30 April 2013

Anguilla Chief Minister wants 2013 referendum on political status

The  Anguillian Newspaper online

CM HUGHES HAS TWO QUESTIONS FOR ANGUILLIANS: “Do You Want Complete Internal Self-Government Or Independence?”

Chief Minister Hubert Hughes
Chief Minister Hubert Hughes

Chief Minister Hubert Hughes said he had been so busy these days that issues such as a referendum and independence were not spoken about by him recently.

Speaking in a Radio Anguilla interview on April 10, Mr. Hughes told Keithstone Greaves: “I have been so busy with several other things, but I have the constitution ready. I want to ask the people of Anguilla two questions – one or the other: whether they want complete internal self-government at this time or whether they want complete independence.

“I intend to have a referendum to that extent – although Mr. Ronald Webster told me if I want independence I don’t need a referendum because that was agreed before. Bernice Lake also reiterated that. We do not have to go for a referendum on independence. But because there are certain people who say it is better to have complete self-government, I like to be democratic. I like the people to decide.

“I would like to formulate a paper which is based on two options: complete internal self-government or independence.”

The Chief Minister said he would like to embark on that way forward “by the end of the year at least.” He emphasised: “Before the end of 2013 I would like to see that referendum. I think a lot of work has been done already. The British Government is fully acquainted with what we have been doing and it wouldn’t take long to go to the House of Assembly and to go to London…

“We have been trying our best. We have gone around trying to educate the people. I went around with the Government delegation –Osbourne Fleming and his team…trying to educate the people on the question of constitutional advance. 

Even at that time Osbourne Fleming had agreed on complete internal self-government because Bernice Lake was one of his advisers. She advised on it and we went along with it. So I don’t think the process should take too long. By the end of the year we should be able to go for a referendum on one of those two choices.”

29 April 2013

Behind The North Korean Crisis

                                Dennis Bernstein

An interview with Christine Hong, one of the foremost authorities on Korea.

"...war doesn’t just get conducted on the level of battles or simulated battles. It gets conducted on terrain of information...the U.S. would secure so many gains were it seriously to consider peace."


DB: There’s a lot of disinformation and patriotic reporting coming out of the U.S. Why don’t you tell us what is going on right now. What is the situation and how dangerous is it?

CH: You put your finger on it. All we see is media reporting that singularly ascribes blame to North Korea, which is portrayed as a kind of unquestionable evil, so what the U.S. is doing in response to the supposed provocation seems eminently justified. I think we are in a crisis point. It doesn’t feel dissimilar to the kind of media rhetoric that surrounded the run-up to the U.S. invasion in Iraq. During that time also, there was a steady drumbeat to war. …


If we were to look at the facts, what do those facts tell us? I will give one example of the inverted logic that is operative, coming out of the media and U.S. administration. In a recent Pentagon press conference, [Defense Secretary] Chuck Hagel was asked whether or not the U.S. sending D2 stealth bombers from Missouri to fly and conduct a sortie over South Korea and drop what the DOD calls inert munitions in a simulated run against North Korea could be understood as provocative. He said no, they can’t be understood as provocative. And it was dutifully reported as such.

Read the full article in THE HAWAII INDEPENDENT

27 April 2013

"Europe Meets the Americas Business Conference" scheduled for Aruba

Caribbean Central American Action

Dear Colleague: 
CCAA is pleased to inform you share with you an invitation to "Europe Meets the Americas", an event hosted by the Government of Aruba. Please see the letter and included links for details on registration and other information.
Caribbean-Central American Action

"Europe Meets the Americas"
6-8 May 2013
Dear Madam/Sir,

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to the first annual "Europe Meets the Americas Business Conference" to be held on May 6th, 7th, and 8th, 2013 in Aruba.

South America's economy is booming. This means that South America's commerce and industry is flourishing and the buying power of approximately 500 million people will grow. South America is and will remain a significant growth point which, regarding culture and perception, leans closer to Europe than to China or India.

For trade to and from South America, Aruba is the perfect gateway, and The Netherlands shares and supports this endeavor. To this means both countries signed a cooperation protocol in 2011. This strong troika of two strategic gateways between these two continents is absolutely unique and gives both countries an important lead on the competition.

As a gateway, Aruba can assume various roles, such as a business meeting place, a stepping stone to Latin America or to Europe, a showcase, a knowledge hub, or a center for supporting services.

This conference will provide a platform for companies from both Europe and the Americas to connect with each other. The main focus will be on sustainable technology, logistics, retail, and business and professional services. The three-day program will provide valuable information on the opportunities within the different continents and regions, presented by prominent international speakers.

For more information, please visit our website http://www.eumeetsamericas.comTo register, simply Click Here.  

Warmest regards,
Europe Meets the Americas Team 

26 April 2013

Virgin Islands International Finance Centre launches new website in response to recent media reports


Territory's Premier aggressively defends financial service sector

The British Virgin Islands International Finance Centre (BVIIFC) has launched a stand alone micro-website, ‘BVIfacts.info’, as a direct response to those reports.

International media interest has been generated as a result of the recent leak of confidential data from two trust companies connected to the BVI; information which was then passed on to selected media groups around the world.

Executive Director of the BVI IFC, Ms. Elise Donovan, told the Department of Information and Public Relations that her department launched the website in order to correct any misleading information being propagated in relation to the data leak.

“It is very important that we set the record straight on a number of key issues. While it is encouraging to see that some of the media reports have been balanced, misinformation is being published which we felt ought to be clearly addressed,” Ms. Donovan said.

The executive director added, “We are confident that this website will help us convey the highly positive role the BVI plays in the global economy as well as the strength of the services we provide, the breadth of our business base, and the world-class level of our legislation.”

