Monday, May 31, 2010

Epicenter of the Garifuna Culture

New York Is the Epicenter of the Garifuna Culture
By Jose Francisco Avila

During a recent visit to Honduras, I attended the Afrodescendant Women Forum in Tegucigalpa, where I had a conversation with various Garinagu where someone commented "It would be nice if we could hold events like these, more often, instead of just in April. To which I answered, in New York City, you can attend a Garifuna event just about every week, which really surprised them. I continued, as a matter of fact I will dare to say that New York has become the epicenter of the Garifuna Culture! That really blew their mind! I am certain that someone will disagree, therefore, let me share some factual evidence.

The First Intercontinental Garifuna Summit Meeting

In 1991, I along with other Garifuna activists organized the First Garifuna Summit Meeting which was celebrated in New York City on. The Theme for this meeting was “Uwala Busiganu, Garinagu Wagia”, (Don’t Be Ashamed, We Are Garifuna). We also chose the slogan “Garinagu’s Path to the 21st Century”. The purpose of the meeting was to adopt a bold and decisive challenge to seriously and collectively begin to focus on our Garifuna culture, and to mobilize all Garinagu to seek meaningful solutions to our varied problems. The First Garifuna Summit Meeting served as a catalyst for many important accomplishments in the Global Garifuna Community. It is recognized as the beginning of the modern day Garifuna (Afro descendants) movement in the United States and Central America. It became the grassroots movement that organized the Commemoration of the 200thanniversary of the arrival of the Garifunas to Honduras on April 12th, 1997 (The Garifuna Bicentennial).

That same grass roots movement organized the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. in 1998 to build a powerful progressive coalition that brought together all Garifuna organizations to work together on unifying issues and begin to forge a common progressive vision, obviously, we understood “That a viable organization can only be achieved if a broadly based indigenous leadership — and not one or two charismatic leaders — can knit together the diverse interests of their local institutions.”[1] It is this understanding that made it possible for the Garifuna Coalition to successfully petitioned the various New York branches of government, giving New York the honor of proclaiming the First Garifuna Heritage Month in the World! As part of the celebrations it also hosted the first ever Garifuna Heritage Awards, as well as the Third Annual Joseph Chatoyer Memorial Mass, Garifuna Day and the Miss Garifuna Cultural Pageant.

In addition, New York is home to two Garifuna language teaching centers where according to the New York Times “Speakers of Garifuna, which is being displaced in Central America by Spanish and English, are striving to keep it alive in their New York neighborhoods. Regular classes have sprouted at the Yurumein House Cultural Center in the Bronx, and also in Brooklyn, where James Lovell, a public school music teacher, leads a small Garifuna class at the Biko Transformation Centerin East Bushwick. Today, Garifuna is virtually as common in the Bronx and in Brooklyn as in Honduras and Belize.”[2]The preservation of the Garifuna language through language revitalization, lexical expansion programs and the promotion of teaching, learning and practicing is s one of the objectives of the UNESCO’s Proclamation of the Gariifuna Language, Music and Dance as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Promoting regional Garifuna festivals with a view to confronting the erosion of the Garifuna culture in the heart of modern day communities is another objective of the proclamation. Therfore, in celebration of its ninth anniversary, the Chief Joseph Chatoyer, Garifuna Folkloric Ballet of New York participated in the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, May 16 and on May 23, “A splash of color and the toe-tapping/hip-swaying sounds greeted parade goers as the Hamalali Wayunagu Folkloric Garifuna Dance Company of New York strutted in the 2010 Bronx Week Parade.[3]On May 29th, Casa Yurumein presented a Tribute to 90 year old Garifuna Musician Marcelino “Don Marasa” Fernandez, whom according to Roy Cayetano is “Yet another of our legends and unsung great ones”. [4]

During the month of June as we celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month, the Hamalali Wayunagu (Voices of our Ancestors) Garifuna Folkloric and Modern Dance Company will represent the Garifuna Heritage in the Caribbean American Heritage Month at the New York City Council Ceremony on June 10th, celebrating the heritage of the region's peoples and our continuing contributions to the evolving story of this City and Country. On June 12ththe Garifuna Pastoral of Our Lady of Mercy Church will celebrate its annual Garifuna Thanksgiving Mass in Brooklyn; on that same date, members of the Board of Directors of the Garifuna Coalition, Inc., will participate in a Consultation on St. Vincent and the Grenadines Draft Diaspora Policy, sponsored by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consulate General in New York and The SVG Diaspora Committee of New York, to share our views and suggestions for improving relations between the Garifuna Diaspora and the Ancestral Home of the Garifuna People! The Garifuna Catholic Community Assembly Committee will hold its third Garifuna Catholic Assembly “Garifuna Spirituality in an acculturated world” on June 19th. On June 24, I will present a lecture on Garifuna History at Monroe College, where Miss Luz Soliz, Hamalali Wayunagu's Director and Choreographer is teaching a Caribbean Dance class based on the Garifuna Music and Dance. As descendants from Africans in mainland St. Vincent, who intermarried with the Caribs and Arawaks, the Garifunas or Black Caribs, are part of the unique cultures and melting pot of ethnicities that have their roots in the Caribbean. Can I hear an “Itarala!” (Amen).

All of the above activities are an integral part of the “Garinagu Wagia” (We are Garifunas) campaign, which has the nurturing and promotion of Garifuna pride at the center of its community organizing initiative and in creating awareness and appreciation of the Garifuna culture and its contribution to the culture and society of New York. The strategy is to plan, organize and execute a series of activities to promote the Garifuna Community in New York City, “The Capital of the World”. It was this organizing initiative that led to the development of the first ever Garifuna Census 2010 campaign to make sure that Garinagu are counted in the United States.

According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg "Our city has always led the nation - not just in celebrating holidays, but in pioneering the most innovative and ambitious new ideas. In so many areas, whatever happens happens here first. New York is, as Mayor Koch once famously said, 'where the future comes to audition.” [5]

Therefore, having pioneered the proclamation of the first Garifuna Heritage Month in the world in New York, the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. is organizing an ad-hoc committee with Garifuna Organizations around the nation, to petition the U.S. Congress to establish March 11th- April 12th, as Garifuna-American Heritage Month in the United States of America, in observance of the anniversary of the exile of the Garifuna people from St Vincent on March 11th, 1797 and their settlement in Central America on April 12th, 1797.

As the evidence presented above proves, New York has become the epicenter of the Garifuna Culture and it is our hope that as the New York Garifunas have pioneered the nurturing and promotion of Garifuna pride at the center of their community organizing initiative and in creating awareness and appreciation of the Garifuna culture, Garifunas around the world will replicate our example.

[1]Obama, Barack, Why Organize? Problems and promise in the inner city, Illinois Issues, 1988
[2]Roberts, Sam Listening to (and Saving) the World’s Languages. The New York Times, April 28, 2010

Garifuna Pride - Our Voice - Our Vision
Garinagu Wagia!
391 East 149 St, Ste 215 | Bronx, New York 10455 US

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Barrouallie Whalers in New England

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Barrouallie Whalers
Authentic Whalers and Shantymen from St. Vincent & the Grenadines June 2010 Appearances in New England

• June 10 Whaling National Historical Park – New Bedford, MA
Visitor Center on Williams St. 7:00 PM

• June 11-13 • Mystic Seaport Museum, CT

• June 15 •Sylvester Manor Farm (unconfirmed) Long Island, NY

• June 16 Schooner Quinnipiack - New Haven, CT 7:00 pm

• June 17 Hibernian Hall, Roxbury, MA 8:00 pm

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

This was selected from the collection mentioned in the previous entry

Photos of SVG

Excellent set pf photos of St. Vincent and the grenadines (including some of mine) at
Sample photo of Tobago Cay is in next blog entry.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Going To Massachusetts

We are going to Massachusetts for a couple of months, mostly to see Doctors in the Boston area about old folks conditions. We will be back in the fall. You can still get us at or I will still be putting things in this blog, While the pictures won’t be new I’ll be entering new text from the internet and from email I get. I’m sorry I hadn’t heard from the young lady from Alliance Francais who wanted to talk about the Garifuna. I wanted her to read the memoirs of Alexandre Moreau De Jonnes as they refer to the Second Carib War when he was a French spy with the garifuna. As a matter of fact I recommend that to any vincentian, or any young lady, for that matter. The Carib Heroines are wonderful. Find it at

SVG: Honeymoon happiness and bliss

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is simply perfect for your honeymoon, romantic getaway or destination wedding. This is a small nation, located in the Lesser Antilles chain, which lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It has some of the finest beaches in the world where diving, snorkeling and surfing. Discover this Caribbean nation has all the elements that make your honeymoon and invaluable.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Thecan experience the breathtaking colors, peace, joy and happiness that you are the colorful plants in this country. The idyllic and exotic island offers the best facilities and amenities that can make your romantic getaway simply brilliant.

