Structure not ad-hoc agendas key to US-Caribbean relations

Much has been said about the government of the United States of America (US) cutting off aid to countries which do not support that country’s position in international organisations.

The US, of course, is free to direct its aid where it wishes and very much within its rights to show its displeasure with countries that take its money but don’t support it.

Other donor countries have the same view, although they do not express it in quite the same way as the US government now makes clear.

Aid, after all, seldom has moral considerations. Economic aid, in particular, was introduced in the world because it merged with the desire of rich countries to maintain access to markets of developing countries and to garner political influence over them.

It is worth recalling that the original demand of developing countries was not for bilateral aid, but for improvement of the terms of trade and the establishment of multilateral institutions that would provide financing for their industrialisation. But, most of the Western countries, had no interest in altering the system to suit developing countries and, by so doing, weakening their own positions.

The same was true of the Soviet Union, and it continues to be so for Russia and China today. Even developing countries, such as Venezuela, that have emerged as donors, are hardly motivated by altruism. Developing countries know that reality better than any.

The function of aid in foreign policy, except in extreme humanitarian cases, falls into three broad categories: providing donors with a framework of legitimacy for intervention in the affairs of sovereign states; promoting influence over recipient states, including sustaining governments friendly to the donor; and fostering the political, security and commercial interests of donor countries.

Arguably, the exceptions to this general observation are the Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – which exercise no great power in the world but give generously to human development globally.

They have met the UN target of 0.7% of their GDP as aid; only Britain of the G7 countries has done the same.
While the US has not met the UN target, it is the world’s biggest aid donor. In 2016, total US spending on foreign aid, including military, economic and humanitarian, was $49 billion.

So, where do the 14 nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) stand in terms of being aid recipients from the US and how vulnerable are they to cuts in US aid?

The figures vary, making some CARICOM countries far more reliant on the US than others. In 2016, for instance, the 14 independent CARICOM nations received $437.6 million from the US – less than 1 per cent of the total US spend. But, Haiti alone received $376.7 million of that total, leaving only $60.9 million to the other 13 CARICOM countries.

Of the remaining $60.9 million, Jamaica got the lion’s share of $28.9 million. The balance of $32 million was shared among 11 countries. Guyana ($9.6 million), Belize ($8.6 million), Barbados ($5.4 million) and the Bahamas ($3.2 million) were the next principal beneficiaries.

At the bottom of the pile were: St Lucia ($38,000), Suriname ($232,672), Trinidad and Tobago ($302,775) St Vincent and the Grenadines ($612,000), Dominica ($616,000) and Antigua and Barbuda ($635,781). In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, 95 per cent of the funding was dedicated to the military, primarily for the interdiction of drug traffickers.

From all this, it can be seen that, apart from Haiti and Jamaica, CARICOM countries are not huge beneficiaries of US aid. The figures for 2016 have been consistent for over the last 10 years or more. There are, therefore, varying degrees of loyalty that the US would expect from individual CARICOM countries.

Of further interest, 13 of the 14 CARICOM countries have continued to be beneficial to the US as markets for its goods. In 2017, the US enjoyed a balance of trade surplus of $6.08 billion with all CARICOM countries except Trinidad and Tobago.

The largest surpluses were enjoyed with the Bahamas ($2.4 billion), Jamaica ($1.7 billion), St Lucia ($519.1 million), Barbados ($470.8 million) and Antigua and Barbuda ($413.5 million).

The US trade deficit with Trinidad and Tobago was $1.49 billion, but when that is subtracted the US overall trade surplus in goods amounted to $4.58 billion.

The US balance of trade surplus with 13 of the 14 CARICOM countries in 2017 is also consistent with the pattern of benefits to the US over the last 10 years or more.

Indeed, given that the US has provided $437 million in aid to all CARICOM countries and gained from a trade surplus of $4.58 billion, the US has been an overall beneficiary of its relationship with CARICOM countries, especially the smaller ones that received the least aid but nonetheless gave trade surpluses to the US.

Measuring the capacity of the US to influence the CARICOM area through an ‘aid’ prism is therefore inadequate and misleading.

US aid has benefitted a few countries and has been as much – if not more – for the advantage of the US than for the recipients.

For the US and the countries of CARICOM to build a relationship of mutual support, a structured association is required with all of them. That structure could be an annual meeting rotating between Foreign Ministers and Finance Ministers to discuss and resolve matters of concern to the US and CARICOM countries, not to the US alone.

And, every two years, the US President and CARICOM Heads of Government should meet to develop areas and strategies for cooperation, including financing mechanisms (not aid) that address Caribbean needs for economic and social development from which US businesses and the US economy can benefit as participants.

