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February 26 2014

February 17 2014

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February 08 2014

Station's Rights to Sochi Games Leaves Caribbean Viewers in the Dark

Six Caribbean teams are competing in this year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Bermudathe Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Naturally, sports fans throughout the region want to watch – but there's a problem. SportsMax, a premium subscription-based television station, has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2014 Sochi games in the Caribbean. “Inside The Games” reported on the details:

The deal, announced between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and  International Media Content Ltd (IMC), the parent company of SportsMax, is applicable for 21 nations and territories ranging from Anguilla to Trinidad and Tobago.

It consists of exclusive English language broadcast rights on all media platforms, with live coverage to be provided on both SportsMax and SportsMax2 for the duration of the Games when they get underway in Sochi.

Columbus Communications, owners of the Flow cable network which operates in several Caribbean territories, took to its social media outlets to address the issue:

Flow Fans, please be advised that SportsMax holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the '2014 Winter Olympics’ in the Caribbean for the period February 7th to 23rd 2014. Olympic programming will be broadcast mainly on Sportsmax 1 with some content on Sportsmax 2. Consequently, we are legally required to blackout the coverage of the games on all channels including but not limited to NBC & CBC who will be carrying portions of the SOCHI games. During the blackout periods the affected channels will carry a notice to our customers advising of the blackout requirement and directing you to SportsMax. 

We understand the inconvenience that this issue poses and are aware and acknowledge that blocked content is disruptive for our viewers, however we MUST comply. Once the broadcast rights to air a program is (sic) purchased we are obligated to block out that program (when requested) as both a legal and regulatory (TATT) obligation. Failing to comply could lead to legal actions against Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited. This arrangement is not unique to Trinidad, all video service providers worldwide will be required to take similar action based on the Network which has purchased the rights in that country. 

Irate Jamaicans posted on Flow Jamaica's Facebook page about having to pay to watch their team parading in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Diego Armando Thomas had this to say

So because i don't have the #SportsMax package on #Flow I am not allowed to watch the #Olympics? This is BULL. You block the channels am paying for? Really!!!

Another viewer, David Valentine, urged Jamaicans to take action by writing to the Jamaican Broadcast Commission:

This is a sheg up situation, taking advantage of the people who no have no options. The blasted Olympics should not be held ransom, by forcing people to pay for some purely subscriber based channel. Imagine if Showtime did have the exclusive rights to the Olympics? Something wrong with this blow wow picture man. Them really corrupted. PEOPLE WRITE TO THE BROADCAST COMMISION!!

Others expressed their disgust on Twitter:

One viewer who subscribed to the SportsMax service was dissatisfied with the coverage of the opening ceremony:

Competitor cable provider Lime has been offering viewers in some of the countries in which it operates, a free trial of SportsMax for the duration of the games:

The issue of broadcast rights for local television stations versus those of the cable company was discussed in this post:

Television programmes generate advertising revenue for broadcasters such as TV6 and CNC3. While customers pay cable providers for premium channels, it should be noted that  the programmes which occupy the schedules on these channels are governed by separate contracts.

While SportsMax is indigenous to the region, it is a pay-per-view service, and some netizens have complained about the failure of free-to-air broadcasters to obtain rights to the games. Yvon Tripper commented on an article in the Bermuda Royal Gazette:

IOC simply gives rights to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping a Bermuda-based broadcaster from asking the IOC for Bermuda-only rights, and then just using the American and Canadian feeds. If no one in Bermuda pays for broadcast rights for the island's Olympic coverage rights, then there's no point in complaining when someone else does. The IOC would be happy to exclude Bermuda from the Caribbean region if it mean that they got more money — it's all about the Redbirds, baby.

While Trinidad and Tobago is not competing in the games, none of the terrestrial broadcasters have purchased rights to the games, forcing interested viewers to subscribe to SportsMax for live coverage. Annoyed cable subscribers vented their feelings on Twitter:

The Sochi Games run until February 23, 2014.

January 10 2014

PHOTOS: Christmas Flooding in the Eastern Caribbean

On Christmas Eve several islands in the Eastern Caribbean, including Dominica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, were affected by a tropical wave that resulted in several hours of rainfall, severe flooding and over a dozen deaths.

Many people were trapped and stranded because they were making last minute preparations for Christmas celebrations.