In addressing Government’s stance on the recent media reports, Ms. Donovan said, “The BVI takes its reputation very seriously indeed. We abhor the use of private information that has been leaked and disseminated to the media. We strive to adhere and adapt to best-practice standards at all times.”

She continued, “It is our confidence in ensuring the jurisdiction stays current with international standards that has allowed us to maintain the view that the BVI now rivals, and in many cases, exceeds the regulatory standards of many onshore jurisdictions, particularly in the fight against financial crime.”

Referencing the information that can be found on the new site, Ms. Donovan said, “The site contains succinct facts about the BVI, along with other relevant collateral, and will grow and develop as an official resource base for all stakeholders.”

Ms. Donovan also said that anyone viewing the site should note based on the information contained on the site that the BVI is not a secrecy jurisdiction, demonstrated by the various agreements, regulatory bodies and legislations with which the BVI has signed on to, or to which the Territory is presently associated.

For example, the site contains information on the BVI’s 2002 agreement for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) principles of Transparency, Accountability and information exchange as they relate to tax matters.

As a member of the OECD Global Forum, the jurisdiction has signed 22 tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) and continues to negotiate with more than 10 other countries. In addition, the BVI shares information when legitimate requests are
made by the relevant treaty partners. The first TIEA BVI signed was in 2002 was with the USA.

Another fact highlighted on BVIfacts.info is the 1999 introduction of anti-money laundering (AML) legislation. The BVI was one of the first jurisdictions to do so and has implemented comprehensive AML laws and adopts stringent rules on know-your-customer
due diligence consistent with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) 40 + 9 recommendations.

The website also highlights BVI’s compliance to international standards; as recognised by the governments of several G8 and G20 countries, and by international organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), FATF, Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the OECD.

Lastly, BVIfacts.info speaks to the progressive discussions on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the BVI’s commitment to concluding FATCA negotiations with the US Treasury and entering into a similar arrangement with the UK

The BVI International Finance Centre promotes the Territory as a preeminent financial services jurisdiction, while protecting the BVI industry’s reputation worldwide.

25 April 2013

Promotion of Pacific Plan central to public ownership in Niue

Press Statement
Pacific Islands Forum

Niue public consultations, Pacific Plan Review
CAPTION: Mr Redley Killion (third from left) and Dr Nick Poletti (centre) of the Pacific Plan Review team met with members of the public at an open consultation session in Niue this week

Promoting the Pacific Plan to all levels of society is central to generating a sense of public ownership of the Pacific Plan. This was a key message highlighted during Pacific Plan Review consultations held in Niue.

At the Review team’s first general public consultation to date, a small but vocal group of Niue citizens voiced the view that the Pacific Plan should be better promoted among all citizens, not only among government officials.

Former Niue MP and Public Service Commissioner, Ms Esther Pavihi, said there was a need for greater understanding of the Pacific Plan among the general public. She also noted that the regional Plan could support national interests.

“But the issue of regionalism versus national interests and the role of the Pacific Plan in addressing this remains unclear,” she added.

During the public consultation, there was general interest in what the Pacific Plan had achieved since it was adopted by Forum Leaders in 2005, and how those achievements had impacted on Niue as a Smaller Island State.

Several participants suggested that a regional mechanism was needed to ensure decisions made at the highest regional level on the Pacific Plan were measurable. They also proposed that those making such decisions should be held to account for them.

The Pacific Plan Review team in Niue, comprising country official Mr Redley Killion, deputizing for Review Chair SirMekere Morauta, KCMG, and consultant Dr Nick Poletti, also meet this week with Members of Parliament, heads of Government departments, representatives from the private sector, and civil society organisations, culminating in a final meeting with members of Cabinet and the Premier, Hon. Toke Talagi.

For further information please email PacificPlanMedia@forumsec.org.fj

24 April 2013

Union of South American States, Non Aligned Movement endorse Venezuelan election results

Declaración del Consejo de Jefes y Jefas de Estado y de Gobierno de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR)

Declaración del Consejo de Jefes y Jefas de Estado y de Gobierno de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR)Declaración del Consejo de Jefes y Jefas de Estado y de Gobierno de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR)
El Consejo de Jefes y Jefas de Estado y de Gobierno de UNASUR, reunidos en sesión extraordinaria en Lima:

1.- Expresan su felicitación al pueblo venezolano por su masiva participación en la elección presidencial del 14 de abril último, que ratifica su vocación democrática y saluda al Presidente Nicolás Maduro por los resultados de los comicios y su elección como Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela.

2.- Insta a todos los sectores que participaron en el proceso electoral a respetar los resultados oficiales de la elección presidencial emanados del Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), autoridad venezolana competente en la materia.

3.- Ratifica en la línea de lo señalado en la Declaración de la Misión Electoral de UNASUR a Venezuela del 15 de abril último, que todo reclamo, cuestionamiento o procedimiento extraordinario que solicite algunos de los participantes del proceso electoral, deberá ser canalizado y resuelto dentro del ordenamiento jurídico vigente y la voluntad democrática de las partes. En tal sentido, toma nota positiva de la decisión del Consejo Nacional Electoral de implementar una metodología que permita la auditoría del total de las mesas electorales.

4.- Hace un llamado a deponer toda actitud o acto de violencia que ponga en riesgo la paz social del país y expresa su solidaridad con los heridos y las familias de las víctimas fatales del 15 de abril del 2013. Invoca asimismo al diálogo y a contribuir a preservar un clima de tolerancia en beneficio de todo el pueblo venezolano.

5.- Acuerda la designación de una comisión de UNASUR para acompañar la investigación de los hechos violentos del 15 de abril del 2013.


