Alternate Views -Unfortunate Demise of LIAT

Submitted by Kemar J.D Stuart, Economist and Director Business Development , Finance and Investment Stuart & Perkins Caribbean

Barbados being a 49% shareholder in LIAT 1974 has a story to be told in regards to its actions or inaction which led to the unfortunate demise of the airline. It has been estimated that former Barbadian workers are owed in the region of $13 million EC dollars ($9.7 million) by LIAT.

On his recent visit to Barbados St.Lucia PM Phillip Pierre spoke to an “unfortunate demise” of LIAT. Although St. Lucia is not a shareholder in LIAT 1974, PM Phillip J Pierre during his 2022 budget presentation to Parliament promised that severance payments due to former St Lucian
LIAT workers will be settled.Those workers were paid 100 per cent of their severance in a compensation package exceeding EC$6 million. The former LIAT staff got a one-off gift of $2,000 from the Mottley-led administration and were awaiting an additional $2,000-per-month loan from the government which will be recovered whenever Antigua decides to make good on the owed severance.

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Where Must Barbados Earn Money to Support its Conspicuous Lifestyle?

It is no secret Barbadians are addicted to the conspicuous consumption lifestyle. We can debate why educated Barbadians – successive governments included – continue to ignore the the consequences of having champagne taste and mauby pockets – wantonly running budget deficits in the post Errol Barrow era is with us. We can no longer support ourselves UNLESS we borrow as a creative approach to ‘reprofiling debt’ or lobby to access concessionary and grant funding. The question we must ask is if such an approach is sustainable. At some point the country must reengineer the economic model to organically grow GDP to effectively earn enough to pay our bills (support our conspicuous consumption habit). In other words running budget surpluses must not be jettisoned for the lazy and fashionable budget deficit approach to managing our financial affairs.

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Haitian Gangland: All about control

Submitted by Steven Kaszab
Gang-related violence has displaced more than 19,000 Haitians in recent months, according to the UN – Source: Al Jazeera

The historic violence Haitians are experiencing today can find its foundation in various groups trying to control essential commodities such as oil, gas, kerosene and diesel. When a national or economic crisis happens, those who control the means of energy and food sources control the population. Haiti has never been able to escape its exhaustion caused by continual natural and climatic disasters over the years. Unable to nationally and economically heal, Haiti had looked to the world for help, realising that assistance from outsiders has a cost. Haiti’s natural resources and production fall into that category. 

The population reeled at the assassination of Haiti’s President about one year ago. There is no well-established government to name or rely upon. The Gangs of Haiti are many, allied to certain governmental and political parties, these gangs are fighting over gas stations, production facilities of anything energy focused, all in an effort to gain control and profit from Haiti’s on-going bad luck.

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Regional Air Travel Prohibitive – MUST be Prioritised by Do-little Governments

The indefatigable social commentator @KammieHolder tagged the blogmaster recently on a Facebook comment to highlight an issue he was having at the time with intra regional travel. The following interesting article written by @BrianSamuel posted to Caribbean Journal severl years ago was the result. The content is as relevant today as it was when it was written – Blogmaster


The Case for an Eastern Caribbean Ferry

By Caribbean Journal Staff 

By S Brian Samuel
Op-Ed Contributor

There’s no cheap travel within the Caribbean. Unlike Greece and other island archipelagos, virtually all travel within the Caribbean is by air. And as we all know, travelling by air within the Caribbean is, to put it mildly, “challenging”. For starters it costs a fortune to fly. As at mid-2014, average LIAT air fares were more than four times higher than intra-European air fares, on a per-mile basis. It often costs more to fly to a neighbouring Caribbean island than to New York.

Between 2010 and 2014, LIAT’s average fares increased by about 40 percent. It would be tempting to put this increase down to higher fuel prices; but sadly, this is not the case. Although global oil prices did increase over this period; given that fuel generally accounts for no more than half of an airline’s operating costs; it is evident that “something else” has been driving up LIAT’s prices. Whatever the reason, it is the beleaguered Caribbean traveller that bears the cost.

Not only that – it takes forever. Last month I did six takeoffs and landings in one day, to get from Trinidad to Saint Thomas. This was a new world record, for me at any rate. Six flights by themselves wouldn’t be so bad but it’s all the palaver in between. You get off the plane, get strip searched in the transit lounge; then get back on the same plane. It’s enough of a hassle when things go right; not to mention when things go wrong. As it does. Often.

We don’t visit each other. Our politicians talk endlessly about Caribbean unity; yet at the border we’re given the third degree. Only a small percentage of intra-regional travellers are on holiday; most are flying because they have to. It’s therefore not surprising that intra-Caribbean travel has been declining: LIAT’s passenger numbers have shrunk from 1.1 million in 2008 to 850,000 in 2013. Despite this falloff in its revenue base, LIAT last year invested US$260 million in a complete replacement of its fleet, switching from the tried and trusted Dash-8 to ATRs. Would you invest US$260 million of your own money into such a failing airline? Congratulations; you just did; LIAT’’s loans are all guaranteed by its government shareholders.

