Thursday, 31 January 2013


Grenada Sailing Week Camper & Nicholsons Race Series based at Port Louis Marina is here and there is an exciting line-up of races and parties. The racing challenge is on and starts today, Friday, February 1. Starting each day at 9:30 a.m., yachts from seven different countries and crew members of many more nationalities will participate in up to 10 races on a variety of short and long courses off Grenada’s Western and Southern coast.

Different classes, from the hi-tech, highly competitive racing yachts with their carbon sails, mean lines and tricky to control spinnakers, to the more fun-loving cruising and charter yachts, will take on the challenge of different sea conditions with their sailing skills, returning around 4 p.m. each day.

SV Jaguar, last year’s overall winner.
(Courtesy of Bob Grieser for Grenada Sailing Festival 2012)
This event, which is organised by racers for racers, is not just for sailors. Everyone is welcome to attend, especially the evening parties at the Victory Restaurant & Bar and YOLO, as well as experiencing the atmosphere during the day. This year, Shortpree from Carriacou performed for the Skippers’ Briefing and Welcome Party on Thursday, January 31.

Friday, February 1, is the Camper & Nicholsons race day, main event sponsor and host venue at Port Louis Marina. Come and join the Pirates Costume Party with Doc Adams Rock & Blues Band plus DJ. Saturday, February 2, is the Mount Gay Rum Red Cap Party plus prize giving with DJ and Live Music by Roots. Sunday, February 3, is a Lay Day. Time to enjoy Grenada and visit Grand Anse Beach to experience the Workboat Regatta organised by Grenada Sailing Festival.

Monday, February 4, is the Sea Hawk Paints race day, Premium Performance Antifouling Paints, plus Face Paint Party with face painter on hand to assist. DJ and performance by Keturah and her band Energy Vibes. Tuesday, February 5, is the Island Water World race day, well-established Caribbean Chandlery chain with two Grenada stores. IWW Keep You Sailing final night party and prize giving with DJ and new Band D Unit.

The support for Grenada Sailing Week has been tremendous from sponsors, nautical press, sailing community, marine industry and participants. Special thanks go to Camper & Nicholsons, who are hosting the event at Port Louis Marina, plus the Victory Bar and YOLO. Mount Gay Rum, Sea Hawk Paints and Island Water World also followed suit with their solid support as race day sponsors.

It has taken years for Grenada to get on the international racing calendar to enable the island to attract boats from near and far. By attracting boats to Sail de Spice the islands sailing industry is supported as well as other tourism related companies. Just look at what the sailing industry has done for Antigua. The marine industry employees an increasing amount of people and is a growing market. With such great facilities and services available on the island we need to do more to promote Grenada as a yachting destination.

The Grenada Sailing Week is the newly formed not-for-profit organisation that took over the reins to run the big boat regatta based at Port Louis Marina. Grenada Sailing Festival, also a not-for-profit organisation is running the Workboat Regatta, which takes place on Grand Anse Beach from February 1 to 3. Later on in the month the South Grenada Regatta located at Le Phare Bleu Marina & Hotel takes place from February 21 to 24.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Independence celebrations at the United Insurance Work Boat Regatta

Wear your national colours & start Independence celebrations at the United Insurance Work Boat Regatta.

Organisers of the Grenada Sailing Festival United Insurance Workboat Regatta are inviting everyone to wear their National Colours & bring a flag to Grand Anse Beach this coming weekend, and begin Independence Celebrations in great style.

 Racing for the big prize in the United Insurance Work Boat Regatta 2013.
This year marks an important milestone, as this very popular, high action, high fun event has been run on Grand Anse Beach for twenty consecutive years. Over these years the event has become extremely important as a showcase of the strong sailing heritage of Grenada & its sister islands, and an integral part of the culture. Once again skippers will be bringing their boats from the traditional sailing communities of Carriacou, Gouyave, Petite Martinique, Sauteurs and Woburn and will be taking part in two days of the most spectacular and competitive racing.

There will be a full day of Community Class Racing on Saturday and again on Sunday morning, when all crews will be going full throttle to win first place and qualify for Sunday afternoon’s GSF16 Match Race Final – for the highly prized overall title of ‘Skipper of the Year’ & a cheque for US$1,000.00! There will be more action on Sunday in Grenada Sailing Festival’s own fleet of GSF16 Workboats, when each community nominates a Junior & Senior crew to compete to be ‘National Team Sailing Champion’ for 2013.

There will be great action on the beach as well, with Festival favourite DJ Blackstorm, and games and activities including a Fitness Challenge sponsored by Fit For Life Gym. There will be arts and crafts on sale, Community Kitchen food stalls, where all the best traditional dishes will be on offer and the whole event will be rounded off with a wonderful firework display courtesy of Spice Island Fireworks - a true high spot to start the week of Independence celebrations.

The Grenada Sailing Festival United Insurance Work Boat Regatta will be staged on Saturday & Sunday 2 & 3 February on Grand Anse Beach with additional sponsorship support from the Grenada Board of Tourism; Carib; Budget Marine; Mount Gay Rum and Bryden & Minors; True Blue Bay Resort’s Dodgy Dock; Victory Bar; RBTT Bank; Coca Cola and Etang Water; Mecca Trading; Island Water World; Camper & Nicholsons Marinas; Grenlec; Boss FM; L.L Ramdhanny; Courts; DeSign Factory; Country Cold Store; CocoNet; Horizon Yacht Charters; Island Dreams Yacht Services; Grenada Postal Corporation;  Spice Isle Fish House and Spice Island Fireworks.

MAYAG undertakes economic impact study on yachting

Grenada’s marine and yachting sector continues to grow and play an ever-increasing role in attracting foreign direct investment, complementing Grenada’s land-based tourism product, generating revenue for ancillary businesses, providing high-skills job opportunities for Grenadians, and generating significant tax receipts for Government. The challenge now is to quantify those contributions.

The Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada (MAYAG), in co-operation with the Government of Grenada, is asking for your help in conducting an economic impact study of the sector in Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique.

Various businesses will be contacted for in-person interviews to determine what contribution the marine and yachting sector has on their sales, and to capture recommendations for improvements. If your business receives a noticeable amount of sales from the marine and yachting sector, please contact MAYAG to arrange to participate.

The interviews will be conducted from February 3 to 15. All interviews and survey responses will be strictly confidential. The published results will be compiled as anonymous data with no specific references to individuals or businesses.

The completed economic impact study will be used for the strategic planning and development of the sector, by both the private sector and Government of Grenada. It will benchmark Grenada’s product and performance against industry norms and competitive destinations and provide a clear indication of the sector’s economic relevance and contribution.

The study is being conducted by Dr. Andre Henry, a Trinidadian native with extensive regional experience and success on similar projects.  This study is part of a project funded by a grant from the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) to create a more enabling environment for the SMEs within Grenada’s yachting tourism sector. The Fund is administered by the Caribbean Development Bank.

MAYAG extends its sincerest thanks to the businesses of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique for participating in this crucial exercise.

Crime and development

Over the last year, a number of studies have looked at the adverse effect crime is having on Caribbean development.

They show that increasing levels of crime have eroded confidence among investors, and have reduced international competitiveness by introducing much higher costs in the form of additional security or transactional costs.

Not only does crime cause human suffering but as these reports demonstrate, it can cause capital flight, the loss of those with skills or education who prefer to work in a more certain environment, and changes for the worse local perception of a nation’s investment climate. Moreover, studies by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), the University of the West Indies and others show that crime also is having a negative effect on social development by diverting limited resources away from health and education to security, the control of crime and the provision of facilities necessary for the administration of justice.

All of which is to say nothing about how it is changing the quality of life for all, or how, according to the IDB, concern among citizens about crime and violence now far exceeds that about, unemployment, healthcare and other issues across the whole Caribbean and Latin American region.

Crime’s damaging effect on national development was spelt out recently by Jamaica’s National Security Minister, Peter Bunting.