Statement from Movement of
Non-Aligned Countries Coordinating Bureau on elections in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries Coordinating Bureau salutes the elections held in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, April 14, 2013, which were characterized by massive participation and conducted transparently in a climate of democracy.
The members of our Movement congratulate President Nicolás Maduro Moros for his election and express our confidence that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will continue to contribute, during his administration, to the consolidation of unity within the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and to the struggle which together we have undertaken to protect its principles.
The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries Coordinating Bureau calls for the preservation of a climate of peace, tolerance and harmony among Venezuelans and an end to all acts of violence.

New York, April, 17, 2013  

22 April 2013

The "Bossman" Richie Havens joins the ancestors

Follow - Richie Havens

Let the river rock you like a cradle
Climb to the treetops, child, if you're able
Let your hands tie a knot across the table.
Come and touch the things you cannot feel.

And close your fingertips and fly where I can't hold you
Let the sun-rain fall and let the dewy clouds enfold you
And maybe you can sing to me the words I just told you,
If all the things you feel ain't what they seem.
And don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream.

The mocking bird sings each different song
Each song has wings - they won't stay long.
Do those who hear think he's doing wrong?
While the church bell tolls its one-note song
And the school bell is tinkling to the throng.
Come here where your ears cannot hear.

And close your eyes, child, and listen to what I'll tell you
Follow in the darkest night the sounds that may impel you
And the song that I am singing may disturb or serve to quell you

If all the sounds you hear ain't what they seem,
Then don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream

The rising smell of fresh-cut grass
Smothered cities choke and yell with fuming gas
I hold some grapes up to the sun
And their flavour breaks upon my tongue.
With eager tongues we taste our strife
And fill our lungs with seas of life.
Come taste and smell the waters of our time.

And close your lips, child, so softly I might kiss you,
Let your flower perfume out and let the winds caress you.
As I walk through the garden, I am hoping I don't miss you
If all the things you taste ain't what they seem,
Then don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream .

The sun and moon both arise
And we'll see them soon through days and nights
But now silver leaves are mirrors, bring delights.
And the colours of your eyes are fiery bright,
While darkness blinds the skies with all its light.
Come see where your eyes cannot see.

And close your eyes, child, and look at what I'll show you;
Let your mind go reeling out and let the breezes blow you,
And maybe when we meet then suddenly I will know you.
If all the things you see ain t what they seem,
Then don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream .

And you can follow

And you can follow

Follow .....

Turks & Caicos Islands still pondering independence

Jamaica Observer – A Jamaican Newspaper & Your Source for the Latest Jamaica News

The Turks and Caicos Islands is still considering political independence from Britain, Premier Dr Rufus Ewing has said.

Ewing told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that "independence remains a major issue" three years after Britain suspended the island's constitution and set up a one-man commission to probe the government of then premier Michael Misick.
EWING... I think any right-thinking country should have independence as its destination
"I think any right-thinking country should have independence as its destination. The time period however is the question. The need for independence must be the goal and so everything you do should be to prepare your people and country for that giant step.
"There will be a number of factors that will come into play as to whether or not that time should be fast tracked or continue along the pace that you would desire to have or would like to have and that would depend on the ongoing relationship with the United Kingdom government and the people in the territory," he said.
Ewing said that the government "of the day" would also have a role to play and "allowed to do what is right by the people, for the people to improve their standard of living and to prepare us for our plans for moving towards that step of independence.
"If it doesn't happen, all it does is to make the people even more convinced that independence is our only way out," said Ewing, who is here attending the 14th annual Caribbean Tourism Organisation organised Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC-14).
He told CMC that over the past three years, more citizens have become convinced "that independence is the way to go, more than ever before in the past because of the relationship we have had (with Britain) over the past three years.
Ewing said while he would not commit personally to a timeframe" for independence, "what I know we will do is to appoint an independence commission from the House of Assembly to look at timeframes to look at milestones that need to be achieved and to look at referendum settings...".
Ewing, whose government holds a slender one seat majority in Parliament, said there is stability in the country.
"The stability is just about there. We have elected a government that we have confidence in from a standpoint of investors," he said, aware that with a one seat majority in the House "if anything happens then we can keep on going back to by-elections and by elections and so it may not give the people the level of security they would want".
While he would not comment on the re-arrest of former premier Misick in Brazil and the extradition proceedings that had been started against him by Britain, Ewing told CMC he was still "awaiting" a response to suggestions that Britain was trying to re-colonise its territories in the Caribbean including the Cayman Islands.
"Well, I am sure everybody has a reason for doing things and I still awaiting the answer to the question," he said, adding "I were a conspiracy theorist that would be my theory" as to whether London was using finances to the territories to "keep them in check".

21 April 2013

US Virgin Islands Islands Governor visits St. Lucia

Press Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister 

L-R: Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony
and US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh
Governor of the US Virgin Islands John P. de Jongh, Jr. has paid a short visit to Saint Lucia.

Governor de Jongh is no stranger to Saint Lucia as he has visited the island on several occasions in the past.

Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony and Governor de Jongh discussed ways and means to strengthen the ties of friendship and co-operation between Saint Lucia and the US Virgin Islands. It is well known that many Saint Lucians live and work in St Croix.

The governor shared with the Saint Lucian leader the impact of the closure of the Hess Oil Refinery on the economy of St Croix.

Of particular concern to Governor de Jongh, was the displeasure of CARICOM over the protection extended to rum producers in the US Virgin Islands by the United States government. The governments of CARICOM have expressed their concerns to the US government but to date the matter remains unresolved.

Governor de Jongh explained to Prime Minister Anthony the importance of the rum industry to the economy of the US Virgin Islands. In turn, Dr. Anthony shared with the governor the range of factors, historical and otherwise, which he thought that CARICOM would have to consider in determining its approach to the issue.

Dr. Anthony reiterated Saint Lucia’s commitment to cordial relations which would redound to the benefit of citizens of both states. The prime minister spoke of the need to explore new areas of cooperation with the aim of providing new opportunities for education, training and employment.

