Why the flooding in Grenada is a clear reminder of its vulnerability to climate change

By Desmond Brown

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (IPS) – Grenada is still tallying the damage after recent heavy rainfall resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlights the vulnerability of small island developing states (SIDS) to climate change.

Officials there say extreme weather events like in 2004 and 2005 are still fresh in the minds of residents. Rising sea levels are leading to an erosion of coastlines, while hurricanes and tropical storms regularly devastate crucial infrastructure.For three hours, between 9.00 a.m. and 12 noon on August 1, a tropical wave interacting with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, lingered over the island, dumping several inches of rain, which resulted in rapidly-rising flood waters.

The Maurice Bishop International Airport Meteorological Office recorded six inches of rain over the three-hour period, and officials said the interior of the island received significantly more rainfall.

No recording of the island’s interior was immediately available.

“The flooding was wide and extensive,” Senator Winston Garraway, minister of state in the ministry of climate resilience, told IPS.

“St David and St George (parishes) were badly impacted and we have decided that both areas will be disaster areas.”

In St David, Garraway said there were 60 landslides, and these have impacted on the road network in the parish which is the country’s main agriculture zone.

A total of nine homes in both parishes have been badly affected and families had to be relocated, Garraway said, adding that disaster officials are looking at either demolishing and rebuilding or relocating homes.

“The national stadium took a bad beating from the flood waters and this is likely to impact on activities going forward in the immediate future,” Garraway said.

Damage to the ground floor of the stadium also led to the postponement of one of the main carnival events.

Garraway, who also has responsibility for the environment, forestry, fisheries and disaster management, said the weather event was another clear remainder that Grenada and other SIDS are among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

“We have been one of the strong proponents of the impact of climate change, so we’ve been training our people as it relates to mitigation measures. But we had so much rain over such a short period, the whole system was inundated, and it speaks clearly to the effects of climate change,” he said.

“One might ask, was there any chance of us mitigating against some of these challenges that we have seen? In some sense, I think yes, in a large sense, no. The system could not have absorbed the amount of water we had (in) that short time.”

The Minister of Communication, Works and Public Utilities, Gregory Bowen, agrees with Garraway that events like these highlight the effects of climate change on SIDS.

Bowen said there is an urgent need for grant financing to help at the community level.

“A lot of the flood waters passed through private lands. The state is responsible for state properties, but for private people, the size of drains that would have to run through their properties, they can’t afford it,” Bowen told IPS.

“So, that is one area that we have to work on, getting grant financing to help the people. Because the rains come, and it will find its own path and it’s usually through private lands. If you have good drains you could properly channel the run off.

“So, that is one critical component that we have to move on immediately. Millions of dollars are needed to be spent on that,” Bowen added.
But he said the island simply cannot afford to cover these costs, noting that Grenada only recently concluded a three-year, International Monetary Fund supported structural adjustment programme.

While the formal impact assessment is still being done by the Ministry of Works in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, officials there have already reached out to regional partners for support.

Garraway said officials at the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency have been in touch with local disaster management officials to ascertain the extent of the damage and the immediate assistance needed.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health, Dr Shawn Charles, has advised residents to stay away from the stagnant water resultant from the flooding.

He warned that they may not only be contaminated with debris such as broken bottles and plastics, but pathogens that can cause life-threatening conditions.

“Flood water from the level of rainfall we received from that tropical wave is normally contaminated with all kinds of things and it’s not wise for anyone to expose themselves to it. There are all kinds of contaminants that can impact differently, so swimming, running and doing other things in that type of contaminated water should be avoided,” Charles told IPS.

“One of the life-threatening contaminants in flood water is droplets and urine from rats and that is the main transmitter for leptospirosis, and that disease can cause death. So, it’s not advisable for a person to just go about exposing themselves to flood water. It is just not wise; it can result in sickness. People need to be very cautious. Personal contact with flooded water should be avoided.”

(The above is an IPS Inter Press Service release)

Corruption in MNIB!!!

THE NEW TODAY has been told about an elaborate scheme that was run within the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) that resulted in some persons making thousands of dollars in profit through insider trading especially on the purchase of sugar by the state body.