Speaking to the Jamaica Employers’ Federation he said that crime and corruption remained the main obstacle to Jamaica’s rapid growth and development. In his remarks Mr. Bunting, referred to research by University of the West Indies which showed that if over the last forty years Jamaica had had a normal crime rate, the country’s economy would in terms of GDP have been between three and 10 times greater.

The Bahamas Prime Minister, Perry Christie, has also recently suggested that crime has become the most significant challenge to economic development that his country and the region has to address. Speaking at the opening of Caribbean Marketplace, the annual regional tourism exchange, Mr Christie noted that the effect of the escalation in criminal violence, robbery and theft across the region was being underestimated. While crimes against tourists were limited, the stigmatisation of entire nations was discouraging tourism and damaging regional development.

Similar remarks have come in the last few months from the Prime Ministers of Trinidad and Belize facing their own challenges from international crime syndicates.

Regrettably for a still peaceful region, the last two-and-a-half decades have seen murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, organised crime, narcotics trafficking, the sale and smuggling of arms, piracy, money laundering, people trafficking, extortion and corruption, in almost every nation in the Caribbean. More recently there have been indications that ruthless cartels that have no regard for human life are being displaced from, or are intentionally moving south from Mexico and into the Caribbean.

Why levels of crime should have risen so rapidly is still a subject for debate, but primary among the causes is the manner in which the narcotics trafficking networks and those that support them have exploited urban deprivation and middle class greed.

The consequence is that not only has the Caribbean become a key transit point for a commodity that vastly exceeds in value the entire legal economy of the region, but such sums have made it increasingly possible to suborn youth at one end of the spectrum, to, at the other, judicial systems, police forces, politicians and legitimate business.

What is certain is that beyond those who suffer as victims, crime is in danger of becoming embedded in Caribbean society, changing the quality of Caribbean life and engendering a fear, albeit suppressed into a kind of silent complicity, that if allowed, will over time enable those involved to challenge legitimate economic growth and development.

An element of present problems revolves around seriously under resourced, under trained and sometimes corrupt individuals in police and security forces that are simply not equipped to address organised crime, and the growing range of crimes against nationals and foreigners that cause actual and reputational damage.

When he spoke recently about his commitment to reducing crime and increasing investor confidence, Mr. Bunting vowed to continue the process that last year significantly reduced murders, shootings and other serious crimes in Jamaica. However, he also made clear just how high the cost of doing so will be. To achieve his objective, Jamaica will need, over the next five years, to recruit an additional 5 000 soldiers and police officers, improve their mobility, equip them and take other actions that will ensure a greater chance of arrest and conviction.

But policing is of course just a part of the problem. In some states organised crime has been able to develop political influence and deliver social and other programmes in a manner that suggests the emergence of a state within a state.

This and the failure of Governments to find ways of isolating those engaged in criminal activity is changing the nature of the support offered by the region’s external partners. So much so that for the United States ,the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada the nature of development assistance is now skewed towards security and related forms of co-operation.

There are few easy answers to the burgeoning problem of crime. Moreover, addressing these issues during an economic downturn and rising unemployment is far from easy. While those beyond the region have to do more to reduce demand for the narcotics trafficking that fuels criminality in the Caribbean, the only real long term answer lies in the public demonstration of moral leadership by those in politics, the church, the media and business who can see the consequence of inaction.

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

President Obama: The man unveiled

The speech may have been directed to a domestic United States audience, but in its boldness, its frankness and its inspirational quality, it was a speech to the citizens of the world.

In the inauguration speech on January 21 marking his second term as President of the United States, Barack Obama returned to the liberal thinking that summoned people to his support and marked him out as a leader who could take the entire world to a higher place than the religious intolerance, racial bigotry, international suspicion, and discrimination against vulnerable groups in which it has languished.

Many people all over the world dare to hope again that he will make a difference this time around.
He is the first President to identify discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians as an infringement of their rights and a wrong that cries out for correction. “Our journey is not complete,” he declared, “until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

Obama made this statement against the background of the fundamental rights set out in the US Constitution and the famous speeches of American Civil Rights hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recalling that all Americas claim to subscribe to the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, he emphasised that “history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing. That while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by his people here on earth”.

There could be no clearer call to action for an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians who also have a right to live in peace and to contribute to their society. It is a call that requires to be heard in every country of the world where people suffer intolerable abuse everyday because of their sexual preference.

He also identified discrimination against women as an offence that must end. In one remarkable sentence, he summed it up. “We are true to our creed,” he said, “when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.” He said “a little girl” drawing particular attention to discrimination against women. Such discrimination exists in work places where women are paid less than men for doing the same job, where women are denied promotion because they are also mothers. But, the discrimination is worse in some countries where girls and women are raped with impunity; where they suffer genital mutilation, and where laws still exist that make them culprits even though they are victims.

Obama spoke up for women not only in America, but all over the world. As he moves in this second term to address that scourge on humanity, hopefully the tide he creates will drift to other shores and lift other leaders and societies to enlightenment.

And, he made a significant point about the balancing of spending by governments on developing young people and protecting the elderly. “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” This is a balance that confronts not only the United States, but every country in Europe, Japan and increasingly the nations of the developing world. There is great appeal in Obama’s ministry that “we recognise that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments do not sap our initiative. They strengthen us”.

Despite controversy in the US over Climate Change, Obama also returned to it in this speech. Just two months before, Hurricane Sandy had killed more than 100 people, destroyed whole communities in coastal New York and New Jersey, left tens of thousands homeless, crippled mass transit, triggered paralysing gas shortages, inflicted billions of dollars in infrastructure damage and cut power to more than 8 million homes. It had left a similar path of destruction in many Caribbean countries, and future storms will do so again. It was a welcome relief to hear President Obama say, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgement of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” Amen and a sigh of relief to that. Perhaps, the world can now look forward to the US taking a meaningful leadership role at Climate Change conferences where, in the past, it has retarded progress on this deadly issue.

The Obama before his first Presidency had argued for more international co-operation and less unilateralist action by the US in addressing global conflicts. Throughout his first Presidency the use of drones under his personal command has been a blot on his tenure. Many innocent people, including children, have been the “collateral damage” of those drone excursions. But Obama knows that better than anyone else. The greyness of his hair and the lines in his face tell their own story of the anguish that any President must face in the tough decisions he makes, but especially this man whose stated instincts are for co-operation and peace, not confrontation and war. He encouraged the hopeful, the peacemakers, and the well-thinkers around the world when he declared: “We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”

If Obama intends to claim an enduring place in the minds of all mankind as much as in the annals of history, he must push in this second term to be the man he so convincingly unveiled in this rousing speech. In this, he will have great support.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, former Caribbean Diplomat and Visiting Fellow, London University. Responses and previous commentaries:

Back to the drawing board with the UK?

THE BBC reported last week that the United Kingdom’s economy dipped 0.3 per cent during the last quarter of 2012. The report went on to suggest that the decline has fuelled fresh fears that the economy could re-enter recession. That would not only be bad news for Britons, but also for regional states which, as tourism destinations in the Caribbean, depend heavily on British visitors to boost tourism industries. If there is a recession people are unlikely to travel and depending on what measures are pursued from here on, people will be more inclined to be cautious as they go about their spending not knowing the medium to short-term outlook.

This recession continues to have a real dampening effect on people and it seems that it will continue to be with us for very much longer than was originally thought. However, inasmuch as there will be concerns in these parts, this takes us back to the important issue of credit ratings, as we recall the grade given to the UK economy not too long ago by one of the international rating agencies.

Last year Standard and Poor’s confirmed a favourable rating for the United Kingdom when it downgraded others. What was so puzzling, as one commentary had suggested, was that S&P affirmed the triple A rating for the British economy which was into its second bout of recession since 2009. The reason cited by S&P was that the UK economy should grow by the second half of this year, although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had a different perspective on what was taking place in that country and the way the economy was performing. In fact, the IMF was suggesting that the British Government should move with haste in relaxing some of the austerity measures to give more breathing space to the economy.

