Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dominica wins despite Windies defeat

By Thomson Fontaine

Much has been written about the current state of West Indies cricket, and the most recent showing by our cricketers against the lowest ranked test cricketing nation in the world can only add to the problems of a once mighty West Indies.
bangladesh cricket team
The victorious Bangladesh team.

Despite its current failings, West Indies cricket got a huge shot in the arm when thousands of Dominicans showed up on two separate days to support the game of cricket.

Indeed, the over twenty thousand who showed up on Sunday and Tuesday for the two one day internationals would have suspected that the West Indies would probably lose. After all, they had just been beaten by Bangladesh 2 – 0 in the test series; a historic first for Bangladesh.

The West Indies team was variously referred to as second rate, or second string as the first team sat out the series in protest over pay issues. Dominicans were particularly aggrieved when their ace player, spin bowler Shane Shillingford, who took sixty wickets in the Regional Tournament, could not command a spot on the team.

For the cricketing public however, who were denied first class cricket for over thirty-three years, none of these issues was sufficient to keep them away from the Windsor Park. The first game was on Sunday and the other on Tuesday was declared a public holiday by government. And so they came, from the villages and towns around Dominica to witness and be a part of cricketing history.

The turnout for the two days of cricket in Dominica is all the more remarkable when you consider that cricketing fans stayed away from the test matches in St Vincent and Grenada. Television cameras showed empty stadiums in the two countries as the hapless West Indies were pummeled by a youthful Bangladesh side. It was difficult to watch both the performance on the field and the actions of the sporting public.

Although not having any players on the team, the appreciative crowd came to see their local hero, elite cricket umpire Billy Doctrove take center stage. Just two weeks ago, he was at the center of the action in the Ashes series at Lords, when England finally won against Australia at this venue for the first time since 1934. That particular contest reminded me of all the reasons why cricket is such a beautiful game; the uncertainty, the intense competition, the rivalry.

Dominica was expected to be different and it was. Visiting commentators described the grounds as perhaps the most beautiful cricketing venue in the world. The ten thousand seat stadium was filled to capacity on both days. Brilliant sunshine prevailed except for a brief period on Tuesday when a sudden shower disappeared just as quickly as it came, having no impact on the game’s outcome.

The two beautiful days in Dominica will not heal West Indies cricket nor return the team to its former glory. The success in Dominica given the public’s unbridled love of the game, does however point to some potentially good things. Hopefully, Dominica will get test matches in the future.

Cudos to Emanuel Nanton and the Dominica Cricket Association for a job well done. Much however remains to be done with respect to accommodations. The beauty of the venue and the guaranteed crowds does not undo the fact that with only 800 hotel rooms we are unlikely to host either the Australians or the British anytime soon.

But, Bangladesh was a start, a good one. If anything it provided a glimpse of what can be achieved and the kind of benefits to be derived from hosting a top international sporting event in the Nature Isle.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Home Again: Stories of migration and return

HOME AGAIN: Stories of Migration and Return
compiled by Celia Sorhaindo and Polly Pattullo
with the Dominica UK Association (DUKA).
calibishie beach
Home again is the story of Dominican migrants who have returned home.

Publication date: 1 August 2009, £9.99
(available in Dominica outlets at EC$40.)

Dominica has one of the highest migration rates in the world. But what happens when those migrants return to Dominica after living and working abroad, often after decades away? The migrants’ journey is a well-told story but little is known about those who return. Why do they go back? What is it like to be “back home”?

Home Again is a collection of contemporary real-life stories by 22 Dominicans, from all walks of life, aged between 40 and 73, and from all parts of the island, who are now back home after living, working or studying in the UK, the US, Canada, and in the Caribbean region. In their own words, each contributor recounts the story of their childhood, the experience of migration and, finally, the positive and negative aspects of returning to their much-loved island.

Home Again highlights the important contributions made by the returnees, both overseas and in Dominica. Compelling, moving and intensely personal, Home Again is a revealing insight into the lives of these pioneering migrants.

Some quotes from Home Again:

* “We’re saying that we have built this country just as the people who stayed have built it.”
* “They just think because you go to England you pick up money on the ground.”
* “I said to myself this is my paradise jungle. I love it.”
* “I have a sense of belonging for the first time in my life.”

Celia Sorhaindo is a Dominican returnee who came home in 2005.
Polly Pattullo is a British journalist and the publisher of Papillote Press.

For more information contact Polly Pattullo: [email protected]/ 0207 720 5983

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Another Dominican murdered in Antigua Newsdesk

Police in Antigua are investigating that country’s 10th murder for 2009. Bernadette Drigo, 50, originally from Dominica who was attacked in her shop last Thursday July 23 has succumbed to her injuries and died.
calibishie beach
Bernadette Drigo died two days after being stabbed to death in her shop in Antigua.

She died during surgery at around 9 p.m. on Saturday July 25.

Drigo’s death comes just five months after Police in Antigua arrested and charged three Antiguan youths in the murder of another Dominican Steve Mingo. At the time, police said that the three; Antonio Smith and Trevor Boston, both 20 and a 15-year-old shot Mingo in his bed after he had earlier reported them to police for breaking into his home and stealing his personal belongings.

Drigo’s son, Colin Jno-Finn, who is a communications officer in the Ministry of Social Transformation and writer and co-director of the Nazarene Drama Team told a local newspaper that his mother was found lying in a pool of blood by a child who had gone to the shop to make a purchase.

Police surmise that the unknown assailant went into the business place to rob Drigo and ended up stabbing her in the abdomen. It is still not clear if anything was taken from the business.

