Tuesday, February 28, 2006 

Posted on Tue, Feb. 28, 2006
Dominican Republic cuts crime with aid of Miami firm

The Dominican Republic has launched an anti-crime initiative that has cleaned up its grittiest neighborhoods, but bigger challenges lie ahead.


SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - It wasn't so long ago that the Bodega Carolina in Santo Domingo's Capotillo neighborhood sold goods through a little slot in the bolted shut door.

It was too dangerous outside to let the customers inside.

''We started keeping the door closed after a guy ran in one day and jumped behind the counter, shooting,'' said the store's owner, Mery Berroa. He died there, shot dead by the hoodlums who chased him.

These days, the doors to this mom-and-pop grocery store are propped open.

Just a year after taking office, President Leonel Fernández has made security a cornerstone of his administration. Using an anti-crime campaign designed by a Miami consulting firm and a Florida International University professor, this country has begun taking back barrios once besieged by drugs and lawlessness.

After a pilot program was launched last fall, Capotillo, a neighborhood of 33,000 people that saw 32 murders in the first half of 2005, had just three from August to December. In December, no one was murdered. Now the program has been expanded to 12 more neighborhoods, and cities across the nation are clamoring for more.

''The police brought peace,'' Berroa said. ``We can sleep now.''

Experts say the Dominican Republic is setting a precedent by throwing open the doors of its police department to international specialists from Miami, New York and Colombia. But the question remains whether the nationwide anti-crime offensive can stand the test of time and politics.

''It's a country besieged,'' said FIU's Eduardo Gamarra, a longtime friend of Fernández who was hired to design the program with a team of Newlink Communications consultants.
``The president has had a tremendous problem trying to run a country run amok.''

Among the challenges:

• The country's 32,000-member law enforcement agencies were beset with corruption, including no-show jobs, drug dealing and extortion. The head of the National Police acknowledges that at least 100 officers were fired, 30 in Capotillo alone.
'They were right there -- doing their own business charging `tolls' to the drug dealers,'' said Victor Rojas, 38, the owner of a metal shop. ``They'd ask you for extortion money, and, if you refused, they'd rob or kill you. Now you see police in cars, on foot and on motorcycles.''

• The police department's 911 system was so archaic and chaotic that often no one answered the line. When they did answer, dispatchers often did not have any cops with patrol cars to send out.
For two months, there was no phone at all: Verizon suspended service because of an overdue $4 million bill.

• For two decades, the Dominican Republic has been a transshipment point for South American illegal drugs headed to the U.S. market, often with the complicity of the government. The nation's former security chief is a fugitive in Spain, charged with aiding a drug trafficker.
The first move in tackling drug-infested neighborhoods was profound. The Interior Ministry fired police officers and brought in new ones who had to meet certain criteria to qualify for the new job and the 100-percent pay raise.

The 1,500 officers assigned to the Democratic Security program were screened to weed out the short-tempered and trigger-happy. No one with a history of abuses, violence or corruption accusations need apply. The cops had to fit a ''psychological profile,'' have a high school diploma and be no older than 38.

The idea is not just to flood the neighborhoods with officers, but officers trained on crime scene investigations, community relations and victims' services.

''We are not the same police as before. The repressive police who did not want to be side-by-side with the people, defending them,'' Col. Juan Geronimo Brown Pérez said. ``The results speak for themselves.''

Police chief Gen. Bernardo Santana Páez said there was just one murder in the last three weeks of January, when the Democratic Security Program was expanded to include 12 more neighborhoods.

''The problem is now everyone wants the program in the entire country,'' Santana Páez said. ``This is not something that can be done overnight.''

Residents were mixed on the purchase of a dozen Harley Davidson patrol motorcycles that cost $17,000 a piece -- the amount a regular cop earns in almost 14 years. Ostentatious and not nearly nimble enough to chase criminals up hills and through alleys, the Harleys are likely the most controversial part of a widely accepted program.

Even Gamarra says they were ''overkill.'' But to Interior Minister Franklin Almeyda, they have the right look and sound.

''Someone on a Harley looks like a cop . . . an officer riding the all-terrain motorcycles they used before looks like a delinquent,'' he said. Almeyda said he doesn't know the cost of the program he helps run but said it will cost $1.7 million for retraining the police. Equipment such as forensics labs and cars are expected to cost another $3.7 million.

Santana Páez said the police department is expecting a $125 million international loan soon to help offset the costs.

He said he did not have estimates for the next phase of the program: overhauling necessities such as schools and hospitals.

Las Cañitas neighborhood leader Pablo Vicente is leery.

''We've advanced . . . but there are a few unmet promises,'' Vicente said. ``They promised to improve the health system, create recreation centers and offer incentives to small and medium businesses as a way to develop the area, and we still haven't had those demands met.''
But Santana Páez argued that at least the police part of it is having a positive impact. ''The program is working,'' Páez said.

Copyright 2006 Knight Ridder
All Rights Reserved


Dominica earns prestigious eco-tourism designation for second straight year


ROSEAU, Dominica: The Caribbean island of Dominica has received Benchmark designation as a Green Globe Destination for the second year in a row from the prestigious eco-tourism organization, Green Globe 21. Dominica became the first country ever to receive this designation in October 2004.

“We are extremely pleased to have earned this prestigious designation from Green Globe 21,” stated Yvor Nassief, Dominica’s Minister of Tourism.

“Dominica remains committed to the promotion and development of sustainable tourism and this recognition helps us promote our island as one of the world’s leading eco-tourism destinations while also helping us to protect its pristine natural beauty.”

Green Globe 21 requires all of its 442 total participating operations and communities to be independently assessed and certified annually by independent auditors to ensure their compliance with Green Globe 21’s standards.

The participating companies and communities must meet those standards in 9 key performance areas, such as energy consumption, solid waste production, social commitment, resource conservation, sustainability policy and more. Dominica has achieved Best Practice results in 8 of the 9 performance areas.

“I am delighted that Dominica has achieved Benchmarked status,” said Cathy Parsons, Chief Executive Officer of Green Globe Asia Pacific International.

“Dominica is an inspiration to all those people committed to environmentally sustainable tourism. They have demonstrated through a variety of initiatives that they can make a difference to reducing their environmental impact. The commitment they have shown by participating in the Green Globe program and by their achievements sets an example for others to follow.”

In addition to the national designation, five hotels on Dominica have also achieved successful benchmarking status from Green Globe 21. They include 3 Rivers Eco-Lodge, Tamarind Tree Hotel, Garraway Hotel, Fort Young Hotel and the Hummingbird Inn.

Green Globe 21 is the global Benchmarking, Certification and improvement system assisting the international travel and tourism industry to attain sustainability.

Green Globe 21 provides a certification system that responds directly to the major environmental problems facing the planet, including the greenhouse effect, over-use of freshwater resources, destruction of biodiversity, production of solid and biological waste and social issues.

Developed by the World Travel & Tourism Council and established in 1994, Green Globe 21 is based on Agenda 21 and principles for sustainable development endorsed by 182 heads of state at the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit and provides companies, communities and consumers with a path to sustainable tourism.

As of 2006, there are participants on all continents and in over 50 countries worldwide.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News All Rights Reserved


OAS urges active involvement in information society


WASHINGTON, USA: The citizens of the Americas must become active participants in the information and knowledge society in order to take full advantage of its benefits.

Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin of the Organization of American States (OAS) stressed this view while addressing the Fourth Assembly of the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), in San José, Costa Rica.

He said member states and stakeholders must ensure that the peoples of the Americas do not to miss the opportunity to play a leading role in the emerging Innovation Economy.

Information and communication technologies, being so pervasive -- cutting across nations and politics and transforming all economic and social sectors -- bring drastic changes in professional and private life on a global scale, said Ramdin, who argued that the practice of governance, economic development, security, social and political interaction must adapt to this new environment.

“Access to ICTs has an enabling effect on knowledge creation and dissemination, empowering people and communities, regardless of their physical location and levels of income” and has begun to drive sustainable economic development and growth.”

The Assistant Secretary General told participants them that information technologies also promote more effective use of development resources and foster transparency.

