Why ignore Cuba’s welcome mat?

Cuba has long been an economic, trade and investment opportunity that has been neglected by the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

This neglect could become a matter of grave regret as Cuba continues to open up its economy to other countries and groups of countries, for by the time businesses in the CARICOM countries wake up to the opportunities Cuba offers, companies from Europe, Canada and Latin America might already have filled the space.

European and Canadian companies are already in Cuba and more are entering the market. Whenever the US embargo is lifted on Cuba, the space for investment and trade will become even smaller and more highly competitive as US companies (especially those owned by Cuban-Americans) enter the fray.

To the government of Cuba’s credit, it has continuously sought to encourage CARICOM governments to establish machinery that would promote trade and other economic relations between them.

In 2000, Cuba and CARICOM signed a Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, but in the 12 years that have elapsed there has been little investment of any significance by any Caribbean companies, except one hotelier from Jamaica. What is more, despite a request from Cuba to expand the coverage of the Agreement, it has lain dormant.

Under the same 2000 Agreement, CARICOM countries had committed to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Cuba to be brought into effect in 2001, but nothing was done. Since then CARICOM countries have each signed an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union that would make the terms of any FTA they might now conclude with Cuba less advantageous than it could have been.

This situation has not stopped Cuba from contributing meaningfully to CARICOM countries. Scholarships given by Cuba have increased the number of persons trained in a range of areas including health, engineering, agriculture, sports and culture. Additionally, the establishment of clinics and the provision of medical personnel by Cuba have allowed for the delivery of health services many of these countries would not have been able to afford.

As CARICOM’s current Chairman, St Lucia Prime Minister, Kenny Anthony has observed, “what is most striking about the solidarity displayed by Cuba with CARICOM is the quantum and diversity of the assistance that Cuba provides despite the constraints placed on its own economic development by the United States economic, commercial and financial embargo”.

Cuba has continued its assistance to CARICOM countries because the Cuban government recognises the courage it took 40 years ago – on 8 December 1972 – for the newly independent Caribbean countries – Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – to defy the wishes of the United States government by establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

When they did so, Cuba was isolated in the Western Hemisphere except for Canada. By risking the wrath of the US, that single act by four small CARICOM countries opened the way for other countries to similarly recognise Cuba.

The Cuban government has continuously pushed for the implementation of trade and investment as set out in the 2000 Economic and Trade Agreement.

Part of its proposals is that the 6 independent countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States would not have to grant preferential duty access to Cuban goods, and Cuba would seek preferential access to the markets of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago for an additional 167 products (over those named in the 2000 Agreement) while, in return, it would give these four countries preferential access to the Cuban market for 227 additional products.

There are of course difficulties in transacting commercial arrangements with Cuba. An important consideration would be the means of being paid and of repatriating profits. But, Canadian and European companies are doing it. Further, at least two Trinidad and Tobago banks are operating in Cuba to facilitate trade between the two countries. So, the means of overcoming these hurdles exist, particularly as Caribbean banks have correspondent relationship with banks in Canada and Europe through which transactions can be handled.

Cuba and CARICOM have had a Joint Commission since 1993 – even before the 2000 Economic and Trade Agreements was signed. It is supposed to meet every year, but it has met infrequently. Nonetheless, if it were to meet, it could iron out any practical difficulties so as to make the terms of the 2000 Agreement work.

One of the clauses of the 2000 Agreement provides for the establishment of a CARICOM-Cuba Business Council to review business opportunities, furnish information and promote trade. So, if it is that the CARICOM business community needs to interact with Cuban companies to explore areas of investment and trade, why not initiate the Business Council to provide that opportunity?

Often when Cuba is discussed in the context of the US government lifting its embargo, it is said that an “opened-up” Cuba will pose a real threat to those CARICOM countries that are dependent on tourism.

There is no doubt that Cuba – without the US embargo – will provide even greater competition than it does now, and in more than just tourism. But, apart from speculating on that competition, very little is being done to counter it even though another article of the 2000 Agreement specifically encourages cooperation in tourism covering multi-destination travel, training, language exchange and passenger transport.

CARICOM’s business community should insist now on the launching of the CARICOM-Cuba Business Council and they should take advantage of a recent Memorandum of Understanding between the agency, Caribbean Export, and the Cuba Chamber of Commerce to do business. If this does not happen soon and meaningfully, the Cuban economy will be occupied by others who are taking advantage of it to the exclusion of CARICOM.

CARICOM businesses could be a real part of a bustling Cuban market of 11 million people in the future, if they and CARICOM governments take advantage of what is on offer by the Cuban government today.

Cuba has laid out a welcome mat for CARICOM trade and investment – why ignore it?

 

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat)

 

A critical year is ending – What next?

We are coming to the end of this Calendar year, 2012 – which has been an era of so many landmarks in our public and political affairs, that it is very doubtful we will be faced with that many, even in these very troublesome Isles ever again.

And to add to the political melee we have been experiencing – during the time span of the current Government in control – unless some January date is announced soon for the next sitting of Parliament, which has been on vacation and convenient prorogation for nearly Six months now – we could be faced with a Constitutional problem after January 12th or thereabouts.

Of course all that could be avoided, if the Government request the Governor General to dissolve the current Parliament, and announce an election date within ninety days thereafter.

How likely that solution maybe – only time and the political pundits will determine, but however long the waiting period maybe, or whatever the eventual outcome will turn out to be – only the passage of time will tell.

But in the meantime, it all looks as though we are a people at a standstill, and waiting on goodness knows what is to happen to move us on to the next stage.

In the last week or two, there were some roadside workers on the Western side – cutting the over-grown bushes and over-hanging trees along the road, but I suspect that was just a passing phase to help ease up the fiscal crisis.

There has been no official statement from the powers-that-be, about where we are heading and how it is hoped to be getting there in the fullness of time.

I would imagine that if the Parliament is dissolved and Election date announced, there would be some more positive vibes coming out of the controllers, and in response also coming from the opposition elements.

Because from the way things are standing still for the past few months – as far as the business of the people are concerned, and the economic activities remain in limbo – something has to happen, and sooner rather than much later, to enable the people to regain some hope and positive action to be up and moving again.

The longer the current “waiting period” is prolonged – the harder it will be for the eventual winners at the polls, to get things moving again; because the stalemate now existing, would increasingly get very much worse with the passage of time, and the absence of positive action.

And it is my considered opinion, that the longer waiting period would be far more beneficial to the present opposition elements, than to those now in control.

There is not much the current controllers can offer to potential investors in the short time remaining before “D” day; and therefore it must be in the party’s interest, and more so in the people’s interest – to get a fresh mandate from the people, to strengthen and consolidate the party’s credibility in the months immediately following such an outcome.

To keep on prolonging the current impasse, can only benefit the opposition elements in the long run – because with nothing positive to offer in the meantime, the people who will continue to be deprived of even occasional employment to support their families, they would certainly not be in the favour of returning the present controllers back into the driving seats.

Those who are occupying the seats of power, have to understand that the issues facing the people are strictly of Bread and Butter origin – and nothing else.

And after all the nice-sounding statements, for example, about the SANDALS Hotel Brand coming to the Spice Isle, and due to open in February or March at the old La Source Hotel location, and to re-hire the old workers and some more later on in 2013 – I am now hearing the re-opening would not be taking place until about October/November 2013.

So all the concessions granted by those now in control – may very well be of no benefit to them in the upcoming Elections in the New Year. So what else is not new, or worth waiting on to happen?

By the time you are reading this commentary in the local paper, we will be just a few days from the New Year of 2013 – and by the way the political wind is blowing now-a-days, as a people existing on grave uncertainties, and at the mercy of a whole lot of individuals, who are striving for nothing more than political power to satisfy their own selfish ambitions, with no trait of country loyalty to serve the people and the tri-Island State – we could be in for some very tense weeks and months ahead.

It will be interesting to see what will take place, if the Government does not summon a sitting of Parliament in January – when the Six months would expire since the last sitting in July – and who will take the necessary action.