That way both the US and the Caribbean could put themselves first.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)

Kennedy Roberts: Time for PM Mitchell to go

Health professional Kennedy Roberts has defected from the ruling New National Party (NNP) to the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) with a blistering attack on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
In his first appearance on a Congress platform last Sunday night at the La Sagesse playing field in St. David, Roberts called for the 71-year old Mitchell to step aside and go into retirement.

Former NNP member, Kennedy Roberts

“I have known Dr. Mitchell for a very long time. I have been close to him in many ways. I have respected him and I believe he has done a lot for Grenada in the time he has been here but I am convinced that this is our time in history when we have to tell him thank you, Dr Mitchell you have played your part, time to move on”, he told the large gathering.

Roberts who contested the 2008 election for the NNP in the St. George North-east constituency is the second noted NNP official in the past year to call for the ageing Grenadian leader to call it a day in frontline politics.
Minutes earlier, the Congress meeting was addressed by Samuel George (Bosco), a former long-standing NNP member who is now campaigning with NDC after 33 years of association with the Mitchell-led party.

Roberts also used the NDC platform to accuse his former party of playing games with the people since it “is not interested in the health of Grenadians”.

He told the meeting held to endorse Adrian “Persuader” Thomas as the NDC Candidate for St. David in the March 13 general election that the NNP is not putting enough effort into the health sector which is of great concern to Grenadians.

“Over the 20 plus years I have been labouring, talking about National Health Insurance, talking about the health of the people. I got involved with the NNP because of my personal relationship with Dr. Mitchell but I have tried, I have given my best, I have tried in all ways and in these last five years, I have given them the benefit of the doubt.

“I have tried, I suggested, I recommended, I’ve put it in writing, I have sent it in the newspapers and I am convinced that the New National Party is not interested in the health of Grenadians – they’re not interested in people. And as a result, I am here tonight to tell Grenadians to think carefully, think about your health situation and you have to think seriously about the decision you make on March 13th.”

Being with the NNP for 33 years, Roberts said for over 20 years he has been consulting with his own Government on implementing National Health Insurance (NHI) in a proper way in an effort to improve the country’s health care but his recommendations and suggestions have been falling on deaf ears.

He said, “In June 2013, sisters and brothers that is almost five years ago, I did a presentation to the (NHI) committee and I told them health sector reform is about people so while we are looking at National Health Insurance let us talk to the people, let us talk to the health workers, let us talk to the other stakeholders.

“Sisters and brothers, up to today the health workers have not been consulted in a way that they can each share what their experiences have been in the health sector. We are going ahead with National Health Insurance in a situation where we don’t understand the health problems of the health sector.

“…We are in a situation where if you get sick today and you cannot come up with thousands of dollars, you are as good as dead. We are going to health centres and our doctors are seeing a few people and you have to be turned away. They are encouraging you to come to their private practice because sisters and brothers that is where they are making their money.

“So, our health system is run by a set of persons who are not interested in people and in order to address it, you have to have dialogue and I told them let ‘s speak to the people and they said no, our mandate is to look at National Health Insurance.”

Roberts charged that the rush to implement NHI by the Mitchell-led government is a mere election gimmick and was not necessarily being done for the benefit of the people.

This, he said is based on an encounter with the Minister given responsibility by Cabinet to chart the NHI course, Emmalin Pierre.

He said: “In October 2016, Emmalin called me and she say Kennedy we want you to come back on the committee to proceed. I say Minister Pierre I am willing to do it but under the condition that we do it properly. She said well we have a plan to implement it by July 2017.

“I said Minister Pierre it is impossible to do it in such a rush, let us go to the people, let us consult but what I realise, they were hoping to have election in October, November last year so, they want to introduce it for politics rather than the health of the people and I said no, we have to go to the people and that’s why when NDC comes into office on March 13th, they have given me the assurance that we are going to the people, we are not going to move in this direction.”

Roberts accused the NNP regime of having a “disjointed approach to health” in Grenada.

He said, “Over the last five years, if you think of it, they said they improving primary health care, I told them while primary health care is important we have to think about how people pay for care. Then a Canadian company come talking about Management Information System, then a next set coming and talk about hospital and a next set coming and talk about National Health Insurance.

“We need to pool all these things together because health is not about one sector, health is about an integrated approach and they don’t have a clue and they don’t even know that they don’t know.”

Over the next few weeks, Roberts stated that he will be doing all in his power to ensure that Grenadians and their health is thought about when they go to the polls on March 13.

