Vol 8 #3




Madame Rose Leon Murdered

One of the most outstanding women in the history of Jamaica, Madame Rose Leon is dead, brutally murdered. I share this sense of outrage and burning anger that I am sure almost every Jamaican must feel because of this dastardly act. From abroad we look on with horror, consternation, and sadness to see how criminals are terrorizing this land that we love and is still an integral part of us.

Violent death came to Madame Leon, 87, in the bedroom of her sprawling Mount Atlas home along Frazers Avenue, Cooper's Hill. Her body was discovered lying on the floor near her bed with both her hands and feet bound with wire. Her mouth was stuffed with a piece of cloth. A release from the Police Commissioner's office said she was strangled to death. The house was ransacked and a pick-up truck and other items were missing.

The police say they suspect that the killers might have known their way around the house and were perhaps known to Madame Leon. They gained entry to the six-bedroom house by using rope to lower themselves through one of the five skylights, which led them to a passage near Madame Leon's bedroom. They apparently then prised open a grill leading to her bedroom.

A Hero
Madam Rose Leon deserved a lot more. She rose from a lowly beautician to become chairman of the Jamaica Labour Party from 1948 to 1960. She served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955 and was Minister for Health and Housing from 1953 - 1955. In 1966 she switched allegiance to the Peoples National Party of Michael Manley. She subsequently served as

At the same time she also expanded her beautician occupation to manufacture beauty products and form a very successful beauty school. Age had not slowed her as this 87 year old woman continued to run both enterprises right up to her death.


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DWP - A Vital Crime Reduction Ingredient for Jamaica

About 10 years ago, I was on vacation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. On the beach I met a rasta, who was selling fruits out of some ragged make-shift barely-seaworthy but brightly-decorated floating contraption. (Did not qualify as a boat.) He was typical of so many there who work hard against great odds to make an honest living. During conversation he told me that the night before he had been robbed of the money he made. He even knew who the robber was. "Did you report it to the police?" I asked. Turned out that was a ridiculous question. Would the police investigate or even listen to his complaint. "No way!" he said. They were likely to tell him "Gooway and nuh bother us" if not abusing him too.

The reality is that poor people are the greatest victims of crime and the police do not or are perceived as not protecting them, except for murder or other sensational crimes. So why should poor people cooperate with police if the police do not protect them, do not care about them, and are more likely to hassle them. And poor people constitute an overwhelming majority of our citizens, so a better relationship with the police is essential to the society.

I should point out that Jamaica is by no means unique in this, but this type of thing is typical right here in the US and probably all over the world.

Missing Ingredient to Crime Reduction Plan
The new crime reduction plan which Prime Minister has put into effect is a good one and seems to be having some success. But, there is a missing ingredient. For any crime reduction plan to work, it must have strong public support and cooperation. In recent times, instead of cooperation there has been confrontation (see More Police woes in Ja ). Trust has to be re-established between the police and members of the public, particularly the poor. So asking for this support is not enough. The missing ingredient, therefore, is a focus and concerted effort to build a better relationship between communities and the police. Hot Calaloo proposes the way to do this is by DWP, Dialogue With People.

DWP, Dialogue With People
DWP is essentially holding public town meetings between the public and public officials in neighborhoods which are obvious hot spots of confrontation. It is evident that citizens perceive they do not have an opportunity to make their concerns and frustrations heard, so they take to the streets to do just that. These town meetings can be a valuable safety valve and at the same time allow valuable face-to-face exchange of information. I think the police can learn a lot from this and at the same time can convey the human side of the magnitude and danger of the job they have to do.

DWP Meeting
This is a very important event so should be planned down to the smallest detail for maximum effectiveness. Features of the meeting would include:

Attendees would include, moderator, special guests, members of the police force, and the public, particularly of area residents.

A skilled moderator should ensure real dialogue. This is the most critical person to the success of this event. The most important aspect is "dialogue". Those typical private investigations with multi-page report do not reach the man-in-the –street. Someone standing at a podium lecturing with a few token questions answered will not qualify as real dialogue.

