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September 2002

T&T and Barbados to the rescue of Dominica

Trinidad and Barbados will contribute $10 million each to cash-strapped Dominica in a bid to help ease the poorer nation's financial troubles. The pledges by Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, two of the Caribbean's most prosperous nations, came during a regional economic summit that ended recently.

Dominica has been besieged by economic problems and recently trimmed its Cabinet by three members to cut costs. The former British colony of 71,000 residents is one of the poorest countries in the region. The recent Banana War with the US has taken a heavy toll on this island heavily dependent on the banana trade. Additionally, in the past year, the Caribbean has been hit hard by the U.S. recession, a downturn in tourism after the Sept. 11 attacks and the agricultural sector has had to cope with drought.

Leaders at the Caribbean Community summit said Dominica was experiencing more acute economic problems than most countries in the 15-member regional group. Dominica's prime minister, Pierre Charles, said that the meeting's results went beyond his expectations, but he urged his counterparts to be wary of excessive spending.

"When you have economies that are very vulnerable and when things appear to be good, certain decisions must be taken to cushion the economy when things go bad," he said.

Leaders at the summit also agreed to set up a regional stabilization fund to be supported by investments from central banks. It was unclear how soon it could be established and how much countries would contribute. During the summit, Caribbean leaders also decided to send a delegation to Dominica to help it negotiate an aid program with the International Monetary Fund.

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Cuba dropping dependence on sugar

In Cuba, where a revolution took hold in the 1950s, an even bigger revolution of sorts is under way as the nation moves away from dependence on the sugar industry.

The Cienfuegos Mill and refinery complex, built in 1917 in Santa Cruz del Norte by the American Hershey chocolate dynasty and confiscated by Cuba in the 1959 revolution, is one of about 75 mills that have been shut down in the past two months. Only about 75 others remain up and running.

This year alone at least 100,000 workers will be laid off as the state struggles to restructure an industry on which Cuba depended for centuries. Despite Cuba's ranking as fourth in the world among sugar-exporting countries, government officials blame the change on low prices. World sugar prices are half what they were a decade ago and Cuba's outdated and inefficient industry can't compete.

The transformation will be incomplete, however, until Cuba's leaders answer the question, "What next?" Part of the answer might be tourism, currently Cuba's main source of income. An electric train used to transport workers to the Hershey mill is now used to haul tourists to the mill, which, along with other mills, is being converted into a museum.

Another part of the answer might be to turn sugar fields into fields full of cattle -- or switching from sugar grains to another kind of grain, rice, might aid the titanic turnaround.

As for the laid-off sugar employees, most will become farm workers. About 25,000 former sugar mill employees are being sent to study agricultural sciences at the university.

Editorial: One-crop dependency is handicapping Caribbean countries. We hear diversification plans year after year after year, but nothing changes much. It is much more difficult to do and after all, this is up to private industry. Therefore, this Cuban change holds great significance to the rest of the Caribbean, many of whom are stuck with producing sugar at the abysmally poor world prices. Dependant as Cuba has been and if they can change then……..

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Jamaica forced to import sugar

Talking about coals to Newcastle, Jamaica is now forced to import sugar because its own sugar production is not enough to satisfy consumer needs. Lest we forget, sugar is Jamaica’s top agricultural product! It is estimated that production will fail to meet the required by 20,000 tons. Plans are underway to import this shortfall from Guyana and Belize at an estimated cost of J$316 million.

Sugar companies blame cane farmers and cane farmers blame sugar companies. Cane farmers produce about 52% of the cane used in sugar production and the sugar companies the other 48%. Modernization is needed in most plants but money to do that is a big obstacle. The shape of the industry is so bad that a shortfall next year also is not unlikely.

If Jamaica cannot fulfill even its own local needs, then how can it compete in this globalized world for export markets? Of course even these world markets are no big prize as the world sugar prices are suspiciously at all-time lows. In fact, the experts contend that these world prices are three times lower than the cost to produce it in the Caribbean! Besides sugar is not alone in this regard. The other main Caribbean crop, bananas, has production costs about three times greater than the world price.

