Commancheros Mas band presents hues of Colours for Spicemas 2016

It will be a kaleidoscope of colours for Spicemas 2016, as Flow Commancheros launched its costumes for the August festival depicting seven different costumes.

Colour Invasion from Commancheros Mas Band

Colour Invasion from Commancheros Mas Band

The mas band was launched at Port Louis last Thursday and featured speeches by a number of representatives of Commancheros including Andre Greenidge who announced that the band which has won band of the year for 26 years will stay out of traditional competition this year.

According to Greenidge, the decision was taken after listening to the voices of diehard players and supporters of the mas band.

“We decided to listen, listen, listen to what the masqueraders have been saying, what the voters have been saying and we decided to try something new this year.

“We decided not to take part in competition and focus on the masqueraders. So once you playing mas with Commancheros this year you know that you’re out for total fun but … seeing the same quality.

“…You not going to be able to just come and jump around…you have a well designed costume, well designed section and a well designed presentation but we will be focusing on the masqueraders ensuring that the 4, 5. 6 hundred dollars spent to play mass, you enjoy that money to the fullest.

Commancheros was embroiled last year in a controversy with Spicemas Corporation on the Band of the year title.

The St Paul’s outfit was originally named as winner of band of the year but was relegated to second spot based on a challenge by Andre Garvey & Associates on the tabulation of points.

Minister of Culture, Senator Brenda Hood who also spoke at the launch of the mas band, congratulated Commancheros & Associates on the quality of costumes that plan to bring on the streets for Spicemas 2016.

The mas band will be parading under the banner, “Colour Invasion” and the players will be carrying costumes like Skyfall, a light blue which illustrates the transition from dusk to dawn, Heartthrob, a sensual, seductive and sassy rich hues of red and orange, and Goldfinch – colours of yellow and blue.

The band will also be parading Razzmatazz, a colour combination of bronze and pink, Cerulean, a vibrant blue illustrating a perfect sunny day and the calming deep blue of the Caribbean Sea, as well as Grenadine, the bright colour of pink and Ixchel which will showcase colours of turquoise, jade, purple, fuchsia and gold.
Commancheros will also have a Children section “Kids like it so” with titles such as “Ice Cream Ferry,” Mickey Mouse,” “A Day at the Beach,” and “Candy Cane”.

Nimrod: Cheltenham Cannot Tell NNP Who To Give Diplomatic Passports

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod has hinted that the recommendations made by Barbadian Attorney-at-Law, Richard Cheltenham on the appointment of non-nationals as diplomats were not considered in issuing a diplomatic passport to embattled Chinese Investor, Charles Liu.

Minister of Legal Affairs and Deputy PM, Hon Elvin Nimrod and Attorney General, Cajeton Hood at Press Conference

Minister of Legal Affairs and Deputy PM, Hon Elvin Nimrod and Attorney General, Cajeton Hood at Press Conference

Dr. Cheltenham was recruited under a former New National Party (NNP) government to probe into allegations that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had accepted a bribe of US$500, 000.00 in a briefcase from fraudster Eric Resteiner in St. Moritz, Switzerland in June 2000 in exchange for a diplomatic position.

The Barbadian jurist recommended that a major trust in going forward is to exclude non-nationals who are recruited for diplomatic service to be awarded diplomatic passports.

He suggested the use of official passports to non-national diplomats and for those who volunteer their services to be excluded since “they almost always have an interest of their own which may be wholly inconsistent with the best interests of the country”.

Ambassador Liu was recruited and given the post of Commercial Attaché’ to the Grenada Embassy in Beijing and handed a diplomatic passport.

The Chinese businessman who is the leading investor in the $2 Billion Mt Hartman Project, has been charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States over use of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme in the United States.

The SEC imposed an asset freeze against Liu and his wife for misusing two thirds of the money that they raised from investors for the purpose of building a Cancer hospital in the US.

Liu has become the first person with a Grenadian economic citizenship passport to be charged following the reintroduction of the passport selling scheme by the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration two years ago.

During Tuesday’s post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Minister Nimrod was specifically asked if any of Cheltenham’s recommendations were considered by the NNP regime in issuing the diplomatic passport to Liu.