The growth in the UK economy which Standard and Poor’s had projected was, according to the recent BBC report, of the order of 0.9 per cent in the third quarter. It had stemmed from the London Olympic Games, but with much of the activity surrounding those Games now removed, the economy appears to have fallen back into the rough patch.

How the Government in London reacts to this latest downturn will be interesting. What it does suggest, however, is that more serious planning will have to be undertaken for regional tourism industries as far as the UK market is concerned. In Barbados for instance, British visitors account for almost 39 per cent of the long-stay arrivals. Since they usually spend an average of just over a week on the island they contribute to the length of stay and their spending makes for a better revenue performance than the visitors who come for a shorter period.

The most recent economic review there showed the UK market falling by over six per cent in 2012.

Meanwhile, the European visitor is also similar to the UK counterpart in that he/she spends a longer time on the island.

So where does that leave the rating agency? Did they get it spot on? Perhaps the indicators at the time showed a positive outturn for the UK. It just goes to show that projections can go wrong and targets can be missed.

GRENADA ACCEPTED – Nationals given the nod of approval to work on US farms

By Linda Straker

Government is hopeful that more than 1 000 persons will be able to benefit from the job opportunities that will present itself through a recent agreement with the United States.

The National Democratic Congress candidate to contest the St. John’s constituency has described the decision by the US Department of Homeland Security to include Grenada as one of the nations eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant workers programme as a “tremendous opportunity” for Grenadian workers.

“We are looking forward to seeing more than 1 000 persons participate in this programme during the first year,” Dr. George Vincent told the crowd that had braved the inclement weather and turned up at Sunday’s Election campaign rally at the Roy St. John’s Park.        
“This is big news for us,” he added.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, on sharing more information about the inclusion of Grenada as the only country to be added to the list for 2013, said that it’s a one-year agreement between both countries and “that notice must be renewed each year”. There are 58 other countries whose nationals are qualified to participate in the programme. The other Caribbean countries on the list are Jamaica, Barbados, Haiti and Belize.

Dr. Vincent said that the H-2A and H-2B will provide for Grenadians to work at US farms, particularly during the winter months. There is a similar agreement with Canada. Over the years, dozens of Grenadians have worked on Canadian farms during the winter season.

According to the press release from the US Department of Homeland Security under its regulations, designating countries to be incorporated on the list takes into account factors including, but not limited to:

(1) The country’s co-operation with respect to issuance of travel documents for citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country who are subject to a final order of removal;

(2) The number of final and unexecuted orders of removal against citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country;

(3) The number of orders of removal executed against citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country; and

(4) Such other factors as may serve the US interest.

Transformation to Sandals LaSource has begun

“IT’S a challenge, but we are working together achieving this goal of opening our doors on December 20th, 2013,” said Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), when he provided an update on the status of the Sandals LaSource investment last Friday.

In November 2012 Sandals Resorts International, parent company of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resort and Grand Pineapple Beach Resort, announced that it purchased LaSource and since then a transformation has begun of the property once owned by Liberty Club and developer, Leon Taylor.
Chairman of the Sandals Resorts International,
Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.

Work commences on the new swimming pool for Sandals LaSource.
Initially, it was the desire of Stewart and his team to reopen the property in December 2012, but following an inspection of the property, it was agreed that a full transformation will be better before any guests can check in at Sandals LaSource.

Stewart said that once complete, the new design property will have more than 100 rooms added to the existing room count. “Guests will have a selection of more than 200 guestrooms, private cottages and suites that will now form part of the property, and I promise you that Grenada will be getting the best mixed representation of all our properties,” he said.

More than EC$70 million is expected to be invested into the construction and renovation as the SRI team seeks to make its latest investment be a reflection of standards within the Caribbean properties. “This project will end up being a five-star and if there is a six, we will head there too,” Stewart told a selection of the media and stakeholders in the travel industry during a luncheon.

“You are probably going to have the best hotel in the Caribbean,” said Stewart, whose company also owns properties in other Caribbean destinations including The Bahamas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos and Jamaica.

Heavy construction work is scheduled to commence on February 15 and during the peak production period between 400 and 500 persons will be expected to gain employment. The workers will be directly working with Sandals Resorts or through construction companies, which will be contracted to build a five-storey village.

Group Project/Engineer, Andre McDonald, said that one large firm will receive the contract for the five-storey building and that company will decide the best format for construction. “It might just be a case of having its own construction team or teams or subcontracting to other smaller companies; what will be important are all of us working together to realise one goal, opening day of December 20th,” he said. (LS)

PEO: 62 152 persons registered to vote

By Linda Straker

MORE than 60 000 persons are expected to cast votes on Election Day, according to the updated
eligible voter registration list.

The list, which was updated and published publicly on Monday, contains 62 152 names. According to election regulation, all registered voters must examine the list to confirm that their names and other information are correctly included.

Supervisor of Elections, Judy Benoit, said that if a problem was identified by any person with regards to their name spelling, occupation, or place of residence, that problem needed to be drawn to the attention of the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) for correction no later than Tuesday, January 29, 2013.

“No objection to the list will be taken after January 29th,” said a statement from the Office.

Grenadians will be going to the polls on February 19 to elect a new government. The main contenders are the ruling National Democratic Congress led by Tillman Thomas and the Opposition New National Party led by Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Nomination Day was on January 31.

Records at the Parliamentary Elections Office reveal that there are 17 political parties in Grenada, but it is only after Nomination Day that voters will know exactly who is contesting the various constituencies. A delegation from the Organisation of American States will be observing the election.

Women complete leadership workshop

MORE than 20 women were presented with certificates of attendance following a one-week workshop on transformational leadership, which was organised by the Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW), in conjunction with other regional bodies.

Expressing her satisfaction with the turnout of women who represented not only political organisations, but social advocacy groups, Project Officer of GNOW, Lorice Pascal, said that it’s a clear indication that women are ready to lead with the transformational agenda.

Some of the women, who participated in the
workshop, pose with their certificates.
“I am certain that the information provided will help them in making decision with regards to their involvement in social transformation, leading to a complete transformation in leadership positions,” she said.

One of the highlights of the workshop was the presentation of election kits to all of the women in political organisations. These kits contained copy paper, pens, pencils, and other office stationery.

The Grenada workshop is part of a wider regional project to support women’s equal participation in politics, decision-making and the advancement of transformational leadership by women in the Caribbean. Similar workshops will also be conducted in Barbados and Trinidad as these two islands along with Grenada are in preparations for a general election this year.

The training workshop was based on an active learning model that allows participants to analyse, assess and act upon complex issues. It allowed each participant to develop analytical skills, sound judgement, and the leadership potential to effectively pursue issues that are deemed important to sustainable national development.

Among the presenters at the sessions were Dr. Rosina Wiltshire, Assistant Professor Damien Greaves, Claude Douglas and Malcolm Antoine. The presentations emphasised a holistic approach to leadership by focusing on:

a) Building understanding of Caribbean political economy, democracy and development issues;

b) Building skills in political activism through a focus on political party and electoral processes, parliamentary dynamics; and constituency/stakeholder outreach;

c) Assist women political actors to develop advocacy and networking skills in support for gender-sensitive policies/legislation and other issues of national interest;

d) Strengthen women’s political leadership skills and capacities to better perform their legislation, oversight and representative functions;

e) Gender-responsive and ethical decision-making;

f) Equitable and effective leadership approaches and dynamics;

g) Partnership building with civil society for governance accountability; and

h) Effective political and social communications.

The other partners which made the workshop a reality were UN Women, the Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWIL), and the Institute for Gender and Develop-ment Studies. (LS)

PM deeply saddened by Lett’s passing

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has expressed “deep sadness” at the passing of his Cabinet colleague and Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Hon. Michael Denis Lett.

The Prime Minister praised Mr. Lett for his contribution to his church, his community and the government, especially his leadership in expanding the contribution of Agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 5.2 per cent in 2008 to over 7 per cent in 2012.