Yet we’ve got plenty of reasons to visit each other. The Caribbean has no shortage of carnivals, festivals, regattas or dozens of other reasons to have a riproaringly wanton time for a few days – these are but a few:

CARIBBEAN FESTIVALS: WHEN Party Time Is All The Time

  1. Trinidad Carnival –           Feb/March
  2. Dominica Carnival –           Feb/March
  3. Carriacou Maroon Festival –           April
  4. St Lucia Jazz Festival –           May
  5. St Kitts Music Festival –           June
  6. St Lucia Carnival –           July
  7. Barbados Cropover –           Early August
  8. Carriacou Regatta –           Early August
  9. Grenada Carnival –           Mid-August
  10. St Kitts Carnival –           December

You cannot buy a seat for love nor money. During carnival time in the Caribbean (i.e. most of the time), air travel in the region becomes murderous; because heaven forbid that LIAT would do something as radical as putting on extra flights in response to regional demand spikes. Every year a Trinidadian ferry does a special charter for Grenada Carnival; and every year it’s filled to the gills. But for most of the year we do not travel – because we can’t afford to. This is when we are crying out for a ferry.

We talk about sports tourism; yet it is prohibitively expensive to send sporting teams on tour in the Caribbean. This year the English cricket team – and their fanatical followers the Barmy Army – will descend on the Caribbean. And all the games are being played in the Eastern Caribbean. Can you imagine a creatively packaged ferry tour, catering to boisterous English cricket fans, following their team around the Caribbean? They would love it! Instead, we deliver them into the arms of LIAT – and say a prayer. This is when we are crying out for a ferry.

There are dozens of regional events, where attendance would undoubtedly be much greater, were it not for the high travel costs involved. Church groups, youth groups, community groups – just about any group of Caribbean people love to go on an “outing”. We used to go on outings to neighbouring islands, by inter-island schooners. We don’t do that anymore; nowadays we fly. Or rather we don’t fly; because it costs too much. There are family connections between all the islands of the Eastern Caribbean; everyone has that that they have not seen for too long. Repeat: this is when we are crying out for a ferry.

But wait, we DO have ferries. Indeed, there are 11 ferry companies currently operating in the Eastern Caribbean, running a total of 21 boats. These range from modern fast roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) ships that accommodate passengers, cars and trucks; to rusty old cargo “schooners” So, the question has to be asked: If there is this crying need for inter-island ferry services, why don’t more ferry companies offer cross-border services?

“It’s a nightmare!” say the ferry operators; with regard to the bureaucracy, cost and time involved in taking a vessel from one island to another. Only one company, L’Express des Iles out of Martinique, operates across international borders. All the other ferries stick within their national boundaries: Trinidad to Tobago; Grenada to Carriacou; St. Vincent to the Grenadines, etc.

The problem stems from the archaic, cumbersome rules regulating international marine trading in the Caribbean. These rules desperately need to be simplified and harmonized, so that all regional jurisdictions will be reading from the same book – literally.

Ferries are cheaper than flying. The average fare charged by the 11 ferry companies in the Eastern Caribbean works out to US$1.06 per mile. This is about 65 percent of the average cost per mile of LIAT fares, as at mid-2014.

Speed is expensive. One of the main determinants of ferry fares is the speed of the vessel. Fares charged by the region’s fast ferry operators are almost twice as high as the traditional slow boats. Sailing time between Trinidad and Grenada is 6 hours at 15 knots, and 4.5 hours at 20 knots. However, that additional 5 knots would result in a doubling of the fare – speed is expensive in boats.

Ferries are for short distances. Realistically, ferry voyages should be no more than about 4 to 5 hours duration; unless they are overnight trips. You have to take account of sea conditions. Hence, it is not feasible to consider a ferry route from Trinidad to Barbados; otherwise the boat would earn the same nickname as one particularly uncomfortable regional ferry: the vomit comet!

Don’t forget the tourists. In a survey conducted in 2014 among the UK’s leading tour operators; 75 percent of respondents felt that many of their clients (10 percent or more) would be interested in using a ferry service in the Eastern Caribbean. In 2013, the Eastern Caribbean received 1.3 million tourists; 10 percent of that is 130,000 potential ferry customers. That’s a pretty good base to start with.

Potential ferry routes: Based on established linkages among the sub-regions of the Eastern Caribbean, possible ferry routes include:

  • Northern Caribbean: Historically there are close links among the islands of the Northern Caribbean; where people move freely, seemingly immune from visa and other restrictions. The sub-region is served by ferries from Antigua to Barbuda, and from St. Kitts to Nevis; but there is no regular regional service.
  • Barbados-Saint Lucia: Both islands are major regional tourist destinations; however they offer vastly different products. Tour operators report that although their clients are interested in multi-destination holidays; they don’t like to fly – particularly on LIAT. A fast, safe ferry between both islands, where the journey becomes a scenic attraction in itself, would be popular among tourists. And, importantly, Saint. Lucia is the easiest point from which to sail to Barbados, where the Atlantic waters can sometimes be “a bit frisky”.
  • The Grenadines: The quintessential island-hopping experience; including the world famous Tobago Cays. There is a great deal of inter-island movement among the Southern Grenadines, most of which occurs in small informal boats and goes completely unrecorded. There is no scheduled ferry service between Carriacou (Grenada) and Union Island (Saint Vincent); you have to charter a private boat to cross this short stretch of water, from whence you can pick up a ferry to the rest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Trinidad-Grenada: “Scratch a Trini; you find a Grenadian.” There are strong linkages between Trinidad and Grenada. Successive administrations from both countries have tried to launch ferry projects – all without success. Between LIAT and CAL there are about 5 direct flights per day; plus connections via Saint Vincent and Barbados. For low-cost travel, many people sail on the cargo vessels plying the Grenada-Trinidad trade; which are limited to 12 passengers per trip, and are far from comfortable. There is no doubt that a ferry service, charging fares significantly lower than air fares, could double the size of the travelling public between Trinidad and Grenada – or more.