Saint Lucia, which still bears the scars from Hurricane Tomas in 2010, saw extensive flooding and the destruction of several bridges in the south-west of the island, isolating some communities. At least five deaths were reported, including one police officer who died in the course of a rescue effort.

A section of the Anse Ger Road in Saint Lucia collapsed

Terminal of the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia

Terminal of the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia

In the online group St. Lucians Aiming for Progress, several people, particularly from the diaspora, organized to send relief to those in need. Many questioned the public information (or the lack thereof) relayed by the National Emergency Organization and the Meteorological Office prior to the storm.

Wayne Vitalis was very critical of Saint Lucia's emergency management:

Martinique's Met Office denies radar malfunction; St. Lucia's Met Office denies radar malfunction …….. But some Lucians deny incompetence. The Lord cannot help us with that! NEMO must answer for what they told the nation, not to mention the chaotic/non-response to guiding and coordinating the nation's response to the disaster. 

Ananias Verneuil wondered if the fact that the storm came outside of the recognized hurricane season (June to November) could explain the response:

In my opinion this system came after normal hurricane season and therefore it was not considered to be cyclonic. In this regard, we all were caught with our pants down. It was a trough that contained unusual amount of rainfall that could not have been estimated before the down pour.

Minerva Ward sarcastically responded that it was unfair to expect the emergency services to be at work during the Christmas season:

Now I beginning to find yall real rude and outta place to expect NEMO and the Met Office to be working on Christmas Eve! Don't you'll know Christmas week everyting in government shut down. Yall actually expect government employees to be working?? The ppl must have been out on their shopping day you'll deh stressing the ppl with a stupid little upper level trough. Yall really expecting a lot!! So what if the whole country washes out to sea, it's Christmas and u dun know how tings run in St Lucia.

Fred Walcott felt that it would be prudent to find out what happened in the neighboring islands regarding the storm warning:

How did the other islands fare? Did they receive adequate notification? Were they prepared? What, if any, was the impact if they did receive adequate notice? This not an attempt to absolve NEMO or any other agency responsible for alerting the public. With enough notice people in flood prone areas can be persuaded to move to higher ground, companies can elevate their sensitive gear above known flood levels and cover same with damp-proof material. etc, etc. pre- Disaster mitigation procedures can be initiated. Like the island all utilities should have a disaster plan and execute regular disaster drills.

 

Runway of the Hewanorra International Airport.

Runway of the Hewanorra International Airport.

The Piaye Bridge in the south-west of Saint Lucia was washed away.

The Piaye Bridge in the Southwest of Saint Lucia was washed away.

Part of the Vieux Fort highway,which had been originally been constructed as part of a U.S. base in the 1940s, collapsed

Part of the Vieux Fort highway,which had been originally been constructed as part of a U.S. base in the 1940s, collapsed

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Gas Station in Bexon

House in Bexon

House in Bexon

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Flood damage in Bexon

Canaries Bridge , part of Saint Lucia's West Coast Highway, was washed away.

Canaries Bridge , part of Saint Lucia's West Coast Highway, was washed away.

While there was flooding in Dominica, the self-proclaimed land of 365 rivers, there has been no report of casualties. However, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has estimated that the rehabilitation works would cost approximately EC$45 million dollars.

Elmshall Bridge in Dominica

Elmshall Bridge in Dominica

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Flooding in Roseau, Dominica

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Mudslide in Citronnier, Dominica

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Streets in Dominica filled with mud,

In St. Vincent, initial reports were that eight people (including children) died as a result of the storm, with some people still being reported as missing. The storm damage was particularly severe in the North Leeward region of the island. According to media reports, the E.T. Joshua Airport and the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital were both surrounded by water. The Grenadines escaped serious damage.

Caratal Bridge in Georgetown, St. Vincent.

Caratal Bridge in Georgetown, St. Vincent.

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Flood damage in Georgetown, St. Vincent.

 

Flood damage in St. Vincent

Flood damage in St. Vincent

 

House in Rose Bank Where Five People Died.

House in Rose Bank Where Five People Died.

The photos above are used with the permission of Tamiko Sabrina, Johnson Jkube James, Linus Cauzabon, Natalia Bhajan, and Yukanka Daniel.

July 09 2013

Caribbean: Tropical Storm Chantal

Tropical Storm Chantal has caused the temporary closure of some regional airports and the cancellation of flights. The Bajan Reporter has the latest.

