Wednesday, 31 October 2012

PM: No dismissals at state corporation

By Linda Straker

WHILE the Union representing workers at the state-owned Gravel Concrete and Emulsion Corporation are claiming that 55 workers will be laid off as of next week Monday, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is saying that such a decision was not made.

“There were no dismissals, it was a proposal and for now that is on hold,” Thomas told reporters on Tuesday during a news conference.

While the news conference was taking place, the workers of the corporation were marching through the streets of St. George’s demanding the Minister of Works use his authority to have the decision to terminate the staff be reversed.

According to Prime Minister Thomas, the decision to suspend the termination was made during Monday’s weekly Cabinet meeting. “We also appointed a Board of Directors and when the Board meeting (takes place) they will decide who is the Chairman,” he said.

However, when Union representatives and workers were informed of the Prime Minister’s declaration, they were all shocked as this was not communicated to them.

“The workers have letters in their hands signed by the manager,” said President of the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers’ Union. “The letter is clear, it says that they will be laid off as of November 5, 2012, so we don’t know what is going on, nothing was communicated to us.”

The workers don’t only want to see the reinstatement of their jobs, but they also want to see the re-appointment of a Board of Directors, whose duty ended months ago, as well as inclusion in Government contracts that the corporation, which is to become the chief supplier of construction materials, undertakes.

Juniors impress at 1st Clarke’s Court Bay Marina Regatta

Shakeem Collins and Rees Evans receiving
their first-place prizes and trophies for the Laser Class
from Sarah Baker of the Grenada Sailing Festival.

Young sailors from Gouyave, Woburn, Grenada Yacht Club and the sister island of Carriacou enjoyed a new opportunity to show their racing talent when they took to the water on Saturday (October 20) in the first ever Clarke’s Court Bay Marina Junior Regatta.

Twenty young sailors, ranging in age from 7 to 18 years, raced in three different classes: Optimists, Mosquitos and Lasers, to make up an impressive fleet of 18 dinghies, and show the depth of sailing skills Grenada’s youth have to offer.

Clarke’s Court Bay provided a perfect location and conditions were excellent for a full day of racing, with competitors enjoying 12-13 knot breezes out of the east. A total of 15 races were completed using a triangle course in the bay: 5 for Lasers, 5 for Optimists, 4 for Mosquitos and 1 Masters’ Race (a fun Optimist race for adults). Considering the wide range of age and experience, competition was fierce and racing tactics employed with skill and determination, with two official protests lodged for the Race Committee to adjudicate. However, the day was characterised by great sportsmanship and discipline for which the young sailors and their coaches should be congratulated.

Brent McQueen receiving his first prize & trophy for the
Optimist Class from Sarah Baker of Grenada Sailing Festival.
Shakeem Collins and crew Rees Evans took first place in an extremely competitive Laser Class; their competitors just one and two points behind them. Brent McQueen dominated the Optimist Class, with Noah Bullen in second place, and  in the biggest fleet of nine Mosquitos, diminutive 11-year-old Trevell James tenaciously held on to the top spot by one point from Karzim James, who had three seconds and one first.

Mike Lee, a coach from Mambo ML Sailing Team in the UK, who is in Grenada talent spotting, attended the event and was extremely impressed by the high skill level of the young sailors. Mike, who has several World, European and National Champions to his credit, is looking for future members of his Sailing Team sponsored by Sperry Top-Sider UK & Rooster Sailing, two companies playing a key role in supporting young sailors. Mike has kindly offered his experience and help to look at ways to introduce more dinghy classes in Grenada to help fill the gap between Optimists and Lasers and increase the potential racing experience for Junior Sailors on the island.

Trevell James receiving his first prize & trophy for the
Mosquito Class from Sarah Baker of Grenada Sailing Festival.

This is the first junior sailing event to be staged at Clarke’s Court Bay, organised and hosted by Clarke’s Court Bay Marina, and helped by coaches Kevin Banfield, Michael McQueen and Randy Manwaring, plus a group of volunteers from Grenada Sailing Association, Grenada Sailing Festival, as well as Cruisers based here in Grenada.  The organisers would especially like to thank Ellen Birrell of SV Boldly Go, Ronny Ramos, Olympic sailor from Puerto Rico, and their Race officers for such excellent Race Committee organisation; Jason Fletcher of Grenada Marine for providing additional dinghies; Nicholas George and Frank Pearce for providing and driving the Safety and Chase Boats, and Dr. Joe Amechi, St. Augustine’s Medical Services, for being Doctor On Call.

As well as great racing action there were other activities and entertainment on land, based at the Marina’s Oasis Bar, including a Raffle, ‘Treasures of the Bilge’ Sale & recycling drive, plus great food and drinks and live music. Valuable sponsorship support was received from Budget Marine, Horizon Yacht Charters, Island Water World, Sailing School Grenada, Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Coca Cola, Real Value Supermarket, Independence Agencies, Poli Natural Spring Water, and Glenelg Spring Water. Local businesses and restaurants also helped by providing great prizes for the Raffle to raise funds for Junior Sailing: Bananas Restaurant, Dodgy Dock, Le Chateau, Taffy’s at Island View, BB’s Crabback, Carib Sushi, La Boulangerie, Bluebeard Enterprises, La Heliconia, Le Phare Bleu, Horizon Yacht Charters, Budget Marine, Spice Isle Retreat, X Marine and The Merry Baker. There is still a chance to win these fantastic prizes, as raffle tickets are still on sale and the draw will be made on Sunday, November 4 at the Gouyave Sailing School Junior Regatta.

Full Results:
Class /Place/Skipper/Crew
Laser – 1. Shakeem Collins/Rees Evans
Laser – 2. Kwesi Paul/Justin James
Optimist – 1. Brent McQueen
Optimist – 2. Noah Bullen
Optimist – 3. Ralph Francis
Mosquito – 1. Trevell James
Mosquito – 2. Karzim James
Mosquito – 3. Sharkim Robertson
Masters’ Race/Optimist – 1. Kevin Banfield
Masters Race/Optimist – 2. Mike Lee Team Sperry

4th Waggy T Super Knockout kicks off

ST. Mark’s outfit Hurricane Youths produced an impressive display to beat Cyril Tyres Birchgrove 5-1, in the fourth Waggy T Super Knockout Football Tournament, which opened last Saturday, at the National Stadium.

Hundreds were on hand to see the St. Mark’s team recover, after falling behind in the early going. The brother combination of Ragel and Reggie Noel gave Birchgrove the lead in the 23rd minute, after Reggie, showing plenty of composure, buried an assist from his brother.

However, Hurricane Youths came out rejuvenated in the second period, out-passing and out-classing their opponents to score an emphatic come-from-behind victory. They were spearheaded by Kimmon Warren, who struck a hat trick, finding the target in the 61st, 73rd and 79th minutes.

Brothers Mackel and Mickey Garness also got in on the act in the 61st and 76th minutes, to send their supporters wild with excitement.

It was also a good day for Real Old Men, who scored their first win in the competition with a fighting one-nil victory over St. David’s United. Former national player, Denis Bonaparte, scored the winner in the 56th minute.

Combined Northerners from Northeast St. George also impressed with comfortable 5-0 victory over Cecil Frederick and Associates Performance Sports Club in the second game Sunday. They took a one-nil lead at the interval, after Jamaly Phillip had scored a right-footer from 25 yards out.

The Northeast outfit then swept aside their opponents in the second period with Phillip scoring again in the 54th minute, which was complimented with a brace from Marceo Mc-Queen in the 64th and 70th minutes and a wonder goal by Richard Regis in the 42nd minute.

He curled a short with his right foot from just outside the 18-yard box on the right side into the roof of the net. The earlier game Sunday resulted in a 4-3 win on penalties for Ball Dogs over debutants Christian Strikers, after they had played to a 0-0 draw.