Without being specific, the No.2 man in the administration said: “I cannot remember whether or not Cheltenham recommendations include due diligence, I wouldn’t think so…”.

“…Mr. Cheltenham recommendations are just what it is recommendations.

Government has a responsibility and on obligation to run the country in the manner in which the government receive a mandate. So Mr. Cheltenham, our respect to him cannot tell us to whom to give diplomatic passports because Barbados, his country does the same thing in certain limited instances,” he added.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Barbados does not have a Citizenship By Investment Scheme in which non-nationals can purchase passports.

However, Minister Nimrod said that the Grenada government did the necessary due diligence on Liu before recruiting him to serve as one of the country’s diplomats.

“Charles Lui is a citizen of Grenada through the CBI programme which is legal. The government obligation before making the appointment was to do a due diligence and that was done. As a matter of fact, coincidently one of the Agencies that did a due diligence test was a US based agency and of course we’ve done everything that we’re supposed to do…”, he told reporters.

“…I wanna make this quite clear that Charles Liu has not been charged with anything, he is just under investigation…we live in a system of laws where one is presumed innocent until found guilty and at this point we cannot of course condemn Charles Liu because of course there was no charges brought against him at this point, neither was he convicted of anything,” he added.

Giving support to the Minister at the conference was Attorney General, Cajeton Hood who insisted the Charles Liu issue in the United States would not affect the Billion Dollar tourism project at Mt Hartman.

The SEC has frozen Liu’s assets and a court order was obtained prohibiting him from raising any further money for the cancer treatment project.

AG Hood is adamant that the SEC action would not affect the Grenada project as the sanctions in the United States relate to the project in California.

“The freezing of assets that you’re referring to refers to a programme … in place in (the) USA…it has nothing to do with Mr. Liu’s assets in general…”.

“(The) …frozen assets (are) with respect to that programme in the United States. We do not know exactly who were the participants in the United States…”.

“…We have some information regarding who are the participants to the programme in Grenada and we have assurances that Mr. Liu’s involvement with the matter in the United States would not affect the progress of the project here in Grenada…”.

Like other government ministers, AG Hood gave assurances that the Mitchell-led government will not take any action against Liu unless he is criminally charged.

“We prefer to wait to see what type of conviction there is and there is no charge. There is no conviction possible as yet, there is no information regarding any charge. There is an investigation, not at a criminal level regarding conduct in a programme in the United States”, he said.

“We ought to wait until the outcome of that…we cannot presume somebody is guilty and say that we’re going to do that if the person is guilty that’s not fair…”, he added.

The government’s Chief Legal adviser stated that the project at Mt Hartman is continuing as “there is a local manager, there are persons who are involved right now” working on the site.

According to AG Hood, it is wrong for persons to use the word fraud in the Charles Liu matter as he has not done anything wrong based on law.

He said it is not fair to Liu to convict him of wrong-doing because of the word fraud as cited by the SEC.

CSO Conveyor: The trust has been damaged

The grouping of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) has openly expressed its reservations over a number of initiatives being undertaken by the Keith Mitchell-led Administration in the name of sustainable development.

Grencoda’s Judy Williams – the CSO Conveyor

Grencoda’s Judy Williams – the CSO Conveyor

CSO, last week Tuesday, called out members of the media to a press conference at the Grenada Red Cross Conference Room on Upper Lucas Street, St. George’s where a number of issues were highlighted.

Judy Williams who is CSO’s Conveyor disclosed that the group has brought to government’s attention several issues and concerns relating to the economic and social development of the country through the Social Compact Channel.

Williams said the most pressing issue for CSO is the planned relocation of Camerhogne Park at Grand Anse, St. George’s to facilitate a hotel.

Three alternative sites for Camerhogne Park have already been put forward by the Mitchell Administration.
The CSO Conveyor denied that coming out of a presentation the developers had with the group, there was an agreement for the proposed alternative sites.

“The developer made a presentation… there was no conclusion and there was certainly no agreement. It came out subsequently… that the Social Partners were in agreement with the alternatives that were offered,” she said.

Williams also delved into the 2030 National Development Plan which was launched in May 2015.

She said CSO came on board with the aim of preventing haphazard development.