“I always respected Mr. Lett, especially for his public service and his contribution to his community,” the Prime Minister said on Monday morning within hours of learning of his passing.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Grenada, I extend sympathies to his family, his friends and those with whom he worked at the Ministry of Agriculture. We are all affected by the loss of this illustrious son of St. David,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister noted that the farming community “greatly respected” the Minister for Agriculture, who was the main architect of the farmers’ market project, which strengthened the link between the Tourism industry and the Agricultural sector.

The project also provided an avenue for farmers to market their produce directly to customers.

Mr. Lett served as Minister for Agriculture since July, 2008. He was appointed to act as Prime Minister at various times during the last five years.

Michael Lett remembered

THE National Democratic Congress is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Michael Denis Lett, a stalwart of our party and a patriot, whose contribution has left an indelible mark.

The nation will remember his heroic stand in defence of the People’s Right of Access to the La Sagesse Beach in 1973 and his willingness to sacrifice his freedom in defence of his principles.

His dedicated and enlightened leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture has directly led in the emergence of Agriculture as one of the leading growth sectors in our nation’s economy.

He will be remembered for his selfless dedication to service, his wisdom and patience as a leader, his ability to work across the political divide and his love for his constituents.

The Political Leader, Executive and members of the  National Democratic Congress express our condolences to the members of Mr. Lett’s family, his Constituency of St. David’s, as well as the staff of the Ministry for Agriculture and the nation as a whole.

We will always treasure the memory of this illustrious son of the soil.

May his soul rest in peace.

(Statement by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the passing of Michael Denis Lett.)

GULP pulls out of 2013 general elections

By Linda Straker

THE island’s oldest political party, the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP),  will not be contesting the February 19 General Elections not only because of its inability to identify suitable candidates, but also because of its failure to comply with rules in its own constitution.

“We decided at a meeting on Saturday that we will not contest because we have some things to get done. We are just not ready to contest the elections,” said President Wilfred Haynes.

The party is yet to elect a leader since the resignation of Collin Francis back in 2009 and according to Haynes that was one of the challenges facing the party. “We did not have a convention to elect a leader since the resignation, although Wayne Francis was caring the title of acting leader,” he said.

A few weeks ago, the party gave the assurance that it will contest the election with former Leader of the Opposition, Michael Baptiste, as the leader for the Election team and the party will have its convention following the elections.

“However, at the meeting we had to accept many realities, including the fact that Mr. Baptiste began appearing on the NDC platform,” said one executive member, who attended the meeting but wished not be named.

“After much debate, we had to agree as an executive that we will let this election pass and reorganise ourselves for the 2018 elections,” he said.

Established back in 1951 with former Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy as its leader, the last time the GULP seriously contested the elections was in 1995 and two of its candidates were elected to Parliament. These two candidates, namely Baptiste and Clarence Rapier, eventually joined the New National Party of Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Since the death of leader Sir Eric Gairy in 1997, the party has gone through some turmoil which has left it battered, with very few members and party faithful, who from time to time will make efforts to revitalise the once powerful political movement which ruled for 27 years.

Supporters flock to political rallies

The National Democratic Congress rally on Sunday.

Supporters are flocking to political rallies by the thousands on Sundays as the executive of political parties do what they think is necessary to encourage registered voters to give them majority votes in the various constituencies on February 19, 2013.

Last Sunday, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) supporters packed the Roy St. John grounds in Tanteen, while the supporters of the New National Party (NNP) assembled at the Cuthbert Peters Park in Gouyave. For the first time, both parties had endorsers addressing their supporters from the platform. Former leader of the Opposition was the choice for the NDC, while former WTO Trade Ambassador, Dr. Patrick Antoine, was on the NNP platform.

Dr. Keith Mitchell addressing the crowd.
While it was not a surprise for Dr. Antoine to endorse the NNP, it was a surprise to see Michael Baptiste on the NDC stage as days before he was said to be campaigning for another minority party.

“We will welcome anyone who endorses our governance agenda,” said Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, as he explained that his party practices politics of inclusion.

While Baptiste was of the opinion that Grenada was heading in the right direction with the Tillman Thomas-led NDC, Dr. Antoine felt that since 2008 Grenada’s economy has continuously sunk, making it waste years that has set Grenada behind all other Windward Islands.

The massive crowd which turned out for the New National
Party rally at Cuthbert Peters Park, Gouyave, St. John's.
“Grenada is the lower country in the Windward Islands to have lowered its GDP since 2008,” Dr. Antoine told the thousands who had braved the weather.

But Baptiste, in justifying his claim that Grenada is on the right track, said that the NDC administration brought back sanity and respect to many institutions, which according to him were divided during the period 1995 to 2008.

“The DPP got back his power, policemen can now dream of becoming the Commissioner of Police, we now have respect for institution,” he said. “I will do all in my power to ensure that this decent man remains in office,” he promised.

As expected, both leaders addressed supporters and reminded them why it’s important for each one to administer the affairs of the country for the next five years. The leaders both promised to bring activities to the country that will result in jobs and improve the standard of living, thereby resulting in a developed economy. (LS)

Gandhi figurine unveiled – in recognition of India’s contribution to development

By Linda Straker

THE Grenada Government in collaboration with the Government of India unveiled a “bust” statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the grounds of a secondary school overlooking the area where Indian descendants arrived more than 100 years ago.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948), well known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.
The Mahatma Gandhi bust put on display.
“Gandhi’s life is an example to us all and his legacy, a positive influence to all Grenadians, especially the youth in these times of increasing violence,” Prime Minister Tillman Thomas said at the unveiling of the bust.

“The figurine is that we remember all who contributed to this island in one way or another. He is a hero in India and recognised by Indians all over the world, so this is our respect to him,” he added.

Among the many dignitaries at the ceremony were Malay Mishra, India’s High Commissioner to Grenada and members of the Indo-Grenadian Heritage Foundation.

Less than five per cent of the island’s population is Indian. India, through bilateral arrangements, has continuously contributed to the development of the country. Its most recent contribution was establishing a ICT centre from a EC$2 million grant.

Caribbean Leadership Project launched

The Government of Barbados expressed its gratitude to Canada for implementing the Caribbean Leadership Project.

The first part of that project, the Leadership Development Programme, was launched on Monday at the Cave Hill School of Business.
FROM LEFT: Permanent Secretary in Barbados’ Ministry of
Finance,  Martin Cox; Former Cabinet Secretary and Head of the
Civil Service, Avril Gollop; Canadian High Commissioner,
Richard Hanley; Project Director, Caribbean Leadership Project,
Colleen Rossiter; and Minister Counsellor and Canada’s Director
to the Caribbean Development Bank, CIDA, Louise Clement, at
the opening of the Leadership Development Programme on Monday.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Martin Cox, took the opportunity to convey this Government’s appreciation to Canada for supporting the seven-year, twenty million-dollar Canadian-funded initiative.

The Caribbean Leadership Project is being implemented by the  Canada School of Public Service and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

“I wish to express sincerest appreciation for supporting this timely training initiative. It comes at a time when resources are limited due in part to the prevailing global economic crisis that has led to countries having to prioritise the use of funds to meet competing demands. It also is at a time when the need to have trained personnel in leadership positions is most evident and critical,” Cox pointed out.

He  expressed the hope that the ongoing week-long programme that brings together representatives from 11 of the 12 participating countries will encourage more regional collaboration. “It is hoped that through this forum, representatives from regional governments can collaborate in creating an enabling environment that facilitates leadership development. It is a well-known fact that having the right persons in charge can have a positive impact on organisational effectiveness and therefore national development,” Cox stated.

He called the participants pioneers of the project, adding that it demonstrates their desire for continuous learning and development. He said that their involvement could very well be the catalyst that ignites the development of learning organisations within the public sector.

“As the needs of Caribbean communities evolve, so also must the competencies required to respond effectively to them. I challenge you therefore not to be constrained by your status within your respective jurisdictions, but to come to the table ready to share experiences, to facilitate the cross fertilisation of ideas and to build regional networks that will only strengthen with the passage of time,” Cox said.