Quinton Bain, Lyndon Joseph, Glen Dickson and Kimmon Charles scored for Ball Dogs, while Alleyne James, Wade Charles and Kessey Phillip converted for Christian Strikers. The competition is full of action this week with seven matches scheduled between Thursday and Sunday.

Hard Rock and Season’s Fashion FC meet in the opening game Thursday from six o’clock in the evening, while Police take on Hampshire in the other from eight o’clock. Another double-header takes place today, when LIME Paradise tackles Tillman Thomas Mt Rich and Eagles Super Strikers meet Fetter Boys in a St. Patrick’s Derby.

Mt. Moritz and St. John’s Sports clash in the lone game on Saturday from five o’clock, which will be followed by an EC$100 000 Bingo. Two games complete the schedule on Sunday – Five Stars face Sun Setters in the opening game from six o’clock, while Sun Jets tackle North Stars in the other from eight o’clock. Teams are battling for the championship prize of EC$34 000.

Weathering the storm

One week before the presidential elections in the United States of America, it would be expected that attention would be turned to that global superpower – especially in this part of the world where, by virtue of being in the United States’ backyard, we are acutely sensitive to any of their political and economic changes. However, while our eyes are indeed trained on events occurring in that North American territory, it’s for an altogether different reason. The name that is capturing everyone’s
attention at this time is neither Romney nor Obama – it’s Sandy.

Labelled a ‘superstorm’, Sandy first began to garner attention as a tropical storm in the Caribbean region when it wreaked its havoc on the northern Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Haiti at the end of last week. Certainly, not the worst natural disaster ever to affect these territories, it still did its fair share of damage, which is still being quantified. However, as the storm strengthened into a hurricane and barrelled its way towards the Eastern seaboard of the United States, it began to dominate international media coverage as emergency and evacuation plans went into effect and persons inhabiting these areas braced themselves for the impact.

Many Caribbean people who were living in territories out of harm’s way or who had been spared the brunt of the storm still had cause to be anxious – a large part of the Caribbean Diaspora resides in the United States, and particularly along the East Coast, so persons would have been worried for the safety of their many relatives living there. We sincerely hope that they have not been too severely affected and that in the coming days, mobility, work and life in general will be resumed with some degree of normalcy.

The images and reports coming out of New York City are perhaps among the most impactful. The image of New York City, that glittering icon of man-made endeavours, cowering in the face of Nature’s might is striking. Too often mankind becomes overly confident in his own achievements and is humbled when Mother Nature rises up and displays the true extent of her power. The ‘city that never sleeps’ was virtually a tomb earlier this week as mass transport systems by ground, rail and air shut down, other major institutions such as the New York Stock Exchange trading floor closed, and the residents of one of the US’ most populous cities left for safer environs or hunkered down to weather the storm.

Meanwhile, we are just shy of one month before the official end of the hurricane season on November 30 and we must continue to place a premium on disaster preparedness. While Barbados has been spared the impact of a major weather system so far this season, the same cannot be said for other Caribbean territories. Sandy notwithstanding, Tropical Storm Raphael also caused its fair share of damage as did other lesser weather systems. Sandy alone reminds us that whether or not a hurricane season is predicted to be highly active or not, it only takes one major weather system to wreak untold damage.

We continue to pray that those countries already affected will be able to recover as quickly as possible. And we also pray that those unaffected will be spared the impact of a major weather system. Finally, we urge all citizens to remember that we may find ourselves facing more than hurricanes; we must therefore make a greater effort to be disaster ready year-round, and not just from June to November.

Where are the new ideas?

Two weeks ago, Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, pointed to an issue that ought to give pause for thought across Caricom. Speaking to alumni of the University of the West Indies, he asked why it was that the previously vibrant voice of the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) and the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) was now so diminished.

Speaking on the theme of the global economic crisis and integration, Prime Minister Stuart suggested that in the past the voices of the regional private sector, the labour movement and the church were all loudly raised and heard. But today, he suggested, the resonance of all three institutions had diminished and their flame was, to quote him, burning low.  

The region could he suggested gain much from the revitalisation of all three organisations.

From what one can discover – I am happy to be corrected – the response from all three bodies to this challenge was a resounding silence. In fact a quick look at the web sites of all three organisations suggest that in the case of the CCC its web site has not been updated since mid-2010; and the CAIC and the CCL no longer appear to have web sites of their own, but seem rather to present their face to the world through dead links and a generic European Union financed portal, the Caribbean Information Society. In short, it is as Barbados’ Prime Minister suggested, hard if not impossible for anyone outside of their immediate circle to discover what these once essential regional organisations now think.

This is not to suggest that these organisations are doing nothing, but to confirm Mr Stuart’s point that they no longer have regional outreach, or an opinion that can be readily understood widely, let alone an interest in providing an alternative voice to that of the politicians or commentators.

The implication of this is that these previously central players in Caribbean civil society have no new ideas, have lost their voice, become too weary to complain or have so become a part of the Caribbean establishment that they no longer want to engage in mental fight.

All of which begs the question of who now forms public opinion in the region and who will, for the generations to come, develop and encourage debate on new ideas that build on all that might matter in the region in the future.

In his remarks, Mr Stuart spent time reminding his audience that there were success stories that the region could point to. After explaining how the global economic crisis has negatively affected the Caribbean he set out to balance the views of those he referred to as the Jeremiah commentators on regionalism.

He noted some of the region’s achievements: “From health care to education to climate change, to championing the green and blue economies, to our spectacular participation in world sports, to security arrangements, we have proven to the world that we can collaborate at the regional, national and institutional levels to achieve our development objectives”, he told alumni and guests. He cited examples of the region’s capacity to collaborate such as the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Examinations Council, the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute and the Caribbean Health Research Council. He was particularly critical of success or otherwise of  those who saw the success or otherwise of the region only in terms of trade.

However, what the Prime Minister did not do is look forward and suggest how the region might find its way out of the maze of difficulties that it is now caught in, or from where new thinking might appear or on what debate might best be focussed.

In contrast, what is often startling is that outside the region one experiences a well-disseminated near blizzard of ideas and new national and international thinking that offers ideas that can be melded into policy and consciousness about everything from science to politics and social care.

This is not to suggest that there are not new ideas in the Caribbean or that its well educated younger generations are doing or saying nothing; but to convey the sense that their often exciting ideas and thoughts for Caribbean renewal and the reinvigoration of regionalism go unheard, unpromoted, and are lost or ignored, resulting in a cynicism and a desire among some to find a future outside the region.

What Barbados’ Prime Minister did not ask is how Caribbean civil society beyond the establishment might have a voice?

In the region the alternative voice has become transient. It is the call-in programme, its close cousin the on-air debate between experts, and the newspaper column.

Although there are an increasing number of blogs and a growing use of social media, none of this so far amounts to the type of movement that might resurrect a sense of direction and commitment to regionalism among those who might recreate the enthusiasm and passion of earlier generations or promote ideas that cement a new Caribbean narrative about the region’s place in the world.

Alarmingly the opposite may now be happening. In a recent conversation with a thoughtful and successful UWI graduate who holds a significant post in the region, she made clear that her experience, while an undergraduate at a campus away from home, was that her fellow students thinking divided stridently along national lines and there was little interest in any regional consensus.

Although this is a snapshot, the implication is that those who might most be expected to be committed to a single region hold the prejudices and suspicions that the region’s founding fathers overcame, but have more recently lost.

Barbados’ Prime Minister raised some interesting questions but provided few answers.

If Caribbean politicians are unwilling to explore in public where the region might be headed and civil society institutions have lost their voice, this suggests that what is needed are new networks. These most probably will involve the use of social media to create new linkages bypassing national boundaries, to connect new thinking in the region and the Diaspora to debate and attempt to forge an independent consensus and maybe, even a manifesto for the future.