The Karl Hood case against the Prime Minister and NDC, about his expulsion from the party, was heard in the High Court last week Wednesday, and the Judge’s decision promised for Thursday 20th December.

He also has a no confidence Motion against the Government pending in Parliament, if that body ever sits again.

Whatever happens in January, in the Court or in Parliament concerning the people’s business – next year promises to be a very historic year in our confused political arena.

But we have to make the most of the season, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour who continues to take care of us.

And I wish all the readers of this column a blessed Xmas, and a peaceful and very much more prosperous New Year in 2013.

This will be my last article for 2012, so until January 4th if all is well – enjoy the Season and the very best of health next year.

Nuf failures on the prowl for power

By Stone Crusher

 

With all the confusion within the NDC, which was obvious from the time they admitted the gang man and his infidels into the party leading to the rapid departure of founding stalwarts, to the time when petty jealousy erupted between those who were obviously intent on committing wrongs within the government and the few who were intent on towing the PM’s line of accountability, transparency and good governance, one could never have expected the manifestation of hardness on the political ground for the opposition – since the NDC should have been done and finished! But that did not happen.

Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming polls, one thing Stone Crusher is totally satisfied about is that the splintered gang and the ‘frock ooman’s’ Nuf  #h*t are nowhere under consideration.

When the “all-in-one frock ooman” and she spark-plugless political father, not to mention the ‘dotish’ Herbert Squires reincarnated lawyer who speaks like he ate a scatter shot (all over the place not making any sense at all) appear on television, someone said they could hear the simultaneous clicks of televisions being turned off – fuss people mad at them for destabilising the government she (in particular) was elected to be part of.

No one must ever forget that this glorified secretary (who rightfully ought to have been an aide to the Cabinet serving refreshments, making photocopies and running errands between ministries) was integral to the original gang of four. It was she, the gang man himself, the box head casino man and the career drunkard who are responsible for the sabotage of NDC.

While they were making “mange puppot” thinking a particular way and feeling that they could have unseated Uncle Tilly, God was on the side of the righteous.  A communist will always be a communist. No amount of going to church on Sunday will change a communist.

The “frock ooman” did not understand the true intentions of the gang man. This only goes to show the shallowness of the glorified secretary who always like to talk about God, forgetting that not all who shout Lord, Lord, will enter his kingdom.

By now she and the other split-up gangsters (no pun intended) must realise that the kind of spiritual protection Uncle Tilly comes to the table with must be for a reason.  Stone Crusher is convinced that good will always triumph over evil.  Look at how the union clown disappeared from the scenes.  His intolerable nature has him like chopped liver to the majority of his constituents.

Stone Crusher has been reliably informed that workers in hot spots where their livelihoods are now on shifty soil don’t want to see him. He knows the truth about the matter and without anywhere to turn, he is now rendezvousing with the enemy in case they win.  What this guy does not know or fails to remember is that KCM is no fool.  With all his character flaws, no one can say he is not politically savvy. He will chew him up and very early he will spit him out violently so that he is crushed for life.  Stone Crusher is confident that he cannot match up to the strength of KCM.

The lawyer who turned against Stone in 2008 is trying to make his way back into the camp but KCM is too smart for him. He is getting him to do some dirty work against NDC but will not forget those things that he wrote about him during the last general elections. Let the lawyer man go down on his knees and beg and beg Stone for forgiveness.

Over the weekend, Stone Crusher was by a popular bar in the south when certain operatives close to the opposition NNP were discussing how fast the party has managed to regain their confidence, after thinking that their 2008 defeat could have kept them out for at least two and at most three terms.

They felt that that was enough time to rid themselves of their current leader, and to tidy up their act with a purge of Dumbrod, Bowen and Boatswain, bringing in new talents to take the party forward. Instead, they received a bonanza when the gang man and his infidels rattled the cage of the government putting them off track with their vision and mission for the country.

One of the operatives was quite clear that the acts of destabilisation worked well for the NNP and re-energised the leader.  In the same breath, the man mentioned that the NNP needs to be careful because of the arrogance of their leader because people in the party know that a lot of people are not in favour of a return of “him” at the helm of the country as its Prime Minister.

The man and the two other NNP’ities say that the man start behaving cocky as if he win the thing already. However, he sounded a warning to the maximum to remember that the same intelligent “un-decideds” who came out and threw him out in July 2008 are the same ones who are waiting to vote against him again.

At least some of the smart NNP people realise that the party’s biggest threat is their own leader since a large number of Grenadians do not want to see the Stone back in government. The fear factor worked against Eric Gairy after the Revo and will work against Stone in 2013.

Stone Crusher was amazed to learn through this NNP operative that his party is privately nervous about the likely outcome of the polls when even among their ranks so many people are dreaming of a very close 9–6 result in favour of Uncle Tilly and the NDC.

The chap went into detail to show his party’s scare stating that the current registration process, though very fair, does not favour them at all.

Stone Crusher gathered that even with most of the employees of the electoral system allegedly sympathetic to the NNP, the system is so full proof that they cannot tamper with it to influence any outcome to favour the NNP.

He admitted that the party can no longer get operatives in the Electoral Office to take names from Brizan and send them up to St. John’s to vote. In other words, he was saying that the NNP is not in a position in the 2013 elections to do any voter-padding.

In case some people forget, the NNP used to get their point man in New York to round up people, send their names down, get them registered and fly them in to vote on Election Day. This cannot happen under the new system since the person has to be on the ground to get registered. This will be a very fair and free election and the best since 1995.

The NNP cannot boast about doing a Forbes Burnham on the people of Grenada any more. The slogan used to be if we control power then no one can beat us. God gave them long rope and decided that it was time up in 2008.

This candid NNP operative who spilled his guts in speaking with close friends said that the party really expects a close race, which could preclude them from winning the following seats:

*St. Andrew North West,

*St. Andrew South East,

*St. Andrew South West,

*St. David,

*St. George South,

*St. George North East,

*St. John,

*St. Patrick East,

*Town of St. George

In the same breath he said the rest which include –

St. Mark, St. Patrick West, St. George South East,  St. George North West, St. Andrew North East, Carriacou  –   that the NNP is prepared to put bets on  only three since St. Andrew North East, St. Patrick West and St. George South East are too close to call.

Of course the NNP with all its access to campaign funds from the private sector suffers no inability to conduct their polls, the findings of which seem to be worrying to them. The NNP poll in 2008 had the party winning 14 of the 15 seats. Do you remember that poll – a few days before the elections?

When the campaign starts in the New Year, the picture will become much clearer as to who is man and who is little boy. Take NUF out of that because they are only spoilers in this race of big men. No room for little boys and the little girl that calls herself Interim President.

The people ain’t stupid. Many have said that the NDC would have been hard-pressed in 4-5 years to bring up all the ‘bubbul” and corruption of the NNP and its leader during his entire thirteen years in office.  Hard pressed because many would have said we heard them already in 2003 and 2008 and are not so interested again.

However, because of the NDC style of governance to leave the DPP and the Police alone to do their work, and not bring in any Jamaican legal hatchet man to harass citizens like the NNP did, the NNP leader feels he can venture into areas like opposing the sale of state assets by this administration to meet its monthly obligations to public servants especially.

His brazenness to venture there has opened the ball field for the NDC to take him apart with all his wrongs, which caused the state to be almost bankrupt today.  Who is Keith Mitchell to complain of the sale of national assets?  Just look at the dilapidated buildings the state managed to get the National Insurance Scheme to purchase – the Drill Yard, GBN/GIS old site on Scott Street, the old Electoral Office at Woolwich Road, St. James Hotel.

All of them are fire hazards. Come on KCM! Stop the stupidness. Is the NNP waiting to get into office and use the Tender board to sell these old buildings to their supporters? Government ought to count itself lucky that the NIS agreed to pay them for these after-Ivan eye sores when the same KCM was in office and did nothing about them with all the millions that passed through his administration’s hands in the early aftermath of Ivan.