18 April 2013

The case for compensating the Caribbean


by Sir Ronald Sanders

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday April 12, 2013 - In 1838, British slave owners in the English-Speaking Caribbean received £11.6 (US$17.8) billion in today’s value as compensation for the emancipation of their “property” – 655,780 human beings of African descent that they had enslaved, brutalised and exploited. The freed slaves, by comparison, received nothing in recompense for their dehumanisation, their cruel treatment, the abuse of their labour and the plain injustice of their enslavement.

The monies paid to slaves owners have been studied and assembled by a team of Academics from University College London, including Dr Nick Draper, who spent three years pulling together 46,000 records which they have now launched as an internet database. The website is: ucl.ac.uk/lbs.

The benefits of those monies still exist in Britain today. For example, they are the foundations of Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. But they are also the basis of wealth for many leading British and Scottish families among them the Hogg family – two of whom became Lord Chancellors in British governments.

Dr Draper is reported as saying of the Hogg family: “To have two Lord Chancellors in Britain in the 20th century bearing the name of a slave-owner from British Guiana (now Guyana), who went penniless to British Guiana, came back a very wealthy man and contributed to the formation of this political dynasty, which incorporated his name into their children in recognition – it seems to me to be an illuminating story and a potent example."

The Hogg family were not unique. The wealth and political good fortune of 19th Century British Prime Minister William Gladstone had its origins in the £83 (US$127.6) million, at today’s value, of “compensation” given to his father, John Gladstone, for slaves he owned in British Guiana and Jamaica. 

But it was not individual families alone that helped to create African slavery and that benefitted from it; it was the British state as whole – its successive governments that provided subsidies for the trade; that adopted legislation that facilitated it; and that were complicit with the governments of their colonies in adopting laws that designated African slaves as “real estate” – people stripped of human identity, including life, and, therefore, to be treated like land, houses and buildings. 

Remarkably, it was also the British State, including the British people, who paid “compensation” to the slave owners while completely disregarding any obligation whatsoever to 655,780 people, who were enslaved and cruelly exploited. To do so, the British government borrowed £20 million which is £76 (US$117) billion, at today’s value, from the Rothschild Banking Empire. The sum amounted to about 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product at the time. As Caribbean Economic Historian, Sir Hilary Beckles points out: “They all recognised that British citizens were socially empowered by the white supremacy culture so effectively institutionalized on a global scale by slave owners”. 

British exploitation of people in the Caribbean did not start, or end, with the enslavement of Africans. In a new book entitled, ‘Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide’, Beckles, records the systematic “elimination” of the Kalinagos – the original people of the Eastern Caribbean islands. It was the first act of genocide in the Western Hemisphere, and it was executed with the full knowledge and approval of the British authorities. 

African slavery was followed in some Caribbean countries – Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname in particular - by indentured servitude of people from India bonded to an estate and its owners, deprived of normal liberties, subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment. It was what the respected British historian, Hugh Tinker, described as “another kind of slavery”.

Each of these episodes of subjugation, exploitation and brutalisation of human beings was justified on the racial supremacy of the white race. And while Britain was the principal beneficiary, other European nations – France, Spain and Portugal especially – shared in the spoils of human degradation. 

Except for the blindest and unrelenting apologists for the acts of genocide and enslavement, it is impossible to discard Beckles’ assertion that these were “crimes against humanity”. As he says: “The wealth of the (British) Empire required the abandonment of all known laws, conventions, moral parameters, political practices and legal frameworks and the creation of a new and unprecedented labour system”.

When the vast majority of the original people of the Caribbean were extinguished forcing the brutalised handful who remained into submission; when slavery was abolished with no recompense to the Africans for the deprivation of their liberty, the people of the Caribbean were left destitute, deprived and disadvantaged. In Beckles’ words:“They got nothing by way of cash reparations to carry them into freedom. No land grants were provided. No promissory notes were posted”. 

That today the people of the Caribbean have built modern societies despite the conditions they were handed at slavery’s abolition, is a tribute to the resilience, capabilities and high quality of human beings that European states considered ‘chattel and real estate’. That they have produced Nobel Prize winners, great athletes and fine intellectual thinkers who have commanded high positions in the international community in business, medicine, the law, and technology is testimony to the wrongness of the “white” supremacist doctrine.

Their achievement re-enforces the position that their enslavement, their servitude and the infamous acts of violence against them were wrong, and it cannot be right that those who were the principal perpetrators of those wrongs benefitted while they were left as nothing more than a human catastrophe.

The Caribbean would today have been much further along the road of social and economic development if even half of the “compensation” given to slave owners had been given to slavery’s victims 175 years ago.

There is a compelling case for reparations to the nations of the Caribbean on behalf of the people who were the victims of slavery. Nick Draper and the team and University College London, and Hilary Beckles in his new book have provided the basis for, at the very least, a reparations dialogue. 

17 April 2013

Curaçao: The state of social media use for Afrodescendant activism


In a semi-postcolonial territory such as Curaçao, there are few successful attempts to create a climate of social activism via new media that actually result in the socio-political transformation of low income and unemployed communities. Under the heavy influence of Dutch rule, the last memorable social media-inspired political manifestations were little more than thinly-veiled pleas by the middle and upperclass to relive the colonial times when the Dutch government was in power. A period in the eyes of Dutch white supremacy, universal suffrage would lead Afro-Curaçaoans into cannibalistic depths.