A source who spoke on condition that he was not identified said that the scheme involved the setting up of separate companies in Miami and Grenada to trade in the commodity.

He said that the Miami company was responsible for sourcing sugar which was sold to a local company that involved a high-up official in MNIB and then resold to the state enterprise at a mark-up in order to make a profit for those involved in the scheme.

According to the source, it is quite possible that this was one of the things being referred to by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchel who a few weeks ago announced that government has agreed to set up a public commission of inquiry into the affairs of the financially-troubled state body.

Dr. Mitchell said then that the wrong doings that are now being exposed at MNIB are “extremely uncomfortable.”

“…We found out a lot of things that we didn’t know or we are finding out some things that we were not aware of and some of them are very frightening and extremely uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable”, he told reporters at a press conference earlier in the month.

The source dropped hints that the Board of Directors then under the Chairmanship of Samuel Andrew had picked up on the “insider trading” scheme that was taking place within MNIB.

He said that Andrew had made every effort over a 5-month period to get an audience with Prime Minister Mitchell to inform him about the alleged wrongdoing taking place at MNIB but was unsuccessful.

“Partner, the thing not looking good at MNIB. If there is a public commission of inquiry a lot of things will come out and some people will not be looking good at the end of it all”, he added.

According to the source, the MNIB was forced to go deeper into debts and to extend on its bank overdraft in order to pay some of its creditors.

He mentioned the pile up of over $300, 000.00 in airline tickets for First Class travel by the then Chief Executive Officer of MNIB, Ruel Edwards and in most cases a particular female employee at the state body.

This newspaper understands that most of the tickets related to travel to Miami.

Another source close to the Mitchell-led government indicated that those involved in the “insider trading” scam were able to manipulate the price at which sugar was sold on the local market by MNIB.

Chairman Andrew and former MNIB CEO Edwards were unable to be reached for comment on the allegations.

Andrew is said to be too scared to talk out of fear of possible victimisation by government.

The former MNIB Chairman has been working in the St. Andrew area with the TA Marryshow Community (TAMCC) and did not want to run the risk of losing the job.

Edwards has been removed as CEO of MNIB and given another lucrative job at the Ministry of Finance under PM Mitchell.

The former CEO has come from a family that is known to be strongly aligned to Mitchell’s ruling new National Party (NNP).

The Mitchell-led government is yet to announce the composition of the promised public inquiry into MNIB and the terms of reference.

Fire destroy vehicles at Hubbard’s Motor Department

Jonas Browne and Hubbard Motor Department at Mt. Gay has suffered some losses due to an early morning fire last week which damaged four vehicles on the compound.

A look at the damage caused by the fire

The fire which occurred around 6.00 a.m. last Thursday was quickly contained by the Fire Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY newspaper last Thursday via telephone, Acting General Manager of Jonas Browne and Hubbard, Philbert Lewis expressed gratitude to the firemen for their speedy response to the incident.

“I just want to show appreciation to the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and the Fire Department and officers of the Fire Department in particular. From the information I got, they responded swiftly and as a result of their response the damage was contained”, he said.

According to Lewis, the cause of the fire has not yet been determined and the company has not done an assessment of the damage, as the police are still doing their investigation.

He said that he “cannot give information (on the extent of the damages) until they (police) are done with the investigation”, he said.

A source familiar with vehicle fires told this newspaper that arson should not be ruled out.

He said: “I would say that looks like arson… they (the vehicles) not close enough that if one caught fire it would spread to three, unless the whole car burned. Only engine compartments”.

This is the first time that the Motor Department of Jonas Browne and Hubbard’s has had a fire.

Lewis’ response to the incident was that “it appears that there will be some losses and being General Manager…nobody will like to operate
with a loss.”

During a follow-up phone call with Lewis on Tuesday, he maintained that investigation is still ongoing into the matter and he is unable to give information about the extent of the damage.

Maintaining independence: the imperative of diplomacy

Except at time of crisis, many countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) credit their foreign ministries and their embassies or high commissions abroad with little value.

Yet, diplomacy, which is the work of foreign ministries and their overseas missions, is the only instrument available to Caribbean states to further their national interests in an international community that is increasingly intolerant of small countries.