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FTAA and CARICOM (Part 2)

As it is now, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) spells economic doom for CARICOM countries in Hot Calaloo’s estimation. Regardless, there is no escape from it. Any country which does not join, face a trade isolation that would ensure their economic collapse. So if we must join, then we must put in place safeguards to protect us as small poor countries.

This is precisely what Dr. Richard Bernal is negotiating for on behalf of CARICOM. He is basically asking for more time to make crucial changes the FTAA would require. The US opposes this time extension. I think more time is not enough. If we cannot opt out of the FTAA, then we have got to make sure that not even one regulation in that agreement is injurious to CARICOM states. If we knowingly and willingly do otherwise, it would be a betrayal of our peoples. Dr. Bernal is carrying the the fate of so many citizens of CARICOM and the survival of CARICOM itself in his hands in these negotiations. So a heavy burden rests on Dr. Bernal, made even heavier by the callous US derisive criticism. The US on the other hand, is carrying the banner for big greedy Enron-like corporations, corporations which do not hesitate to cheat their own American citizens, much less the Caribbean.

Tariffs is one of these crucial issues. Tariff is basically a tax on imports. In the Caribbean, tariffs serve two main purposes.

  1. It provides income, usually hard currency, to the Government.
  2. It is imposed by Government to protect local industry from foreign competition.

Tarriffs in CARICOM average about 20%. The US is pushing for a reduction to about 4%. This would mean a revenue loss of 16%. Can CARICOM governments afford a loss of 16% with no sign of any recovery of this amount? NO! That’s all poor CARICOM countries need, to lose more money!

Already in the Caribbean, big greedy foreign corporations are dumping their subsidized products there creating financial havoc on local producers. In Jamaica, local dairymen dump hundreds of gallons of unsold milk down the drain because of the invasion of milk powder for reconstituted milk from the US. All over the Caribbean, agricultural crops go unreaped because they can’t compete with the foreign imports. If FTAA is allowed to strip away the governments’ right to maintain and impose tariffs, local producers will be sitting ducks for big powerful greedy multi-national corporations which will sweep down from the north devouring every market for their products in their path.

The fact is that as small countries, our economies will have little impact on the big countries, but conversely the big countries can decimate our small economies. More time for special consideration is not enough nor is it even relevant. Instead, as long as our small countries are handicapped by third world debt, lopsided adverse balance of trade and low per capita income, they should not have to give up the trade rights they now have.  So stick to your guns, Mr. Bernal!

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No to US waste

"I don't think that it is acceptable and appropriate for a less developed country to be dealing with the solid waste of a much richer, more developed country which can better deal with it".

With these words Mr. Alston Stewart, chairman of the National Waste Management Authority, justified why JAMAICA IS unlikely to agree to a proposal aimed at dumping solid waste from the United States on offshore countries in the Caribbean in exchange for payment. Mr. Stewart said that two years ago the Government was approached by US-based private interests, but did not accept the proposal, as it was already having enough problems securing space for local garbage and could not accommodate waste from overseas.

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Police in Jamaica update

With the soaring crime wave in Jamaica coupled with hostility to the police by large numbers of the public, Hot Calaloo continues to monitor news about the police closely. While JLP leader Edward Seaga has exploited and continues to exploit this hostility for political gain and at the peril of the country, it is good to see churches are reaching out to heal this breach instead.

Churches remember slain police
As mentioned the Stella Maris Church and various churches all over the island remembered the slain policemen and their families in special services recently.
Police Commissioner, Francis Forbes, praised the Jamaica Council of Churches and Association of Evangelicals for their support, a gesture he described as "a refreshing and moral boosting move which will play a crucial role in rallying the citizens of the country alongside the police".

Community based policing brings results
Community based policing seemed to be having effect in the St. Andrew South Division. Since its introduction in April in that area which up to recently had one of the highest homicide rates in Jamaica, there has been a continuous reduction in crimes, complaints about police and demonstrations. According to the statistics, there has been a 32 per cent decrease in murder, 24 per cent decrease in shootings with intent and 50 per cent decrease in break-ins.