If a ferry service is so badly needed; why hasn’t it happened up to now? Caribbean Rose, Bedy Lines Limited, Fast Caribbean Ltd: just three of the failed project initiatives within living memory – there are many, many more. There are many reasons why these projects failed to launch, including:

  • Most of them originated from unsolicited proposals submitted to one government; there has been no coordinated regional ferry project involving all the regional governments.
  • The economics of Caribbean fast ferry projects are often marginal, with untried routes, high operating costs and limited ability to pay on the part of the travelling public.
  • None of the participating governments have thus far been willing to commit subsidy funds to a regional ferry project.
  • Some of the vessels proposed by investors were not suitable for the intended purpose.

Is a regional ferry viable? I do not know; but I suspect that it could be. With the right structure and support; and given enough time for the concept of inter-island travel by ferry to catch on (again); I believe that a regional ferry service could become a self-sustaining commercial enterprise. It would probably require a subsidy, at least (hopefully only!) in the early years.

The key is low fares. People will not go through the extra travel time, unless there are substantial dollar savings to be made. Although a ferry would be expected to take away some demand from air travel; the real benefit of a ferry would be to expand the market, by making regional more affordable than at present.

You need lots of bodies. Let’s look at for example the Trinidad to Grenada route. Based on my own back of envelope calculations; a ferry would require about 120 passengers to break even on a Trinidad to Grenada voyage. This is based on current regional prices for diesel fuel.

Let’s drive. How difficult can it be, for the governments in the region to get together and do away with the cumbersome rules currently regulating the temporary movement of motor vehicles across Caribbean borders? There are plenty of international precedents to learn from. Apparently, the simple is impossible. But allowing the inter-island movement of vehicles would be a game-changer for intra-Caribbean travel; just look at Europe.

Public or private? After our grim experiences of government-run airlines throughout the Caribbean, the last thing we need is a “LIAT-on-sea”. Although governments of the region would play a critical role in launching and regulating the regional ferry; governments should leave the business of business where it belongs: in the private sector.

Donors support is essential. Undoubtedly, some international organization will have to take a leading role, in order to shepherd this regional project from concept to reality. The World Bank is ideally placed to lead the effort, but let us not forget our home-grown development institutions: CARICOM, CDB and the OECS.

The best way to get the best deal is to bid it out. Project preparation is an extremely expensive business; and someone has to make that “leap of faith” to take the project forward. In other words: spend money – a lot of it. Once we have this project champion/benefactor; we can then get on with the hard work of structuring and bidding out a regional ferry operation.

Just do it. This is a project that’s been dying to happen, for a long time. With the right support from regional governments and development institutions, this long-awaited, much-needed project can finally become a reality.

This article grew out of a consulting assignment Samuel undertook for the World Bank in preparing a paper entitled: “Improving Eastern Caribbean States’ Regional Competitiveness Through Tourism.”

S. Brian Samuel can be reached at stevenbriansamuel@gmail.com.

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.

That Multi-racial Advertisement is Dangerous to Society

Submitted by Fatimah Farah Mohammed-Ali

This Trinidad and Tobago Republic Bank “Kern and Alana’s love story” advertisement is an attack on all Black women. Most of us are already struggling to survive as single mothers. Our Black men are often absent fathers in the home which is the main cause of so many of our sons, brothers and nephews being gunned down every day with their blood soiling the streets. Every day, two and three Black men are murdered like dogs. There are few Black role models for our young sons in the home.

And on top of that, you have our young black successful men leaving and making a new home with other women. The bank advertisement shows a fatherless young man living with his granny. He works hard making a backyard garden to eat food in the kitchen. He studies hard at university. He graduates. He buys a car. And after all that sacrifice and care with his grandmother, he gets a job and wants to settle. And who does he choose to marry? Certainly not a black woman. He is too ambitious and bright for that.

Where does this situation leave the Black woman? According to a 2018 U.S. survey, black mothers are four times more likely to be single and serve as the primary breadwinners of their home, as granny is depicted in the advertisement. The headline of a nbcnews item published in 2010 reads: “Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate”. The article begins: “Debate is growing within and outside the black community of how to address the rising rate of unwed mothers. Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers, government statistics say — and changing that is a complex issue.”

There is a clear link shown between family structure and delinquent or gang behaviour. Children who grow up in a single-parent household headed by the mother appear to be most at risk. This finding was published in an article entitled “Black Single Female-Headed Households and their Children’s Involvement in Gangs” published in 1992. These kinds of advertisements are setting a trend and promoting a model that is destructive to the black community with a negative impact on society with respect to an increase in crime by black youths.

See Relevant Links:

https://www.facebook.com/republicbanktnt/videos/571173347999237

Barbados One of the Most Expensive Countries to Live in the Region

This report out of the Virgin Islands identifies Barbados, Bermuda and The Bahamas in the top 5 most expensive countries to live in the WORLD. Allow the blogmaster to ask a silly question, is this reality reversible?

https://fb.watch/f2IRNlS95W/

Sargassum Menace

For the last several years the coastlines of Caribbean islands have from time to time been clogged with sargassum. It is a seaweed that floats on the surface of the sea, inevitably reaching the coastlines of landmasses in its path. 

Besides the unsightly look of the seaweed covering the beaches, the stinking smell of the sargassum as it decays is worse than the smell of a thousand wet farts.

