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September 2000

US Elections Loom - Get Ready

Dick Cheney – a disgraceful and insulting choice
The Republican presidential nominee, George W. Bush's selection of Dick Cheney as his vice president is an insulting and disgraceful choice. Did you know that Dick Cheney, as a US congressman in the President Reagan years, was one of the few who voted against the freedom of Nelson Mandela and also against sanctions for apartheid South Africa? Let us answer this outrage by voting ourselves and getting our friends to vote against George W. Bush and all his Republican cronies this fall like never before. Cheney’s record in Congress is consistently bad. In his 10 years there, he also voted

  • against the Equal Rights Amendment
  • against Head Start funding
  • against a ban on armour piercing "cop killer" bullets

US Election Time Again
Yes, it’s US election time again. US election day, November 7, 2000, draws near. But, the time for Caribbean citizens of the US to become active in the campaign, is already overdue. We must do everything in order to ensure the election of a US president and other politicians who will not betray the Caribbean and Caribbean interests. Despite the fidelity of the Caribbean in their support of the US, since the fall of the Soviet Union, US support has steadily declined. But not only that, but also, we have seen rising threats from the US

  • to our economic life by the war on our banana trade with Europe
  • to our sovereignty by "shiprider"
  • a steady decline of foreign aid
  • harsh new laws against immigrants
  • insensitive and unfair deportation back to the Caribbean policy
  • scapegoating of immigrants for cheap political gain

Support Caribbean politicians and friends
In my area, the Baltimore/Washington area, we are supporting our Jamaican-born Shirley Nathan-Pulliam. She deserves our support not just because she is Jamaican, but because she has been a dynamic hard working innovative Delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates. We are proud of her many accomplishments.

Look around in your area for the Caribbean politicians like Shirley or friends of the Caribbean. Start with the list right here on the Hot Calaloo web page. Volunteer to help. American politics cost big bucks. So, be sure to help financially. We will never have the clout of the Cuban-Americans, but let us not continue to be apathetic doormats of American politics.

Vote Democratic
Let me make it clear. Hot Calaloo will never be non-partisan. With Caribbean interests at stake, we cannot be non-partisan. We do not expect the Democratic Party to deliver us, but the Republicans will sell us down the river. Dick Cheney is an angel compared with notorious racists Republican leaders like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. These are the ones who have fought and blocked almost every black or Hispanic nominee by President Clinton to the federal courts, despite numerous vacancies. Shall we continue Jesse Helms as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations or instead have Democrat Charles Rangel, a champion for the rights of all and a great friend of the Caribbean? Every elected Caribbean politician I know of is a Democrat. There are lots more reasons for Hot Calaloo to say "Vote Democratic!"

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Butch Stewart lead clamour for foreign help to fight crime

Air Jamaica and Sandals Resorts CEO Butch Stewart has led a group of Jamaican merchants in demanding the resignation of Jamaica’s Minister of National Security and the police comissioner because of the increasing crime wave. They call for foreign help in fighting crime and blame Prime Minister for not being more personally involved in the fight. The crime wave in Jamaica is indeed oppressive and a recent report in the Jjamaica Gleaner revealed how many merchants in Kingston are held in terror by crime dons use of imtimidation, extortion and robberies. A call in radio program confirmed this from scores of terrified merchants, many fearful that they may be identified.

I understand and feel the despair these victims must feel. However, the blame is undeserved. The crime wave problem is very complex, almost universal. The Prime Minister, National Security Minister and Police Comissioner have been doing a good job. They have put forward good crime fighting plans. (See plan from previous Hot Calaloo update) However, I have been unable to find any information on the all important implementation. Unfortunately, there is no guarantees that these or any subsequent plan or foreign crimefighters will bring the desired dramatic immediate results. There is no magic plan. Hot Calaloo’s Dialogue With People (DWP) plan will still provide a vital ingredient in reducing crime and deserves to be tried.