In this regard, foreign ministries and their diplomatic missions, properly functioning, play a vital role in defending and promoting the interests of Caribbean states. It is a role that should be continuously strengthened by utilising the best persons available for diplomatic tasks, especially negotiating skills, and adequately resourcing their operations.

Recently, a notion that had popped-up in the past, re-emerged. It is that Caribbean countries should consider the establishment of a single diplomatic mission in foreign capitals to represent the interests of all CARICOM countries collectively.

This notion has re-emerged recently because of financial challenges in some domestic economies. When the scissorsmen in finance ministries, struggle to balance budgets or confront fiscal deficits, the usual area selected for cutting is foreign affairs – the business of advancing and defending the nation’s interests abroad.

However, admirable as the idea might be that CARICOM countries should have a single embassy in selected capitals and international institutions representing the interests of all, unless there is a political union of CARICOM countries the concept is impractical and unworkable.

CARICOM countries would have to become a single federal state with a single federal government, a single federal legislature, making policies for all the states collectively before single representation could work. Only with such a political union could a single embassy operate effectively. No single embassy could represent the varied interests of all CARICOM states, particularly as some of those interests diverge sharply.

Recent voting in United Nations bodies and at the Organisation of American States (OAS) amply demonstrate the contrasting positions of individual CARICOM states. There was no consistent position by the group and little effort to co-ordinate it, let alone to harmonise it. Each country’s representative voted or bargained in his or her own country’s interest.

So, in the absence of a political union of CARICOM states, and while CARICOM remains “a community of sovereign states”, foreign ministries and their overseas missions remain crucial to bargaining, lobbying and arguing for the individual states that they represent.

None of this is to discount the value of ‘associative diplomacy’ if it is pursued in matters of mutual interest. I discussed this concept, its utility and its limitations for small states in my book, “Crumbled Small: The Commonwealth Caribbean in World Politics”.

One of the obstacles to associative diplomacy is that, while in the area of ‘low’ politics, such as support for a Caribbean candidate for an international post, most countries (not all) will act together; in ‘high’ politics, such as a choice between China and Taiwan and, recently, over whether or not to support a U.S. position on Venezuela and Nicaragua, there is no willingness for unified action. What is perceived as the interest of individual governments takes precedence.

Joint representation for the countries of the Caribbean Community should remain an aspiration that can best (and probably, only) be achieved when and if a political union is formed. Until then, associative diplomacy, when interests coincide, is the most that is attainable.

In her recent book, “Fascism – A Warning” (a compulsory read for insights into how autocrats gain and wield power), Madeleine Albright, a former U.S. Secretary of State and Professor at Georgetown University, describes the tools of foreign policy available to U.S. governments as follows: a range between “making polite requests to sending in the marines”.

Offers could include “boxes of seeds” or “shipload of tanks”. Pressure could be applied “on the recalcitrant” by enlisting “international organisations to reinforce our requests”. Threats could include “economic and security sanctions”, “displays of military prowess in the country’s front yard”. And “covert means to disrupt a country’s activities”.

Caribbean countries have no weapons in its foreign policy arsenal that match those of the U.S. government or even of governments with far less power. In the execution of their foreign policies, Caribbean states cannot call on the influence of military or economic means; diplomacy is the only tool available to them.

To the uninitiated and uninformed, foreign policy is an abstract concept, distant from the livelihoods of people; it takes place in a far-off place in what is perceived as the glitz of cocktail receptions, rounds of parties and social chit-chat. The reality is quite different.

Where work is actually done, it involves lengthy meetings; tough negotiations; crafting language that safeguards a nation’s interest; standing ground even in the face of bullying by representatives of powerful countries; acting to keep one’s country off black lists that would harm the economy; arguing against arbitrary reports that adversely affects a nation’s interests in tourism and financial services and threatens its participation in the world’s banking and trading system; and standing-up for respect for international law and the rules of the international system without which the rights, independence and territorial integrity of one’s country would be even more jeopardised than they already are.

In other words, working in the interest of the livelihood and well-being of every man, woman and child in their home countries.

Therefore, diplomacy and the machinery for deploying it, should not be undervalued by Caribbean countries. It is both a shield and a trumpet in the struggle for their causes in the international community.

