“We fo we”

Regional journalists in Curacao

Regional journalists in Curacao

Founder of Curacao Media Organisation, Merrill Sulvaran, wants Caribbean journalists to take a “we fo we” stand when dealing with the issue of safety.

Addressing scores of journalists at the 20th Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day and Caribbean Media Summit in Curacao last week, Sulvaran delivered a presentation as part of a panel discussion on the topic, “Safety of Journalist in the Caribbean: Where are we and what should be done?

He holds the view that “How one perceives the collectivity of the media in a country represents the degree of respect each participating journalist in that country enjoys”.

Sulveran who has a Master of Science Degree in strategic management and organisational change from the Kingdom University of Groningen in the Netherlands, has been active in the Curacao media since 1994 and has produced different newspapers and magazines

He told practitioners that media in the Caribbean territories have the tendency to accept unfounded criticisms without “hitting” back.

His concept of “we fo we” encourages the Caribbean media to start caring for each other collectively, creating a common barrier against offenders and violators of freedom of expression.

“If media participants in a country respect each other, and maintain a constant quality evaluation and control of their own performance, more respect will be created towards the media in corresponding country”, he said.

According to Sulveran, “Media in the Caribbean Territories tend to be stand alone units.

“Strategic Business Units compete in a small-scale economy with no or less chances of growth. There is no time for collectivity thinking. Even worse, there is no time for training and quality development”, he said.

“This practical approach to media operation may also be one of the determining factors of image deterioration of the media in the Caribbean islands”, he added.

He contended that owners of the media in the Caribbean tend to neglect collectivity, not only commercially but also operationally.

A neglect attitude towards competing media deteriorates the formation of protective barriers against defamation and other types of attacks towards the Caribbean media,” he said.

Sulveran says that if this concept of “we fo we” is not embraced, media in the Caribbean territories could be victimised by bold expressions, offensive expressions, defamation, threats and even death.

He noted that lately in the Caribbean, death threats against practitioners have increased and suggested that collective thinking on the part of both journalists and media managers should be promoted.

“As of the moment, media attackers in the Caribbean “get away” with it because they know they will not be punished or there is no reprimandal system to control the offense, either physical offense or verbal.

“Once a media unit is ‘under’ attack on one of the Caribbean islands, their colleagues will stay quiet, as if ‘not my concern’.

Sullveran charged that media persons in the Caribbean should start to focus on collectivity.

He said that challenges facing Caribbean media are many and that on the organisational level, he believes that the media should gear operations towards quality control, forming a body of control and protection and organisations that protect practitioners.

Sulveran told journalists they need to forget the smallness of the islands and take advantage of their sizes.

“We need to forget that most Caribbean islands are of low population. Small communities where politicians are neighbours and policemen are part-time sport trainers. “We fo we” concept need to be implemented because everybody knows everybody on the islands”, he said.

“The benefit of small scale communities is that we can attain self protection relatively easier compared to large scale communities. Once unified, the protective mechanism will function much better. People will think before trying to attack. Knowing the collective consequences of the media ‘being on your back,” he said.

Cherrian Blackman-Stephen, reporter at THE NEW TODAY newspaper was one of the Grenada representatives in Curacao, sponsored by UNESCO.

 

State espionage against NDC

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has complained about “police spies” intruding its private meetings and called on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James to put an end to the practice.

Congress called a press conference last Friday to give details to the local media about the actions of members of the Special Branch of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to sit in on private meetings of the party held in St. Andrew’s and the south of the island.

The party did not release the names of the three plain clothes police officers allegedly engaged in the alleged acts of espionage.

Addressing members of the local media at the press briefing, Deputy Political Leader of the party, Nazim Burke accused the Special Branch officers of taking it on their own to invite themselves to the party meeting and recording the proceedings.

Burke said the party is concerned that the constitutional rights of its members are being infringed upon and that this is a very disturbing development that strikes at the very heart of democracy and which if not arrested is likely to compromise the very democratic system “that we live in”.

The former Finance Minister made specific reference to a meeting held last week Wednesday at 7.00 p.m. at the Grand Anse Roman Catholic School by the St George South Constituency Branch of Congress.

He said that two police officers, who were later identified as members of the Special Branch of RGPF showed up at the meeting unannounced and uninvited, took their seats and sat throughout the meeting, listening and observing and recording the entire proceedings.