Despair can be dangerous. Already, it has blamed officials unfairly. A concerted effort is needed, instead of division producing rash accusations. Despair can result in worse consequencies which transgress civil and human rights. For example, shall we try public beheading and chopping off hands like they do in Saudi Arabia? In other countries death squads and vigilante mobs spring up.

It is good to see the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (AMCHAM) doing something positive about the problem. They are bringing a specialist team of American crimefighters to the island to assist the poilce map strategies to fight crime. The group is reported to have an impressive track record which includes working for the US Departments of State and Justice and significantly reducing the crime rate in a number of countries. It has been collecting information on Jamaica since May and while here will be carrying out mostly analytical work.

Contrary to the impression created by the critics, foreign crimefighters are not new to Jamaica. Police Commissioner reports that the force has received numerous assistance from Britain, Canada, USA, Japan and even India.

(See Venezuela’s unique crime-stopping efforts reported previously)

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Venezuela’s claim to 3/5 of Guyana heats up

As if Guyana is not having enough border trouble with Suriname. Now, as predicted by Hot Calaloo, Venezuela is getting into the act.

An American company's plan to build a space launch pad in the mineral-rich territory separating Guyana and Venezuela is refueling a long-standing border dispute. Venezuela warned recently that the U.S. risked opening "a dangerous breach" in relations by supporting a Texas company's proposal to build the space port in Guyana's western Essequibo region, the contested area. The 76,000-square-mile Essequibo region covers three-fifths of Guyana. But Venezuela has claimed the area since the 1940s. The border was drawn in 1899 when Guyana was still a British colony. The Essequibo region has a wealth of gold, bauxite and diamonds as well as lumber and oil. Last month, Venezuela said it would consider issuing oil concessions in the disputed area.

Ironically as the Guyana opposition PNC party continues in a ridiculous hopeless squabble about the past elections, in the face of so serious a threat to the continued existence of Guyana itelf as we know it.


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Shortage of magistrates cause court crisis in St. Lucia

There is such a severe shortage of magistrates in St. Lucia that several of the islands District Courts are closed. This has caused a number of criminal cases to be adjourned in rising numbers. There is still no indicationas to when they will be heard.

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Residents blockade exclusive tourist resort in St. Vincent

Residents of the southern Grenadine island of Canouan went into the third day of a motor vehicle blockade of the multi-million dollar Carenage Bay Beach and Golf Resort. The blockage was triggered by a row over new restricted access to the beach on the holiday island. "We are going to stay here until this thing has been addressed by the Prime Minister of this country," said Terry Bynoe, President of the Canouan Progressive Movement that has been representing the interest of indigenous Canouan residents.

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St. Lucian govt. snubs local airline into bankruptcy

It seems the government of St. Lucia has turned its back on a local airline company for a foreign one. According to The head of a small St. Lucian airline company his company was facing bankruptcy following a decision by the government to award a licence to a foreign owned concern to expand its operations on the island. Eagle Air Services, owned and operated by St. Lucian pilot Ewart Hinkson, recently had its contract for haulage of mail and small packages with Federal Express cancelled, with the deal taken over by Mountain Air Cargo of the United States. Hinkson said that the loss of the contract will have a devastating effect on his company, which was now on the verge of closure.

Foreign corporations squeezing out local retailers in Barbados

Even in the US big corporate retailers like Wallmart and Home Depot move into an area and all the small local stores die. So, now in many areas, local retailers live in terror that these stores might move into their town. Some towns have even waged campaigns to keep them out in order to protect local business. Now these companies have gone international. This is a serious threat. The Caribbean will be easy pickings unless….

It is not surprising therefore that one of Barbados'leading food retailers, Carlton Supermarket, on Friday pressed for the retail sector to be reserved for Barbadians in the face of increasing global competition. In a full-page ad in both daily newspapers, the head of the supermarket, Andrew Bynoe, said, "We have to welcome foreign investment, especially in areas where such investment would create foreign exchange earnings for our country or enhance our scientific and technical skills. "There are areas, however, which government must, as a policy, reserve for local entrepreneurs. One such area is the retail sector." The ad appeared against the backdrop of PriceSmart, the San Diego headquartered merchandise and services provider, reporting massive sales at its new warehouse in Trinidad and Tobago.