He told the Congress meeting: “Our district health services are running in a manner, while our nurses are working hard, people are not using our health centres, they are not using our medical stations because they don’t have confidence in it.

“We are going to restore the confidence in our public health system. We are going to make sure that Grenadians feel comfortable to go to your health centre, see a doctor, see a nurse, see a health professional and get proper attention.

The former NNP executive member and candidate also made some passing remarks about the historic March 13 date selected by Prime Minister Mitchell for the national poll.

It was on March13, 1979 that the leftist New Jewel Movement (NJM) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop seized power in a coup d’etat against the elected Eric Gairy government.

Roberts said: “…I am going to do all in my power over the next four weeks to give my energies to Grenada to make sure that when we go to the polls on March 13th, we remember the revolution.

“Maurice Bishop is not buried but I am sure he is in the arms of the Lord and he is looking down at us, he is looking to see what we will do and we have to make him proud where ever he is.

Prime Minister Mitchell has faced many criticisms for selecting the March 13 date for the upcoming general election.

Polls and their impact on election

Although polls serve a purpose they are usually incorrect as a number of factors can affect the final outcome of the elections being polled.

The 2016 election in the United States clearly demonstrates how inaccurate polls could be. The majority of the polls had predicted that Hilary Clinton was a clear winner of the Presidency. When the votes finally tallied that prediction proved to be incorrect.

The 2008 election in Barbados as polled by Cadres was another example of polls proving incorrect. The same Cadres are now saying that the 2018 Grenada election could be won by the NNP. However, there was a caveat to the statement in that the prediction indicated that NNP supporters could be complacent and therefore in the final analysis victory could go to the NDC.

Is it that Cadres are unsure of what the final result could bring and are therefore covering themselves should the prediction prove incorrect?The outcome of the current elections would to a large extent depend on the more than thirty percent of the electorate who have not indicated their preference for any of the political parties. That statistic must be troubling for the incumbent NNP as there is considerable doubt that they would be able to attract any significant portion of these voters.

It is not practical to judge how the large sector of the voting population would ultimately cast their votes.

In a poll conducted by Cadres in 2011 they enunciated the following: “This is a useful analysis which demonstrates that a majority of Grenadians are MORE likely to support NDC without Tillman Thomas at the helm and an even greater proportion of Grenadians are MORE likely to support the NNP without Mitchell at the helm”.

NDC is without Thomas at the helm while NNP continues to move along with Mitchell. There is every chance therefore that the over thirty percent of the electorate who have not indicated any preference would in the final analysis support the NDC as they did in 2008.

March 13 would give the answer to the large pool of voters who will in the final analysis determine the outcome of the elections.

The Poll Doubter

Ending 50 years of Venezuela and Guyana contention

The decision by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, to refer the 51-year old contention between Guyana-Venezuela to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) should be welcomed by all nations, particularly those in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The peaceful settlement of disputes is vital to the economic progress and social stability of the world. Wherever violent solutions to contentions exist, anywhere in the world, they absorb financial and other resources that could be far better spent on improving the condition of mankind, particularly the poor and vulnerable.

The last thing the Caribbean and the Western Hemisphere needs is continuing disputes between any of its nations that could lead to military conflict. The resources of the Latin American and Caribbean nations are better spent on the economic and social progress of their people.

The Secretary-General’s decision is also important for all small states, the world over, which have little means of defending themselves militarily. Small states have always relied on the international system and the rule of law to safeguard their interests.

In this context, Guyana, Venezuela and all nations of the Hemisphere should regard sending the contention to the ICJ as constructive and helpful since it will cast adjudication in a structured and legal framework.

The Secretary-General did not easily decide to refer the Guyana-Venezuela contention to the ICJ. The border controversy has existed in its second incarnation since just before the independence of Guyana (formerly British Guiana) from Britain in 1966. At that time, the then Venezuelan government re-opened the “full, perfect and final” settlement of the border dispute by an Arbitral Panel of distinguished judges in 1899.

The award set the boundaries that now exist between the two countries. They were boundaries fully accepted by Venezuela for 63 years until 1962, as British Guiana moved towards independence, when the then Venezuelan President, Romulo Betancourt, sought to re-open the issue on the spurious claim that Venezuela was “robbed”.

Venezuela’s position led to a tripartite meeting in Geneva in 1966 between Venezuela, Britain and (then) British Guiana. The British Guiana government did not accept that the 1899 decision was invalid and held that its participation in the discussion was only to resolve Venezuela’s assertions of ‘robbery”.

A Treaty signed by the parties at that meeting agreed to an amicable resolution to the controversy and established various procedures including for resolution of the controversy by actions of the UN Secretary-General.

