25 November 2015

French court in French Polynesia hears nuclear test victims case


The Court of Appeal in French Polynesia has heard the case of two former nuclear test workers who claim they experienced health problems after being exposed to radiation from French nuclear weapons testing at Mururoa.

The case has been subject to a number of appeals since the case was brought in 2009.

The head of the nuclear test veterans organisation Mururoa e tatou, Roland Oldham, says the process for the veterans has been very slow, and one the workers involved in the case has died.

He says he is confident the case will be found in favour of the victims.

“Because the Centre of Atomic Energy didn't bring up any new proof. It is just the strategy of the French government as usual, to drag on and drag on and drag on and drag on. Because in between as I say, one of the workers is dead. The other one is still alive, but just.”

Roland Oldham says the Court of Appeal is expected to deliver its verdict in February.

He says of 900 workers who have been affected by nuclear testing, only 16 have been compensated.


24 November 2015


UK seeks to increase - not decrease - its powers 
in the British-administered dependency

By anguillian

Independence – a word that evokes a myriad of emotions in people across Anguilla. This is the word that has grown in popularity over the past few days as news spread across Anguilla – and has reached the media – that the British Government is seeking to increase the powers of the Governor and appoint a Financial Adviser, steps which will essentially undermine the authority of our own democratically elected Government. 

When I learnt of this proposal, I was immediately reminded of the circumstances that surrounded the expulsion of Mr William Whitlock (a British Junior Minister who came to Anguilla on 11th March 1969) after just a few hours on island. On his arrival Mr Whitlock snubbed the Anguillian leaders. Even The Times of London reported that:

“One has the feeling that those responsible for deciding policy have completely lacked an imaginative insight into the minds of the people with whom they are dealing…There has been a failure of psychological appraisal …. Mr Whitlock, in particular, seems to have behaved with pompous condescension and insulted the actual leaders of the Anguillian community…”

Forty six years later, and it seems that the British Government has again failed to conduct a proper “psychological appraisal”. Again, the British Government has snubbed – “insulted” – our leaders by having the audacity to present the most retrogressive proposal we have seen in decades. I cannot imagine that any Government, or any self-respecting people, will roll over and play dead when confronted with this preposterous proposal/intention.

Back in 1969, Revolutionary Leader Mr James Ronald Webster, angered by Mr Whitlock’s disrespect, told Mr Whitlock that it was in his best interest to leave the island because “I can no longer guarantee your safety”. While I do not advocate the use of violent means to get our message across to the British Government, our Government and people must take a firm stance on this matter. 

Many have said that we need to go independent immediately. However, I do not believe independence is the sort of thing that a country should do hurriedly and especially when emotions are “running high”. It requires serious thought and extensive planning. I therefore do not advocate independence as the answer to this current proposal. I do believe, however, that we should move the independence discussion forward on our development agenda rather than seeing it, as many do, as an unrealistic dream.

What is more important at this time is for us, as an entire country, to resist this move, by the British Government, to increase the powers of the Governor and appoint a Financial Adviser. This is no time to play politics, to call for the Chief Minister’s resignation or new elections. Now is not the time to cast blame and quarrel amongst ourselves as to why this is happening. It is the time, however, to make our voices heard loud and clear that we will not allow this to happen in our country. We have to be united in our stance to move Anguilla more towards a state of self-governance rather than sinking further beneath the ancient yoke of colonialism.

While the question of independence should not be removed from the table altogether, we should not allow these considerations to cloud our judgment at this time. We should give our Government the support it needs to ensure that the British Government’s proposal does not become a reality – does not see the light of day. After all, what is the point of electing our own Government if it is rendered powerless? I am willing to take a stand for Anguilla, for democracy and for our right to self-determination. Are you?

23 November 2015


In this week’s press conference, Chief Minister the Honourable Victor Banks shared with the press a letter he recently penned to UK Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron, in relation to the lack of development assistance for Anguilla. In his letter, the Honourable Chief Minister highlighted the fact that the UK Government is investing heavily in the Caribbean region, but none of that investment is earmarked for Anguilla. 