It does not matter if the sargassum menace is caused by global warming or a freak of nature. What matters is that it represents a formidable threat to the economic survival of small island developing states in the region. Since 2011 sargassum has been an economic threat to Caribbean islands and unsurprisingly, it has not provoked a collective response from our leaders. 

It seems foolhardy for economic planners in Barbados and neighbouring territories to be committing millions, billions of dollars to the tourism plant and at the same time ignore the threat sargassum posses to the sector. After a decade the region seems helpless to fight back. We have to find a solution to trap and collect the seaweed at sea before it pollutes our beaches. Who wants to travel thousands of miles to have the rotting stench of sargassum assail the nostrils and the unsightly look it presents?

The following link is presented as a positive step to addressing the issue. Why are we not sensing greater urgency from leaders in the region about combating the threat sargassum posses to the livelihood of the region?

Stinky seaweed is clogging Caribbean beaches – but a New Zealand solution could turn it into green power and fertiliser

https://images.theconversation.com/files/465600/original/file-20220526-20-aw4z77.jpg

Published: May 31, 2022 3.16am BST

https://theconversation.com/stinky-seaweed-is-clogging-caribbean-beaches-but-a-new-zealand-solution-could-turn-it-into-green-power-and-fertiliser-183807

Thanks Bentley!

Regional Transportation a Bane

For as long as BU has been around there has been concern expressed about the shamble state of travel in the region. The HoGs are quick to remind us CARICOM/CSME is contingent on free movement of people. To be fair, some progress has been made by amending entry requirements to allow citizens from member states to visit for leisure and work, however, facilitating physical movement whether by air or sea remains a hindrance. The financial weight and mismanagement of LIAT finally caused it to crash. Today the region is without a viable and dependable means of regional transport for people and cargo.

It was interesting to listen to Minister of Tourism uttering words this week about a “high-level- vision for Barbados’ tourism sector with special mention the role of aviation. There is talk about creating a Barbados Aviation Centre of Excellence leading to Barbados being a cargo hub along with repair maintenance and other related activities. The eye opener was when she mentioned of a vision to establish a regional carrier using Singapore Airlines as a model. It goes without saying Barbados will have to push to acquire CAT 1 designation, something BU has posted on for many years. Without CAT 1 designation an airline based in Barbados would not be able to acquire permissions to land in US and other key countries important to flying important air routes. 

The blogmaster agrees conceptually Barbados and regional governments must do a better job to smooth the environment to encourage transportation solutions from private sector. With the demise of LIAT it has brought the matter to a head and there must be a sense of urgency IF the HoGs are committed to a working common market. Maybe the leadership of CARICOM lacks the vision to mirror the OECS who has demonstrated the benefits of a working union. It is ironic the OECS are members of umbrella group CARICOM. The attraction of being a big fish in a small pond continues to feed the megalomania of leaders in the region.

In the OECS ferry services have been used as a transportation option for years. Why has the region been unable to enhance the model to include other countries with a view to create a viable sea transportation option? It is 2022 and what can be honestly stated about the state of regional travel?

Here is a perspective from BU family member Artax:

After the demise of the ‘Windward,’ which used to sail between BGI and SLU…… BGI and SVG, ‘every other week,’ there has been several discussions about a ferry service that would include other regional territories.

In 2018, the World Bank recommended a ferry service that would transport people, vehicles and goods from North to the South of the Caribbean, after completing a preliminary study.
The Bank was also recommended private sector participation be sought in developing the ferry service.

In August 2016, the Daily Nation reported ,that a company registered in Barbados called, ‘Caribbean Ferry Service,’ was in the process of finalising paperwork to operate two vessels, ‘The Dream Jet Express’ and ‘The Opal Jet Express,’ for travel and cargo through the region,
The service was supposed to be initially accessible to passengers from BGI, SVG and SLU. And, eventually, other islands would’ve been added to the itinerary.

I can understand ferry services between Antigua and Montserrat; St. Lucia and Martinique; St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius; Dominica and Guadeloupe…… because those islands are in close proximity to each other.

However, I question the viability of operating a service between Barbados and Anguilla, for example. Or, from Trinidad to Jamaica.

Artax

SHOULD THERE BE A TERRORIST ATTACK ON THE UNITED STATES, COULD ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES BE EXONERATED?

Submitted by Luzette K

I am calling on all Vincentians at home and abroad to strongly object to the vitriolic attacks that Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is constantly unleashing on the US administration and in particular President Biden in favour of his rogue states and associates, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. His constant attack on the US is of no benefit to us, we can only suffer for it.

The sooner we realize this, the better. SVG. is not a friend of the US, it is not an enemy of the US, it is not an associate of the US, it is not an ally of the US, it is part of the US. It may be argued that the greater part of the Vincentian population lives in the US. Vincentians of all walks of life, like all other CARICOM nationals are engaged in a very meaningful way in every facet of American life, administrative and otherwise. For example, (1) Betty Boyea King of Byrea (first cousin to PM Gonsalves), was appointed US Ambassador to the UN under connective US Administrations, led by George Bush Jr. and Bill Clinton, (2) Roy Austin of Rose Place (Bottom Town), Kingstown was appointed US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago during the 8 year reign of George Bush Jr.