“In the information age, we can no longer see economic development simply as the intermingling of capital, labor, and material. It is increasingly clear that successful companies and communities “are those that recognize and incorporate information, knowledge and technologies as critical ingredients of economic and commercial activity.”

Ramdin noted that the CITEL Assembly will be crafting a plan of action to move the discussions from the digital divide to the knowledge society, adding that this means an increased focus on the specifics of implementation and on ways to promote and expand digital opportunities. “We must be steadfast in moving from principles to action.”

Emphasizing that "capacity building" in the use of technologies is indispensable to the formation of a truly inclusive information society, he said this involves programs jointly created and implemented by governments, the private sector and civil society and include continuous updating of the educational actors.

Ambassador Ramdin pledged the support of the OAS and CITEL to efforts to tackle the challenges and to provide the forum to bring together valuable partners in generating innovative thinking and creative activities in the field of ICTs and maintain a continued policy dialogue on these issues.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News All Rights Reserved


Gender, Development, and Advocacy

Description Contents Additional information

SERIES: Focus on Gender
ISBN: 0855985526 STOCK CODE: 00255527
FORMAT: Paperback (pp: 112) 245 x 190mm
PRICE: £9.95

buy here
read online (PDF or Word file)

Advocacy for gender equality occurs at all levels of society - from grassroots women demanding community-level change, to coalition-building to promote change to international trade laws. Articles in this collection chart the experience and successes of gender equality advocates from contexts including Pakistan, Australia, and southern Africa.

Editorial- Advocacy training by the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS- A guide to feminist advocacy- Politics at work: transnational advocacy networks and the global garment industry- The African Women's Protocol: a new dimension for women's rights in Africa- Advocacy for an end to poverty, inequality, and insecurity: feminist social movements in Pakistan- Gender networking and advocacy work in Uganda: controlling the agenda and strategies of resistance- A voice of our own: advocacy by women with disability in Australia and the Pacific- Resources: Publications- Websites- Electronic resources- Organisations


Country Profiles for Population and Reproductive Health

Policy Development and Indicators 2005

Author: UNFPA, PRB
No. of pages: 368
Publication date: 2005
Languages: English
ISBN: 0-89714-660-3

Available in the following formats:



"Country Profiles for Population and Reproductive Health: Policy Development and Indicators 2005" covers the areas of socioeconomic health, adolescent reproductive health, gender equality and reproductive health commodity security. Indicators for ICPD Goals as well as MDGs are identified by special symbols. Information is also given on differences within countries between urban and rural areas, best performing and worst performing administrative regions, by education, and different income groups, where available. This report is published every two years with updated policy descriptions and indicators. A web version is also available on the UNFPA web site at http://www.unfpa.org/worldwide/, where it is updated as new information becomes available. This web version also allows users to display comparisons between countries.

Monday, February 27, 2006 

AIDS Stigma, a Major Hurdle in the Caribbean
Dalia Acosta

HAVANA, Feb 27 (IPS) - The discrimination that people living with HIV face on a day-to-day level in the Caribbean results in frequent violations of their basic rights and is a major hurdle to the implementation of anti-AIDS programmes, say U.N. officials..

"Prejudice based on religious, social or other reasons are exacerbated when HIV is thrown into the mix.

This is one of the big obstacles to the fight against AIDS in the Caribbean and the rest of the world," Miriam Maluwa, representative of UNAIDS for Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas, told IPS. In the region, there are women who have free access to the antiretroviral drugs that slow or inhibit the reproduction of HIV, the AIDS virus, but who do not show up for treatment in order to avoid the stigma of being identified as seropositive, she said.

People living with HIV/AIDS fear losing their jobs and their homes, not to mention the effects of the stigma on their young children, said the UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) delegate.

Another hurdle to fighting the epidemic, she said, is the "limited social commitment." "People are afraid to work with people living with HIV because they don't want to be lumped in together with them," added Maluwa, who has a long history of involvement in human rights issues.

She noted that Cuba "has the smallest number of people living with HIV and the smallest number of people who die" as a result of AIDS. But she also pointed out that last year there was a slight rise in the number of cases detected, arguing that prevention efforts among society at large and among the highest risk groups should be stepped up.

Although those living with HIV in Cuba report that they feel stigmatised, all HIV/AIDS patients have free access to antiretroviral drugs, and their jobs are guaranteed, unless they present a risk to the patient's health. Maluwa talked to IPS during a four-day visit to Cuba in late February, where she met with authorities, people living with HIV and U.N. representatives.

Some 24,000 people died of AIDS in the Caribbean last year, and 300,000 are living with HIV, according to the UNAIDS/WHO AIDS Epidemic Update, published in December 2005. In the Caribbean, the region hardest hit in the world by HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS has become the primary cause of death among the 15-44 age group, and the disease is mainly spread through heterosexual sex and prostitution, with poverty and sexual inequality playing a strong role.

The situation varies considerably from country to country, according to UNAIDS and WHO (World Health Organisation) statistics. Average HIV prevalence stands at around one percent of the adult population in Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Suriname, around two percent in the Bahamas, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, and three percent in Haiti. In Cuba, meanwhile, prevalence is under 0.2 percent.

Although the Caribbean was the only area in the world where the AIDS rate did not grow last year, a comprehensive approach is needed, that includes prevention, treatment, care and support, said Fritz Lherisson, director of the regional UNAIDS office based in Trinidad and Tobago. At a press conference in the office of the resident coordinator of the U.N. system in Havana, Lherisson said the epidemic can be prevented, and underlined that "we know how to do it." But, he added, what is needed is a "change of attitude."

The need to foment cultural, social and legal changes and to modify people's way of thinking is especially urgent given the fact that there are Caribbean island nations, like Jamaica, that still have laws on the book which prohibit homosexual relations and even provide for penalties.

"Many men who have sex with men live a double life," said Maluwa on her first official visit to Havana. "They have a home, a wife, children. They live, pretending to be what they are not, for fear of stigma and discrimination as a result of their sexual behavior."

Although she acknowledged that the problem is not so pronounced in Cuba, she said the AIDS prevention programme aimed at men who have sex with men must be "consolidated and expanded." Gay men account for around 12 percent of HIV/AIDS cases reported in the Caribbean overall, although the real number could be much higher. But in Cuba, 80.4 percent of the 6,827 cases reported between 1986 and 2005 involved men, most of whom had sex with other men.

By contrast with other countries in the region, "there is a good working relationship with people living with HIV," Raúl Regueiro, national coordinator of work with homosexuals in the National Center for the Prevention of STDs/HIV/AIDS, told IPS.

Regueiro stressed the need to expand prevention efforts geared towards bisexual men, based on activities already being carried out in provinces in eastern Cuba. The project that works with gay men in Cuba forms part of a much broader programme put into effect by the Cuban government with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (26 million dollars for the 2003-2008 period) and from the office of the U.N. system in Cuba.

UNAIDS can support the monitoring and evaluation of efforts by the Cuban government, to see how they can be further expanded and "document what has been done in the country, to share it with other countries both within and outside of the Caribbean region," Maluwa told reporters.


The Role of the IMF in Well-Performing Low-Income Countries

Download (PDF, 245 KB)

Steven Radelet


This working paper discusses how the IMF can respond to the changing economic and political priorities in many low-income countries, particularly within the current lending environment. Today, the IFM faces challenges as the borrowers that faced financial crises in the 1970s and 1980s are achieving macroeconomic stability and no longer need IMF financing. In cases where IMF financing is no longer needed, especially in “mature post-stabilizer” countries, the author suggests that the IMF may still play several important roles, including providing technical advice and assistance, playing a signaling role on macroeconomic conditions for government officials, donors and the private sector, and acting as a domestic political cover for maintaining responsible macroeconomic policies. The author urges the IMF to maintain engagement with mature stabilizers, however in a less prominent way, through other various activities such as nonfunded formal programs with upper credit tranche conditionality, and engaging in surveillance and monitoring to allow countries to have greater government ownership of their economic policies. The author argues that the IMF’s goal should be to graduate into an intensive surveillance role in low-income countries.