Yet the UK Government is seeking to enhance the “powers for the UKG’s representative on the island to veto financial and other decisions of the Elected Representatives of the People of Anguilla”, the Chief Minister wrote. In the view of the Chief Minister such measures are demeaning and inconsistent with partnership and the democratic process. It appears to be for these reasons that the Chief Minister wrote: “Prime Minister, we are at a defining moment in the UK – Anguilla relationship”. Though simply put, these words are profound. The Chief Minister has in effect put the UK Prime Minister on notice that how the UK Government chooses to deal with Anguilla, now that he (the Chief Minister) has laid out his concerns and advanced a request for assistance from the UK Government, will either make or break the relationship between the UK and Anguilla.

In my view, succinctly put, the Chief Minister is right. The UK Government has shown scant regard for the wellbeing of the people of Anguilla. They have chosen to use the excuse of Anguilla’s “GDP per capita” to justify their actions or inactions. This suggests to me that all Anguilla is to the UK Government is “figures on paper”. Surely, Her Excellency the Governor must have advised the UK Government that, despite those figures, Anguilla’s infrastructural needs are vast. Surely, the Governor who has lived among us for some time, must have advised the UK Government that Anguillians are a proud people who are used to difficult times, who have overcome drought and famine on this rock (when the solution of the British Government was to move us to British Guyana), who are enterprising and resilient and, quite frankly, would not ask the UK Government for a dime unless we felt that we had no other option. 

Surely, visiting officials from the UK Government must have advised the UK Government that what is on paper and what exists in reality is fundamentally different. One can only conclude that such advice has been ignored and that the UK Government is simply not interested in assisting Anguilla. This conclusion is cemented by the fact that the UK Prime Minister recently flew over Anguilla (and other OTs) on his visit to various islands of the Caribbean, making announcements of development assistance. That the Prime Minister did not deem it sufficiently important to visit his OTs and get a firsthand view of our realities, is a slap in the face of our people which, I hope, awakens us from our slumber.

It is apparent that the only interest the UK Government has in Anguilla is to ensure that Anguilla does not become a burden to them. They are prepared to be oppressive in order to ensure that this does not happen. This has been made abundantly clear by the UK Government’s response to Anguilla’s current dilemma: The Draft Anguilla Public Finance Order 2015. This Draft Order in Council has disregarded the Anguilla Constitution, our supreme law, and will in effect amend our Constitution without actually going through the amendment process and without our input. 

The Anguilla Constitution currently sets out how executive and legislative authority is to be exercised in Anguilla. It gives significant powers to the Governor including the reserve power to pass legislation that was introduced to the House of Assembly and not passed. Under the current Constitution, the Governor can refuse to assent to legislation, return bills to the House for amendment – and the UK Secretary of State can disallow bills (ie. annul laws passed by the House of Assembly). One would think that the provisions in the current Constitution (as outdated as they are) provide sufficient safeguards for the protection of the UK Government’s self-interests. However, the Draft Order in Council seeks to increase those powers to give the Governor the unilateral authority, among several other things, to:

1. Enact legislation dealing with fiscal matters without that legislation going through any process in the House of Assembly and without consultation. If the Governor so decides, our Government and people will therefore have no voice in what becomes law in relation Anguilla’s finances.

2. Appoint a Chief Financial Adviser “whose office shall be a public office.” I am subject to correction, but this suggests that the Chief Financial Adviser will be paid by the Government of Anguilla as would any other public officer. Imagine having to pay for the whip used to give us licks. However, it is clear that the Chief Financial Adviser is no ordinary public officer, but rather a spy sent by the UK Government to assist the Governor to keep an eye on Anguilla’s tax-payers money, tell us how to spend it, and to do their bidding for he or she “has to comply with any directions given …by the Governor”. Additionally, the functions of the Chief Financial Adviser will be prescribed by order of the Governor and published in the gazette (which means given legislative teeth without having to pass through the legislative process in House of Assembly and therefore without input from elected representatives) which is certainly not the usual course for someone holding a public office. 