After mixed commissions, good offices and mediation were all exhausted after 51 years, the Secretary-General has opted to exercise the authority given to him under the 1996 Geneva Treaty to refer the issue to the ICJ for a judicial settlement.

Guterres’ predecessor, Ban Ki-Moon, had noted that the UN’s good offices process had been in place since 1990. He had determined that the good offices role would continue until the end of 2017, but that if “significant progress” had not been made, his successor would opt for the ICJ as the means of settlement.

The ICJ has long experience of arbitrating territorial and maritime disputes between States. It has been doing so as far back as 1953 when Britain and France submitted their dispute over islands in the English Channel to the international court.

More recently, and within Latin America and the Caribbean, several countries referred disputes to the ICJ. These include: El Salvador and Honduras, Peru and Chile, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and Nicaragua and Colombia.

Several African and Asian states have also had contentions adjudicated by the ICJ among them are: Libya and Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria, Indonesia and Malaysia and Malaysia and Singapore. The United States and Canada also relied on the ICJ in relation to a delimitation boundary in the Gulf of Maine.

Presently, the governments of Belize and Guatemala have agreed in principle to referring their territorial dispute to the ICJ; they are each to hold a referendum to allow their electorates to decide on whether they agree to this course.

A very civilised presentation by the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala to the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States, underlined the declared intention of the two countries to settle the issue in the context of the international system.

The Guyana government has welcomed that UN Secretary-General’s decision, saying that its position “has always been that the basis of the controversy is a legal question, which should be resolved peacefully and conclusively through a legal process”.

On the other hand, the Venezuela government has questioned the decision, maintaining that “political negotiation on the basis of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, is (the) only path to reach the peaceful, practical and satisfactory solution for both parties and in favour of our Peoples”.

Curiously, the Venezuelan government statement says that the “two States (Guyana and Venezuela) do not recognise the jurisdiction” of the ICJ. This could hardly be so, since Article 93 of the UN Charter specifically states that: “All Members of the United Nations are ipso facto parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice”.

Many other countries, including the 15-nation group of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries and the 52-nation Commonwealth have repeatedly urged Guyana and Venezuela in the direction of a judicial settlement. At their last Meeting in Malta in 2016, Commonwealth Heads of Government “expressed their full support for the United Nations Secretary-General to choose a means of settlement in keeping with the provisions of the Geneva Agreement 1966, to bring the controversy to a definitive end.”

All other nations should encourage the two neighbours to follow the example of many others that have opted for the ICJ to adjudicate their disputes.

The way is now open to settle legally and peacefully the contention that has persisted between Guyana and Venezuela for over half a century.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The Views expressed are entirely his own)

NDC will teach NNP a lesson on Election Day

As the election campaign intensifies, Prime Minister and Political Leader of the ruling New National Party (NNP), Dr. Keith Mitchell, continues to launch verbal attacks on the two young candidates representing the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ali Dowden and Tevin Andrews.

Addressing a recent NNP rally, Dr. Mitchell heavily criticised Dowden, who is seeking to unseat him in the St. George North-west Constituency and Andrews, who will come up against NNPs newcomer and candidate for the sister isle of Carriacou & Petite Martinique, Kendra Mathurine-Stewart.

The Prime Minister lashed out at the two and branded them as persons who have not worked a single day in their lives before but want to become representatives for the two constituencies.

Dowden and Andrews used last Sunday’s Congress rally on The Carenage in St. George’s, which was streamed live on social media to respond to Dr. Mitchell’s attacks.

Dowden warned Grenadians to not be fooled by Dr. Mitchell and his propaganda, because this election is not about old talk but about the issues that are affecting them as citizens of the country.

“I say to you, this election it not about old talk, tight pants, hype and who could dance. This election is about issues – jobs, health care and empowerment and young people, this election is about our future,” he charged, adding, “and we must not play with our future”.

“So, when you hear the Prime Minister talking ‘man-j-pup-put’ about we (Tevin and I), never worked a day in we life yet but we want to be representative. Yes, I want to be (a) representative, because I want to show the people of St. George North-west the absolute failure that Dr. Mitchell has been for the past 34 years in Parliament and that I would do a much better job within five years,” said the NDC candidate who has been involved in charity work for the past several years.

Dowden, who is a past President of the Kidney Foundation told the gathering that the success that “I will accomplish within the first 6 months (of taking) office, will be much more than what Dr. Mitchell would have ever accomplished”.