She said for the Social Compact to really have meaning, the nation has to be engaged in a planning exercise that would have a vision for the development of the country over the next couple of years irrespective of which political group is governing the country.

According to Williams, the process for the development plan must involve the people, representing their views, and that it must not be a rushed process without a timetable.

“Unfortunately we are learning that this plan is part of what is intended to meet the ‘home-grown programme of the International Monetary Fund.’ Another disappointment, another something that we are not expecting, that we are not aware of, that we are not party to, that we are not intending to do by getting involved,” she said.

Williams along with Interim President of the National Fishermen Association, James Nicholas who represents CSO on the Committee of Social Partners said when the group agreed to participate they promised their constituents whom she described as the people of Grenada, especially the voiceless to periodically report publicly on the issues and recommendations being brought to the table.

The CSO Conveyor rehashed the reasons why the group refused to attach its signature to the Social Compact.

She recalled that in January 2015 following a one-year process, most of the Organisations that were invited to become part of the Social Partners signed onto the document.

Williams said while CSO agreed to continue to participate in the process of engagement with government, the position was taken not to sign the Social Compact at that time as there were issues on the table “violating the very principle of the Social Compact.”

She added that on several occasions CSO raised the issue relating to the development of the Carriacou Marina which is being established within a Marine Protected Area (MPA), and according to her, to date it has not been addressed by the authorities.

“It didn’t seem to be given the attention and the concerns of Civil Society… we cannot now go into an agreement with government when we have such a) pertinent issue… so we did not sign the Social Compact, and to date we have not signed,” she said.

Williams pointed out that since the decision was taken that CSO was not going to affix its signature to the Social Compact Document on January 13, 2015, there has been no further discussion on how the process can go forward and her grouping was told that the project will continue.
She gave a commitment that the group will continue to try to serve its constituents, adding that as a body they think it is important to continue to engage government.

She stated that in 2013 CSO developed an alternative growth and poverty reduction strategy and action plan.

However, she said the trust CSO has had with the Mitchell Administration has been damaged.

CSO is committed to taking an active interest in the sustainable development of the country.

Local Fishermen under attack

Interim President of the National Fishermen Organisation, James Nicholas has described recent attacks on local fishermen on the high seas between Venezuela and Grenada as acts of “State Piracy.”

Nicholas accused the Venezuelan oil tankers which come to St. George’s to deliver fuel to Grenada of facilitating the pirates who will attack the local fishing vessels including taking away their fishing gear and fish off their lines.

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing organised by the grouping of Civil Society Organisations, he expressed concerns about the safety of Grenadian fishermen on the high seas.

He urged the administration in the Spice Isle to inform the fishing sector what is the safe distance for engaging in fishing between Grenada and Venezuela.

“We are of the opinion that until lives are lost that, maybe… we may see some action,” he said.

Nicholas made reference to an incident that occurred on May 15 involving a group of local fishermen and a Venezuelan military ship.

According to him, the personnel from the military ship boarded two of the fishing vessels and took away fish, jewellery and money.

Nicholas said that in recent times three fishing Long-liners with about 11 fishermen have been affected by the actions of the Venezuelans.

Recently, one local fisherman reported that $500.00 was taken away from him by Venezuelan Pirates.

The Interim President recalled that local fishermen started to encounter difficulties in September 2013 when a Long-liner was attacked by a Venezuelan battleship.

He said the incident was brought to the attention of Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nickolas Steele, and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Roland Bhola by way of a letter dated September 30th, 2013.

Nicholas read a section of the letter which said in part:… “We, therefore, urge the government to enter into urgent dialogue with the Venezuelan Government at the soonest possible opportunity in order to curb this wave of events that threatens the safety of our fishermen while at sea”.

According to Nicholas, to date no reply was received from the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration to the letter.

“We in the fishing sector are very disappointed, we take this in a manner that the government does not care about the lives and safety of our fishermen,” he said.

Nicholas stated that unlike most other CARICOM countries, the fishing sector in Grenada is not as organised as it should be.

He said that in 1990’s a process was started to organise the fishing industry and at that time Grenada boasted of having the strongest fishing group in the Caribbean.