There is one memorable use of the social media space in Curaçao that will not to be soon forgotten; it a petition circulated by an by an online community of residents to block and condemn the removal of the colonial Peter Stuyvesant statue in front of their high school. The cyber-narrative that the middle and elite classes promoted through social media to de-africanize the spirit and history of the community was one that presented Stuyvesant as a hero and a founding father of Curaçao the prosperous nation of among failed Caribbean states. It suggested that he should be regarded as someone who saved Afro-Curaçaoans from a life full of misery lived in the African bushes by enabling Dutch slavery. The cyber narrative is an offense against the ancestors by honoring the man who enslaved us.


15 April 2013

Echoes of Occupy in Western Sahara

Foreign Policy in Focus
By Leslie Garvey


In the fall of 2010, on the outskirts of the Western Saharan capital of Laayoune, the “occupy” movement came to North Africa. 

For over three weeks, thousands of Sahrawis gathered at the Gdeim Izik protest camp to peacefully protest job discrimination, poor living conditions, the misallocation of Western Sahara's rich resources, and human rights abuses.

But this was no Zuccotti Park. What followed, according to Western Sahara expert Jacob Mundy, was “the most violent 48 hours witnessed by Western Sahara” since the UN ceasefire in 1991.


10 April 2013

West Papua support group supports Vanuatu regional membership

The Vanuatu West Papua Support Group, based in Port Vila, is organizing a petition in support of the mission by the visiting West Papua Independence campaigner, Benny Wenda, being signed by chiefs from all the 63 inhabited islands of Vanuatu.

Representative of the group and well known activist, Hilda Lini says it is planned to present the petition to the Members of Parliament current in session and the Government of Vanuatu.

“The petition will request the Government to provide strong leadership and support for West Papua to become a full member of the MSG this year,” Ms Lini said.

“The MSG leaders’ summit will be held in June this year which means that after we present the petition, we should monitor the situation to make certain that Vanuatu’s support for West Papua’s application for full membership is upheld by the Government right up to that time,” Ms. Lini who is also First Political Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture said.

The idea of a petition is the result of local support expressed at a public meeting that West Papua international activist Benny Wenda held at the Chiefs’ nakamal in Port Vila on Tuesday evening.

Overwhelming public sentiment was evident at the meeting for the Government of Vanuatu to give its full backing to West Papua’s application for full membership of the MSG.

In his address Mr Wenda spoke of the desperate situation facing the Melanesian population in West Papua and made an emotional appeal to the people and Government of Vanuatu to continue to show their strong support for the independence of West Papua.

“Vanuatu is our only beacon of hope at the moment and I appeal to you to continue your strong support for us by first getting us into the region through full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group for West Papua,” Wenda said.

Mr Wenda left the country Thursday morning after five days in Port Vila during which he addressed Parliament members, met other dignitaries and visited and spoke to people from a wide cross section of the communities.

09 April 2013


BAIE-MAHAULT, Guadeloupe (April 3, 2013) - The third International Congress of Caribbean Writers will take place at the Langley Resort Fort Royal in Deshaies, Guadeloupe, French West Indies, from April 10 to 13, 2013.

Held under the theme "Our Fight for Freedom, A Collective Epic", the prestigious event takes places every two years under the auspices of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe and the Association of Caribbean Writers.

The meeting attracts numerous renowned writers from the French, English, Dutch and Spanish speaking Caribbean. Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, French Guyana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela will have representatives.

With participants drawn from so many countries in the Caribbean and Latin America organizers welcome an extraordinary diversity of cultural heritage on display, comprising the backbone of the common Caribbean existence.

Following appearances by St. Lucia's Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott for the first edition, and noted writer Marcio Veloz Maggliolo of the Dominican Republic for the second, American novelist, short story writer and poet, Russell Banks will be the guest of honour at the third meeting this month. A committed man of letters, Banks is a prolific, award-winning writer of fiction and lectures in contemporary literature at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Banks will also lead the opening session on Thursday, April 11, with a debate about 'The historic truth or romantic fiction of Caribbean literature.

Over the four days of the writers congress, in addition to the intensive writing workshops, author meeting exchanges with the public, including school children, will take place. The main objectives of the event include increasing the awareness and adding channels for the distribution of Caribbean literature across language barriers, within and beyond the region.

"The spirit of the Congress of Caribbean Writers is that the greater sharing of our experiences and our cultural heritage remains the best way of communicating with the world. We also believe that the presentations of literary work and strengthening of the Caribbean writers network will contribute to economic development within the region and the cultural sector in particular," the organizers report.

07 April 2013

Colonialism and Neo-colonialism in the Caribbean: An Overview

by Norman Girvan

Professor Emeritus, University of the West Indies 

St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago


The contemporary Caribbean (1) is one of the most politically fragmented regions for its size on earth; and one with the strongest remaining colonial presence. Political divisions and external 
control are major blocs to the consolidation of a Caribbean identity and the charting of an independent course of development in the interest of Caribbean peoples. 

They undermine the ‘fragmented nationalism’(2) and the pervasive epistemological dependency (3), that is characteristic of the regional consciousness. This situation is a direct consequence of the region’s five-century long history as area of rivalry among, and colonisation by, external powers. Political decolonisation of Caribbean countries is incomplete; indeed it has come to a virtual standstill.

Initiatives at regional cooperation and regional integration have made some progress; but face continuing challenges. Such progress as has been made result from the efforts of Caribbean people themselves; and are continuing. 

Rebellion, revolution, cultural affirmation and other forms of resistance are as integral to the Caribbean experience as are exploitation by external forces and internal elites. The tradition of struggle serves to inspire, inform and motivate current generations. Slowly but surely, a pan-Caribbean consciousness is emerging, led by the vision of cultural practitioners; and containing the seeds of a future Caribbean nation.

I am grateful to Dr Carlyle Corbin, editor of Overseas Territories Review, for his help in clarifying certain aspects of the constitutional situation of Caribbean non-independent countries and for his comments on an earlier draft of this paper. I am responsible for any errors that the paper might contain.

