As the Caribbean region diligently turns to what is hopefully the “new norm” or the post COVID-19 era, we note the tentative baby steps, in what will be a giant undertaking. Caribbean social and political culture is steeped in the “creep before you can walk” philosophy, and from all indications, this gradualism or “old norm”, will continue, as we confront the “new norm”. It seems almost like a cautionary tale affliction.
The MCG understands this approach because the indelible scars of a people still caught in defeating the psychological remnants of brutal slavery and now persistent post slave and post-colonial eras , cannot be expected , to be exceptionally capable or aggressively confident of understanding or even capturing and developing their true worth. We therefore always seem to be taking baby steps in socio economic development.
From the Federation experiment to the present post-independence period, we seem to be creeping forever. This almost pathetic reality has frustrated progressive forces since the mid-sixties. The failure of the Grenada Revolution was almost the final nail in the coffin of radicalism, but we persevere.
The COVID-19 has exposed this frightening and self-defeating reality. When will we, the mighty people we are, RISE as was instructed by Marcus Garvey, so many decades ago?
Communications Officer MCG
The following article is reproduced from the Canadian press at the request of Money Brain. Is China as altruistic as some would have us believe?
Across the globe, especially in the great motherland Africa, there are horror stories being recorded about this new marauding. What insights are there to be learned by impoverished states of the Caribbean? Besides fueling our greed for ‘things’ what other factors determine regional foreign policy with China?
When it comes to defending Canada from the menace posed by the People’s Republic of China, it is now a matter of public record, and should be a matter of some embarrassment to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, if not shame, that the course his government embarked upon almost four years ago was dangerously naive, if not recklessly thoughtless.
It’s a tragedy that it took the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s kidnapping of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and cultural entrepreneur Michael Spavor to prove that the Beijing regime was not the “win-win, golden decade” friend and trade partner Trudeau had incessantly harped about. Robert Schellenberg, dubiously convicted on drug-smuggling charges in the first place, had his 15-year jail sentence upgraded to a cell on death row. Canada’s canola exporters are stuck with $2.7 billion in export contracts that Beijing has ripped up. Threats of further punishment hang in the air.
It’s all because Canada detained Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou last December on a U.S. Justice Department extradition warrant. Meng is sought by the U.S. to face charges of fraud and dodging sanctions on Iran. Beijing needed to throw somebody up against a wall and slap him around, so President Xi Jinping chose Justin Trudeau.
Beijing’s complex campaigns of subversion, threats, influence-buying, bullying and espionage in Canada stretch back much farther than last December, of course. So does the sleazy tendency of Canadian politicians to look the other way, or rush to Beijing’s defence whenever anyone in the intelligence community publicly notices the obvious, or throw the director of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service under the bus for pointing it out.
Beijing needed to throw somebody up against a wall and slap him around, so President Xi Jinping chose Justin Trudeau.
When CSIS director Richard Fadden had the temerity to point out nearly a decade ago that there were provincial cabinet ministers and other elected officials in Canada who had fallen under Beijing’s general influence, several Liberal and NDP MPs demanded his resignation.
hen-CSIS director Richard Fadden testifying at the House Public Safety committee in 2010.ANDRE FORGET / QMI
So it was refreshing to see that Tuesday’s first-ever annual report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) made no bones about it. China is a threat to Canada’s national security, the committee found.
Terrorism, espionage and foreign influence, cyber threats, major organized crime and weapons of mass destruction were all listed in the NSICOP report among the top threats to Canada. China figures in the report’s findings under espionage and foreign influence, and under cyber threats as well.
Russia is right up there, too, and although the report is redacted in several places, other unnamed governments were reported to be busy with the same dirty work. But it was the novelty of China being singled out for once, in a high-level federal government intelligence report, that’s worth noticing. Usually, Ottawa lets China get away with anything.