The things that the nation can enjoy living in this

– The Grenadines from 32 small islands, which offers excellent opportunities for tourists is different. Here is a small airport that has flights to all majorNations.

– The crystal clear waters gently lapping the shore, private coves and pristine beaches on deserted islands, quiet atmosphere makes this place ideal for an intimate honeymoon experience.

– St. Vincent is the largest island, with cobblestone streets, colonial cities and natural wonders.

– Bequia is a small town, famous for its natural beaches and pristine. If you want you can have quality time with your spouse simply by renting a smallVacation Rentals in Mustique.

– If you are interested in adventurous activities then this site offers a variety of wildlife sanctuaries, which are perfect for hiking and snorkeling.

– Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has swept around the world for their honeymoon coral beaches, crystal clear waters, coves, crystal clear water and palm trees wind known.

– Some places to visit here are Arawak petroglyphs, Vermont Nature Trail, Fort Charlotte, the Gardens of Montreal, Black PointTunnel, The Fort and Soufriere Duvernette.

– Kingstown has several five-star resorts and hotels that you book in advance for your honeymoon. Special rooms are assigned to all married couples.

– Canouan is a strikingly beautiful, wonderfully attractive islands shaped hook, aesthetic beaches, secluded coves and surrounded. This paradise is a perfect place where you can properly celebrate your love and devotion.

– Tobago is crystal clear, thethe sun shines. The hotels and resorts directly on the beach here is ideal for your stay. Here you can really enjoy the fantastic dive sites, spectacular beaches and aquamarine thick rainforests.

I'm sure this place has all the elements that your honeymoon can be an unforgettable experience.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PM criticises Opposition Leader on ALBA

Wednesday, 26 May 2010 23:36

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has defended the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), while accusing Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace of having a bookkeeper’s mentality against to the initiative.

“ a many sided agreement where nations are in solidarity with one another on strictly economic matters,” Gonsalves said, noting that “Venezuela has oil and we can have had a relationship where we can benefit from oil”.

Eustace has in the past been critical of the Gonsalves government close links with Caracas which he believes has been influencing a number of government policies in recent times.

But Gonsalves, who has just returned from attending the summit of European, Latin America and Caribbean countries in Spain, said Eustace, a Canadian trained economist, operates like a book keeper lacking the creative means of solving economic problems.

The Prime Minister said that since his administration came to office in 2001, it has implemented a number of programmes including low income houses, which the state has provided with funds provided from ALBA.

ALBA is the alternative to the US-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) that will allow member countries to enter into trade negotiations on more favourable terms.

Apart from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda are the other Caribbean signatories to the ALBA accord.

Buccament Bay Resort Opens in SVG

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Buccament Bay Resort announces its soft opening as the first luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. The 368-room resort will be the first from the new hotel brand, Harlequin Hotels & Resorts and is positioned to redefine tourism on the island, creating massive sustainability and growth into the economy and its community.

The hotel’s unprecedented partnerships will provide extensive facilities and amenities such as The Alaia Spa, Pat Cash Tennis Academy, Liverpool Football Club Soccer School, Harlequin Performing Arts Academy, Trader Vic’s along with several other bars and restaurants, a Diving & Water Sports Centre and a Marina.

Harlequin Hotels & Resorts understands the impact a large-scale resort development has on a relatively small tourism industry and is committed to being a responsible and considerate community partner by striving for a positive economic impact and supporting social development in St. Vincent. This will include a sustainability strategy involving sourcing local resources for building materials and food, maximizing energy efficiency, minimizing water waste and pollution and reducing the carbon footprint made by transporting goods and guests within the resort. Harlequin is also recruiting its workforce locally and Buccament Bay Resort will employ more than 700 local people in the operation of the resort.

Accommodations from sprawling beachfront villas to chic hotel suites, including nine different categories are being constructed to the highest specifications.

Inspired by the rich jewel tone colors of a tropical sunset, Dallas-based interior design firm Jones Baker incorporated tropical hardwoods, natural stone, and luxurious textiles to create a memorable guest experience. Catering to an upscale clientele, special attention was given to design details such as custom bedding, luxurious baths with rain showers, and numerous other guest amenities including in-room technology, custom lighting and private terraces.

With several restaurants, bars and lounges, Buccament Bay Resort will provide the best of world cuisine. Restaurants include Jack’s Steak and Seafood, Arlecchino Italian fine dining, Trader Vic’s offering a blend of Pacific Island, Asian and American cuisine, Ginger & Co. Asian fusion restaurant, and The Bay Beach Club serving drinks and snacks throughout the day. An attraction in its own right is The Pearl, a galleon that will be moored just offshore at the hotel to provide a fantastically original surrounding.

Buccament Bay Resort will feature the Caribbean’s most varied, and respected sports facilities and activities. The Pat Cash Tennis Academy will offer expert tennis coaching for both adults and children along with annual tournaments featuring Grand Slam players. Further, the resort will be the first Caribbean destination to feature a partnership with a football (American soccer) club with the opening of the Liverpool Football Club Soccer School. The courses at the school will be designed to be fun, challenging and interactive with courses available for children of five years and up. The facilities will also be available for professional teams to undertake pre-season training.

The Harlequin Performing Arts Academy will offer a wide range of upbeat classes and a unique opportunity for children of all ages to learn and develop performance skills, with tailor-made programs led by West End and Broadway performers, actors, choreographers, vocal coaches and musicians. Master-classes can also be arranged for aspiring adults.

The resort marina will have berths for cruising yachts and offshore anchoring mooring buoys for larger yachts. Buccament Bay Resort will offer a wide range of water sports through its Diving & Water Sports Centre including a range of PADI certified diving tuition and guided dives. Other water sports offered will include kayaking, and snorkeling.

The Alaia Spa, designed by ESPA, will have a range of relaxing and restorative treatments and therapies. Services will include hot stone therapies, Shiatsu, Aromatherapy, holistic body and Thai massages as well as traditional beauty treatments. Yoga, Pilates, Reiki and meditation will also be offered, reflecting the spa’s holistic focus and guests will be able to experience outdoor treatment suites, bordered by herb gardens and shaded by tropical vegetation.

Wedding ceremonies will take place in an antique gazebo being shipped from Spain overlooking the resort’s white sand beach and the Caribbean Sea. Packages will have exclusive use of a villa for a champagne and canapés reception.

Additional resort amenities include several boutiques, a white sand beach, swimming pools with concierge service, a children’s pool, , business center, Teen Club, babysitting and Little Harlequins, Buccament Bay Resort’s signature kid’s club.

For reservations and more information, please visit

About Harlequin Hotels & Resorts
Harlequin Hotels & Resorts is creating luxury resorts in Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Dominican Republic and Brazil. Built to the highest specification and offering state-of-the-art facilities, the resorts will be managed and maintained to the highest standard by a five-star hotel management team. Each resort will offer a wide range of amenities; the Harlequin Sports Academy will include the Liverpool Football Club Soccer School, Pat Cash Tennis Academy, Harlequin Fitness Centre and Diving & Water Sports Centre; several bars and restaurants, including world famous Trader Vic’s, will offer guests a choice of cuisine ranging from fine dining to casual eating; the Harlequin Performing Arts Academy; the Alaia Spa created and operated by ESPA, and the Little Harlequins Kids Club. The Marquis Estate in St Lucia will have a Gary Player Signature Golf Course with the world’s first Gary Player Golf Hotel and villas. Harlequin’s first resort, Buccament Bay Resort in St Vincent & The Grenadines, is due to open in 2010.

Oil Spill Reaches Singapore's East Coast


Oil spilled from a tanker collision offshore Singapore fouled parts of a two-mile (3.2-kilometer) stretch of the city-state's coast, authorities said Wednesday.

Officials have deployed oil dispersants, 15 boats, 120 personnel and 3,300 meters (10,800 feet) of containment booms in a bid to keep the oil from Singapore's east coast, a popular beach and park area. The affected area is between a naval base and a sailing center, authorities said.

"Small patches of oil and sheen were sighted at Changi Naval Base," the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said. "Patches of oil slick have also affected part of the coastline."