Dr. Jan Yves Remy, Director of the Sir Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services, Cave Hill Campus; under the headline:

SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS AND US- CARIBBEAN RELATIONS, wrote:

Read full text:

<object class="wp-block-file__embed" data="https://barbadosunderground.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/should-there-be-a-terrorist-attack-on-the-united-states-copy.pdf&quot; type="application/pdf" style="width:100%;height:600px" aria-label="Embed of <br>I am calling on all Vincentians at home and abroad to strongly object to the vitriolic attacks that Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is constantly unleashing on the US administration and in particular President Biden in favour of his rogue states and associates, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. His constant attack on the US is of no benefit to us, we can only suffer for it.<br>The sooner we realize this, the better. SVG. is not a friend of the US, it is not an enemy of the US, it is not an associate of the US, it is not an ally of the US, it is part of the US. It may be argued that the greater part of the Vincentian population lives in the US. Vincentians of all walks of life, like all other CARICOM nationals are engaged in a very meaningful way in every facet of American life, administrative and otherwise. For example, (1) Betty Boyea King of Byrea (first cousin to PM Gonsalves), was appointed US Ambassador to the UN under connective US Administrations, led by George Bush Jr. and Bill Clinton, (2) Roy Austin of Rose Place (Bottom Town), Kingstown was appointed US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago during the 8 year reign of George Bush Jr.<br>Dr. Jan Yves Remy, Director of the Sir Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services, Cave Hill Campus; under the headline:

I am calling on all Vincentians at home and abroad to strongly object to the vitriolic attacks that Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is constantly unleashing on the US administration and in particular President Biden in favour of his rogue states and associates, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. His constant attack on the US is of no benefit to us, we can only suffer for it.
The sooner we realize this, the better. SVG. is not a friend of the US, it is not an enemy of the US, it is not an associate of the US, it is not an ally of the US, it is part of the US. It may be argued that the greater part of the Vincentian population lives in the US. Vincentians of all walks of life, like all other CARICOM nationals are engaged in a very meaningful way in every facet of American life, administrative and otherwise. For example, (1) Betty Boyea King of Byrea (first cousin to PM Gonsalves), was appointed US Ambassador to the UN under connective US Administrations, led by George Bush Jr. and Bill Clinton, (2) Roy Austin of Rose Place (Bottom Town), Kingstown was appointed US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago during the 8 year reign of George Bush Jr.
Dr. Jan Yves Remy, Director of the Sir Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services, Cave Hill Campus; under the headline:
SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS AND US- CARIBBEAN RELATIONS, wrote:should-there-be-a-terrorist-attack-on-the-united-states-copy
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What Can be More Important than…

Submitted by Bentley

I’m sure you must have seen this article from GIS (see below).

While I totally agree with the need to address food security by regional leaders much more is needed to be done if we are to ever come close to satisfying the food requirements of the region from regional sources. With specific reference to Barbados there are several areas that we need to urgently address. These include:

  1. Getting an effective praedial larceny act in place,
  2. Giving meaningful incentives to small farmers,
  3. Work towards removing the stigma associated with farming and agricultural work,
  4. Allow would be small food crop farmers to have a real stake in the sector (provision of unused parcels of government land at viable concessions, revive the agricultural seed store with a wide variety of viable seeds),
  5. Put conditions in place to control crop pests especially monkeys. I’m sure there are several other factors you can think of.

Food security and food crop farming must be seen as important by every member of society and government must do all it can to ensure this is achieved. 

I remember the late Dr Keith Laurie saying that during the second world war Barbados was able to feed itself since no food was coming in from outside. There is no good reason why we can’t achieve this on a Caricom wide basis.

See GIS article referred to by Bentley


It’s Time To Secure Region’s Food Security

BY JULIE CARRINGTON | MAY 20, 2022 | TOP STORIES

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley addressing the the opening ceremony of the three-day Agri-Investment Forum and Exhibition in Guyana, while regional leaders and officials look on. (PMO)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has used the platform of a major agriculture conference to make a strident call for regional heads to join together to ensure the region’s food security.

She made the call yesterday during the opening ceremony of the three-day Agri-Investment Forum and Exhibition in Guyana, as she spoke on the topic: Pursuing CSME and Removing Barriers to Enhancing Agri-Trade Within the Region.

Ms. Mottley told the large gathering that the ongoing crisis with Russia and Ukraine had reinforced the vulnerabilities of the millions of people living in the Caribbean, based on the effect of wheat and other food restrictions in place by some overseas countries which export wheat and its by-products.

The Prime Minister shared that Russia, the Ukraine and India had stopped sending important food and grocery items outside its borders, and warned of more restrictions to follow by governments to safeguard their food supplies in the face of soaring inflation.

She articulated the view that the entire Caribbean region had to be viewed not just in the context of the population in CARICOM of 18 million people, but also the visitors received on an annual basis, whose “responsibility is ours to feed”.

Ms. Mottley affirmed: “We are at that moment in time when it is up to us to stand up to the challenge or to recognise that the consequences of it will indeed be difficult and potentially devastating for our people. While we await the global initiatives to be announced by the UN Secretary General and the global crisis response team he has established on food, energy and financing with the expectation that what the world faces will be more challenging than what we faced in 2008 to 2010. We have a responsibility to take preemptive action in this region to protect our people.”

The Prime Minister and other regional heads also made a case for more regular transportation of goods across the region with the suggestion that a new solution be found to move the cargo.

“In this moment, when maritime transport is at its greatest challenge, we have to recognise that the bridge to resuscitating Caribbean tourism air transport may well be having regional air cargo moving to help offset the investment to move our people,” she emphasised. 

Ms. Mottley continued: “We may need to look at different planes and we may need to look at more regular traffic. The regularity of movement may well be the solution for us rather than these large aircrafts that move once or twice a day.”