(David Jessop is the Director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at Previous columns can be found at

‘No right to pass by on the other side’: Kofi Annan and the UN

“The Security Council took no responsibility for the situation in Rwanda and the growing number of lives lost, and its key members flatly denied the notion that a genocide was taking place”.

That is how Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General summed up the attitude of the UN Security Council – the world’s most important security body – as over 200 000 people were killed in Rwanda by April 1994 in a violent, brutal and bitter tribal war.

This observation by Annan is one of a number that damn the behaviour of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council who declined to take action, because of their own national interests, even as hundreds of thousands of people were killed in civil wars within countries.

Annan recounts these events in his book, “Interventions: A Life in Peace and War”, published by the Penguin Press. It is a surprisingly frank account by a man who was often criticised for taking the side of the Americans in international conflicts. He served as UN Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006 at a time that civil war and genocide raged not only in Rwanda where eventually over 800 000 were murdered, but Bosnia, Kosovo, the Congo, Iraq, Darfur, Sierra Leone and East Timor.

His narration of the Security Council’s attitude is most chilling in relation to its lack of unanimity to intervene in states where a line had been crossed in the brutalisation of people and governments had lost any legitimate right to continue to govern. Often national interest positions of the veto-empowered nations, particularly the US and Russia, delayed action until worldwide television coverage of atrocities forced them to do something.

But, even when the Security Council did agree to take action, Annan chronicles how difficult it was to get them to commit troops for peacekeeping exercises, and how much more difficult operations become because the governments that commit the troops want to maintain control over them rather than relinquish authority to a UN-appointed commander.

This is a situation which, while improved under Annan’s watch as Secretary-General, still remains problematic in relation to the UN actually intervening in states to protect human life. As he put it: “When people are in danger, everyone has a duty to speak out. No one has a right to pass by on the other side”.

Governments did “pass by on the other side”. They did so for years on the argument over whether large scale killings could legally be defined as “genocide”. As Annan put it, there was a mistaken assumption that this question was effectively synonymous with “Should the world take action?”. He argued with Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary of Britain, over Darfur in 2004, that “whatever we call it, there are clearly gross and systematic violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law happening in Darfur and the situation is the largest humanitarian catastrophe in the world”. As it turned out, it was almost four years of mass rape, mutilation, slaughter and the deaths of hundreds of thousands from exposure, disease and malnutrition as well as the displacement of millions before the Security Council acted in 2007, and even then the “peacekeeping” mission that it deployed could not protect the people of Darfur from gross violations of human rights.

Annan was a proponent of the “Responsibility to Protect” as a standard by which governments should be held to account. As he says: “We have told the dictators that sovereignty is no longer a shield behind which gross violations of human rights can be committed. You are responsible and you are accountable”.

In a persuasive passage in his book, Annan argues: “We needed to convince the broader global community that sovereignty had to be understood as contingent and conditional on states’ taking responsibility for the security of their own people’s human rights and for this to be taken as seriously as the states’ expectation of non-interference in their internal affairs”.

This notion is still being resisted in particular by some developing countries that continue to assert that the non-interference in their internal affairs is sacred. Of course, when their states are rent asunder, their economies ruined and many of their young able bodied people are dead or maimed, it is the rest of the world that has to pay the costs of rebuilding.

These are two issues that remain relevant in the working of the UN and in particular the Security Council: the “Responsibility to Protect” and the role of UN forces once they are deployed in a country. In the latter case, if the mandate and strength of the forces are not credible in that they are given authority and resources to enforce an end to war, they will be standing by while atrocities continue. In the former case, the issue of “Responsibility to Protect” has to be embraced by States the world over or gross human rights violations will continue under the shield of sovereignty.

On these matters, Kofi Annan’s memoir is a very important contribution to the welfare of all mankind. It is a text that should be widely read and not only by practitioners or students of international affairs.

His book deals with many other complex issues that still bedevil the world and – while we have all come to live with them - are serious threats to international peace. Among these are the Middle-East, and in particular Israel and Palestine.

The invasion of Iraq by the US and UK on the fig leaf of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction is also referenced in the book although not in sufficient detail. However, Annan does make a solid observation: “Despite the singular contribution of the United States to the UN’s founding and its mission in the decades that followed, after Iraq, America was too often unwilling to listen, and the world unable to speak its true mind”.

(The writer is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat. Responses and previous commentaries:

Grenada to seek help from IRENA

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has described a recent energy meeting in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as “rewarding”, saying Grenada will be seeking support from IRENA in ongoing efforts at
utilising more renewable energy sources in the country.

Thomas, who returned home on the weekend, led a Grenada delegation that included Tourism and Culture Minister, Dr. George Vincent.

A government news release, in announcing the Prime Minister’s departure for the UAE where he addressed the World Energy Forum, described him as someone who “has emerged as a world leader on the issue of sustainable development and the green economy”.

In his conference address in the UAE, Thomas outlined some of the renewable energy initiatives embarked upon by Grenada.

“I think it was a very rewarding trip,” Prime Minister Thomas told Grenadian journalist, Michael Bascombe, in an airport interview at JFK, New York.

“From Grenada’s perspective, we put forward our position as to what we are doing in terms of renewable energy,” Thomas said. “We referred to the wind-energy project in Carriacou; we’re looking at geothermal energy; and also we’ve been looking at solar.”

It’s not just Grenada, but the entire world is considering greater use of renewable energy, the Grenadian leader said.

“All nations are looking at ways of reducing the carbon footprint; to reduce the use of fossil fuel and to utilise renewable energy,” he explained. “Clean energy is where the world is heading.”

According to the Prime Minister, Grenada will be appealing for assistance from IRENA – the International Renewable Energy Agency.

IRENA, an intergovernmental organisation founded in 2009 in Germany, and dedicated to renewable energy, aims to “promote the widespread and increased adoption and the sustainable use of all forms of
renewable energy”.

Grenada, said Thomas, is “going to take advantage of all the opportunities that exist; in particular, whatever support and assistance we can obtain from IRENA in terms of training and in terms of projects to enhance what we are doing in promoting renewable energy in Grenada”.

Prime Minister Thomas, as part of the UAE trip, visited the Mazda Institute in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

“That institute sets out specifically to train persons at the master’s and doctorate levels to look at technologies and other ways of utilising renewable energy. It was quite a good experience,” Prime Minister Thomas said. “We recognise that not only we, in the Caribbean, but the entire world is looking at renewable energy.”

Gala awards to close 2012 Nutmeg Festival

Students from St. Michael’s Roman Catholic School planting a
nutmeg tree, while Education Minister, Franka Bernardine, looks on.

By Linda Straker

A gala dinner and awards ceremony to honour the contributions made by some of Grenada’s leading Nutmeg farmers are among events for the first Nutmeg Festival, which opened last Friday with the symbolic planting of a nutmeg tree on the same estate where the first tree was planted more than a century ago.

Organised by the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the gala event will be held at Belmont Estate – Grenada main agro-tourism venture.

Leading Grenadian personalities will present prizes to the winners of the GCNA/MOA Nutmeg Farmers’ competition and discuss just how Nutmeg affected their lives and careers. The occasion will also provide the opportunity to officially close the 2012 festival and invite people to participate in the second Nutmeg and Spice Festival in 2013.

Education Minister, Franka Bernardine, planting a nutmeg
tree with students of St. Michael’s RC School.
Last week Friday, the Belvedere rain forest provided an attractive backdrop for the formal launch of the Grenada Nutmeg and Spice Festival. Once home to thriving nutmeg plantations, the Belvedere area awakened fond memories of the heyday of the industry in many of the ceremony’s guests and served as a reminder why a festival in recognition of nutmeg and spices was important.