The stab wound reportedly punctured Drigo’s liver and she also sustained other internal injuries. Doctors took the decision to perform surgery on Saturday, after suspecting that she may have internal bleeding. It was later discovered that a major vein was ruptured, which eventually led to her death.

Colin described his mother as a very caring person who “always ensured that he and his sister, Susan Jacobs, had what they needed in life. He said while he and his younger sister are coping, he is comforted by the fact that his mother, up to the time of her death, played an integral part in their lives and set for them a solid foundation.

"She had a lot of energy, zest and she always gave us the encouragement to do all we can to achieve our goals. We want to look at it that it was her time to go, although this is not how we would have liked or when we would have liked but that is the best for her, because she was in a lot of pain.”

Some people in the area reported having seen someone running down away from the shop but so far no arrests have been made in the stabbing death.

Meanwhile, the two surviving children who had planned on furthering their studies said they were unsure what to do next given the untimely passing of their beloved mother.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Consolidating democracy, human rights, and the rule of law

By Gerald Latouche JP

Honduras President, Manuel Zelaya, should be returned to office to serve out his presidential tenure which ends sometime after the constitutionally due elections of 29 November 2009. However, he, Manuel Zelaya, should also be taught to respect the constitution, the Supreme Court and the rule of law!
president zelaya
President Zelaya of Honduras.

In contradiction to the Honduran constitution, Mr Zelaya organised a referendum on convening a constituent assembly – similar to what President Hugo Chavez established in Venezuela. This exercise violated the constitution of Honduras and both Congress and the courts were openly and vehemently opposed to it – yet he went ahead trying to consolidate autocratic rule! Why? Why does this keep happening I ask myself?

Last year, in celebration of Dominica’s 30th Anniversary of independence I wrote a series for the Chronicle and the entitled, “The rule of Law vs the law of the jungle.” I made reference to a string of countries from Asia, Africa and the Americas that had suffered economic hardship, social strife and underdevelopment at the hands of power hungry men.

Men who got into government either by participating in free elections or through armed uprising, then once in power would change the rules to favour themselves. Men who would dare to change a country’s constitution to favour a political party and their political aspirations!

In Niger today, on the African continent, we again have a similar crisis to that which is unfolding in Honduras. Niger’s constitution allows a president to serve a decade in office, two five-year terms. In May 2009, the constitutional court of Niger rejected a bid by its current President Mamadou Tandja, to hold a referendum on extending his time in office. The court proclaimed this act illegal, just like the Honduran court told President Zelaya!

The Niger President Mamadou Tandja reacted by dissolving parliament and imposing emergency rule! Welcome to our brave new world – where men come into office and defy the constitution, the court and the rule of law, to hold on to power for as long as they wish! But ask yourself, why do other democratically elected leaders do not denounce this type of behaviour?

Opponents of President Mamadou Tandja of Niger have accused him of trying to turn the country into a dictatorship. Human rights campaigner Abdoul Kamara Dine said it reminded him of the worst kind of African dictatorships from the 1970s. But no word from the African Union!

These are similar fears that opponents of President Zelaya have expressed in Honduras. Where was the OAS when President Zelaya was violating the constitution? Hondurans want to see a progressive government whose priority is, “Consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law.”

They do not want a Cuba or a Venezuela in their country. As noble as the social policies of Cuba and Venezuela may be, not everyone want “social equity” at the expense of their freedom to choose, freedom to move, and freedom to speak and oppose! So yes let us have President Zelaya back to serve out his elected term in office, but let us also instruct our leaders in the respect for the constitution, for the court, and for the law! And those who do not choose to ‘leave by the law’ must be brought down by the law!

There are legitimate reasons why some countries have enshrined limited term for Presidential rule into their constitution – usually what most of these countries have in common is a history of military rule and dictatorship.

Having recently broken away from such bondage, these countries have seen it fit to protect their freedom and liberty by restricting the term of office for the President, and thereby reducing the chances of dictatorship. Interestingly both Honduras and Niger have a history of decades of authoritarian and military rule.

Niger gained independence from France on the 3rd August 1960 and from the first military coup in April 1974 until 1999, Niger had a history of being ruled by a succession of military dictators who held the populace hostage and subjected the country to periodic bloodbath.

In the first proper elections of October 1999, President Tandja won those elections for a five-year term. In December 2004, he won re-election for a final five- year term, which is expected to end this year. He refuses to go, so now he rules by decree! They should try him for treason and hang him!

Honduras gained independence from Spain in 1821 when Spanish rule collapsed. However authoritarian rule started as early as the 1940s and since 1963 when a military coup was mounted against the democratically-elected president, Honduras has known military rule up until the 1980s.

President Zelaya was sworn into office in January 2006 after winning the very controversial 2005 elections. On 28 June 2009, the Supreme Court, acting in accordance with Article 237 of the Honduran constitution, ordered the Honduran military to remove President Manuel Zelaya, for breaching the constitution.

If the President should be allowed to serve out his term in office, the OAS should also ensure that he shows respect for the Honduran constitution, and be concerned with this trend! Thank God we in the Caribbean do not know this pattern of behavior! Memories of slavery will not allow us to be ruled by a whip hand!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dominica Freedom Party Leader to contest Roseau Central

The Newsdesk

Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) Judith Pestaina has confirmed that she will be contesting the next general elections as a candidate for Roseau Central, the constituency once held by two former DFP leaders Dame Eugenia Charles and Charles Saverin.

Pestaina told the local media that she was confident of winning the seat since she believes that it is the center of support for her party.