He lamented the fact that “the people of Happy Hill are still without a Community Centre, the healthcare in Happy Hill is still broken (and that) the roof of the pre-school is still leaking (because) termites are still infecting the boards.”

In the case of Andrews, he brushed aside the onslaught on him from 71-year old Prime Minister Mitchell and pointed out that Congress will win the March 13 poll and form the next government in Grenada.

“I didn’t want to respond to him (Dr. Mitchell) but I thought it was important (because it seems like) this man is obsessed with us (to be) calling up my name”, he said.

Andrews charged that “dancing and whining will not deal with the fundamental issues facing the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique”.

He also said that “we need good leadership to take his country forward and the fact remains that Dr. Mitchell and his bunch of cabals, are not competent and capable enough to lead this country into another level, because if you see what is happening the NNP are more concerned about themselves and a selected few.”

The NDC candidate, who was employed with the Government of Grenada prior to his entrance in frontline politics a couple years ago stated prior to that, he volunteered his time teaching children on the sister isle how to read and write.

“So, when he (Dr. Mitchell) talk about is work I am looking for, is not work I am looking for, I am continuing to serve the interest of the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique”, he said.

“I realise that you (Dr. Mitchell) are obsessed with me, but I will teach you a lesson in Carriacou and Petite Martinique come Election Day, and we are going to teach them a lesson here in Grenada too, we are going to give them blows like we never gave them before”, he added.

Dr. Mitchell and his team of candidates have been running a campaign noted for appearances by the island’s soca artistes like Talpree, Zingo, Inspector and Sheldon Douglas who have managed to get the candidates to engage in dancing and gyrating to their music.

President of the Senate – An impactful session of parliament

Ougtoing President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey has said that it was a fruitful 9th session of Parliament and he believes that certain lifelong objectives were achieved for the Labour Movement in the country.

In addressing the final sitting of the Upper House before it was dissolved on January 29, Humphrey said that those objectives would have benefitted the poor and the working people in Grenada.

He singled out the removal of personal income tax on pensions as one of the most memorable achievement while serving as President of the Senate.

“I can tell you that this has been a long part of the programmatic platform of the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) and the Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC) and I am happy that we were able to achieve this in the house over which I presided”, he told fellow legislators.

“Honourable members, you don’t know how profoundly proud I am of that accomplishment because I know the significance it places on the quality of life of retired workers who had given this country all of their productive years and can now look forward to a more sun-shined retirement with the removal of personal income tax on pensions”, he said.

According to the veteran trade unionist, he is also proud to be associated with the decision to remove personal income tax on NIS and on retrenchment pay.

Humphrey described this as “a significant achievement” in what he referred to as “a period of high unemployment” and “a period when the world economy went into its deepest recession”.

He said “the workers of Cable and Wireless, Flow, in the banking sector, be it First Caribbean Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, RBTT Bank – all of these workers, many who have lost good jobs because of the international crisis and the destruction of the economy were better able to survive because of the influence of the labour movement and the concurrence of the government by accepting the recommendation and removing income tax on retrenchment pay.”

The former President-General of TAWU gave the thumbs up to the Trade Union Council for securing increases in pay for public servants during the reign of the current government, something he said, regional countries are struggling with.

“That the Trade Union Movement in Grenada … were able to extract from the state a sum of over $110 million within a 48-month period in an immediate post-economic depressed period is a major achievement of any trade union within the Caribbean because I can tell you in economies that were far more advanced than ours, right here in this region there are public officers today whose only adjustment in pay happened almost 8 years ago.

“I believe the Trade Unions ought to thump their chests, feel aptly proud that they have been able to secure for state employees that sum of money and again that speaks to the influence that the Labour Movement have and that my successor Andre Lewis and others are following the footprints laid in the sand very closely and the workers must feel justly proud of their leadership because I am indeed proud myself.

Sen. Humphrey also beat his chest and mentioned the restoration of pension rights to former public servant, Hermilyn Armstrong as another milestone for labour as he himself while serving as head of TAWU fought for that.

He said, “I can tell you since 1986, I almost single handedly pursued through the Labour Movement this restoration and I am happy that I have been associated with the victory scored at the Constitutional court and even happier that the government has conceded and agreed to comply and make it a part of government strategic objective to restore those pensions”.

Within days of his pronouncements in the Senate, Humphrey was appearing on the political platform of the ruling New National Party (NNP) which is seeking another five-year term in office.

The ex-TAWU boss has spent the better part of 25 years in opposition to NNP but soon associated himself with it following his expulsion from Congress in 2012.