About 18,000 barrels of light crude oil spilled from the Malaysian-registered tanker MT Bunga Kelana 3 after it collided with the St. Vincent's and The Grenadines-registered bulk carrier MV Waily early Tuesday in the Singapore Strait about eight miles (13 kilometers) southeast of Singapore's east coast.

The port authority and the National Environment Agency confirmed local press reports that east coast residents complained of a foul oil smell Tuesday.

"Some of the lighter portions of the oil could have evaporated and caused a smell that was detected by some members of the public," the port authority and environment agency said in a joint statement. It wasn't toxic, they said.

Malaysian coast guard Commander Abdul Hadib Abdul Wahab said Tuesday that any environmental damage would be "very minimal."

The MT Bunga Kelana 3 was built in 1998 and is owned and operated by AET Tanker Holdings (AET), a subsidiary of MISC Bhd. Malaysia's state oil and gas company Petroliam Nasional Bhd. is MISC's biggest shareholder. MISC owns a fleet of 44 petroleum tankers.

Gonsalves on Jamaica

Situation was allowed to fester — Gonsalves

Thursday, May 27, 2010

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says the current breakdown in law and order in Jamaica is proof enough that "undemocratic power" must not be allowed to hold territorial sway.

The Vincentian leader, who is also his country's National Security Minister, said Tuesday that he was disturbed by the growing unrest in the partner Caribbean Community (Caricom) member state that has reportedly claimed more than 40 lives since Sunday.

Angry clashes between security forces and gun-touting civilians have been sparked by efforts to execute a warrant for the arrest Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who is wanted by US authorities.

Gonsalves, who is due to visit Jamaica for an upcoming lecture, said he was currently reconsidering his travel plans since the situation in the country has been allowed to get out of hand.

"I always make this point. Keeping law and order doesn't give you any vote because when you're maintaining law and order there is always somebody who wants to criticise you," he said.

But, Gonsalves who is presently campaigning for a general election, went on to warn that "not having law and order will lose you plenty votes."

"More than that, (it) would make it difficult for you to enjoy any of your rights: your natural right to life and the protection or your person and the whole range of civil rights, including the right to property, the right to speak, to associate," he said, while pointing out that the State "has a legitimate monopoly on physical coercion".

He also said based on what's now happening in Jamaica, the lesson for his country is that you cannot give criminals "undemocratic power to hold territorial sway over any part of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

"Even decent people are peeved, but now all Vincentians can see the consequence of allowing this sort of thing to fester since the open warfare by ordinary citizens against the police and military was not taking place in Mexico or Columbia -- as often seen on television -- but rather, it was happening in Jamaica to the extent that the West Indies Cricket Board is wondering whether it would hold a one day international there next month," Gonsalves said.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SVG Booklaunch

KINGS-SVG Publishers is pleased to announce the formal launching of two books by Vincentian authors, which were published in 2009.

The first is the republication of "Pioneers in Nation-Building in a Caribbean Mini-State" by former Governor, Sir Rupert John, with a new biographical foreword by Karl John.

The second is a new book of poems entitled "Timescape and Other Caribbean Poems" and co-authored by Vincentian Marcia Harold Hinds and Barbadian Lance Bannister.

The launching will take place at the UWI School of Continuing Studies (Open Campus) in Richmond Hill at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 4, 2010. Books will be on sale and available for signing. All are welcome.Refreshments will be served.

Baldwin & Cheryl King.

SVG Crewman Missing From Cruise Ship

Coast Guard searching for crewman missing from cruise ship Oasis of the Seas
May 25th, 2010 by cgnews.

MIAMI – Coast Guard crews are searching Tuesday for a 45-year-old crewmember reported missing from Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Oasis of the Seas Monday.

Cruise ship officials contacted search and rescue watchstanders at the District Seven Command Center in Miami to report Dillon Roache, of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was reported missing and has subsequently been confirmed overboard during the ships transit from Nassau, Bahamas to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Once notified of the missing crewmember, Oasis of the Seas officers re-traced the ship’s route to search for Roache. The Oasis of the Seas departed from search efforts Tuesday morning and is continuing a modified itinerary.

Oil spill off Singapore after collision

Oil spill off Singapore after collision

Emergency teams are battling to contain 2,000 tonnes of crude oil that have leaked into the Singapore Strait after two vessels collided in the busy waterway. Maritime officials said the Malaysian-registered tanker MT Bunga Kelana 3 was damaged in a collision with the MV Wally, a bulk carrier registered in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Four patrol and emergency response vessels and three private craft equipped with oil-spill equipment have been sent to the affected zone. Nobody was injured and ship traffic was not affected by the incident, which took place 13 kilometres off Singapore.


Monday, May 24, 2010

IMF Reports on SVG

St. Vincent and the Grenadines - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mrs. Nita Thacker visited St. Vincent and the Grenadines during May 12-21 for the annual Article IV discussions on economic developments and macroeconomic policies.

The mission met with the Honorable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the Acting Prime Minister Mr. Michael Browne, members of the Cabinet, the Director General of the Ministry of Finance Mr. Maurice Edwards, other senior government officials, as well as members of the opposition headed by Hon. Arnhim Eustace. The mission also met with representatives of the private sector and labor unions.

At the end of the mission, Mrs. Thacker issued the following statement:

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been severely affected by the spillovers of the global crisis on tourism, remittances, and foreign direct investments. Economic activity contracted 0.6 percent in 2008 and 1 percent in 2009, after an average increase of about 8 percent in 2006-07. Inflation declined to 0.4 percent in 2009 from 10 percent in 2008, reflecting the decline in international food and fuel prices. The balances of the central government worsened in 2009. The overall deficit doubled to 3.3 percent of GDP and the primary surplus of 2008 disappeared to leave a near-zero deficit in 2009. The deficit was financed largely through issuance of Treasury bonds, leading to an increase in the total public sector debt to 75 percent of GDP, a jump of 7 percentage points from 2008.

“Growth is expected to recover gradually over the medium term, reflecting the projected slow recovery in employment and consumer spending in tourism source economies. The fiscal deficit is expected to widen further this year, reflecting in part spending on some one-off items, including the bridge loan to the airport authority and resources for the financial sector. However, over the medium term, the authorities plan to reduce the deficit through a mix of revenue and expenditure measures to ensure that the debt-to-GDP ratio declines in line with the ECCB recommended target of 60 percent by 2020.

“The banking sector requires close monitoring, as soundness indicators deteriorated in 2009. Also, uncertainty in the nonbank financial sector remains high, reflecting the fallout from the collapse of the CL Financial Group. In this context, the mission welcomed the authorities commitment to a regional strategy for resolving the issues related to this sector. Progress is also being made on establishing a Single Regulatory Unit to strengthen the supervision of the nonbank financial institutions.
“Upon its return to Washington, the mission will prepare a report, to be discussed by the IMF's Executive Board, tentatively scheduled for July 2010.

“The mission thanks the authorities for their warm hospitality and close cooperation.”

Friday, May 21, 2010

New Essay

It is not specifically about SVG, but my thinking about the past and future can be found on the web at

Summit ends on Positive note


The Sixth Summit of the European Union (EU)and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), described as “one of results and agreements,” has ended; and perhaps on a positive note for the Caribbean.
The more than sixty leaders who met in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday agreed on a slate of measures aimed at strengthening trade and improving European relations with Latin America and Caribbean. This, they pledged to do by establishing a joint investment agency and a foundation – the EU-LAC Foundation – to promote social development within the Caribbean and Latin America.

European Leaders had also committed to setting up a new financial facility to support investment projects in the region and to re-open talks with the Mercosur trading bloc – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay – which were suspended in 2004, due to disagreement over tariffs and subsidies paid to European farmers.
But it was not all about trade issues: perhaps the resonant message in the Summit was the call made by CARIFORUM Leaders who in their special Summit with European leaders on Monday, asked their European counterparts to consider the unique characteristics and special circumstances of the Caribbean, and in so doing, pay special attention to Small Island Developing States.

Chairman of CARICOM Honourable Roosevelt Skerritt, Prime Minister of Dominica, led the charge on behalf of CARIFORUM stating that the Caribbean wanted to be treated as partners especially as it related to the global agenda and the challenges in advancing that agenda.

He was supported by his colleague Prime  Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr the Hon Ralph Gonsalves who highlighted the many and significant strides that the Community had made especially in weathering the global financial storms even while contending with those brought about by climate change.

