Friday, October 28, 2011

Message from US

Statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as you celebrate your independence day this October 27.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a valued partner as we work to address issues of mutual concern for both our countries.

Together we are promoting greater gender equality, reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, and empowering more young people to be engaged in their communities and countries. In the Caribbean region and around the world we are strengthening democratic values and freedoms.

I look forward to deepening this already strong relationship between our two countries and finding new ways for our governments and people to work together. Happy independence day and best wishes for a year of peace, prosperity and opportunity.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Roundabout

Posted by Hanif Sutherland on Facebook

Note added. This is at the north end of the section of the windward highway that goes around the airport.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Indigenous and Afro-descendants grasp at common voice

Carmen Herrera

Both groups face discrimination and threats to their lands.

For the first time, leaders from indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples from throughout Central America met to form a common agenda.

More than 70 leaders from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama met in Managua Sept. 27-28 for the First Meeting of Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Authorities: Collective Rights in the Context of Central American Integration.

Tribal and community leaders, mayors and municipal authorities debated issues like land titles and demarcation, inclusion of women, native languages, at the meeting which was organized by the Nicaraguan Network for Democracy and Local Development and the Central American and Caribbean Conference for Decentralization and Local Development, or CONFEDELCCA.

To better articulate their agenda with a common voice, participants formed the Permanent Council of Native Peoples and Afro-Descendents of Central America.

“The objective of this first meeting has been to start an articulation process to influence public policies, as well as the development and decentralization of the states,” said Carlos H. Guarquez Ajiquichí, of the Guatemalan Association of Indigenous Mayors and Authorities.

Guarquez Ajiquichí also suggested teaming up with the Central American Integration System, or SICA, and the Central American Parliament to ensure that their goals reach the region’s heads of state.

One “historical problem,” he said, “is the distribution of land, since in every country in the region large-scale landowners hold a disproportionate amount of territory.”

“This is where the problem with the distribution of wealth that benefits a few comes from, and that affects indigenous peoples above all, those who have lived in misery on tiny plots of land even though the land belongs to us,” he said.

Women’s role
Nicolasa Jiménez, Ngöbe-Bugle indigenous leader from Panama, said that one of the meeting’s objectives was to increase women’s politic participation in their own community groups and in society in general.

“Indigenous women are fighting for active integration and participation,” she said. “We are fighting for more capacity building for women, because there are only a few of us who hold decision-making positions.”

The International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 on indigenous peoples has been ratified by every Central American country except for El Salvador and Panama.

While Convention 169 is seen by some international law experts as one of the most complete international indigenous rights law, local authorities have often ignored it.

For example, in Guatemala, indigenous communities have been consulted on some projects that would affect them, but their votes are not considered binding.

Afro-descendant groups in Honduras said that the alliances they made with indigenous leaders here have been fruitful, because they have the same problems: discrimination, invasion of their lands, a lack of respect and recognition for their language.

René Castro, deputy mayor of an Honduran Garifuna municipality — an Afro-descendant group living mostly on the country’s northern coast — say Afro-descendants are making efforts for Convention 169 to also be applied to his community now that the country has ratified the agreement.

“We have representation in some state institutions,” aiming at this end, he said.

Intercultural society
But another participant was not so optimistic about the situation in Nicaragua. Mauricio Solís, of the Nicaraguan Network for Democracy and Local Development, said that “in practice” these groups’ rights are limited.

“Indigenous communities are not consulted; local governments interfere in indigenous community elections and there is little governmental funding designated for indigenous peoples,” he said. “In Nicaragua’s case, we see that there is a lot of discourse about indigenous peoples, but in practice, there is a lot of politicizing, exclusion and marginalization.


For years, Solís’ organization has promoted multiculturalism for the country, with a vision of having a citizenry that recognizes the diversity of the region’s population, like the indigenous and Afro-descendants, who have a political, economic, cultural and social agenda.

His network, along with CONFEDELCCA, held the meeting to give indigenous and Afro-descendants authorities a place for reflection and debate over the situation facing their communities and to look for links with other national and international organizations and movements which work for their rights to be ensured.