The same way sane people in Grenada cannot believe NNP would address the sale of national assets when they did so much wrong to ours when they were in office, is the same way Stone Crusher heard Boatswain cannot believe the NDC could bring up all their wrong doings on their platforms.  Mr. Boatswain, you made them relevant once more.

While you are at it, could you explain your main fear of getting into office again in these challenging times when the formally inclined Minister of Finance would have sewn up things in a professional way, and your informal way of managing will not be able to stand the test of time?

Is your party vexed that if “all-you” come into office you are not likely to meet anything else to sell and so no corruption could govern the way NNP does business? What is it Mr. Boatswain?  What is it? But Tony, who tell you that KCM wants you in any Cabinet. The man remembers the way you behaved when he had the 8-7 government between 2003 and 2008.

And talking about KCM, many of us would like to know which of the many faces of Mitchell was talking when he addressed the sale of national assets?  After all this is the same man when he was asked about the Call Center deal – he jumped up out of his seat in the Parliament and said he was glad that his family were getting involved in business with the government and that the money will be paid back.

Another time when Dr. Francis Alexis appeared in a televised debate with Dr. Mitchell and NDC Leader Tillman Thomas in the 2003 election campaign and he raised the issue of his family and the Call Center – Dr. Mitchell denied that his family was involved in any Call Center Project with the government.  Which face was he speaking with then?  Was it Keith’s or Claudius’? KCM is a man with many faces.

To show how this man likes his family to get involved in business with the state – do you recall Emerging Technologies?  Our laws were changed to facilitate business between another member of Dr. Mitchell’s family and the Postal Corporation.

The Stone Crusher remembers the former Opposition Leader, Michael Baptiste making frequent mention of the Emerging Technology thing.

Imagine this man wants to now talk about the sale of national assets – when this decent administration is merely exchanging the assets with yet another state entity for hard cash to pay civil servants.

The Stone Crusher challenges anyone to name one local administration since independence which prostituted state assets as has been done under the NNP. Shame upon KCM and NNP. In last week’s issue of THE NEW TODAY, mention was made of NNP squandering EC$58.4 million in bad deals involving MNIB and the Garden Group of Hotels in the south.

Some people are predicting a terrible dry season in 2013.  Look at it this way – if the NNP had properly used the millions on the three desalination plants, we would not have one in Carriacou as a monument without a pint of water ever having passed through it, and one in the South which is a home for rats, roaches, centipedes and other rodents.

The only reason why the one in the South is not vandalised is because it does not have any copper tubing/wire in it for thieves to strip and sell to Trinidad.

There is a recycling business in the south and just now the old iron from the desalination plant at Woburn will soon be taken down and shipped overseas.

If NNP had only put those millions wasted on the ‘desal’ plants with the other millions thrown away in the Garden Group, Marketing Board, The Call Center, Levera, Poultry Farm in St. Mark, among others – this country would have absolutely no problems paying civil servants and possibly giving them a deserved increase today.

Today KCM wants to talk about investors and how he has them lined up to come in as soon as he wins. Have they all been released from jail yet?  Are new ones lining up to fly into Grenada because they know what will happen with NNP in office. It is possible that Eric Resteiner (the $US500, 000.00 briefcase provider) might be out of prison or in some half-way home waiting to be a free man.

It is unfortunate that the fly-by-night investors got caught and sent to jail for their illegal activities in Grenada but no one from the NNP who aided and abetted them did not end up in Richmond Hill prison.

People, do not forget Van Brink, Rita Ragale, Larry Barnabe, David Rowe, and the host of other degenerates who came in through the NNP open door policy to mash up Grenada’s good name.  Is this what Dr. Mitchell is referring to when he says that he is a changed man.

The Stone Crusher has to ask the question since KCM keeps asking for our forgiveness but is not telling us about his sins.

It would appear that every time these NNP people speak, they put their foot in their mouths.  Did you see their recycled PRO recently on television talking about BAICO pay out when he said that the NDC government should have been more proactive so that people could have gotten their money sooner.

The collapse of BAICO and British American should be blamed on NNP. They were the ones who appointed a man in the post of Supervisor of Insurance when he was already holding down a big and demanding job in the Ministry of Finance. How much money did the man collect for the two jobs. Did he do the work to see to it that BAICO complied with our laws or was he given a job because he had a big mortgage to pay?

When this administration put things in place to regulate the Insurance companies the same NNP voted against it in the Parliament.

It was also the same NNP who went against the ECCB’s advice to allow a former General Secretary of their party to open a bank and when the bank “buss” – poor people money got lost.  But poor people are the same people Dr. Mitchell says he is for continuously.  Is he saying so for their votes only?  How come he did not protect them from that illegal bank which “buss” with their money tied up in it?

These are the things which our people need to open their eyes to before voting and to choose properly for fear that Grenada becomes the failed state that NNP was taking us into prior to July 2008.

As a matter of fact, most of the CARICOM Prime Ministers would hate to see KCM walking with them on the big stage once again since this would remind them of Grenada’s ugly past under his watch.

 

Two blows for Whales

The policy of the Japanese government to slaughter thousands of whales every year in the name of “science”, suffered two major blows in recent weeks.

Before proceeding, let me register an interest against whaling as a campaigner for the protection of endangered whales and other wildlife.

The first blow to Japanese whaling is a survey by an internationally recognised Japanese organisation, Nippon Research Centre, which has found that as many as 88.8 % of the Japanese people have not bought any whale meat in the last 12 months. Further, a mere 27% of respondents to the survey expressed support for whaling and only a meagre 11% said they support it strongly.

The survey also showed that young people in Japan have a particular distaste for their government’s continuing whaling policy. Respondents between the ages of 15 and 19 least support whaling, according to the survey.

Apart from the general rejection of their government’s whaling policy, the survey also revealed that the vast majority of the Japanese people also seriously object to approximately $9.78 million of their taxes being spent annually to subsidise whaling which continues to operate at a loss.

Recent reports have drawn attention to the Japanese government’s pledge to put the backing of public money behind an expensive refit of the ageing whaling factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. The ship needs repairs that will run into millions of dollars to keep it operational. Even more expenditure will be required if Japanese whalers are to continue travelling to Antarctic waters to harpoon whales.

The Nippon survey showed that 85% of the people surveyed in its poll expressed opposition to the use of millions of taxpayers’ money to build a new factory ship for whaling.

Across the world, no nation or groups of people within nations object to whaling if it has to be done to feed persons who depend upon it for food. Despite the fact that the Japanese government has mandated the use of whale meat in government-funded institutions, the vast majority of the Japanese people have long opted not to eat whale meat.

Today, an indication of the Japanese preference not to eat whale meat is that the government is forced to stockpile it. In 2009, it increased from 3,096 tonnes to 4,246 tonnes. In 2010, it exceeded 5,000 tonnes, before falling slightly to 4,284 tonnes in 2011.

But, whaling in Japan is a strong political lobby, exerting considerable influence on the political directorate, even though it has no popular grounding in the general population, as the Nippon survey clearly demonstrates.

It is that lobby and its purposes that governments in small vulnerable countries, including five in the Caribbean, support at the International Whaling Commission when they tie their votes to the Japanese position. This is especially obvious against the background that none of the small countries, except St. Vincent and the Grenadines, can claim to hail from a whaling tradition, and certainly not one of them needs whale meat for food.

The second recent blow to Japan’s insistence on whaling is the decision by the government of The Republic of Korea to abandon plans to resume whaling, following an international outcry.

Last July at an IWC meeting in Panama, the Korean government announced its intention to begin “scientific” whaling – the term that Japan uses for what is essentially commercial whaling. The announcement was met with astonishment and revulsion by environmental organisations and people all over the world concerned with sensible conservation especially of threatened species.

To its credit, having been inundated with expressions of deep concern from people across the globe, the Korean government opted not to submit a formal proposal by a December 3 deadline, and it will, instead, pursue non-lethal research.