Prime Minister Gonsalves left no stone unturned in pointing out that special treatment ought to be given to the Caribbean, especially those of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) grouping but stressed that it ought to be done in the context of partnerships which were mutually beneficial. In a brief yet comprehensive presentation, Prime Minister Gonsalves reminded the European Leaders of provisions under the Cotonou and Economic Partnership Agreements; noted the threats to those commitments; cautioned against Agreements with other countries brokered at the expense of CARIFORUM and drew their attention to ‘less than favourable’ treatment of Caribbean exports such as rice, sugar and rum.

The appeal did not fall on deaf ears.  Prime Minister of Spain, Honourable Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country holds the rotating six-month presidency of the EU, asserted that the answer to both regions’ prosperity lay in “uniting efforts where growth and social policy go hand-in-hand in liberalising economies.”
As he declared the Summit open, Mr Zapatero  acknowledged the need to view  Latin America and the Caribbean as  “partners in vital issues on the global agenda: the economic crisis, the future financial stability, the fight against climate change, energy problems and efforts to overcome inequality and poverty.”

The President of the European Council, Mr Herman Van Rompuy also echoed the importance of the EU’s strategic partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean, reaffirming the EC’s determination to further strengthen cooperation in the mutual interest of both regions.

The issue of Climate Change and its effects on the Caribbean was more poignantly brought home when CARIFORUM presented the case of Haiti: The Summit underlined the importance of strengthening the partnership in tackling the effects of climate change and expressed solidarity with Haiti and Chile following the recent natural disasters suffered in both countries. That solidarity was distilled into an agreement to hold a joint CARIFORUM-EU Conference on Climate Change and to consider setting up a special investment fund for Haiti, in addition to the 1.235 billion euros already pledged for that country’s recovery from the January 12 earthquake.

The Summit has also spawned commitments on strengthening regional integration, gender equality and mainstreaming; cultural diversity; the fight against illicit drugs and the provision of increased funding for several projects in the area of research and development, science, innovation and technology, in keeping with its theme: Towards a new stage in the bi-regional partnership: innovation and technology for sustainable development and social inclusion.

In the aftermath of the Summit, bi-lateral meetings were still being held and bi-lateral trade agreements were still being brokered.

Heads of State and Governments from both regions left that Summit quite cognisant of the fact that the still waters of bi-lateral and bi-regional relations may still run deeper; that  the economic crisis might not have reached its end; that further regulation of the global financial markets was required and  that those challenges could only be tackled  locally and globally, by collaboration and cooperation – a greater investment in a solid partnership.

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The St.Vincent Parrot

The St. Vincent Parrot (Amazona guildingii) is one of two species of birds endemic to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (The other, featured yesterday, is the Whistling Warbler.) In the wild, it’s found in moist forest on the upper east and west ridges of St. Vincent.

Populations of the St. Vincent Parrot were in decline for much of the 20th century, but in the 1980s determined conservation efforts commenced, and the parrot population nearly doubled in just over a decade. The St. Vincent Parrot is protected by law, its habitat is also legally protected via its incorporation in the St. Vincent Parrot Reserve, and there is a captive breeding programme in place at the aviary in St. Vincent’s Botanical Gardens.

In its most recent conservation status assessment, BirdLife International said:
Habitat conservation, law enforcement and public awareness campaigns have halted this species’s slide towards extinction, and even reversed some of the previous declines.

Find out more about the St. Vincent Parrot from BirdLife and at Arkive (where there are four videos that are well worth watching).

This post is part of a series to celebrate the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival.

[Photo: Chennette]

SFI Books, a SVG Publisher

SFI Books, a new publishing imprint based in the Eastern Caribbean island of St Vincent, has opened a new door of opportunity to writers from the region. It was launched by the independent publisher Strategic Forum Inc (SFI).

Inga Rhonda King, an expert in accounting and financial management, is the founder and managing director of Strategy Forum Inc. Born in Curacao, Netherland Antilles, she grew up in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and has lived and worked in several Caribbean islands, the USA and China. She also has a strong background in pure and applied mathematics and over the past 20 year has worked primarily with medium-sized firms, helping them to expand their business, operate more efficiently and increase profitability.

A few years ago, health concerns caused her to reassess her professional life and change course. “I became less and less interested in designing, analyzing or fixing systems for organizations and more and more interested in changing mindsets or rather, altering the systems in people’s minds and designing methods for unlocking insights. Understanding how we receive information or how we think and why we think the way we do is paramount to the success of any endeavor and the creation of the good life,” Rhonda explained.

Thereafter, in 2006, Strategy Forum Inc was birthed. The organization provides business consultancy services mainly to small business owners, senior executives and persons with individual pursuits, teaching them techniques that stimulate innovative thinking, offer new perspectives and helps them devise creative strategies for the holistic growth of their businesses and projects. SFI was recently entrusted with the preparation of a project proposal on behalf of the National Trust of St Vincent with regards to an environmental and conservation initiative initiated by the Trust for Canouan, Mayreau and Union Island, three islands in the Grenadines.

The launch of SFI Books represents the opening of a new chapter in Rhonda King’s mission to create a space where “independent thinkers, trained and untrained, could gather and learn from each other” – a “village without walls” that allows people anywhere in the world to be part of an enterprise where, together, they can “create an environment to facilitate the re-imagining of their world.”

“Our first aim is to provide a platform for new voices (not-so-new are also welcome) and to celebrate and promote the Caribbean sense of life, even as we try to understand it. We see no better way of doing so than through storytelling,” said Rhonda.
The imprint’s inaugural publication, entitled Caribbean Sense of Life is a photographic narrative compiled by Rhonda King that set out to capture the Caribbean’s rich geographical and cultural diversity and show how the islands’ geography, and history, and the social blending of their people’s and cultures have helped to forge a distinct and unique Caribbean “sense of life” and aesthetic. A copy of the book was presented to US President Barack Obama at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. A copy was also given to Pope Benedict. On both occasions the presentation was made by the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves. Copies of the book were also given to several Caribbean leaders.

Since then other books have followed, including Last Man Standing, featuring a collection of contemporary artwork by celebrated Vincentian artist Robert Joyette. It’s the first in a planned SFI Books series on contemporary Caribbean art spotlighting the works of artists across the region. The aim of the series is to celebrate the Caribbean’s artistic talent and potential and take the region’s art into the home of the average Caribbean person. It is also hoped that the series will provide the artists with added exposure beyond the region.

Beauty is the Messenger: Imagining the Future by Deborah Rodney is a collection of inspirational essays, poetry and shot stories that invite readers to step outside of their limiting thoughts and imagine a new world. Deborah Rodney is, among other things, an actress, social activist and playwright. She was the founder and director of three theatre companies and has written several plays for children on environmental and social issues. The plays have toured hundreds of schools in the USA and St Vincent. She is also a Reiki Master in the tradition of USUI Ryoho. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.

A Taste of the Caribbean by photojournalist Kingsley Roberts features a collection of over two dozen photographs depicting various aspects of the daily life of regular folk in the Caribbean. The collection is called ‘Dawn ’til Dusk.’ It portrays scenes that could be seen on any given day from sun-up to sun-down, and simultaneously captures the lives of the young through to the elderly. Although the photographs were taken primarily in Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, they are quintessentially Caribbean, allowing anyone any one familiar with the Caribbean to reconnect with the region.

A former journalist with the Nation newspaper in Barbados, Roberts has won several awards during his career spanning three decades and several islands. He now lives and works in St. Vincent.

Other SFI books include The Nature of Belonging by Vonnie Roudette and one entitled And Who Do You Say You Are? Journey to an Authentic Life by Denise L. Peroune.

The Nature of Belonging is a collection of 52 essays devoted to heightening public awareness of the beauty and healing power of nature and the threats posed by the “widespread destruction of green life” and the impending disorder of climate change. Vonnie Roudette holds an MA from Manchester Metropolitan University. Among other things, she’s a certified farmer and manager/design director of Fibreworks Inc., a craft factory in rural St. Vincent and a creative education consultant.

And Who Do You Say You Are? shows how one institution began the journey to rediscovering itself and its reason for being. Peroune uses the principles that guided the organization in its journey to create a path for individuals to do the same and identify their personal values. She holds a Ph.D. in leadership and education and has more than twelve years experience in higher education marketing

“We are not a vanity press; authors do not pay to have their work published under this label. We do use the best tools and technological advances available to the publishing sector. Each work which carries the SFI label is carefully selected. Our works are message driven and we expect our authors to be actively engaged in promoting their messages and ideas,” SFI Books founder Rhonda King explained.

Aside from their intriguing topics and thought-provoking themes, what makes the SFI titles truly outstanding is their focus on illustrative content, their exquisite design and attractive covers, and the obvious attempt to make the books visually stimulating.

