., this terrorism that these Jamaicans suffer rests heavy on my mind and stays there all the time. When I think of the mother, Dana Reid, rushing out of of her Waltham Park home to find her son, Ryan Harris, an innocent boy of only 12, who had simply gone to return a bicycle to a friend, dead on the ground, his lifeless body riddled with ten bullets from unidentified gunmen, I mourn. And, M..., I am also outraged that the obvious perpetrator, the "bin Laden" of this terrorism goes unpunished, and continues to undermine the morale of the police. That is why I continue to write you, even though convincing you seems so impossible a task. But, I must continue for the sake of people like Dana Reid.
It is not surprising that Mr. Seaga has called for the removal of the special police anti-crime group, the Crime Management Unit, especially its head, tough talking Senior Superintendent of Police Reneto Adams. Seaga has bitterly denounced the police and challenged their authority to go into his constituency. With his permission, he, Seaga, will grant Superintendent Adams safe passage to enter his constituency. What arrogance! This is part of a deliberate strategy to undermine the police. Go after the top cop and the rest will be so intimidated and rendered ineffective, while he Seaga will swell with power.
I am sure the police are guilty of some excesses. Hot Calaloo has gone on record of criticising police brutality in Jamaica long before it was fashionable to do so and when no one else including human rights organisations did. But, I have also given credit to the improvements made and steps taken to continue this improvement which needs to be commended and supported. Jamaicans are being victimized by a most vicious crime wave and it is out of that crime wave that the CMU was formed. Would you want your son or yourself to be a Jamaican policeman, knowing that a Jamaican policeman faces a more perilous occupation than any other policeman in the world? This is the environment in which he must work:
Now, M...., you characterizes the policeman as "a joke". In Jamaica it is very fashionable to deride and disrespect the police. Right now a popular song refers to the policeman as "Babylon bwoy". Policemen (Babylon, Babylon boy) often must face lack of cooperation and hostility from the very people they are trying to protect. No, they are no "joke" They are heroes, unsung and unappreciated heroes. They deserve and should be recognized as such. In America, a policeman slain in the line of duty, is given a hero’s burial, widely covered by the media and attended by dignitaries from all over the country. In Jamaica, they just slip him in the ground. We need to rally behind our policemen and not let ruthless self-serving politicians put their very lives at increased risk.
Millionaire hotel, Air Jamaica, magnate, Butch Stewart keeps putting the police down and demanding "outside help". Let us see him, the PSOJ and others supporting the police instead by :
This crime wave crisis is not the time for confrontation, but the time for building bridges between the police and communities. Let us never forget that during the July uprising, while others including JLP officials were trying to restore peace and order, Mr. Seaga did not lift a finger to help. Instead, while JLP thugs were shooting at the police, blocking roads and causing mayhem on one front, on the other front, Mr. Seaga was undermining the police in the media, both here and abroad.
I remember many years ago when there was hardly any violence in west Kingston. As far as I recall, the violence in west Kingston originated when Seaga first ran for office there. At that time his PNP opponent, Dudley Thompson, and Seaga were blamed for the violence. Dudley Thompson is gone, but the violence remains. Then Michael Manley and Seaga were blamed. Michael Manley too is gone and the violence remains. Seaga remains and the violence remains and it will remain as long as Seaga remains.
So for the good of Jamaica, Seaga must go. For the good and integrity of the JLP, Seaga must go. . In Trinidad and Tobago, cabinet ministers are putting integrity above loyalty to their party leader. In Barbados, the leader of opposition quit because his own party officials did not give him adequate support. So, I urge you M...., and especially other JLP members like you. Put Jamaica first and do not vote for any JLP member as long as Seaga heads the JLP.
Grant and loan package from Libya
Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr.Ralph Gonsalves has annouinced that Caribbean countries are getting an aid package of over US$20 million from Libya. The package will be distributed in such a way that:
The week previous to the announcement Dr. Gonsalves, as well as other Caribbean PM’s , namely Dominica’s Pierre Charles, and Grenada’s Dr. Keith Mitchell, visited Libya. They held talks with Libyan leader Muamar Ghaddafi.
Barbados Opposition leader quitsDavid Thompson resigned from the positions of president and political leader of the opposition Democratic Labour Party of Barbados, citing a lack of support from key members during the unsuccessful September 21 St Thomas by-election campaign. Since his resignation, the general council of the Party at a special meeting passed by acclamation a resolution expressing “unreserved confidence” in his leadership of the opposition.. Several leading members of the party want to succeed him. They include former president Branford Taitt, Senators Clyde Mascoll and LeRoy McClean, and St Peter hopeful Haynesley Benn; while general secretary George Pilgrim has indicated he would serve if asked.