The Korean decision illustrates the point that scientific research can be conducted without slaughtering whales. It also underscores the validity of the argument made against Japan that its so-called “scientific” whaling is really commercial whaling as evidenced by its large stockpile of whale meat and the government mandate that it should be used in government-financed institutions such as schools.

The Korean government will now become the beneficiary of support from environmental and conservation organisations from around the world. As an example, Patrick Ramage, Director of the Global Whale Programme of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, has said: “We stand ready to support the Republic of Korea in whatever appropriate way as it embarks on state-of-the-art, non-lethal whale research in Korean waters.”

There will be many others as Japan becomes more isolated in the world, relying only on a handful of small countries. Those supporting countries do themselves more harm than good particularly as many of them earn money from whale watching which is now a US$2.1 billion industry worldwide and growing. These countries need live whales not dead ones.

This is increasingly true of Japan itself. While its whaling operation is losing millions of Yen every year, whale watching in Japan is earning money. The industry has grown strongly, at an annual average rate of 6.4 percent. Its customer base – a large number of them, Japanese people – has grown from under 11,000 in 1992 to almost 200,000 in 2008, generating more than US$22 million in total revenue.

Knowledge is spreading in Japan of the losses incurred by whaling operations and the subsidies the government is providing to keep it afloat although whale meat is not widely consumed.

It is also becoming known that while millions of Yen in taxpayer subsidies continue to absorb money, whale watching is a small but profitable industry that has all the potential for growth.

Just about this time, Japan’s whaling fleet is expected to make yet another excursion into the Southern Ocean Sanctuary around Antarctica to continue killing whales. But, domestic economics dictate that the Japanese government cannot for much longer sustain an unprofitable programme of whale slaughter that has little support among its own population.

 

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat)

The waiting game continues – as always

We are moving speedily into the New Year – and whatever is in store for Next Year, in connection with our very uncertain political situation – but so far as the economic and employment areas are concerned, these are at a standstill with very little hope of any upwards movement anytime soon.

The three frontline parties are on the move and making all sorts of noises about the way ahead – but nothing concrete about what can be expected if and when whichever one wins at the Polls.

The recently formed NUF group are still very hush-hush about their actual membership – especially about those sitting M.P’s who resigned from the government of the NDC in the last year or two.

The other parties who have actually registered with the Election Supervisor – they are all very quiet and maybe waiting to see how the Election playing field levels out in the upcoming months. But if any of them is seriously thinking about contesting any seat at the upcoming Polls – time is not on their side and action must be taken sooner than later.

This past weekend the two major parties were out in the field, showing off their colours and heating up the Election trail. In particular, the ruling party began naming its replacement Candidates – for those who resigned and were expelled at the convention – and exposing them to the Electors.

Three of them in the parish of St. George, with one more to be named for the said parish, to join the Deputy Leader and Finance Minister Nazim Burke.

Four newcomers to the polls in that parish where the Rulers did have four winners in the last Elections – but only Minister Burke repeating – seems a huge task to overcome by those in control.

The new party seems very reluctant to disclose its full hands of Candidates, or maybe all those who are changing colours so soon after the convincing victory of July, 2008, they are not themselves convinced – that the people are ready or prepared to support them in making such drastic changes.

Whatever the causes or the rationale in the current circumstances maybe, as we move forward into the very unclear, and critical stages of our nation’s affairs in the upcoming six months or so – our people will be faced with some very serious and far-reaching decisions to be made in that period – and they will have to live with the outcome and the consequences in the ensuing years after “D” day.

But over and above that state of affairs whatever the Election outcome – the people are currently facing some very serious daily living conditions, and so far there are no expressed or published proposals to help cushion the existing effects.

Admittedly the world economic problems, have not helped our dependent people who have friends and relatives in the first world, and who have been accustomed to helping those here at home in times of need – but the problem is here at home and should be tackled right here.

The Government seems able to borrow money, when it comes down to paying public servants for some months now – so why is it so difficult, to do the same thing to put some of those thousands of unemployed breadwinners back to work – even for periodic sessions to ease the tension?

The situation with a whole lot of ordinary folks, who depend on occasional employment to feed their families all over the Islands, is very rough and becoming much worse, if that is at all possible.

And the concern of a large cross section of Ordinary folks, who approach me on the issue to air their views – is that if some action is not taken to ease up the pressure on those folks, sooner rather than much later, the social and legal effects resulting therefrom could become intolerable.

So those still in control of the nation’s affairs, and are responsible for the good and welfare of the people through the various ministries still existing – they have a duty and very serious responsibility, to ensure that some positive actions are taken, and helpful solutions adopted to ease the pressure, and thereby avoid the breakdown.

Yet despite the obvious chaos existing, as far as the living conditions of the people are concerned – and the daily problems facing the leftovers of the NDC group, who were so popularly elected just over four years ago, with high hopes of coming on board to bring about all the required changes, to make the necessary differences to our people’s lives – the number one topic and daily news items Islandwide, are all about this or that or the other political party aiming to take over the reins of power to control our affairs.

And in that ongoing melee of big talk and more ole talk, the topics are not about what concrete plans they have to bring relief and make a difference – but at this ninety-ninth hour before the Election Bell rings, they are still squabbling over who is in charge, who is running in which constituency, and what exactly are they planning to achieve.

And as if the chaos of who was resigning or was being fired for whatever reason, will continue to haunt those in charge up to the bitter end – we lately had the dismissal of Derrick James, from the position of Consul General to the U.S.A.

A position he has been holding for over four years – but the Prime Minister and his limping Cabinet have only now realised, that he is a U.S. Citizen and should not be holding that position in the U.S.A; I ask you!

I suppose as a close buddy of the Ex-Foreign Minister (M.P. Peter David) who appointed him to the position, it must be feared he will be organising the New York Diaspora in their fundraising ventures for the NUF, rather than the NDC in the upcoming General Elections.

I see that other strange group calling themselves “Movement for Independent Candidates (MIC)” – are also making noises about contesting the Elections in 2013. I wonder how they will choose a Leader, and whether that will take place before or after the voting booths are closed on Elections night.

We have not been hearing anything about the Victoria, St. Mark’s, based group, that was supposedly re-organised under a new Executive, in readiness for Elections next year.

I suppose that as the Election heats start rising in the New Year, we will be seeing and hearing all those who are just Bramblers, as opposed to those who will be submitting their nomination papers to contest the Elections.

There can be no denying or ignoring the current state of affairs in our various parishes, islandwide – but the major hurdle facing us as a people, is how or by what means we can overcome the problems.

So many negative aspects have been allowed to fester for so long – that finding solutions to remedy those shortcomings, would not be taking place overnight nor anytime very soon.

And therefore while the waiting game continues – our people have to be prepared to make the sacrifice to survive these trying times, and hope and pray that there will be some better times ahead.

The secret meeting is uncovered

by Stone Crusher

The more one lives in Grenada is the more one becomes convinced that local politics make strange bedfellows. So many of these old sayings are given life in Grenada by people we least expect – that it isn’t funny.

Who would have ever thought that word would reach the streets that the ‘“irrelevant union man” after seeing his fortunes dwindling would attempt to hold a secret meeting with operatives of the New National Party (NNP).

According to many – “ He reach way he goin’ !” The NNP has to realise that he is known for forging short-term alliances in order to fulfill his political ambitions while posing as doing what he does in the interest of the working class.

This is the same element who wanted Parliament to convene a special committee to investigate the Resteiner briefcase issue against Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell when he was Prime Minister and was so disappointed. This is the same union man who made the media circuit taunting Dr. Mitchell and when July 8, 2008 came celebrated his demise.

Dr. Mitchell will not interface with him directly since he of all persons knows that this man cannot be controlled. He is a loose cannon with a destructive track record. He will burn down a whole dam church just to get at one little mouse.

Furthermore, the burning down of a church means nothing for him because the man does not believe in God. He is the last standing communist and atheist in the whole of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

KCM has a way of exposing them. Remember when the Pastor who supports the Gang Leader visited the man’s home at Happy Hill for talks. KCM engaged him on the verandah so that all who passed by could see the Pastor sitting on the verandah with him.