“We have agreed to go through all the information collected during this meeting so it can be shared with our peoples,” said Solís. “In the following months, we’ll work on a framework to help map out the next steps.” —Latinamerica Press.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Letter About UN Speech

Letter: Fireworks at the United Nations Published on October 20, 2011

Dear Sir:

I waited with bated breath for in excess of one month to see/hear a comment regarding Dr Ralph Gonsalves' address to the United Nations from the so-called Vincentian "political aficionados" who frequently comment on developments in our fair isle on this forum. As Bob Marley aptly and prophetically commented, "I waited in vain..." Those who attempt to give the impression that they 'know' Vincentian politics, have shown their true colours by completely ignoring this matter, and only make negative comments when the opportunity arises.

Speaking before the United Nations, Prime Minister Dr Ralph E. Gonsalves made several noteworthy points in mid- September 2011. He adamantly called for a reformation of the United Nations; reminded the UN of the health/wealth link; made the point that the poor countries of the world can no longer be taken for a ride; noted that the rich nations of the world failed to heal the global economy; and called for an apology along with reparations for slavery.

The applause that followed the prime minister's speech was nothing short of mind-numbing, -- deafening even. This was a fabulous, well received address which earned a standing ovation from all of its attendees. What else could be expected from a university professor of political science? A head of state does not need to be a political scientist, a professor of political science, an economist, or even an attorney; however, Dr Ralph E. Gonsalves possesses all of these qualifications.

Admittedly, much of this will fall on deaf ears, but these points needed to be made nevertheless, and Ralph Gonsalves did so remarkably. These pleas from Ralph Gonsalves have been made previously as well, but scant attention has been paid to these prophetic voices to the peril of all concerned.

Dr Ralph Gonsalves was joined in his quest by several world leaders at the UN by other Caribbean countries, and by countries of the African Bloc as well. The prime minister spoke to the core of the difficulties affecting the poorer nations of the world as well as those of the developed nations, and he minced no matters in this forthright delivery. Here is a synopsis of what the Vincentian prime minister had to say.

a) PM reminds the UN of health/wealth link

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves made the point that health officials discussing non-communicable diseases, at the United Nations must consider the factors that make imported junk food more nutritious than locally produced meals. PM Gonsalves even quoted Greek physician Hippocrates who said: "A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of all human blessings." He went to state, "If we can collectively protect and preserve this blessing, the benefits will go well beyond the longevity and productivity of individual citizens. It will have a knock-on effect on the economies, societies, and developmental prospects of countries and regions."

The prime minister thanked the nations that have helped "St Vincent and the Grenadines in the formation and the implementation of its own wellness revolution, in particular, the European Union, Cuba and Taiwan." He however noted that it "was not time for congratulatory back-slapping, but a time for the international community to roll up our collective sleeves to confront an epidemic that is correctable, reversible and treatable."

Dr Gonsalves observed that discussions about non-communicable diseases were taking place at the UN General Assembly and not at the World Health Organization in Switzerland. He further noted that the meeting "could not ignore the disproportionate impact of this epidemic on poor people and developing states or its obvious negative impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The millennium development goals are eight international development goals that all 193 UN member states and 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by 2015. They include eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease and epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development.

b) Poor countries of the world being disadvantaged

The Vincentian prime minister fearlessly made the point that the more developed countries of the world were failing in the undertakings which they themselves committed to, regarding being responsible caretakers of the planet.

Almost ten years ago at the Monetary Consensus of the International Conference on Financing held in Mexico, the developed countries agreed to the target of devoting 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance to poor countries. Dr Gonsalves, however, noted that the developed countries were only contributing about 0.32% of their GNI.

The prime minister strongly made the point that poor countries can no longer be taken for a ride with promises of developmental aid. He went on to observe that he was puzzled by the response of developed nations to climate change, and hoped that recent hurricanes in the United States and the United Kingdom would wake-up developed nations to this reality.
He said that he was "baffled by the intransigence of major emitters and developed nations that refuse to shoulder the burden of arresting climate changes that are linked to the excesses of their own wasteful policies." He was saddened that "citizens and governments have lost faith in the UN's endless and self-important summits that produce little tangible results."