In a related paper (A Stability and Growth Facility -Working Paper 77), Nancy Birdsall and Kemal Dervis propose an IMF Stability and Growth Facility to help high-debt, mostly middle-income countries maintain credibility in the markets through fiscal discipline, in part to reduce their debt burden, while also addressing longstanding social needs.

© 2005 Center for Global Development.

Sunday, February 26, 2006 

Crime, the economy and youth: Facing our priorities
published: Sunday February 26, 2006

Don Robotham, Contributor

MERCIFULLY, THE election of the president of the (People's National Party (PNP) is over. However disappointed, it is the duty of all parties to fully accept and respect these results and not play dangerous destabilising games either publicly or, more likely, behind the scenes. A new Prime Minister is about to take office. We must, therefore, shift our attention from personalities to the national priorities which this new leadership must address.


Without doubt the number one challenge which the new regime faces is the issue of crime. In the last three months, important actions seem to be under way at last. Major 'dons' have been removed from the scene without regard to political affiliation. Operation Kingfish has also put pressure on key drug smugglers. In addition, the recruitment of overseas officers to strengthen the leadership of the police force has gone forward, albeit far too slowly and bureaucratically.

The new model community policing complex in Grants Pen has also been completed.
It is urgent that all these efforts be stepped up. The Proceeds from Crime Bill and its implementing executive agency must be pushed through and operationalised without delay. And there are still other dons to be subdued. On the basis of this, the process of de-garrisonisation of our inner-city communities can be approached with seriousness.

No one is so naïve as to believe that dismantling can be accomplished overnight. What the nation wants is not miracles but the firm enunciation of a different, non-partisan, anti-garrison line backed up by practical deeds at the highest levels of political leadership.


The second critical area for action is the economy. Indeed, in this area, a statement is urgently needed, today not tomorrow. The new Prime Minister must personally reaffirm the continuation of existing macroeconomic policies. This statement must be unambiguous and blunt.

We must continue with stringent control on public expenditure and the efforts to reduce our budget deficit and debt burden. Recent events in the economy have been quite positive - except for the sphere of employment generation. But all of this will collapse if we deviate from the current path of macroeconomic stability. There are signs - for example in the doubling of Housing Trust loan levels - that Mr. Patterson is eager to sweeten his departure with some populist goodies which could wreck the upcoming budget. Any such effort must be resisted at all costs.

The one area for a serious new initiative in economic policy is in small and medium-size (SME) business development. Some facilities for this already exist at JAMPRO and elsewhere. But they are in need of concentration, upgrading and re-staffing. This is not about any fantasy such as making ghetto youths into millionaires via a microenterprise boom financed by the state. Nor is it necessarily a matter of soft loans at all. Often what is required is broader business assistance in cutting though bureaucracy, in export guarantees and in technical, marketing and other infrastructural support. As this is an area of real vibrancy in our economy and a critical one for employment expansion, an institutional refocus of the SME sector is called for.


In crime and economic policy it is mainly a matter of implementing existing policies with vigor and consistency. In the social arena, however, an entirely new approach is urgently required. The chief issue here is the high unemployment rates among our youth and the crisis of educational performance in general and of young males in particular. Along with the growing economic inequalities and the consequent sense of injustice and alienation, these are the chief social forces feeding our high homicide rate.

We have about 671,500 persons in the 15-29 age group. The average unemployment rate for this group is about 30 per cent. We are thus talking about 150,000 young people (making allowance for those pursuing education and other activities). Moreover, there probably is another 100,000 who, although employed, receive very low wages. The majority are female. Of all the youth unemployed (15-29), 74 per cent have no educational certification of any kind, although 27 per cent have four years or more of secondary education.

These poorly educated youth live primarily in rural areas, where unemployment, underemployment and poverty rates are highest. This is the reality which lies behind continued rural-urban migration, as well as the spread of criminal gangs and banditry to the countryside. This is also the group which demonstrates and blocks roads at the drop of a hat.

It is urgent that the new Prime Minister act speedily and comprehensively to address the social disabilities and alienation of this group. We need to put together a social programme targeted at the youth population ­ especially at young males in the 15-24 age group, rural and urban. Such a programme must not be implemented on a community basis or it will simply be subverted by the dons and captured by the party machines. It must be a national programme with individual access, bypassing the rotten tribal community power structure.


We should begin with youth who are already employed, but lack the English and math to obtain formal certification ­ about 100,000 persons. The programme should be organised and administered outside of HEART. HEART must focus on what it does best: formal training.

The aim of this programme would be social inclusion, very broadly conceived. Number one in such a programme would be a strong educational component which should include moral and civic content as well. Over time, as we consolidate programmes, we can expand them to take on the broader mass of youth, linking with a system of apprenticeship and job placement.

Programmes to assist our youth are not simply a social benefit ­ helping to reduce alienation, desperation and crime. They constitute a critical economic investment as well. Our new Governor-General has already begun to rally the nation to put our youth at centrestage.

The new political leadership as well as the Opposition must support these efforts fully and go further. A major policy initiative, backed by significant resources, is required.

© Copyright 1997-2006 Gleaner Company Ltd


Benevolent societies to manage rural water systems
BY CLAUDIENNE EDWARDS Observer staff reporter
Monday, February 27, 2006

A number of rural communities will soon have benevolent societies in place to manage the parishes' water and sanitation systems, according to Linnette Vassel of the Ministry of Water and Housing.

The benevolent societies will be established under a Government of Jamaica and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan agreement. The IDB is lending the government US$10 million to facilitate its plan to provide potable water for all by 2010.

To this end, Vassel said the first two benevolent societies of the ministry's pilot project would be launched later this year at Five Star, St Elizabeth and Whitehorses, St Thomas. She told the Observer that the programme would eventually be expanded, but that the pilot would include four benevolent societies, covering approximately 15 communities in St Elizabeth, Clarendon and St Mary.

The Five Star Development Benevolent Society, she explained, would comprise the five communities of Fives Pen, Cotterwood, Content, Sellington and Shrewsberry, while the benevolent society in St Thomas would comprise the districts of Whitehorses, Botany and Pamphret. She was speaking on Tuesday at a workshop at the Knutsford Hotel in Kingston.
"The government intends to expand this modality through the establishment of a rural water supply company, so that the work that we are doing is going to be merged with the work of Caribbean Engineering to set up a rural water supply company that will focus on community-managed water systems, as well as systems managed by the parish councils and so forth," Vassel explained.

She said the benevolent societies would be patterned off those set up under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). Vassel said that similar water supply systems for rural areas had been set up in such Latin American countries as Colombia, Uruguay and Costa Rica, in South Africa and Tanzania and in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Desmond Munroe, the Water and Housing Ministry's chief technical director of water, said that women had an important role to play in the management of the water and sanitation systems to be established in rural communities. Women who used a major portion of the water supply for domestic chores had a key interest in its proper management, Munroe said.

"Gone are the days when men were paramount in the management of water supply systems.... now these systems cannot run properly without a number of interests, and key to these interests is women, who continue to use most of the water through washing and cooking and all of these domestic affairs," Munroe said.

Copyright© 2000-2001 Jamaica Observer.


Dominican PM Praises Cuban Energy

Havana, Feb 26 (Prensa Latina) Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, has expressed his interest in promoting and implementing the Cuban energy program in his country.

After visiting the westernmost province of Pinar del Rio on Saturday, Skerrit said, "Cuba has a lot of things to teach and I hope other countries imitate it for the benefit of humanity."

Skerrit visited a group of homes of Pinar del Rio´s Bolivar community, opened last August by Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and praised how the community -built for hurricane victims- has raised the people´s standard of living and reduced power consumption.

After receiving a comprehensive explanation in a rural power substation at Sandino municipality and in the Eliseo Caamaño power generating plant, of the provincial capital, that operates 20 generators, Skerrit stated the possibility of spreading the Cuban experience in his own country.

"That could save half of what the country is currently consuming in electricity so we can allot more funds to build hospitals and schools," noted the Dominican premier.

Cuba and Dominica established diplomatic relations on May 18, 1996. Up to now, about 238 Dominican youth have graduated here, while 15 Cuban collaborators are working in that nation.

Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved.
Prensa Latina


Cuba Expands Caribbean Solidarity

Havana, Feb 26 (Prensa Latina) Cuba continues expanding its solidarity throughout the Caribbean and encouraging regional interchange, so it stands as one of the most active promoters of integration, local press highlights Sunday.

Supporting new projects of cooperation with other countries, is keeping permanent contacts with authorities in the region in order to strengthen links in very important fields such as student formation and medical facilities.

Sunday papers have underlined that on his current visit to the island to review plans for joint cooperation, Dominican Commonwealth Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit met with President Fidel Castro and referred to the initiatives encouraged by both nations in the fields of education and public health.

Similarly, he praised Operation Miracle, a project created by Cuba and Venezuela to offer ophthalmologic assistance to poor people in the region, and appreciated the Cuban people's support and solidarity.

This visit will strengthen excellent existing links and constitutes a new sample of both governments' firm will to maintain and develop bilateral relations, official sources remarked.

Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved.
Prensa Latina


UN force should stay in Haiti for 2 or 3 more years: UN

www.chinaview.cn 2006-02-25 10:46:47

SANTIAGO, Feb. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Juan Gabriel Valdes, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti said on Friday that UN police force should remain in the Caribbean country for another two or three years.

"The fundamental aim of the UN in Haiti is to consolidate the development and professionalization of an autonomous police force,which will allow the country to have its own state security forces, and no longer need outside help," Valdes told La Segunda newspaper.

Valdes, a former Chilean Foriegn Minister, met with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and the current Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker on Thursday to discuss how Chile can contribute to Haiti's future.

Chile's contingent is authorized to stay until July 30, and so president-elect Michelle Bachelet and the next session of legislators, who take office on March 11, will have to decide whether the Chileans will stay any further.

"The fundamental thing is to maintain international support, which will need troops at first," said Valdes. "Later technical and financial support will be needed for around 20 years," he added.

Haiti's president-elect, Rene Preval, will also have to give his permission for the UN forces to stay, once he is in power, Valdes said. Enditem

Copyright ©2003 Xinhua News Agency.

Friday, February 24, 2006 

Migration hinders Caribbean development says IMF
Researchers says Caribbean has lost 70 per cent of skilled workforce

Feb 23, 2006: WASHINGTON - International Monetary Fund (IMF) researchers have identified migration as the greatest threat to regional development particularly since the loss in the region's most skilled workers wasn't generating sufficient remittances to offset the decline.

The team of IMF economic researchers who authored the working paper, has also suggested that there was a significant economic impact of the high emigration and brain drain on Caribbean economies.

The paper says Caribbean countries have lost 10-40 per cent of their labour force to emigration to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member-countries.
"The migration rate is particularly high for the high-skilled," it says.

"Many countries have lost more than 70 per cent of their labour force, with more than 12 years of completed schooling - among the highest emigration rates in the world."

The paper also says the region is the world's largest recipient of remittances as a per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), constituting about 13 per cent of the region's GDP in 2002.

"Simple welfare calculations suggest that the losses due to high-skill migration outweigh the official remittances to the Caribbean region," it says. "The results suggest that there is, indeed, some evidence for brain drain from the Caribbean."

The paper says the majority of Caribbean countries have lost more than 50 per cent of the labour force in the tertiary education segment and more than 30 per cent in the secondary education segment (nine to 12 years of schooling).

For instance, it says, the tertiary educated labour force in Jamaica and Guyana has been reduced by 85 per cent and 89 per cent, respectively, due to emigration to OECD-member countries.

Though Haiti has the lowest aggregate emigration rate - about 10 per cent - in the region, its tertiary-educated labour force has been reduced by 84 per cent due to emigration to OECD-member countries.

In fact, the paper says, almost all Caribbean nations are among the top 20 countries in the world with the highest tertiary-educated migration rates.

"The magnitude of these migration rates suggests that, potentially, emigration can have large impacts on the local labour markets and on the welfare of those who stay behind in the Caribbean countries," it says.

It says that the total losses due to skilled migration - which includes the "emigration loss," externality effects, and government expenditure on educating the migrants - outweigh the recorded remittances for the Caribbean region on average, and for almost all the individual Caribbean countries.

Copyright © 2005 Trans-Caribbean Marketing Company, MyCaribbeanNews.com and The New Executive TIMES (Caribbean) Magazine.


Student leaders seek to raise money, get computers for Caribbean students
By Brian Davidson
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sometimes, it's easier to pay for one student's education than others.

While the town pressures the state to provide $2,000 per public school student, four Andover High School seniors are helping a school that asks less than $6.50 per month to support each of its pupils.

The school, "Centro Educativo Luz En La Barquita" in the Dominican Republic, consists of 200 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Students rely on outside sponsorship to cover their 220-peso-per-month enrollment fee.
"Even that much is a lot for some of the families," said Andover student Shallane Agramonte, who is working on the fund-raising project along with AHS classmates Pedro Vasquez, Aparna Qazi and Jannell Lauria.

AHS guidance counselor Aixa de Kelley, who told the four students about the Dominican school, had been sponsoring one of its students already, and is serving as the project adviser for the effort.

"It is a very, very poor neighborhood in the Dominican Republic," said de Kelley, of the Santo Domingo area where the school is located.

Centro Educativo Luz En La Barquita has only six classrooms for its 200 students and is forced to run two school sessions per day due to a lack of teachers.

There is a single computer in the entire building, used for administrative purposes only.
"We want to send at least six computers with the educational software necessary for each grade level so that each classroom will have one," said Vasquez.

Although the students are still in the early stages of their project, having just recently sent out letters to more than 250 local businesses, they have received donations of three computers and $250 so far.

"They hope to raise enough money to visit as well," de Kelley said of her advisees, "so that they can meet some of the students and do community service at a children's hospital that we've been in contact with near the school."

For de Kelley, Vasquez and Agramonte, a visit to the Dominican Republic would be extra special, as all three are of Dominican heritage, and rarely, if ever, have an opportunity to visit.

"It's been about four years since I've been back," said de Kelley, whose sister lives there and also sponsors a student at Centro Educativo.

If all goes to plan, the AHS group will hand deliver the donated money and computers to Santo Domingo around April vacation time in the Andover Public Schools - although not during that week, as it coincides with a holy week in the Dominican.

"Even if we don't raise enough to visit, anything we send will be a huge support and a great success," said de Kelley.

Copyright© 2006 Andover Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.


The greater Caribbean – A natural space for integration
Thursday February 23 2006

On 30 Jan., six Caribbean countries launched a free trade area to bring to fruition the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), an integration project, which seeks to incorporate the remaining Caricom countries by 2008.

This Free Trade Zone endeavours to promote the exchange of services, goods and qualified personnel among those territories, which in turn strengthens common economic growth. The establishment of this CSME is an historic event that will lead to an improved standard of living and sustainable economic development within the region.

The implementation of this sub-regional integration initiative among the islands of the English-speaking Caribbean is consistent with the trend in other sub-regions in the greater Caribbean; that’s how the Central American integration process has advanced successfully, to the extent that it is the sub-regional group with the most trade directed toward the countries involved in its integration scheme.

According to the most recent study conducted by ECLAC, 28 per cent of all Central American exports are destined for member countries, while Caricom records 17 per cent.

The greater Caribbean has witnessed a positive change in its trade scenario – recent statistics show an increase in intra-regional trade indicators, however, they continue to be much lower than those in other regions like Asia and Europe, where such indicators exceed 50 per cent of the total trade.

Greater dynamism in trade at the intra-regional level undeniably brings about an increased tendency to export goods with added value and/or manufactured goods; it offers the possibility of expanding markets and building leadership in neighbouring markets and it in turn becomes a learning base to gain experience in trade and serve as a conduit for conquering more sophisticated and demanding markets in terms of quality.

Understanding the greater Caribbean as the area that encompasses all the countries that make up the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), with the common link being their natural border with the Caribbean Sea, having a population in excess of 230 million inhabitants whose annual imports average 242 billion dollars, with a per capita purchasing potential of US$945, the region becomes the best scenario for conducting business and for boosting this natural space for integration.