(1) In this paper we refer to ‘the Caribbean’ as constituting the archipelago which runs from the Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago; plus Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Belize, and Bermuda. 

(2) See Franklin W. Knight, The Caribbean: Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism . Oxford University Press, 2011.

(3) See Brian Meeks and Norman Girvan (eds.) The Thought of New World: The Quest for Decolonisation. Ian Randle 


05 April 2013

Hawaii Senator calls for exemption to Jones Act

Hawaii Free Press
Sen Solomon Resolutions Urge Hawaii Jones Act Exemption

By Andrew Walden 

Sen. Malama Solomon February 28 introduced two Senate Resolutions (SR20 and SCR42) with identical wording requesting Hawaii be exempted from the Jones Act.  Here is the full text:



WHEREAS, historically the United States has sought to protect its shipping industry through cabotage laws, such as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act; and

WHEREAS, the Jones Act strictly limits the shipping of merchandise between the United States and its territories to American-built and registered ships crewed by United States citizens; and

WHEREAS, eighty percent of the goods consumed in Hawaii are imported from the mainland or foreign countries, and ninety-eight percent of these goods come by ship; and

WHEREAS, while transpacific shipping costs are some of the lowest in the world, especially from the United States to Asia, the freight rates between the mainland and Hawaii are some of the highest; and

WHEREAS, much of the high cost of living in Hawaii can be attributed to unnecessarily high shipping costs caused by the Jones Act; and

WHEREAS, such excess costs present an immense and unfair burden on the people of Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, Congress already recognized the unique aspects of the Pacific region and the excessive burdens placed on it by the Jones Act when it exempted the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa from the applicability of the Jones Act; and

WHEREAS, the almost total dependence on sea freight services makes the economy of Hawaii extremely sensitive to even minor restrictions or disruptions in transportation; and

WHEREAS, any disruption in the delivery of oil, food, or other vital goods would severely threaten the health, safety, and security of residents of Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, an exemption from the Jones Act would protect the collective health, safety, and security of the people of Hawaii and would also foster shipping competition that will economically benefit consumers; and

WHEREAS, the federal Government Accountability Office by letter dated April 10, 2012, indicated that it would release a report by February 28, 2013, on its review of the Jones Act and its effect upon the economy of Hawaii, among other places; and

WHEREAS, it is anticipated that the report of the Government Accountability Office will recommend that a "sunset waiver" be created to provide an exemption for Hawaii from the Jones Act that would result in lower constructions costs and allow for new tonnage and more ships to serve Hawaii; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-seventh Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2013, the House of Representatives concurring, that this body respectfully requests the Congress of the United States to pass legislation granting an exemption or a sunset waiver from the Jones Act to Hawaii; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this body respectfully requests the President of the United States and his administration to support the Congressional legislation requested herein; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Hawaii's congressional delegation is urged to request Congress to exempt Hawaii from the Jones Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, Vice President of the United States, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, and members of Hawaii's Congressional delegation.

Puerto Rico Sees Jones Act exemption as economic tool

New Governor Seeks Jones Act exemption to grow Puerto Rican Economy.

By Michael Hansen
Hawaii Shippers Council

Garcia Padilla Administration seeks full Jones Act exemption to grow Puerto Rican Economy

The new administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla through its cabinet secretary for economic development indicated earlier this month that they would seek a full Jones Act exemption for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as recommended last year in a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, commonly known as the New York Fed.

In a wide ranging interview published on March 7, 2013, in the English language Caribbean Business newspaper, Mr. Alberto Bacó Bagué, Secretary, Economic Development & Commerce Department, outlined the Garcia Padilla Administration’s plan to reinvigorate Puerto Rico’s ailing economy. 

The multisectorial plan involves 15 initiatives, many of which depend upon more efficient transportation arrangements for the island including seaborne transportation.  The Secretary Bacó’s Department was formerly the Administracion de Fomento Economico and still popularly known as Fomento (Spanish meaning promotion).

The Jones Act is the popular name for Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which requires that vessels be U.S.-built, U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed and U.S.-owned to transport cargo between two domestic points.

2012 Election Results

Gov Garcia Padilla won a closely contested election in November 2012 defeating the incumbent former Governor Luis Guillermo Fortuño Burset by a narrow 0.6% margin and assumed office less than three months ago on January 2, 2013.  

The legislative election results were far more definitive.  Gov Garcia’s party, Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico, PDP (in Spanish, Partido Popular Democratico de Puerto Rico, PPD), and commonly known as “Populares,” won majorities in both chambers of the Commonwealth’s Legislative Assembly.  

The PDP has a supermajority of 66.67% in the Senate with 18 out of 27 seats, and a simple majority of 55% in the House with 28 out of 51 seats. Gov Garcia is also a member of the national Democratic Party.

The PDP supports an enhanced commonwealth political status for Puerto Rico similar to that of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), which among other things is exempt from the Jones Act by the international treaty that led to its annexation.

Former Gov Fortuño is a member of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, NPP (in Spanish, Partido Nuevo Progresista de Puerto Rico, PNP) and popularly known as the “Progresistas.”  The NPP supports Statehood for Puerto Rico.  Gov Fortuño is a member of the national Republican Party and while in office advocated a full exemption from the Jones Act for Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s single non-voting delegate to congress, Representative Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia, formally known as the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Congress, is the only member of Congress that serves a four year term.  Rep Pierluisi was reelected defeating Rafael Cox Alomar (PDP) by a margin of 1.28 %, and will serve another four years until the end of 2016.  Rep Pierluisi is a member of the NPP, but unlike former Gov Fortuño, is a member of the national Democratic Party and caucuses with the Democrats in Congress.