Chairman of the activity and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Aaron Francois, said nutmeg and spices are special to us because it is our tradition, our culture and our life.

He said the Nutmeg and Spices Festival is seeking to bring home in a forceful way the importance of the industry to the economic life of Grenada and its people, to remind us that we are still the Spice Island and to let the world know that we are still in the business of spices.

Acting Minister for Agriculture, Patrick Simmons, in his remarks, praised the nation’s farmers for leading the recovery of an industry devastated by Hurricanes Ivan and Emily, even when administrators were doubtful.

The heroes of the land, our farmers understood the importance of nutmegs to their incomes and the national economy immediately took to the fields just as was done after Hurricane Janet in 1955.

Governor General, Sir Carlyle Glean, declared the festival opened and advised persons that in the development of the nutmeg and spice industry in Grenada, we need quality research and quality specialists. He said dreaming is one thing and realising your dream is another.

The opening concluded with the symbolic planting of spice trees by the Governor General; Minister Simmons; Minister for Housing, Lands and Community Development, Alleyne Walker; and Member of Parliament for St. John’s, Michael Church.

During the week, there are a number of events including the planting of Nutmeg trees at schools’ compounds and yards; and a Nutmeg & Spice Clinic at the GCNA Shopping Complex Conference room, where a  panel of leading Nutmeg and Spice experts will answer questions from the public about the Nutmeg, other spices and the state of the Grenada spice industry.

Workers take to the streets

MORE than 50 workers from the Gravel Concrete and Emulsion Production Corporation who were scheduled to lose their jobs as of the first week in November were demonstrating through the city of St. George’s on Tuesday morning as a means of expressing their concerns about the management of the institution, which falls under the direct responsibility of the Works Ministry.

Adorn in placards, the chanting workers presented a letter and a petition to the Minister calling on him to use his authority to reverse the termination letters and at the same time undertake some measure with regards to the management and administration of the corporation.

Chester Humphrey, President of the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers’ Union,  said that among the concerns is the refusal of Government to re-appoint a board of directors for the corporation. “The life of the Board expired more than three months ago and it’s yet to be re-appointed either with new persons or the same persons,” he said.

The workers also delivered a petition calling for, among other things, the Minister to lift the sand mining restriction on Telescope beach; to immediately re-appoint the board of directors; and to ensure that all state construction includes the products from the corporation as the supply contracts.

Burke calls for October 1983 to be correctly documented

By Linda Straker

Acting Prime Minister Nazim Burke has urged Grenadians to ensure that the tragedy that occurred in Grenada 29 years ago that resulted in the death of slain Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and the US Invasion of the country is never repeated.

In a national address to mark October 25 as Thanksgiving Day, Burke, who was the Minister
of Finance during the five-day reign of the Government appointed following the October 19, 1983 massacre, said that the invasion brought an end to fear and a return of democracy where people lived and continue to live without fear.

“It’s part of our history, which must be correctly documented and explained,” he said in the
address, which was played on all radio and television stations.

Calling for those who died on October 19 and 25 to always be solemnly remembered, Burke said that Grenada’s history must not be an anchor that holds it back from economic and social development, but rather it should be a guide in moving the island forward.

On March 13, 1979, a group of young revolutionaries took over the administration of the island by overthrowing the ruling Sir Eric Matthew Gairy Government. Led by Maurice Bishop, the revolution came to an end in October 1983 as a result of internal conflict within the senior membership of the grouping. Bishop, who was the Prime Minister, along with other government ministers and civilians, died during civil unrest and their bodies are yet to be discovered for burial. The island was
restored to democratic governance following the invasion of the country on October 25, 1983.

In his address, Burke said that 29 years after this historic event, Grenadians have a lot to be thankful for as its course of history was changed forever.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s against this backdrop that we today give thanks, celebrate our freedom and renew our pledge to work harmoniously together to ensure that a political tragedy like that never happens again in our beautiful country,” he said.

Thousands attend Catholic Community’s threefold celebration

TWO thousand Catholics gathered at the National Stadium last Sunday for a threefold celebration: the Tenth Anniversary of the Ordination of Vincent Darius as Bishop, the inauguration of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI (October 2012 to November 2013) and the formal proclamation of the Decrees of the First Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of St. George’s-in-Grenada.

From left: Papal Nuncio Archbishop Girasoli,
Bishop Vincent Darius and Archbishop Robert Rivas.
The achievements of Bishop Darius, who just recently returned from a long absence due to illness, were illustrated in a half-hour dramatic presentation written by Sr. Gabrielle Mason and directed by Ricardo Keens-Douglas and Fr. Hugh Logan.

The high point of the day was the Solemn Liturgy, at which Papal Nuncio Archbishop Nicola Girasoli was the homilist. The archbishop challenged the Diocese – bishop, priests and laity – to embrace the new-evangelisation in the Year of Faith. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, he said: “The Year of Faith is a year of ‘Amen’ and ‘Alleluia’. The ‘Amen’ is an affirmation of our belief as Catholic Christians and ‘Alleluia’ a proclamation of the joy we have in sharing it with others.”

He called on all to “renew with enthusiasm” our understanding of the faith and to evaluate ways in which we teach it in all institutions of the diocese.

Amidst the enthusiastic applause, the Apostolic Nuncio stressed the importance of the role of priests. “Without priests there can be no Sacraments, no Eucharist and ultimately, no Catholic Church,” he continued. “We need priests who are full of enthusiasm. Priests need the love and support of the Bishop and the people.”

He also stressed the need for total transparency in all Church affairs, and especially in finance, at all levels. He urged the laity and especially the youth, to “be bold, be active, not just present in the Church”.

A section of the crowd at the Catholic Rally.
Speaking in the afternoon session, Archbishop Robert Rivas urged the Church in Grenada to make a “preferential option for youth”. He stressed the need for bold leadership on the part of the bishop and priests in their ministry and he called for total support for Bishop Darius as he leads the
diocese into the future.

In his charge to the diocese, Bishop Darius took his theme from Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new.” He continued, “If the Synod is to be a success, each member of the Church must do his/her part to implement the resolutions in the three areas of priority: Evangelisation, Stewardship and Youth.”

Having thanked all those who worked so hard to make the synod a success, he emphasised the fact that we have a wealth of talents, skills and abilities within the members of our parishes, which must be harnessed as we work “to make our Church vibrant, nourished by the word of God and the Eucharist”. (LS)

Government to spend less on marketing the country, says Burke

By Linda Straker

Finance Minister Nazim Burke said on Sunday that one of the benefits of having the Sandals brand as part of the island’s tourism sector will be to reduce Government spending on marketing.

“This is a well-known brand which engages in its own marketing and with Sandals on the island it will no longer be necessary to pay the airlines that money to come to the island,” he said.

The Tourism Ministry, through the Tourism Board, has arrangements with a number of airlines to guarantee that there are year-round flights and be compensated if the seats booked falls under a certain number, especially during the low season. Failure to pay can result in the airlines pulling out of the country.

He disclosed that Sandals Resorts International, which was developed by Jamaican Gordon “Butch” Stewart and is renowned for its luxurious all-inclusive resorts, has purchased the recently closed 100 rooms La Source Hotel and will be rebranding the property as a Sandals brand.

According to him, the plan is to increase the property to 265 rooms. “As the hotel expands, there will be jobs not only in the hospitality area, but also in the construction sector. I therefore see this has being very impactful on Grenada,” he said. “All those who lost their jobs with the closure of La Source are expected to be rehired for the new owners,” he assured.

Burke said that Sandals, which engages in massive marketing and naming the islands where they are
located, will put Grenada among the choices for destinations among the Sandals client list. “Giving us an opportunity to be known without Government spending for that marketing, the brand advertises far and wide and I know that will give us mileage within the tourism industry,” he said.