The three-day event was held under the themeInvesting in Vision 25 by 2025, which represents the goal to lower the region’s US $6 billion food import bill by 25 per cent within the next three years.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

Court Rejects US Request to Extradite

Andrew Fahie


The arrest of former premier of BVI Andrew Fahie in the USA last week on a narcotics charge has caused regional tongues to wag for several reasons. It is disappointing to have to witness an elected officials betray the public trust expected of them. It is more disturbing when the arrested person is Black (note Fahie is currently on bail in the USA awaiting his day in court. A reminder a man is innocent until declared guilty). 

It boggles the mind tinpot politicians to satisfy one of the seven deadly sins never learn, in this case still having the courage to cross US borders. In the famous words of Carlos Suarez – you do the crime you do the time.

Fahie’s arrest and possible incarceration serves as a reminder to Barbadians what happened to former minister Donville Inniss currently serving a 24 month sentence in the USA for money laundering. Another public servant based on the court hearing who betrayed a public he swore to serve. Some will debate this matter within the boundary of the law to suggest Inniss was ‘unfaired’ by the ‘system’, however, there is a strong ethical case still for him to answer to answer.

Alex Tasker

The most intriguing observation about regional politicians landing in hot soup is the patience of USA authorities to wait for the ‘fly’ to fly into the spider’s web. Is this a case of USA authorities lacking confidence in extradition treaties with regional countries? The case of former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner comes to mind, he has been fighting an extradition request from the USA since 2015. Alex Tasker has been fighting an extradition request from the US also since 2021 in connection with the ICBL/Donville Inniss matter.

The recent case of a St. Vincent court rejecting a request from the US government to extradite Kern Z Mayers to answer charges dating to 2006 makes for interesting reading. Has the time come for CARICOM to take a regional approach to extradition requests? Our friend Caleb Pilgrim is asking.

See press report of the St. Vincent matter.


Vincentian court refuses US application to extradite national

Published:Saturday | May 7, 2022 | 5:12 PM CMC

File photo.

A court in St Vincent and the Grenadines has refused an application by the United States to extradite a Vincentian man, who is said to be among the most wanted in Pennsylvania.

“The court has considered carefully the arguments and submissions, examined all affidavits and other evidence, case law, statutory guidelines, and the court finds that given all the circumstances it would be unjust to return him,” said Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne in a recent ruling.

The authorities in the United States wanted Kingstown to send Kern Z Mayers back to Pennsylvania to answer charges in relation to a January 4, 2006 incident in that state.

“Law enforcement attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Kern Mayers. In an attempt to flee from the police, Kern Mayers struck several vehicles and injured police officers. After a vehicle and foot pursuit, Kern Mayers was captured. Mayers was released from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility and then failed to attend his scheduled court hearing on January 25, 2006,” the website Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers said of the allegation against Mayers.

While in St Vincent, the police in Kingstown arrested Mayers at a business place in the city on December 10, 2020,  a few years after he returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines..

Lawyers Joseph Delves and Grant Connell represented him in the extradition hearing.

Connell also testified on Mayers’ behalf during the proceedings in which Rose-Ann Richardson appeared for the Crown.

In her ruling, the chief magistrate noted that the Crown had submitted that Mayers is a fugitive and should be returned to the United States to answer to the charges.

However, Delves submitted that not all the offences are relevant and that the Crown had not shown that the extradition is permitted under the Fugitive Offenders Act.

The chief magistrate pointed out that Mayers was arrested on the basis of being wanted in Pennsylvania, as he had not appeared at court on January 25, 2006 for the preliminary enquiry.

She noted that evidence was presented viva voce or orally, by affidavit and documentary evidence.

Browne further pointed out that the Fugitive Offenders Act and the extradition treaty between St Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States govern extradition between both countries.

The United States charged Mayers with two counts with each charge comprising several charges, including alleged possession of two grams of cocaine and injuries to a police officer.

Only some offences extraditable

The court held that some of the counts were extraditable while others were not.

The chief magistrate noted that the law says a person shall not be returned if: the court of committal is satisfied by reason of the trivial nature of the case; the accusation against the fugitive, having not been made in good faith; the passage of time since the committal of the offence; any sufficient cause as it would, having regard to all circumstances be unjust or oppressive or too severe a punishment to return the fugitive.

The Crown argued that the issue of statute of limitation did not apply as Mayers absconded and had no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the Commonwealth.

It was further contended that the offences were committed on January  4, 2006, and he was immediately arrested and charged and soon thereafter failed to show up on January 25, 2006, for the hearing.

Despite the fact that five-year and two-year statutes of limitation exist, the limit is not applicable as the respondent absconded, the Crown further argued.

However, Mayers’ lawyers contended that the passage of time was critical and having regard to all circumstances, it would be unjust, oppressive and too severe a punishment to send him back to face trial in the United States.

They argued that the offences were allegedly committed in January 2006 and the extradition proceedings commenced in 2021.

The lawyers told the court that 15 years is an inordinately long period and the prosecution of the offences should have commenced in 2011 and not in 2017.

They said there was no evidence that Mayers was not continuously in the Commonwealth between 2006 and 2011.

They also contended that an address of New York was given in 2017.

The court also noted that all charges were dated 2017, adding that even though the affidavit by James McMonagle Jr, the assistant district attorney for Pennsylvania, said that the complaints were destroyed in 2015, “What is the nexus between these matters before the court?”

US authorities said that the indictments were accidentally destroyed while documents were being purged.