So the Stone Crusher heard talk on the ground about this particular meeting which was carded to take place over last weekend between the Union Man and a few NNP people but took it as just more gossip, and never took it seriously.

As you and everyone know Grenada is full of rumours and rumours of rumours normally far less around this silly season of electioneering.

But when someone of substance called early on Sunday morning with facts to support an eyewitness to this strange assortment of people representing the NNP clique and this “irrelevant” union man (as he is most commonly referred these days), Stone Crusher had no choice but to remove all doubt that this ever happened.

Can you imagine the father of the NNP chief strategist from down South, its caretaker candidate for the Town of St. George, and the ‘recently get-left PRO” of the NNP meeting in the former office location of the 2003-2008 Leader of the Opposition with this “irrelevant union man”?

What could they have discussed? Did they discuss the new strategy to cover NNP’s nervousness of Peter David not running for the Town, which threw the confidence of the NNP caretaker candidate into a tailspin?

Is this testimony and hard sound proof of the collaboration we’ve been hearing of between both the Nuf-frauds and the NNP? Did they try to solidify the “irrelevant union man’s” candidacy for Nuf in the naught East (sorry, I meant North)? The NNP has put up a joker in the pack against Brother Naz and might be prepared to switch over support to the Union Man as their unofficial candidate.

The Clement boy is accustomed to being taken for a ride by KCM. His first taste of the Doc came soon after the 1995 general elections. Elvin Nimrod was approached by the NNP Leader to run for the party on the sister isle but he refused and instead decided to take his chance as an Independent.

Nimrod, a man who would love to be the PM of Grenada one day, wanted to do a James Mitchell of St. Vincent fame on Grenada and to position himself to bargain for the Prime Minister’s job in case there was a deadlock in the 1995 poll.

NNP scraped home with 8 of the 15 seats and KCM appointed the little Clement boy as the Parliamentary Secretary for Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The ink from the pen did not even dry on the paper and the Clement Boy was removed and in came Mr. Nimrod, the consummate opportunist to serve as a Senator and the man in charge of the two twin islands.

Now Clements better be careful because he might once again become the latest sacrificial lamb of KCM and his double-dealings.

The union man likes to bargain and might just be bargaining something for himself with KCM and NNP. Is he also bargaining something with NNP on behalf of the gang leader? Do not rule that out. A drowning man will clutch at anything in sight in the middle of the ocean and that is where Uncle Tilly has them at the moment.

Interestingly enough the “irrelevant union man” who has reduced himself to a mere joker among us was decimated by the NNP’s strategist from down South during a big industrial negotiation which sealed his fate as an “also-ran” in the local labour movement with employees of that particular outfit not wanting to see him at all.

Could you imagine him now meeting with a chosen representative – father of this same strategist who is responsible for sealing the irrelevant union man’s fate as discredited and gasping for breath as all the clout he had is no longer with him?

Stone Crusher understands that when the “irrelevant union man” saw that he was seen coming down the steps of the meeting’s location in the company of NNP officials he made an about turn back up the steps as if he thought he saw US Marshalls who are still on the prowl for him to rectify his fugitive of justice status… Ha! Ha! Ha! What a way to live.

Stone Crusher understands further than since the Breweries debacle, members of the union in which the irrelevant union man is still boss for life, are wishing they could get more soberly, meaningful and professional representation from the Public Workers Union (PWU) but because they are not public sector workers that is not possible at this time. What a pity?

Oh how some people who had it all could lose it so fast because of their greed for power and in their quest mix up ‘caca poul’ for fowl egg. They had it all in 1979 to 1983 and self destructed on Joint Leadership of all things. Two man crabs can’t live in the same hole. KCM will use them since he does not trust them.

On the issue of this “Clown” (as he is correctly branded in popular circles) running against Finance Minister Burke in the St. George’s North East constituency – he is sure to get naught as one of the prominent “naughts” the Nuf frauds are lining up for.

It would appear that the newest clown on the blocks as he was so correctly branded elsewhere, something that so many people have bought into – always saw himself as a candidate in our general elections.

In 2003 he is reported to have been interested in running on an NDC ticket as the candidate for the Town of St. George before the gang leader was finally endorsed in the constituency and in 2008 he is reported to have wanted to run in the South East St. George constituency on an NDC ticket.

When the NDC was not able to lock down a candidate for the seat, the union man volunteered to be the Candidate because of his lust to get something on his CV such as being elected by the people for the very first time to serve in the nation’s House of Representatives.

Although he serve the nation before he wanted history to record him in a different light. He did serve before but not through the ballot but the use of force through the barrel of the gun to topple Eric Gairy from power in the March 13, 1979 thing.

Good sense prevailed and the NDC did not fall for him at all. Could it be that he had this as one of the issues of discontent for the leadership of the NDC? It’s possible – especially when one considers how egocentric this confusion maker is by nature.

Even the NJM boys did not trust him fully and never appointed him to serve as a member of the Central Committee or Political Bureau of the party. The man just likes to oppose for opposing sake. Let him remain in the opposition since he is not a nation builder.

Since workers have discovered that this man’s out of date leadership style has been costing them their very jobs/livelihoods; and since they have further discovered that in the face of this debilitating crisis, it is easy for a business to seek protection through the filing of bankruptcy or under the Employment Act through restructuring which is necessary for all businesses to do in these times, they are very wary that the misplaced militancy of this “irrelevant union man” – can put them in serious trouble with their livelihoods.

The workers have seen though the element and more and more are coming to the realisation that he is using them to further his political ambitions with the fading dream he always had to be a prominent man in the Government of Grenada to reintroduce some of the archaic communist ideals once more.

If you make the mistake and mention this man’s name among some LIAT workers at the airport is as if you are giving them poison to drink to kill them. These workers do not trust him and believe that he sold them out to his Prime Minister friends in the region.

In recent times the failed political elements who could not unite when they were given the chance to unite in SDC and take the country forward – have formed themselves into a political party and holding fast with confidence of winning the next general elections.

These simpletons are out of touch with reality, as the ground does not favour them at all. The mere fact that they have not been able to attract dissidents like Peter David, Joseph Gilbert and Arley Gill sends a serious signal of fragmentation within the “expelled group”.

Unconfirmed word is that the gang leader convened a meeting with some of his stalwart supporters and informed them about his position with the foundation members of the “Nu-Frauds”. This in itself speaks to the issues, which the new party is faced with as it attempts to ready itself to fail miserably at the polls.

The gang man is not prepared to die on the battlefield with them. As Bob Marley says, “he who runs away lives to fight another day”. The gang man is allowing Glynis and them to die in the 2013 elections but trying to preserve himself for the 2018 battle.

So Glynis, Tommo, Ferrie and Uncle Joe, please wake up from the deep sleep and see who is really using who. Uncle Tilly was not so stupid after all because he had the last laugh over the gang man and his ambitions to uproot him from the seat of power.

Stone Crusher has absolutely no doubt that this group of “less than inadequate” elements plan to be spoilers in the upcoming polls and call on the Grenadian people to steer clear of anything that has as part of its membership anyone whose political ambitions involve causing the loss of jobs of the nation’s workers in these very trying economic times.

Stone Crusher further calls on all Grenadians to lift their level of consciousness and awareness to realise that if they were so destructive in the ruling party, left on their own with absolutely no checks and balances, you can only imagine how much more destructive they will be.

This “all-in-one looking ooman” who is first of all not cosmetically correct for any position in a race to the outhouse far less to be considered in a race to the office of Prime Minister of this country – should not be taken seriously.

This “ooman” seems to feel that because she is accustomed to conducting community clean up of drains and flower planting that she is qualified to run our country with support from the now decimated and failed rebels. She really feels we are “nuf” fools to fall for she and she “nuf” foolishness!

She keeps looking for pity and sympathy by constantly using the name of her husband who died a few months ago. Every time this “ooman” opens her mouth is talk about “me husband who died”.