“China is known globally for its efforts to influence Chinese communities and the politics of other countries. The Chinese government has a number of official organizations that try to influence Chinese communities and politicians to adopt pro-China positions, most prominently the United Front Work Department,” the report states, referring directly to Fadden’s whistleblowing in 2010.
The report also notes a 2017 warning from David Mulroney, a former ambassador to China, about Beijing’s influence-peddling efforts in Canada. To get what it wants, Beijing mobilizes student groups, diaspora groups, “and people who have an economic stake in China, to work behind the scenes.” The report also notes the unsavoury business of lavish political donations on offer from Chinese businessmen with close links to China’s Communist Party leadership.
China is known globally for its efforts to influence Chinese communities and the politics of other countries
Report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
Two years ago, the Financial Times obtained the United Front Work Department’s training manual, which boasts about the electoral successes of 10 pro-Beijing politicians in Ontario. “We should aim to work with those individuals and groups that are at a relatively high level, operate within the mainstream of society and have prospects for advancement,” the manual states.
t was all smiles back then: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on Dec. 5, 2017.SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The reason for the public’s relative inattention to influence-and-espionage threats posed by such foreign powers as China and Russia is that the federal government tends to avoid addressing the issue publicly. “As it stands now, an interested Canadian would have to search a number of government websites to understand the most significant threats to Canada,” the committee found.
“For some threats, such as terrorism, information is readily available and regularly updated . … For other threats, such as organized crime or interference in Canadian politics, information is often limited, scattered among different sources or incomplete. The committee believes that Canadians would be equally well served if more information about threats were readily available.”
That information is available, of course. It just hasn’t been coming from the federal government. In his just-published book, Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada, veteran foreign-affairs reporter Jonathan Manthorpe painstakingly enumerates the breadth and scope of the United Front Work Department’s organizations in Canada, and Beijing’s intimate links throughout Canada’s business class. Manthorpe relied solely on the public record, showing that Beijing’s strong-arming, its inducements and its subtle and not-so-subtle intimidation have been carried out in plain sight for years.
Last year, a coalition of diaspora groups led by Amnesty International provided CSIS with an exhaustive account of Beijing’s intensive campaign of bullying, threats and harassment targeting Canadian diaspora organizations devoted to Chinese democracy, the Falun Gong spiritual movement, Tibetan sovereignty, and the Uighurs. A Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang, the Uighur people are currently being subjected to an overwhelming tyranny of concentration camps, religious persecution, “re-education,” family separation and round-the-clock, pervasive surveillance. “Canada has become a battleground on which the Chinese Communist Party seeks to terrorize, humiliate and neuter its opponents,” says Manthorpe.
Canada has become a battleground on which the Chinese Communist Party seeks to terrorize, humiliate and neuter its opponents
Authur Jonathan Manthorpe
That kind of subversion usually occurs behind the scenes. But for years, Confucius Institutes have operated openly in dozens of Canadian universities, colleges and high schools. “In most cases,” Manthorpe contends, “they are espionage outstations for Chinese embassies and consulates through which they control Chinese students, gather information on perceived enemies and intimidate dissidents.”
Because its mandate covers more than a dozen institutions and agencies, NSICOP — first proposed 15 years ago, but only now getting off the ground — had a lot of ground to cover. More than half of the report’s 121 pages are devoted to a review of the intelligence functions of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. But it’s subversion by foreign governments that seems to have caught the Parliamentary committee’s attention — CSIS told NSICOP the foreign-influence threat is becoming more acute, and countering it will call for “a more significant response” in the coming years.
With that in mind, the committee is already working on a followup review of the mandate, priority and resources Ottawa provides Canada’s intelligence community to monitor and counter the foreign-influence threat. The committee’s report is expected to be released before the October federal election, but it won’t be focused on the foreign cyber threats Ottawa is already preparing to monitor and expose during the election campaign.
“We’re going to outline the primary-threat actors, we’re going to be examining the threat those actors pose to our institutions and, to a certain extent, our ethno-cultural communities,” NSICOP chair David McGuinty told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. “We’re working feverishly to get it done.”
Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, addressed the UN earlier tonight at its annual General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. This was her 8th time speaking at the UNGA and tonight’s speech was the standard repetitive language one has come to expect from the Minister. It therefore came as no surprise, particularly with the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, that she would mention climate change and the environment.
Ms. McClean delved straight into it, referring to UNGA speeches by Prime Ministers Thompson and Stuart, in 2008 and 2015 respectively, where they warned about the seriousness of the climate change threat and the pressing need for strong action. She noted similar admonitions from other leaders of small island nations and lamented that what we were seeing happening in the region was because “this clarion call from the Caribbean was ignored.” Ms. McClean reaffirmed Barbados’ commitment “to ambitious action on climate change and contended that its “support for global climate change action is a component of its overall policy of promoting and protecting the environment.”
The Minister also spoke about Barbados’ people-centred and inclusive development and the need for the international community to take action to implement the commitments made by all countries in the SAMOA Pathway, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
A few weeks ago, I read a GIS press release which informed that Mr. Denis Kellman, Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, had attended a UN High Level Meeting on The Effective Implementation of the New Urban Agenda in New York and delivered a speech. According to the press release, Mr. Kellman told the meeting that Barbados had put measures in place “including amendments to the Physical Development Plan to ensure that development on the island continued to be progressive, orderly and sustainable”. He also said that “Government encouraged developers to locate housing for seniors close to amenities and services to meet daily needs, promoted the development of new housing which was fully accessible to people with disabilities, and continued to require that new developments and significant renovations in public spaces be accessible to all.” Finally, he threw in the usual jargon about green economy, renewable energy and environmentally-sound waste management and all of their concomitant socio-economic benefits.
The drastic difference between the claims of Ministers McClean and Kellman and the reality in Barbados is such that one wonders if they are speaking of the same country. They both convey the impression of an island in which development benefits everyone and safeguards the environment. I wonder then how do they explain the wilful lack of a comprehensive set of environmental laws in Barbados and the almost non-existent implementation of the few laws that are there. How do they account for the long list of environmental desecration under both political parties that are manifestations of the total opposite of what he told the UN?
Environmental destruction caused by Sandals
How do they rationalise the decision to build a Hyatt right next to one of Barbados’ most beautiful beaches, Browne’s Beach, and the absolute lack of transparency in the entire approval process? What about the chaotic monstrosity that is now Warrens? Are Coverly, Grotto and the South Coast sewage fiasco examples of this progressive, orderly sustainable development? What about Sandals and their decimation of the environment in the area of their resort? The same Sandals that their government has with much secrecy provided massive incentives to at the expense of Barbadian taxpayers. What about Four Seasons and the overnight destruction of trees some years ago? What about Greenland and Cahill? What about the relentless concretisation of much of Barbados at the behest of both parties? Or the fact that much of the coast has been decimated by tourism based infrastructure and one can drive on large parts of the South and West coast of the island without knowing that one is next to the water. That much of the flooding in Barbados is as a result of our insistence on building in a way that destroys natural water courses and a fragile ecosystem. That this is further exacerbated by the Bajan addiction to littering and dumping, especially in gullies. Or that successive government have barely attempted to tackle the dumping problem despite repeated statements every few years about some type of strong action that will supposedly be taken. What about the elephant in the room? The fact that the entire maritime delimitation exercise with Trinidad and Tobago had nothing to do with fishing. That both administrations are dedicated to offshore drilling in the hope that Barbados can “diversify” its economy with oil. The two obstacles to realising this have been finding a willing partner and their own inefficiency, one of the only times government ineptitude can be said to be something positive. The environment doesn’t factor in when there is a thirst for oil! And I could go on listing for pages.