And while they said that the court keeps copies of the original documents those exhibited in the extradition proceeding were documents filed in 2017, even as Mayers was indicted in 2006.

Mayers’ lawyers argued that the document that should be exhibited are those from 2006 and, therefore, the matter was really brought against Mayers in 2017 — way past the statute of limitation.

They pointed out that the US government did not explain why it took so long and raised issues.

The lawyers also argued that Mayers would not receive a fair trial in the United States.

CNSC: Allow Cuba to Attend Summit of the Americas

The following is a press release issued by the Caribbean Network for Solidarity with Cuba (CNSC) – Blogmaster


The US must not be allowed to exclude Cuba from the Summit of the Americas!

Speaking in Havana on April 25, Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, denounced the efforts of the US government to exclude Cuba from participating in the upcoming 9th Summit of the Americas which is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles from 8-10 June 2022.

This summit, which is organised under the auspices of the US dominated Organisation of American States (OAS) and held every 3 years or so, claims to present an opportunity for leaders of the Americas and Caribbean to discuss and address key issues facing the countries of the region at both national and regional levels. Historically, as part of its policy to strangle and isolate Cuba, the US has excluded that country from participating in this event. However, at the 7th summit in Panama in 2015, the US was forced to accept Cuba’s participation when the countries which are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) threatened to boycott the event unless Cuba was invited. Therefore, Cuba participated in the 7th summit and also in the 8th summit in Peru in 2018, while Trump was president of the USA. Therefore, the current efforts by the Biden white house to exclude Cuba represent an even more extreme stand than that taken by Trump.

Foreign Minister Parilla pointed out that in preparation for the event in Los Angeles, action plans are secretly being drawn up on the key issues of health, migration and democracy and human rights which will be the focus of the summit. With regard to the issue of health in the region, he noted that, the US proposed ‘Plan of Action for Public Health and Resilience in the Americas up to 2030’ is a surreptitious, neo-liberal document which lacks the necessary cooperation and funding to enable it to address the structural causes of our region’s precarious public health systems and the tragic consequences of the extremely high number of deaths which result from this. He stated that despite US efforts to sabotage it, Cuba has played an exemplary international role and particularly so in our region, with regard to strengthening the provision of health services for the people. In this regard, he noted Cuba’s medical intervention during natural disasters and epidemics, the provision of tens of thousands of medical study grants for Latin American, Caribbean and American young people on low incomes, the existence of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana and Operation Milagro which restored sight to millions of people on low incomes. In our region, it well understood that whereas the US sends troops, Cuba sends doctors. It is therefore inconceivable that Cuba’s voice should be excluded from any discussion on public health in the region.

The second important topic to be addressed at the summit is that of migration. Foreign Minister Parilla pointed out that in secret and behind the backs of the participants in the summit, the US has prepared a document entitled, ‘Letter of Understanding on Migration Management and Protection of Migrants’ which seeks to impose on the Latin American and Caribbean states an obligation to repress emigration and to absorb those migrants that the US decides to process beyond its shores. This approach reflects America’s racist, xenophobic and exploitative view of migrants from our region while making no attempt whatever to address the real causes of migration. He further explained that, at the same time, the US is creating maximum difficulties for Cuban travellers and migrants by requiring them to travel to “Guyana to obtain migrant visas” at an exorbitant cost and great inconvenience. The US has also cut off the routes to and from third countries, and followed a policy of imposing obstacles on transit countries and of reducing visas for Cuban citizens. Given this reality, it is unacceptable for the US to attempt to exclude Cuba’s voice from the discussion of emigration from the region.

The final important topic to be addressed at the summit is that of ‘democracy and human rights’. In this regard, the foreign minister noted that Washington’s idea is to have all elections in the region certified by the OAS. Given the US domination of that organisation, this proposal, which represents a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the countries in the region, is intended to institutionalise the current practice in which the US arbitrarily gives itself the right to decide which elections are ‘free and fair’ and which are not. It therefore creates an institutional mechanism through which Washington will declare as ‘free and fair’ those elections which bring its agents and puppets to power, while condemning and delegitimising those in which the people vote for candidates not favoured by Washington. Cuba has an absolute right to have its voice heard on this issue.

The current efforts of the US government to exclude Cuba from the 9th Summit of the Americas are part and parcel of its tried and tested colonial policy of divide and rule. This destructive activity was on full display in 2020 when then Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, bypassed CARICOM and invited his chosen group of Caribbean governments to meet him in Jamaica before inviting them to meet Trump in Florida. This ‘divide and rule’ strategy is aimed at weakening everyone in the region and must be resisted. CARICOM must make a clear and principled stand on this issue. It must demand that the US end its segregationist approach to the upcoming summit and facilitate the equal and full participation of all governments in the region who wish to attend, including Cuba. If the US government refuses to accept this demand, CARICOM member states should boycott the summit. Cuba is an important member of the Caribbean family whose contribution to the region is outstanding. CARICOM must stand in unity with Cuba.

Lift the blockade and let Cuba live!

Caribbean Network for Solidarity with Cuba (CNSC)

https://www.facebook.com/networkforsolidaritywithCuba/

@networkforsolidaritywithCuba

Blurred Mirror Image

Submitted by William Skinner

In a recent post @TheoGazerts, suggested that my mirror image of our country, at this critical juncture, would be interesting. My mirror image of the country has not dramatically changed over the last fifty years. I still see an extremely conservative people, afraid of our past and extremely timid about our future. Too many are devoted to a nostalgic period, which is not returning and even those who profess to want change usually wilt, when the enormity of engineering it is revealed.