“SFI believes that a visual culture is taking over in the twenty-first century, where people must be stimulated visually if the message is to be transmitted successfully,” said Rhonda. “The aesthetic appeal of books published under the SFI label is therefore key in their creation. Design becomes as critical to conveying the message as the medium itself. Under the SFI label, each book remains a work of art while being a conduit for sharing valuable information and insight, using fiction and non-fiction alike.

“At the moment we aim at publishing no more than four works annually, including in-hut publications. We are niche-market focused and quality driven. The process and structure of the SFI publishing hut is cooperative in nature and we work closely with our authors. When necessary we are involved from the development of the concept through to the book design, layout and printing.”
SFI titles are available online at and will soon be available at select booksellers worldwide.

Meanwhile, Strategy Forum Inc has also launched First Reads, a new, monthly journal that features mainly creative works, including short fiction and poetry.

“Based on two years of market research, we have concluded that there is a thirst for Caribbean creative works since the Caribbean voice is still under-represented in literary journals worldwide. First Reads is a response to fill that void as it provides a space for well-written, well-researched topical issues,” says Rhonda who is also First Reads editor.

“First Reads is based on the Village Ethic. Here, people work collaboratively and bring to the platform that which they can — creative expression, financial resources, a commitment to spread the word. The Village Ethic presents a new paradigm, a viable alternative to the current corporate model. Villagers are free to participate in one or any combination of participant levels as contributors, benefactors, and/or readers,” said Rhonda.

The inaugural issue of First Reads was released on March 31, 2010 with the publication of The Obeah Man, a short story by Godfrey Bobby Fraser, widely acclaimed Vincentian playwright, whose radio serials were popular throughout the Eastern Caribbean in the 80s and 90s. The Obeah Man, written in the 60s, has never been published before. Beginning in May, Storytelling Forum Inclusive, through First Reads will introduce as a serial for the first time on the Internet, the audio files of the 12 episodes of Leroy.

First Reads welcomes submissions from Caribbean and non-Caribbean writers and poets. It is e-mailed on the last Tuesday of every month except July, August and December.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Banana Industry Decline No Sideshow

Aurelie Walker,, Tuesday 18 May 2010

Today, EU leaders and their counterparts from Colombia and Peru will strike lucrative trade agreements spanning financial services, industry and agriculture – the first between the EU and any Latin American nation since 2003. The EU's attention will then focus on securing similar deals with the mighty Latin American Mercosur bloc that includes Brazil and Argentina.

Another example of the power of globalisation to generate wealth? Maybe, but there is a less rosy side to the seemingly inevitable victory march of trade liberalisation.

As European business interests ready themselves for new markets, it should not be forgotten that breakthrough would never have materialised without selling the Caribbean banana industry down the river. Unlikely as it may seem, until last December, there was an impasse in closer trade ties between Europe and Latin America. It came in the form of the banana – the world's most exported fruit.

Since 1975, Europe protected Caribbean banana growers. But the largely American interests that controlled the vast banana plantations in Ecuador and Colombia, where workers' rights are at best an afterthought, persuaded the then fledgling Clinton administration, whose election they lavishly funded, to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organisation demanding they overturn this perceived unjust support.

For 17 years, the banana wars raged. Then, five months ago, with one eye on huge trade deals between Colombia and Peru, Europe relented.

Compensation for banana farmers in a dozen Caribbean and African countries comes in the form of €190m fund. The money will be paid to Caribbean governments in the form of budget support. In other words, farmers won't see the cash.

The most serious challenge to agriculture in the Caribbean comes as islands face falls in tourism, foreign direct investment and financial services. This after the international community told the islands to pursue these paths.

The decline of the Caribbean banana industry may seem like a sideshow. But abandoned farms together with laid-off financial workers are a seedbed for enveloping the Caribbean economy and political system in a drug morass.

There is evidence of the spread of marijuana cultivation and trafficking, especially in St Vincent where a Marijuana Growers Association was publicly announced, despite the practice being illegal.

Strategically placed on the cocaine route from South to North America, the Caribbean used to be just a stopping-off point for traffickers. Now, say well-placed sources, drug barons are making connections with the marijuana trade and supplying them with guns and cocaine.

In a region where unemployment surpasses 30% in some countries, according to International Labour Organisation estimates, this is what happens when you lose a trade war. Farmers question whether it is worth tilling the soil against a shrinking export market, a lower return and a lack of credit.

Trade is not a cure-all for poverty reduction. Investment in infrastructure, technology and human capital are also prerequisites for development.

But the economies of vulnerable nations are being sacrificed to satisfy the interests of western corporations. The last rites are administered by global food giants who have and continue to diminish workers' rights to increase their profits.

The remaining Windward farmers are fighting back by shortening supply chains and investing in community and business developments. Backed by the better nature of UK consumers, who are choosing Fairtrade in increasing numbers, at least there is one way they can still receive a decent price for their crop in a market that has seen long-term real-terms price decline.

But the big, contradictory picture is at the very same time that Caribbean governments are fighting poverty, drugs and crime, the same curse of poverty, drugs and crime is being exacerbated – as a direct consequence of the European commission's trade policy.

SVG drops bid for UN Security seat

Monday, 17 May 2010

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC –Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says St. Vincent and the Grenadines will no longer seek a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in October.

He said however that the Permanent Mission to the United Nations has been instructed to submit the necessary documentation to formally announce the island’s candidacy for the 2020-2021 term.
Gonsalves said that the decision to back down was also due to a lack of support from two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
He said that the island’s bid against Colombia for the UN seat “could only succeed if it enjoyed the unanimous endorsement” of all 14 CARICOM countries at the United Nations.

“Given the decision by those two states not to support a potential Vincentian bid for the 2011-2012 term, CARICOM was unable to unanimously endorse that candidature,” Gonsalves said.
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace announced late April that the government had been discussing with regional governments their support in order to win the seat.

Eustace said Gonsalves was a proxy for the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) in an attempt to undermine Colombia’s chances of being elected to the Security Council.

“I am satisfied that ALBA is the one … who pushed Prime Minister Gonsalves to tell his (Caribbean Community) colleagues that St. Vincent is going to contest for the seat in the United Nations … because they don’t like Columbia and Colombia is the country that is named,” Eustace said.

However, Gonsalves said his administration did not intend to disrespect citizens by not announcing its plans, saying, “You have to lay the basis for diplomacy in private.”

The statement issued on Friday said a number of countries had approached St. Vincent and the Grenadines “to consider offering its voice and perspective to the deliberations of the United Nations Security Council” and as a result it had been “actively investigating the feasibility of announcing its candidature”.
In a brief prepared for the regional governments in April, the government emphasised that “the need for a strong and unambiguous endorsement by CARICOM is essential.”

The government discussed the possible candidacy with selected OECS heads of government in Antigua and Barbuda on April 9 and at the CARICOM-Brazil summit on April 26. It was further discussed at a CARICOM’s Council for Community and Foreign Relations (COFCOR) meeting in Dominica on May 6.

“However, for varying reasons…two CARICOM states indicated that they did not view a 2011-2012 candidature as compatible with their individual national interests. As a result, these two CARICOM states declined at this time to endorse the potential Vincentian candidature,” Gonsalves said.

“In light of CARICOM’s failure to unanimously endorse the candidacy, the Government of [SVG] decided not to announce a bid for the 2011-2012 term… (but) instead decided to make its historic bid for the term beginning in 2020.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the smallest country, by population, ever to announce its candidature for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Within CARICOM, only Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have ever held a seat on the Security Council.

Conference on Climate Change

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) of African Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) States and the European Union (EU) on Monday, announced their intention to launch a joint special conference on Climate Change.

The Conference is scheduled to take place just ahead of the 16Th Conference of Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Frame Work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) scheduled for Cancun, Mexico in November.

This announcement was made in Madrid on Monday at a joint press conference following the Special Summit between the EUand CARIFORUM to discuss ways in which the bi-regional relationship between both regions could be strengthened, as both prepare for the Sixth EU-LAC conference set for Tuesday.

Chairman of CARIFORUM, Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Barbados, in endorsing the announcement stated that the meeting between both regions was extremely productive and critical to building a long standing relationship.

She noted that it was of utmost importance for both Regions to take time and take stock on how to move forward in strengthening bi-regional relations.

Priority, she stated, was given to Haiti, as that country pressed forward in its restoration programme, following the devastation of its capital by an earthquake on 12 January.