It would seem reasonable to assume that any federal legislative measure to exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act, either in full or in part, would, during the near to medium term, likely have to be introduced by Rep Pierluisi in the U.S. House of Representatives in order to achieve any success.  Especially as the other members of Congress will look to the resident commissioner for leadership on the Jones Act issue as it applies to Puerto Rico.

Among the other unique features of Puerto Rico’s political system is that all members of the Commonwealth’s bicameral Legislative Assembly – Senate and House alike – serve concurrent four year terms.  As such, the current 17th Legislature of Puerto Rico will remain in office until January 8, 2017.  Candidates for governor and the resident commissioner traditionally stand for election together as “running mates.” 

The second-in-command administrative position typically held by an elected lieutenant governor elsewhere in the U.S., in Puerto Rico is the Secretary of State, who is appointed by the governor and approved by both chambers of the Assembly.

There are a total of six registered local political parties in Puerto Rico.  After the two main local parties, i.e., the PDP and NPP, the third most important political party with only a single member in the Assembly is the Puerto Rico Independence Party (Spanish Partido Independentista Puertorriqueno, PIP) popularly known as the “independenistas.”
Economic Background

Puerto Rico’s modern economic history begins after the end of World War II in 1945 with the sharp decline of the centuries-old and once mainstay sugar and coffee agricultural industries.  To transition the economy away from agriculture, in 1948 the U.S. federal government launched “Operation Bootstrap,” which invested heavily in the island’s infrastructure and achieved initial success with introduction of labor-intensive manufacturing industries.   

After the low wage industries first attracted to the island began moving to lower cost countries and causing significantly higher local unemployment, the federal government granted several tax incentives in the late 1960’s.  Those incentives led to Puerto Rico becoming a haven for the manufacturing operations of the U.S. bio-pharmaceutical, medical device, electronic and textile industries.

Those 1960’s incentives and the additional tax breaks added later were terminated by 2006 leading to the so-called “Puerto Rico Economic Crisis” that began in 2005.  As reported by Jesse Drucker in Bloomberg on December 19, 2011, “In 1976, Congress added a tax credit that effectively exempted from federal income taxes the profits that U.S. companies attributed to Puerto Rico. 

The combination of the break, proximity to the U.S. and plentiful industrial sites prompted multinational companies to flock to the island, with medical-device and pharmaceutical makers leading the way.  Companies separately negotiated tax holidays from the Puerto Rican government.”

“By the mid 1990s, critics attacked the break as too expensive, costing the U.S. about $3 billion a year. In some industries, the tax subsidy was costing the U.S. as much as $72,000 per job, according to a study by the federal agency now called the Government Accountability Office. After a lobbying battle in 1996, the tax break was repealed, with a 10-year transition period for companies already benefiting from the credit.  ‘It pulled the rug from under our feet,’ said William Riefkohl, executive vice president of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association.”

When former Gov Fortuño took office in January 2008, the Commonwealth was suffering from the so-called Puerto Rico Economic Crisis as termination of the manufacturing tax credits and very large budget deficits.  Gov Fortuño and the NPP-controlled Assembly addressed the crisis with austerity budgets.  During the single Fortuño term, local unemployment rate rose to 17.2%, approximately 20,000 government employees were laid off, and the total population of island declined as a result of out-migration.

Garcia Padilla Administration’s Economic Plan focuses on Shipping

As Gov Garcia Padilla and the PDP ran in 2012 on a platform critical of Gov Fortuño and the NPP’s austerity budgets with the support of the public worker unions and promising to grow the economy and create jobs; putting their economic plan in to effect and achieving tangible results over the next four years is a political imperative. 

They also need to deal with the Commonwealth’s structural budget deficits – the current deficit for 2013 is estimated to be $1.2 billion, and the solvency of the Government’s Employees Retirement System that has $37.3 billion in unfunded liabilities.  (See Puerto Rico’s pension system in peril, Fox News, February 1, 2013.)

In his interview with Caribbean Business, Secy. Bacó endorsed the York Fed’s June 29, 2012 Report on the Competiveness of Puerto Rico’s Economy, which identified the Jones Act is a major impediment to revitalizing the island’s economy. The New York Fed recommended Puerto Rico be exempted from the Jones Act’s for a trial period of five (5) years in the same way the U.S. Virgin Islands are.

Further echoing the New York Fed, Secy. Bacó explained that future economic growth in Puerto Rico will depend on more efficient transportation.  And, he said an important focus of the Governor’s 15 point economic plan is port development and capitalizing on the Panama Canal Expansion Project.   The Panama project is now scheduled for completion in 2015 and will allow for the introduce very large – approximately 13,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) capacity –post-Panamax containerships into the Caribbean for the purpose of transiting between Asian and Atlantic ports.

Secy. Bacó emphasized that the Garcia Administration will move aggressively to complete development of the languishing Rafael Cordero Santiago Port of the Americas in Ponce on the South Coast of Puerto Rico to become a significant regional port – sometimes referred to as a “megaport,” after the Rotterdam and Singapore models.  In addition, Secy. Bacó mentioned there is also potential to develop the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Base for maritime and aviation facilities as part of their economic plan. 

Secy. Bacó told Caribbean Business, “What we have to aspire to is making the Ponce port work as fast as possible, so by the time post-Panamax ships start going through the Panama Canal in 2014, we may have a fully operational port. That will bring economic activity to Ponce and the whole island. It's not just a ‘Ponce solution’ because if it is a Saudi Arabian investor group, for example, they will bring money for manufacturing facilities.  I see so much potential there that we must not look at it strictly as a port. It's an issue in which we may be left completely out of the map if something isn't done quickly, and time is running out.”

In respect of developing the Port of Americas, Secy. Bacó continued, “I've already met with the Korean group this past week in their New York office. They came from Korea with the sole purpose of meeting with us and they reiterated their interest, which I found odd.  I asked further because I wanted to delve deeper into the matter, and it turns out time is running out.” 