He said through the Leadership Development Programme these participants will be laying the groundwork for effective regional collaboration in meeting the needs of the Caribbean Community. (AN)

Strong public sector key

A strong public sector in each country throughout the Caribbean region is key to effective development.

This is the suggestion of Louise Clement, Minister Counsellor (Development) and Canada’s Director to the Caribbean Development Bank, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). She was in Barbados for the opening of the Caribbean Development Project’s Leadership Development Programme, being held at the Cave Hill School of Business this week.
Minister Counsellor (Development) and
Canada's Director to the Caribbean
Development Bank, CIDA, Louise Clement. 
Some of the participants gathered at the opening
of the Leadership Development Programme.
In explaining the value of strong leadership in the public sector in relation to development, Clement referred to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012/2013, which notes that the outlook for the world economy remains fragile with global growth remaining historically low for the second year running. She explained that the report names inefficient government bureaucracy as a problematic factor for doing business in several Caribbean countries, adding that government attitude towards markets and freedoms and the efficiency of its operations is very important.

“Excessive bureaucracy and red tape, over regulation, corruption, dishonesty in dealing with public finances, lack of transparency, inability to provide appropriate services for the business sector, and political dependence of the judicial system impose significant economic costs and slow the process of economic growth,” Clement said.

She further pointed out that CARICOM countries continue to face significant economic challenges which limit growth and contribute to disparities among Caribbean states.

“Some of the challenges include high debt, among the highest in the world, undiversified economies and slow progress in achieving regional integration, which is essential to create large markets and economies of scale,” Clement mentioned.

There lies the importance of the seven-year, twenty-million-dollar Caribbean Leadership Project and the ongoing Leadership Development Programme, which has been designed to strengthen the next generation of Caribbean leaders in the public sector across the region.

“The regional and national public sector and the quality of its institutions and human resources have a significant role to play in achieving progress on regional integration and economic development. No other group has a greater collective impact in the daily lives of citizens than the public services, as Caribbean countries face challenges of high debt loads, changing market forces and natural disasters,” Clement said.

She added that the Caribbean Leadership project is providing unique opportunity for the region to have this conversation and to create solutions and approaches tailored towards meeting the region’s needs. (AN)

Canada aiding the region in crime fight

SECURITY issues in the Caribbean are of great concern to Canada.

As such, High Commissioner of Canada, His Excellency Richard Hanley, says his government has been working diligently over the last few years on the issue of Caribbean security and has been working hard to aid the region in combating transnational organised crime.

The High Commissioner’s comments on the matter came recently as he delivered remarks at the Graduation Ceremony for 30 participants of the Regional Security System’s Crime Scene First Responder Course, at the Paragon Base in Christ Church, Barbados.

“The issue of security in the Caribbean is of concern to all of us. Canada places a high priority on improving security in the Caribbean as part of its engagement in the Americas. We believe that to effectively address rising crime and violence associated with drug trafficking and with other activities of organised crime, all factors need to be addressed, including money laundering, corruption and impunity,” the High Commissioner pointed out.

“One of Canada’s key programming units to combat transnational organised crime in the Caribbean is its Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme, which we call ACCBP. Since 2009, the programme has contributed $12 million to the Caribbean Security programme,” Hanley added.

High Commissioner Hanley noted that as part of the ACCBP Project designed for the region, a Regional Integrated Ballistic Identification Network (RIBIN) is to be established, among CARICOM members.

“In Jamaica, the programme has provided training and polygraph operation and is assisting in the creation of a Polygraph Regional Centre of excellence,” he said.

“This project will increase Jamaican capacity to investigate corruption, as well as to provide training and certification for other Caribbean states. The ACCBP is supporting police professionalisation in Turks and Caicos and justice sector reform in Trinidad and Tobago. The ACCBP also contributes to several international organisations to build regional capacity to combat transnational organised crime,” he added.

Furthermore, “The programme supports several projects focused on illicit drugs in the Caribbean, implemented by the Organisation of American States and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Through Interpol, the programme has supported projected development and enforcement capabilities to dismantle drug trafficking organisations and stop illicit financial flows,” the High Commissioner revealed.

Hanley further stated that when the Regional Security System (RSS) Police Training Institute, which is based in Barbados, was formed in the October 2011 through the ACCBP, Canada became its main donor with financial support for three years’ programming, totalling Canadian $1.2 million, and with in-kind support from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“Canada believes that supporting the work of the RSS is an important element of our engagement in the region. Canada is committed to working with partners towards a more prosperous, secure and democratic hemisphere. The RSS Training Institute provides an excellent means of achieving these goals,” he concluded. (RSM)

Frank Rojas passes

Frank Rojas, noted Caribbean broadcaster, journalist and cultural pioneer, died from pneumonia in Randallstown, MD on Friday, January 18, 2013. He was 90 years old.

He leaves to mourn a son, Don Rojas and daughter-in-law Karen, two daughters, Erica Biscombe Burnett and Colleen Ballard and their husbands, sister Jocelyn Masson, six grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and a host of family and friends in the Caribbean, the USA, Canada and Australia.

He was born in St.Vincent & the Grenadines of Trinidadian parents and spent his youth in both countries. He served in a British army unit based in Trinidad & Tobago during World War 2 and in 1949 married his late wife Marie Gillezeau of St. Vincent.

He served for many years as a civil servant in St. Vincent, Grenada and St. Lucia. He was trained in radio broadcasting by the BBC and also worked as a Caribbean correspondent for the Reuters News Service in the 1960s.

Frank achieved a distinguished career as a radio producer and general manager of radio stations in various Caribbean countries. He authored and produced a number of audio documentaries and radio dramas, most notably, the award-winning series “Akita, the Slave”, which traced the life of a young African boy who survived the Middle Passage, grew up on a sugar plantation in the Caribbean and who, as an adult, led a slave rebellion that was ultimately defeated by the British colonial forces.

Frank trained and mentored several young broadcasters throughout the Caribbean who went on to build successful careers.

He contributed immeasurably to the expansion of the Carnival arts and the development of steel pan music in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and also chronicled the oral histories of Grenada, St.Vincent and St. Lucia from dozens of radio interviews with people of the older generations in those Caribbean countries.

Frank and his wife Marie migrated to New York in 1968 and later became naturalized US citizens. In the 1970s and 1980s Frank worked in the US labor movement as an executive with Locals 144 and 1199 of the SEIU.

Along with his son Don in1973, he launched the first Caribbean-American daily newspaper (“Caribbean Daily”) and, co-founded one of the first Internet-based newspapers, “The Black World Today” in July, 1996.

Shortly after his wife’s death in December 2005, he moved back to the Caribbean and lived in Dominica with his daughter Erica for over six years. He returned to the US in the middle of December 2012 to spend the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with Don and his family in Maryland.

A memorial service will be held for Frank Rojas on Saturday, February 9, at 11am in the New All Saints RC Church, Baltimore, MD.

Caribbean women subject to widespread sexual violence

Sexual violence against women is being seen as widespread in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alessandra Guedes, Regional Advisor on Intra-Family Violence at PAHO has indicated that a recent report titled “Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean” showed that unfortunately violence against women is widespread in the 12 countries that they studied which included; Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.

“We found for instance that between 17 per cent of women and 53 per cent of women interviewed reported having suffered physical or sexual violence [with an] intimate partner. And in fact in seven of the 12 countries, more than one in four women reported such violence,” she stated.

“We also found very high levels of emotional abuse by a partner ranging from 17 to 48 per cent of women who were interviewed. So the key message is that this is unfortunately a very widespread phenomenon that affects a large proportion of women in our region,” she further noted.

Guedes also acknowledged that the report also speaks about violence against children. Including, asking women retrospectively about their experiences with physical and sexual abuse prior to the age of 15.

“We looked at what was the intersection between violence against women and violence against children. And what we found is that there are multiple connections between these two different types of violence.