September 05 2011

Dominica: On a Single Regional Economy

Caribbean Man says of the Caribbean Single Market & Economy, which is meant to encourage free movement within the region: “Like every other Caribbean institution, when the ethos has to turn into action it can easily get distorted.”

July 29 2011

Dominica: Rains Cause River to Break Bank

NewsDominica.com reports on the latest damage caused by persistent heavy rains on the island.

July 25 2011

Caribbean: Commonwealth Stories for Online Time Capsule

The Royal Commonwealth Society is creating the world's largest online time capsule in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and wants regional/Commonwealth bloggers to share their stories. Get involved, here.

July 11 2011

Dominica: “Price is King”

“One of the biggest ironies of Dominica is that whilst the economy contracts, more and more people are importing food and inferior products and dumping it on our markets”: Caribbean Man doesn't understand why his compatriots seem to prefer the cheap option.

July 08 2011

Caribbean: Indigenous News

Review of the Indigenous Caribbean posts a video of “a fairly elementary but well synthesized historical overview of the indigenous people of Dominica”, while The Voice of the Taino People Online notes the passing of Ricardo Alegria, “a Puerto Rican scholar known for his pioneering studies of the island's native Taino culture.”

June 06 2011

Dominica: Existing Sodomy Law

“Either accept it is part of the belief system the country wants to communicate to the world, or consider that controlling sexuality through a combination of religious thought systems and laws is dangerous and repeal the [sodomy] law”: For Caribbean Man, it's all a question of consistency.

March 04 2011

February 17 2011

Dominica: First Indigenous Lawyer

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

The Voice of the Taino People Online is proud to tell the story of “Pearl Diane Williams…the first indigenous Kalinago Carib person from Waitikubuli (Dominica) and possibly the Eastern Caribbean to be admitted to the Bar in the Commonwealth of Dominica.”

December 29 2010

December 24 2010

Caribbean: Defining Moments of 2010

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Many landmark events happened in the Caribbean this year, prompting reactions from the regional blogosphere - from student protests at the University of Puerto Rico to the release of Cuban political prisoners. Perhaps the most heartbreaking of these was the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Many bloggers were still wrapped up in the novelty and fresh hopes for the New year when disaster struck on January 12, setting a sombre tone for the months ahead. Here are our picks for the stories that defined the Caribbean blogosphere in 2010…

The Haiti Earthquake
Sudden, unexpected, unforgiving: Measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, this earthquake was bound to do serious damage wherever it struck. In Haiti, a poor island nation with inadequate infrastructure and the majority of the population living in sub-standard conditions, the effects were disastrous. As the death toll continued to rise and the country remained immobilized, the region (and the world!) came to the country's aid. Bloggers were desperately hoping that the rescue efforts would prove successful, even in the face of massive aftershocks; citizen media rose to the challenge, sending out valuable first-hand information.



Tent city, Juvenat, by caribbeanfreephoto, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License.

Global Voices Online sent a team to Haiti in the earthquake's aftermath, primarily to offer support for citizen media, since we believe that there is a real need to amplify Haitian voices when it comes to relief and reconstruction efforts. Our Managing Director, Georgia Popplewell, and former GV Lingua Team Leader, Alice Backer, “[made] contact with Haitians using citizen media tools, and [identified] others with the potential to participate in and enrich the online conversation, given the right resources”, with a view to increasing the amount of local citizen media activity. Visit our Special Coverage Page for various perspectives on the earthquake and subsequent relief efforts.

As if the devastating effects of the earthquake on the local food supply weren't enough, Haitian farmers also had to hurriedly mobilise against Monsanto, a company that produces genetically modified seed and wanted to get a foot in the door, via “a donation of conventional corn and vegetable seeds to farmers in Haiti, to help increase food production and aid long-term earthquake recovery.”

Towards the end of a trying year, the country faced a debilitating cholera crisis, braced for a hurricane and, when it appeared that the cholera epidemic was brought into the country by (largely unwelcome) UN peacekeepers, tried as best it could to function in the midst of violent protests.

Natural disasters and health challenges were not the only challenges the island nation faced. Its annus horriblis came to a climax with the staging of the country's controversial elections; bloggers are still questioning the transparency of the process, even as results continue to be verified.

These ripple effects of the January 12 earthquake have undoubtedly made 2010 a year Haiti would rather forget, but the reality is that other regional territories were also affected by the tremor. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the same island, Hispaniola [ES: La Española]. Since borders are fluid and permeable, everything that affects one country affects the other in some way or another. Therefore, the Dominican Republic also felt the aftermath of the massive earthquake that hit Haiti, leaving at least 300,000 dead and many thousands more homeless and living in extremely harsh conditions.