Sandals’ primary hotel brands are Sandals and Beaches, fittingly named given their location along some of the most sought-after stretches of sand in the world. With more than a dozen properties open or under construction in Jamaica, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Antigua, and elsewhere, Sandals continues to take its properties to a higher level of service, truly earning the many awards bestowed on its brand of “Ultra All-Inclusive” resorts.

Asthma management workshop for educators

Educators in Grenada are to engage in a workshop that will expose them to knowledge and at the same time provide the tools to assist students with managing their asthma and other respiratory conditions.

The Ministry of Health is hosting a two-day workshop with specific focus on Asthma Management.

The purpose of the workshop, which opened on Wednesday at the National Stadium, is to improve the competencies of health-care providers at the primary and secondary levels of care; and to select a cadre of persons to conduct Asthma Management workshops with teachers throughout the island.

It is expected that on completion of the workshop, there will be improvement in the management of asthma and other respiratory illnesses at schools, community health facilities and hospitals, thus resulting in an overall decrease in the frequency of asthma related attacks and admissions.

Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterised by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction and bronchospasm.

Common symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing, and use of accessory muscle. Symptoms are often worse at night or in the early morning, or in response to exercise or cold air. Some people with asthma only rarely experience symptoms, usually in response to triggers, whereas other may have marked persistent airflow obstruction. (LS)

More young people to benefit from OECS project

Panel including Permanent Secretary Marilyn Austin-Cadore;
Chief Education Officer, Julien Ogilvie; and Project Manager, Peron Johnson.

Eighty more unemployed youths have been given the opportunity to learn a skill under the OECS (Grenada) Skills for Inclusive Growth Project being administered by the National Training Agency.

The main objective of the Project is to train young persons in an occupational skill in order to increase their employability and mobility.

During an Orientation session at the Grenada Youth Centre in Morne Rouge on Monday, October 29, 2012, all of the speakers addressing the new trainees stressed the need to have good, positive attitudes which can be transported into the workplace for better relationships and increased productivity.

Participants in the OECS (Grenada) Inclusive Growth Project.
Permanent Secretary in the Department of Human Resources of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Marilyn Austin-Cadore, made the observation that the Project recognises the link between education, economic progress, and social mobility. Ms. Austin-Cadore encouraged the participants to see the training as another opportunity to develop themselves and one in which positive attitudes could be developed. She also reminded the trainees that learning is a lifelong process.

“Today I urge you to embrace this training. We don’t know everything. Every day we learn something new, so take it seriously. Be at class, be punctual; grasp as much as you can; take responsibility for your own development.”

Chief Education Officer, Julien Ogilvie, told each trainee that they are endowed with the ability to succeed and do well, but they have a purpose for their life and know what they want to achieve. He also explained that employers want workers with good attitudes since it is easier to teach skills than attitudes.  

Project Manager, Peron Johnson, spoke about the Project preparing the trainees for job and entrepreneurial opportunities which will arise now and in the future. She said it is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.

The Orientation was for four training programmes – three in Data Operations and one, for the first time, a programme in Cricket Pitch and Field Maintenance. The four programmes will be delivered in St. George’s.

Upon completion, trainees will receive National Vocational Qualification certification at Level 1 competency.

Culinary competition included in 2012 Dutch Lady Promotion

By Linda Straker

Students in grades five and six and in all secondary schools are being provided with an opportunity to win prizes for their schools through the 2012 Dutch Lady Milk promotion.

Friesland Campina Export, through local distributor Hubbard’s Agency, is for the second time giving students the chance to take part in a competition where they will write an essay about the health benefits of drinking milk, while food and nutrition students preparing for CXC will, for the first time, participate in a culinary competition.

Manager of Hubbards Agency, Mrs. Margaret Roberts, said at the launch of the promotion last week Wednesday that the essay competition will take the same form as last year, but the only difference is that the student will have to write their essay under supervision from the schools in an allotted time.

“This is to ensure that the students do their own work. A two-week time frame will be given for research before essays are written,” she added, while explaining that the essay competition is open to all students from all grades at the primary level and all forms at the secondary level. The topic for the essay competition is ‘Why should milk be part of the daily diet?’

The essay should be between 350 and 400 words for the primary schools and 500 and 600 words for the secondary school, be hand-written and legible. Every entry must be accompanied with proof of purchase of any size of Dutch Lady Milk Powder. Essays will be judged on health facts, content, grammar, clarity, paragraph, sequence and legibility. A laptop will be the winning prize for the essay competition for both primary and secondary schools. There will also be other prizes such as gift vouchers and appliances for participating students.

Elaborating more on the culinary competition, Mrs. Pamela Courtney, Curriculum Development Officer with responsibility for Home Economics, said that the partnership with the Ministry of Education for the culinary competition will be to enhance students’ preparedness for the CXC practical food and nutrition examinations, and to build self-confidence in students and improve their culinary skills.

In addition, the objectives of the competition are to build awareness of the brand ‘Dutch Lady’ Milk among students and to encourage them to use milk in the preparation of their dishes.

The promotion will run from October 26 to December 18, 2012 and will not only include the student population, but also the general public.

CHTA President rallies regional members

Many of the so-called “big players” in the region feel that they don’t need the help of regional tourism bodies. However, we need to move past competing against each other and start competing against the world.

This was the assertion made at the recently held CTO State of the Industry Conference by Richard Doumeng, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.

Richard Doumeng, President of the
Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
Doumeng, who stressed that responsibility for the success of the Caribbean tourism industry fell on everyone’s shoulders, not just those of governments or players in the hotel industry, pushed for countries to invest into the regional tourism marketing fund. He said that he wished to see some kind of formula developed that would bring a determined percentage of the funds coming from the private sector; and on a permanent basis.

The CHTA president, elected back in June, lamented that while some countries had been sitting on resources that could be freed up for the industry’s marketing ventures, emerging destinations had been busy creating their own branded markets, and now were proceeding to devour ours. “We are not competing against each other, we are competing against the world and our number one challenge should be to get people to the Caribbean ... then we’ll fight over what country they would stay at and what hotel. Let’s work together and bring people back to the Caribbean,” charged a passionate Doumeng, bringing much applause from his audience.

Full participation in website needed

He urged his listeners, a wide cross-section of industry stake-holders, to get on board in a more intense way with The website, an initiative of the Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC)*, allows the independent traveller to book flights and hotel accommodation, as well as find or create their own packages. Yet, according to Doumeng, some countries and hotels were not as forthcoming with information about their brands as he would like to see, thereby missing out on the benefits of being a member.

“It is going to be a benefit for everyone who believes in it and chooses to participate. The Caribbean brand still has a mystic [element about it which] we have not capitalised on.”

He critiqued some of the bigger players within the region who, according to him, said they did not need the assistance of the CHTA or the CTO, highlighting the fact that as big of a brand California or Florida had, both states still rallied together with the other states to bolster the efforts of Brand USA.

“...So the USA has found a way to get California, Florida and Wyoming at the same table together. We should be able to get our largest and smallest players to come together as well, at the same time.”

Doumeng explained that every CHTA member was going to get a free direct link to their property’s website from the CTDC website.

“While I realise we have such a challenge is because I can’t even get active, paying hotel members to give us the information to put on website. I understand your reluctance and trepidation to commit these funds but… I’m asking you to please believe in us and trust us once more as we [fight to] make the Caribbean the number one year-round, warm weather destination by the year 2017.”

*The Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC) is a marketing and business development unit, owned equally by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO). (RA)

New CTO Chairman continues fight against APD tax

Beverly Nicholson-Doty, newly elected Chairman of the Council of Ministers for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, and US Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism, has sent the message clearly that though the strategy to tackle the British Air Passenger Duty (APD) TAX may have to change, she is just as committed and passionate about continuing the fight in her new role.