According to Burke, a similar situation took place the previous night when the St Andrew South West Constituency Branch met at the St Andrew Primary School and one officer in plain clothes who was identified to be part of the Special Branch unit sought to sit in the session and record the proceedings.

On this second occasion, he said the officer was advised that it was a private closed-door meeting of the NDC and that persons who were not members of the party were not invited and not welcomed and the person left the building.

Burke told reporters that the NDC is alarmed that this behaviour on the part of the Special Branch of the force is taking place less than 90 days after the February 19, General Elections in which the ruling New National Party (NNP) won all 15 seats, leaving the country without an official opposition party in Parliament.

“We call this press conference because these two incidents (are) a dangerous precedence for Grenada as the constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association”, he said

“We consider these developments especially disturbing in light of comments reported in the media that media persons are going to be expected to let certain persons in authority see what they have to produce and what they have to publish and what they say before they say it, as well as announcements … that a new law is going to be passed that will allow wiretapping for criminal purposes which mean that as long as the police believe that somebody is engaged in criminal activity then they can tap their phones.

“So we hearing about the possibilities of curtailing media behaviour, we hearing about the possibilities of tapping phones and … we observing and seeing another case where people are simply showing up at the (NDC) meetings, all of these rights are protected by the constitution and this is not what we envisage.

The former government pointed out that NDC is not attempting to overthrow the NNP-led government of Dr. Mitchell and as such there can be no reasonable justification for this action by members of the Special Branch.

“The NDC is not a subversive organisation – it did not attempt, it is not attempting to overthrow any government … there could be no reasonable explanation as to why anyone should find it necessary to be eavesdropping, to be spying, to be conducting surveillance on the National Democratic Congress”, he said.

“This is absolutely unwarranted, this is absolutely unnecessary”, he said, adding that all the NDC wants to do is to rebuild its organisation and work to regain the confidence of the Grenadian people so that it can win the next general election.

Burke said he cannot comprehend why after winning all 15 seats in Parliament, some members of the ruling New National Party are so angry with Congress.

“When they (NNP people) speak you see so much anger in their demeanour, it’s as though they still not satisfied… The only reasonable explanation that one can say to this is that there are some (NNP) members who seemed determined, who want to see the complete annihilation of the National Democratic Congress and the establishment perhaps of a one-party state.”

Burke is calling on Commissioner of Police, Winston James to reign-in his officers to ensure this practice comes to an end and for the Minister for National Security, Prime Minister Mitchell to use his office to ensure that this does not happen again on the island.

Optimistic but Cautious, Grenada Bolsters Its Water Resources

By Desmond Brown

 

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (IPS) – One daunting scientific forecast states that almost half of the world’s population will live in areas of water scarcity by 2030. Yet Christopher Husbands, the head of Grenada’s National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA), is unfazed.

Christopher Husbands NAWASA’s General Manager

Christopher Husbands NAWASA’s General Manager

“Nationally, we have adequate resources, certainly taking us way past 2030,” he told IPS, adding that for the coming decades Grenada did not need to be overly concerned about the coming water scarcity.

Yet he allowed that two villages in Grenada do not have pipe-borne water. As part of its overall plan to promote best practises in water management, the state-owned utility company will this year construct Grenada’s first community rainwater system in one of them, the hamlet of Blaize village.

Husbands, who is the general manager at NAWASA, estimated that the entire community of 3,000 to 5,000 residents would be supplied with rainwater. “The system will be designed to ensure 60 days’ supply at all times,” he described. “We will have a central system and pipe the water to the houses, so we will control the treatment.”

Residents currently must go to a local spring for water, which is treated by NAWASA. In the dry season, when the spring runs low, the company sends water trucks.

Pat Jones, 65, recalls that when he was growing up, a community standpipe could be found every eighth of a mile. Today, he noted, most people have pipes in their homes. “But there are still a few community standpipes around,” he told IPS.

He called the idea of community standpipes “a very good idea because not all of us can afford the luxury of pipes in our homes. It is a necessity in certain communities so that residents can get water to drink and even take a bath.”

In spite of Grenada’s abundance of surface water, the country has always struggled with distribution. Husbands said that the solution – pumping – is easy, technically, but expensive.

