Bahamas Blog International
The Bahamas: ...Prime Minister Perry Christie criticised the Free National Movement (FNM) government for “dismantling” the Urban Renewal programme ...and claimed that former Prime Minister - Hubert Ingraham did not understand the concept behind it
Related to country: Bahamas
Fnm ‘Could Not Grasp True Value Of Urban Renewal’
By CELESTE NIXON
Tribune Staff Reporter
Nassau, The Bahamas:
THE former government was unable to grasp the true value of Urban Renewal according to Prime Minister Perry Christie.
Speaking to the press yesterday, Mr Christie criticised the FNM government for “dismantling” the programme – and claimed former Prime Minister Mr Ingraham did not understand the concept behind it.
He said: “I think he has always been uninformed, really and truly uninformed, about what Urban Renewal is actually all about. He purports to represent an era when he had responsibility for housing but I don’t think he truly understands the significance of the Urban Renewal effort.
“That is community policing at it’s highest and at it’s best; to criticise it and to take the action that the FNM took in the past is uninformed and I think counterproductive to the best interests of our country, they were wrong in dismantling what we had in place.
Mr Ingraham criticised Urban Renewal 2.0 following the tendering his resignation letter at Parliament last week.
He suggested the government is carrying out an unlawful act by clearing derelict, abandoned houses and properties in the inner city without first giving home and property owners due notice.
“Aren’t there laws that govern this?” the former Prime Minister asked. “You must give the occupier notice, you must give the owner notice, and they must have the opportunity to make representation. You cannot just go and do so (tear down a house). That’s what distinguishes a democracy from a totalitarian society,” he said.
“The reality is there are laws and there are rules that you ought to abide by and the government ought to set the example.”
Mr Ingraham also insisted that the public must be notified by police officials when a police officer is involved in shooting and killing a suspect.
“We have a high crime problem in society, but what we cannot do is permit policemen to act outside the law,” said Mr Ingraham.
“It cannot be that you shoot two armed robbers or crooks one night and you tell me nothing about it.”
Explaining the programme, Mr Christie said Urban Renewal is a police-driven campaign with the objective of gaining the trust and confidence of the public, so that community challenges can be identified and addressed by the government.
“Urban Renewal is where we are going into communities with the mandate to go to every house and discover what the challenges are then to take the information we have found and inform the relevant agencies of the government, so that the government’s policies can be relevant to what exists in the community – that is the basis of it,” said Mr Christie.
“We are slowly introducing our programmes to fight crime and the fear crime – watch what happens,” he said. “You will see a shift in the mind-set of people, a shift in the confidence coming into communities and you will see the results being different in terms of crime.
July 25, 2012
Caribbean Blog International
French Guiana's offshore oil: Profit trumps environmental protection?
Related to country: French Guiana
By Arnaud Koehl - Research Associate at Council on Hemispheric Affairs:
An offshore oilfield discovery in September 2011 within the French Guiana Zaedyus exploratory well by Tullow Oil plc, a British oil and gas exploration company, finally pinpointed the country’s anticipated large reservoir. The new oilfield holds anywhere from 500 to 850 million barrels according to Tullow. It can be found in the Guiana’s extractive area which is considered far bigger than Campos basin, a giant source of crude oil and natural gas off Rio de Janeiro.(1) It has a depth similar to Brazil’s pre-salt oilfields where drilling exploration ranges from 6,758 feet at the ocean’s floor to about 19,500 feet. Aside from geophysical difficulty, the future of the zone mostly must now rely on the turbulent political habits in France’s oil exploitation modalities.
Tullow has been exploring the area since 2001, following an official maritime license it shares with the two “supermajors” Shell and Total, along with the Northpet Petroleum plc joint venture, which respectively own 45, 25 and 2.5 percent of the Zaedyus well.(2) Royal Dutch Shell, head of prospection and negotiation with the public authorities, clearly holds the largest claim to it.
In June 2012, Royal Dutch Shell plc decided to begin exploration. Yet its work was halted even before it began, as the Shell-chartered drillship sailed from South Korea to French Guiana. The French minister of ecology Nicole Bricq and the French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg decided to suddenly suspend authorization on June 13. This turnaround demonstrates the complexity underlying a petroleum operation within the global framework of conflicting interests, increased drilling difficulties and pressures to transform into a national hydrocarbon producer.
Specifically, the suspension reflects close cooperation between the ministers of the new left-wing French government involved in the decision. In a joint announcement, the ministers voiced agreement on three distinct priorities. One of the priorities was the reinforcement of environmental protections, undermined by a drilling process involving a particularly high-risk exploitation. Because of the depths of the deposits, extraction would use the high-polluting oil-based mud technique. The other two priorities motivating the suspension were to cut back on disastrous French energy expenditures that totaled approximately $75.4 billion in 2011 and to increase the low revenues per inhabitant in Guiana, which barely reached $17,107 in 2008.