Have they come to your island yet? They are comiing. Prices will be cheaper, but local merchants will disappear, and more money will depart to foreign corporate headquarters. I say retailers of the Caribbean, "Gird up your loins and prepare to fight these foreign invaders now!"


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Volunteer overseas Caribbean organisations - making them better

Part 1

In these anti-immigrant globalization times, Caribbean organisations are desperately needed to play a greater role in their respective communities and to the Caribbean itself. They have the potential of being the vanguard and vital resource for West Indian residents of the US. But, are these organisations run efficiently enough to meet this challenge? How can we improve them?

A hard look
Here in North America, Caribbean organisations abound. We need to take a critical look at these organisations and evaluate not only their performance but their potential. Lets ask:

  • Is your organisation doing a good job?
  • What are its priorities?
  • Is it relevant to the prevailing conditions and environment?
  • Does it have some real mission or is it bogged down in boring
  • meetings, red tape and internal conflicts?
  • Is it all talk and very little action?
  • Is the biggest event that gets great enthusiastic participation the election of officers?

Giving credit
These are just some of the problems which not just Caribbean organisations, but all types of organisations face. Before I continue with the critical analysis, I must acknowledge and pay tribute to the hard untiring work that usually a very small core of dedicated individuals do to keep many of these organisations alive. Often the services of these individuals are taken for granted and instead of praise they receive a lot of undeserved criticism. On the other hand, there is reasoned constructive criticism which should be listened to.

Different organisations have different goals. Some goals are

  • Social
  • Service oriented towards Local Caribbean community and/or
  • Caribbean community back home
  • Cultural
  • Educate and Inform
  • Sports such as football, cricket teams
  • Political
  • High School and other types of Alumni Organisations
  • A combination of all or some of the forementioned

Outstanding talent but...
The Caribbean community abroad is loaded with talented outstanding people. It is top heavy with college graduates and many who excel in their jobs and have achieved renown. But, too often Caribbean organisations do not reflect this enriched community, but instead are struggling to remain afloat with some outmoded organisational methods. How many of these organisations embrace the modern technology? Do they have a computer database of their members and their resources? Do they maintain e-mail list of their members? The fact of the matter is that the expertise which we have right there in our community, often willing and ready to serve, is not utilized. Too often we are willing to accept horse-and-buggy methods as the standard to run our organisations. Many organisations need to get out of that rut. Seek contemporary state-of-the-art ways of maintaining and

administering your organisation in the most effective manner.

Generally, meetings are a boring frustrating experience for many organisations. Nevertheless, members are urged to come to these meetings and when these meetings are poorly attended, there is

dismay. It does not have to be this way. Recognize the problem. Seek to pep up these meetings. Mix business with pleasure. Make people want to come. Once again, there are resources right in your community. Schedule informative discussion, entertainment, poetry reading, a folklorist, a musician, a report by local activist or author, even a sing-along and so on, along with the usual dreary but essential organisation business. Try new things until something works.

Many organisations do not have a budget. They set dues, hold meetings. When their operational expenses run out or low, then they have a fund-raiser. They end up with such a hand-to-mouth existence that it forces them to neglect the legitimate goals and objectives of the organisation. Sometimes it could be that the organisation is spending too much for the meeting place. Look around once again for the resources in the community. So, be sure to set a budget. This will force the organisation to look at its priorities and goals and set a financial course to achieve them.

(Hot Calaloo will continue the series on Caribbean organisations, featuring their achievements, challenges they face, problems and propose solutions to these problems. Hot Calaloo welcomes comments from readers on this important topic. In coming issues we deal with bickering, infighting and more creative fundraising.)