Special Guests -There will be essentially two types of special guests. The first will be high officials, Government and otherwise, who will serve to add prestige and show support for the undertaking. The second type will be high officials to serve as authoritative sources to address complaints, be accountable, and share information. These special guests should be carefully chosen and should include:

Expected benefits
Some benefits from DWP are as follows:

Let’s do it!
Let's do it! Let's reason together. To be sure there are risks. The meeting could deteriorate into a big hostile public squabble. But the potential rewards are great. For the citizens it could gain them the understanding, respect, protection and real commitment from the police. The police have even more to gain. They could be "Babylon" no more. They could gain an appreciation of the peril, complexity and difficulty of their job. Instead of enmity, suspicion and contempt, they stand to gain appreciation, support and cooperation. This is bound to boost morale on the force, increase job satisfaction and make them  more effective in fighting the real criminals that now terrorize our beloved island.


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Jamaica Produces Own Car

Look out General Motors and Ford Motor Company! A fledgling Jamaican carmaker has rolled out its first model, a light sports utility vehicle named the Island Cruzer. The carmaker, Excel Motors, unveiled the first production model recently at its plant in western Savanna-la-Mar. The company will build five Island Cruzers a week and sell them for US$9,500 each, Excel Owner Patrick Marzouca said. Marzouca said he is trying to market the car to local car rental agencies. The vehicle sports a 1.5-liter Japanese engine. The chassis was developed by a Canadian company, but the rest of the car was designed by Jamaicans, Marzouca said.



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Privy Council Says "No" to Big Mac

Bermuda won a legal battle to keep McDonald's out of that country, a relief to those who say the fast food giant's arches are more gaudy than golden. The British Privy Council rejected an appeal by Grape Bay Ltd. to strike down Bermuda's Prohibited Restaurants Act, enacted in 1996. The fast food opponents say such restaurants would harm the Old World image of the islands, where gambling is illegal and the top speed limit is 21 mph. The Privy Council, the highest court for British territories and some former colonies, did not immediately release details of its ruling.
Grape Bay, owned by former Premier John Swan, was seeking to open a McDonald's restaurant in Bermuda. Grape Bay had argued that the anti-fast food law deprived it of property and a contract with Oak Brook, Ill. Plans to open Pizza Hut and Taco Bell outlets also were thwarted by the 1996 law.

McDonald's employs 33,000 in Brazil
But, McDonalds has no such problem in Jamaica and has been the center of recent news stories primarily pertaining to its use or lack of use of local food products. Noteworthy, in Brazil with 33,000 workers, McDonald's has become the biggest non-government employer surpassing Volkswagen and local supermarket chain Pao de Acucar which previously held the title, newsweekly Veja reported. The only companies with more employers are Petrobras and the government-run post office chain Correios, said the magazine. McDonald's Corp., the world's largest fast-food chain, opened its first restaurant in Brazil in 1979 and it now has 470 branches, the newsweekly said. Workers earn an average of $348 per month and 90% are under age 21.

Food, culture and consequencies
Statistics show the majority of Americans are overweight. Even foreigners, traditionally thin, become fat and overweight too as they abandon their cultural diets for American. With the proliferation of McDonalds and the American diet worldwide, we can expect a fatter world.
Me...I'll stick with my patty!


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American Deliberate Misconceptions

McDonalds hamburgers are not the only American product sweeping Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world. In Jamaica, American style talk radio is grabbing the ears of vast numbers of listeners. Already there is concern about talk radio in Jamaica and for good reason. The model for Jamaica, talk radio in America, is a steady bombardment of insidious right wing lies and distortion. It is fast adopting Hitler's big lie strategy which states that if you repeat a lie often enough, regardless of how preposterous, people will start believing it. It seems to be working here in America. These right-wing, mean-spirited, duplicitous, very highly paid hosts proliferate misconceptions, especially against prime targets, minorities, whom they like to portray as overrunning the country.

No wonder for example, according to the Gallup poll, the average American thinks that:


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Veterinary School for Grenada

A brand new school of veterinary medicine has been inaugurated on the St Georges campus in Grenada. It aims to meet international standards and caters to students from all over the world. The students will train in Grenada for 3 years with the final year of clinical rotations being done in affiliated veterinary schools across the world. The curriculum will range from the care and treatment of household pets, to acquaculture and managed poultry, to exotic practice involving wildlife.