Although integration in the greater Caribbean must be based on the deepening of trade, it must also involve a governmental interest in fortifying trade ties beyond sub-regions, in addition to a strengthening of institutions, macroeconomic coordination and improved infrastructure.

Some countries in the region have played a rather active role in this regional market expansion process. Such is the case of Trinidad & Tobago, where the government has shown its firm commitment to building that process, not only supporting the sub-regional initiatives – Caricom – but it has continued to simultaneously negotiate bilateral free trade agreements, reinforcing its trade ties with Central America and Cuba.

Even though we have made significant progress in the field of trade, that trend is not enough to consolidate intra-regional trade as the driving force behind growth and development.

The greater Caribbean still has the opportunity to enhance its economic growth using as a channel, a trade integration process throughout the entire Caribbean Sea.

Manuel Madriz, trade director at the Secretariat of the Association of Caribbean States. The opinions expressed are not necessarily the official views of the ACS. Comments can be sent to: mail@acs-aec.org.

© SUN Printing & Publishing LTD 2003-2004.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 

Haiti poses challenges for CARICOM


by Sir Ronald Sanders

The victory by Rene Préval in Haiti’s presidential elections poses challenges for the member countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on Small States in the global community. Reponses to: ronaldsanders29@hotmail.com

After the former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide accused the United States of orchestrating his removal and forcing him into exile in February 2004, CARICOM, as a group, declined to recognise the interim government of Mr. Gerard Latortue.

It was well known that the regional grouping was divided on how to treat with Haiti. In the end, the view prevailed that the Latortue regime would not be recognised and Haiti would not be allowed access to the councils of CARICOM.

Preval’s election victory changes all that and CARICOM Secretary-General Edwin Carrington is reported to have said: “We are ready to receive Haiti back into the institutions of the Caribbean Community." But, he added, “We will now sit with Haiti to discuss the conditions of its re-entry into CARICOM."

Importantly, Mr Carrington drew attention to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which includes provisions for the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) to which Haiti is not a signatory.

He said: “"We now have to sit with Haiti on this and other issues, including how are they prepared to come on board with the Revised Treaty and what is the process of acceding to the various elements of the Single Market."

It is Haiti’s accession to the CSM that poses the greatest challenge to CARICOM. Haiti with a population of 8.3 million is the poorest country in the Hemisphere. Its people are 3 million more than the rest of CARICOM combined.

Both its economic and political conditions have caused many of its people to flee from its shores in search of a better life.

While the United States has been the main target of their refuge, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas have also experienced the illegal entry of Haitians into their countries. Recently, groups of Haitian refugees have turned up in Jamaica, Antigua and Dominica.

The election of Mr Préval, by just over 51% of the population, does not speak to a united country. Haiti continues to live on a political powder keg. And, the political manipulation of its desperate economic circumstances is the match that could ignite it any time.

In any event, Haiti is a far way from the establishment of democratic institutions, and even farther away from the kind of widespread respect for them that would underpin their maintenance.

Consequently, CARICOM’s first duty of care to a member of its community is to welcome back into its fold the constitutionally elected government of Rene Préval in elections which have been endorsed by the Organisation of American States.

Having done so, CARICOM should take the lead in the international community in raising the financial and other help that Haiti urgently needs if the unwelcome flight of its people to other countries is to stop.

This will call for a serious diplomatic effort, and may well require the creation of a special CARICOM Task Force devoted to working with the Haitian government and international donor and financial community for at least two years to create the machinery for financing and managing projects in Haiti.

Among these should be health care, particularly HIV/AIDS, education and human resource development, infrastructural projects that would encourage foreign and local private sector investment, and, very importantly, the building of democratic institutions supported by legislation and enforcement machinery.

In this regard, CARICOM might enlist the help of Canada in a joint effort to engage the US government at the earliest opportunity in the peaceful and progressive development of Haiti.
Reports from the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbour, reveal that some 800 US troops landed at a port city in the Dominican Republic, barely 80 miles from the Haitian border, last Thursday. Ostensibly, they are there for “New Horizons”, a military exercise that is to extend for several months.

Nonetheless, the US government has congratulated Mr Préval on his election and State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said “We look forward to working with the new government to help the Haitian people build a better future for themselves."

CARICOM should take the US government at its word, and act as an honest broker to unlock aid for Haiti that has already been approved from the US and other countries and agencies, and to develop a programme for additional aid.

Neither democracy nor development, including the flight of Haitians seeking refuge, will come unless generous assistance is forthcoming.

And, CARICOM countries, however, determined they may be, as they have said, “to end years of isolation and bring Haiti into the Caribbean family to which it belongs by geography, history and common ancestry”, should require considerable advancement by Haiti in its economic and political conditions before it is encouraged to join the Caribbean Single Market.

After all the Single Market goes well beyond a free trade arrangement between groups of countries; it is a deep form of integration that makes a single space of all the countries’ markets and allows for the free movement of goods and services, the right of establishment by nationals of the participating countries and free movement of certain categories of workers.

The countries that enter such a Single Market, while conscious of the importance of “geography, history and ancestry”, must also be alert to the need to fulfill other obligations such as the provision of funding under the Regional Development Fund (RDF) for disadvantaged countries and sectors where Haiti would be amongst the neediest.

Also, it may be an opportune time for CARICOM countries to revisit the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to create principles of democracy, rights, and obligations to which every member state must adhere as a basis for entry, and for continued membership. All CARICOM members, including Haiti, should sign it as a precondition for entering the CSM or remaining a member.

CARICOM countries must do all they can to improve conditions for Haiti as a member of the Caribbean community. And, Haiti must also play its part.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News


L’UNESCO soutient un projet d’e-gouvernance dans les Caraïbes

21-02-2006 (Kingston)

En collaboration avec le Centre d’administration du développement des Caraïbes (CARICAD) et le Département des affaires économiques et sociales des Nations Unies (UNDESA), l’UNESCO organise un ensemble d’activités de renforcement des capacités en matière de gouvernance électronique dans les Caraïbes.

Dans le cadre de ce projet, trois séminaires nationaux ont été organisés à la Dominique et Saint-Vincent-et-les-Grenadines, qui se concluent par un séminaire de deux jours démarrant aujourd’hui à la Grenade.

Consacrés au développement de politiques nationales, de stratégies et de plans d’actions sur l’e-gouvernement dans les Etats membres du CARICAD, les trois séminaires nationaux ont permis de mettre en évidence des questions relatives à la gouvernance locale et à la participation des citoyens dans le processus de développement des politiques.

30 participants venant de différents horizons (représentants des gouvernements locaux, responsables politiques, citoyens) se réuniront aujourd’hui à Saint George’s (Grenade) afin d’examiner et de débattre l’utilisation d’une approche de « politiques factuelles », c’est-à-dire fondées sur des données, permettant de mettre en place un système d’élaboration de politiques publiques transparentes, pertinentes, efficaces et centrées sur les citoyens.

Ces activités sont organisées dans le cadre du projet de l’UNESCO sur l’utilisation des TIC comme moyen d’améliorer la gouvernance locale en Afrique, Amérique latine et les Caraïbes, qui soutient la mise en place de composantes d’e-gouvernance des stratégies d’action d’e-gouvernement dans les pays de la région des Caraïbes. D’autres activités concernent la promotion et le lancement d’actions destinées aux responsables politiques de la CARICOM (ministres et cadres supérieurs de l’administration) sur lesquelles ont travaillé les services techniques et consultatifs du CARICAD.

Par ailleurs, un manuel en version papier et multimédia sur l’élaboration de politiques factuelles est en préparation. Ce manuel servira de base au développement de politiques nationales et de plans d’action d’e-gouvernement afin d’offrir des services en ligne centrés sur les citoyens. Le projet prévoit également l’examen des politiques, stratégies et plans d’action sur l’e-gouvernement adoptés par les Etats membres, afin d’évaluer notamment dans quelle mesure les questions relatives à l’e-gouvernance ont été prises en compte.