Dame Eugenia Charles represented the constituency from 1980 to 1995 when she left active politics. Despite the DFP losing the elections in 1995 and 2000, Roseau Central was won by Charles Saverin of the DFP. He eventually lost to Norris Prevost of the United Workers Party in the 2005 elections.

When asked about a possible coalition for the next elections, Pestaina noted that the DFP was going alone this time since they had been ‘burned’ for agreeing to a coalition with the Dominica Labour Party in the 2000 and 2005 elections.

She expressed confidence that the thousands of DFP supporters who voted for the DLP in the past would once again rally around their party. The DFP leader also said that her party would be in a position to field enough candidates to win the elections and to form the next government.

Elections are constitutionally due in May 2010 but many political observers believe that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit will call an early poll.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

A response to the high school and college condoms’ distribution in Dominica

By Julius Lewis

Editor’s note: In 2007, a West Indian Medical Journal article reported on a study to determine factors associated with sexual activity and inconsistent condom use among high-school girls in Dominica.The study was conducted at five high-schools in Dominica in 2000 to assess behaviour that may put high-school girls at risk for HIV.

Of the 204 girls questioned, it was determined that 204 girls (median age 16 years), forty-one per cent (41%) reported at least one episode of sexual activity. Among sexually active girls, 59% were inconsistent condom users.The study concluded that sexual activity and inconsistent condom use occur frequently among high-school girls in Dominica. (West Indian Medical Journal [online]. 2007, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 434-438. ISSN 0043-3144).

There are increasing calls within Dominica to give condoms to high school and college students to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and so I would like to add a few lines to that controversy and make a few suggestions to the government. The desire for sex, rest, food, water, sleep among others are strong forces of nature.

Of course we have our ideals for our kids, and the church has one and the societies have one and so forth. Here is what we know, education in all its forms; the church, the family, the friends, the media among others will only go so far with so many. And we see that.

We don’t know how far and we don’t know how many until it is too late or much later in life. Not only are we dealing with natural forces of nature we are also dealing with the human body, which has knowledge of its own coupled with the social dating / mating experience, along with, the orgasmic bliss which is one of the greatest pleasures known to man.

Let the church deal with the spiritual teachings, let the families deal with the moral and ethical teachings and let the government protect all, sinner and saint. If they say that the distribution of condoms in high schools and colleges will encourage the kids to get sexually active, first this is an assumption.

So their case is built on an assumption. Ok, let’s work with that. Isn’t it better to encourage one than to have a thousand unprotected? That is to say, if in the process of trying to protect all both sinner and saint we lost two saints isn’t it better than hoping all will be on the straight and narrow?

People, listen up, sometimes, hope is hopeless. The world over, to hope the kids will not have sex while in high school and or college has proven that sometimes hope is as hopeless as having no condoms.

One would still hope, however, that the sexually active are smart enough to use the condoms at all times. In other words if they chose to take such risk, they should minimize their risk by using a condom.

So there you have it – at the end of the day someone might still not use a condom. But it is the best we can do. And we leave the rest to nature. It has been said that success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan.

We have to use all the “fathers” that we have to create a climate that will minimize the amount who will learn through the bitter school of experience. Too often we hear many a father of fathers fail. While many a mother of mothers wail.

Left to me condoms would be mandatory in all churches – and I mean all churches!!! (It is not a fight I am just going with what I see.) And my message from the pulpit would be simple. “Generally speaking fellow congregation with the sex act comes multidimensional and multilayered risk; abstinence if full proof, bla bla bla, if you are taking such a risk minimize your risk by using a condom – I need you here next Sunday.”

You have this one right sir, children live what they learn, and they see that many a father of fathers fail in falling prey to the sex desire and or by not using a condom.

At that age the kids know that only the absence of sex is full proof. I believe those of us who want the condoms available to the students have a much better view of the entire situation – we have what I will call a “collective consciousness” on the issue. Why don’t all the parents who are positive their children will not have that social experience, sex, while in high school and or college form an ethics committee?

We as Dominicans, an independent country I am told, in this day and age cannot complain about sex education in high schools and beyond when we have the brain power, the paper, the printing facilities, the artist, the stories, among others to produce our own textbook on the subject and make it mandatory to all the high schools – the new student companion on sex education.

Any child 13 years and older should be given as part of his / her homework assignment a sex conversation with the parent / parents. And have the parent sign it. I would separate the sexes – in the interest of the child.

Let the girls ask their mothers and the boys ask the fathers what they can tell them on the subject of sex. (One might even want to know what myths / facts the parent learn and from who). People we have to flip the culture and the sooner the better.

It is not too far off subject to say the following, if I were involved in the student’s education process in Dominica or anywhere in the world for that matter, I would post the following big and bold on every high school; “THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF EDUCATION IS TO LEARN TO TEACH YOUR SELF TO LEARN” – With this awareness in mind we create the awareness for the student to empower themselves to be free thinkers, to be more creative, to invent, to have more scientific inquires and the like.

During the course of history men have died to fit in and men have died to be free thinkers. The days of trying and dying to fit in are long over – we have to empower our kids and empower them now!!! But first we have to help them with the proper education and make available condoms to protect themselves.

This is a position the government should take and as soon as possible – hopefully the parents will understand us in time. In fact, the government should stamp their authority on this the condoms issue. Just sometimes unless hope is given a condom hope will remain hopeless.

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IMF Executive Board Approves US$5.1 Million Disbursement for Dominica Under the Exogenous Shocks Facility

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund on July 10, 2009 approved a disbursement in an amount equivalent to SDR 3.28 million (about US$5.1 million) to Dominica under the rapid-access component of the Exogenous Shocks Facility (ESF).