Recently, this newspaper wondered if – in view of the continued stance of the British Government to maintain the taxes, as expressed in a letter to the CARICOM Chairman by its Chancellor George Osbourne – the new chairman would bother to pursue the cause with as much vigour as her predecessor Tourism Minister of St. Kitts, Ricky Skerritt. 

Nicholson-Doty during a press conference held recently in St. Kitts, gave the assurance to reporters that she had no intention of stepping down or reducing the pressure on the British government. “The strategy of the APD Tax is that of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, and regardless of [who] the chairman [is], the strategy remains in place. That is critical to the region,” she charged.

“Even within our own region, we recognise that individual governments need [to implement some means] in order for them to upgrade their facilities. In my own home territory it is a constant balance of getting the funds necessary to deliver the product to the client,” the Chairman opined.

She went on to explain that it was not the right to tax which CTO had taken issue with, rather the amount of tax imposed by the British Government. Calling it “onerous”, she said there was no regional tax that came any where close to the amount of revenue being collected by that Government. (RA)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Muirhead: I’m ready, willing

There’s no time like the present for Michael Muirhead, the newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

The Jamaican, speaking publicly for the first time since he was appointed to the post in mid-September, said he had been given the ideal pitch with which to start his latest innings. 

Newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer of the West Indies
Cricket Board (WICB), Michael Muirhead, speaking to the media
during an introductory press conference on Monday at Kensington Oval.
Muirhead, a management consultant, replaces Ernest Hilaire, who last month, having completed a tumultuous three-year term, opted not to seek a renewal of his contract. 

“I could not in my wildest of dreams conspire to come in to West Indies cricket at a better time,” Muirhead said during an introductory press conference at Kensington Oval on Monday. 

The event was also attended by Dr. Julian Hunte, president of the WICB; and Joel Garner, WICB director and President of the Barbados Cricket Association.

“This is an incomparable opportunity to serve our great regional game and I am indeed delighted at the confidence that the Board has reposed in me,” added Muirhead.

“We are at an historic moment in West Indies cricket. We have just won the ICC World Twenty20 tournament, our first world title in eight years and fourth since the 1970s, and I must congratulate the team for their win, but I must also thank them for rolling the pitch for my innings. 

“We are also at a juncture where West Indies cricket is coming out of a difficult season of change. The season is not yet complete, but I would like to think that we have emerged from the roughest waters.”

Muirhead, 55, said he would use the WICB’s Strategic Plan 2011-2016 as his guiding principal.

“I enter West Indies cricket at a time when the foundations for future success have been laid and I must recognise the work of the Board of Directors and the former CEO, Ernest Hilaire,” he said.

“I am aware that my name was not widely known throughout the region prior to the announcement of my appointment and I have been warned, and have already experienced, the dramatic changes which I know will only broaden with each day on the job. 

“I am aware, too, that I will be subject to criticism. I appeal for patience as I assure that each decision taken will always be in the best interest of West Indies cricket. I stand committed to serving the game and ensuring its future success.”

Both Hunte and Garner offered Muirhead their vote of confidence.

“The Board is confident that the appointment of Mr. Murihead will ensure that West Indies cricket remains resolutely on the path to structured development and progress and that he is most capable of continuing the process of overseeing the implementation of the WICB’s Strategic Plan 2011 to 2016,” said Hunte. 

“Muirhead brings with him a wealth of experience in a range of sectors. He is an accomplished, astute and measured business executive on whom the Board will rely to execute its programmes and policies. 

“We have been most impressed with his resume, clarity of though, broad understanding of the sport, communication skills and overall skill set, specifically his capacity for judicious management. 

“Now that we are exiting the season of fundamental change and approaching the road to sustained stability and steady progress, the Board believes that Muirhead is the ideal candidate to lead its administrative arm. 

“We are confident that his tenure will be a successful one as we continue the critical work of rebuilding West Indies cricket.”

Garner reinforced Hunte’s sentiments.

“The relationship between the BCA and the WICB has always been a very good one and we hope that this will continue,” said the former West Indies fast bowler. 

“We would anticipate some challenges and differences along the way but I’m sure once people keep talking, we can work them out. We look forward to a positive and productive relationship.” (AH)

Caribbean pride at all-time high, says Hunte

Dr. Julian Hunte, president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), says he could feel the ‘vibe’ change in the Caribbean following the West Indies’ triumph at the World Twenty20 tournament earlier this month.

During a wide-ranging press conference at Kensington Oval on Monday, Hunte said he was overjoyed with the senior team’s recent success in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Julian Hunte, president of the
West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
The West Indies defeated the hosts by 36 runs in the final in Colombo on October 7.

“Instead of the usual lectures and condemnations, it was refreshing to arrive in Barbados to warm and exuberant congratulations,” he said.

“I can not recall another time in my own presidency when West Indies cricket has been subject to such a period of sustained kudos.”

Hunte said the victory perfectly exemplified the team’s motto of ‘One Team, One People, One Goal’.

“I was in Sri Lanka and witnessed every moment of the final and the preceding matches,” said Hunte.

“I saw the will to win, camaraderie and the unrelenting attitude of focus and determination in executing the team motto. The victory demonstrates, as the great West Indies teams have done in the past, that as diverse a region as we are, when we work together, with purpose, we can achieve the greatest of things and dominate the world.”

Hunte said that though the victory, the West Indies’ first world title in eight years and fourth since the 1970s, marked a return to international prominence, there was still much to be done.

“While this victory is by no means a panacea for all the ills which has stagnated West Indies cricket, it is an indication that West Indies cricket is back on a progressive course and that even brighter days are ahead once we commit ourselves to doing all that is required to ensure that we build upon this triumph.”

Switching his attentions to the matter of sponsorship, Hunte said that negotiations to have the three WICB regional tournaments - Four-Day, 50-Over and Caribbean T20 - sponsored were at an advanced stage.

“I have always held the position that for our domestic tournaments, if we can not get a sponsor, and it has been very difficult to get sponsors in the Caribbean, we have a responsibility to find the resources,” he said.

“Of course, if we get a sponsor, those resources can be deployed elsewhere as it relates to the development of our cricket.

“In terms of the responses that we have been receiving following the win in Sri Lanka, everybody seems to realise that we are sort of in winners row again.

“We are also looking at the possibility of a Caribbean Premier League, but we are in active discussions and negotiations and we do not wish to say anything that would jeopardise it.”

Hunte said he was optimistic that an announcement with regards to sponsorship, media and commercial rights would be made by the end of the week.

“We are currently talking to a group of business people and I am hoping that they will be able to come in time for this [2013] season,” he added. (AH)

Vitamalt Chanti Cup opens

The Vitamalt “Chanti Cup” football tournament got off to a splendid start at the Philbert Frame playing field in Chantimelle last Saturday with a knockout tournament amongst the participating teams. 

According to Jelani Glean, chairman of the competition’s organising committee, the village of Chantimelle has not hosted a tournament for more than five years, despite its rich traditions in football and a reputation for hosting one of the largest local tournaments on the island, owing to lack of funding and rehabilitation work carried out on the playing field. Nonetheless, he said, the organising committee was determined to reinitiate the once annual tournament and with a little help from community members and sponsors Vitamalt, Coca Cola, Etang, Chantimelle Organisation for Development and Grenada Football Association, it all became a reality.  

Mr. Glean in his remarks was also keen to point out there is a lot more behind the committee’s intention than just hosting a tournament for the sake of entertainment. He noted that many young players will get their break into the village’s GFA Premiere league team, Chantimelle FC, based on their performance in the tournament. Moreover, he emphasised, plans are already on the way by the committee to start a GFA “Grassroots” program at the venue for young boys and girls from the village and surrounding communities, as well as a women team to represent the village in GFA.