The solution to effective international representation in the global community is well-trained and competent diplomatic personnel who understand that the purpose of their vocation is to negotiate with states and agencies to safeguard their country’s rights and security, and to promote and advance its economic and social development, including forming alliances with others when interests coincide.

Diplomacy should not be discounted; every other area of the world invests in it for the benefits it can deliver when properly executed.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the U.S. and the OAS and High Commissioner to Canada. The views expressed are his own)

Seetahal resigns from SMC

Effective August 31, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Spicemas Corporation (SMC) Kirk Seetahal will cease to be the face of the state-body as he has tendered his resignation.

Sen. Cox confirmed the resignation of Seetahal

This was confirmed by Minister of Culture, Sen. Norland Cox on Tuesday at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex in the Botanical Gardens in St. George.

Cox told reporters that approximately two months ago, Seetahal who has served in the position of CEO of SMC since 2015 “has asked to move on and we have respectfully accepted his resignation.”

According to the Culture Minister, after the resignation takes effect the position will be advertised in the public domain to find a qualified person to succeed Seetahal.

“We are basically in a transition period. I first take this opportunity to commend Mr. Seetahal on the service that he has given to Spicemas Corporation since 2015 to now. We can recollect that there are a number of contributions that he has made towards the festival and we want to thank him for that but he has asked to move on and we have respectfully accepted his resignation…”, he said.

“What we would have done thus far is that we have a sub-committee (of) persons within the ministry, DPA, and Spicemas Corporation, review the terms of reference for that position and it is our desire, just sometime in September, early September to put a public announcement out (so that) persons who are interested, to express interest in filling that position going forward”, he added.

Sen. Cox appears to be confident that a good successor would soon be found as there are very talented people in the country who have the capabilities to serve as CEO of Spicemas.

Kirk Seetahal – will speak on his resignation when it takes effect

“It is our desire to have that position filled very quickly as there are a number of work to be done in terms of Spicemas going forward and for that person who is coming in to get an opportunity to get an understanding to the workings of Spicemas.”

“And so, we believe that Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique is filled with talented people who are desirous of making a contribution in that regard and as such we want to give an opportunity to do so. An advertisement for that position will be going out, in the next couple weeks or so.”

Seetahal’s expected resignation has been circulating for a few months and that he was asked to remain until after the culmination of Spicemas 2018.

THE NEW TODAY newspaper called Seetahal on Tuesday to get his response to Sen Cox’s announcement about his steeping down from the post but he said that he will “make his final comments on the 31st of August.”

Sen. Cox was also asked if there would be any changes made to the Board of Directors of SMC in light of Seetahal’s imminent departure and he said it was quite possible as is customary with every board.

He said: “As with all boards they are reconstituted whenever they come to the end of the term and Spicemas is no different. If there is any need for changes, some persons may not wish to continue to serve and so change occur in that regard while after review there might be a need to add a different skillset, persons with different background, different skills, and so changes occur in those instances. So, that is a customary activity, you never know, there might be, there may not be”.

The Culture Minister was specifically asked if he was satisfied with the job the board has been doing over the years.

“That is a difficult question because while we have success and the board attributed towards that, there are areas for improvement, so satisfaction in itself, just cannot be an outright measure.

They have done well but there are areas for improvement, so we are satisfied with the work that they have done and of course they have identified areas where we need to work”, he said.
According to Minister Cox, not only the Board of Directors face challenges but stakeholders as well and that some of them “are not quite ready for certain changes”.

“Some stakeholders want change right away and sometimes the resources are not there to facilitate those changes or human resources are not there to facilitate those changes. Sometimes legislatively, those changes are not allowed, in that regard those discussions have been going on…”, he said.

Nurses instructed to sign back dated contracts under duress!!!

By Earl J. Maitland

Dr. Keith C. Mitchell,

It is my understanding that:

– The medical field is an extremely crucial and sensitive area in any country.

– Grenada’s medical staff continue to be underpaid, unappreciated and victimised.

– Contracts for a majority of nurses expired in 2016.

– The said nurses were allowed to continue their employment from 2016-2018 without contracts, giving them the justifiable impression of regularised paid work.