Ce partenariat avec le CARICAD fait suite au projet mené en collaboration avec l’Université des Indes occidentales (UWI) concernant l’organisation d’une formation spécialisée en ligne sur la gouvernance électronique locale, destinée aux directeurs, responsables, politiques locaux et aux représentants communautaires de la CARICOM. Un premier cours réunissant 30 participants vient de s’achever et l’UWI recrute actuellement les candidats pour un deuxième cours.

Info sur les contact(s)

Alton Grizzle, Bureau de l’UNESCO à Kingston

Bureau de l’UNESCO à Kingston

Liens de référence

Université des Indes occidentales – Cours sur l’e-gouvernement

L’UNESCO et le renforcement des capacités pour l’e-gouvernance

Centre d’administration du développement des Caraïbes (CARICAD)

Département des affaires économiques et sociales des Nations Unies (UNDESA)

© Copyright UNESCO, 2005


Mon Feb 20, 2006
Pres. Preval tries to build bridges

Haiti's President, Rene Preval, has been holding consultations with politicians and potential candidates for the Senate and lower chamber in an effort to garner support to secure a majority in Congress.

Mr. Preval was declared winner of the presidential elections last week.

And a former regional diplomat is urging caution as the Caribbean moves to re-admit Haiti.

Former Antigua and Barbuda high commissioner, Sir Ronald Saunders, supports the re-entry of Haiti into the Caribbean Community (Caricom), however he does not believe that Haiti is ready to be a member of the Caricom Single Market.

Copyright© 2005 RJR Communications Group

Monday, February 20, 2006 

'Major brain drain' - IMF says Caribbean has lost 70 per cent of workforce
published: Monday February 20, 2006


AN INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper has suggested that there is evidence of high emigration and brain drain from the Caribbean.

The paper says Caribbean countries have lost 10-40 per cent of their labour force to emigration to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member-countries.
"The migration rate is particularly high for the high-skilled," it says.

"Many countries have lost more than 70 per cent of their labour force, with more than 12 years of completed schooling - among the highest emigration rates in the world."


The paper also says the region is the world's largest recipient of remittances as a per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), constituting about 13 per cent of the region's GDP in 2002.

"Simple welfare calculations suggest that the losses due to high-skill migration outweigh the official remittances to the Caribbean region," it says. "The results suggest that there is, indeed, some evidence for brain drain from the Caribbean."

The paper says the majority of Caribbean countries have lost more than 50 per cent of the labour force in the tertiary education segment and more than 30 per cent in the secondary education segment (nine to 12 years of schooling).

For instance, it says, the tertiary educated labour force in Jamaica and Guyana has been reduced by 85 per cent and 89 per cent, respectively, due to emigration to OECD-member countries.


Though Haiti has the lowest aggregate emigration rate - about 10 per cent - in the region, its tertiary-educated labour force has been reduced by 84 per cent due to emigration to OECD-member countries.

In fact, the paper says, almost all Caribbean nations are among the top 20 countries in the world with the highest tertiary-educated migration rates.

"The magnitude of these migration rates suggests that, potentially, emigration can have large impacts on the local labour markets and on the welfare of those who stay behind in the Caribbean countries," it says.

It says that the total losses due to skilled migration - which includes the "emigration loss," externality effects, and government expenditure on educating the migrants - outweigh the recorded remittances for the Caribbean region on average, and for almost all the individual Caribbean countries.

© Copyright 1997-2006 Gleaner Company Ltd


Overseas territories in the Caribbean - a part, yet apart

published: Sunday February 19, 2006

David Jessop, Contributor

THEY ARE in places no more than 100 miles distant. Some are members, or associate members of CARICOM. They have close cultural, linguistic and family ties that spread across the Caribbean. They are a part of the region, yet apart.

They are the British and Dutch overseas territories in the Caribbean and their cousins, the French the Départements d'Outre-mer (DOM).

The British overseas territories (Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos) are almost all in a process of a form of constitutional advancement that does not necessarily imply a desire for independence. With the exception of Montserrat they are quietly some of the wealthiest small islands in the world with GDP figures that in certain cases exceed or are better than those of most developed countries.

The Dutch overseas territories are also in a similar economic situation but are in a state of constitutional flux. Under a new political structure, agreed with the Dutch government in late 2005, the federation of the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved by July 2007. Curaçao and St. Maarten will each become autonomous territories of the Netherlands. Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will become 'kingdom islands', a newly-created status that has still to be defined in detail. Aruba was already a state apart from the Federation with its own status.

In contrast, the DOM (Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guiane) are Europe in the Caribbean. They are remote parts of France sending elected representatives to the French Congress and the European Parliament. They are formally, in the language of the European Commission (EC), the 'outermost regions' of Europe and as such have special provisions enshrined in an article of the European Treaty.

This recognises that because of their 'remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, as well as economic dependence on a few products', the DOM are 'permanently' and 'severely restrained in their socio-economic development' - a legal definition of special and different that the rest of the region would be glad to have.


As a consequence, Europe has adopted three well-funded priorities for action for the DOM.

These are:

To promote accessibility.

To improve competitiveness through the creation of an economic environment that favours the establishment of businesses.

To prioritise regional integration in a manner that develops trade in goods and services with neighbouring countries with the ultimate objective of integration into the surrounding geograph-ical area.

Yet, irrespective of the unusual, range of ties that the overseas territories and the DOM have to Europe, they are all faced with a challenge for which there is no precedent.

The creation of an economic partnership agreement (EPA) between the independent Caribbean and Europe (and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy ­ CSME) will potentially have the economic effect of isolating the Overseas Territories from the independent Caribbean.

It will create different trade relationships with Europe and with neighbours in the region.

Paradoxically, after 2008 in the case of the DOM, an EPA will have the reverse effect. As a part of Europe, albeit remote, the DOM will then be subject to the phasing in of the same trade reciprocities as are agreed for Continental Europe.

At a policy level, Europe's draft communication on the Caribbean seeks to encourage as 'a part of the wider integration process', cooperation between the independent Caribbean, the DOMs and overseas territories. This, the document suggests, will be in the field of trade but also in other areas of common interest, such as migration, transport, health, justice and security.


The European Commission has given some thought to the detail but regards the matter as complex. It is already struggling to find ways to incorporate some form of variable geometry into an EPA that takes account of the very different levels of development of CARICOM members.

This, it is suggested, makes it less than likely that Europe will want to find a way to incorporate the overseas territories into an EPA unless specifically requested to do so. It also has to recognise that in the case of the British and Dutch overseas territories, it cannot act without the agreement of the member states concerned. However, the EC has held a seminar for the DOM and Overseas Territories and is engaged in a direct dialogue that will involve direct exchanges with the Development Commissioner on these and other issues.

In the independent Caribbean these are not matters much considered. At the level of an EPA, the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery is aware of the issues but as yet has undertaken no specific studies or consultations and is not seeking to incorporate any special language or provision into a draft EPA relating to the DOM or any overseas territory. For its part, CARICOM is aware of the difficulties posed by Montserrat, which as a full member and if the U.K. were ever to agree, could become a part of the CSME and then potentially of an EU/Caribbean EPA.

In the overseas territories, the implications of an EPA or the CSME have not been widely considered. Notably, the British Virgin Islands is considering the implications of both, but most other British Overseas Territories are hoping that greater clarity will be forthcoming from London and Brussels on the issue.

Much better prepared are the DOM. In all three there is concern and a gradual move to try to seek economic advantage from a changed economic relationship using European regional funds to try to identify opportunities for economic integration with Caribbean neighbours.


It is easy to argue that for the most part trade between CARICOM members, the Overseas Territories and the DOM is minimal and that as such the CSME and EPAs are of little consequence, enabling the DOM and overseas territories to continue in economic isolation. But the reality is that Europe and the independent Caribbean are about to take far-ranging decisions that may effect overall competitive environment in which all nations in the region operate.

There will be negotiations on trade in services involving potentially the liberalisation of financial services and tourism, matters close to the economic heart of all Overseas Territories. The DOM will undergo a sudden integration into regional economy as a result of a trade arrangement with Europe. More generally, the negotiations will also lead over time to a new economic future for the region in which all are located.