Following extensive damage to crops and infrastructure from two hurricane strikes in 2007-08, Dominica’s economy has been further affected by the global downturn. Over the past year, tourism earnings, FDI inflows and remittances have fallen sharply, leading to slower growth and a weaker external current account. IMF financing would help limit the decline in Dominica’s external reserves, including by catalyzing support from the international donor community.

Following the Executive Board discussion, Mr. Murilo Portugal Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:

“Following the damage to crops and infrastructure from two hurricanes in 2007–08, the Dominican economy has been further affected by the global downturn. Tourism earnings, FDI inflows, and remittances have been reduced significantly, leading to slower growth and a weaker external current account.

“The authorities are dealing with the effects of the exogenous shocks on several fronts. These include post-hurricane rehabilitation, accelerated implementation of capital projects to contain unemployment, and increased social spending to protect the most vulnerable groups. A temporary increase in public expenditure was needed to ease the economic effects of natural disasters and, more recently, of the global slowdown.

“The authorities are responding appropriately to this deterioration in the fiscal position. They plan a modest recovery in FY 2009/10, and have reiterated their commitment to target, in subsequent years, annual primary surpluses of at least 3 percent of GDP so as to place the still-high public debt on a robustly downward trajectory. This can be achieved by further prioritizing capital projects and financing these projects largely with external concessional resources.

The government intends to continue to move towards adopting a medium term expenditure framework to improve the predictability of capital expenditure and its consistency with the medium-term fiscal objectives. Efforts to reduce debt-related vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the nonbank financial sector are also planned to continue.

“In the near term, Fund financing will help reduce the decline in external reserves and catalyze support from the international donor community to help mitigate the exogenous shocks. Over the medium term, the government’s economic recovery strategy will improve the business climate and critical infrastructure, so as to place the economy on a path of higher growth and poverty reduction,” Mr. Portugal said.

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Still word perfect

Polly Patullo - Reprinted from The Guardian

It is a curious sensation to lie on a sofa in the tropical night reading a novel in the home of its writer and to realise you are in the book's very setting: the sitting room with its mahogany furniture, lamps and shutters; and, outside, the veranda, the drumming of insects, moonlight, purple mountains, red rocks, "a slumberous sea murmuring above the reef" and the lights of Guadeloupe.
calibishie beach
Writer's haven ... a white Sand beach near Pointe Baptiste, Dominica. Photograph: Polly Patullo.

All are there in fantasy. All are there in fact. For this somewhat feverish novel, Duet in Discord, takes place in the home of its creator, the remarkable Elma Napier, who, in the 1930s, with her husband and children, built a house called Pointe Baptiste on the north coast of Dominica, that wildest - still - of all Caribbean islands.

Pointe Baptiste reflects the passions of this Scottish-born aristocrat, who was a writer (with a column in the Manchester Guardian describing life on her adopted island), a politician (the first woman to be elected to a Caribbean legislature) and an adventurer. Her memoir, Black and White Sands: a Bohemian Life in the Colonial Caribbean, telling the story of life at Pointe Baptiste and her love affair with the island, then a British colony, has just been published.

Perched on a promontory close to the charming north-coast village of Calibishie, Pointe Baptiste has a casual elegance and intellectual atmosphere that is rarely found in holiday rentals in the Caribbean. Barely changed since Elma's era (although now with electricity and modern plumbing), there are dark glowing antiques, paintings by local artists, a photograph of Gordonstoun school (her childhood home), and shelves of books, among which one visitor found a letter to Elma from Noel Coward.
dominica carib
Basket-making is one of the indigenous Kalinagos’ traditional crafts. Photograph: Alamy.

Dominica is good at seducing outsiders; it is also good at spitting them out again. Elma said that Dominica had a "mysterious charm that has lured some people to stay forever, and from which others have fled without even taking time to unpack". Elma Napier stayed forever, living there until her death in 1973. I have been going to Dominica since the mid-1980s and have been visiting Pointe Baptiste for almost as long, always delighting in the environment that she so loved.

Below the house are two beaches, one of black volcanic sand, the other of pale coral. Elma used to swim on "black beach" in the early morning and "white beach" before lunch. Earlier this year, I did the same. With two of Elma's great-grandchildren, I walked down to the shoreline, only a few minutes' away from the house, through dry forest where the ghostly pink petals of white cedars coated the ground and where lizards, called abòlò in Creole (and once considered a cure for leprosy), scuttled through papery undergrowth.

From black beach, where, as Elma wrote, the sand is "powdered like coal", we clambered up on to a vast amphitheatre of red-ochre rocks "thrusting great paws into the sea", and then walked back through the outskirts of the village to Pointe Baptiste. Sometimes groups of tourists arrive on the rocks to visit the blowhole that regularly emits great spurts of water, but rarely are they anything but empty, backed by trees, battered almost horizontal by the wind like a quiffed haircut.

And then we went to white beach, whose pale sand is a rarity on an island where rainforest, waterfalls, rivers and black-sand beaches are ubiquitous. We swam in the shallows where the waters are protected by a large single rock. Elma would still recognise her white beach although recently a bar has opened, discreetly tucked in among the sea grapes and coconuts. Nearby is the equally gorgeous Woodford Hill beach, also of golden sand and good for snorkelling. Only on public holidays, when Dominicans come out to picnic, are either of these beaches remotely busy.

Indeed it probably has not been so crowded since the time in Elma's day when Fredric March's Christopher Columbus (1949) was filmed there. Nearly 60 years later, scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed on nearby Hampstead beach.