The two Ministers though are not alone in what they communicate to the international community contradicting what actually occurs at home. Over the years, different Ministers, irrespective of party, as well as government officials have ventured on the international stage and waxed lyrical about sustainable development, climate change and the environment. I used to be one of these government officials, both speaking myself and writing some of the speeches for Ministers. We have talked about our commitment to sustainable development, our vulnerability and the need for the international community to do more to help us including financially. We have championed ourselves as the grandfather of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and a voice for climate action. Yet, at home, we engage perversely in destructive environmental practices. The assertions about Barbados’ devotion to environmental protection are therefore far-fetched. This may be discomforting to hear for those who have bought the story of Barbados and SIDS but it is the truth.
New York Caribbean Democracy Body Slams Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Brown of Antigua & Barbuda, for “uninformed and vacuous” Comments On Political Crisis In Guyana
(L-to-R) Prime Minister Gaston Browne, CGID-President Rickford-Burke & Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar
NEW YORK: The New York based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has said the assertion by Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua & Barbuda, that Caricom “respects the right of Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar to prorogue Parliament and is not “too concerned,” are “repugnant to the constitution and people of Guyana, and incongruous with democratic values.”
CGID President Rickord Burke in a statement Saturday slammed Brown’s comments as “uninformed and vacuous.” He accused Caricom of demonstrating partiality towards the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP). “Mr. Brown’s comments evince tacit support for the PPP’s repression of the elected representatives of the people,” the statement added.
Ramotar on November 10th abruptly suspended the nation’s Parliament to prevent the passage of a no-confidence motion against his government. The edict came as Members of Parliament (MP) assembled to debate the motion by the opposition Alliance for Change (AFC).
The premature death of Professor Norman Girvan has robbed the Caribbean of one of its genuine intellectuals and, in particular, of the leading theorist of the regional union, Caricom. I had the misfortune of not knowing Professor Girvan personally, but feel as if I did: we have a regular email correspondence and have been guests together on a couple radio phone-in programmes. What makes this virtual friendship more real is that a very good friend and mentor, the woman I can thank for most of my political education, Selma James, the widow of the late CLR James, would often remind me that I should make contact with ‘Norman’, as she addressed him.
After the failure of the West Indies Federation in 1962, the most practicable attempt at regional unity since then has been Caricom. But, as I have said on a number of occasions here and elsewhere, although the intention is laudable, the reality has been sadly flawed. Ignoring for the time being the ill-thought out idea of a free movement of people – in a public debate in London some time ago I raised the issue of the Barbados legislation being specific about free movement for those who have graduated from the University of the West Indies and the University of Guyana, but other graduates enjoying the same benefit with the minister’s ‘discretion’. Someone once tried to persuade me that this ‘discretion’ will only be a formality, but can you imagine some small-minded minister having this weapon in his/her hands and not using it, especially if it is someone they have political objections to?
It seems Barbadians have forgotten about CLICO and all the promises but what have we learned from the collapse? How have we sought to strengthen institutional capacity as a response? Is the Financial Services Commission (FSC) doing a job? Should Barbadians be privy to the sealed judicial report? What about those who were involved with CLICO Barbados and continue business as usual?
Afra Raymond’s journey in Trinidad covering CL Financial matters should serve to inspire others. This piece is recommended reading.
It is with great disappointment that I have to express my disapproval with Liat and how Liat conducts business. Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from A to B quickly as possible. I find it preposterous that Liat can just change a flight plan while customers have already boarded the aircraft (on a direct flight I might add).
My wife and I were departing from our honeymoon in Antigua on Monday, October 28th, 2013 and were on Liat flight # 362 from Antigua to Puerto Rico which was a direct flight to San Juan. The flight was delayed of course (“island time”) however once on the aircraft an announcement was made that we were stopping in St. Kitts on our way to San Juan, but not five minutes later we were told that we were now going south to Dominica (total opposite way than San Juan). We arrived in Dominica at which time a grand total of 8 passengers boarded the plane. We were then told that we had to wait for a fuel truck, which was not ready when we arrived in Dominica. We ended up waiting on the tarmac for over an hour with no water, no food, and no air conditioning. I used to work in the airline industry and had that happened in Canada, PEOPLE WOULD BE FIRED!!! Numerous passengers asked for information about when we would be taking off and when we would be landing in San Juan as every passenger on the plane had a connecting flight to catch. None of Liat’s customer service agents would give us a straight answer. We finally left Dominica sometime after 1:30 pm, over an hour after we should have LANDED in San Juan.