Most strikingly, the announcement by the government appeared politically accommodating in its defense of environmental protection over uncertain economic gains from drilling. It came at a convenient moment for the French ruling party, however, just prior to the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development and legislative elections in the country, which resulted in a landslide victory for the Socialist Party. The decision may then be seen more as a maneuver by the government to fortify its energy sovereignty than as the so-called ecological transition promised by the country’s leaders.(3) If that is the case, the new governmental policy has resulted more in a political adjustment than in the “change” explicitly promoted during the presidential campaign.
Such interpretations are supported by pundits’ speculations that the sudden dismissal of Ms Bricq from her ministry on June 21 and appointment as Minister of Foreign Trade, a lower formal rank, was prompted by her over-emphasis on environment while releasing the government’s decision to the public. This conclusion has been further bolstered by official plans to reinforce physical protection around the Zaedyus well instead of blocking extraction. While Bricq claimed the suspension resulted from a need to reform the national mining code, Minister for Overseas Victorin Lurel has since clarified that the reappointment actually involved the renegotiation of dividends. What is more, the very rapid resumption of the authorization process by the end of June implies only a modest alteration of the mining code regulating the Zaedyus well. The decision thereby marks a monumental victory for the powerful oil lobby which actively exerts power on local and national political authorities after legislative elections that finally convinced Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to take back the issue.(4) Focusing on job and industry, he conceded France’s commitments to the protection of the environment and stable development of exploratory and extractive activity, arguing that the previous government had already given France’s word to the companies. If nothing else, this decision-making progress highlights a worrisome lack of governmental transparency.
Adding to these concerns, the Guianese people have interestingly produced a massive lobbying effort in favor of the development of the offshore reservoir by Tullow.(5) Lead by a panel of local officials, the locals have expressed a preference for drilling despite the risks due to the substantial royalties involved. According to French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, a native from French Guiana, just half of the expected royalties would confer the oversea region with greater autonomy and power. French Guiana’s unemployment rate illustrates this truth, as it shows a stabilization figure at a whopping 21.0 percent.(6) Shell France CEO Patrick Roméo rightly observed that drilling would also produce jobs in France and reduce the money the country spends on its oil importations, possibly even stimulating an economic recovery.(7)
Nevertheless, a plethora of NGOs and a minority of the 232,000 total Guianese population firmly opposes the decision for technical and ideological reasons. They denounce what they call a juridical vacuum and argue that revision of the mining code only looked at the royalties distribution. As Christian Roudgé, coordinator of the NGO French Guiana Nature Environment, explains, “profit will be private and risks will be public” over a remote, fragile and uniquely rich ecosystem. That is why NGOs lambast the haste of official authorization for which a social debate and a referendum appear to have been crucial. After the beginning of the drilling process, a judicial process was collectively launched on July 11 by NGOs and citizens involved in the affair to hold the French Guiana Administrative Court and the Minister of Ecology responsible for “[abuses] of power.”(8) Freshly appointed Minister Delphine Batho asserted that the government would respect the precautionary principle and transparency for the sake of its citizens.
Although French ecological concerns are real, as demonstrated by the June 2011 interdiction of hydraulic fracturing of shale gas, it appears that the Ministry of Ecology stands more as a regulator of the status quo than a real precedent-setting authority. By endorsing oil extraction, French Guianese and France have blinded themselves to the benefits of environmental protections under the allure of enhanced national energy geopolitics that this rich continental shelf would bring. An oil spill would be devastating for the people of French Guiana and for the nation’s resource independence. Peaceful democratic negotiations between the overseas territory and the metropolis on the royalties question, however, provide reasonable hope for Guianese social improvement. They might even counteract separatist sentiments, historically very low, in spite of French Guiana’s huge new potential financial manna.
 Estimation made by CGX Energy Inc and conferring to its own license. “Positioned for Guyana Atlantic Basin Success”, CGX Energy Inc., 04.2012
 “Zaedyus exploration well makes oil discovery offshore French Guiana”, Tullow Oil Plc, 09.09.11.
 Mercier, Anne-Sophie. « Les dessous de l’éviction de Nicole Bricq du ministère de l’écologie », Paris : Lemonde.fr, 06.26.12.
 Albert, Caroline. « Forages pétroliers en Guyane: Shell dit vouloir protéger l’environnement », 7sur7.be, 06.26.12.
 Lopez, Marie-Caroline. « Pétrole en Guyane : pourquoi le gouvernement est contraint de reculer », Paris : Latribune.fr (source Reuters), 06.21.12.
 2nd trimester, 2010, INSEE.