“For instance, in all of the countries that we studied, women who grew up in households where their mother was beaten by her partner had a greater risk of suffering partner violence themselves as adults. We also found that women who suffered physical or sexual abuse in childhood reported experiencing partner violence in adulthood twice as much as those who did not suffer violence in childhood,” she revealed.

The Regional Advisor added that they found that children living in households where women suffer partner violence were significantly more likely than other children to be punished with hitting, beating, spanking – in other words, with harsher disciplinary practices.

Developing a place for the Caribbean in the Health and Wellness segment

THE launch of the Caribbean Spa and Wellness Association (CSWA) Website last week speaks to
generating business for the region.

The statistics speak to the opportunities that can be garnered from this industry not only in terms of arrivals, but spending. The global and wellness (H&W) industry is a US$40 billion international market, growing at 30 per cent per annum, according to a Common Wealth Secretariat Study, which also estimated the Caribbean potential for generating export earnings from this sector at US$175 million.

The CSWA was officially launched in 2006. The mission of the CSWA is to foster and promote the growth of the industry. The Caribbean Export Development Agency is presently managing the website project for the “Development and promotion of the Caribbean Health and Wellness Tourism Sector”. This project is being conducted in conjunction with the Caribbean Spa and Wellness Association (CSWA) and is financed by the Caribbean Development Bank.

One of the areas that has been a challenge in the health and wellness segment, particularly in Barbados, has been standards.

“To carve a niche in Barbados as a spa destination will take a focus on standards and regulation of massage therapy and aesthetics.”

This is the belief of Tracy Archer, Spa Manager at The Spa at Sandy Lane.

“There is a huge market that is driven by spa and wellness, however, in Barbados if we are developing this niche, some groundwork has to be put in place. Also, as part of the Caribbean Spa and Wellness Association, we talk about how to develop this industry to get into where the islands across the board offer a high quality product. We have started to work in this direction by setting the framework of the industry,” she maintained.

The CSWA website brings together all the great Caribbean locations that international clientele would be interested in, such as spas of a high standard, natural resources and also the island itself.

Chairperson for the CSWA, Steve Andrews, is very optimistic that this site will make an impact for the Caribbean, bringing together all the different locations is essential for the international clientele to be able to tap into this market.

Also in terms of a driver for the regional market, this is also an area of major interest.

The website at this point is a work in progress, but it is a comprehensive website that represents the different islands and what they offer in a concise and attractive manner. This segment is a major area of interest; there are people who travel throughout the world to do yoga. We will be looking at further developments such as looking into E-commerce capabilities, more information on different activities the country offers, etc.”

He also indicated that, “This area is already a ready market for product development and can drive sales. If locally-made items are used in spa, many international guests want to order products to take back with them. The website will not only promote the tourism sector, but also offer products and services.” (NB)

Benefits of eating what’s in season

HOW often have you gone to the supermarket or another place that sells fruits and vegetables and not been able to get what you wanted?

Or, maybe it’s there but instead of locally grown, it has been imported? Most of us have experienced this at some time or another. This occurs mainly when the particular food is out of season. There are many benefits of consuming foods when they are in season, for good health and otherwise.

First of all, when you get food that’s in season, it is the freshest and most readily available.

This means that in addition to being easily accessible, the food should have a nicer taste. That’s because food that is imported has to be harvested early and refrigerated, otherwise they’d rot during transportation. Also, imported produce may not be properly ripened and may not have been allowed to develop their full flavour. Often we don’t realise the difference as we become so accustomed to the taste, however, there is little comparison to fresh local produce.

Typically, seasonal and local foods tend to have fewer chemicals in them.

You see, fruits and vegetables that have to be picked early for transport to different countries or across long distances, aren’t as nice to look at as seasonal produce that was allowed to mature fully. The downside is that often these foods are given wax coatings, chemical ripening agents and other preservatives, to make them appear more appealing.

Eating seasonally also means that you have a wide variety to choose from and can mix up menus all the time. There’s no need to have the same vegetables in your Sunday beef stew throughout the year and, breakfast fruit salads can be just as varied. It makes eating more fun, while being very healthy for individuals.

Finally, if the health benefits didn’t sell you on the idea, what about the reduced costs? Usually when you purchase produce that is in season, the costs are considerably lower than when they are out of season. This means that not only do you get the chance to have healthy meals daily, but, you are saving money in the process.

In summary, eating what’s in season benefits everyone in the long run, as individuals have the opportunity to improve their diets with local healthy options, all year round. (JJ)

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Grenada invests in yachting sector

Grenada is investing a US$375 000 grant from CARTfund, administered by Caribbean Development Bank, to expand and develop the country’s marine and yachting industry.

“Grenada as a yachting destination is one of the best kept secrets of the Caribbean and it is time for the secret to be revealed,” explained Anita Sutton, President of Grenada’s Marine and Yachting Association (MAYAG). “Grenada Grenadines Yachting is the brand identity that will be used to promote the island’s yachting industry,” concluded Sutton.

The centrepiece to Grenada’s destination marketing is a 15-minute video on the island, its people and culture, and its world-class marine and yachting attractions. The video was recently launched at a public event where Grenadians were encouraged to participate in the campaign by sharing and supporting the video on social media. It can be seen on YouTube at

In addition to the video, Grenada is investing in a range of other improvements to the sector. These include the training and certification of its yacht maintenance and technical staff, a security protocol to ensure that Grenada remains the Caribbean’s safest yachting destination, and steps to streamline the clearance requirements for yachts travelling between Grenada and St. Vincent.

Grenada Grenadines Yachting was also at the Toronto International Boat Show.

CELAC and the wider world

In a few days’ time, leaders of European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean will meet in Santiago de Chile.

Among those from Europe confirmed to be there on January 26 and 27 are the French Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, the Spanish Prime Minister, the European Commission’s President, the President of the European Council, and Europe’s Trade Commissioner.

As far as Latin America and Caribbean are concerned, most Heads of Government will attend.

From a European perspective, the event is intended to give a new impetus to cooperation and to build common positions on global issues. Europe’s interest is also on the business opportunities the event may bring from what the EC sees as fast-growing, emerging markets. There will also be in the margins, discussions on implementing Europe’s recent free trade agreements with Colombia and Peru and with Central America, plus exchanges aimed at trying to move forward an EU Mercosur agreement. There will be a separate EU Cariforum meeting.

Despite this euro-centric focus and the usual obscure and vague language in accompanying news releases, this meeting may have significance for the hemisphere that justifies the cost of attending.

What may set this meeting apart is that the hemispheric interlocutor will be the EU’s relatively new counterpart for Latin America and the Caribbean, CELAC; a body that is wholly a construct of the South.

Established in 2010 out of the Rio Group, CELAC reflects a desire to reduce the overwhelming influence of the United States on the politics and economics of Latin America and to lessen the influence of institutions such as the Organisation of American States, (OAS) that, in their origins, were constructs of the cold war. Unlike, OAS, which includes the US and Canada but excludes Cuba, CELAC, the Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y CaribeƱos, consists of all 33 nations in the Americas other than Canada, the US and the territories of European nations.

Although the grouping has been championed by left leaning Latin nations, it represents a broader desire to establish a political framework based on the similarities in thinking between member nations and a desire to authentically represent the views of the southern part of the hemisphere to a world in the process of change.

The body, which has had relatively little media coverage in the English speaking Caribbean, is perhaps best known for the decision taken in 2011 by all of its members to support Argentina’s ‘legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute’ over the Falklands /Malvinas and its surrounding maritime spaces.

That decision, which took the United Kingdom by surprise, ended Britain’s belief that it could always count on the support of the nations of Caricom, but made clear that CELAC was a potentially powerful new hemispheric voice for the South.

Although Europe may be approaching the meeting from the standpoint of its traditional global economic and social agenda, its encounter with CELAC offers the opportunity for a quite different dialogue based on the growing economic strength of Latin American nations.

However, what is far from clear is how much of the Caribbean will benefit from the event when it lacks the economic dynamism to make it attractive; is not moving at the same pace as Latin nations; has failed to integrate or implement new trade relationships; and is in danger of being eclipsed by its Latin neighbours in almost all respects other than its voting weight.