Elma loved to explore, "to see around the next corner", and Dominica is perfect for that. There are endless hikes - take a guide for all but the easiest - such as to the bubbling Boiling Lake, enveloped in a cloud of vapour. Soon a new island-long hiking route, the Waitukubuli National Trail, will open, linking the north with the south in a chain of treks through the extraordinary rainforested interior.

As if Pointe Baptiste were not remote enough, Elma and her family often retreated to a place deep in the rainforest called Chaudiere, where they built their "second home" (now reclaimed by the bush). To get there involved crossing a river six times. Now it's easier. We had a short 20-minute walk from the road beyond the village of Bense down a narrow trail to Chaudiere, a place where two rivers join and waterfalls cascade. We waded across one river and went to swim in a pool enclosed by high rocks, indulging in the Jacuzzi-like qualities of the rushing water, enjoying what Dominicans called "a river bath" and floating on our backs, with the green lace of the forest looming above us

One of the first things the Napiers did on their arrival in Dominica was to walk to the Carib Territory, home to the Kalinagos, the indigenous people of the Caribbean, to pay their respects to the chief. Nowadays, another leading Kalinago, former chief Irvince Auguiste, welcomes visitors to Concord, the only one of the Kalinago villages to lie inland, away from the jagged Atlantic coast. Elma grieved over the Kalingos' lost culture, but Irvince does his best to keep the flag flying for his people. He takes visitors on a tour of his village, to experience "not how we used to live but how we live now". So you can expect to chat to the cassava-bread maker, learn about the herbs in the yard and get a lesson in basket-making, one of the Kalinagos' surviving traditional crafts.

When the Napiers first announced that they were to give up their fashionable life in London to live in Dominica, one of their friends said it was terrible to think of them sitting on the veranda and drinking rum for the rest of their lives. There waxs time for rum and verandas, but Elma's rich life on the island showed that Dominica offered - and continues to offer - so much more than a hang-out for lotus-eaters.

• Polly Pattullo is the publisher of Black and White Sands: a Bohemian Life in the Colonial Caribbean by Elma Napier (Papillote Press, £10.99).

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Plans to intensify quarrying in Dominica criticised

By Reginald Dumas in the Trinidad Express

Quarrying in Dominica was another facet of the "Trinidad and Tobago intervention" (in the region) that Prime Minister Patrick Manning put to Parliament on June 24. It related, he said, to his government's "decision to accelerate (this country's) infrastructure development and specifically to embark early next year on the construction of six new highway systems." There would consequently be a high demand for aggregates.

Since this demand could not be met locally, the opportunity arose to "invest in quarrying facilities in Dominica and thereby give that country a new area for economic growth and development and job creation." Importing aggregates from Dominica would assist a Caricom country, whereas now we were importing the material from Canada.

I'm disturbed by Manning's proposal. You see, Dominica has a very delicate eco-system, and growing worry is being expressed over the environmental degradation of the island. In 2007, for instance, the Dominica-based Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology spoke in alarm about deterioration of marine spaces because of increased sedimentation, itself due in large part to "infrastructural development and sand/gravel quarrying " Hardly "a new area" of economic activity.

In March this year, an Ocean Life Symposium recommended to the Dominica government-Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had requested recommendations-that "there be an urgent investigation into the sources of pollution of Dominica's coastal waters deriving from land-based (particularly quarrying) and marine activities in order to recommend immediate mitigation actions."

The symposium also proposed that "measures be put in place to compel existing quarry operators to comply with best universal practices for the containment of pollution and assurance of safety and health of neighbouring communities. There is currently great concern about the possible detrimental aspects of quarrying on the terrestrial and marine life and the environment." (My emphasis.)

If Mr Manning had had the courtesy to hold his "appropriate discussions" with the Dominica government before telling the T&T Parliament what he was suggesting for Dominica, he might not have talked at all about quarrying as a means to keep Dominicans at home. (Who says they and other Eastern Caribbean people are so anxious to come to this murder-ridden place, anyway?)

But with Manning you never know. He has for years been unsympathetic to the environmental movement. In December 2003, for instance, he warned a meeting in Nigeria that if environmentalists were allowed to have their way, developing countries would end up like the United States. (No, don't ask me. You work that one out yourself.)

And in March 2006, at the Powergen sod-turning ceremony in Point Lisas, he castigated those he called "right-wing environmentalists (who believe) that any development that disturbs the environment in any significant way, and 'significant' is to be defined, is development that should not be pursued." Right-wing environmentalists! Any self-respecting Green anywhere would take deep and instant umbrage at that description.

I have been a regionalist since university more than half-a-century ago. I therefore appreciate, and support, the desire to work closely with our Caricom colleagues for our mutual betterment. I couch my sentiments in language different from Mr Manning's, however. I would not have used a word like "intervention", as he did on June 24, because of its unfortunate international connotations.

Nor would I have painted scare scenarios like "mass migration" or "the introduction" (by regional governments, no less) "of undesirable activities in the Caribbean". (What on earth could he have meant by that, I wonder?) To me, such an approach is unhelpful, and it is one more reason why Manning is more and more viewed outside our borders as condescending and insensitive.

In truth, I am reminded of my experiences more than twenty years ago when I was High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. It was the same story everywhere I went in the OECS: Trinidad and Tobago, flush with money from the 1970s oil boom, was being financially generous to the less fortunate, yes, but with an attitude of contempt and superiority that diminished them.

In some cases we were so dismissive, so anxious to get rid of these "nuisances", that we actually handed money over without signed agreements! I hope that's not the sort of "accountability" we still practise?