– The attached letter surfaced putting the nurses in a rather unfortunate dilemma.

– Some nurses signed under #duress, some migrated to England for #gainful employment, others exercised their #rights to protest the unjust acts of your government by not signing.

It has also been brought to my attention that recently nurses have been told if they do not sign #BACKDATED contracts they will not receive compensation for their services (salary) at the end of August 2018.

Why would a government force its employees to sign back dated contracts? Is this a legally acceptable practice in Grenada? Are contracts signed under duress legally recognised? Where does the Public Service Commission stand on this? Why does your government insist on bullying both the private and public sectors? Does your government not care about the hospital already being short staffed?

At present, persons have no choice but to sit for hours in order to be attended to! What about the patients? Is your regime aiming to have the least number of hospital employees in the Caribbean?

#EMPLOYMENT ACT 29 (5)

Where the purpose or effect of a contract that is purportedly for a specified period of time or for a specific task is the filling on a lasting basis of a post connected with the normal and permanent activity of the undertaking, establishment or service, it shall be deemed to be a contract for an unspecified period of time.

*NORMAL AND PERMANENT ACTIVITY – NURSING

*UNDERTAKING, ESTABLISHMENT OR SERVICE – MEDICAL/ HOSPITAL

A successful Health sector is contingent on many things. Please do not trivialise the importance of our nurses as you would have in selecting a qualified Health Minister.

Dr Mitchell, although it may be unusual, please do the right thing!

PM – You’re measured by your own yardstick

Grenada went through a Constitutional Referendum almost two years ago which was held on November 24, 2016.

The two-third majority that was needed to make this referendum successful failed because it was struck down by the people.

There were a number of circumstances why it failed – one being lack of effective consultations with the people.

I have always lived by the notion that “a man must be a man and admit his mistakes but if he continues to cover it up, in the long run it will only create serious consequences for him latter.”
Grenadians must not be absent-minded and they must not forget what the amended bills were back in 2016.

If the Prime Minister saw the need to introduce the (7) Proposed Amendments in the last referendum please ask yourself why the Prime Minister didn’t find those bills important in reintroducing them again in the upcoming referendum?

We need answers and clarification from him. Why single out the CCJ and leave the rest behind knowing the amount of time that was put into it by various officials and organisations that came together collectively as one NGOs and CSOs, scholars of jurisprudence, politicians and concerned citizens of this beautiful nation of ours?

The (7) Proposed Amendments on the ballot paper were as follow:

(1) The Caribbean Court of Justice to become the final court of appeal (as opposed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom); renaming the Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States as the “Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court”; introducing a code of conduct for civil servants; changing the oath of allegiance so that allegiance is sworn to Grenada instead of the Queen. (CCJ and Other Justice Related Matters).

(2) Creation of an Elections and Boundaries Commission to replace the Constituency Boundaries Commission and the Supervisor of Elections. (Elections and Boundaries Commission).

(3) Allow the leader of the losing party with the most votes to be appointed Leader of the Opposition and to sit in the House of Representatives if the second-placed party fails to win a seat in a general election. (Ensuring a Leader of the Opposition).

(4) Introduce fixed dates for elections, with the caveat that a vote of no confidence may trigger an early election. (Fixed Date for Elections).

(5) Changing the official name of the State of Grenada to “Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique”. (Name of State).

(6) An expansion of the list of fundamental rights and freedoms. (Rights and Freedoms).

(7) Limiting the Prime Minister to three consecutive terms in office. (Term of Office of Prime Minister).

On Tuesday, 22 November 2016, Dr. The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister gave a National Address to the nation two days before the referendum and this is what he said, and I quote:

“This process has always been about how we deepen the rights of Grenadians; expand the people’s access to justice; build a stronger platform for greater economic sustainability; develop the process of democracy; strengthen the concept of governance and eliminate opportunities for political excesses.”

He went on to state: “Referenda like these do not happen regularly.

For my generation, and even the one after me, it might be the first and only opportunity that we get to have a direct say in amending a document that was handed down to us, even before we had colour television or access to the internet.

Those two excerpts from his 2016 national address were only a HOGWASH. I have reviewed it thoroughly and there is no other conclusion that comes to mind.