 Source: Lemonde.fr
 AFP, Reuters.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." For more information, visit www.coha.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org
July 23, 2012
Caribbean Blog International
Jamaica: 50 years of pain
Related to country: Jamaica
By Ramesh Sujanani, Jamaica Gleaner Contributor:
When I left high school in 1961, our Independence came the following year, and I recall Bustamante's victory over Manley, and the satisfaction and happiness that most Jamaicans felt. I was able to go to night school, and complete my bachelor's in physics, but it became difficult around 1967-1970 when trouble started.
There were violent exchanges. That time was also a period of innovation and new business: The University of the West Indies blossomed into greater glory during that period, and many persons benefited from part-time studies.
Banks, stores, and all commercial activity became victim to the gunman and his affiliations. Thieves attacked constantly, taking lives and property, but mostly robbing businesses. Money, I suspect, was going into politics, backing gangs and garrisons. The PNP came to power in 1972, and we were given our fill of socialism and social justice.
Then ensued a battle between Seaga and Manley in the late '70s and early '80s. I do not know where the guns came from, but they were numerous, and both parties had them, so they are both culpable.
In election year 1980, I was in my business at North Parade when a message was sent to me saying all owners of businesses on North Parade would be assassinated.
The following morning, Mr Lue, the baker at 1 North Parade, was shot and killed. A day or two later, Mr Joe Gibbs, the recording and music specialist at 3 North Parade, was gunned down, critically wounded. Then Mr Lovemore of No. 18 was shot five times while working one Sunday, but he survived, in much pain.
Thereafter, Mr Vaswani, the garment manufacturer, was shot, but he survived, because his neighbour, Campi Redwood, left his business and rushed him to KPH.
The JLP won the 1980 election, and Mr Seaga became prime minister. Within a few weeks there were many changes, one of them being that all the incentives given to the manufacturer for exports, for manufacturing, were discontinued.
The productive capacity of the country was removed, and the banking centres flourished with interest rates of 68 per cent. Capital flight was at its maximum, and migration of skilled employees continued non-stop.
Eventually, in the early 1990s, the banks trembled and had to be bailed out with $1.5 billion by the Government. This was a time of great hardship, similar to the 1970s and to this past decade of confusion and corruption.
The IMF, which, early in the '80s, was consulted to streamline the economy at the request of Mr Seaga and Dr Paul Chen Young, had to be banished by Seaga himself in 1987 on the basis that its policies were not working out for the good of the country. Jamaica had changed from being a producer and became a supermarket. (Seaga's words)
When I think of my neighbours and friends, suppliers and customers, and their unhappy experiences with violence, a sadness comes over me.
That humble persons, by their effort and persistence in building their business, were shot, wounded or killed, and their businesses closed by acts of violence.
That leaders of a country like Jamaica would, by their careless negligence, their indifferent attention to anything human, their callous attentiveness to politics over people, value their self-interests above their responsibilities.
I weep for my adopted country, my terrestrial mother, and I wish, for the next 50 years, that there be more care and consideration from her children.
The last 50 years are best forgotten, and plans should be made for a more just and humane country, starting now and continuing for the next 50 years. I hope my children will have opportunities galore even better than I had.
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July 24, 2012
Caribbean Blog International
A Benedictine monk who once served in The Bahamas is facing sexual abuse allegations ...according to a Minnesota newspaper
Related to country: Bahamas
Monk Faces Sex Claims
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
A BENEDICTINE monk who once served in the Bahamas is facing sexual abuse allegations, according to a Minnesota newspaper.
The claims surfaced on Thursday after a lawsuit was filed against St John’s Abbey in St Cloud, Minnesota, which accused the religious body of fraud, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The lawsuit also notes that at least three abbots of St John’s Abbey knew that the monk had faced such allegations, but continued to assign him teaching roles in other places in the United States and the Bahamas, according to another daily, the St Cloud Times (SC Times).
A former student filed the suit and alleges that the abuse took place during the early 1980s.
According to the SC Times, the lawsuit mentions that the monk was sent several times to treatment for sexual offenders along with alcohol abuse between 1960 and 1983.
The suit comes almost one month after claims surfaced in New Providence that a Benedictine monk left the island several days before his scheduled departure over accusations of sexual abuse.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Nassau, however, denied that any monk serving in the church in the Bahamas was facing that type of allegation.
Archbishop Patrick Pinder told The Tribune that the Benedictines had a long-standing and distinguished relationship with the Bahamas, which has lasted for the past 120 years.
“They have done a tremendous amount of good for the religion and social development of this community, particularly in education,” said the archbishop.
“It is most unfortunate that there are some members of their Order against whom allegations of sexual abuse have arisen. This casts aspersions on their colleagues, the vast majority of whom were men of excellent character and exemplary virtue.
“This is a sad development. Yet, I remain hopeful and prayerful that all the necessary healing and reconciliation can be achieved.