Where is the transparency? Two letters to the Minister of Environment Denis Lowe and a full page in September have not even garnered a response from the government. Is this government serious about open government?
Thus can you post the above article from Dr David Suzuki who the Future Centre Trust is hoping along with Nature Conservancy and Greenpeace to ask for support? Thanks in advance on behalf of the other Environmental NGO’s
Kammie Holder, Advocacy Director, Future Centre Trust
Many urban areas have built or are considering building waste-incineration facilities to generate energy. At first glance, it seems like a win-win. You get rid of “garbage” and acquire a new energy source with fuel that’s almost free. But it’s a problematic solution, and a complicated issue.
Metro Vancouver has a facility in Burnaby and is planning to build another, and Toronto is also looking at the technology, which has been used elsewhere in the region, with a plant in Brampton and another under construction in Clarington. The practice is especially popular in the European Union, where countries including Sweden and Germany now have to import waste to fuel their generators.
You can excuse the DLP if it did not care to read the ‘National Strategic Plan 2005-2025. But Goal #6 of that document speaks, in part, to: “Branding Barbados Globally.” When you read it, you begin to understand why the demise of a Barbadian brand like Almond, is a national scandal. I suppose the same can be said about the DLP’ reluctance to spend a puny US$500,000 to save a $80m Rum Industry, which will result in “a-310-year-old-company” leaving Barbadian hands for the first time in its history.
Of all people, the BLP, which is responsible for the “National Strategic Plan Document,” should understand that the issue of “Sandals” – is more than the quantum of concessions or what is contained in some MOU, especially since the same National Strategic Plan sought “to continue consolidating the country’s international image, particularly on account of political stability, educational quality, democratic governance and good leadership.”
I do not know that the present Barbados Cabinet and Government – are showing good leadership on tourism right now” because “Almond” is a Barbadian-home-grown-international-families-brand,” which was on par (in the view of many) with Sandals, which is nothing more than a Jamaican home-grown-international-families-brand. That makes Ralph Taylor, the equivalent of the Jamaican Butch Stewart.
As we have now passed the latest ‘book-by’ date for the several times re-launched Barbados Island Inclusive promotion, is it time to analyse how cost effective the initiative has been? Especially as it was one of the very few, national marketing initiatives for this year that has either not been postponed, cancelled or simply just not implemented in the first place.
Just to remind readers, the stated objective was to generate an ‘additional’ 15,000 long stay visitors between the end of May and the 21st December 2013 who would spend BDS$30 million at a quoted cost of BDS$11 million to cover the promotional costs. Minister of Tourism (MOT), Mr. Sealy is on record as stating ‘all but $4 million will actually be spent on advertising’. On 22nd July 2013 the Barbados Government Information Service reported the MOT ‘had revealed that more than 5,000 tourists had taken advantage of the vouchers being offered under the programme’.
We know that even before the October figures are published, that ‘we’ are already experiencing an unprecedented 18 consecutive months of long stay visitor decline. So the word ‘additional’ is critical to evaluate because if the initiative had in fact generated any incremental numbers then it has been at a huge cost.
Sir Hilary Beckles, pro-vice-chancellor, University of the West Indies
In the national waste paper, otherwise called ‘The Nation’, we see Hilary Beckles praising that ‘organization’ and more importantly reverting to a language from his previous life in an effort to achieve two competing and contradictory goals. First, Beckles is seeking to promote a reparations agenda which he feels will bring resources to institutions that pretend to act in the interest of the country/region. Secondly and on the down side, in his mind, by appearing to resort to a language of confrontation, Beckles may be seeking to somehow insulate himself from the collapse of the neo-liberal project which, with the aid of buddy Owen Arthur, he has greatly benefitted from, now that what he sees as his legacy is in great and mortal danger.