Police officers have gone beyond the call of regular duty including:

  • They are sole contributors to to the school lunch money program where needy students from schools across the communities are served (includes Waterhouse, Olympic Gardens, Seaview, Duhaney Park) get lunch money equivalent to $50 per day.
  • They have also been liaising with teachers
  • They have been counselling and advising students on the law and what their rights and responsibilities are
  • They have been keeping a regular presence in and around schools in order to bring back a level of stability.
  • They carry out regular searches in which and knives, scissors and other sharp instruments have been confiscated.

Spaldings police station fenced in
"Don’t fence me in". Well the intent is not to fence the police in, but to fence vandals and troublemakers out. Gone is the low wall and the trust of the police in the community. In its place is a security fence necessitated by a invasion and destruction by an angry mob demanding the release of three murder suspects in April. Then the mob injured police officers, damaged the building and burned a car right under the nose of the law. And, this not in notorious west Kingston, but in a rural parish! The police there probably feel a lot more secure now but it is a sad commentary of the times.

Police help heal riot-torn areas
In January bloody war between residents of 100 Lane and Park Lane left 7 dead and warlike conditions. Since then community policing has helped to heal differences and the passionate hatred between the groups. The police of the Constant Spring Station have:

  • Initiated a skills bank to help persons to find jobs in the community
  • Joined with area food store to provide trasining courses for 22 young women to obtain jobs as cashiers
  • Have recruited over 30 boys from both communities to become boy scouts
  • Have adopted the Mount Olive Basic School which sits on the border between the 2 communities, with plans to seek the help of the business community to obtain needed school supplies for the facility.
  • Have set up an extortion desk to curb the practice of persons demanding protection money.

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World hunger reduction target

At the 1996 World Food Summit, delegates pledged to reduce the number of the world's hungry people from about 800 million to 400 million by 2015.Currently, there is an annual reduction of about 6 million in the number of hungry people in the world. That must increase to 22 million a year to meet the 1996 U.N. target.
A $180 billion annual investment in agriculture, infrastructure and services in the developing world is needed to meet the target.
About 54 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Dengue alarm in T&T

"There is a dengue situation in the country. It is caused primarily by the Type III strain of dengue. The population has no natural immunity to the Type III strain, therefore we will have a significant dengue problem for the next two or three years."
These ominous words were spoken recently by T&T Health Minister Colm Imbert. However, the Minister points out that although the symptoms ressemble dengue, lab tests point to a different and new virus.

Dengue is a disease caused by any one of four closely related viruses (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, or DEN-4). The viruses are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. However, Imbert said the new virus might not be transmitted by the mosquitoes and said half of the reported cases of dengue were not actually the deadly virus but some other new virus that has so far proven not to be fatal. According to Hot Calaloo’s research, dengue is ordinarily not considered a fatal disease.

Nevertheless, there are fears of epidemic as a large number of people have been stricken. Furthermore the Port of Spain General Hospital has come under severe criticism from the Minister down for treating patients improperly. This has led to the formation of a task force by the Ministry of Health to review the hospitals management, food services, pharmaceutical services, housekeeping, staff shortages, and the availability of medical and surgical supplies.

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Gloomy hypertension and diabetes picture from Jamaica

Dr. Winston Dawes, the senior medical officer of the May Pen Hospital in Jamaica has painted a very gloomy picture of health in the island particularly with regards to hypertension and diabetes. According to Dr. Dawes:

  • 56% of Jamaica's population over the age of 30 is suffering from obesity
  • the most common form of death on the island is due to hypertension and diabetes.
  • it is no longer possible to treat all the cases of hypertension and diabetes because of how expensive it has become.
  • these diseases will become a greater factor even more so in the future
  • in the next 20 years diabetes will increase from the current 10% of the population to 20%.