The PM has implicated himself because of what he has said in that 2016 National Address to the nation.

I want to know what could’ve inspired him now to go at it again almost two years after the first historic one?

I’m now questioning myself because of this level of deception that has been portrayed by him to the people of Grenada. If so then it means there wasn’t any merit in his 2016 National Address.

We all need to examine what he said back then and see if any of it applies to what he is trying to do today with the upcoming referendum.

Mr. Prime Minister, you’re measured by your own yardstick. All you have control over is your own performance, your own decisions.

I want to know what is so special about the CCJ? It’s based in Trinidad for over (12) years now and the legal system there don’t use it as their final court, then something must be definitely wrong. I can only speculate but I don’t have all the answers.

I have two questions for the Prime Minister:

(1) Dr. Mitchell you being all wise and intelligent, why didn’t you put the Proposed Amendments on the General Elections ballot paper?

(2) Why couldn’t you save taxpayers this huge bill that will be incurred as a result of this second referendum?

The CCJ cannot be the number one priority for Grenadians at this time and that Proposed Amendment to the constitution needs to be placed on back burner for now.

Mr. Prime Minister, you need to reconsider and go back to the drawing board because it’s not too late in doing so.

Sir, take advice and reconsider your decisions about the CCJ despite the outcry from individuals who care deeply about this country.

I can recall back in 2009 Vincentians rejected in a referendum, proposed changes to the constitution, including replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ as the nation’s highest court.
Our very own Francis Alexis was very instrumental in that process because he was retained by Dr Ralph Gonsalves to lead the process. I have great respect for this constitutional guru but he

failed twice. I’m wondering if he is willing to fail the third time around.

Former Prime Minister of St Vincent, Sir James Mitchell has always been an advocate and still is today in retaining the London based Privy Council and he is against replacing It with CCJ as their final court. Justice Adrian Saunders who is now President of CCJ is also Vincentian by birth.

Mr. Prime Minister, if you continue on the same trajectory as last time it will be more failed legacies added to your book of failures.

Always remember a hurry bird never build a good nest.

As a healthcare professional I know Mental disorders are common in old age but frequently remains undetected and untreated and induce functional disability, disturb rehabilitation.

I’m urging you to take your time and reconsider if you want to do a better job than in the first referendum.

I’m of the opinion that a constituent assembly should be established and they should be charged with the responsibility of putting things
together. This referendum shouldn’t be about one man and his egos who is seeking to take revenge by abusing his powers in undermining others.

This is a matter of national interest because it concerns all Grenadians living at home and abroad. The decisions that we make today can either make us or break us tomorrow.

I don’t believe those vital decisions should rest on the shoulders of one man and his administration. We can either reinvent the wheel and continue on the part of doing things haphazardly or we can either become a progressive nation that we all can be proud of.

This is the time to reintroduce some of the (7) Proposed Amendments in the upcoming referendum but let it be done properly so therefore everyone can benefit from the process of Constitutional Referendum.

We all know how Caribbean politics can influence and infiltrate everything including decision making and why do you think CCJ will be excluded?

Brian J.M. Joseph

A question on beauty: Why Queen Show?

I heard two related thought provoking questions this last week. This is the second. “We now live in a world where women are world leaders and trail blazers, how do you think judging women on the basis of their looks and a single question contributes to the Women’s Movement?”

A friend challenged us on Facebook and this was my immediate response. “I thought it was a brave question to ask a contestant in the very show that was under the question’s scrutiny.

Personally, it’s a double-edged sword. A beauty contest is based on the visual and the snap shot question no matter how politically incorrect it is to say so. But from my experience the winners of these shows from the local carnival queen to Miss World/Universe invariably go on to make stellar contributions in their chosen fields of interest.

The $64 million dollars question is – would they have done so without the doors opened by the beauty contest win?”

What do you think? I should have added that the external beauty fades or dims but the beautiful spirit and character are everlasting. Many times they improve with age like fine wine.

But THAT question keeps niggling me – “is like a police boots on my corn.” Why do we have beauty contests? What do they do for the “Women’s Movement?” Or more in the season, why do we have National Carnival Queen Show with Ambassadorial Speech, Talent, Swimsuit, Costume, Evening Gown & Interview (2 questions)?