The prime minister noted that "the UN's archives are filled with grandiloquent declarations from summits whose outcome documents and whose commitments are forgotten even before the delegates boarded their planes to return home."

c) Global economy and the rich countries

British Prime Minister David Cameron's comments were consistent with Dr Gonsalves', and one got the distinct impression that the other political leaders as well certainly got the Vincentian leader's message.

Prime Minister Gonsalves pointed out that "the grim economic clouds of three years ago, rather than dissipating, seemed to be increasing," and noted that "declarations that the global economy is recovering were premature." He went on to state that "the tepid and timid response of wealthy nations has failed to heal the global economy three years into the international financial crisis. Therefore, asking suffering peoples from countries that did not contribute to the crisis to be patient is of cold comfort."

PM Gonsalves stressed that "even as the economic storm clouds thicken, economies in the world remain in peril, spurring global unemployment and poverty, which have engendered a feeling of hopelessness, especially among the youth. The effect of this is a major contributor to global unrest that has pitted disgruntled youth and others in violent opposition to government forces from Tottenham to Tripoli. Social unrest elsewhere beckons in dozens of countries, where neither socio-economic conditions nor their political institutions can much longer contain the enormous pressures."

d) Reparations for slavery

The UN has declared 2011 the International year for people of African Descent, and Prime Minister Gonsalves informed the General Council that he is grateful that the UN has hosted events to raise awareness of the challenges facing people of African descent and foster discussions on potential solutions to tackle these challenges.
The prime minister told the world leaders that "racial discrimination was justified, and became itself justification for a brutal, exploitative and dehumanizing system of production which was perfected during the Transatlantic slave trade and ingrained during the course of colonial domination." He noted as well, that "the structure of the modern world is sill firmly rooted in a past of slavers and colonialist exploitation."

Prime Minister Gonsalves, who is of Portuguese descent, pointed out that "the wounds of this era are deep, the crimes against humanity are clear, and the necessity for apology and reparations are undeniable." He observed that peoples of African descent "remain disadvantaged individually and systematically, by this entrenched and unyielding cycle of discrimination."

The prime minister of Antigua/Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, in supporting Prime Minister Gonsalves, observed that segregation and violence against people of African descent had impaired their capacity for advancement, communities and individuals.
Not to be outdone, Stephen Lashley, Barbados Minister of Culture voiced his support as well. He commented that Barbados also renewed its call for "meaningful and innovative reparations" globally for people of African descent as past and continuing victims of racial discrimination.


Based on the discussion covered above, and its extreme importance, I am baffled by those who profess to be Vincentian patriots. They claim to know something about local politics, but strangely, have been silent - and their silence is truly deafening!

Moreover, those same individuals who claim that they are politically independent, and have no political affiliation, have chosen to ignore this phenomenally informative and successful address to the United Nations, by the most extraordinarily prominent politician in the Caribbean.

This classical address by Prime Minister Gonsalves to the United Nations should be required reading and study by students from primary and secondary schools throughout the entire Caribbean, as well as the University of the West Indies.

Simon Anderson

Copyright© 2004-2011 Caribbean News Now! at All Rights Reserved For permission to republish, please contact

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Monday, October 17, 2011

PM to work from home after office building fire


KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is among workers at the Financial Complex who have been affected by a fire there on Saturday.

Gonsalves said Sunday night that his office, on the fifth floor, was affected by smoke and he would be working from home over the next few days.

“So we will have a couple of days this week. I myself have to go into the building, because I understand there is a lot of smoke still, even as far up as the Prime Minister’s Office … But I have a lot of papers there, which I have to go and get for Parliament and also to work on at home,” he said.

Gonsalves said that the fire was contained to a section of the third floor where data from this year’s census were being processed.

“And everything practically in that area was destroyed. It looks as if we have to do over the census,” he said of the exercise that cost the state EC$1.5 million.

Gonsalves further said that while water is “all over the building”, the Treasury Department, which is located on the first floor, “should be able to do its work, so that persons who have to be paid can still be paid”.

“So a lot of work has to be cleaned out tomorrow (Monday) after the insurance investigators come in and we will know the cause of the fire,” he said.