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Constant Spring market may close

"Carry me ackee go ah Linstead Market
not a quattie wuth sell"
Saturday is market day in Jamaica. All over the island, vendors and buyers travel long distances to transform the sleepiest of villages into bustling centers of commerce in these open air markets mainly for agricultural goods like ackees. They are important and vital to Jamaican life and traditions. I think this importance is being overlooked and markets seem to continue to deteriorate.

Now Constant Spring Market is on the verge of closing. For more than a month the market is without running water because the water bill is in arrears. The market is run by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). Their trucks are forced to deliver water daily for sanitary purposes. KSAC claim they cannot pay the water bill because

  • Of delinquent stall rental fees
  • Illegal use of the water by the market neighbors
  • The market income is insufficient

Editorial: This is not acceptable. Hot Calaloo believes Jamaican markets deserve to be saved. Not only can they be saved but they can be transformed into shining models by the Partnership With People (PWP) methods proposed by Hot Calaloo years ago. See Fixing the Markets the PWP Way 12/9/98.

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Jamaica to buy Nigerian oil

As recent as last month’s Hot Calaloo update, carried a report that T&T was announcing plans to run oil pipeline throughout the Caribbean including Jamaica. It seemed a mutually beneficial deal for 2 CARICOM partners. But, now the latest is that Jamaica intends to buy oil instead from Nigeria. The Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, signed an agreement with Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson. The Nigerian President was on a state visit to Jamaica.

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Economic power: Corporations vs Countries

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development recently filed a report on just how big Big Business has become and compared them economically with countries of the world.

The UN conference ranked the world's 100 largest economic entities in 2000--sovereign nations and multinational corporations alike--using gross domestic product for countries and the sum of salaries, benefits, pre-tax income, depreciation and amortization for the firms.

Nearly a third (29) of the top 100 economic entities in the world are multinational companies. ExxonMobil is the leading corporation on the list, with salaries, benefits, pre-tax income, depreciation and amortization worth $63 billion. That's a bigger economic impact than all but 44 countries.

Not surprisingly, the United States is No. 1, with a gross domestic product of $9.8 trillion--more than Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France combined.
General Motors placed right below Pakistan and just ahead of Peru. The value added (the term for the estimated salaries, pre-tax income, depreciation and amortization) of the Detroit-based car company was $56 billion--equal to the combined GDPs of Croatia, Luxembourg and Kazakstan.

Overall, the UN conference found the top 100 corporations operating across national borders were growing faster in the economic activities they studied than the nations of the world were.
But others see the list as proof that the balance of power has clearly shifted to Corporate Earth.
"In a globalized economy, little countries and even big countries have a tough time standing up to large corporations," said Doug Cassel, director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law. "So the globalized world is one in which the largest share of de facto and economic power is by far in the hands of the corporations. They can act with common interests in a way that has proven elusive to governments."

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Jamaica’s renown actor, Eric Coverly, is dead

Eric Coverly, one of the cornerstones of Jamaican theatre dies recently. He was an actor, comic and impresario of the theatre. Among his achievements are:

  • was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) in 1949
  • was awarded the Order of Distinction, O.D. for his contribution to the growth and development of art and culture in 1979.
  • he was awarded the Institute of Jamaica's Centenary Medal for Drama and Dance in 1980.
  • was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal for Outstanding Merit in the area of Popular Arts: Theatre in 1999.

Of course part of his greatest fame came from being the husband of Jamaican icon Louise Bennett.

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Wolmers wins World Summit Sustainable Development award

(submitted by Pauline Forde-Caesar – Thanks Pauline)
Wolmers Girls School, Kingston, Jamaica, with a student project entitled: "Giving Life to Ruins", attained the highest score from a field of over 200 competing project entries from around the world. The competitors included the University of Tennessee and San Diego Miss Lou would say "what a scalamity"

A showcase of the Wolmers Girls and other MyCoE competition projects is featured at
The World Summit on Sustainable Development which commenced on August 26th in Johannesburg, South Africa and will run until September 7th, 2002.

The My Community our Earth (MyCOE) exhibition is a centre-piece of the conference. The vision of the organizers of MyCOE is to build a geographically literate generation able to use this knowledge in their everyday lives to bring about true sustainable development.