Present and declaring the competition officially open was GFA President, Cheney Joseph. Being fully pleased with the participation of 20 teams and the support of the many fans who turned out despite the grim rainy weather, he pledged GFA’s full endorsement of the competition and reaffirmed his organisation’s commitment to support the organising committee in their efforts to ensure the successful execution of the tournament and the future development of football in Chantimelle, particularly in the areas of youth and women football development.

Team Puzzlers out of Victoria walked off with a $200 prize and was crowned the winner of the knockout after defeating team Red Card out of Chantimelle, who had to settle for the runner up $100 prize, 3-2 in a sudden death penalty kick-off after playing to a nil-nil draw in regulation time. Regular season games kick off on Monday, October 22, and continue daily with double-headers on weekends, with a match between Expire Sea Coconut and Eagles Super Strikers. 

UWI launches new academic sports programmes

The island has taken another step toward realising its goal of making sport a viable industry through the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus. Last week Wednesday, the campus hosted a media conference for the launch of their Sport Management Certificate, which is set to begin next week.

During last week Wednesday’s media briefing, Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Cave Hill campus, Sir Hilary Beckles, explained that the start of this academic programme was the third step of an initiative that was started ten years earlier. “The Cave Hill campus has now entered the third phase of its strategic plan to establish itself as the premier university campus in the Caribbean for sporting excellence, both in terms of competitive performances and academic programmes,” Beckles stated.
Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley and Principal and
Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies,
Cave Hill Campus Sir Hilary Beckles sharing a light moment
during last week Wednesday’s media briefing at the campus’ Shell Suite. 

He explained that ten years prior, the three campuses of the university set out to establish three centres of excellence, with Mona taking responsibility for track and field, St. Augustine dealing with football and Cave Hill focusing on cricket. Having established the world-renowned 3W’s Oval, the CLR James Cricket Research Centre and an excellent cricketing programme in the Sagicor High Performance Centre, Cave Hill has successfully branched out, through the students’ amenities programme, to provide world-class facilities for football and in the coming weeks, track and field.

The third phase, which will see students beginning studies under the Cave Hill Campus School of Business from next week, is expected to continue with Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees in the discipline. Both programmes, which will be supported by a consortium of international universities with proven track-records in academic sports programmes, will get under way in the new year and have already started to garner the interest of international students.

Beckles explained that if the region is to move forward with a strong sporting product, there is a need for not only elite athletes, but also other support services such as managers and coaches.

“This will liberate the academic potential of this region. This will lay the foundation for young people who do not only wish to be sporting performers themselves, but wish to establish careers in the management and in the projection of the sporting industry and the sporting culture.”

Also present at Wednesday’s briefing, Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley stated that his Ministry is very pleased to be part of the initiative and pledged the government’s support for the movement.

“I am happy that the campuses of the University of the West Indies are seeing sports in the way that they ought to be seen. For many years we have only seen sports within the context of fun and games – an activity that you would participate in on the field and you go home afterwards and look after all the various aches and pains that resulted from your activity. In a sense, while the rest of the world was speeding along and seeing sports as a science and also allowing that science to inform what occurred on the field of play[we were not], and there is indeed much catching up for us to do. So I am very happy that the University of the West Indies is taking the approach that ought to be taken.”

Lashley, who believes that the consortium of universities is a step in the right direction since they help to bring in outside ideas and concepts, stated that the strength formed by partnerships would go a long way in developing the local and regional sports industry.

“I believe that within the context of Barbados we have existing partnerships which need to be developed further in the interest of sports, and therefore it is that synergy between the Ministry of Sports, the National Sports Council and the University of the West Indies here at Cave Hill [which] we need to take …to a higher level. And I want to pledge the support of the government and the ministry in ensuring that that particular partnership can be further developed and intensified in the interest of our sporting industry,” he said.

Beckles also mentioned that with phase three under way, the Cave Hill campus will be looking to develop other sports that need a push. He stated that with facilities already in place for cricket, football, track and field and hockey, emphasis will now be placed on improving facilities for basketball, tennis, netball and volleyball in the not-too-distant future. He added that serious consideration is being given to placing road tennis on the pinnacle that it deserves through a sports programme, as well as a compilation of the history and origin of the sport. (MP)

Prayers go out for Malala

Our heartfelt prayers go up for the family of young Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani who was shot in the head two weeks ago by the Taliban, who accused her of “promoting secularism”.

Official reports this week indicated that Malala, after being flown to the UK’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for medical treatment – a hospital which has a specialist major trauma centre – is now alert and responding to treatment. She has stood with assistance and is writing to communicate with others since she is unable to talk with a breathing tube inserted. However, Malala remains in serious condition and is awaiting reconstructive surgery on the part of her skull that was hit by a bullet. Her care is being funded by the Pakistani government.

Malala recovery has been remarkable to date, but this should come as no surprise. She is no ordinary girl. At 11 years old she began writing a diary for the BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban after militants there in Pakistan ordered schools to close as part of an edict banning girl’s education. Her work is amazing. That someone of her age has managed to invite readers into a world of fear, threats to peace, hope for progress and the intimate familial engagements which take place inside her home makes one living in the West almost ashamed of the things about which we complain.

In one account she says, “My father prepared breakfast today because my mum is not feeling well. She complained to my father, asking why did he tell her about the journalist’s death? I told my brothers that we will not talk of war but peace from now on. We received the information from our school headmistress that examinations will be held in the first week of March. I have stepped up my studies.” In another, she reports, “At night my father updated us on the situation of Swat. These days we frequently use words like ‘army’, ‘Taliban’, ‘rocket’, ‘artillery shelling’, ‘Maulana Fazlullah’, ‘Muslim Khan’ (a militant leader), ‘police’, ‘helicopter’, ‘dead’ and ‘injured’.”

It is hard to believe that this is one world we are living in when many of us will go through lives never experiencing such threats to our freedom – freedom to exercise our right to education, to religion, to speech, to good health and well-being, to safety. In thinking of Malala as she fights for her life, we think of our own children in this nation, none of who live in this type of fear, thanks to the political and civil stability of the country. Oh, that our children would not take for granted the things that their contemporaries in other parts of the world dream to have! (In the case of Malala, a chance at ongoing education.)

Our students should take pride in their schools, from dress code to deportment, as well as in the way they relate to teachers and each other. We hear of too many instances where teachers complain of students turned gangsters, who are insolent and at times abusive. Once upon a time, to be a teacher was to be an extension of the parents at home, instilling morals and values that could not be taught merely from lines in a textbook. But with the changing cultures in society, including the obnoxious behaviour of some parents, sadly, numerous of educators have resolved themselves to executing the basic requirements of the job.

Malala Yousafzai, her life, her work, her passion to see things changed for her people, puts things in a different perspective. She is a symbol of hope in the midst of chaos and a war hero in her own right, willing to stand up for what she believes.

The Taliban have said they will target her again.

Is Obama or Romney better for the Caribbean?

Such is the continuing power of the United States that all over the world governments and organisations are concerned about what a US Presidency of either incumbent Barack Obama or hopeful Mitt Romney will mean to them.

After four years as President, the world already knows what kind of foreign policy Obama would seek to implement. It will be forceful in defence of what Obama sees as the interests of the United States, and while it will try to work with other governments and through the United Nations Security Council, it will not stop short of taking unilateral action against any country that it believes to pose a threat to the United States. It will also continue to advance a programme of promoting human rights and civil liberties in countries where it is felt such rights and liberties are stifled and democracy is suppressed.