Minister McClean added that both Regions had recognised the grave importance of addressing the challenges of climate change, and in this regard had placed emphasis on finding concrete ways of dealing with those challenges. This special Summit before the actual EU-LAC Summit, she stated, had served to ensure greater clarity between the two regions, especially as it related to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

At the Press Conference, the EU was represented by the Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country is the current President of the EU; President of the European Council, Mr Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Mr José Manuel Barroso.

Van Rompuy in his statement to the Media announced that the Joint EU-CARIFORUM Meeting had validated the Joint Strategy titled Visions for Future Partnership which outlined a way forward in bi-regional relations; collaboration on the global stage and a long term approach to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

Noting the necessity of advancing the region’s Climate Change agenda, Rompuy expressed hope that the joint Climate Change conference would allow for them to build on the “little successes” from Copenhagen in order to ensure more concrete results from the Cancun Conference. He too agreed that Climate Change had become a major critical issue especially in light of Haiti’s recent disaster and disclosed that the EU had pledged to throw its full support behind that country’s restoration.

In addition, the President of the European Council gave the Union’s public commitment to advancing the regional integration agenda and to strengthen that partnership for sustainable development.

All Member States of CARICOM and CARIFORUM were represented at the Joint Meeting on Monday. Among the delegation were three CARICOM Heads of Government - Prime Minister of Dominica and CARICOM Chairman, Roosevelt Skerrit and Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Haiti’s Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive.

The Sixth EU-LAC Summit gets underway on Tuesday, 18 May, under the theme: Towards a new phase of the bi-regional association: innovation and technology for sustainable development and social inclusion.

Reprinted from Caribbean Net News‚ Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

SVG PM to bid for seat on U N Security Council?

May 11, 2010

The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, says his country is still contemplating whether to bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, says his country is still contemplating whether to bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Dr Gonsalves says a move in that direction will be in keeping with the thrust towards reforming the world body.

He says CARICOM stands to benefit from such a move.

SVG PM pleased with new US-approach

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 01:13 cmc

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said Tuesday that the Barack Obama administration “is very much determined to re-engage with the Caribbean” following the United States rethinking on security issues in the region.

“I must admit that there was a time, shortly after the preoccupation of the United States of America with the invasion of Iraq, there appeared to have been a retreat from some security issues with us,” Gonsalves said prior to signing an agreement that allows the United States to board St. Vincent and the Grenadines registered vessels suspected of transporting weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

“I am happy to say that that retreat has come to an end and we are now seeing some advance in this cooperation,” Gonsalves said.
A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados said the agreement was signed under the auspices of the Proliferation Security Initiative, and it would allow St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States to co-operate “in ensuring that Vincentian-flagged cargo vessels are not used by traffickers in weapons of mass destruction”.

Last month, the United States signed similar agreement with Antigua and Barbuda and that the accord would “support the reliability and sustainability of Antigua’s ship’s registry operations throughout the world”.

Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy Brent Hardt, said Washington has reflected it renewed commitment to the Caribbean with the recent visits to the region of Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

He said Clinton has spoken of the need to “engage more vigorously with the Caribbean this year”.

The Barbados-based diplomat said the United States had increased its Caribbean Basin Initiative budget for 2010 from US$30 million to US$45 million and US$70 million has been allocated for 2011, pending Congress approval.

“One of the critical things I would like to note about this is that it’s not what we call traditional security assistance – support to police forces, coastguards – although there is plenty of that. But, we also understand the problems of the region have deep roots in social issues and economic issues,” Hardt said.
He said that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was developing programmes to teach young people education and employment skills that would lead to better prospects.

Washington is also seeking to partner with the Caribbean on issues relating to the economy, climates change, health and HIV/AIDS, Hardt said.

“We are engaging in many ways and today’s agreement is one more step, one more reflection of the close security cooperation that we have enjoyed with St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Hardt said.

Gonsalves recalled the move by Washington to force some Caribbean countries, like Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados to sign a waiver granting US citizens certain immunities under the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court in 2002.
Washington had in an attempt to pressure the Caribbean countries to support its position, threatened and subsequently withdrew military aid that signed and ratified the Rome Statute.

“President Obama’s presidency has put an end to that kind of a demand and more resources are opened up. Because there were certain restrictions placed on resources coming to us,” Gonsalves said, noting that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have been at odds with Washington on issues relating to Cuba.

“Those differences are not of a kind to imperil our relationship. Our relationships are too fundamental, two strong, for those differences to shake the basic strengths of those relations…. and we approach our work with honesty and closeness and friendship and long may they continue,” Gonsalves said.

SVG Health System

By Genevieve Bitter, Direct Relief's director of international operations. Genny is traveling in St. Vincent & the Grenadines on assessment visits, where she has met with Mr. Lanceford Weekes, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, and several of his associates.

Milton Cato Hospital offers a wide range of services including surgeries, lab tests, radiology, dental, ophthalmology, maternity, and geriatrics. It is equipped with three operating theaters, but it is by no means a state-of-the-art facility. These are the tropics, so things are rusty and dilapidated but the services the hospital provides are consistent. The fact that there is always a radiologist available impressed me when so many facilities only offer part-time access to such services.

Another unique component of the hospital is its commitment to and treatment of asthma patients, which is how Direct Relief first came to know the facility. The hospital holds an asthma clinic once a week where the staff can see returning patients--mostly children--and adjust their medication if necessary. In the emergency area, there’s a bench with built-in nebulizer stations where patients can sit and receive treatment when having a respiratory attack.

Mr. Emmanuel Jones is a trained nurse and pharmacy technician who now manages the inventory system at the Central Stores. He showed me how he logs and distributes our product and pointed out our supplies in the hospital. From his nursing perspective, he knows how desperate they can become for hospital necessities, so he works very hard to get the goods out swiftly and accurately. Our donations not only go to Milton Cato, directly across the street from the main Central Store, but they are delivered to all of the hospitals and health centers as needed, so we are really helping to equip the entire country. Emmanuel also showed me in their log records that they were down to just five IV sets when our donation was received, boosting the stock to more than 2,000.

What I like best about Direct Relief’s relationship with St. Vincent and the Grenadines is that we are the primary source of medical donations for them, they know the quality of our goods on a personal level, and our donations have literally saved lives and also enabled them to use their budget for drugs for chronic conditions--diabetes and hypertension are widespread here. Allowing people to have piped water in their homes is a good thing but also took away daily exercise. The shift away from backyard farms to eating more convenient refined foods has clearly contributed as well.

From the clerks in the Medical Stores to the nurses to the Ministry level, all were deeply grateful for our relationship and are eager to continue. I am leaving here very proud of our work and have seen direct results of the quality donations we provide...and with a list of what they'd like to see in the future.

Posted at 05/05/2010 04:39:53 PM

Design Competition

The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has launched a design competition for its new 1,858 m² hospitality and maritime training institute

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We are, therefore I am

Lyndon lived in my neighborhood. He did not complete his secondary education, but he was an intelligent and resourceful young man. His business was transporting people to and fro-first in a van and then by car. He developed a reputation for being reliable and he loved his people. When Lyndon was not running the Taxi during off-peak hours, he was cutting lawns. Lyndon and the boys in the area would gather daily at the corner to lime, and, I later discovered, these gatherings had a purpose-to organize and rally the troops to assist in his little lawn-cutting business. He was the 'big man' in the group. Whenever Lyndon had a lucrative gig, like when Pirates of the Caribbean was being produced on the island, the entire group of men, young and old, walked tall. If Lyndon was doing well it meant they too were doing better. He took care of them, he motivated them, he organized them; they worked and played together with a camaraderie that had the potential to move mountains. Lyndon, who was an asthmatic, died a couple of years ago. The boys still gather on the corner and perhaps a new leader has emerged amongst them. But watching Lyndon in action gave me great hope that the spirit of the Village-In-Unity and the Caribbean Resource Man were both alive and well, waiting to be fully tapped.

Meanwhile, British thinkers, Anthony Payne and Paul Sutton are saying, "The Commonwealth Caribbean's current crisis of development is perhaps the gravest it has faced in the post-independence era. It has been generated by the region's failure to establish for itself a viable role within the wider context of the globalization of the world economy." And, this they see largely as a consequence of the fact that "from the beginning of the 1980's onwards the script became one that was largely written elsewhere."

Four years ago, the idea to create a space where independent thinkers, trained and untrained, could gather and learn from each other was incorporated under the banner Strategy Forum Inc (SFI). SFI is a place where thought and action engage in common enterprise. It is a village without walls, thus allowing people anywhere in the world to be a part of this enterprise where together we create an environment to facilitate the re-imagining of our world. We use various tools to accomplish this and one of these is the Storytelling Forum, Inclusive which produces FIRST READS.