“We have to try our best to stay away from pumping because operating costs would be going up,” he told IPS. Grenada residents pay EC8.10 (3 U.S. dollars) per 1,000 gallons for up to 2,800 gallons per month. The cost increases to EC13.20 for up to 5,500 gallons.

A community rainwater system is not entirely new to Grenada, the largest of three in this three-island state. The smallest, Petite Martinique, is supplied completely by rainwater, while the other, Carriacou, is 95 percent supplied by rainwater.

 

Feeling the effects of climate change

 

The direct link between climate change and water availability continues to become more convincing, Husbands told IPS.

For Grenada, the dry season is traditionally from January to June, with different parts of the island feeling varying levels of intensity and over different periods.

“Drier dry seasons and more intense rain events during the rainy season…are extremely problematic for us,” Husbands said. “When the dry season persists, because we are so dependent on surface water, our supplies drop sometimes 40 percent.”

Ironically, more intense periods of rain sometimes result in less water. “You have the dams getting silted up; you have the river muddy and you can’t treat it…because it’s going to end up as mud in people’s homes.”

Climate change funding is also an issue, Husbands told IPS. Despite bigger pledges at climate change conferences, “the rate at which those funds are getting down to the ground needs improving”.

“Storage is key for climate change, because it’s what’s going to allow us to balance these effects,” Husbands described. “But when you are not even getting the funds yet you are easily 12, 24 or 36 months away from implementation.”

But he also noted that Grenada was taking steps to reduce water waste such as by reducing leaks. It even set up a Leak Detection Unit. “They go around the country daily looking for leaks, all in a bid to get that efficiency up and non-revenue water down,” Husbands told IPS.

NAWASA is also on a public education and awareness campaign to teach children about good usage practices and conservation. It is partnering with the ministry of agriculture to ensure catchment areas are protected.

Similarly, the neighbouring island of Dominica, known for its rivers and abundance of fresh water, has been urging residents to review water resource management, as the number of rivers it has may be decreasing, according to Reginald Austrie, minister of housing, lands, settlement and water resources management.

Dominica recently launched a 7.4-million-dollar water upgrade project that authorities said would benefit thousands of residents and consumers in the north, east and south of the country.

The spy game continues

NDC Executive members Shane Ross, Nazim Burke and  Halim Abdulwali

NDC Executive members Shane Ross, Nazim Burke and Halim Abdulwali

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is toying with the idea of releasing photos of two members of the Special Branch of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) engaged in acts of espionage against the party, which was heavily defeated in the February 19 general elections.

The threat was made by Shane Ross, Assistant General Secretary of NDC for the Southern Zone and executive member of the South St. George Constituency branch.

Ross appeared alongside Deputy Political Leader, Nazim Burke and Halim Abdulwali, Chairperson for the St George South Constituency Branch to address reporters on the issue surrounding the Special Branch officers.

The NDC executive member Ross, characterised the acts of the officers as despicable behaviour but warned that the NDC will not be intimidated by such acts against the party.

“We are not afraid of intimidation, trust me. If it is their intention to intimidate us tell them it will have a different effect. In fact we are motivated. When coming to intimidate us physiologically and otherwise by coming to spy on our meetings, trust me, we are not going to back down, we are going to stand up and fight as the NDC”, he said.

According to Ross, the strategy was not to force the police officers to leave the meeting but to allow them to remain for the entire proceedings.

“We saw them, we knew they were there, but we were smarter than them because we have specially trained people who were in that meeting and we planned how we were going to deal with them and we (were) successful in dealing with them. Maybe later on down the road you all might hear about it”, he told reporters.

Ross and some other members of the NDC branch in the south were active members of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution and were exposed to military training.

The political activist said he would like to hear a response to this development by former NDC members Glynis Roberts, Peter David, Arley Gill, Karl Hood, Michael Church and Joseph Gilbert – some of whom are now enjoying close political association with the rival New National Party (NNP) outfit.

Ross disclosed that photos were taken of the two officers at the South meeting and might be distributed to social media and others depending on a decision of the executive of the party.

The Chairperson for the St George South Constituency Branch also addressed the meeting.

In the face of claims from some quarters in the country that the Special Branch officers should have been put out of the meeting, Griffith said he would take full responsibility for allowing them to remain in the meeting

According to the NDC official, he was merely extending an NDC courtesy to the lawmen.