For starters I do not think that the contestants are judged on “their looks and a single question”. Not in our show! A review of the judging criteria, clearly articulated on the evening, quickly clears up that misconception.

In each segment of our National Carnival Queen Show the contestants offer something to us patrons and we learn and/or are challenged.

In the ambassadorial speeches the young ladies tell us about themselves and the parishes they represent. We learn the value of public speaking and maybe it’s time to be a tourist at home.

Could I get up on that stage and do this before all these people one might ask?

Through the talent performances, we are offered a buffet of artistic endeavours singing, dancing, instrumental music, poetry, drama. I even saw a choreographed martial arts display at one such event in Grenada.

The nation got talent! I wonder if she takes bookings……Not an unreasonable thought! Ask yourself, what talents do I have, am I using them, or should I take up that pursuit I have been dreaming of starting but never got around to?

The swimsuit parade offers us the magnificent display of the female form in all its diversity. What beautiful creations! Some in the audience look back with wistful smiles to a time when they cut such a dashing figure. Others think with better nutrition, exercise and dedication I could get closer to that physique too. And a few – I could rock that look for sure.

In the costume section we are transported to the magical and mystical – creatures, natural features, folklore characters and much more.

Someone thought up these wondrous structures, built them and look how they dance across the stage to the pulsating rhythms we love to hear.

Our schools now offer CSEC/CAPE/BA subjects like Theatre/Performing Arts and Carnival Studies. Someone could be inspired to make a living and start a business in this field.

The evening gowns – what exquisite pieces fit for the runways of London, New York, Paris & Milan fashion week! Local and diaspora talent on display. This is not news, have you seen the streets on National Colours Day for Independence celebrations?

Get your business cards and inventory ready seamstresses, fashion designers, hairdressers, make-up artists, accessory manufacturers, we are coming to you! The young ladies adorned from head to toe – a vision of elegant perfection.

Alas it must end! The interview section crowns the evening as the young ladies demonstrate their intellect, share their opinions, introduce a topic we did not even know ourselves per chance?

All done under the pressure of the moment. Sometimes it doesn’t go to plan and they quickly adjust and recover. A lesson for us all.

In my humble opinion the National Carnival Queen Show is a worthwhile event. As a part of the carnival product, it reinforces our culture.

The participants benefit in immeasurable ways from the experience. The audience, and by extension the nation/world, is entertained for an evening, but hopefully roused to greater action in all areas of life.

Congratulations to the organisers. Some say that for many years the product was declining. But like the phoenix, it is rising from the ashes.

Now to the thorny issue – “the Women’s Movement.” Might I float a radical position? Isn’t the TRUE progress of humanity inclusive of the progress of women? How about we try to practice simple human courtesy, decency, respect, kindness, concern for the plight of others, self-sacrifice, appreciation, encouragement? You get my drift?

Just a final thought, might there be a correlation between the fact that the top two (2) answers to THAT question were given by young ladies who practiced the Arts – an accomplished pannist and a publisher/author? Dust out your newspaper back copies from last year, I think we may have to revisit the conversation about the value of the Arts to the nation. These ladies, ALL not just the winners, have just proved the point oh so BEAT(Y)fully.

M. Johanna Tamar

GUTCU hands over money to successful CPEA students of members

Over 150 students of members of the Grenada Union of Teachers Cooperative Credit Union (GUTCU) will be assisted by the Credit Union through its Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) grant.

Students and their parents waiting to be called to receive their monetary assistance from the credit union

The credit union held an official handing over ceremony last week Thursday at the Horizon Plaza on St. John’s Street, St. George’s in which $46, 800.00 were given out in total as each recipient received $300.00 to help provide financial support for the upcoming school year.

GUTCU General Manager, Retisha Boyd who was on hand for the distribution of the envelopes said that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on students through this initiative over the years.

“Since the inception of the CPEA grant, the credit union has invested approximately $300,000 into this initiative and we are committed to continue supporting our members and community”, she said.

“We have assisted over 1000 students and counting and for this year we have over 150 grants…”, she added.