Editor's Note: In the US, because of limited space, it is more difficult to get into vet school than medical school.


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Suriname's Ex-dictator Wants to Run

Two days after being convicted in the Netherlands on drugs, Suriname's former military dictator said Sunday he wants to run for the South American country's Parliament. Desi Bouterse was sentenced in his absence to 16 years in prison . Suriname's President Jules Wijdenbosch has refused to extradite him. Bouterse told reporters the Dutch "want to eliminate me politically." Dutch prosecutors charged that Bouterse used his influence to protect drug shipments worth an estimated $24 million between 1989 and 1997.


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George Washington slept here

The government of Barbados is planning a tourist site at an estate where US 1st President George Washington is believed to have stayed when he was a young man. Parliament voted Tuesday to force the Barbados Light and Power Co. to sell Bush Hill House to the government for $2 million, half of what the power company had been asking. In 1751, Washington and his half-brother, Lawrence, are believed to have stayed two months in the estate's main house, a two story structure with thick stone walls. Washington was 19 at the time and was helping care for Lawrence, who was trying to recover from tuberculosis in a warm climate.


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JFK, LAX to offer flights to Cuba

Direct charter flights to Cuba will be allowed from airports in New York and Los Angeles for the first time since the U.S. imposed an embargo on the Castro-led island four decades ago. Flights will go from Kennedy International Airport in New York and Los Angeles International Airport sometime after October, Rep. Charles Rangel said after conversations with State Department officials. Conservative lawmakers and Cuban exile groups opposed to Fidel Castro decried the move as appalling. Allowing more travel between the U.S. and Cuba is the latest in a string of Clinton administration initiatives to loosen restrictions on contact between the two estranged countries. Direct flights are now limited to Miami.


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Bahamas Women Blaze to Glory in World Champs

Bahamas women's 4x100 m team made an impressive mark in winning that relay on the final day of the World Athletics Championships in Seville, Spain. The quartet Fatheda Fynes, Chandra Stirrup, Pauline Davis, and Debbie Fergueson did it in high fashion, clocking the fastest time this year. The Jamaica team finished 3rd behind 2nd place France and the US team missed the medals by finishing 4th.
In all Jamaica won 6 medals, 1 silver and 5 bronze.

Shoddy ESPN TV
In the 4x400 m relay final, US led from start to finish and with superman Michael Johnson anchoring it was no contest for first. The ESPN camera followed him virtually exclusively, through the tape and beyond, as he celebrated their convincing victory. But, there was a contest for 2nd place. Jamaica was challenging Poland, but that received no camera coverage. "Did we come 2nd?" It was not until after post race interview with Johnson, that the camera turned to the results on the scoreboard that we found out. We never did see the battle for 2nd!

Jamaica's Ottey Fail's Drug Test

A bombshell hit Jamaica recently as if it needed any more bad news. Veteran Jamaican sprint queen Merlene Ottey tested positive for the banned performance enhancing drug nandrolone at a meeting on July 5th in Seville, Spain. This forced the veteran 39 year-old sprinter to withdraw from the World Athletics Championships. Jamaicans everywhere met this news with gloom and disbelief, for Ottey has been the heart and soul of Jamaica's athletics. She vowed that there had been a terrible mistake and pledged to clear her name. There was great hope that the follow-up B-test would clear her. Jamaicans waited anxiously. Finally, the results were announced... bad news...positive again.

Other athletes fail too
There has been a rash of other athletes failing drug tests. Most notable is Jamaican-born former Olympic and world 100 m champion, the semi-retired Lindford Christie. He was among two other Brits that tested positive to nandrolone too. However, they all have been cleared by Britain's Athletics governing body on doping. The body contended that it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the steroid was derived from a prohibitive substance and therefore cleared the athletes of all charges. The International Amateur Athletic Federation may not be satisfied by that explanation and are continuing their investigation.