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Women surpass men online in USA

The associated press reports that women are now in the majority online. In May, 50.4% of U.S. Internet users were women, Media Metrix said Wednesday. That's still below the percentage of women in the overall U.S. population, which according to Census figures is 51.1%. The study was based on Media Metrix measurements of more than 55,000 home and business users. Among other findings: -Teen-age girls represent the fastest-growing age group. There were more than 4.4 million girls ages 12-17 online in May, a 126% increase from about 2 million a year earlier. -The number of women ages 18-24 online decreased 4.5%, possibly indicating more interest in college and early career development, researchers said. -The number of female Internet users ages 55 and over grew by 110%, though they represent only 4.4% of the overall online population. -Across all age groups, America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo! sites were most popular among women. Those were also the sites most frequented by men.

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Rastafarian meeting bans marijuana

Yes, it’s true. It happened in Dominica. There'll be no marijuana smoked at a meeting of Rastafarians, organizers promised, following complaints about participants lighting up in front of Dominica's top law enforcement official. The announcement came after local television on Friday showed people at the eight-day meeting's opening ceremony smoking marijuana during an address by acting Attorney General Bernard Wiltshire. Three police officers were also present but took no action to stop the smokers.

Rastafarians consider smoking marijuana a sacrament The meeting aims to form a Caribbean Rastafarian Organization dedicated to getting reparation for slavery and the repatriation of slave descendants to Africa. Marijuana is illegal in Dominica as in other Caribbean countries, though officials largely turn a blind eye to offenders who use small amounts privately.

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Mexico seeks NAFTA dispute panel

All is not well in the NAFTA family so sought after by Caribbean countries. Mexico said Thursday it plans to request a dispute panel under the North American Free Trade Agreement to resolve a 3-year row over Mexico's right to export all of its surplus sugar production duty-free to the U.S. Mexico's Commerce Ministry requested the panel after the local sugar industry on Wednesday rejected a U.S. proposal to resolve the issue. U.S. negotiator for agricultural trade Greg Frazier expressed disappointment with Mexico's decision, saying the U.S. wanted to continue negotiations. The U.S. wants to limit Mexico's surplus sugar export, fearing that an increase would flood the United States' already oversupplied market and add to pressure that has pushed domestic sugar prices to a 22-year low. The dispute broke out in June 1997, when Mexico slapped anti-dumping duties on U.S. high fructose corn syrup imports, which are used mostly in soft drinks and bakery products.

Editor’s Comment: Looks like US is protecting its market. Could this be "Do like we say, not as we do?" The old double standard is alive and well.

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AIDS drug tested in Dominican Rep.

American researchers testing a new AIDS drug needed patients who had never received any treatment. The Dominican Republic has them - by the thousands. Agouron Pharmaceuticals is using Dominicans to test its capravirine because it can be hard in the U.S. and Europe to find patients who haven't received any other treatments, between health insurance and public health systems. Finding such people here was easy: More than 2% of the country's 8 million people are infected with the AIDS virus - and few can afford medicines that cost many times the average income. Capravirine, which researchers hope will help fight off mutations of the virus, has already been through the safety phase of testing. Excluding Cuba, where extensive testing and prevention keep rates low, the Caribbean has around four times the U.S. rate. As in Africa a decade ago, there is growing incidence among women, heterosexuals, children and young people. Poverty is a factor. Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest country, also has the highest infection rate, more than 5 percent of adults.
Equally important are a complex of destructive societal norms, experts say, including early sexual experience, taking multiple partners, a religious bent discouraging discussion of sex and a distaste among men toward condoms and submissiveness by women who don't insist on them. Virulent homophobia also induces bisexuals to lead secret double lives and causes people to assume wrongly that AIDS is mainly confined to the gay community.

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Crocodiles menace Jamaican village

The little community of Crane Road is near to the mouth of the Black River in Jamaica. When a crocodile killed a woman there some months ago as reported in Hot Calaloo, it was considered an aberation of a rogue crocodile. But, within the last 2 months the peaceful relationship with crocodiles from the river has changed drastically and the residents are suddenly being menaced by the crocodiles. In that period:

  • A thirteen year old boy’s escaped from the clutches of a crocodile which grabbed his shirtail.
  • A woman had to rescue her two children from a crocodile who was creeping up on them
  • They have eaten dogs and livestock including four goats
  • The residents have built pens to protect the remaining dogs.