In this regard, a new Obama administration will continue to take a tough line with Iran for as long as it is convinced that the Iranian government is working toward building a nuclear capability that could be used against Israel and maybe further afield. Regrettably, it will also continue its drone warfare in Pakistan and Afghanistan where hundreds of innocent people are being killed as ‘collateral damage’ as the US government hunts persons believed to be terrorists associated with al Qaida. Syria may also be ratcheted up the foreign policy priorities as efforts intensify to bring an end to both the relentless killing of civilians in clashes between the Assad regime and opposition forces, and the burdensome flood of refugees to neighbouring states.

On the global economic front, relations with China will continue to be a major preoccupation as the US government tries to mitigate the challenges it faces from what it portrays as China’s unfair trade advantages arising from subsidised production and an undervalued currency. The Obama administration will undoubtedly continue its strategy of negotiation with China and complaints to the dispute settlement body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Mitt Romney has given the world a flavour of the kind of foreign policy he will pursue in several speeches he made during his campaign. There is no doubt that in Middle-East, although he says he will “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel”, he will favour Israel’s interest above all others. As he said, “The world must never see any daylight between our two nations.” He will also militarise the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf Region by restoring the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces, and he will be even tougher on Iran than Obama has been by imposing new sanctions. Further, he will challenge Russia by expanding the US’ military capacity and he will seek to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) so that all of its 28 members devote 2 per cent of their GDP to security spending (only 3 do so now).

With regard to China, Romney has made it clear that on the trade front he will “confront China’s cheating” and he will “maintain appropriate military capabilities to discourage any aggressive or coercive behaviour by China against its neighbours (including Taiwan)”.

The choices, therefore, appear to be between the Romney method of a more militaristic and aggressive US government globally that seeks to place American power as the foundation of an international system, and the Obama approach that will use American power to defend American interests but would be willing to secure consensus as the basis for the functioning of the international order.

It would seem that the world would be a less-confrontational place under Obama than under Romney.

With regard to the Caribbean, it is already known that the Obama Presidency has not been helpful to the region and in some ways it has been harmful particularly in the financial services sector, in climate change, and in a lack of responsiveness to development needs. The Caribbean’s financial services have been hurt both by the labelling of many of them as “tax havens” and by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) which extends US jurisdiction into the Caribbean with a heavy compliance cost to Caribbean financial institutions. It is impacting government revenues and curtailing savings in banks by Caribbean nationals who are also nationals or residents of the United States. On Climate Change, during the Rio+20 Conference last June, the US refused to affirm an earlier commitment to transfer technology to developing countries. It equally refused to reaffirm any commitment to providing new and additional financial resources.

Obama’s help to the region has been primarily on curbing drug trafficking. But, this is as much in America’s interests as the region’s. The focus on interdiction and not on providing resources for education, job creation, and poverty alleviation is not tacking the region’s fundamental problems.
Under Romney, there is unlikely to be any change in the Obama policies toward the Caribbean – except maybe in the strictures on the financial services sector, since Romney himself is a beneficiary of financial vehicles in the Cayman Islands.

Policies toward Cuba and Venezuela would appear to be the biggest difference in policy approaches between Obama and Romney. Romney has made it clear that he will return to tight sanctions against Cuba and he will not allow Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Castro’s Cuba to “lead a virulently anti-American “Bolivarian” movement across Latin America that seeks to undermine institutions of democratic governance and economic opportunity”. He has also says he wants “market based economic relationships”.

Against this background, there is not much in the Presidency of Obama or Romney for the Caribbean specifically. But the world would be less contentious with America at least trying multilateral solutions before unilateral coercion.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat. Responses and previous commentaries:

Tourism, crime and the Caribbean economy

One of the most sensitive subjects for the travel industry is the issue of security. Whether it relates to visitors’ personal safety or to the safekeeping of personal information, it is an issue that most in the industry want to say as little about as possible.

Despite this, because of the industry’s economic centrality to Caribbean prosperity, it is a subject on which an appropriate, if private, regional forum needs to be created.

The first point to make about security and tourism is that the Caribbean is very safe. Even in countries that have growing national crime rates, the likelihood of a visitor being attacked or in some way having a crime committed against them is minimal when compared to the large numbers of visitors the islands’ receive. This is particularly so in nations where high national levels of crime have in part contributed to the rise of all inclusive hotels and visitor facilities and beaches that are not locally accessible.

The second is that tourists are not a special case. All crime is abhorrent and in much of the Caribbean, it is the region’s people who particularly suffer its effects whether directly or through the challenge criminal activity poses to economic development.

Thirdly, the Caribbean is not exceptional. Harassment and opportunistic theft go hand-in-hand with tourism almost everywhere in the world and form the basis for the majority of reported crimes committed against visitors.

Fourthly, it is the case that Caribbean police commissioners and the police in recent years have dedicated greater resources to tourism; but despite this there remain a number of cases where it has had to be made clear to the police that it is not the visitor who has committed the crime.

Then there are other much less recognised and newer forms of crime that touch visitors. There are emerging and largely unrecorded cyber crimes that, for the most part, the industry and visitors think little about or are quietly absorbed. These relate to security failures or lax security on the part of hotels, tour operators and travel agent’s web sites that do not do enough to protect the information provided when bookings are made, or when guests check into or out of a hotel. In recent months there have been globally and in the region a number of examples of large hotel chains failing to protect credit card or personal details and such information subsequently being hijacked or sold on globally to those involved in organised crime.

And lastly, visitors themselves are not blameless. For instance, a recent statistic from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office noted that the number of Britons arrested overseas rose by six per cent in the past year, with some seventy per cent of those from the UK who were arrested in Jamaica being held for narcotics related offences that they had committed.

Having said this, there is a much darker and hidden side of Caribbean crime against visitors that largely goes unreported. This involves incidents of sexual assault, violence, robbery, homophobia, and in rare instances, murder.

With the exception of the latter, few of these cases are ever publicly reported and in certain cases not even recorded. Instead when such crimes do occur, tourist boards, Governments, the relevant Embassy or High Commission, as well as tour operators or cruise lines, usually work quietly to address the issue and repatriate or care for the visitors concerned.

In some tourism dependent nations there also seems to be between the media, the police and those concerned with the industry and its economic well being, an understanding that ensures that only the worst cases or those first reported in the foreign press ever reach into print or onto the airwaves.
What is worrying, in talking to tour operators and diplomats, is that in some Caribbean countries not often thought of as having serious problems, the level of violent crime against visitors appears to be increasing to the extent that their internal company and consular reporting has begun to raise red flags about certain destinations in the region.

Earlier this year the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published a report on Caribbean Human Development. The document explored in detail crime in the Caribbean and its social and economic implications and considered in passing, the economic impact of criminality on tourism.

It noted that the region’s now heavy dependence on tourism had created new vulnerabilities. Potential tourists, it suggested, were alienated by perceptions of violence and criminal activity and searched for other locations where there was no threat to personal safety. It noted too, that in some nations sex tourism has emerged, and that this was associated with increased levels of people trafficking and crimes against children.

Referring to an earlier academic study the UNDP hinted at a hidden iceberg of economic damage when it quoted figures that suggest that youth crime alone is costing Caricom nations in lost tourism, on average a little over 3 per cent of GDP annually.

Addressing the issue of crime and tourism is not easy as there is always the danger that by drawing attention to a problem one dissuades visitors from booking a perfectly safe and happy vacation.

Despite this, there is a need for a more joined up approach. Tourism’s continuing ability to prosper free from the threat of crime, terrorism or cyber threat should be seen to represent a key component in the region’s long-term defence of its economic security. Without the industry, already weak, tourism-dependent economies could, at worst, become unstable.

There is at the very least a case for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association establishing with interested regional agencies and external parties in the industry, a low-key but functional committee to discuss regularly with police commissioners and others, crime and tourism in a more holistic way.

(David Jessop is the Director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at
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