The Glorified Secretary does not seem to understand that her deceased husband is no Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Norris Bain or Uncle Gairy. If Nadia Bishop decides to run in St. George South-east tomorrow morning, she might cash in on her father’s support and sympathy in the Constituency.

Look how David Thompson wife romped home to victory for the St. John seat in the election in Barbados following the death of the former Prime Minister. Those who follow in the footsteps of the people’s hero will always win very big.

But not you “ooman” since your husband did not fall into the same category. The Stone Crusher did not say anything about his habits when he was alive and will not like to be pushed to go into that particular direction. Glorified Secretary, please behave yourself.

Imagine this “ooman” called Michael Baptiste all the way in New York and putting she dead husband’s name in front to get him to surrender his “Rising Sun” symbol for she and NUF to use. “Ooman” stop this stupidness.

Privately, both the official opposition and the expelled rebels who are heavily influenced by a fugitive of justice are concerned that their chances are not all that clear cut since people are becoming more and more aware as the general elections draw near that the current state in which the country finds itself lays squarely on the shoulders of the mismanagement of the thirteen years prior to July 8th, 2008 and the destabilisation of the renegade elements of the NDC administration (now expelled) when they were part of the government.

Stone Crusher is on the ground and the man on the ground is not as stupid as both factions (NNP & NUF) may feel.

Jonah is campaigning for Uncle Tilly and NDC. Imagine this man and NNP gave away $280 million in guarantees to fly-by-night investors like E.J. Miller and the Ritz Carlton hotel project at Mt. Hartman in the form of State guarantees of millions of dollars.

The money flew away like a bird in the sky and Jonah is attacking Uncle Tilly and NDC for selling off some of the same lands at Mt. Hartman to NIS. The lands remained in the hands of “we” the people and were bought by “we own damn money” – not the same as going to Switzerland in June 2000 to get from the imprisoned fraudster, Eric Resteiner in Jonah’s style and fashion, “me dam money”.

Jonah, you are not a new kid on the block and no amount of water can ever hope to wash you clean again. But now is not the time to raise another issue with you – the Rodge Jones money case with you that is up for the next hearing in New York on February 19.

 

 

 

Cliff – what Cliff?

It is not only the people of the United States that should be praying that their political leaders have enough sense not to push themselves off the so-called “fiscal cliff”, but the rest of the world as well.

“Fiscal cliff” is a shorthand term used to describe the serious challenge that the US government will face at the end of 2012. In the US Congress, Republicans want to cut government spending and avoid raising taxes particularly on the wealthy who, they say, are the investors and job creators, while Democrats are looking for a combination of government spending cuts and tax increases especially on the wealthy.

The consequences of not reaching a compromise by year-end are far-reaching including pushing the US into another period of recession. But it seems that the bitterness surrounding the Presidential election, in which Barack Obama was elected to a second term, continues to define the Republican attitude to negotiations, and if it doesn’t cause them all to go over the “fiscal cliff”, it will create so much uncertainty that investors – including those who are large purchasers of US bonds – would be reluctant to invest.

Even families, faced with the uncertainty over new taxes or job losses, have begun to rein in their spending and this will have an effect on the economy, probably leading to no growth and higher unemployment.

One would have though the political leaders of the world’s largest economy and a Super Power would have been capable of greater maturity than they have shown in negotiating sensible positions in the interest of their people. But, it appears that large size and big population are no more a summons to responsibility than are small size and small population.

The quest for narrow political victory overrides wider national interest every time and everywhere. But that is not the only problem that the US faces. There is yet another hurdle to jump. If it is not met satisfactorily, it will also have an impact on the global economy and, especially, on countries for whom trade, investment and remittances are important. This hurdle is the limit on US debt.

Congress set that limit at a staggering $16.4 trillion, but by the next three months, the US is likely to hit that limit with a bang, requiring Congressional approval to increase it. Another set of political bickering will then begin which, at best, will lead only to stop-gap measures and not the comprehensive solution that is required.

For countries in the Caribbean, if the US problems are not solved, they can expect fewer tourists, less investment and much reduced remittances.

And while the US will have to wrangle itself out of its dreadful situation, the Eurozone area of the European Union (EU) countries has been facing one difficulty after another in relation to the level of debt among several of its member-countries. In the first quarter of 2012, combined EU economic activity was flat, and in the second quarter it actually contracted.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – the premier joint economic think-tank of both the US and the EU – warns in a report that Europe’s debt crisis is “a far bigger threat to the world’s economy” than the US ‘fiscal cliff’ and “could drag Europe into a deep recession in the next two years and the US along with it”.

The OECD says that unemployment is high with around 50 million jobless people in the entire OECD area. Worryingly, it also says unemployment is set to remain high, or even rise further, in many countries unless structural measures are used to boost near-term employment growth. But, so far, governments have mounted no programmes to deal with unemployment as aggressively and effectively as the situation warrants.

So, while the US “fiscal cliff” is proving to be as precipitous to the Caribbean as it is to the US, events in Europe offer no golden parachute. Emerging markets do have some answers that appear to be eluding the US and many of the EU countries.

According to the same OECD, “after softer-than-expected activity during 2012, growth has begun picking up in the emerging-market economies, with increasingly supportive monetary and fiscal policies offsetting the drag exerted by weak external demand.

China is expected to grow at 8.5% in 2013 and 8.9% in 2014, while GDP is also expected to gather steam in the coming years in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa”

The better situation in the emerging markets is good news. If they continue to grow and begin to promote consumption in their own economies through increased imports from the US and the EU, this will have the effect of boosting those economies, reducing their fiscal deficits and improving employment.

The news is not so good for small countries that have tied themselves almost exclusively to the US and EU for trade and investment, and which, while some of them have developed relations with China in particular, have neglected the opportunities that exist in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa.

Even with regard to the Chinese, trade is largely one way in China’s favour and loans – mainly for construction that employs a majority of Chinese labour – makes very little immediate impact on the economies while increasing their debt levels.

Of the 14 independent countries of the Caribbean that form the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Dominican Republic (DR), only the Bahamas, Belize DR, Guyana, Haiti and Suriname recorded over 2 per cent growth in 2011. Of the others, four actually had negative growth, and growth in the rest was marginal. Guyana and Suriname are the two sole countries that have enjoyed an average growth rate of 4 per cent over the last five years.

It may well be argued that many of the Caribbean countries have already fallen off their own fiscal cliff and are failing to rescue themselves through cooperation and integration in their regional and international arrangements that might be a more viable way of saving themselves, than limited national scrambling.

But then, maybe it’s a case of “cliff – what cliff?”

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat)

 

 

 

Time is drawing nearer- To “D” Day

Now that we are into the Xmas month of December, the time for putting our Parliamentary business in order, and getting back on track as far as the holding of the next sitting is concerned – that time becomes due in January, which would be six months since the last session of Parliament in July, 2012.

What happens thereafter – and how the political climate unfolds or develops, only time will tell – but there can be no doubt, that the next four to six months will see some strange happenings in our Tri-Island State, as far as our politics and those involved, or becoming involved, are concerned.

The last week saw the launching of our Seventeenth political party, and the top people in the new group are all ex-members of the existing Government party who were expelled at the last Convention – as well as two or three who were not expelled.

The leader of the new group has not been named thus far, but that is expected at its first Convention whenever the same is held. Whoever he/she maybe, and whatever will be the new party’s plan or promises for the way ahead – it will all make interesting reading, when considered from the view point of what took place in the last four years.

When the people voted for those M.P’s who have since resigned from the Government, or was dismissed in the case of Church of the St. John Constituency – these guys were seen as the answer to remedy the chaos left in the system by the defeated NNP and its long-standing leaders of Thirteen years.

But in less than three years, all the hopes and expectations of the people were turned up-side-down, and the rest is now history.

The major problem facing our people, as we go into the final stages of deciding and choosing – which group can be trusted to get our long-suffering people out of the political chaos we are now experiencing – is how they go about assessing the Candidates on offer, and the Leader in particular, who are canvassing to take over or continue in control of the nation’s affairs.