It is interesting to note that in at least one other OT, their Constitution was amended to set out the duties of the UK imposed Chief Financial Officer. We certainly do not want constitutional change of this nature, but we must wonder whether the UK is seeking to entrench the powers of the Chief Financial Adviser in our governance framework more craftily. While we are not privy to the proposed powers of the Chief Financial Adviser, we know for certain that the Chief Financial Adviser will have significant clout because the Governor is bound to consult him or her (not consult the Chief Minister or even the Attorney General) before making legislative proposals to Executive Council.

3. Direct Ministers of Government and the Parliamentary Secretary on matters related to Anguilla’s financial obligations, which they will be legally bound to comply with. In other words, override the decisions of our elected representatives and impose what the UK Government thinks is in its best interest even if it is detrimental to the people and future development of Anguilla.

4. Dissolve any board and reconstitute them as he/she sees fit. Again, this gives the power to in effect exercise ultimate and unfettered control over the governance of Anguilla and any public institution.

I could go on, but I trust that the point has been made.

We are truly at a defining moment in our relationship with the UK. It is clear that the UK Government does not see Anguilla as an asset, but rather as a liability. Whether or not the UK Government assists Anguilla, as requested by the Chief Minister, there is absolutely no justification for the oppressive and demeaning stance that the UK Government is taking in relation to Anguilla. The UK Government, which is supposed to be a bastion of democracy, is in effect proposing to render useless the democratic process through which we have elected successive Governments. What is the point of electing a Government which does not have the power to direct the financial affairs of the country? Isn’t this what makes the country turn? How ironic is it that the UK has fought wars to promote and protect democracy around the world and yet is seeking to undermine the democratic systems and structures operating in its own OTs? The UK Government should be seeking to establish a more progressive relationship with Anguilla, not one which strips our people of dignity and respect and makes our leaders powerless.

I would think that in this century, the UK Government would be more interested in providing the assistance needed to empower its OTs, revamping Constitutions so that they reflect more responsibility for self-governance, helping OTs to build resilient economies and promoting the bio-diversity of the OTs as an asset to the UK – rather than adopting an unreasonable, unjustifiable and tyrannical position that can only stunt the development of OTs and particularly Anguilla. We can only hope that the Chief Minister’s letter to Prime Minister Cameron does not go unheeded. His response will surely determine our next move.

22 November 2015

Bandung at 60: New Insights and Emerging Forces

Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África

The Bandung Spirit

Ebrima Sall

Executive Secretary

The Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung in April 1955 was a turning point in world history. It marked the birth of the Non-Aligned Movement, and what has come to be known as the ‘Bandung Spirit’ was an expression of the determination of the peoples of the South to fight colonialism and all forms of foreign domination, as well as racial, gender, and other forms of inequality, and bring about sustainable, people-centered development.

The 1955 conference brought together representatives of 29 countries, mainly from Asia (including Japan and China), and Africa (from where the following countries were represented: Egypt – represented by Nasser himself; Gold Coast/Ghana – represented by Kojo Botsio; Ethiopia; Liberia, Libya, and Sudan), and several observer countries. Former Yugoslavia was also represented by Tito. Soekarno, the then president of Indonesia, was the host. In April 2015, on the invitation of the Indonesian government, 119 countries were represented at a commemorative conference held in Jakarta and Bandung.

In October 2015 another commemorative conference was held in Jakarta and Bandung. The debates at this conference were more scholarly, and participants included many scholars and activists from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This conference was structured around the following themes, reflecting dimensions of the diversity of life: culture, ecology, economy, politics, religion; and two cross-cutting themes which are history and gender. CODESRIA was one of the co-organising institutions, and was represented at the conference by Professor Fatima Harrak, immediate past President of CODESRIA, and I. 

Ahead of the conference, a selection of the conference papers were published in a book titled Bandung at 60: New Insights and Emerging Forces edited by Darwis Khoduri. CODESRIA is one of the co-publishers, and the book was launched at the conference.