“Today, we are the weakest. Every CARICOM country… now could boast (of having) a national fisheries organisation. We are basically trying to resuscitate or reorganise what used to be a vibrant group of fishermen organisation in the ‘90’s,” he remarked.

Nicholas believes that the absence of an active fisherman’s association is one of the setbacks in the local industry.

The Interim President said the only way the problem with the Venezuelans can be halted is if the Grenada Government take steps to create a demarcation line between the two states.

Not true at all!!!

Deputy Prime Minister Elvin Nimrod needs to clear the air on statements made at a Press Conference Tuesday when he sought to give the impression that Barbados has in place a “limited” Citizenship By Investment Programme.

The Minister of Legal Affairs was responding to a question posed by a journalist at the government weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing on whether any consideration was given by the administration to the Richard Cheltenham inquiry report in giving a diplomatic passport to Chinese businessman, Charles Liu who was appointed to the post of Commercial Attaché’ at the Grenada Embassy in Beijing.

The Security Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States hascharged the controversial Liu and his wife with fraud in connectionwith a proposed cancer treatment plant.

Sir Richard had recommended that non-nationals who are givendiplomatic positions by government should not be handed Diplomatic passports but instead be allowed to operate on an official passport.

A previous New National Party (NNP) government in which the Member of Parliament for Carriacou and Petite Martinique served as Minister of Foreign Affairs had recruited the top Barbadian attorney-at-law to investigate allegations that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had accepted a bribe of US$500, 000.00 from a con-man Eric Resteiner in exchange for a diplomatic job and passport.

Resteiner was subsequently arrested and charged in the United States with fraud and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Against this background, Sir Richard was called in to exonerate Dr. Mitchell of any wrongdoing and to make recommendations on diplomatic appointments in the future.

Minister Nimrod was forthright in stating that Dr. Cheltenham’s guidelines are only recommendations and nothing more and that the Barbadian lawyer could not tell a government duly-elected by the people how to run the affairs of the country.

But the second or third most powerful man in the current NNP administration did not stop there in brushing aside the recommendations.

Nimrod tried to give the impression that Barbados – the homeland if Sir Richard – has a passport-selling scheme in place similar to Grenada although “limited” in scope.

This is not true. Unlike Grenada, Antigua & Barbados, St. Kitts/Nevis and Dominica which are selling passports, Barbados has not introduceda business immigration program.

Barbados has a residency by investment scheme and not a Citizenship by Investment scheme like what operates in the four OECS territories.

The Deputy Prime Minister is among the most honest and decent persons in the NNP hierarchy and should correct the misnomer that Barbados is into selling passports, albeit in a “limited” manner. This is quite frankly not true.

The Mitchell-led government is doing a very poor job in trying to sell the notion that Ambassador Liu has not been charged with fraud and that no case has been brought against him in a law court in the United States.

The SEC website is very clear on the status of Charles Liu and the issue of fraud.

For the avoidance of doubt, the first two paragraphs of the release put out on the SEC website on the matter said the following: “The Securities and Exchange Commission today (June 2) announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against a husband and wife accused of misusing two-thirds of the money they raised from investors for the purpose of building and operating a new cancer treatment center that would use proton beam radiation to help oncology patients in Southern California.

“According to the SEC’s complaint unsealed today (June 2) in federal court in Los Angeles, Charles C. Liu and Xin “Lisa” Wang raised $27 million for the proton therapy cancer treatment center from 50 investors in China through the EB-5 immigrant investor program. They touted in promotional materials that the project would create more than 4,500 new jobs and have a substantial impact on the local economy while giving foreign investors an opportunity for future U.S. residency. But presently there is no construction at the proposed site after more than 18 months of collecting investments. Liu meanwhile hastransferred $11 million in investor funds to three firms in China and diverted another $7 million to his and his wife’s personal accounts”.

The above speaks for itself and Minister Nimrod and Attorney General, Cajeton Hood should not try to mislead the public into believing thatno fraud charges were laid against Mr. Liu and his wife.

AG Hood might be in a better position than Minister Nimrod to answer the following questions: – (a) who was the person that “discovered” Charles Liu and put him in contact with the NNP government?