Organizations such as SFI normally rely on endowments and funding from wealthy philanthropists and large businesses, but neither exists in sufficient quantities in the Caribbean for this to be a reasonable expectation of SFI. Trevor Campbell and Reginald Nugent explain it thus, "The University of the West Indies (UWI) was established to prepare the intelligentsia to administer the newly-formed nation-state and embark on the agenda of nation-building. As such, UWI existed as an economic protectorate and held monopoly in a small higher education industry." However, they add that to date "UWI has not produced entrepreneurs that have the wherewithal to provide it with significant endowments." The reason, they claim, is largely due to the fact that students are being trained to work in a bureaucracy. In other words, the mentality is still one of dependence rather than "innovative and entrepreneurial" (ibid).

It is true that SFI can solicit funding from international funding agencies, but the problem with that approach is that we are then still at risk of having our script written or commandeered by external forces. It is imperative, therefore, that we create a model of self-sufficiency. But how should we proceed? We proceed by harking back to the not-too-distant past and learn from ordinary men, like my father, for instance, who believed that education and entrepreneurship were the sine qua non of development and independence, and who possessed a steely resourcefulness as they marched purposefully to that end. And yes, we must look back to the Village Ethic, for we are convinced that the notion We are, therefore I am is still an integral part of the Caribbean mindset. We saw it working well in Lyndon's world. It can be revived, it is waiting to be retooled for the twenty-first century and SFI is attempting so to do.

Our subscription model is designed to illustrate one such method. We have created three categories of subscriptions: benefactors, contributors, and readers. Our benefactors are much like Lyndon, when they are able they give a little to the platform so that others who don't have can continue. The contributors are like some of the boys on the block who Lyndon organized to make the whole thing work: they were the grass cutters, and often the movers and the shakers-they brought their talent, if not their dollars, to the endeavour. Then there was 'Crazy Man,' who I didn't mention before. He was an elderly man in Lyndon's group who would spread the word about what Lyndon was doing, when he was doing it and how well he was doing it. He championed all that was Lyndon. And so too will the third category in our subscription group: they read and spread the word. Lyndon and 'Crazy Man' exchanged roles from time to time or performed several roles simultaneously. So, as with Lyndon and 'Crazy Man', in this model one can be any one, any two or all three for such is the Village Ethic - it is only when we are, can I be.

SFI believes self-organization is the key to the Caribbean's future. We invite our readers, and those not yet our readers, to join this experiment. Invest in the platform and subscribe to FIRST READS today.

I. Rhonda King

The Barrouallie Whalers in the US

The Barrouallie Whalers (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
will visit the Northeast in June!

• June 10 Whaling National Historical Park – New Bedford, MA
• June 11- 13 Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut
• June 15 Sylvester Manor Farm (tentative) – Long Island, NY
• June 16 Schooner Quinnipiack - New Haven, CT
• June 17 Roxbury, MA

If you would like updates and further information, please respond.

Dan Lanier
The Barrouallie Whalers Project, Inc.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gayle blows India out

Vinode Mamchan : 10 May 2010

Sir Viv Richards in the Johnny Walker campaign says : “Go out there and be a champion!” Well, Chris Gayle did exactly that and the West Indies kept on walking in the ICC T20 World Cup tournament yesterday. The home team gave all mothers in the region a Mothers Day gift with a 14-run victory over India at Kensington Oval, that keeps the Caribbean men in the hunt for a semi-final place. Skipper Gayle took the bull by the horns and with his team under pressure after their loss to Sri Lanka, led from the front, in striking 98, to take his team to 169 for six off 20 overs. India in reply were restricted to 155 for nine. The West Indies now need to win their final Super Eights match against Australia tomorrow in St Lucia, to book a place in the semis.

India, the financial powerhouse in world cricket is almost now completely out of the World Cup and one banner aptly summed up the situation reading : “India hurry and pack, Pakistan will give you a ride home.” Chasing 170 runs for victory, the Indian openers went out with the Indian supporters chanting : “Jai Ho, Jai Ho” (meaning victory unto to you). However, they were quickly silenced as wickets started to tumble against penetrative bowling from the West Indies.

Sammy started the rout and at 81 for five, the game was as good as over. Once again, short-pitched bowling proved their undoing as the West Indies pacers revelled on a helpful pitch.
Suresh Raina threatened for a while with a 25-ball 32 and towards the end Mahendra Dhoni (29) and Yusuf Pathan (17) caused some anxious moments but the West Indies held their nerve to win. Just before the end Dwayne Bravo produced a world class piece of fielding to run out dangerman Dhoni with a direct throw from close to the long on boundary and this formalised the result. Earlier, Gayle’s measured assault on the Indian bowlers had the Pinji Men (snake charmers) in the Greenidge and Haynes Stand spell bound. The man from Reggae land was in the process of playing out an epic Bollywood drama. He went to the crease in the company of the man from the land of many waters Shivnarine Chanderpaul and they swept away any threat from the Indian bowlers.

After a watchful start because of the early moisture on the pitch, Gayle and Chanderpaul cut loose. Gayle was of course the more aggressive. Time and time again, he exercised those broad shoulders of his, to the extent that he slammed the biggest six of the tournament, recorded at 113 metres. He brought up his half century off just 40 deliveries. The openers posted 80 runs from 11.5 overs, before Chanderpaul left for 23 runs. Darren Sammy then came and crashed 19 off ten balls and Pollard an 11-ball cameo that realised 17 runs. Gayle, unbeaten on 97 in the final over, played one to deep mid-wicket and was run out going for a second run. His innings spanned 66 balls and included five shots that crashed into the advertising billboards and seven that went flying over for sixes. Whilst Gayle was batting the fans were off their seats and life was good, the beer tasted better, the weather was greater and West Indies cricket looked in fine fettle.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

SVG bid for UN Security Council seat


ST Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), among the smallest in size and population of member states of the Caribbean Community, is making a bold bid for a vacant seat on the 15-member United Nations Security Council for which elections will take place in October this year.

Five nations of the 192 UN member states hold permanent seats -- USA, United Kingdom, China, Germany and France; while the rest compete for the rotating 10 'non-permanent' seats allocated on a geographical basis.

To succeed as the smallest nation of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean (GRULAC) countries in attaining its political objective of securing the current vacancy on the Security Council, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Windward Island state of 150 sq miles and a population of some 110,000, faces a very big challenge.

It must defeat Colombia, which is already an officially declared candidate for the vacant seat, and for which it is reported to have received an "encouraging wink" from Washington in its current diplomatic initiatives that also sought to secure support from Caricom member countries.

The big challenge for the Vincentian administration of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was to first secure the "strongest endorsement" from the 14 independent countries of Caricom as it prepares to launch a vigorous campaign both at UN headquarters with resident representatives and then extend the campaign, with collaborating allies across the Latin American-Caribbean region.

Well, despite a recent move by Vincentian Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace to frustrate, for domestic political reasons, his Government's bid for the UN Security Council seat, Prime Minister Gonsalves seems to have already won significant endorsement at last Thursday's meeting in Dominica of Caricom Foreign Ministers.
Caricom's support.

Latest indication, at the time of writing, suggested that with just two Heads of Government yet to give a positive signal to their foreign ministries, the Vincentian Government would be well-placed by tomorrow to formally present its interest in being a candidate for the vacant Security Council seat.

Colombia, Argentina and, to a lesser extent Mexico, are known to have long been ahead of the pack of Latin American nations that have most often won representation on the UN Security Council.

In contrast, between 1975 and 2001, a period of 26 years, just three Caricom countries had the privilege of gaining the required two-thirds endorsement of the UN General Assembly to win a non-permanent seat on the Security Council. These were Guyana and Jamaica (both of which were twice elected) and Trinidad and Tobago.

To block the nomination for a Security Council seat, at least one-third of the 192 member countries of the world body must support such an initiative.

When the primary contenders fail to get the required support, they can throw their support behind a compromise candidate -- in this hemisphere that would be from either the Latin American bloc or the Caribbean region -- as last occurred in 2006 when Venezuela and Guatemala failed, after 48 rounds, to get the required two-thirds endorsement and subsequently withdrew in favour of Panama.

Given its known positions at the UN and stated policies in relation to principled support for small island states (SIDS) globally, Caricom is not expected to do otherwise than show strong endorsement for St Vincent and Grenadines to win the UN seat.