Cops, Mobay residents, repaint pedestrian crossing
In Montego Bay, Jamaica, cops of the Mount Salem Police station and local residents teamed up to repaint a pedestrian crossing along the main road to coincide with the opening of the new school year. It is reported thast the police and the citizens are also exploring other joint ventures of benefit to the community.
Jamaican hotel workers’ exodus to the US too
In 1989 the Jamaica Ministry of Labour and Social Security initiated a
program to recruit workers for hotels in the US. The program started small
but has grown rapidly, doubling in numbers in the last few years. It has
grown from 105 workers in n 1989 to 4,204 in 2000. However, local hotels
are complaining that the program is taking away their best workers and
creating problems for the local hotel industry. These overseas bound
workers receive counseling from the Ministry and must agree to save 16% of
their salaries in local Jamaican banks.
A Jamaica Laboury Party group, Generation 2000, hosted R. Ted Cruz, domestic policy advisor for US President George W. Bush. He came to provide election tips and strategy to his JLP hosts and as JLP leader Eddie Seaga expressed his satisfaction claiming the George Bush advisor would "be a hard act to follow".
A fire has ravaged the Bahamas capital, Nassau, forcing the government there to declare a "national disaster". The fire destroyed the straw market, the Ministry of Tourism building among others, leaving approximately US#75 million in damage. The fire burned so hot that windows of several stores across the street from the fire were cracked and plastic melted. Police believe the fire was arson and a suspect has been arrested.
The open-air straw market housed some 1,000 Bahamian crafts people and merchants, wsho sold bags, straw hats etc., to the tourists and was one of the Bahamas leading attractions. Now these vendors have been displaced from their tourist business on which they depend for survival.
Jamaican PM, P J Patterson has offered to help in their devastating loss.
Natty pass him GCE
Well not Natty, but 5 inmates of the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Center (prison) have passed their GCE. "O" Level.. This was an innovative part of the prison rehablitation process. Reports are that the prisoners are very proud of this accomplishment and has motivated them and others to aspire for more education. This is even more remarkable considering that the prison does not have any real studying facilities.
Caribbean Athletes face drug penalty
Jamaican sprinter Pat Jarrett and Trinidad and Tobago's 100 m silver medallist Ato Boldon have been hit with positive drug tests.
World Cup - Jamaica and T&T bite the dust
Trinidad and Tobago was already pretty much out of it already, but in the last three games, Jamaica's World Cup soccer hopes were extinguished. Hope began to fade when they lost at home to Mexico 2-1. Then they went to Honduras to receive a 1-0 defeat. They then helped the US clinch one of the three spots by losing 2-1 to them in Massachusetts.
Meanwhile T&T sprung a huge upset by beating Honduras 1-0 in Honduras after continued losses, these times to Costa Rica , 2-0, and Mexico, 3-0 . This win has forced a real show down for the 3rd and only spot to make it to the finals, between Honduras and Mexico. The winner of this game in Mexico moves forward.
However, Jamaica and T&T are in some good company. Holland failed to make it too and Brazil is struggling. In my opinion, it would be better for soccer if Brazil does not make it. Brazil represents scintillating attractive soccer. Well not anymore. Brazil is so desperate. Their latest coach is Luiz Felipe Scolari. He has been repeatedly criticised for his team's defensive tactics and for publicly encouraging his players to foul their opponents and waste time. A Brazil like that, would destroy their image, and I would rather Brazil miss the World Cup than witness that.
A little more than a year ago, Jamaica lost national team member "Shorty" Malcom to a car accident. This time, the same fate fell to Trinidad and Tobago international Mickey Trotman. He was killed on Wednesday morning, October 3, in a motor vehicle accident. The 26-year-old midfielder arrived in Trinidad only the day before and went that same day to training with the national team ahead of Sunday's CONCACAF region World Cup qualifier against Honduras in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Trotman who was the driver of the vehicle, along with his 25-year old brother Stephan and a 21-year female companion, Tessa Moses, all died instantly when the car struck a pole after running off the road in east Trinidad. Two other occupants, another brother Kenyan and friend Troy Fernandez, remain in serious conditions at the hospital.
'Mickey (Trotman) was a talented, honest, good and happy person,' said Trinidad's technical director Rene Simoes in a statement. 'We mourn his death together, but certain that he is now with God enjoying eternal life, and for that we are grateful.'