Brian Joseph disappoints

I usually don’t bother to read Brian Joseph’s proliferation of letters to you, largely because they are too long. And here I hope Joseph will take the hint. If I don’t bother to read them, probably lots of others don’t either. Perhaps he can find a way of cutting out at least 30%.

But I have taken note of him as a good writer and experienced civil servant who is a potential leader.

I made an exception and did read his letter entitled “My Own Testimony” in your February 2nd edition and was greatly cheered to read him describe an NNP politician as a political piranha, an opportunistic, hypocritical Judas “who has now infiltrated Camp Mitchell.”

When Joseph wrote, “he was on the NNP platform praising the very said man he hated when he was a member of the NDC team” of course I recognised that he was writing about ex-People’s Revolutionary Army Captain Peter David.

So why didn’t you call his name, Brian? Now is the time to do so, so as to ensure that one whom some may consider an “unsavoury character” never gets to hold public office. You need not fear a libel suit because you have said nothing that is not borne out by known facts.

So far so good, but then imagine my disappointment when Joseph goes on to heap praise on Maurice Bishop, calling him “the people’s champion”, “despite what the critics may say.” Well, what the critics may say could severely damage the claim that he was the people’s champion.

Would you call the people’s champion a man who destroyed the people’s precious democratic system?

Bishop promised on March 13th 1979 that there would be elections in 6 months. Four and a half years later in October 1983 we were still waiting for them. Would you call the people’s champion a man who rounded up Rastafarians and put them in a labour camp where they were forced at gunpoint to work in the fields growing food for the PRA?

The first man in fact to bring back slavery in the Caribbean since its abolition in 1834? A man who imported electric torture machines from the Soviet bloc and presided over their use on Grenadians? A man who imprisoned thousands of Grenadians without trial?

A man who outed his lighted cigarettes into the flesh of his victims, sometimes up in their nostrils? A man whose wife had to flee to Canada taking his children with her so that he could carry on with his rampant womanising?

It is true that as Joseph says, there were a lot of developments taking place during those short years, but was it not more a case of development in Grenada by the Soviet Union, namely the building of a runway which could easily accommodate military planes if need be?

Was it the Grenada government who paid for all those stockpiles of rocket launchers, guns and ammunition?

And Bishop said the Caribbean must be a zone of peace? There’s hypocrisy for you!

You greatly disappoint me, Brian J. M. Joseph.

Trevor Mitchell

The Ballot Box Revo is coming

This one has Almighty God backing. May your spiritual eyes be opened for the time has come.

On the 13th March 1979, Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement (NJM) staged a revolution with guns and bullets, and overthrew Eric Gairy, the then Prime Minister and his government from ruling Grenada.

The Grenada Christian Political Party (GCPP) is calling for a peaceful and democratic, next revolution and overthrow of NNP, NDC and the others.

It should not be done with guns, bullets and bombs but with the ballot paper at the polls, and your X on it by voting for GCPP on the 13th March 2018.

Please overthrow them with your vote on the date that Dr. Keith Mitchell, the Prime Minister of Grenada has set for the next general elections here in Grenada.

Let that be the next revolution day. Overthrow NNP, NDC and the others with the ballot paper by voting for GCPP on the anniversary date of the 1979 revolution – March 13, 2018.

Come on, stage the next revolution and overthrow NNP, NDC and the others for giving to you the mark of the beast, Revelation 13;16-18 and Rev.14;9-11.

The worst thing to happen to you today – the voter’s ID card is the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast is here. This election is about your soul. Stage a revolution on March 13th 2018 at the polls for your souls.

The day of this next revolution is March 13th, 2018. If GCPP is not contesting this elections, GCPP calls for the next level of the revolution, and overthrow NNP, NDC and the others at the polls.

GCPP calls for a total boycott by all voters. Don’t go to the polls. Boycott this election! Don’t vote! That’s the next level of the revolution and overthrow of NNP, NDC and the others at the polls.

There should be a total boycott as NNP, NDC and the others are pushing the mark of the beast and 666 and need to be overthrown at the poll for that.

This upcoming election and next revolution day is March 13, 2018. Let the next revolution happen and let it be peacefully, and at the polls.

March 13, 2018 is revolution day. GCPP calls for that type of revolution at the polls. See to it that it comes to pass. That’s the will of God.

Derick Sealey.
Founder
Grenada Christian Political Party

OPEN LETTER TO GRENADA’S SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS

The Supervisor of Elections
Parliamentary Elections Office
Tanteen,
ST. GEORGE.

Dear Mr. Alex Phillip,

Christian Greetings and God’s Blessings to you and yours; also of course toward Grenada’s protection and prosperity.