(b) Is there any relationship between AG Hood and the person who allegedly “found” Ambassador Liu?

(c) Is AG Hood a member of any Cabinet committee that processed Mr. Liu?

(d) Is there any relationship – whether directly or indirectly between AG Hood, Ambassador Liu and the person who discovered the Chinese businessman for the proposed US$2 billion project at Mt. Hartman?

(e) The final two questions are not directed to AG Hood but more so PM Mitchell and the Minister of Foreign Affairs – Why was Karl Hood removed from the Grenada Embassy in Beijing and sent off to London as High Commissioner?

(f) Did Ambassador Karl Hood’s removal from Beijing have anything to do with the infamous Charles Liu?
Our world is now a global village due to the quick pace at which information can flow from the Far East into the Southern Hemisphere.

Former GCA Executive concerned

Former Vice President of the Grenada Cricket Association (GCA), Ronnie Allard has called on the executive membership of the Grenada Cricket Association (GCA) to resign and for the holding of fresh elections.

Ronnie Allard

Ronnie Allard

Allard is upset with what he said was a decision of the association to replace the annual 2-day parish competition to a limited over contest.

“The fact that the (GCA) stop having the two days Cricket and are now having limited overs (1-day) cricket, we would not be able to produce test players again”, he said.

“…It is on that basis that I am asking them to resign and call fresh elections – they are not doing the things that they should do in my opinion”, he added.

In a recent interview with the THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Allard stated that it was the two-day inter-parish competition that produced test players like left-handed West Indies opener, Devon Smith, former West Indies wicketkeeper batsman, Junior Murray as well as former Grenada and Windward Islands captain and West Indies all-rounder Rawle Lewis, as well as one-day specialist Andrew Fletcher, and fast bowler Nellon Pascal, who represented West Indies in Test and One Day Internationals.

The former GCA executive member also expressed his disagreement with the recommendations of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Committee on the Governance of West Indies Cricket to dissolve the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

“I do not support the committee that is calling for the dissolution of the WICB. The West Indies cricketers have made history – they won the female T20 and the men T20 – so if they create history why they should resign? Allard questioned.

He suggested that the best approach is that when elections are held that the respective board members are voted out of office.

“…If they want to vote them out, vote them out”, he remarked.

According to Allard the current GCA President, Dwain Gill is a member of the West Indies Cricket Board and was involved in the committee that recommended the dissolution of the board.

“So why don’t he (Gill) resign first? He (is) still on it (WICB Board)”, he said.

Allard, who has been involved in the GCA for 24 years, was employed by the Ministry of Sports as Coordinator of a number of Playing fields in St. David, St. George and St. Andrew.

Let the voices of the Haitian people be heard

Saunders (New)“International interests in Haiti, in addition to checking off an ‘elections done’ box, are largely defined by controlling emigration, maintaining stability, and managing poverty.  The latter is approached either through the creation of low wage factory jobs or by channelling toward Haiti vast sums of international aid most of which are captured by national or international elites, with next to nothing ‘trickling down’ to those who really need it.  As a result, the root causes of poverty are not being addressed, and inequality continues to plague Haiti’s citizens as lives once full of promise are wasted”.

That’s the observation of long-time analyst of Haitian affairs, Dr Robert Maguire, Professor of International Development Studies at George Washington University in the United States.

This statement by a respected and neutral US academic is important amid the dissonance that has emerged in the last few weeks from certain governments concerning the holding of Presidential and other elections in Haiti.   Of special significance is Professor Maguire’s remark about “checking off an ‘elections done’ box”.

Haiti’s elections process has always been deficient.  Shortcomings and fraud have underlined the imperative of reforming the system so that it truly reflects the will of the electorate.  Election observer missions, largely sent by countries that have meddled in Haitian affairs, more in their own interest than in Haiti’s, have repeatedly stamped approval on elections with the objective of merely “checking the box”.

They have failed to look beyond lines of voters at voting stations on polling day.  But, elections are not determined only by incidents at the time of voting; grave irregularities and fraud occur at many stages in the process and they have fatal consequences on the result.