“To my knowledge, at present time, there is no one in ministry or in any service of this Archdiocese against whom any allegations of sexual abuse exists.”
Archbishop Pinder said he would never tolerate any abusive, or sexual behaviour in the Bahamas Archdiocese.
July 23, 2012
Caribbean Blog International
Haiti, daughter of Africa and mother of Latin America!
Related to country: Haiti
By Jean H Charles:
Last Sunday I was invited by my sister who lives in Uniondale, Long Island, to the Eisenhower Park to the Nassau County International Music events featuring that weekend the music of Latin America. It turned out to be an activity sponsored by the Colombian community in the area. While almost everybody was wearing their Colombian flags one way or another; I educated my sister to be curious about the flags of Latin America, pay attention! You will observe that almost all of them are a derivative of the Haitian flag.
A cursory review of the flags of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Chile and the Dominican Republic will indicate that they have all the blue and the red of Haiti (itself derived from the French flag from which the white was withdrawn), augmented by yellow in the case of Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela and by white in the case of Costa Rica, Chile and the Dominican Republic.
If Simon Bolivar has been rightfully called the father or the George Washington of Latin America in liberating Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Peru; Haiti could be surnamed the mother of Latin America in incubating and helping Simon Bolivar achieve his dream.
Simon Bolivar, in seeking help, went everywhere but was rebuffed. England made him wait until exhaustion. It was only when he sought help from the newly independent black country named Haiti that he was showered with rest, arms, money and reinforcement by Alexander Petion, the third president of Haiti.
In two expeditions that left from les Cayes in 1816, Simon Bolivar went from victory to victory in crushing the Spanish army to defeat first the Grand Colombia that included at that time, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. In victory, Bolivar did exactly what Petion asked him in return for his help: liberate all the slaves on your journey to victory.
Yet, Haiti was shunned by the Conference of Latin American nations some ten years later; it was still under an embargo imposed by the United States for its daring opus of challenging the status quo of slavery while black emancipation did not see yet the light of the day. Remember, we were before 1864!
Haiti has lived since under an international de facto embargo as well as the accumulation of defective national governments not inclined to expand the concept of hospitality for all as governmental policy.
It is only after the January 12, 2010, earthquake that destroyed Haiti‘s capital that the Latin American solidarity for this mother of freedom has been demonstrated in earnest. Venezuela under the leadership of Hugo Chavez set the tune. Electrical plants for the cities of Cape Haitian, Gonaives, Port au Prince and Les Cayes have been installed by and supported with petro dollars from Venezuela.
Ecuador, after building road upgrades in the region of Artibonite, is now ready to help Haiti develop its own army disbanded by the Lavalas regime, allegedly under instruction and order from the United States.
The Dominican Republic that amply profits from the reconstruction process in Haiti has enriched the country with a brand new university in the town of Limonade, named after King Henry Christophe.
Haiti, the daughter of Africa, has been a rebel nation bent on helping the process of nation building everywhere. Strangely enough this process has been crushed at home by successive predatory governments that kept the majority of the population in the status quo ante.
The concept of human rights, where each citizen whatever his colour and his origin has voice, vote, rights and obligations, originated in Haiti. The model of national taxation, where the state is the incubator of growth, producing through an equitable formula great wealth for itself and for the citizen, is generated in Haiti through a fair distribution of the dividends.
One third for the owner, one third for the workers and one third for the state was applied through the governments of the founding fathers, Toussaint Louverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe, making most citizens “rich like a coloured man”, the slogan often heard in Newport and Baltimore, where all the goods from Haiti were exchanged for money value.
Haiti, through its iconic philosopher Jean Price Mars, discovered the concept: black is beautiful, reintroduced later by Dr Martin Luther King in the United States. It imposed the primacy of the Creole language as a national vehicle for communication, setting an example for Dominica, St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe on the road to losing their cultural identity through the denial of their own root language.
It set the tune at the United Nations for communication, forcing the whole worldwide body of nations to accept the fact that French should also be a working language for the institution since the emerging countries of French colonial Africa were using that language for their daily transactions.
Haiti is the repository of the traditions and mores transported from Africa to the Western Hemisphere, the traditions of resilience in adversity, creativity in the arts, universal solidarity and religious reverence for a higher being.
For the last two hundred years, this rebel daughter of Africa, and the mother of Latin America has been kept away from its redemptory mission of making this world a better one. The catastrophic destruction of January 12 has been a catalyst for other nations to become closer to Haiti and for Haiti to demonstrate that it can give more than it receives.
It is a work in progress, where the concept of sustainability, local, slow and organic food, living with creative arts, dancing and being merry for no special occasion, have been a staple of daily life. Haiti, the daughter of Africa, the mother of Latin America, is now ready to bequeath this legacy to the rest of the world.
July 21, 2012
Caribbean Blog International
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