I am a born citizen of Grenada and write affirming that I have a relevant interest in ensuring that the constitutional provisions are not contravened, that sovereign rights are upheld, that national institutions are not brought into disrepute, and that all citizens enjoy the democratic principles for free and fair elections.

This letter particularly seeks clarification and information on the registration of voters and the conduct of elections, subject to the Representation of the People Act (RPA), Cap 286A. It is based on the many concerns which are being expressed of irregularities with respect to the role of the Supervisor of Elections according to section 35 of the Constitution in the preparations for the announced 13th March 2018 general elections.

The significance of this request must be appreciated and given serious attention, since the process involved in the registration of voters can facilitate fraudulent declarations and fraudulent identifications for voting at the elections and thereby producing a fraudulent outcome, if ‘due process with diligence’ is ignored.

Moreover, it is important that the interpretation and application of the Principal Act (RPA, Cap 268A) with its amendments and regulations reflect goodwill and the spirit of the law. Any unprincipled or any prejudiced factor associated with the elections would produce a negative or an unfavourable outcome which may rob me from enjoying the benefit of my vote, cause the citizens to undergo an unacceptable governance and even put the nation at risk.

Grenada must not be made to once again experience ugliness, as has been the case from the political games, legal battles and taxpayers monies on the issue of elected parliamentarians having dual citizenship which disqualifies candidates as members for the House of Representatives.

There have also been allegations that a Prime Minister had been a citizen of the United States of America, not a Commonwealth country, when in office. It is even outrageous that there may have been Parliamentary Representatives who had not registered and voted in the elections which catapulted them in Parliament. Were pertinent lessons and solutions followed?

The general crises and court cases surrounding general elections most recently in the region, St. Kitts and Nevis, and internationally, in Kenya, should also be very instructive in exercising prudence for ‘pure and just’ elections.

Due process is also key to avert ‘undue’ judicial review of the outcome of the upcoming elections, as any other.

In fact, judicial review may never bring genuine remedy and closure to the problems of irregularities, but would generate hostility, uneasiness, instability and uncertainty in the nation. Thus, ‘moral encourage and endeavour’ must be employed to avoid discomfort and distrust of court action on the integrity of the elections.

To wait for the ‘official’ filing of an objection is not wisdom, not in good faith, not patriotic and not satisfaction in responding to the concerns of alleged irregularities; in the same way that it can be futile to depend on petitions to the High Court regarding disputed elections as provided for under section 98 of the RPA (Cap 286A) in accordance with section 37 of the Constitution.

Addressing the following queries would assist to comply with the request and to raise the level of confidence in the electoral mechanism for the 2018 upcoming elections:

(1). What are the definition, merit and application of “due process” by the Supervisor of Elections with reference to the registration of electors?

(2). Is it necessary to have all submitted documents proven to be authenticated before registration, or that those documents are presumed to be authentic and would be so taken to be authentic once no objection is filed?

(3). Have all of the registered electors for the last three months (November 2017 to January 2018) met the requirements for registration as stated in the Principal Act (RPA, Cap 286A) and in the instructions appearing on your website (www.peogrenada.org)?

(4). Is it necessary and possible to have had “due process” done on all of those registered electors, and could this be verified?

(a). What is the role of a Justice of the Peace (JP) in the authentication of documents and claims by a citizen who seeks to be a duly registered elector?

Could a JP certify or declare that a citizen meets all of the registration requirements without he/her seeing, or without he/her understanding, the pertinent documents (and claims) such as a legal passport, legal certificate of citizenship and proof of legal stay in the country with ordinarily resident in a particular constituency?

(b). What is the role of the Supervisor of Elections to authenticate or to be acquainted with the current status of a Justice of the Peace (JP)?

Could there be persons pretending to be JPs, but who are not named in the latest Gazette of government’s certified list of JPs, and does such a gazetted list exist and have been consulted?

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States (EOM-OAS) has been noted to form a regular presence during Grenada’s elections and then presents pertinent reports with valuable recommendations.

However, it will be foolish and naïve of the Parliamentary Elections Office to rely on the directions of the EOM-OAS for the upcoming 2018 general elections, underlining the need for “due process” with improved regulations on the registration of electors, and specifying that a current Government Gazette containing the names of valid Justices of the Peace be in the public’s domain, especially for elections purposes.

I trust that the voters list will be purged thoroughly from all illegal and unethical entries, to ensure a sound and satisfying 13 March 2018 elections, and that there will be no cause on your part to bring the good office of the Parliamentary Elections Office into question. March 13th must not date another controversy in Grenada’s history.