The less privileged will usually accept the manna you superciliously drop into their cupped hands from your oil or gas heaven; they need it. But they will dislike you for the arrogant way you "help" them-it's a perfectly normal human reaction. Then, of course, you will call them ungrateful. That is not the way to build the region.

For now, I shall mention only one other aspect of Manning's statement: energy. First, I would like him to give more details of the partial scope agreement on energy products he hopes to enter into with the USA.

Second, I would like to know something about the well from which he expected to supply Jamaica with gas sometime ago and which he says "was abandoned before it reached its target depth after an expenditure of some 80 million US dollars." Who spent this enormous sum? Why was the well abandoned? No money to continue drilling? Unexpected geological problems? Relations with Venezuela? Some other reason?

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Unity and Progress National Conference coming to Dominica

By Joan Bellot

Calling all Dominicans at home and abroad to join hands to work together in the development of our beloved Dominica.

Unity and Progress for A Better Dominica (a group of patriotic Dominicans at home and abroad) will be convening the second Unity and Progress International Conference in Dominica on Saturday 15 August 2009.

The principle objective of the conference is to discuss issues related to the socio-economic development of Dominica. This conference, organized in collaboration with the Citizens Forum for Good Governance, is a follow-up to the highly successful event held in New York on 25 April 2009.

At that time, thousands of Dominicans from all over the world had the opportunity to participate live on the internet and by telephone.

Unity and Progress for A Better Dominica is committed to working in partnership with fellow Dominicans at home and abroad and friends of Dominica in creating youth development programs, building parks, creating employment, researching and teaching alternative energy, green building, and sustainable developments and promoting environmental protection and preservation of the eco-systems.

We must all unite and come together to preserve the land that our forefathers gave their sweat and blood for, the land that our mothers cradled close to their breast as they nurtured love for God and country in us. Our objective is to preserve our culture, our sovereignty and promote Dominica’s leadership in the family of Caribbean nations.

The international conference will be free and open to the public: participants at the conference are expected to be representatives of all political parties on the island, local government, the private sector, trade unions, civil society organizations, churches, youth organizations, and Dominican organizations in the Diaspora.

WHEN: Conference : Saturday, 15 August, 2009 from 9:00am to 3:00pm LOCATION: Garraway Hotel, Eugenia Charles Blvd, Roseau, The Commonwealth of Dominica Social Event/Networking to follow at the Harlem Plaza from 6:00pm Until. The conference is expected to be live on the internet via

Unity and Progress for A Better Dominica is a non-partisan organization committed to promoting transparency, good governance, the empowering of our citizens through civic education, and working in harmony to effect positive change in our homeland. Register today at

As Dominica prepares for another general election, Unity and Progress for A Better Dominica will work together with all Dominicans and political parties to ensure that our beloved country gets the best leadership.

For united we can and will create the positive change that is so desperately needed to make a better future for ourselves, our children, and the future generations of Dominican.

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Dominica seeks IMF support

By Sean Douglas

As the effects of the global economic and financial crisis continue to impact negatively on small and vulnerable economies like Dominica, the Dominica Government has joined the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia in making a formal request to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for resources under the Rapid-Access Component of the Exogenous Shocks Facility (ESF).

Dominica is seeking SDR 3.28 million(US$5 million).

The Exogenous Shocks Facility comes with minimal conditions and quick disbursements and is intended to assist small island developing states like Dominica respond to adverse external economic conditions, such as the economic crisis the entire world is now grappling with.

This facility is unlike the Stand-by arrangement and the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement, which Dominica accessed between 2002-2006.

The resources from the Exogenous Shocks Facility would help meet the immediate foreign exchange needs stemming from the decline of export receipts and weaker capital account inflows resulting from the impact on the economy of the global economic and financial crisis. The OECS Region as a whole is expected to see growth of less than 1% in 2009.

As part of the eight-point stabilisation agenda outlined by the ECCB Monetary Council to respond to the current global economic crisis, ECCU member states have decided to develop financial programmes and approach the IMF for assistance to help mitigate against the impact.

While for the time being the impact of the global economic crisis on the Dominican economy is less severe than in other OECS countries, there is cause for concern, particularly as regards the decline in remittances from overseas and tourist arrivals.

Since the successful completion of the PRGF arrangement in December 2006, Dominica has requested and received assistance under the IMF’s Emergency Natural Disaster Assistance (ENDA) facility.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Oh what luck for rulers when citizens don’t speak

The Participant Observer

"Let every man make known what kind of Government will command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it" Henry David Thoreau- Civil Disobedience.

pm skeritt
The participant observer.

Social and political scientists like Jean Jacques Rousseau teaches us that one must study society through men and men through society, but one does not have to be a social/political scientist, nor a historian to observe men and society.

Those who observe closely need not be a Sigmund Freud or a Rousseau to come to the conclusion that most of us have refrained from reality and analytical thinking and opted to give more credence to eloquence and celebrity, the new ideology of dependency that is now crippling our country today, than we give to reason and truth.

We have been bamboozled and continue to be bamboozled by those in whom we put our trust everyday. Dr. Henry David Thoreau once asked the citizens of America in Civil Dis-obedience “Do we have to always resign our conscience to the legislators?” I ask it again of my people...

Why did God give us a conscience then? Not to be surrendered to the service of unscrupulous men I am sure. The importance of truth and the faithfulness to conscience have become almost obsolete... It is now only what is politically expedient, personally beneficial, and not what is constitutionally or democratically faithful, or moral that matters.

It is impossible for anyone who is paying close attention not to notice or even absorb the profound irony in what is happening in our beloved Dominica currently. What is even more frightening is what lays beneath the irony- The vilification of those who seek the truth and demand it.