The conference was held at three venues: (i) at the LIPPI (the Indonesian Research Council) headquarters in Jakarta; (ii) in the same hall where the 1955 conference was held in Bandung; and (iii) at Trisakti University in Jakarta.

The discussions were scholarly, but sometimes took on a militant tone, partly because of the participation of activists in the conference. This mix of academic and activist perspectives is also reflected in the framing of the declaration that was issued at the end.

The conclusions reached and the decisions taken include the following:
  • The need to keep the Bandung Spirit alive and well, building on the rich heritage of the many years of struggles of the peoples of the South, while promoting an understanding of the spirit in today’s terms: as a quest for emancipation for the peoples of the Global South, and an aspiration for global transformation towards global justice and, in the words of Manoranjan Mohanty (who was at the conference), a Global Swaraj ; it is the same spirit that led to, and has, over the years been driving the World Social Forums and struggles for freedom and for a better world; it is also the spirit behind the creation of organisations and networks such as CODESRIA, CLACSO, and IDEAs;
  • Bring Latin America and the Caribbean into the ‘Bandung Movement’, and explore possibilities for holding similar conferences in Latin America and Africa;
  • Strengthen research and academic cooperation across the Global South within the framework of a Bandung Studies Programme.

A lot has changed in the world since the Asian-African conference was held in 1955. The Cold War is over. Colonialism in its crude forms has been abolished (although a blatant form of 'new millennium colonialism' prevails in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific - OTR). But there are many old and new challenges, many new frontiers, and many battles to be fought at all levels – from the very local to the global. 

The “Bandung Spirit” must therefore stay alive and well. The Bandung+60 Declaration speaks to some of the contemporary challenges that the peoples of the Global South are facing (that include the global inequalities of power and the ecological challenges), and calls for Asian-African-Latin American solidarity.

20 November 2015

Okinawa Governor rejects national government’s calls for a retraction of his withdrawal of base landfill approval

Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Governor rejects national government’s calls for a retraction of his withdrawal of base landfill approval
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga announced that he had sent a document rejecting the national government's recommendation that he repeal his revocation of Henoko landfill at 10:30 a.m. on November 6 at the prefectural government building.Ryukyu Shimpo
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga sent a document to the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii, conveying his rejection of the national government’s recommendation that he retract his revocation of the landfill permit for a new military base in Henoko, Nago. The governments of Japan and the United States plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corp Air Station in Ginowan to Camp Schwab in Henoko, including building a runway on reclaimed land on Oura Bay.
Governor Onaga said at a news conference held on the same day, “I cannot follow the recommendation by the national government. I believe the revocation is legal.”
The land minister is likely to bring the case to the high court at the end of this month alleging the governor’s decision to revoke the landfill is illegal based on a subrogation clause in the Local Government Act.
The prefectural government sent an open letter to the land minister on November 6 asking five questions regarding what it claimed were inconsistent decisions made by him. The questions include: “Why did the land minister identify the defense ministry’s Okinawa bureau as a private individual entity when the bureau filed an appeal against the decision made by the governor, while the minister referred to the bureau as an administrative agency in a subrogation proceeding?” The prefectural government has requested a response from the land ministry to the questions to be provided by November 13.
It is unusual for a prefectural government to send an open letter to a national government minister in Japan.
The prefectural government’s lawyers revealed at the news conference that the governor will outline his argument in a verbal testimony to be given at the high court next week.
The governor said, “The director of the Okinawa Defense Bureau and the land minister are selectively using their titles according to their convenience. The national government has installed many riot police officers from Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department at Henoko. They are trying to force the relocation project by their bare knuckles.
The government should not just say perfunctory words but perform its duty and give clear explanations to citizens.”
Regarding a recent controversy involving an environmental oversight panel set up by the defense bureau receiving donations from contractors involved in the Henoko relocation project, the governor said, “It has deepened the suspicion of citizens over the project.”
(English translation by T&CT)

19 November 2015

Spain expects Catalonia to back off on independence proposal

VALLETTA – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy assured on Thursday that he will not “look the other way” if the decision of the Spanish constitutional court to suspend the independence proposal of Catalonia is ignored, and considers that there is no reason to take exceptional measures now.