The best excuse for failing
However, the best excuse for failing a drug test goes to Dennis Mitchell, the US 1992 Olympic bronze meddalist for a test 16 months ago.The US track and field drug governing body bought his explanation that the high levels of testosterone was due to having sex 4 times and drinking 5 bottles of beer the night before the test. The IAAF, however, did not, and handed down a 2-year suspension. Many consider this penalty surprisingly light.

Pan Am Games

A new hero for Jamaica, Janelle Atkinson, emerged from the 13th PanAm games which was held in Winnipeg, Canada. She captured 3 silver medals, not in track and field, but in swimming. Gregory Haughton in the mens 400 m, the mens 4x400 m relay team, and the women's 4x100 m relay team captured gold. In all Jamaica won 13 medals, 3 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze, to finish 9th.
The US topped the medal count with 106 gold, 110 silver and 79 bronze. Cuba was 2nd with 70 gold, 40 silver, and 47 bronze. Hosts, Canada was third with 64 gold, 52 silver, and 80 bronze.

For the rest of the Caribbean:

Reggae Boy Boyd Signs

The controversial Walter Boyd of the Jamaica World Cup team has signed with English 3rd Division club Swansea.


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"Global Reckless Exploitation of Workers"

Swedish trade union leader Bertil Jonsson was the special guest of Barbados Workers' Union 58th General Conference. Delivering the main address, he challenged labour organisers across the Caribbean to find a counter to what he calls "reckless exploitation" of the world's workers". Jonsson said: "We have to find the answer to how to act as an effective counter-power to international capital's reckless exploitation of human beings." He also warned that labour leaders everywhere were being faced with cuts in social welfare, less security for workers, worse labour market legislation, increased unemployment and societal gaps.


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Jesse Jackson intervenes in Puerto Rico

The Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived in Puerto Rico to take the island's side in an escalating feud with the U.S. Navy over use of a military training ground. Jackson said he wanted to show support for Gov. Pedro Rossello, who is urging the US Navy to leave the island of Vieques after recent accidents at a bombing range there. Jackson's visit coincided with President Clinton's offer of clemency to members of a Puerto Rican guerrilla group - a move some activists saw as a peace offering in the battle of words over the training ground. Resentment over the Navy's presence boiled over when a civilian security guard, David Sanes Rodriguez, was killed April 19 by two 500-pound bombs that missed their target inside the range. This pardon has hogged the news in the US media, created a furore in both the House and senate, and has subjected President Clinton to bi-partisan criticism. At the same time, hardly any coverage is given to the Vieques dispute.


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Carnival Time

Technically Carnival is a pre-Lent festival. The word itself means farewell to meat as meat was not eaten during lent. Carnival in T&T, as well as Mardi Gras in New Orleans are in this well established tradition. However, recent johnny-come-lately carnivals in the US, England and even Jamaica do not abide by this tradition and are held at a date based on convenience. In the US and Europe, they are summer festivals.
London carnival biggest
About a million revelers turned out Monday to party at London's Notting Hill carnival, site of the biggest street festival in Europe. The two-day carnival, which attracted record numbers to the streets of the neighborhood of west London, passed with relatively little trouble, police said. Londoners and tourists gathered at the 35th Afro-Caribbean festival, billed as Europe's largest street party, to enjoy more than 70 costumed bands and youngsters on floats, and sample exotic food.


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Crocodile Kills Woman

It was not in Africa. It was not one of those notorious maneaters of Australia. No, it took place in Jamaica. A 72 year-old woman was fishing from the banks of the Black River in St Elizabeth in Jamaica, when this huge crocodile lunged out of the water and grabbed her. Startled fishermen and onlookers rushed to her assistance, but it was too late. She was dead. The villagers were grief-stricken, which quickly changed to anger and hunted for the crocodile into the next day. The croc laid low and eluded the angry hunters, but made his presence known by also lunging from the water at a press photographer on the bank of the river near the same spot it had killed the woman.