MyCOE sponsors include ESRI, the United Nations Environmental Programe(UNEP), USAID, IADB, and National Geographic Society among others.

The MyCOE exhibit, located in the specially created "Ubuntu Village" will showcase the best student projects that have been conducted all over the world in 2002 which involve students looking geographically at an issue of sustainability, such as freshwater supply, biodiversity, urbanization, etc. in their community and suggesting solutions for the future. Wolmers Girls was one of the earliest participants in the Jamaica GIS in Schools Initiative sponsored by the Government of Jamaica and ESRI. This project received the highest marks from two panels of esteemed evaluators, including sustainable development experts, geographers, and GIS professionals from the World Bank, the United Nations, National Geographic Society, the International Geographical Union, US Department of Agriculture, Inter-American Development Bank and other institutions. Wolmers was the sole Jamaican and Caribbean entry.

(Once again, thanks Pauline for this article. Hot Calaloo invites its readers to submit similar articles which they think will interest our audience. 
reply to

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Positive letter about Jamaica

(A reader writes:)
Michael, I just got back from Jamaica where Carlos Malcolm and the Afro Jamaican Rhythms played for the Prime Minister's Gala.
With about fifteen radio stations now in Jamaica, I was surprised how many requested Carlos' recordings. His band blew them away. I think the music has come full circle and we will be hearing more than just Dancehall in the near future. You can look for top artists to be recording with Carlos in the near future. Did I mention that I'm Carlos' original drummer and now his manager? There is more good news, but I have to hold that for a later date.
Byron Lee was given and award at the Gala and I took the opportunity to take his picture with Carlos. This is the ONLY picture of the two bandleaders together. Would you publish a copy? I'm not a photographer, just happen to know both men well, ahhh yes, strange.
I was impressed with the lack of road rage in Jamaica. I found quite the opposite. Drivers were stopping to let through other drivers whenever possible with the blessing of all other drivers in the area. I saw this as a nation maturing, demonstrating brotherly love, not just talking about it. I hope and pray that I live to see the doing away with guns and killings of innocent people. This is a good time for Jamaicans living abroad to think about visiting "yard." Our nation seemed more educated, polite and caring to me. Is it time, we the travelers, gave back to our homeland? Carlos and myself are doing more that thinking about this, "watch ya man, wi a go mek a difference."
Michael, as always, keep up the good work.
One Love,
Fred Campbell

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Reflections on a reggae concert

I went to a reggae concert a couple months ago. It was a star-studded show. I was very excited. I could not wait.

The best artist on the show was saxophonist Deane Frazer. He had very little to say but his saxophone was very eloquent. The other main artists that I came especially to hear had a lot to say. Too much. Just sing the song please! Naw, every two lines, they have to interrupt their singing to expound on their philosophy. The message is good, world peace and racial harmony are popular themes, but why Toots in the middle of 5446 and Bam Bam?

Another popular song interrupter is sudden and unexpected mid-song supplications to the "almighty, or "the most high" that would have made their Sunday school teacher very proud. But probably not, as chances are they never had one since they never went to Sunday school, nor do they know firsthand what the inside of a church looks like. "It’s show biz, baby!"

I am a big Toots fan. I come to hear him sing, ok? But instead of singing "Monkey Man", he starts the song and then invites the audience to sing the rest instead. They tried and despite Toot’s encouragement, they sounded God-awful, especially the guy sitting beside me. He was obviously tone deaf and could not carry a tune but he was loud, very loud. My luck.

I remember at another show, one artist decides to elevate his act by climbing perilously high atop the massive speakers and performing a nail-biting balancing act as he sung. I was too concerned for his safety to really enjoy the singing. Just sing the song and skip the trapeze act please. Tony Rebel leaps from the stage, and marches all the way to the lawn seats in the back to be close to "his people". Nice sentiment. But he is accompanied by a phalanx of security men dismayed by his sudden action and scrambling to keep up with him.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the show, but I think these shenanigans detract from the show and these artists need to know it.


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