“I was completely distraught with the presence of the police at the meeting, but however I choose not to throw them out and I take full responsibility for that because I knew before the meeting started that they were there, but you see rather than respond in panic, I thought it was best to let’s see what they are up to so we allowed them to sit throughout the meeting not because we were afraid of them but we just wanted to extend our NDC courtesy to the police,” he told the media.

“…In our meetings we are always open. My position is that we have nothing to hide, but because we respect the constitution which gives us the right to operate and have meetings and not be molested or be intruded by members of the security branch forces who should be (there) if ever to protect us rather than to intrude and try to create confusion”, he said.

The NDC faced a similar “Police Spy Case” situation on February 26, 2008 on Lucas Street involving a member of the Special Services Branch, under the watch of then spy chief, Superintendent Anthony De Gale.

Police Officer 77 Kelon Noel was apprehended while secretly recording a closed door meeting in the lead up to the July 8, 2008 General Election.

He was allegedly caught after placing a tape-recorder underneath the window of an adjacent building where a session of the National Executive of Congress was in progress to discuss among other things matters relating to the upcoming poll.

Noel subsequently claimed that some senior executive members of the party beat him and civil lawsuits were filed against nine members of the NDC including Burke, Arley Gill and Joe Gilbert.

No criminal charges were laid against the executive members.

However, civil charges were filed against the NDC members in the names of former Attorney General Elvin Nimrod for special damages and false imprisonment for $1,000.00 and $1,650.00 for the Special Branch officer.

Trinidadian Lawyer, Ramesh Maharaj was retained to represent the police officer.

Since its defeat at the polls in February, the NDC has been conducting regular constituency branch meetings to regain the confidence of the electorate and to attract newcomers to the party.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a final decision has not been taken to determine whether or not the photos of the alleged “spy officers” of the branch should be released to the media for publication.

 

LIME surprises lucky mothers

LIME's Mother Day's winners

LIME’s Mother Day’s winners

It was a day full of surprises at LIME stores last Friday as lucky mothers were presented with flowers and gift baskets.

The first mother completing a transaction at each of the retail stores received a lovely Mother’s Day gift basket.

Floral arrangements were also given out to other mothers during the morning period.

LIME’s General Manager, Angus Steele made the presentations at the Bruce Street and Spiceland mall stores and commented, “we recognise the hard work, sacrifices and selfless contributions that mothers have made and we take the opportunity to wish all mothers of the nation a very Happy Mother’s Day”.

LIME also announced the winners of its Mother’s Day promotions.

To enter, customers simply had to sign up for any new Internet, Landline Mobile service, activate any LIME data plan, Top up $15 or more or activate Talk 24, SMS 24, Talk XL or Text XL promotion.

The winners included Eileen McSween, who won lunch for two at the Flamboyant hotel and Joan Daniel, winner of Lunch for two at Mt. Cinnamon hotel.

Claudia Mitchell received a shopping voucher valued at $500 at Real Value supermarket while Samantha Hossle, winner of Movie Palace tickets and Marilyn Peters, winner of a Spa Massage at La Luna Resort.

Earlier in the week, customers won tickets to the Sunshine Promotions, ‘A Night of Love’ concert once they activated a postpaid plan, purchased a laptop or computer or a Blackberry Z10 device.

The specials continued with a Crazy Friday promotional offer on World Talk cards at $8, the Alcatel OT-296 at $80, special offers on smartphones with the sign up of a postpaid plan and $5 bonus credit with a Top up of $15 at any LIME store.

LIME’s Crazy Friday and Wacky Wednesday promotions offer customers great deals such as discounts on devices, installation offers, IDD and local calling rate specials and more.

Customers can log on to the LIME Grenada Facebook page, check their text messages or visit any retail store to take advantage of the in-store specials.

Steele and Human Resources Manager, Jeneil Alexis-Browne, also took the opportunity on Friday to present gift vouchers from La Heliconia to every mother on staff, as part of the ongoing colleague engagement initiatives.

Scotiabank celebrates Golden Anniversary

Elie Bendaly – the bank understands the  community it serves

Elie Bendaly – the bank understands the
community it serves

A local financial institution whose parent company is based in Canada is beaming with satisfaction that it has been of value and service to Grenada.