According to Boyd, the mandate of the credit union and the cooperative movement is centered around people and helping them and as such the financial assistance to the students of members “is unique and significant to the co-operative movement”.

She exhorted the parents to be the driving force behind their students and their school work.

“Parents, support your children, hold them close, we are living in evil days. We have a lot of distractions, unhealthy distractions that will pop up and as parents we have to make sure that our influence on our children is greater than the influence outside”, she said.

“Your children are moving from the stage of being a child to being a teenager and that comes with its own excitement as well as challenges.

You do not only have to provide the books and the uniforms…you have to be able to provide the support, encouragement, the guidance, the motivation…”, she added.

To be eligible for the grant funding, applicants must be a credit union member in good standing and have a son or daughter who was successful in the CPEA examination.

RGPF happy with the performance of its men and women over the carnival

Grenada’s 2018 Carnival season was relatively quiet and peaceful except for a string of petty crimes.

Officer in Charge of CID, Supt Earl Dunbar, ACP Jessmon Prince, and ASP Linford Kingston at the press conference

Speaking to reporters at a press conference at the headquarters of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) at Fort George, St. George’s last Thursday, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Jessmon Prince this year’s celebration was “safe and generally peaceful”.

ACP Prince was flanked by Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Superintendent Earl Dunbar and Officer-in-charge of the Traffic Department Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Linford Kingston.

He attributed the peaceful carnival season to the zero tolerance efforts by the lawmen on offensive weapons since the season began a few weeks earlier.

According to ACP Prince, the crimes committed during the days of carnival related to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Rape, Dangerous Harm, Grievous Harm, Causing Harm, Cause of intent to Harm, Assault, Drug Possession, Disorderly Behaviour, and Driving without a driver’s licence.

He also said that a number of persons were arrested by the police in relation to offensive weapons.

“A number of offensive weapons were seized and a number of persons were arrested and charged. Today, we can say that we have had six persons convicted at the Grenville Magistrate’s Court and sentenced to imprisonment from three months each while there are many others awaiting trial in the southern and western magisterial districts”, he told reporters.

CID Chief, Supt. Dunbar said that the lawmen had been concerned about property crimes during the carnival season but “complaints for property crime were “very, very low”.

“…We are very happy about that for the simple reason that during this period we somewhat anticipated that there may be a likelihood to have an increase in property crimes but what we (have) seen in this period is really, really low”, he remarked.

ACP Prince disclosed that the control of the traffic during the biggest show for Spicemas – Groovy/Soca Monarch Finals at the national stadium at Queen’s Park – posed a serious challenge for members of the force.

He said the nearby the Wesley school ground had to be used “to do some of our parking” and it helped in the circumstances.

However, ACP Prince stated that in going forward, RGPF will be looking seriously into introducing the system of park and ride and carpooling for a show of that magnitude to help eliminate the traffic nightmare.

In reflecting on the peaceful nature of patrons during the Carnival Season, the high-ranking member of the Police High Command lauded the “churches who prayed for peace, safety and stability in our Carnival, God answered your prayers.”

He said the entire police force and the public must also be commended for the part they played in ensuring a safe carnival.

“The carnival period in Grenada over the years presents the greatest challenge for law enforcement and for members of the RGPF. I know that can be the same for other departments in the government service but as it relates to the Royal Grenada Police Force and law enforcement, Carnival period has always proven to be our greatest challenge and this is so because people in general tend to do everything in excess – excess drinking, excess eating, excess spending, driving, speeding, hurrying to go nowhere.”

“Most alarming, people become careless about their personal security and the security of their own property, thus becoming victims themselves and in some instances perpetrators of crime while we as law enforcement officers have to remain calm, cool and collective, in some cases leaving our families and homes to be out there in our communities, in our nation to maintain the peace and stability of our country during our festive seasons.”

The RGPF’s Carnival operations was launched in July with the intention to establish and maintain a safe and secure environment for the public to go about their business without the fear of crime.
“I believe that the general consensus is that our intention was realized”, ACP Prince quipped.

In recognition of the hard work and dedication of the men and women in uniform, a decision was taken to grant them a four day rest period to be taken before January 1st, 2019.