There are many who have thrown an old bed sheet over the mirror to hide the image they do not want to see. We have moved away from Little England and are now apparently living comfortably in Little Brooklyn. An amazing irony, of creating the often-maligned Diaspora, right here in Bim!

The cultural penetration, that most progressive voices warned of in the sixties, has been realized and there is extraordinarily little, that successive administrations, have done to curb our enthusiasm for things foreign. Our collective image of Barbados is one littered with sunworshippers from the tips of St. Lucy to Christ Church. Even the utter devastation wrought by COVID, and the persistent tremors in so-called source markets, from where we hail the blistered bodies with specks of sand, have not deterred us from putting our already slender economic future in such sunburnt fun seekers. But that is who we are and more frighteningly, whom we want to be.

We dare not remove the old bed sheet. The image of a well-functioning political engine, as our Prime Minister, now considered, the shining light of the Caribbean and a global political influencer emerges. Adroit at entering the kitchen and recreating dishes, which have been long tried and left to freeze, thawing them out and declaring those new recipes for development. The classical image of skillfully warmed-over soup now dominates our mirror image.

It is the image of a country, that obviously depends on the political docility of its populace to embrace and endure, the corrupt and sinister collective leadership of two political parties, which have long emptied their bowels of any remote semblance of progressive socio-economic policies.

I still visualize, a new and vibrant citizen emerging from our current predicament, within the next quarter century. Our youth are showing exceptional talents in business, the arts, and all aspects of social and economic endeavors. In many instances their ability to overcome the obstacles are rooted in the fact that most of them inherited no generational wealth, to propel them to the next level.

The story that recently appeared in the local press of a six-year-old girl, selling her first piece of art, is the best way to sum up the hope of the nation. We must invest in the cradle our end up as old broke and broken citizens in the grave.

Those who may want to declare this piece as pessimistic and a warped sense of a fading nationalism, should remember that optimism devoid of realism, is nothing more than delusion. It is high time to remove the old bed sheet from over the mirrors and see it for what it is; and change it.

Happy to oblige @TheoGazerts.

Peace.

Viva Barbados

Viva the Caribbean

Government Initiatives to Address Food Supply – The St. Barnabas Accord

Russia’s war in Ukraine will disrupt commerce and clog up supply chains, slashing economic growth and pushing prices sharply higher around the globe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned Thursday….the 38-country OECD said that over the next year, the conflict would reduce gross domestic product (GDP) — the broadest measure of economic output — by 1.08 percent worldwide, by 1.4 percent in the 19 European countries that share the euro currency and by 0.88 percent in the United States.

OECD warns Ukraine war to push prices even higher.

The ongoing war in Ukraine obviously has implications for global trade and supply chains, consequently there has been growing attention to the issue of food and nutrition security. This comes on the back of the ongoing pandemic that has already disrupted the global supply with increase demand for certain products exposing challenges in production and distribution. With global challenges predicted to continue the obvious question for curious minds is to examine the Mia Mottley government’s agriculture mitigation measures under Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir. 

The goal of the F.E.E.D programme is to involve more young people in agriculture by training them and providing them with land and infrastructure after training by initially targeting was 1200 farmers. The government is also reportedly spending millions of dollars in St. Phillip and St.Lucy. The water harvesting project at River in St. Phillip is almost complete.

See relevant link:

https://www.facebook.com/100057813352043/posts/398749615395480/

There is also the Hope Training Initiative in St Lucy, funded by the Chinese Government.

See related link: 

https://barbadostoday.bb/2022/03/05/major-agriculture-projects-in-the-works-ministry/

However the agriculture project which captures the imagination of the blogmaster is the initiative at the Lears Land Lease project. It is a partnership between government and C.O Williams with the plan to allocate land between 5000 sq ft and 2 acres to 150 F.E.E.D programme participants. A component of the project is that it plans construction of a food terminal in partnership with Guyana and Suriname which should see Barbados becoming a southern Caribbean hub for the distribution of food throughout the region.  Barbados hopes to benefit from competitive prices for food products which are not produced in Barbados. Also there is another upside- products produced in excess like onions local farmers will have access to a facility to export to the rest of Caricom to ease any glut. 

See relevant link: 
https://youtu.be/8Y9ru2au2jM

Another initiative is the Blackbelly Sheep project which seeks to increase local blackbelly sheep population from 10,000 to 1 million in 5 years. This is being led by local black belly sheep expert Dr. Leroy McClean. The project is expected to utilize land space in Guyana for sheep farming and hopefully significant reduce lamb imports into Caricom. 

See relevant link:
https://youtu.be/yyxw0vrXAjs

These initiatives have resulted from the St.Barnabas Accords which is an agreement signed by Barbados, Guyana and Suriname on cooperation across several sectors. This partnership with Guyana – described for years as the bread basket of the region – is long overdue and was a part of the vision of the late Owen Arthur who all agree was a big proponent of the CSME, a component of CARICOM.

The blogmaster is about recognizing results, in this case the measure must be a spike in agriculture output by moving the GDP needle. However some marks must be given to the Mottley administration for the ongoing initiatives mentioned. For sure volatility in the global production and distribution commodities market demands the urgency of now by leaders for the region to cooperate and find ways to feed its people. Globalization as we knew it seems to be under threat- a new global order is emerging and countries are rethinking alliances and leaning more to smaller trading blocks. The St. Barnabas Accord along with others to be born maybe the way forward to circumvent more bureaucratic regional arrangements.