This year marks the Golden Anniversary of the operations of Scotiabank to the people of Grenada.

To celebrate that milestone, the bank which has three locations in Grenada has planned 50 days of activities which commences today (Friday May 17) with a customer appreciation day.

Other activities throughout the next 50 days include a Thanksgiving Church Service, business seminars, mortgage clinics, and a health clinic focusing on the AIDS epidemic.

Kelly Roberts, Assistant Manager, Personal Banking who took the media through the planned celebration at the Grand Beach Resort at Grand Anse, St. George’s on Tuesday said that as part of the bank’s ongoing commitment in the fight against the threat and stigma of HIV and AIDS, the financial institution will continue working with the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership.

Scotiabank, on an annual basis conducts a regional testing day. This year it takes place on June 28, the actual launch set for May 30.

Assistant Manager for Small Businesses, Sterl Lyons addressed the media on the non-banking services that the bank offers to the community by enhancing the lives of children and women in the areas of sports, culture and health care.

In what is known as the “Bright Future Programme,” Lyons said it is experienced through the bank’s involvement in sports, education, youth and community groups.

In the area of sports, the annual Intercol Games has been sponsored for the past 33 years by Scotiabank in Grenada

Commercial Banking Manager Kingsley Ashby - customer convenience underpins Scotiabank’s service delivery promise

Commercial Banking Manager Kingsley Ashby – customer convenience underpins Scotiabank’s service delivery promise

The annual Kiddy Cricket Festival is recognized as an important investment in the lives of the youth and sports.

Since its inception in 1999, Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket is now the longest running cricket sponsorship in the Caribbean. In Grenada alone approximately 65 schools are engaged in the programme.

The bank also offers a scholarship programme at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The programme which commenced in 1997 offers a scholarship for three years to a successful applicant.

Sponsorship is also provided in the area of sports tourism in the form of the annual Billfish Tournament and the Grenada Sailing Festival.

Country Manager Elie Bendaly indicated that the bank makes it a priority to understand the community it serves so as to help customers discover the possibilities in their lives and to support causes that are meaningful to the society.

Scotiabank opened its first branch on May 17, 1963 on Halifax Street, St. George’s.

In 1966, the bank opened a sub-branch in Grand Anse at what is now known as Wall Street. However, it was closed in 1974. A new branch was later reopened in 1991 at the Steele’s Commercial Complex.

The third branch of Scotiabank was opened in Grenville, St. Andrew’s in 1997.

Commercial Banking Manager Kingsley Ashby said customer convenience underpins Scotiabank’s service delivery promise.

Ashby stated that computer was introduced in 1987 to the bank, which he said changed the banking landscape to the point where the mobile banking technology is being utilized.

That form of modern technology has caused the bank to earn the award as best internet bank for 2010 and 2011 from Global Finance, and in 2012 it was voted Bank of the Year by America’s Bank Magazine.

Scotiabank currently has a staff of 75 persons.

 

G’da and IMF relations

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar fraternally greet each other

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar fraternally greet each other

Port-of-Spain — Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, who was in Trinidad last week told reporters in Port-of-Spain that his New National Party (NNP) administration is prepared to deal with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) but would only accept “what is best for the country”.

His remarks comes against the backdrop of a release issued by holders of Grenada’s bonds that they would like the IMF to be part of a programme to be worked out with Grenada to repay millions owed to them.

The three-month old government in St. George’s has signaled its intention to renegotiate for a second time in 10 years, Grenada’s debt estimated at EC$2.3 billion with its creditors.

The Mitchell government was forced to take the decision after Grenada defaulted on a coupon payment with its creditor, estimated at EC$19 million dollars in March.

The cash-strapped government said it did not have any monies to make the payment and as a result the credit rating agency, Standard & Poor downgraded the island’s creditworthiness to “SD”.

During his trip to Trinidad, Dr. Mitchell was asked by reporters in Port-of-Spain to comment on Grenada’s agreement with the IMF and he made it clear that the island had recognised that it must deal appropriately with the international community.

“We have signaled to the IMF that we need their support, but of course we are only going to accept a programme that is in the interest of Grenada and Caricom,” he said.