The entire electoral system requires fixing or no election will ever command the widespread approval that is necessary to imbue confidence in those that are elected.  That, essentially, is the problem that Haiti faces now.  And, those who are in a hurry to hold the elections on the basis of the first-round (held on October 25, 2015) which were found to be fatally flawed, may check the ‘elections box’, but they do neither Haiti nor themselves any good if that is all they do.

If the current elections’ process were to proceed despite the widespread rejection of the first-round results, Haiti will continue to be unstable and unsettled.  And that is good for no one.

In regretting the decision of the Haiti Provisional Electoral Commission to scrap the first-round elections and re-do them, the US State Department, through its spokesman, Mark Toner, said that “the Haitian people deserved to have their voices heard, not deferred.” However, the majority of stakeholders in Haiti, particularly the Elections Verification Commission (Cieve), do not believe that the Haitian people’s voices were heard.

In the audit of 25 percent of almost 13,000 tally sheets from polling stations, that there were 628,000 untraceable or “Zombie” votes among other major irregularities.  These are realities that should not be ignored, particularly by countries that base their foreign policies, in part, on principles of democracy, rights and the rule of law.

In this regard, the government of Canada was right to withdraw a request made to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) on June 6, for discussion of a proposed declaration on “The Electoral Process in Haiti”.  The proposed declaration did not take account of the findings of Cieve, and it did not await the anticipated announcement, on the same day, by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) on the roll-out of a time-table for fresh elections.

As it turned out, the CEP set out clear time tables for elections for the President, the remaining representatives for the National Assembly and municipal elections.  There was no effort to renege on that obligation or to obscure it.

The OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro rightly welcomed the publication of the Haitian electoral calendar set for Presidential elections on October 9, 2016, and January 8, 2017.  Importantly, he recognized the process “as an inclusive effort by all political parties, institutions and civil society in Haiti to overcome the political impasse”.  He also made it clear that “it is essential for Haiti to return to elected governance”.

The restaging of the elections “would further strengthen the democratic process and allow Haitians to elect officials, including the President”.  In this context, he pledged that the Secretariat “will continue to play a positive role in the electoral process”.

The Secretary-General’s commitment to keep the OAS Secretariat engaged in the electoral process is important.  The elections will cost tens of millions of dollars.  While the government of Haiti can pay some of it, funds and technical assistance will have to be come from donor countries.

The OAS has the capacity to convene meetings with the United Nations and other organisations to raise the necessary money for the conduct of elections that can be accepted by the majority of Haitians as genuinely free and fair.

There is a further and immediate problem.  The February 5th agreement, that I witnessed as head of a Special OAS Mission of very capable people, settled the immediate constitutional and political impasse and arguably saved Haiti from the consequences of incalculable civil strife.

That agreement set June 14 as an end date for an interim President, elected by the National Assembly. The expiry date is imminent and the National Assembly must make a decision by then to either extend the term of the interim President Jocelerme Privert and his appointed government or elect a new regime.

The negotiations between the stakeholders in the Assembly have been on-going; they are unlikely to be settled until the last minute.  There are no pure angels in all this.  As detractors of fresh elections have been anxious to point out many players have a dark past.  But, whatever the settlement is, it is vital that it should be an arrangement reached by Haitians and not imposed or coerced by outsiders with a vested interest.

What the international community should do is insist that recommendations of previous Elections Observer Missions be implemented as a strict condition of financial support for the electoral process, and that observation should be staged on a continuous basis and not only in the days running up to the elections.

Give the people of Haiti a real chance to be heard.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States.  The views expressed are his own)

Adventurer Harold La Borde dies

Yachting pioneer and recipient of the Trinity Cross (Gold) Harold La Borde has died in Grenada.

Harold La Borde – created history b y becoming the first Trinidadian to sail around the world

Harold La Borde – created history b y becoming the first Trinidadian to sail around the world

In a brief interview Monday, his son Pierre, who flew back to Grenada for his autopsy, said his father is suspected to have accidentally slipped and fallen at the marina, hitting his head while vacationing on the island.

Pierre said they sailed up to Grenada in May and were going to sail back to Trinidad next week as part of a family ritual to spend time with friends there.

“It was like a second home and he was in good health. It was an accident and pending an autopsy…so it is tentative at this time. We believe he slipped and fell going down to the docks and hit his head and was unconscious,” he said.