As regards the NNP and its leaders who have more or less stuck together – during the last four years on the opposition Benches – the question facing the people in general, is whether or not all the accusations, and the claims of personal appropriations of the people’s funds were justified, since none have been even challenged in any Court.

On the broader issue of performance in the public interest, as far as the various arms of the Government operations are concerned – the results are there or no where to be seen.

When it boils down to unity among the team in control, and the very important aspect of leadership by the team Leader and prospective Prime Minister – the record speaks for itself.

As far as the NDC is concerned, and the Prime Minister’s plea for re-election for the second term – a whole lot will depend on who are the persons chosen to replace those who have abandoned the ship of state, and how their track record stand up to scrutiny.

While the same level of complaints and accusations cannot be made about the NDC Group – as far as the dealings with the state property and funds are concerned – the whole question of performance, and co-operation, and loyalty to the group as the united party, will be of very significant importance on “D” day.

When it comes down to assessing the few other parties, who will actually be taking part in the upcoming Elections come next year whenever – it will be more of a case of assessing the individuals as such, because the parties have no track records of recent, or any control, that can be considered as a group.

And I quite frankly do not see many of them making any difference to the Elections outcome, whenever the same is called, whether as individuals or as a group.

When it comes down to those who had abandoned the ship of State in mid-stream, and who are now organising themselves under the banner of the “National United Front” (NUF) to context the upcoming Elections – while a few may get some votes, based on personal friendships built up while they were on board the said ship – I cannot see the group making any significant difference to the eventual outcome of power control.

It will be very interesting to hear what the various power-seekers, as groups, will have to say to the people about how and wherefrom they will be getting the means and investment programs, to be able to put the unemployeds back to work after Elections.

The “where-from” in particular will be of special concerns – because it will point out in advance, which of the controlling systems in the global market place, the said group will be aligned to and copying in practice, should that group succeed at the Polls.

But whether the Candidates choose to say anything about their promoters or associates on the outside or not – the people will have to assess and judge them by the company they are seen to be keeping, especially when they travel abroad on their fundraising ventures.

As a people we cannot forget our past political history, and especially how our leaders in the 1979-83 period treated our people, because of the foreign friends and the ideology they embraced when they assumed power.

And next year (2013) would be Thirty years in October, since we were rescued by the U.S.A. and some Caribbean forces, from detention at Richmond Hill Prison and Hope Vale Camp, and House Arrest in our very homes Islandwide.

The massacre, and the chaos that resulted thereafter – when the assembled crowd on Fort Rupert (now Fort George), had to jump over the High Cliffs to escape the PRA bullets that were flying all around them, after soldiers were dispatched to capture and execute Prime Minister Bishop and most of his Cabinet ministers – that experience has lived on to haunt our people right up to the present.

A lot of clean and not very clean, and even some very dirty and polluted make-believe political water, have passed under our Political Bridges since those dark and dismal days of March 1979 to October 1983, of the Revolution and military council brand.

A good many of us have survived, by the Grace of the Almighty above all else – but a whole lot of our people also perished in the process quite innocently.

So at least in their memory – we have to be very cautious about what we do, and who we choose to take charge and control of the nation’s affairs – in the year of our Thirtieth anniversary especially.

Rodge Jones wants his money!!!

By The Stone Crusher

 

Politics is very intriguing.

Former U.S President, the late Richard Nixon was disgraced with his Watergate Scandal and faced impeachment. He had to quit the Presidency because his peers in Washington, D.C, found him guilty of committing an illegal act.

In later years, the popular Bill Clinton after not being forthcoming with the American people on the Monica Lewinsky affair in the White House was forced to eat humble pie and had to apologise for an act of betrayal as the President of the United States.

The wrongs committed by these two Presidents and others holding or aspiring to high public office in the United States were brought into the public domain by an inquiring free and independent media.

The same should hold true for all other leaders regardless of which part of the globe they come from. It should always be the public right to know about their leaders – whether in or out of office.

This is the standard that should be applied in looking at the stewardship of the Political Leaders of the National Democratic Congress, The Hon. Tillman Thomas and the Opposition New National National Party, The Rt. Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell and the National Unity Front (NUF) whether the leader is Jerome Joseph, Sister Glynis Roberts, Peter David, Arley Gill, Karl Hood or Joseph Gilbert.

The latest bit of news about the Hon. Opposition Leader that is making the rounds in the country should be of interest to all Grenadians whether at home or in the Diaspora since it goes to the heart of the word called TRUST.

The people have a right to know if their leaders have things hidden in the closet, which they do not want to reach into the public domain for fear that, they will be rejected.

When Tillman Thomas collected US$50, 000 into his personal bank account for the use of his party, the NNP tried to make it into a public issue and gave the impression that the Prime Minister had committed an illegal act that warranted prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

As a matter of fact, Dr. Mitchell is still to provide his proof of $US 150, 000.00 and not US$50, 000.000 as collected by the Cabinet Member whom he described as “top, top, it couldn’t be much higher than that”.

He said that his lawyer has the proof that he gave him all the evidence. Is that the same lawyer who is acting for him in the New York case that was filed against both he and his wife, Marietta by his close relative, Rodge Jones?

Dr. Keith, it is time for you to come clean with the Grenadian people on this New York case since it touches on the important question of trust and integrity.

KCM, this is not a threat to or against you since The Stone Crusher is not about sending out any threats. But please take this as a warning – do the right thing and pay Rodge Jones his money or feel the wrath.

The last man who felt the wrath of The Stone Crusher was the Red Infidel and his Gang who tried to make a grab for power in the NDC.

Don’t forget that the Gang Man was warned to behave himself or face the consequences of being crushed and cremated. He did not listen and this column gave him so much licks that the NDC delegates were forced to expel the entire Gang and their siblings last September 30.

If KCM fails to take heed, he too will face a similar fate to the Gang Man. The Stone Crusher will bring him to his knees for the bad treatment given to Rodge – a man who worked for him for 27 years and he left penniless.

What happened to Rodge could have happened to any other Grenadian who accepted the job to be the “Super” at MK Manor, the apartments owned by Keith and his wife in Brooklyn.

Imagine this man who wants to be Prime Minister of the country asking a reporter – what his private case in New York has to do with Grenadians?

KCM, like you getting dottish and foolish to ask that kind of dumb question. This is a man who told the people that if they voted him back as Prime Minister that they would see a changed man.

It appears that the message you were trying to sell Grenadians is that you will no longer be engaged in victimisation of people like Richard Duncan, Julia Lawerence, Cecil Greenidge, Nolan Murray, Brian Francis and all the other civil servants who felt your weight in the 13 years.

The message that you are selling to get re-elected is that KCM will no longer squander the people’s money in the form of guarantees to people like Miller and the Garden Group and that no more crooks and con-men like Van Brink and the other blights from First International bank of Grenada and their offshore banking schemes will be allowed back in the country.

Indirectly, you were also trying to send a message to Grenadians that the new look Keith Mitchell will not take funds from the State once again and put at the disposal of family members like Denis Campbell to start up any Call Centre.

But how can the people trust you when you have built up a reputation as a man that uses people and then dumps them. The records are there to see – Grace Duncan, Michael Baptiste, Mark Isaac, et al. It is only Mark Isaac who has stooped very low and come back to you with cap in hand begging once again.

Now Rodge Jones, your own cousin from Happy Hill is forced to take you to court for using him for 27 years and them dumping him without a penny for his retirement.

This is what Grenadians need to know about you in order to help them to make up their mind on whether to place the second new ball in your hand to clean bowl your opponents for victory in the upcoming general elections.

The Stone Crusher has managed to get a copy of the response that was given by Mr. Jones’ lawyer in the New York matter against you and your wife.

The lawyer was asked to comment on the chances of the Judge in New York allowing you to invoke the Immunity from Prosecution Clause that you did so successful when you were Prime Minister.

This is what the lawyer said: “This lawsuit against Mr. Mitchell involves no “official acts” of Grenada. The suit arises from his purchase of an apartment house in Brooklyn, NY and his employment of his first cousin, Rodge Jones, a naturalized US citizen as resident manager of that building. The Mitchells’ treatment of Rodge Jones is disgraceful.