Noting that he had been in government before and the IMF knows him and he them, he said: “We know what is best for our country. So we are

going to be discussing this new formula in the context of what is best

for the country. We’ll work things out. But Grenada would be in charge

of the process.”

On the repayment of loans to Taiwan, Dr. Mitchell disclosed that the problem has lessened considerably and meetings would be taking place soon to reduce the tensions between the two countries and to work out an appropriate formula to meet Grenada’s responsibilities and the Taiwanese expectations.

“Things are moving in an appropriate direction. And the United States and the Chinese are helpful in that respect,” he said.

Dr. Mitchell said he was informed while in Trinidad of a third major drug bust as a result of the radar system which Trinidad and Tobago has set up with Grenada.

He stressed that Grenada faced the same problem of cellphones being used in jails, as Trinidad and Tobago does.

“When I came into government, I found out that the problem was quite massive. A senior official of government responsible for looking after the system indicated that they received a call from a person asking for a top up of his cellphone. When they asked ‘where are you?’ The person said: ‘I am in the prison’.”

Dr. Mitchell stated that his government had appointed a new Commissioner of Police. He added that there were two occasions when people were scaling walls to go inside the prison.

“Usually, people scale walls to get out of the prisons,” he quipped.

He said his government had sent the message that it was not going to tolerate this kind of situation.

During his trip to the neighbouring twin island republic, Prime Minister Mitchell confirmed that he would be among Caribbean leaders to meet with United States Vice President Joe Biden later this month at which security-related issues would be one of the prime areas of discussions.

Titus launched attack on Tillman Thomas

Former President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), Rawle Titus

Former President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), Rawle Titus

Head of the Government Information Service (GIS), Rawle Titus has accused former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of having sinister motives in getting his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to decriminalize libel in Grenada.

Titus led a broadside against Thomas at a session held on the Dutch Caribbean island of in Curacao that brought together scores of regional media workers to participate in the 20th Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day and Caribbean Media Summit under the theme, “Safe to speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”.

He accused the former Grenadian leader of outlawing criminal libel as a special favour to help out former Editor of the defunct Grenada Today newspaper, George Worme who is considered to be a close political friend of Thomas.

“It was widely felt that then PM Thomas’ push for the change in defamation laws was motivated by his personal relationship with Worme”, Titus told the regional meeting of journalists.

“…Editor Worme, a friend and supporter of former Prime Minister Thomas would have benefited since he can no longer be arrested under a new Keith Mitchell administration which in its previous life had a list of court cases against media workers”, he said.

According to Titus, Worme was arrested and charged in 1999 with criminal libel “after writing an editorial that accused then – Prime Minister Keith Mitchell … now Prime Minister … of bribery”.

In reacting to Titus’ charges, Worme said that he would like the head of GIS to get all of his facts right and in good order before making misleading comments.

He said it was totally wrong for Titus to inform regional journalists that he was arrested for writing an editorial, which accused Mitchell of bribery.

“This is quite misleading and Mr. Titus should know better than that. He could have called me to verify the facts before peddling that kind of propaganda in Curacao. The case history is lodged in the Supreme Court Registry and Mr. Titus as a responsible journalist could have checked the files.

“As a matter of fact, Mr. Titus has unfettered access to his new boss who is Dr. Mitchell himself and could have double checked the facts with him. I hope that when he addresses the issue in future that he would do the proper homework and get the facts correct.

According to Titus, although ex-PM Thomas had given commitment while in opposition to the need to decriminalise libel and many believed that he had a passion to do it, there are those who queried his motives at the time for going ahead to fulfill the promise.

He said: “…His (Thomas’) motives for exercising the political will to decriminalise defamation quickly, months ahead of a general elections as his government tottered on the brink of collapse amid rampant infighting, was questioned by his critics…”.

Titus also took a potshot at former Prime Minister Thomas for taking action, which resulted in his dismissal as Editor of the Barbados-owned newspaper known as the Grenada Advocate.

He said the action on the part of Thomas had done only one thing and that is to undermine the ex-Prime Minister’s own legacy as a supporter of a free and independent media, something which he went to jail for under the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution of late Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop.

Titus told the media meeting: “I was the editor of the Grenada Advocate who started the reports of early infighting within the Thomas government as well as Thomas’ own move to head into the next election without some of his own MP’s. Thomas’ administration bullied the owners of my newspaper, the Barbados Advocate into dismissing me as Editor.