“… hopefully, with the help of all the cleaners and the electricians and everybody else, the rest of the building, we shall be able to use it within a few days time. So, I want everybody to cooperate,” he said.

“… we take the world as we find it and we address all the issues. I want to thank the police, the firemen and everyone who has been involved in this matter,” Gonsalves said.

Fire fighters were summoned to the building sometime after 4 p.m. Saturday to put out the blaze that sent black smoke billowing into the afternoon sky.

The Cabinet Room and the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Trade are also located in the 20-year-old building where workers last year used standing fans as discussed the work to be done on the air-conditioning system, which was “at a stage where it must be replaced”.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Carnagie Library Building

The Carnagie Library Building, donated by Andrew Carnagie in the early 1900s, now used by the Museum (ground floor) and the Alliance Francais (upper floor).The original can be found on Flickr.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

SVG Statistics

Statistics about St. Vincent and the Grenadines can be found at:


Saturday, October 01, 2011

diplomatic relations with Libya “on hold”

By CMC - Friday, September 30th, 2011.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Foreign Minister Douglas Slater says St. Vincent and the Grenadines has pout “on hold”  its diplomatic relations with Libya until it is satisfied that “there is a legitimate, proper established government” in that North African country.Slater told Parliament that the government had taken a “principled position” as the United Nations decides whether to seat the National Transitional Council at the U.N. General Assembly last week.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was not among the 114 U.N. member states that supported the decision to seat the Council, which replaced the 42-year-old Muammar al-Gaddafi administration after a civil war this year.

Slater quoted the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States, which says that the state, as a person of international law, should possess a permanent population, a defined territory, government, and capacity to enter into relations with the other states.“We have been following very closely the situation in Libya and to today I don’t think it is proper to say that there exists a proper government. … I don’t know that there is a minister of foreign Affairs, for example,” Slater told legislators.

He said the Ralph Gonsalves government had not “judged that the situation there is quite ready to qualify that council as sufficient to acknowledge.

“Others have, but we are argue form a position that is of principle,” he further said.Salter also quoted a Southern African Development Community representative, who, according to U.N. documents, this month said, “notwithstanding the fact that it was in control, the National Transitional Council was not the Government in Libya, interim or otherwise”.

“Mr. Speaker all of us watch the news, and we read online. I recall when the ‘rebels’ reached Tripoli a virtual mission accomplished was announced. Most people, I think, expected that that was it. But, today, as we speak, we are hearing report that there is fierce resistance still in cities.”

The Foreign Minister said were still “a lot of uncertainties” in Libya.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines has and continues to have diplomatic relations with the state of Libya. We never broke them. Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to acknowledge a government when we think that government truly represents the full wishes of all the parties in Libya,” Slater said noting that the position of CARICOM and the African Union are similar.

“The NTC has not been seated there (at the African Union). That’s there region,” he said, noting “diplomacy is serious business and it’s a very involved issue and I don’t think that we should always rush into decisions.

“We have taken a very principled position, backed by a significant number of other people – of other countries,” Slater said, adding that St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica supported a U.N. vote for deferral of the Libya issues while Belize and St. Lucia opposed it.

Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago abstained from the vote while the rest of CARICOM were absent.

“It is interesting. They were absent. You see, our country — one of the things I am proud about St. Vincent and the Grenadines — we are not afraid to take a position when it is principled,” he said, adding,  “ … the real big-ticket item at the United Nations was really the position on Palestine.

“I didn’t hear the other side make any statement about Palestine,” he said, adding “but, I notice that some other people usurping that authority and making pronouncement about accepting NTC.

“Well, I am still … the Minister of Foreign Affairs … and as far as I know …  our government has decided to go a particular path … and when we think it is appropriate, as guided by principles I have outlined, we will do what we find most appropriate to do,” he said.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace last week wrote to the NTC noting the “heroic struggle of the Libyan people to throw off the yoke of dictatorship and oppression”.He said that while the NDP is in opposition the NTC could “be assured of our solidarity”

“In government, we look forward to working with a democratically elected administration of the Libyan people in the promotion and consolidation of shared values of freedom, democracy, national development and respect for fundamental human rights,” Eustace said.

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