“Paid off the books by the Mitchells, Jones never qualified for US Social Security. All that time, he had no medical coverage, no insurance, no pension plan. In his last nine years of service, he had but one three week vacation. His reward for 27 years of faithful service was discharge and eviction. Even worse, the Mitchells breached their promise to pay him severance. “No wonder your PM wants to quash this lawsuit. The Mitchells have left their cousin penniless after a lifetime of service. If the Grenadian people knew the true facts, Keith Mitchell would lose all credibility with the electorate. This is the true reason he seeks immunity.

“In fact, Jones v. Mitchell is a purely private matter involving no questions of state. It is purely a New York matter. All services by the Plaintiff were performed in Brooklyn, New York. Moreover, when the Mitchells bought 484 Linden Blvd. Mr. Mitchell was not PM. When Mitchell fired Jones, he was not PM. This case is no more than a breach of contract by an employer to the disadvantage of an employee under New York law.

“Nothing in the NY civil case has any relationship to “official acts” of Grenada or Mr. Mitchell’s status as the Grenadian PM. Mitchell certainly deserves something official because of his bad acts against Jones. However, one thing he does not merit is immunity from the lawsuit.

“The Stipulated date has been changed for the deposition on consent from 2/18 to 2/19 because 2/18 is a public holiday in NYS. I will send on the amended order to you within a day or two. Thank you. Ig

For person who doesn’t know “ig” are the initials of the lawyer.

But this last thing about the “Stipulated date” refers specifically about the date for the next hearing of the matter. So if Keith Mitchell is trying to tell the nation that it is not true that he has any matter in a court in New York that is a blatant lie.

The Stone Crusher understands that since the new court matter involving KCM in New York was reported in the local newspaper, Mr. Jones has spoken to several persons in Grenada confirming that he has taken legal action against Dr. Mitchell and his wife for monies owed to him.

And Dr. Mitchell seems to have forgotten that the case was not filed yesterday but some months back. Did he forget that both he and his wife have filed their defenses in the case through their own lawyer?

Dr. Mitchell, in case you do not know the information making the rounds is that Mr. Michael Baptiste is the one who went to the court registry in New York and found the case file involving you and your wife and Mr. Rodge Jones.

Mr. Baptiste has all the documents that were filed in the case by all the parties – you and your wife and Mr. Jones himself.

A close friend of Mr. Baptiste informed The Stone Crusher that the former Opposition Leader has down to the letter that was signed offering Mr. Jones the 5% at the end of his contract as the Super of MK Manor.

Mr. Baptiste might have more than you know about your private business in New York. As a matter of fact, he went down to the courthouse with Mr. Jones at the last hearing to give him some moral support in the case brought against you.

It is my information that Mr. Baptiste was present when the judge gave the February 18 date for both you and your wife to appear in person and to answer questions on the breach of contract with Mr. Jones.

The Stone Crusher did hear Mr. Baptiste on a recent “Sundays with George Grant” saying words to the effect that the New York judge ruled that you and your wife will have to show up to give testimony come rain, thunder and lighting. Is that true, Dr. Mitchell?

Mr. Baptiste said that the judge also intimated that it will have to take a snowstorm and a shutdown of New York City in order for you not to show up in the next legal step in the matter.

As a matter of fact, the judge ruled that if there was a show storm then the next date he is putting aside for you, your wife and Mr. Rodge Jones in the case is March 6.

Dr. Mitchell, don’t you think that Mr. Jones is angry and hurt over the manner in which you treated him? He is in a position, more than anyone else to leak out some of your hidden secrets. So be careful of what you are asking for from Mr. Jones – the man who knows a lot and can start singing.

Is it true that Mr. Jones did discuss with you the manner in which you were treating Mr. Baptiste when he was the Minister of Agriculture in your former NNP government?

The Stone Crusher understands that Mr. Jones begged you to leave Mr. Baptiste alone and do not proceed with the bogus court case filed against him by one Hugh Wildman, the NNP hit man lawyer from Jamaica.

Do you remember what was your response to Mr. Jones? What makes you feel that Mr. Jones would not have informed Mr. Baptiste what you said about taking him to court.

So Mr. Baptiste was a little boy from the country who wanted to come in town and star in Parliament and had to be cut down to size. Putting him in jail was one of the options for the NNP just to hold onto power!!!

The NNP could not handle him as Opposition Leader in Parliament so the best place to send him to cool off was at the Richmond Hill prison on trumped up charges that he stole Japanese money and put in his own bank account.

KCM, you under-estimated Mr. Baptiste because just like you, he has a doctorate. Your PhD is in Mathematics and Statistics but Mr. Baptiste has earned several doctorates in Street Sense, which you do not have on your CV.

The Stone Crusher is sure that whenever Prime Minister Tillman Thomas calls the general elections that Mr. Baptiste will be once again on the campaign trail to make sure that Keith Claudius Mitchell is never ever re-elected as Prime Minister of this country.

Mr. Baptiste more than anyone knows that KCM has not changed one bit and it will be the same ole, same ole all over again.

Sir, where you are concerned a rose will always be a rose and a leopard cannot change the colour of its skin.

KCM, please pay Rodge Jones his compensation package before the end of the year or forever continue to feel the wrath of The Stone Crusher until judgment day comes your way.

The Good Lord is not asleep.

Voting on Economics

By Dr. Brian Francis

It is a commonly accepted position that general elections are decided not by a single factor but by a multiplicity of concerns. And that inference is true not only in Barbados and other small island states but also in the most developed countries throughout the world.

What is also true is that some issues are usually more important than others and can thus make a huge difference in outcomes when the actual votes are tallied.

Let’s take the case of the last Presidential elections in the United States. In his November 19, 2012 talking points memo entitled “Liberals and Conservatives ganging up on Mitt Romney,” Bill O’Reilly suggested that lower income individuals contributed significantly to the President’s election victory.

He then went on to state the following: “Ask yourself this question, what do you think those making less than $30,000 a year were voting for? What were they voting for? Do you think they were voting for massive debt? Were they voting for continued chaos in the Middle East? Were they voting for more government regulations that inhibit businesses from hiring working people? Were they voting for eight percent unemployment that keeps salaries down because there are more workers than jobs? Were they voting for any of that? No. Millions of lower income Americans voted for the candidate who they thought was going to directly help them financially. Not every Obama voter did that but many absolutely did.”

Indeed, the analysis presented by Bill O’Reilly suggests that many of the persons who voted for President Obama did so because they felt that their own financial circumstances stood to benefit from the President’s re-election.

By extension, their votes were not entirely an endorsement of the failures and unintended consequences of any of the President’s policies.

If, indeed, a comparison can be made between what transpired in the Presidential elections in the United States and our own situation here in Barbados, then, clearly, interesting times lie ahead.

Why? Given the current state of the Barbadian economy and the plight of more and more people (particularly lower and middle income individuals); it is not far-fetched to conclude that voting on economics could be the dominant factor in the upcoming general elections.

What this means is that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) now has to present to the public its specific policies (particularly on the tax side) geared toward improving the financial status of Barbadians because the Barbados Labour Party has already laid some of its cards on the table in that regard.

Remember, Mitt Romney and the Republicans mounted a robust campaign against President Obama’s economic policies, claiming among other things that those policies will increase the national debt and federal budget deficit, kill job creation, and destroy small businesses. Yet, Mitt Romney lost the election, big time!

In a similar manner, we have heard in Barbados strong reactions to the BLP’s proposed policies in terms of their potential negative effects on the fiscal deficit, the balance of payments, and the international reserves.

Therefore, as we have seen in the United States, will the Barbadian electorate vote based on the financial benefits to be derived from the proposals outlined by the various political parties despite some of the negative unintended consequences?

That question will surely be answered sooner rather than later!

 

(Dr. Brian Francis is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Bridgetown, Barbados of the University of the West Indies)