No one would argue that the initial impact of the CSME or an EPA on the non-independent Caribbean other than the DOM would be great. Despite this, it is startling how little thought or research has gone into the ways in which the independent and for the time being non-independent Caribbean will relate to one another in the future.

David Jessop is the Director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org. Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org

© Copyright 1997-2006 Gleaner Company Ltd


French Caribbean seeks closer ties with Caricom
Saturday, February 18th 2006

The French Caribbean territories of Guadeloupe, Martini-que and French Guiana are seeking closer cooperation with Caricom, Vice President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, Marlene Melisse says.

Melisse said this cooperation would allow them to optimise on available resources and to assist in a number of priority areas identified.

Melisse visited Guyana yesterday and met Caricom Secretary-General Edwin Carrington. She told the media at the Office of the Head of the EU Delegation to Guyana that her visit was in keeping with decisions taken at the first seminar on 'the Development of Regional Cooperation in the Caribbean through European Funds' held in Martinique in November last year.

At yesterday's meeting four main priority areas were identified: HIV/AIDS, inter-connectivity in terms of transportation and communication, natural disasters, and trade and investments. The knowledge of more than one language in the Caribbean region where at least four languages are spoken was also seen as important.

Melisse said her visit to Guyana made possible through the EC Delegation in Guyana had two purposes. In the first instance it was to discuss the modalities for strengthening cooperation between the French Overseas Departments and the EC Guyana delegation concerning the EDF/ERDF coordination and future EC-funded Caribbean regional programmes. Secondly, it was to discuss with Carrington the modalities of the cooperation framework with Caricom/ Cariforum.

The 24 million euros EC-funded Caribbean regional programme covers Guade-loupe, Martinique and French Guiana for the period 2000 to 2006.

The programme seeks to establish close coordination with the EDF to mobilise funds to help promote greater economic, social and regional cohesion of the French territories in the Greater Caribbean area particularly with neighbouring countries such as Guyana and Suriname. It also includes cooperation with Caribbean regional organisations such as Caricom and Cariforum.

Speaking about the number of common points identified in Martinique between Cari-com countries and the French territories and her visit to Guyana, Melisse said one of the areas in which both Guyana and other Caribbean territories, including the French, could benefit was through a weather radar network which would forecast natural disasters to which the Caribbean region is prone.

She said French Caribbean Territories are trying to strengthen their management capacity to minimise the effects during and after natural disasters would have occurred.

In terms of commerce and integration, she said it was important to know the environment in which they operate. (Miranda La Rose)

© Stabroek News


Caribbean to lobby UN for price cut in AIDS medication

Observer Reporter
Saturday, February 18, 2006

THE Caribbean region, including the Dutch, French and Netherlands Antilles will present a unified approach for the reduction in the cost of HIV/AIDS treatment to the United Nations, at its General Assembly meeting slated for May/June in New York.

The region will also lobby for a new global approach to the pandemic that will include a reduction in stigmatisation and discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

This was decided at Wednesday's Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) regional consultation convened by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. PANCAP is an umbrella body of 77organisations, whose core focus is HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.

At the brief press conference held after the consultation on Wednesday, Dr Edward Greene, assistant secretary general of Caricom and chair of PANCAP, said the recommendations to be put forward to the UN will come directly from the consultation.

At the same time, Dr Luiz Loures, director of Global initiative UNAIDS (Geneva), said: "There is no way to control HIV/AIDS if we continue to operate at the level of prices we operate at today. Countries pay not only the price of the drug itself, but also prices tacked on for profit by the pharmaceutical companies."

He said there were an estimated 500,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the region.
Suzette Moses-Burton, National AIDS Programme Co-ordinator, St Maarten, and chair of the Caribbean Coalition of National AIDS Co-ordinators underscored the need for regional advocacy to lower the prices of HIV/AIDS drugs. "We Dutch countries have access to HIV/AIDS treatment, but the prices are European prices. We would like to see regional advocacy so that we can access drugs at reasonable prices," said Moses-Burton.

Dr Loures said that of the US$8.5 billion spent in 2005 on HIV prevention, care and treatment, US$500 million was available to fight the pandemic in the Caribbean region. He also singled out the Bahamas and Barbados as countries in which the numbers of HIV/AIDS infection were decreasing.

He noted that while the $8.5 billion spent in 2005 represented a noticeable increase from the US$300-million spent in 1996, and that there were case decreases in some countries, there should be no complacency, since the pandemic still outran the approach to prevention and treatment. "The present decreases in HIV/AIDS cases in some countries should be seen as a motivation to proceed with a bold regime to revert the epidemic," said Dr Loures.In addition to the cost of HIV/AIDS medication, stigmatisation and the funding of public education programmes were two other areas that presenters said needed more attention.

Dr Douglas Slater, Minister of Health for St Vincent and the Grenadines, said it was necessary for government to be able to fund or gain access to funds for necessary HIV/AIDS care and prevention or public education programmes, and pointed to the importance of regional collaboration in this regard. "If we cannot deliver to our citizens, we are worst off. We (in the region) have to harmonise policies, programmes and financing so that we are better prepared to face the challenges of HIV," said Dr Slater.

According to Dr Slater, who is the chair of the regional Co-ordinating Mechanism for Global Fund Programme of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), about one per cent, or 6,000 of the OECS population, was infected with the HIV virus.

Meanwhile, Rachel Charles, representative of Hope Pals in Grenada, an organisation of people living with HIV/AIDS, said stigmatisation and discrimination have directly impacted on the number of individuals seeking HIV/AIDS treatment in her country. She recommended that there be individual country approaches and a regional attempt at engineering and instituting legislation that would in effect, lessen the occurrences of stigmatisation and discrimination.

"Stigmatisation and discrimination have prevented people from coming forward for treatment. We need legislation that would provide for environments, which will allow people to seek treatment," said Charles.

She also mentioned discrimination against children infected with the HIV virus as one of the negatives of the current predominant culture.Deputy chief executive officer of the Caribbean Regional Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (CRN+) also stressed the need for regional co-operation on this issue. "We would like to see the political commitment of all governments in the region to enshrine the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, since stigma and discrimination are rampant in the region," she said.

Dr Greene, who also stressed the importance of regional agreement on this issue, insisted that HIV/AIDS should be seen as a public health issue similar to measles, thus eliminating much of the stigmatisation that hampers treatment and care of persons with the disease.

Copyright© 2000-2001 Jamaica Observer

Friday, February 17, 2006 

Effects of transnational policing in the Caribbean explored
Web Posted - Fri Feb 17 2006

THE conditions of contemporary society may push the police further and further down the road towards transnationalisation.

This is the assertion of Dr. Benjamin Bowling, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the King's College School of Law, London. Dr. Bowling was recently exploring the topic Sovereignty versus Security: The Development of Transnational Policing in the Caribbean Region at a seminar conducted in connection with the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), at University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Dr. Bowling has conducted a great deal of research in the Caribbean while on sabbatical leave, and he shared the results of a study he conducted on transnational policing, at the seminar.

All the indications are, that local communities ... will increasingly feel the effects of global insecurity. Consequently, we will see police officers increasingly sharing intelligence with their overseas counterparts and increasing numbers of officers posted overseas. We will also see increasing numbers of overseas police and intelligence posted..., many of whom will be invisible to the untrained eye..., Dr. Bowling maintains.

Giving a tentative definition of "transnational policing", Dr. Bowling notes that it is "those organised forms of order maintenance, peacekeeping, law enforcement, crime investigation and prevention, surveillance of suspect populations and information-brokering that transcend national boundaries".

Asking the question as to what then is the appropriate model for the development of transnational policing, the answer Dr. Bowling noted, lies in the theory and practice of global governance. Globalization, he observed, has not only created transnational organised crime and transnational policing, but it has also created transnational communities and movements for international human rights and global justice.