The residents are terror struck. Imagine the fright a resident got when she opened her front door to be faced by a menacing crocodile! They used to run away at the very sight or presence of a human, but often they must be driven away by stoning. The terrified residents want to kill them but are forbidden by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA). A fence was promised to keep the crocodiles out, but none has materialised.

But why have these crocodiles tuned so vicious? A Crane Road fisherman there recalls when not long ago," fishermen used to swim with the crocodiles". Rudolph Spence of the NRCA attributes this deadly change to factors such as:

  • Encroachment of development into the habitat of the crocodiles
  • Pollution in the river reduces the marine life on which the crocodiles feed so the seek other food
  • Depletion of the wetlands also deplete the crocodiles’ natural food
  • People feed the crocodiles so they get lazy in their hunt for food and seek "easier" food like a nearby family pet.

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Private contractors now responsible for road maintenance in Jamaica

Don’t blame the Government of Jamaica for bad roads anymore. They have turned over the maintenance of all the main roads to private contractors. It is their job or should I say headache now. Is this the answer to the constant and widespread deplorable almost impassable roads? The government has signed 70 contracts at a total estimated cost of J$200 million.

In America, certain State and municipal governments have tried privatising road maintenance. It is ballyhooed as a saviour. In reality it has not delivered. In the State of Virginia, for example, there was no attempt to save money by this. It was adopted not on the basis of merit but was basically a political decision. It got off to a bad start, had to depend on existing experienced employees for guidance and it is estimated that it would take 5 years before it could even be fairly compared with the previous government maintainance system. Previously, Jamaica’s government maintenance was reported to be handicapped by corruption and inefficiency. If this road maintenance privitisation works as planned I know the people of Portland will be very happy.

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New Prime Minister for St Vincent

Finance minister, Arnhim Eustace, is to be sworn in as new Prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on October 27, 2000. He has already taken over as head of the ruling political party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), from the present Prime Minister, Sir James Mitchell. The 55-year-old Eustace took over the reins of the NDP at a special party convention at Victoria Park in Kingstown on Sunday, August 20 in what political observers have interpreted as "the end of one era and the ushering of a new" in the country's politics. New general elections are scheduled by March 2001, some two years ahead of the NDP's elected five-year third term. This change is based on a "peace" agreement brokered by the Caribbean Community in May amid widespread industrial and political disturbances sparked by a bill providing for pension and gratuity benefits for parliamentarians


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Former Bahamas Prime Minister Dies

Caribbean countries are mourning the death of former Bahamas Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling. He was the first black prime minister of the Bahamas serving from 1967 to 192. Leader of the Progressive Liberal party, he led the country to independence in 1973. Pindling spurred the development of international banking and investment management as a major industry. He was 70 years old.

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WI cricket hits new low

Just when we thought West Indies cricket was on the way back to the top, it nosedived to historic depths. The West Indies batting failed miserably enabling England to take the 5-Test series by 3-1. The Scores for the last three tests were as follows:

TEST 3: WI 167 (Cork 4 for 23), England 303 (AJ Stewart 105, ME Trescothick 66, Walsh 4 for 50, Ambrose 4 for70); WI 438 for 7 (BC Lara 112, SL Campbell 55, J Adams 53) England 80 for 1. Match drawn.

TEST 4: WI 172 (Sarwan 59 n.o.White 5 for 57) England 272 ( MP Vaughan 76, GA Hick 59, Walsh 4 for 51; WI 61 (Caddick 5 for 14, Gough 4 for 30) England wins by an inning and 39 runs.

TEST 5 :England 281 (MA Atherton 83, ME Trescothick 78) WI 125 (White 5 for 32) ; England 217 (MA Atherton 108,Walsh 4 for 73) WI 215 (Caddick 4 for 54); England wins by 158 runs.