Then Secy. Bacó referenced the New York Fed’s recommendation in respect of the Jones Act,  “There are some very important [points] recommended by the Federal Reserve in a study. These [include] giving a five-year moratorium on the Jones Act shipping laws. When I met with the Koreans and asked them what is the most negative part of operating the Port of the Americas—that is one of the negatives—the U.S. shipping laws. I think we are close to the federal government understanding it is a restriction that has us drowning in certain dimensions. Therefore, we will push for that in Washington.”

Implications of Gov Garcia Padilla Administration’s Jones Act Policy

The five-year Jones Act moratorium for Puerto Rico proposed by the New York Fed and endorsed by Secy. Bacó on behalf of the Garcia Padilla Administration would be modeled after the exemption for the Virgin Islands of the United States since their annexation on March 31, 1817 and subsequently exempted from cabotage by Section 21 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.(OTR correction: the annexation was by purchase from one colonial power to another, and took place in the year 1917, not 1817)

If such a temporary exemption from the Jones Act and related cabotage laws were to be enacted by the U.S. Congress for Puerto Rico, it would in all likelihood result in a permanent exemption, as it would be very difficult to re-extend cabotage laws to the Puerto Rico trade as conditions would have changed so substantially after the five year period.  It is very likely that after such an exemption were to come into effect, the domestic trade between the contiguous U.S. and Puerto Rico would come to be dominated by new entrant international carriers operating foreign flag ships completely displacing the incumbent Jones Act operators.

The only probable exception among the incumbent Jones Act carriers would be Crowley Maritime, which is one of the four mainline carriers currently operating in the domestic Puerto Rico trade. Crowley operates eight large Roll-on/Roll-off (R0/Ro) trailerbarges on the domestic trade lanes from Jacksonville, Florida, and Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  In addition, Crowley operates several liner container services from the contiguous U.S. to other Caribbean ports employing foreign flag containerships charging significantly lower and much more competitive freight rates on those international trade routes.

Although Crowley would be extremely unlikely to support a full Jones Act exemption for Puerto Rico, if such an exemption were to be enacted, they could cover Puerto Rico by expanding their existing foreign flag services and calling at Puerto Rico in conjunction with their other ports.  As all the Crowley trailerbarges employed in the domestic Puerto Rico trade were built between 1970 and 1979, they are well past what is customarily considered their useful life and therefore would not represent a large sunk cost if they were to be made redundant by a Jones Act exemption.

The New York Fed quantified that the freight rates between the Contiguous U.S. and Puerto Rico are twice the cost for the same movements to nearby islands, especially the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Additionally, while Puerto Rico’s cargo volume fell more than 20% over the decade of 2000-2100, there was a corresponding doubling of volume at Kingston, Jamaica, implying that cargo is moving from Puerto Rico to Jamaica for onwards shipment.

The concept of a establishing a regional port on Puerto Rico to cover the Caribbean is dependent on achieving the equivalent of foreign flag freight rates between the Contiguous U.S.  and Puerto Rico, which could only be achieved with a full Jones Act exemption.  

Recognizing the comparative advantages of Jamaica as a location for a hub port for the reasons identified by the New York Fed, the World Bank in February 2013 extended their support to a major regional port development project in Jamaica.  

The Korean group, which Sey. Bacó referred to in his interview, also recognized the high cost of Jones Act freight rates as a barrier to any plans they might have to base their regional operations on Puerto Rico and possibly participating in the development of the Port of Americas.

This is the source of Secy. Baco’s warning that “we may be left completely out of the map if something isn’t done quickly, and it turns out time is running out.”  Because transshipment cargo has already moved from Puerto Rico to Jamaica, and Jamaica is moving ahead with development of a megaport facility with World Bank support.

However, at this point in time, It is very difficult to see how the Garcia Padilla Administration will overcome the U.S. cabotage barrier to establish the Port of the Americas as a regional hub port or magaport.  Congress is very unlikely to enact a full Jones Act exemption for Puerto Rico.  This despite Secy.Bacó’s optimism saying “I think we are close to the federal government understanding it is a restriction [the Jones Act] that has us drowning in certain dimensions. 

Therefore, we will push for that [a full Jones Act exemption] in Washington.”
The federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) should release before the end of March 2013 their report on the economic impact of the Jones Act on Puerto Rico, which Rep Pierluisi requested in late 2011.   However, the GAO report is expected to focus on the U.S. built requirement of the Jones Act and not recommend a full exemption from the Jones Act for Puerto Rico.  Rep. Pierluisi has said that he would be guided by the results of the GAO report, which may mean he would be reluctant to support a full Jones Act exemption for Puerto Rico.

There is a similarity between the Garcia Padilla Administration’s approach to economic development and that of Governor Eddie Baza Calvo (R) of Guam, who assumed office on January 3, 2011. Gov Calvo announced through his Council of Economic Advisors his economic development plan on April, 1, 2012, which included in point (2) “seeking an exemption from the Jones Act to make the price of everything on the island cheaper.”

Another alternative for the Garcia Padilla Administration might be to support the Hawaii Shippers’ Council’s noncontiguous trades – Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico – Jones Act reform proposal.  In a nutshell, the proposed reform would exempt the noncontiguous domestic shipping trades from the U.S. build requirement of the Jones Act for deep draft self-propelled ships.  It does not propose to change the other Jones Act requirements in respect of the noncontiguous trades, i.e. that vessels must be U.S.-flag, U.S.-owned and U.S.-crewed.

The Hawaii Shippers Council (HSC) is a business league organization incorporated in 1997 to represent cargo interests – known as “shippers” – who tender goods for shipment with the ocean carriers operating the Hawaii trade.