Rajoy delivered his statements in a news conference at the end of the summit on migration held in the Maltese capital Valletta, which was attended by leaders and the heads of states of European Union member states, as well as the heads of 30 African countries.

The prime minister stressed the support he enjoys from the majority of Spain’s political parties if any action needs to be taken in the future to respond to any potential disobedience against the constitutional court’s decision.

However, he emphasized that no measures would be taken if the law of the country was respected.

Rajoy delivered these statements following the decision of the Spanish constitutional court to suspend, temporarily and immediately, the independence proposal of Catalonia, which was approved on Monday by the parliament of the autonomous region, so the proposal is considered null and void.

All members of the constitutional court accepted the appeal submitted a few hours ago by the central Spanish government to halt the process of the Catalan independence.

Judges are expected to take up to a maximum period of five months to discuss the matter and make a decision regarding the constitutionality of the Catalan proposal.

With 72 voting in favor out of 135 MPs attending Monday’s session, the legislative house of Catalonia approved a text, according to which measures of passing “laws of the constitutional process, social security and public finances” will begin within a period of 30 days, which brings forward the basis of the creation of the new Republic of Catalonia.

18 November 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Pivot and Pathway

The TPP and its corresponding and supporting military "pivot" have been impacting the lives of Pacific peoples for years through military-industrial buildups, the removal of indigenous self-determination, environmental degradation and wealth extraction.

Negotiations recently concluded for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam (read it here). The TPP will increase trade and investment, establish uniform rules for commerce, and remove “barriers to profit,” such as financial regulations, labor unions, environmental legislation, product and food safety laws, indigenous rights, and other protections. 

While analysts highlight how the TPP will impact the future, this editorial foregrounds how the TPP negotiations over the past decade have already affected the Mariana Islands, Hawaiʻi, and Pacific maritime territories.


St. Croix commemorates defence of indigenous peoples against European invaders

Island Observes 522nd Anniversary of First European Encounter

St. Croix Source

Each year the National Park Service commemorates the “Cape of the Arrows” encounter, when Amerindian Virgin Islanders defended their lands, culture and people, killing two members of Christopher Columbus’ expeditionary force on Nov. 14, 1493, at Salt River Bay, St. Croix.

This year the St. Croix community is invited to a public lecture, interactive cultural education exhibition and the reopening of the Salt River Bay Visitor Contact Station above Columbus Landing from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14.

The NPS is working with the V.I. Caribbean Cultural Center at the University of the Virgin Islands, the Friends of the National Park and a growing circle of community supporters to coordinate this event. This year’s commemoration will include an interactive art and history exhibition with workshops by the “Roots Alive Cultural Arts Program.” 

Visitors can see cultural education exhibitions and digital video presentations. NPS representatives and volunteers will be onsite to teach about Salt River’s ecology and history, all on the 522nd anniversary of the first recorded European encounter on St. Croix, once known by its indigenous people as “Ay Ay.”

Visitors are invited to see and create art with the “Living Cultural Heritage Arts Make & Take Station of Ay Ay.” Also on display will be an exhibit that demonstrates the development of Amerindian villages across the Caribbean developed by Joshua Torres, former St. Croix NPS cultural resource program manager, and other indigenous heritage arts and history.

At 6 p.m. there will be an interactive panel on indigenous Amerindian people, arts, education, culture, heritage and identity. The panelists invited to host the discussion include Gerville Larsen, vice chair of the V.I. Centennial Commission; Chenzira Davis Kahina, director of UVI-VI Caribbean Cultural Center; Olasee Davis, senior research specialist of UVI-Cooperative Extension Service; and Maria Stiles and Rosaura Perez Rivera of Roots Alive Cultural Arts.

The panel presentation will include a site tour followed by traditional cultural arts performance. Light refreshments will be served.