To put this artificial and renewed interest in Black empowerment, which Beckles now feels confident to mouth, it is necessary to locate his circular and convenient logic within its proper historical context. Beckles came back to the region some decades ago and located himself within a bureaucratic apparatus which was to give him certain protections. It was, and still is, an institution which suborns narratives about Black disenfranchisement, by people like Keith Hunte, as a lever for their personal advancement. So like Hunte, Beckles, in this most recent reincarnation in using the same idiom for personal advancement. This is a brazen initiative for self. Not even his mentor, Keith Hunte, came back to that narrative more than once.
Excerpts related to tourism Budget Speeches 2008 to 2012:
There are some critical national concerns and a Tourism Master Plan is currently being designed by a new Unit in the Ministry of Tourism designed to look at our tourism development strategy in a holistic way addressing our product, land use policy, marketing, carrying capacity and linkages to our other sectors and the lives of Barbadians among other matters.
The expansion of the luxury tourism market will include the construction and opening every two years of a major internationally branded luxury hotel and associated branded residences catering to the five-star and ultra luxury tourism market.
The expansion of the luxury room stock will also assist in the establishment of the Health Tourism market in Barbados.
I [the late David Thompson’s first budget] have just returned from a CARICOM Heads of Government meeting at which tourism, regional and international transport were discussed for one full day. Some important decisions were taken including the commitment to a regional brand, the establishment of a Caribbean Tourism Marketing Fund and discussions are taking place between LIAT and Caribbean Airlines Limited on their future together – Budget 2008
To bloggers who listened to the radio clip (compliments of VOB) today which featured Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy defending governments washpan of concessions to CPH Property Holdings (Barbados) Limited and Grande Cass Management (Barbados) Limited together known as SANDALS – see Government’s Concessions to SANDALS Barbados, they would have been offended. He made reference to the front page of the Nation newspaper which carried a a story highly critical of the concessions given to Butch Stewart’s companies. And here is what some bloggers may deem to be offensive, he stated he expected what the Nation published to be posted on the blogs or discussed under a tamarind tree.
Minister Sealy is free to have his opinion afterall we boast of living in a democracy. However, when he feels bold enough to disparage what we do on the blogs, he invites a response from BU albeit a reluctant one.
Minister Sealy should bear in mind that BU is used prolifically by his colleagues to disseminate information which the traditional media is not geared to facilitate. Have we not had the pleasure of Minister Donville Inniss venturing into this forum to interact with BU bloggers when he sought to defend his choice of Kingsland as a possible location for a new hospital? Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner has posted to BU on several occasions. BU will not mention all the DLP politicos who post to BU using monikers. What does he make of his colleagues who post and read BU? Perhaps one day BU will be persuaded to post some of the comments posted to BU by the late Prime Minister David Thompson.
Analysis of the first nine months of 2013 in terms of long stay visitor arrivals confirm that while all major markets experienced substantial declines, the most resilient and therefore least impacted, was the United Kingdom with a 2.9 per cent fall when compared with the same period in 2012.
Give that so many discussions have taken place regarding the negative effects of the dreaded APD (Advanced Passenger Duty), some may find this surprising. To be fair credit must be given to the BTA staff in London and the private sector tourism sector on Barbados for stepping up to the plate, despite all the fiscal challenges, to minimise the overall decline in arrivals?
It is often touted that the typical British visitor stays longer and spends more money, and perhaps, these attributes are where we should be spending more of the precious available marketing funds to cultivate at this time. Politically we know that the volume of numbers is often all-important, but should ‘we’ currently be focusing on the bottomline in terms of the overall value contribution our visitors are making?