According to Dr. Bowling, transnational organised crime has emerged as one of the most pressing concerns of the late modern, post-Cold War era and has given new impetus to the development of transnational policing. Globalization and the de-regulation of capital, trade and businesses have mag-nified the potential for clandestine trade and criminal activity, according to Dr. Bowling. The general public, he also notes, has become increasingly anxious about organised crime groups and their involvement in ex- tortion, drugs trafficking, money laundering and murder.

Transnational organised crime is not experienced globally or transnationally, he however pointed out, but manifests itself in the context of locality.

The bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11, 2001, the bombs in Bali on October 12, 2002 and October 4, 2005, in Madrid on March 11, 2004 and July 7 in London 2005, underlined the significance of international terrorism and brought home the concept of a "new world disorder" in which persons could all expect to feel the effects of transnational organised crime, terrorism and other forms of security.

Dr. Bowling maintains, however, that policing is an expression of national sovereignty, since one of the things that makes the nation state is the ability to monopolise the use of legi- timate coercive force with-in its borders. Dr. Bowling, however, went on to explore whether countries in the contemporary Caribbean will have to make a toss-up between their sovereignty or their security, as trans-national policing continues to develop.

Barbados Advocate ©2000


Posted on Fri, Feb. 17, 2006

Mr. Préval wins Haiti's presidency


Haiti's new president has his work cut out for him. René Préval was the clear choice of the Haitian people. Yes, a smoother election and vote count would have been preferable. But, ultimately, negotiation and compromise sealed Mr. Préval's victory. This ended an electoral crisis and the potential for violence.

For the first time in years, Haiti has reason for hope. While deep-rooted problems won't disappear overnight, a legitimate government, backed by the international community, could begin to address security, the economy and other challenges.

Mr. Préval will stand an better chance of turning the nation around if he can rally Haiti's political and business leaders, even those who opposed him, to unify behind a common agenda. The electoral crisis provides a good lesson in how to resolve political differences for the sake of the greater good through negotiation and compromise.

A clear majority

Though exit polls appeared to show that Mr. Préval had won a clear majority, his margin fell below 50 percent as the count neared an end. Urgency mounted after thousands of ballots appeared in a Port-au-Prince dump, raising suspicions of vote fraud. Largely peaceful protests threatened to spiral out of control.

In fact, electoral authorities had found problems with large numbers of missing, invalidated and blank ballots. Negotiations ensued among officials from Haiti's interim government, its electoral council, the U.N. mission, Mr. Préval's party and international diplomats. The solution that assured Mr. Préval's win used an electoral loophole to proportionately allocate blank votes -- most of which were believed to be unused ballots mistakenly included in the count -- among the 33 candidates.

Sensible approach

A former president, Mr. Préval will have a chance to show how much better he can do now outside the shadow of his former ally, ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. One thorny issue involves disarming violent slum gangs, many of which appeared to support his candidacy, that terrorize much of Port-au-Prince and hurt commerce. In an earlier interview with The Miami Herald, Mr. Préval described a sensible approach combining police action along with ''massive social investment'' that would provide jobs and isolate the ``criminals.''

Mr. Préval will not lack issues to tackle. Haiti needs to clean up its police force and judiciary; to get tons of illegal weapons off the streets, with U.N. help; to rebuild all basic systems, from education and healthcare to utilities and roads. Haiti needs to heal its fractured society.

Copyright 2006 Knight Ridder


Netherlands Antilles NGOs face funding crisis


by Nikola Lashley
Caribbean Net News Curacao Correspondent
Email: nikola@caribbeannetnews.com

CURACAO, Netherlands Antilles: The Dutch government has described the handling of AMFO's (Antillean Co Financing Organisation) accounting as "jiggery-pokery" and confirmed that an annual budget of 9.5 million euros (US$11.2m) has been suspended until all monies given to AMFO could be properly accounted for.

AMFO is responsible for distributing funds for social projects designed to alleviate poverty and promote culture, throughout the Antilles, which also includes providing money for school meals for the islands' poorest children.

The problem for Holland is that AMFO's directors are appointed by project organisations on each of the 5 islands, known as "Platforms" and so cannot be held accountable to the Dutch Government and, although their bookkeeping is questionable, the individuals who form the supervisory board are beyond reproach and can be neither fired nor suspended.

The current structure of how the funds are distributed to the NGOs in the region was created four years ago and it was decided that the then 1,000 plus NGOs who were requesting financial support directly from Holland should be consolidated into independently run "Platforms".
These Platform companies fall under the supervisory control of AMFO, who in turn would approve necessary funds for the various project proposals.

Holland has now demanded that an emergency operational audit be carried out of AMFO's bookkeeping prior to releasing more funds, as well as the total reorganisation of AMFO's current management board that is directly responsible for the current lack of financial control.

It is considered by the Dutch government, given AMFO's uncertain position, that this entire process is likely to take some time. But the victims of this financial debacle are the islands' neediest groups.

Catering companies providing school meals say the situation for them is desperate, as there is only sufficient funding for the next four weeks. This was confirmed by Curacao's Platform manager Mr Doran.

If money is not made available, the kitchens will be unable to supply hot school meals for its poorest children and many other projects including youth programmes, and services for the elderly will simply fold.

When questioned about Holland's moral obligation to continue to fund these small projects, their representative, who asked not to be named, hinted at the possibility of temporarily by-passing AMFO by working in collaboration with an intermediary management team, to temporally fund existing projects, but stopped short of making any promises about the future of the projects involved.

The representative added that Mr Pechthold, the Antillean interior minister in Holland, could not jeopardise his political position for what clearly would appear as unlawful support of AMFO's financial ineptitude.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News


Firm conditions for debt restructuring

Thursday, February 16, 2006

CURACAO – The Upper and Lower House state inextricable conditions for the next Round Table Conference. Both parliaments are willing to come to a form of debt restructuring, only when further interpretation is given to crucial tasks like maintenance of law and order, effective financial supervision, and sound government in the Statute. A well supported motion with this implication was proposed in the Upper House last night and two Lower House motions will follow tonight, when the members will meet to discuss the closing statement of the Start Round Table Conference (Start-RTC).

One of the motions has more or less the same implication of the Upper House motion, but it goes one step further. Before March 15th, the government has to indicate which are the tasks of the Realm in the new situation; what will the interpretation be for realm-island; and prove that the ‘national government’ status for St. Maarten is ‘desirable and sound’. Minister Alexander Pechtold of Kingdom Relations (D66) must also indicate how the collaborations should be, and which regulations have to be adjusted. The motion has a majority of the VVD, CDA, LPF, and SGP and will pass. Ruud Luchtenveld (VVD): “The precondition for a new political structure is that it is efficient and workable, but must also offer guarantee for an adequate persuasion of government duties and maintenance of law and order. It should also be clear that the Netherlands does not assume the debts of the Antilles.” He says that refinancing under the declining of the authority to take out new debts can be considered.

He furthermore announced that he will propose a motion in which the government is requested to also discuss the admittance regulations for underprivileged Antillean young persons in the coming RTC. This motion has no majority yet, but is supported by the LPF and Luchtenveld hopes to get more support during the debate. After all, many Dutch cities are being faced with the ‘consequences of underprivileged young persons that come to the Netherlands’ and the motion Sterk was therefore already passed in the Lower House in December 2004. “Besides, the Antilleans’ share in the criminality statistics is very high.”

During the handling of chapter IV (Kingdom Relations) of the budget, minister Pechtold had a lot to endure last night in the normally quiet Senate. The Netherlands is way too nice, said the D66-party. “The Dutch cabinet has to take charge more aggressively and rule crystal clear and unambiguous. Up till now, the cabinet has been diplomatically very sensitive and especially was keeping good relationships. That strategy does not work.”

The debate that started at 13:30 lasted till 01:30 after midnight. “This is the first time that there was a fundamental discussion about the Realm in the Upper House”, said Egbert Schuurman (ChristenUnie), who proposed the motion. The Dutch government is indeed busy with the political changes in a controlling and procedural manner, but has not made it clear to the parliamentarians what her own opinion is. What is the Kingdom, what does it mean for the Statute? We have asked the government not to reassess or renew the Statute, but to come up with a completely new Statute that is adjusted to the demands of this era.”

© Copyright 2001, Amigoe.com.

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