For the last decade China, the European Union, the United States and multilateral institutions have been developing policies that describe the Latin American and Caribbean as if it were a single entity; wishing to see the LAC region as they describe it, as a coherent political or economic whole.

The reality is very different. Cariforum in comparison to Latin America is fragmented and without contiguous borders, so cannot easily benefit from closer economic integration; is vulnerable in ways that large nations are not; has been slow to negotiate or implement its own treaties with Europe in the form of the EPA and the recent strategic partnership agreement; has members including Belize, Guyana, Suriname, the Dominican Republic and Cuba that have rapidly deepening economic, security and transport links with Latin neighbours; and has a history and culture that leads the region to argues for separate and special treatment.

That said, CELAC’s emergence coincides with nations like Cuba and the Dominican Republic seeking to find ways to enlarge the space in which they might operate with others hemispherically and internationally.

It also coincides with private exchanges between a number of senior Caribbean figures who are concerned as to where the region positions itself in the next decade.

Their starting point is to characterise the Anglophone part of the region as being driven by the past rather than the future, unable to overcome its fragmented nationalism, with institutions seemingly unable to deliver rapidly integration and change. They see this as the reason why the region as a whole lacks coherence in its international relationships, why it failed in the 1990s to identify a Caribbean response to the Washington economic consensus and is now unable to define an identifiably Caribbean response to changes in the global location of power.

Put another way this informal debate considers traditional ties, observes global economic change, the growing global economic role of China, India, Brazil, Russia, oil rich states and sovereign funds and asks why for the most part the Anglophone Caribbean remains so focussed on its relationship, with the old world and has not as a region updated its thinking.

Although CELAC offers the region a new and broader political vehicle through which it can address concerns that it shares with Latin neighbours, this is not enough. It up to the region to show how the body through its high level encounter with Europe can add value to the needs of the Caribbean and Latin America, and can relate back the value to those who pay for their leaders to attend such events.

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

Save the Commonwealth brand: Tell Sri Lanka ‘Enough’

It is time for the Commonwealth of Nations to suspend Sri Lanka from its councils.

In doing so, the Commonwealth would restore confidence in its 2.1 billion people that it is not a hypocritical association that claims to stand for values, including democracy, human rights and the rule of law, but fails to act to discipline governments that violate these values.

The Sri Lanka government has now seriously and persistently violated the principles to which every Commonwealth country has declared itself to be committed and, according to the Commonwealth’s rules, this is ground for suspension from its councils as a first step.

Well-thinking people across the Commonwealth, and those who are concerned about the credibility of the 54-nation grouping, expect the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to be convened swiftly to suspend Sri Lanka from the Council of the Commonwealth and to set an agenda and time table for the government to implement measures to restore respect for the rule of law. CMAG is a rotating group of foreign ministers from nine Commonwealth countries that is charged with overseeing that Commonwealth values, as set out in many declarations, are respected.

The urgency for CMAG action on Sri Lanka has been triggered by the decision of Sri Lanka President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to dismiss the country’s Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, after a widely condemned impeachment process.

Rajapaska ignored warnings from Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Judges and Magistrates Association and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, not to proceed with impeachment that followed a decision by the Chief Justice that found a controversial Bill tabled in the Parliament unconstitutional. The Bill had sought to grant disproportionate powers to the Minister of Economic Development, one of the President’s brothers.

Slapping the Commonwealth Secretary-General and other Commonwealth legal bodies in the face, President Rajapaska proceeded to dismiss the Chief Justice and to appoint his former Attorney-General to the post. Worse yet, he did so after the Supreme Court ruled that the impeachment proceedings conducted by the Rajapaksa-dominated parliament were illegal. The Rajapaksa family holds other senior government positions, including head of the defence ministry and the Speaker of Parliament. One of Mr Rajapaksa’s sons also sits as a member of Parliament.

This latest violation flagrantly scorns Commonwealth values as set out in the Latimer House Principles which state: “Judiciaries and parliaments should fulfil their respective but critical roles in the promotion of the rule of law in a complementary and constructive manner; Interaction, if any, between the executive and the judiciary should not compromise judicial independence; and Judges should be subject to suspension or removal only for reasons of incapacity or misbehaviour that clearly renders them unfit to discharge their duties.”

Sri Lanka is an even bigger problem for the Commonwealth because it is scheduled to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November.  No time can now be wasted in deciding to shift the venue to another Commonwealth country.

If Commonwealth Heads of Government turn-up in Sri Lanka, they would be sending an unacceptable signal to the world community that governments that violate human rights and the rule of law can do so without fear of censure. If Heads go to Sri Lanka, the Commonwealth can discard its brand as a ‘values based association” and start looking for something else to justify its existence. But, whoever remains in it, it would cease to be respected by the people of its own countries and the international community.

That would be a sad loss for the 32 small states that are a significant number of the 54-nation Commonwealth. They need a vibrant, respected Commonwealth as an advocate and interlocutor on their behalf in the international community. A straw organisation existing on the margins of global regard can do absolutely nothing for them.

In this connection, the government of Canada should be complimented for trying for over a year to restrain the government of Sri Lanka from its excesses and to hold it to account for human rights abuses arising from a war with the Tamil Tigers that ended in 2009. The Sri Lanka government has refused to allow an independent inquiry into the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians during the conflict between government forces and the Tamil Tigers as well as a worsening human rights situation.

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has now indicated that his government wants Sri Lanka to be discussed at the next meeting of CMAG. Both opposition parties in Canada have gone further calling on Harper to declare that he would boycott the CHOGM if it is held in Sri Lanka.  

A debate in both the Houses of Parliament in Britain and a subsequent statement by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also indicate “deep concern” and called on the Sri Lanka government to “respect democratic principles”.

However, while Canada and Britain have spoken-up, many developing Commonwealth countries have so far remained silent. Their voices also need to be heard, partic-ularly as many of them place great store in democracy and the rule of law both as a system of governance and as an imperative for attracting investment. Judicial independence is fundamental to the rule of law and essential for any democratic and accountable government.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has announced that he will be visiting Sri Lanka in February. It is his job to try to resolve the impasse with an obdurate Sri Lanka government that has so far ignored his advice and warnings of others. It is also his job to tell the Sri Lanka President that he has violated Commonwealth rules and that, unless the action on the Chief Justice is reversed and a credible, enforceable plan is presented, Sri Lanka will be placed immediately on the agenda for CMAG with a view to suspending it from the Councils of the Commonwealth.

In any event, the Sri Lanka government has now done enough to warrant moving the venue for November’s CHOGM to another country. The Government cannot spurn the advice of the Secretary-General, Commonwealth legal organisation and other international groupings and yet demand to be
privileged to host CHOGM. After all, the location for hosting a Heads of Government meeting must be in the interest of the Commonwealth as a whole.

The foreign ministers of two Caribbean countries – Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – are members of CMAG. In this connection, they have an important role to play in upholding the values that their own countries honour and respect – those values are what differentiates the Commonwealth in the world and makes it special.

(The writer was a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group 2010-2011. Responses and previous commentaries:

New ball for the Windies?

In 2005, West Indies cricket took an exciting turn with the launch of the Stanford 20/20 tournament, and later the Stanford Super Series. These competitions injected new life into the standing of the game throughout the region, with its big entertainment factor and, of course, mind-boggling prize monies. Fears about the future popularity of cricket subsided, as the higher pay-days meant that the prospect of being a professional cricketer became more attractive to young players.

However, despite Stanford seeming to have the Midas touch, time would reveal that all that glittered was definitely not gold.

The Texan billionaire, who would have gone down in history as single-handedly changing the face of West Indies cricket, was instead forced to abandon the field of play in disgrace with his financial empire collapsing around him. Following his conviction and jail sentence for a number of financial crimes, from a public relations standpoint, the Stanford innings was a rather low moment in West Indies cricket history. We expect there would have been much soul-searching amongst those who welcomed him with open arms. No doubt many asked themselves: Were we bowled over by the (rhetorical) spin?