Pierre described his father as “an inspiration” to his fellow citizens and to foreigners who visited T&T.

“He was a great sailor and a great hero for T&T and he fulfilled his dream sailing around the world and he fulfilled what he set out to do.”

La Borde, who would have turned 83 on Saturday, wrote three books about his world travels, including aboard the Humming Bird II which was used in his first around the world voyage and is still at the museum in downtown Port-of-Spain.

In a release sent Monday, his niece, Marcia, said it was with a heavy heart and a profound sense of loss that his family shared his passing with T&T.

“Borne by the winds that filled the sails of successive boats named Humming Bird, the La Borde family circumnavigated the globe twice, making lifelong friends and literally flying our national flag around the world,” she said.

The release added that La Borde was in the process of beginning preparation for an in-depth documentary of his life.

La Borde leaves to mourn his wife, Kwailan La Borde, sons Pierre and Andre La Borde, three grandchildren, his brothers Rudy and Hugh.

Marcia said funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

Constitution Reform Calypso Competition

The Grenada Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (GCRAC) of Dr. Francis Alexis is turning to the use of calypso to help promote its work.

Constitution Reform Officials and Calypso Competition launch

Constitution Reform Officials and Calypso Competition launch

The committee has announced that it will be offering financial incentives to calypsonians to come up with calypsos as part of a competition.

GCRAC officials met with reporters at a press conference to disclose that the calypso competition will be open to all Grenadians and should focus on the theme, “Linking Constitutional Reform to National Development” in an effort to get more citizens involved in the constitutional reform process.

Committee member, Robert Branch who is Legal Advisor in the Ministry of Legal Affairs said the aim of the competition is “to afford an opportunity for the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique to participate in the process of constitution reform and to ensure that persons in all walks of life get an opportunity to become engaged in the process”.

The competition, being organised in collaboration with Spicemas Corporation (SMC), will be held on August 1st at Carnival City at Tanteen, St. George.

The winner will receive $10,000, second prize $7000, third place winner will get $5000 while an appearance fee of $1000 will be given to the other finalists.

According to Branch, the committee decided to offer these “attractive prizes” out of a recognition that the artiste has to put in a lot of effort in constructing a calypso.

“We understand that there is a financial burden in producing a calypso. You have to write, you have to record, sometimes there is a fee associated with the band and so we understand that there is a financial cost…,” he told reporters.

Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Lillian Sylvester said that the song being produced by Calypsonians for the competition should be inspirational and a call to action.

“The theme may be interpreted in its broad sense. The writer may examine any aspect of the Grenada Constitution and also the proposals for amendment and link it to national development. They can make suggestions for its improvement or its strengthening”, she remarked.

“…You have areas like fundamental rights and freedom, gender equality, the rights of the child. We have copyright issues and then we have other areas relating to the name of the state”, she said.

Participants have until June 16 to register with SMC for the competition and each artiste is required to submit one original song on CD by July 15.

Based on the rules of the competition, the song must not be in violation of any intellectual property law and must not have been published before July 15th, 2016.

Sylvester said the same song can be used by the Artiste in the National Competition for Spicemas 2016, however, the committee will be using the winning song for promotional activities.

The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government has announced plans to hold a referendum this year on Constitutional reform but no firm date has been given for the vote.

NDC calls for full-scale investigation

Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke is calling for a full-scale investigation into the connection between Government Ministers and Officials in St. George’s and Grenada’s Commercial Attache to the Grenada Embassy in Beijing, China, Charles Liu.

Sen. Burke’s call came amidst anti-fraud charges brought against Ambassador Liu who gained Grenadian Citizenship status through the country’s Citizen By Investment (CBI) Act.

Liu and his wife, Xin “Lisa” Wang have been charged with fraud by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States in connection with a proton cancer treatment business in California.

The husband and wife who are from Laguna, Niguel, California are accused of misusing two-thirds of the money they raised from investors for the project.

The SEC reported that the California couple raised US $27M from at least 50 Chinese investors seeking US Immigration Visas, but misused two-thirds of the money, instead of building a cancer treatment centre they had proposed.