However, there was concern that this anger might be vented on all the crocodiles in the river. The Black River is the site of special safari tours conducted by boat for tourists. Tour conductors insisted that this killer was a rogue crocodile and demonstrated how friendly some of the crocodiles in there were. Some of the crocodiles were well known to the boat operators and even had names, such as George, Keisha, and Hazel. The crocs even responded to their names and came quite willingly to the side of the boat for food. Some even allowed themselves to be petted!

Ironically a few months ago, I was surprised to see the crocodiles of the Black River in Jamaica featured on American TV's Discovery channel. The show also featured the crocodile conservation and preservation efforts of Mr Charles Swaby, showing him capturing alive a large crocodile in what seemed like a dangerous wrestling match. Mr Swaby, is not only an environmentalist, but is also a proprietor of the Black River Safari, one of three companies offering boat tours on the Black River. He is an authority on the crocs and even maintains a sanctuary for rescued crocs. He insists that the river tours are safe.

They are indeed safer now as the killer crocodile was found and killed. It was later beheaded and the head sent away to the National Resources Conservation Authority to be analysed for its aggressive behavior. Remember, Charles Swaby maintains these tours are quite safe, so next time in Jamaica, check it out.


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Crimefighting - Rural Jamaica Style

The police in the rural area of Mocho in Clarendon in Jamaica had a productive night. On a tip they intercepted a van. In it they found stolen goods from a little shop in the area. The three occupants were arrested. Two were all the way from the city of Kingston and the other a local resident. Moans of distress came from the aunt of the local thief, not because of his arrest, but because of the disgrace and his betrayal of her community.
This success is not the product of high tech police operation. Neither the police station nor the residents have telephone service. It is also fortunate that the one and only police vehicle was not in its usual state, broken-down. However, the police have vowed to continue to fight crime within and outside the area despite these obstacles.

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Woman Swims From Ja to Cuba

Susie Maroney, a 24 year-old Australian woman, became the first person to swim from Jamaica to Cuba. She swam the 119 miles course in a shark cage designed and donated by Cuba's Fidel Castro. She had to abandon the the severely damaged cage to swim the final 200 metres to land. Her starting point was Montego bay.

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Shocking Disparity Despite Prosperity

The US is in the midst of prosperity. But, there is a lot of disparity in this prosperity as the following table (1995) shows:

Median Household Net Worth

  1. Whites $61,00
  2. Blacks-   $7,400
  3. Hispanics $5,000

Median Financial Net Worth(assets - debts)

  1. Whites $1,800
  2. Blacks     $200
  3. Hispanics    $0

Source: Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing American Wealth Gap, by Chuck Collins, Betsy Leondar-Wright, and Holly Sklar quoted by the Multinational Monitor, May 1999


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Leminotep Dies

Veteran news columnist for the Jamaica Gleaner, Carl Wint, died recently after a long illness. We know him better as Leminotep, his pen name for the unique satirical political column in the Gleaner. It is remarkable how well he used humour to get across the most serious messages. He employed a sort of biblical style of writing and he never used the real names of public figures in his writings, but you could not mistake who they were. For example, Prime Minister P J Patterson was "Fresh Prince", recently upgraded to "Fresh Prince Percival James, the Thin, and leader of the opposition, Eddie Seaga, was "Great Deliverer".
So sistren and brethren, not only Jamdowners, verily I say unto you, if you have never read his column, dig out an old copy of the Gleaner and check him out, for he was good, very good. Also, save some articles for your scrapbook......Selah!

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Montserrat Airport to reopen

Could Montserrat return to normal? It seems so as it is embarking on an 8 million pounds strling project to re-open its volcano battered airport. Although the airport was devastated by the volcano, the 3,200 ft runway remained intact.
Dead Drany schools have a drop-out problem. But in the St. Mary's All Age School in Jamaica it was a drop-in problem. Heavy rains laced the area. The hill behind the school let loose a big landslde as mud, and some concrete came tumbling into the schoolyard. But, the concrete of this hillside was from a burial site. So along with the mud and concrete came the remains of a broken coffin which "yawned up its dead". What appeared to be human bones, and tattered remains of burial clothes were left exposed. Fortunately, school was in its last week of summer holiday and the principal sought to rebury the remains before school started.


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