Please be guided accordingly, with particular reference to section 10 (and section 18) of the Principal Act (Cap 286A) which advises that the Supervisor of Elections has the duty to delete the name of a registered elector after he determines that the elector “… otherwise ceased to be qualified by virtue of this Act or any other law”.

Accept my Highest Respects.

JK Roberts

The Alcohol Dilemma

Grenada, though small is a rather complex territory. We record a history of turbulence, conflict and revolution. Our nation has evolved in many respects. Our culture is a particular aspect of evolution.

Though some things remain constant it is evident that some old patterns have extended themselves to troubling boundaries.

In the older days almost every village, whether rural or urban can recite stories of drunken and to a lesser extent women. Almost every household possessed such a character. It was second nature that every boy understood the craft of “drinking”.

Several decades have passed and we clearly see fruits of that “cultural practice”. The dilemma of cultural alcoholism is a sprawling, bearing tree with roots extending itself deep and wide.

What is cultural alcoholism you may ask? Is there such a thing? Apparently yes. Seems nonsensical to connect alcoholism with culture. After all, alcoholism is a serious life-threatening condition. Who would dare endeavour to make such a thing cultural? Apparently Grenada.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report issued in 2014, Grenada recorded the highest per capita rate of yearly alcohol per year consumption of 12.5 litres of pure alcohol per person per year. Think about 8, 1.5 litres bottles of Glenelg water. Most people will not even consume 1.5 litres of water in a day. This should help put the alcohol consumption into perspective where Grenada is concerned.

Why do I say this is cultural? Well our SpiceMas is laced with cultural activities. It is like the epitome of our cultural expressions. If one should pay even vague attention they would quickly realise that rum is the tune that sells, is gyrated to and is what forms the center piece of almost all soca rhythmic songs.

The message is often instructing the revelers to get drunk as that seems to correlate to having a grand time. It calls for civil disobedience without care just because “it’s carnival”.

What have we seen socially since our soca instructions have evolved from waving a rag or flag to getting into a state of drunken stupor? An alarming rate of alcohol consumption by not just male adults, but also women and children. Perhaps it may be wise to record and release the statistics on the number of alcohol consumption by children between the age of 10-18 years old and women. The results may be staggering.

Why should we care about this? It is clear that we have not examined the full effect of this. Perhaps the powers-that-be may be more apt to regulating what message is disseminated during times of festivity. If we only possessed foresight of the future issue we may rush to amputate such a cultural locust.

In a few years from now the beast will be born. We will see the full effects of a drunken population. With respect to young men they are at risk for infertility and impotence. There is increased risk of cancer to the throat, esophagus, liver and colon. Kidney and liver functions are at risk for tremendous damage.

In the case of women there is increased risk of birth defects in the unborn (Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) that can lead to mental retardation in its most severe form, miscarriages, premature delivery.

Generalised effect on the heart and brain are also well recorded instances of alcohol abuse. So, what does all this really mean? In the case of higher risk for mentally retarded babies our productivity is directed attacked.

Lower competencies and academic excel can be expected. The health system will be mauled with overwhelming severe cases requiring expensive medical intervention.

More monies will therefore have to be committed to addressing this issue. More Taxes may be the answer to addressing complex health cases.

Are we truly prepared for this? Have we mentioned the social effects? Statistics have proven that persons under the influence of alcohol are more likely to assault people without cause.

The safety of society at large is therefore under threat. The safety that we boast of as a unique tourism competitive advantage is therefore compromised.

This issue is not a light one and requires the ability to quantify future impact. The allowed cycle of alcoholism must break. Our nation’s future depends on it. Our youth depends on us. The unborn silently speaks. The unseen impact of this problem is colossal. We must act now.

What can we do? Widespread education. Schools must be visited. Churches need to come on board. Community-based programmes dealing with the issue of alcohol abuse. All forms of media must be used to reinforce the message of alcohol abuse and what it can do to people and even what it can do to our nation.

The centrepiece action lies with our cultural foundation. A blind or drunken eye must not be turned to this problem. Music is a most powerful medium. It is almost hypnotic by nature. Under the rights sets of circumstances music can make you perform that which it commands.

Because of this incredible advantage, artistes and their music can make you perform that which it commands.

Because of this incredible advantage, artistes must be more responsible. Cultural tents, Government ministry and the cultural foundation all must collaborate to set higher standards for release of music.

The calypsonians as well must be skilled enough to strike a balance between a play on words and positive messaging.

Music is an art and so is culture. This means that they should act as healing agents for society that stimulates the need to improve; not regress.

Let us say no to cultural alcoholism. Let us stop aborting our future.

Conscious Man