Liu and his wife promoted the facility as a project that would help the Chinese Investors obtain permanent US Visas through a Federal Programme known as EB-5, the SEC said.

Liu is accused of transferring US $11.8M of the funds to three firms in China, including one in which he is Chief Executive and Chairman.

Another charge made against him is that he diverted seven million dollars to personal accounts for him and his wife.

Sen. Burke told a radio Talk show Programme the investigation should include a full inquiry into whether and to what extent the money that is being used by the Liu Family is money taken from American Investors, and is now being used in Grenada as part of the Mt. Hartman tourism project.

He said an investigation must be conducted to determine whether or not the Chinese businessman made offers or solicitations to Government Ministers or Government Officials in Grenada and if any money or payments of money were handed out to any.

There are unconfirmed reports that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has in its possession bank documents about “an indirect payment” to someone described as “high-up” in the administration.

Speculation is rife that the payment was allegedly used to facilitate a mortgage transaction.

Sen. Burke said the probe should also look at trips made to China by Government Officials and to determine if any were funded by the embattled Liu.

Foreign Affairs Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen is known to have travelled to China to help promote the Grenada Resorts Complex Project.

No details are available on the funding arrangements for the trip.

Sen. Burke indicated that apart from the Modeste-Curwen trip in December 2015, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod also visited China to give support to Ambassador Liu’s effort to recruit investors for the proposed Grenada Resorts Complex Project.

He said while no accusations are being levelled against these two senior Government Ministers, it is necessary to consider whether and to what extent Liu or his related companies may have financed or contributed in any way to the travel or accommodation arrangements of Government Officials or Ministers.

“The investigation must determine whether and to what extent Mr. Liu has collected money from people to invest in the Grenada Resort Project in light of what we’ve seen, and what has become of those monies,” he told reporters.

Sen. Burke also called on the Mitchell Administration to freeze all of the assets in Grenada belonging to the controversial Chinese businessman.

“The Investigation must include what assets Mr. Liu may have acquired, if any… for his personal benefits. Are there yachts, are there planes, are there boats?” he asked.

The Congress leader dismissed statements coming from certain quarters that the charges in the United States have nothing to do with Grenada.

He indicated that the website of the Grenada Resorts Complex Project has information about the United Demi Group (UDG) which showcases it as the promotional agent for the local project.

“The same United Demi Group is presented as the world marketing agent for the Grenada Project. The complaint that is filed in the United States (of America) identifies the United Demi Group… as one of the companies that the Liu family transferred monies to in China,” he said.

“$3.8M of investors money have gone to the United Demi Group, the same group that is the marketing agent for the project here in Grenada,” he added.

Sen. Burke told the host of the programme that Lisa Wang, the wife of Liu is the Chief Executive Officer of UDG.

“So the suggestion by the Government Ministers, both Sen. Sheldon Scott and also Oliver Joseph… that this has absolutely nothing to do with Grenada is completely fallacious – it’s fallacy, completely without any merit and foundation, and defies logic, and defies common sense,” he said.

Sen. Burke believes that Liu has now become a liability rather than an asset to Grenada by virtue of the SEC charges slapped on him.

The Congress Leader who is a former Minister of Finance in the 2008-13 Tillman Thomas-led Government said should his political party form the next government in St. George’s it will undertake a comprehensive review of the CBI Programme to determine whether the benefits that may be derived from it are outweighed by the risk for Grenada or greater for Grenada.

He said if it creates a risk for the country, the programme will be abandoned.

Sen. Burke indicated that the Liu issue is not the first time that Grenada has found itself receiving negative international publicity with one of its foreign diplomats.

He recalled that under a previous Mitchell-led Government between 1995 and 2004, the “reckless decisions” of granting economic citizenship and Grenadian Diplomatic Passport to “international criminals, con men who were fugitive from justice saw Grenada emerging as a haven for them to hide from justice.”

The last known Grenadian diplomat to be sent to jail was the German-born, Ambassador Eric Resteiner who allegedly paid PM Mitchell a US$500, 000.00 bribe in St. Moritz, Switzerland for a diplomatic posting.

Dr. Mitchell denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he collected “approximately US$15, 000.00” from Resteiner to reimburse him for travel expenses.