17 November 2015

U.S. Military admits Venezuelan Airspace Violations from Curacao

FOL Base

WILLEMSTAD, WASHINGTON – A spokesman for the U.S. Consulate in Curaçao confirms that on Friday, November 6 an aircraft of the Forward Operation Location (FOL) stationed on the island violated the Venezuelan airspace.

“An aircraft dash-8 inadvertently flew into Venezuelan airspace on a counter-drug mission, which is the only mission the FOL has. This has happened because of a navigation error,” said the spokesman.

The Venezuelan Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino said that during a 30-minute period the plane twice entered Venezuelan airspace over the tiny archipelago of Los Monjes on Friday while performing what appeared to be a reconnaissance mission in the Gulf of Venezuela, which is also bounded by Colombia.

The incident was reported by Caracas but was denied by the Americans in the first instance.

Venezuela Accuses United States of Violating Airspace

"The use of Curacao for such incursions of Venezuelan airspace, ostensibly to counter drug trafficking from South America, is seen by many observers as a means to harass the Maduro Government in Caracas. Such foreign military activity, allowed by the Dutch which receives financial compensation, appears to exceed the powers of the Dutch Government in the defence of autonomous Curacao. Whose defence issue is it anyhow?" - a Latin American expert



Caracas, (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Venezuelan government has accused the United States of violating its airspace after a US intelligence plane is alleged to have flown over northern Venezuelan territory this past Friday. 

According to declarations made by Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez on Sunday, the plane’s pilots failed to notify Venezuelan aeronautical authorities of their presence or intended trajectory. 

The Dash-8 bombardier plane is reported to have taken off at the Hato airbase in the nearby Caribbean island of Curacao before circulating in Venezuelan airspace just off Los Monjes islands. 

“Forty-eight hours ago, an intelligence plane of the United States coastguard made an incursion into our region of flight information,” stated Lopez.

“It made a surveillance sweep, it circulated south of Los Monjes in the gulf of Venezuela. At 12.35 it carried out circular search flight manoeuvres, and continued South… leaving our region of detection and our contact radar,” he continued. 

While the Dash 8 is principally designed as a small commercial airplane, it can also be adapted for intelligence uses. In April 2015, the US army announced that it would purchase six modified versions of the jet, specifically the “Saturn Arch” and “Desert Owl” models. 

The jets can be equipped with foliage and ground penetrating radar, digital mapping and high resolution infrared imaging. They are mainly used for surveillance, intelligence collection and the detection of threats. 

“This jet was equipped with a multi-use radar for maritime surveillance, a receptor and transmission system with a signal processor and an electro-optic thermal energy detector for the creation of images,” said Lopez. 

In other comments, the minister also confirmed that another US intelligence plane, model RC-135, had come “unusually” close to Venezuelan airspace after departing from Nebraska. 

According to the military chief, the Venezuelan armed forces will be particularly “alert” during the upcoming parliamentary elections on December 6th, when he expects increased US aircraft presence near to Venezuela. 

“Without wanting to cause alarm, the aircraft carrier which left California a few days ago and which has navigated the waters of the Panama Pacific headed towards the south, coincidentally that aircraft carrier, which is accompanied by a combat fleet, will be very near to Venezuelan coasts on the day of the parliamentary elections,” stated Lopez. 

It is not the first time that a US aircraft has been accused of intruding onto Venezuelan territory. In May 2009, then Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez reported that a US warplane had violated Venezuelan airspace after taking off from Curacao

The report fuelled rumours that the US was planning an aggression against Venezuela from the Dutch Antilles. 

Friday’s intrusion was publicly condemned by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro this weekend, who confirmed that his government will lodge an official complaint over the incident with international organisations such as the United Nations and the CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). 

He went on to describe the event as the latest in a string of “provocations” from the US, which is a longtime opponent of Venezuela’s leftwing government. 

Earlier in 2015, the Barack Obama administration used a presidential decree to officially designate the country as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security”.

“The entire country should be united around rejecting these unusual and extraordinary threats from the US,” retaliated Maduro. 

The Venezuelan president is due to speak at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council this coming Thursday.