Now seven years later, another international financier, merchant banker Ajmal Khan, has committed to boosting the short form of the game, sponsoring a regional tournament in league with the widely popular Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash. Scheduled to bowl off this year, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) was launched in December 2012 and is promising to be another big lift to West Indies cricket. An outline was given of how the franchise-based league will work – six city-based teams playing across the region over a one-month period each year. Each franchise would be built around Caribbean players, complemented by international star players. Like the Indian and Australian versions, players would be bought, sold and transferred during an annual auction.

“I’m looking to invest whatever it takes, in the hundreds of millions, in order to be able to turn this passion into a reality that it is sustainable,” said Khan, Chairman and CEO of Verus International and the newest godfather to West Indies cricket.

It’s a bold promise to make. The fact that the name Khan and Verus International were virtually unknown in the region until now will call for a special effort to be made to engage with the Caribbean people. Further details about the new league are expected to be revealed this year and we look forward to a comprehensive campaign being rolled out to familiarise the public with not just the CPL concept, but also the sponsor behind it.

Of late, West Indies cricket has begun to reach more even footing and can ill afford another setback on its journey of recovery and restoration to the pinnacle of world cricket. In just a few years, the Stanford tournament was able to make a significant difference in the way the sport was viewed and played in the region. Now Verus International has made a commitment for an even longer period of time. If fulfilled, who knows what new heights West Indies cricket might reach?

We want to see the region reclaim its rightful place in the top tier of the international game and a major part of that is keeping pace with the evolution of the sport. Our players have never lacked for talent and we welcome any chance for them to access similar opportunities available to professional players from other parts of the world, right here at home.

ACM HOPEFUL – Group wants removal of media accreditation fees

THE Association of Caribbean Media (ACM) workers on Monday welcomed word that organisers of the 42nd Junior CARIFTA Games in The Bahamas are re-considering a unilateral decision to impose
a US$100 media accreditation fee for media workers engaged in covering the event.

In a statement, the ACM said the imposition deviates from long-standing regional and international practice and has the potential to inhibit the work of the regional media in covering an event which attracts significant public attention.

“Our concern does not diminish the support of Caribbean media workers for the efficient conduct of the Games as part of the country’s 40th Independence Anniversary. But we believe, if implemented, imposition of the fee could have serious, negative implications regarding issues of freedom of information and media freedom.”

It said that media from Jamaica, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Belize and many others are expected to register for the Games. “This fee, on top of the already exorbitant costs of intra-regional travel, accommodation and other expenses and taking into
account the vast differences in exchange rates between nations, may simply prove prohibitive for many media workers.”

The ACM reiterated that people at home have an interest in tracking the progress of their heroes and the more extensive the coverage the better. Local audiences usually take pride in their athletes, even if they are not the centre of attention, and it is through increased media access that this is facilitated.

According to the regional media grouping, the CARIFTA Games were meant to enhance relations between countries of the Caribbean by highlighting commonality of purpose amongst these countries and promoting greater interconnectedness in the region.

“The desire to inspire and motivate our young people, in particular, for positive regional development is also still very much alive. We believe these goals are closer to realisation when our best efforts are made to accommodate the press and thereby increase public access to the Games.

“The ACM wishes the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 42nd CARIFTA Games every success and looks forward to the announcement that this decision has been rescinded,” it concluded.

PANCAP director calls for integrated programmes

DIRECTOR of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), Juliet Bynoe-Sutherland, is strongly advocating for closer linkages between HIV/AIDS interventions and sexual and reproductive health care.

The Director recently noted that the HIV and AIDS epidemic is integrally linked to sexual and reproductive health, as both HIV/AIDS and poor sexual and reproductive health are driven by common root causes, including poverty, gender inequality and social marginalisation of the most vulnerable populations. Responses to both health issues should therefore be closely linked and mutually reinforcing; in fact, they should be integrated.
Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV
and AIDS (PANCAP), Juliet Bynoe-Sutherland.
A section of the audience at last Friday’s symposium.
Bynoe-Sutherland’s comments came as she spoke at a special seminar hosted by the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance, on the topic, “The Integration of HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health”. The seminar was held at the Amaryllis Beach Resort in Barbados last Friday afternoon and served to bring together a number of regional partners and agencies in the HIV/AIDS fight, to explore the topic.

“I have begun to actively promote adopting a sexual and reproductive health (SRH) approach to prevention, because efforts need to be grounded in proven methodologies. SRH compiles both public health and humans rights-based approaches, across an individual’s life cycle. It allows for integration of HIV into health systems and responds well to concentrated or generalised epidemics,” the PANCAP Director has also been quoted as saying.

During her presentation, Bynoe-Sutherland acknowledged the need for the restructuring of national HIV and AIDS programmes. She stated that there is, at present, a reduction in the flow of funding to the Caribbean for HIV and AIDS programmes, which came about with the onset of the recent global recession. Given that governments have limited fiscal resources to fund programmes as well, there must be a shift towards more “results-oriented programming”, and there must be a shared response where the public and private sector and non-governmental organisations are concerned, to ensure more communication and collaboration on ventures.

Highlighting the work that Jamaica is already doing to integrate HIV into sexual and reproductive health services, the PANCAP Director commented that other regional countries need to follow this example, since the act of linking HIV and AIDS interventions with general reproductive health services, can strengthen both.

The Director pointed out that stronger linkages between sexual and reproductive health and AIDS programme should lead to a number of important public health benefits, including improved access to, and uptake of key services; better access of people living with HIV to services tailored to their needs; reduced AIDS-related stigma and discrimination; improved coverage of under served and marginalised populations, such as sex workers or men who have sex with men; greater support for dual protection against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, for those in need, especially young people; improved quality of care; and enhanced programme effectiveness and efficiency. (RSM)

Roberts elected to lead NUF

By Linda Straker

A woman was elected to lead Grenada’s newest political party when its members held its first convention on Sunday.

Glynis Roberts was elected by delegates to become the leader of the National United Front (NUF) – a political organisation comprising a number of persons who were expelled as well as persons who resigned from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) following the September 30th annual convention.

Roberts, from all research, is the first woman to be elected as a political leader in the country and is one of two women on the NUF executive. The other executive members are Chairman Siddiqui Sylvester, Deputy Chairman Jerome Joseph, Deputy Leader Ferron Lowe, General Secretary Winston Thomas, Public Relations Officer Valon Paul, Recording Secretary Jomi Thomas and Treasurer Manley Phillip. The Assistant General Secretaries are Peter Spencer and Terrence Benjamin and the Assistant Treasurer is Esther Frank.

The convention was used to unveil the party’s new symbol of the family. Initially, the members had presented the Sun as its symbol only to be challenged by another political entity that has registered the Sun with the Parliamentary Election Office. The party’s colours continue to be blue and orange.

In her inaugural address as leader, Roberts, who represented the constituency of St. George South as a member of the NDC following the 2003 and 2008 elections, said that she is confident in the future of the political organisation and its plans to eventually govern the affairs of the country.

Presenting the party’s nine-point plan for economic recovery and development, Roberts, who is a former Minister for Tourism, said that the core focus of the NUF will be the areas of Economics, Agriculture, Health, Education, Tourism, Social Development, Labour, Culture and Environment.

“With this as our agenda, we can have economic transformation to the benefit of all,” she said.

Roberts said that her party and the members are not a breakaway faction from the NDC, but a grouping of persons who saw the need to present a real alternative. “There comes a time in a country’s history when the old must be done away with,” she said.

The NUF said that it will be contesting three constituencies in the February 19, 2013 general elections.

Party Chairman Sylvester said that NUF will presently not be in a position to govern the country, but its objective for contesting the various seats is to get into parliament. “We want to see members of NUF in the Parliament come February. We want to ensure the membership of NUF is represented in the Parliament. Let us work towards the objectives,” he told the less than 200 supporters who had packed the Calliste Government School.

The feature speaker at the convention was Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.