“That was about a year ago. My vindication came when all that was written about in my article unfolded as infighting reached a high in the Thomas government which collapsed as it plummeted into a general election it lost last February”, he said.

Titus along with reporter at The New Today newspaper, Cherrian Blackman-Stephen were the two representatives from Grenada attending the

Curacao get-together from May 3-6.

The keynote address at the session, “Safety of journalists and Criminal Defamation” was delivered by Alison Bethel McKenzie, Executive Director of the International Press Institute.

She spoke of the ongoing campaign against criminal defamation laws, inherited from European colonial powers, still remaining in 16 independent Caribbean territories with the exception of Grenada.

“Criminal defamation and seditious libel laws are threats to journalists and their ability to do their work,” McKenzie stated, as she noted that in almost all cases, such laws carry a prison sentence of at least one year”.

She reported that some progress has been made in repealing such laws with Grenada leading the way to become the first Caribbean country to repeal criminal defamation in July.

Trinidad & Tobago’s Parliament is now considering repealing this legislation.

Jamaica’s parliament tabled a proposal in March to repeal criminal defamation and this is also under consideration in Antigua and Barbuda.

Director of the Caribbean Institute for Media and Communication, University of West Indies, Professor Hopeton Dunn dealing with the safety of journalists, issued a call for media owners and managers to prepare for the “very real threats” to the safety of reporters and called for the establishment of a personal injury insurance and appropriate attire for journalists in crisis situations.

President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), Wesley Gibbins believes that while journalists in the Caribbean are not killed as compared to fatalities in international countries, most abuses of journalists and media workers remain uninvestigated and unpunished which leads to impunity that perpetrates the cycle of violence against journalists.

The Caribbean Media Summit was organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Curacao National Commission for UNESCO, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) and the Curacao Media Organisation.

 

Joint Statement issued by the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC following their meeting last week Thursday in Port-of-Spain

The two Prime Ministers reiterated the close cultural, social, economic and familiar relationships which bind their people.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar congratulated Prime Minister Mitchell on his overwhelming Feb 19th, 2013 election victory. Prime Minister Mitchell responded by saying that his visit to Trinidad and Tobago was his first overseas visit since assuming office in February of this year.

The following are discussion points of the meeting held today between Prime Ministers Persad-Bissessar and Mitchell:

 

Trade

 

Trinidad and Tobago is Grenada’s largest trading partner accounting for approximately 36% of merchandise trade and 49% of banking services. Insurance services are also significant between the two countries. Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada agreed to intensify their working relationship on all aspects of the trade agenda.

 

Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Energy Sector Development

 

Both Prime Ministers expressed a commitment to implement the Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Energy Sector Development.

It was agreed that representatives from the respective Ministries of Energy will meet at the earliest opportunity to finalise agreement on the joint exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the maritime areas of Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada.

 

Tertiary Education and Technical Vocational Skills Training

 

It was recognised that building internal human capital serves to propel externally driven growth.

Trinidad and Tobago committed to assist:

 

*In the maintenance and management of Grenada’s National Training Agency

 

*In the development of an indigenous and responsive national occupational standard of competence leading to certification in high priority areas such as yachting and maritime services. This will be certified through the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ).

 

*Trinidad and Tobago indicated its willingness to partner with Grenada to build skills competency and capacity in the energy sector through the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the National Energy Skills Centre (EITT).

 

Investment

 

The two Prime Ministers discussed recent changes in Grenada’s investment thrust particularly the recent decision to eliminate the Alien Land Holding License for CARICOM nationals and initiatives to implement an investment code focused on attracting private sector investment and realising public private partnerships.

 

Agriculture Development

 

Both countries agreed to develop a joint project in the agricultural sector with transfers of technology that would lead to significant leaps in productivity.

 

Transport

 

There was an acknowledgement of the challenges facing the Region in respect of air and maritime transport for both goods and passengers. The two Prime Ministers agreed to work closely together on alleviating these challenges.

 

National Security

 

On the issue of regional security both Prime Ministers discussed the operations of the Advanced Coastal Surveillance Radar System which provides maritime surveillance of the waters between Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. The Prime Ministers agreed to further cooperate in this area.