That has always worked effectively for those who seek power or those who seek to maintain power. The time has come to deny them the use of this technique.

Those of us who are brave enough to be ruled by the laws of our conscience, to stand for truth and justice, and patriotic enough to dissent and make our voices heard are branded as pariahs, we are accused of being divisive, partisan, and vitriolic.

By asking legitimate questions, that we have every right and responsibility to ask as citizens we are branded as trouble makers, and are condemned as threats to national security? That we threaten the stability and image of our country we all love so dearly?

Oh how they would like us to just go away. It is a colossal mistake to that that those who fight for the cause of truth, justice, democracy, and people’s empowerment will be intimidated or coerced into silence.

In time the vigilante and virtuous shall be victorious, the pariahs will become the prophets, and the truth will set us free. It always ends up that way! There are many examples to show, Mandela in apartheid South Africa, Martin Luther King in racist America , and Gandhi in India , to name just a few.

In quite a sometimes entertaining, sometimes disappointing, and unsettling paradox the majority of us, when we really take stock of the condition of our beloved Dominica, we see those who are so unusually learned, but at the same time so unusually and sadly ignorant, and others with dubious, reckless abandon deliberately trying to instill dependency and hopelessness among our people.

How long can this brainwashing of our people be sustained? The people have been willing accomplices in their own brainwashing because of a pathological desire to belong, to conform, to obey, to follow, and to let others dictate to us what we must think and how we should think it.

Let them be warned “you can fool some of the people some times, all of the people sometimes, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

There are some those despite the obvious they remain willing to do the bidding of the masters, those in power, hoping to someday be rewarded at the expense of the general public.

They are doing a disservice to the public good when we shield and protect the Government from scrutiny, and transparency. We must put the interest of the general public before the interest of the legislators. It is incumbent upon those the public looks up to, trusts, and depend upon not to allow the public to feel betrayed by their actions or in-actions.

Now that we live in a time of serious crisis, nationally, regionally, and internationally, we need men of conscience more than we ever needed them, Men who will opt for the laws of conscience instead of the laws of man; Men who stand for justice, equality, right, and truth.

Where will these men come from? More than a century ago, a man who though dead a long time ago but still commands my utmost respect said. "There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man." Today it more looks like fifty million to one.

These patrons of virtue do all in their power to mislead us, and blind us to the truth. They try their utmost to engineer our minds, to make it impossible for us to think, for us to tap into of laws of conscience and to stand for truth and justice... Speak up, stand up, hold the Government accountable, because after all the Governments works for the people.

The people have every right and responsibility to demand good performance and honesty in the people they employ-elect to conduct their business, and when the Government fails in what is required of them.

The people must hold them accountable. This Government MUST be held accountable.. NOW!! And I ask these unscrupulous people in positions of authority to Let my people go. I ask those who the people look up to for guidance to speak about the ills that now our nation now or forever hold your peace!

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Dominican attorney returning home after 12 years in Europe

Dominican-born Marcia B. Moulon, Esq., an Attorney and Counsellor at Law, will be taking up residency in Dominica from mid July, after living in Europe for 12 years.
marcia moulon
Attorney at law Marcia Moulon.

Ms Moulon is the first daughter of Fedeline M. Moulon, deceased, and the first lawyer in her family. She is the mother of three teenage children, and now feels the time is right to come home to play a bit of a role in contributing to her country's economy.

She studied and lived in Rennes, France with her family for over 7 years and then moved to the Republic of Ireland where she lived and worked for 5 years.

Ms Moulon is a Member of the New York Bar and holds an Honours Law Degree from Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom, as well as a Masters Degree in Intellectual Property Law with the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

She is established as an Attorney and Counsellor at Law in Intellectual Property in Manhattan,. However Ms Moulon will reside in Dominica, as the nature of her law practice allows her to keep a virtual office in New York, thus being in a position to use her expertise in Dominica. She will thus work from her cousin's, Alick Lawrence Chambers, in Roseau.

More information is available at

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Social responsibility - doing the right thing

By Dr Emanuel Finn

Social Responsibility is an ethical or ideological theory and practice that an entity whether it is a government, corporation, organization or individual has a responsibility to society.

This responsibility can be "negative", meaning there is a responsibility to refrain from acting (resistance stance) or it can be "positive," meaning there is a responsibility to act.

These entities and individuals have realized that in order to aim at long-term profitability, satisfaction, sustainability and credibility in today’s world, they don’t have a choice and must act in accordance with norms of right, adopt and practice the acts of Social responsibility.

Social Responsibility is about companies, governments and corporation making smart and ethical business decisions. It is much more than just winning elections, counting up short-term dollars and cents bringing in investors and investments, employing people and playing favorites to supporters and well wishers only.

Wise decision-makers look down the road at the impact today’s choices will have tomorrow: on people, on the community, and on the opinions and behaviors of stakeholders, customers, citizens and consumers.

This writer believes that “socially responsible” means that government; business, people and organizations must behave ethically and with sensitivity toward social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.

Striving for social responsibility helps individuals, organizations and governments have a positive impact on development and society with a positive contribution to sustainable bottom-line results.

Social responsibility is very important because it understands the basic concepts of inclusion, respect and transparency. In recent months many Dominicans at home and abroad have been upset by widely publicized allegations of fraud by government executives.

These allegations are the antithesis of corporate social responsibility obligations and practices. If proven to true in the future, they perfect examples of the harmful products of not adopting social responsibility good public policy agenda.

Moving forward, I hope this government and others to follow will become more conscious of whom and how they conduct the people’s business and seek ways prevent the real or perceived perception of not being socially responsible.