Opposition allegation

Particularly when it is realised that Colombia has repeatedly enjoyed that privilege while, should the 15-member Community fail to become involved in St Vincent's candidacy bid, it would mean that, as has been pointed out, the next "vacant slot" in the GRULAC 'queue' will not come around for another 10 years.

Since Jamaica was the last Caricom state to be on the Security Council 10 years ago, there are, therefore, objective factors in support of St Vincent's bid that is strongly associated with the politics of commitment to small island states.

In a "briefing document" circulated late last month by the Ralph Gonsalves administration at the inaugural Brazil-Caricom Summit in Brasilia, hosted by President Ignacio Lula da Silva, St Vincent and the Grenadines said it has "a good chance of winning the two-thirds majority" support.

Further, should there be deadlock, which it does not anticipate, given indications already forthcoming from the nations represented on the General Assembly, it was prepared to resort to the precedent set for a compromise candidate who could be either from Caricom, or another Latin America country.

The 'political fly' in the ointment for that Security Council seat, as raised by Vincentian Opposition Leader Eustace, is that Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez may be the unseen moving force as an extension of his own Government's lingering opposition to Colombia, which itself makes no secret of its dislike for the regime in Caracas.

But NO evidence has been offered by Eustace to show that the Gonsalves administration is acting as a 'proxy' for Venezuela.

Nor, of course, can Caricom afford to be manoeuvred into a position to appear divided over such an unsubstantiated claim and be misrepresented as seemingly bowing to Washington's influence in favour of Colombia as part of its own anti-Chávez political agenda.

We should know more about the behind-the-scenes political manoeuvrings in another two days by which the expected 'strong endorsement' by Caricom should be forthcoming.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

SVG Official Tourism Website

SVG supports Taiwan

Taiwan's Caribbean ally Saint Vincent and Grenadines supports Taiwan's participation in international organizations.

On Thursday Saint Vincent and Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves initiated a proposal to support Taiwan's international participation. Gonsalves said Taiwan has been helping his country building infrastructure, improving medical services and advancing agriculture. He also said his country should support Taiwan internationally.

Gonsalves' proposal was passed unanimously by the parliament. The resolution supports Taiwan's participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA). It also supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Saint Vincent and Grenadines is one of Taiwan's remaining 23 allies in the world. China forbids its diplomatic allies from having official relations with Taiwan.

Friday, May 07, 2010

SVG Calypsonian

SVG: Financial Freedoms

An international agency with responsibility for assessing the financial freedoms of countries around the world has ranked St. Vincent and the Grenadines 49th in the world.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that this is a representation of the country’s improved financial image around the globe.

Dr Gonsalves said this country scored well in almost every category of the assessment and this follows a long line of recent favourable comments about the Government.

SVG Tourism Video

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The SVG Trust Museum

One of the by-products of the international airport project at Argyle is an increased interest in the archeology of the island of St. Vincent. A small part of the artifacts recently uncovered at Argyle have been added to the earlier collection largely made by "Doc" Earle Kirby. Here are some of the exhibits.

More photos can be seen at

Archaeology at Escape

As we noted earlier, the SVG Trust gave a special presentation on the 'Archaeological Impact Mitigation at Escape' by Dr. Richard Callaghan, Associate Professor (Caribbean Archaeology) Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary on Wednesday May 5th, 2010 in the Carnegie Building (Old Public Library).

The talk included a review of the work being done at the proposed site of the Arfyle International airport.

A mystery is the discovery of an architectural feature unique to Caribbean sites, a "long house" reminiscent of native american structures in Canada.

In the audience were a number of archeologists and students from Holland, working on another site in the Argyle area.

More photographs can be seen at

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Do you have an interest in Vincentian Archaeology? Then become a SVG National Trust Volunteer. Volunteer at our Archaeology site at Argyle. This is an opportunity to work alongside expert Archaeologists. Join the team headed by Dr Richard Callaghan Associate Professor of Caribbean Archaeology at the University of Calgary Department of Archaeology. Commence work as early as tomorrow May 5th 2010.

For further details please contact the National Trust Secretariat call us at 451-2921/ 533-0752 or email us /

SVG National Trust

P.O. Box 1538, Heritage Hall,

Carnegie Building Kingstown, St. Vincent

Phone numbers: (784) 45-12921, 533-0752

Email: /

West Indies 60-2 (5.5 overs) beat England 191-5 (20 overs) via Duckworth/Lewis method

England's hopes of an opening victory at the World Twenty20 were dashed as West Indies won a farcical encounter in Guyana via the Duckworth/Lewis method.

England posted an impressive 191-5 batting first, with a superb stand of 95 between Eoin Morgan (55) and Luke Wright (45 not out) the highlight.

The Windies raced to 30-0 in reply but rain arrived to hold up proceedings.

When play resumed the hosts were handed a target of 60 - or 30 from 22 balls - which they reached with one ball to go.

The result means West Indies qualify for the Super Eights following their victory over Ireland on Friday, but England will still go through if they beat the same side on Tuesday.
It was certainly harsh on Paul Collingwood's team, whose superb batting display earlier in the day featured 11 sixes and equalled the highest total made in the tournament so far.

In contrast, the surprisingly low target handed to the hosts raised eyebrows in a sodden Guyana and will surely provoke questions about the validity of the Duckworth/Lewis method, particularly in the shortest form of the game.

It was a somewhat bizarre end to a match which really should have been remembered for a sizeable shift in England's batting mentality in Twenty20 cricket.

Much has been made of the use of South African-born players in recent weeks, but there were few complaints from the away supporters as Collingwood's side raced to the highest powerplay score of the tournament after being put in to bat.

Debutant Michael Lumb was brutal in reaching 28 from 18 balls before being bowled by Chris Gayle but Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen - also both raised in South Africa - confidently picked up the baton.

The former looked in great touch in reaching 26 before being trapped in front by Nikita Miller's left-arm spin and when Collingwood was bowled by Darren Sammy for just six shortly after, nerves began to rumble in the England dressing room.
Sammy had been the star of the show with bat and ball in the Windies' win against Ireland and did his chances of a second man-of-the-match award no harm when Pietersen swiped one straight to Ramnaresh Sarwan at deep mid-wicket.

That brought the crowd to life, and from an extremely positive start, England were suddenly looking rather shaky.

Morgan and Wright well and truly retook control of the situation though with some blistering mid-innings hitting.

Ravi Rampaul saw one over smashed for 27, including an audacious reverse flick from Morgan that almost went for six at third man.
The youngster rapidly moved past 50 and Gayle was left to scratch his head, along with the rest of the home bowlers.

A superb innings from the 23-year-old was ended when Kieron Pollard took a diving catch in the deep but with Wright finishing unbeaten just short of his half-century, England had recovered from a mid-innings wobble in superb fashion.

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson, pitched against his old colleagues for the first time since quitting as England bowling coach in January, must have been hoping for a poor show with the ball by his former colleagues.

He was not to be let down either as poor bowling enabled Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Gayle to race to 30-0 before heavy rain arrived and forced the players off the pitch.

After a long period of uncertainty, the teams eventually returned to the field with the hosts facing a revised, and somewhat less challenging target.

Gayle (25) launched one huge six before he was caught at mid-wicket and although Pollard was brilliantly stumped by Kieswetter for a duck, an England win suddenly seemed incredibly unlikely.
And so it proved, as Andre Fletcher and Chanderpaul comfortably scored the eight runs they required off Stuart Broad's final over to wrap up an eight-wicket victory in the South American gloom.

Story from BBC SPORT: By Harry Reekie

Raffles departs Canouan

Raffles and the owner of the Raffles Resort Canouan Island in the Grenadines have parted ways.

The resort's owner, Canouan Resorts Development, will assume operations of the 156-villa resort when it reopens on May 20 as the Carenage Bay Resort.

Achille Pastor-Ris, CEO of Canouan Resort Development, said, "In keeping with the serious reduction in business to the Caribbean, the business model of the resort product in Canouan will undergo changes in the coming months."

Guests who held bookings in May have been contacted, as have travel agents. “We intend to honor the contracted rates already published,” said Pastor-Ris.

The resort opened in late 1999 as the Carenage Bay Beach & Golf Club and signed a management contract with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts a year later. That contract was terminated in February 2002 and the hotel closed that spring. It reopened in November 2004 under the Raffles banner.

The Raffles Canouan was Raffles’ first foray into the Caribbean. The brand later announced plans for resorts in Barbados and St. Lucia, but these have not materialized.

Canouan Resorts Development’s real estate division and construction company will continue to develop private residences near the hotel site and plans to launch a villa rental program in 2011.

By: Gay Nagle Myers April 28, 2010