PETNA Foundation to send mission team to Grenada next month

Earle Brathwaite – Founder of the Organization

Earle Brathwaite – Founder of the Organization

NEW YORK — The United States-based PETNA Foundation is planning a mission to Grenada next month to assist the poor and disadvantaged on the island.

The Foundation is partnering with the South Bay Community Church in Fremont, California to send the team to Grenada for one week, June 20-27.

The PETNA Foundation, which was formed several years ago by Grenadian Nicholas Earle Brathwaite, his wife Janice and Dr Stanley Long, has been working to help improve lives in some of the poorest villages in Grenada, Malawi and Tanzania and most recently underprivileged areas in the United States, Britain and Canada.

Brathwaite said that this year’s mission will include approximately 50 people who will be traveling to Grenada to volunteer their time and expertise to serve people in some of the poorest communities on the island.

“The current economic crisis has been difficult for everyone and this is an expensive trip for many in our congregation,” he said. “We believe, however, that this is a worthwhile sacrifice as we aim to demonstrate God’s love and try to ease the burden on some who may be more severely impacted than the rest of us.”

Brathwaite, who is the son of former Grenada Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Braithwaite, said the mission to Grenada will be partnering with several local churches and some other organisations including a couple of homes for the elderly, a school for special needs, two orphanages and the Programme for Adolescent Mothers.

The mission’s team will include health care professionals, business professionals (many of whom are handymen), teachers, retirees, pastors, interior designers/decorators and some of the youth in the Church.

“This trip and our desire to help the poor people of Grenada have been well supported by Silicon Valley medical professionals, our friends in the business community and the congregation of our church,” said Brathwaite.

He said that Silicon Valley doctors and hospitals have donated medical equipment such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters, bandages, ointments, band aids and other personal hygiene and first aid supplies.

Crocs, a leading manufacturer and retailer of casual footwear, has once again donated over 1,000 pairs of brand new shoes. “We have several boxes of school supplies, bags and backpacks for school children. We also have several boxes of books, educational games and computers that will be provided to a couple of elementary schools and orphanages.”

Brathwaite, a veteran of the semiconductor industry, noted that “because our team includes several successful business professionals and business owners, one of our objectives is to try helping some people in the poorer villages start “cottage industries”. To help with that objective several of our team members will be providing training, equipment, advice and some materials to help interested individuals get started.”

He said that they are awaiting a response to an email to the Health Minister in Grenada as to whether the mission’s team would be allowed to host a Health Fair or free testing services at some of the village clinics.

The PETNA Foundation was a major financial supporter of the first New York University Dental programme. The Foundation has also one home and almost completely rebuilt another for two elderly ladies in St. Mark, as well as provided full scholarships and partial financial assistance to several students to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees, supplied over 100 computers to schools and individuals, distributed brand new shoes to more than 1,200 individuals and for several years have been financing a meals and books programme at one of the elementary schools on the island.

Additionally, and as a gift to the people of Grenada, according to Brathwaite, on the evening of Saturday June 22nd, one of their team members, Carl Ray, will be performing his One Man play on “The Power of Forgiveness”.

Carl Ray is a professional actor and comedian. He is also a playwright, motivational speaker and author of the book “Cured – The Power of Forgiveness”.

He grew up in the South (USA) and in 1962, while being questioned by a white man in Butler, Alabama, Carl responded by saying “Yes” and “No” instead of “Yes Sir” and “No Sir”. As a result, Carl Ray was beaten severely for being disrespectful. An hour later the same man went to Carl Ray’s home and shot his father eight (8) times while Carl looked on helplessly.

Carl Ray’s life would never be the same. For many years he was burdened with the guilt of causing his father’s murder.

Ray graduated from Tuskegee University and worked for thirteen years as an Electrical Engineer in the Aerospace Industry before pursuing a career as a stand-up comedian.

In 1984, Ray met a man who talked to him about the power of forgiveness. Ray attributes the act of forgiving the man who killed his Father as saving his life. The most spiritual moment of his life occurred the day he forgave his father’s killer. Forgiveness released him from his self-imposed prison.

This concert is a gift to the people of Grenada by Carl Ray, The South Bay Community Church, The PETNA Foundation and Spice Basket. Although tickets will be required for admission to this concert, there will be no cover charge.