In 2007 the Government of Trinidad and Tobago introduced measures to increase corporate social responsibility (CSR) best practices in businesses. In a seminar entitled “Securing the quality of social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting”.

The government said that all businesses and government in the twin island nation are being encouraged to adopt CSR strategies.

Corporate and Government Social Responsibility are vital if we are to realize the vision of achieving developed nation status. CSR has been touted as one of the most important criteria of corporate success in the global environment.

The concept and practice has certainly grown in popularity and importance recently with the spread of multinational businesses. It has become an international benchmark of good business practice and governance.”

At the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a large percentage of the delegates said that corporate social responsibility is the most important measure in corporations and governments methods of conducting their day t day operations.

Corporate social responsibility is essentially a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.

This means not only fulfilling legal expectations, but also going beyond compliance and investing in human capital, the environment and good relations with stakeholders.

Stakeholders also mean the people of a country who must work for foreign investors who may or may not care about their welfare or that of their country besides making huge profits.

The development of CSR reflects the growing expectations of governments, community, companies and stakeholders of the evolving role of this huge paradigm shift in society and the response to growing environmental, social and economic pressures.

Through voluntary commitment to CSR, progressive companies and governments are hoping to send a positive signal of their behavior to their various stakeholders (employees, shareholders, investors, citizens, consumers, regulators and NGOs).

In so doing, they are making an investment in their future and helping to increase the credibility and transparency in government and profitability of businesses and most importantly increase the welfare that of the less fortunate citizens and care for the environment.

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Caricom Family Wooed by South American Cousins

By Bert Wilkinson

The suspicions of several Caribbean leaders about Venezuela’s growing political and economic clout in the region boiled over last week as they met for their four-day annual summit in Guyana.

Some complained that the growing number of Caribbean trade bloc nations joining the Venezuelan and Cuban-led Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is causing discomfort at the highest levels and could detract from efforts to strengthen Caricom itself.

In recent months, Dominica, St. Vincent and Antigua have signed up with the South American-dominated grouping that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers in Cuba argue is the best alternative to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas once pushed by their arch political rival, the United States.

alba logo chavez
CARICOM is worried about countries signing up to ALBA.

Caribbean members of the nine-nation ALBA grouping are also members of the PetroCaribe family through which more than a dozen Caribbean countries get Venezuelan oil on credit with delayed payments, or which are allowed to compensate their South American creditor in national commodities such as bananas and sugar among other items.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, whose governing Jamaican Labour Party has not traditionally been the strongest proponent of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), said that while sovereign nations reserve the right to sign on to other bodies, he hopes it does not take away from efforts to build a stronger trade bloc.

"When you start to create other alliances you assume other responsibilities and obligations which may very well cut across the obligations you have at home," he argued, conceding that most presidents and prime ministers are "frustrated and impatient" at the pace of regional integration in the Caricom bloc.

Unless Caricom implements decisions such as free movement of skilled workers within the bloc, it may well encourage "a family member to go next door and find greater comfort," he warned.

"The priority they ought to give to getting our family working will be diminished," he said.

On this he has the support of Grenadian colleague Tillman Thomas, whose island nation – which the U.S. invaded back in 1983 in the midst of a bloody leftist coup - attended the most recent ALBA high level-meeting as an observer but won’t join in the near future. Nearby St. Kitts and Nevis has said it is contemplating becoming the fourth member.

Thomas argues that the more nations join ALBA, the more Caribbean people might be led into thinking that all is not well within Caricom, views starkly opposite to Dominica’s Roosevelt Skerrit whose cabinet was the first that voted to join and sees nothing wrong in more nations coming on board.

"We will not be sending a positive signal to the people of the region. We are not joining ALBA. Our priority is to concentrate on strengthening integration in the region," Thomas said.

In more measured tones, Trinidad’s Patrick Manning called the rivalry from ALBA "a new development that has to be examined."

"I advocate some kind of dialogue between Caricom and ALBA," he said, blaming the global economic situation and suggesting this will lead to a "reordering of alliances in the world".

"We just have to understand the implications" of member countries joining the other grouping, he said.

Many professionals and technocrats in Caricom think that Venezuela is using PetroCaribe to win friends and influence people in the region. Caracas is also building schools, oil refineries and fuel storage depots in the smaller island nations, assisting with airport construction in some islands, and setting down Venezuela’s permanent imprint in the region.

Venezuela has company as it endears itself to the smaller nations, not the least being regional economic power oil- and gas-rich Trinidad, which wants to hook up with the Eastern Caribbean sub-grouping and be the big brother. It is also moving to dilute Venezuelan influence as both are major oil exporters.

Like Venezuela, Trinidad wants to spread its wings across the sub-grouping, establishing marine dry dock facilities in St. Vincent, a jet maintenance outfit in neighbouring Grenada, taking large amounts of road building materials from Dominica, selling natural gas to Jamaica and investing in its half dead bauxite sector.

Meanwhile, former pariah nation Libya is also knocking at the regional door, feeling the magnet pull of the small island nations.

The economic situation has not been kind to the Caribbean, as tourism has taken a significant hit and foreign direct investment dries up.

Tripoli recently announced plans to set up an embassy to serve the Eastern Caribbean, heralding the entrance of commercial banks and investment delegations.

Just last week, several prime ministers returned from the African Union meeting in Libya where they were special guest of AU Chairman President Muammar Gadaffi, who rushed them to Guyana to attend the annual bloc summit.

Incidentally, Libya is also reopening its embassy at Caricom headquarters in Guyana later this year. Investment teams are eyeing agricultural projects like large rice plantations.

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