The Puerto Rico Student Protests
Puerto Rico battled a severe economic crisis during 2010. The despair and angst caused by conservative public social and economic policies provided the context for the student strike that paralyzed the main campus of the state-run University of Puerto Rico during two months starting in April 2010. Students of campuses from all over the island joined the protest against educational budget cuts, and their plight catalyzed a national social movement.


Students protest at the main campus of the UPR. Photo by Ricardo Alcaraz of Diálogo. Republished under a CC License.

In December 2010, students of the main campus in Río Piedras, San Juan, declared a second strike, this time specifically against an annual $800 fee. The government ordered the Police to occupy the university’s campuses, which has led to violent confrontations with students. During both strikes, students have creatively used online platforms, blogs and social media networks, to express themselves.

The Jamaica State of Emergency
The eyes of the world were focused on Jamaica from late May, as the Prime Minister finally stopped trying to escape the inevitable and allowed the US extradition request for alleged drug don Christopher “Dudus” Coke to be signed, setting in motion a series of events that practically held the country in a vice grip for over a month. As @anniepaul put it:

The pact between the criminals and the state has been broken, we are being shown the consequences of that rupture…

Citizen media did a stellar job as a reliable source of information throughout the unrest. Our Special Coverage Page has all the details.

The Release of Cuban Political Prisoners
Over the course of the last few months, the Cuban government, as part of a deal brokered by the Spanish government and the Catholic Church, has released several prisoners of conscience, albeit to exile in Spain. The move followed the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapato Tamayo, after which the situation on the island became even more tense, with Cuban authorities clamping down on bloggers and activists around the time of Tamayo's funeral. Thirteen prisoners are still due to be released under the agreement; although the deadline has already passed, bloggers are still watching the situation closely.

This was not the only important story to come out of Cuba this year: soon after Fidel Castro admitted to a reporter (and subsequently retracted his statement) that the Cuban economic model no longer works, the government began the process of cutting 500,000 state jobs, in an effort resuscitate the island's struggling economy.

Interestingly, the government also announced that a submarine fiber optic cable linking Venezuela, Cuba, and Jamaica, will be operating by January of 2011. Although this will greatly enhance the quality of Internet connectivity, it will not necessarily lead to more access.


Plane crash in Central Cuba. Courtesy of Escambray.

On November 4, sixty-eight people died in the crash of an Aerocaribbean plane in central Cuba. Social media networks immediately became one of the main channels of communication.

Sad Farewells
Several regional territories had to say goodbye to national icons this year: Barbados lost its relatively new and certainly youngest-ever Prime Minister, Jamaica - and indeed the world - lost reggae icon Gregory “Cool Ruler” Isaacs to cancer and Monserrat (and calypso fans everywhere) said their final farewell to Arrow, the man who brought us the mega-hit “Hot, Hot, Hot”.

In other music news, reggae star Buju Banton was a regular topic of discussion in the regional blogosphere, as he went to court in the United State to defend himself against drug trafficking charges. After the judge presiding over his case declared a mistrial in September, the singer is scheduled to go through the process again, with a new trial beginning early in the New Year.

Hurricane Season
The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season started early, with Hurricane Earl, which was closely followed by Igor and finally, Tomas, the storm which appeared to have done the greatest damage. When neighbouring nations pledged their relief support in the hurricane's aftermath, Trinidad and Tobago's newly-elected (and first female) Prime Minister came under fire for her statement that that any release of the twin island republic's aid dollars hinged on reciprocal economic benefits. Her words was interpreted as insensitive and prompted an online boycott of Trinidad and Tobago products across the region.

From natural disasters to political wrangling, 2010 was a busy year - and as 2011 approaches, the Global Voices Caribbean Team will continue to monitor the regional blogosphere in an ongoing effort to facilitate meaningful conversation and understanding throughout the Caribbean archipelago.

Firuzeh Shokooh Valle contributed to this post.

December 17 2010

Dominica: Authentic Craft

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Dominica Weekly is proud of its craftspeople, saying: “Dominica is ahead of the game when it comes to authentic art and craft.”

December 13 2010

Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica: Celebrating Christmas

By Janine Mendes-Franco

TriniGourmet.com says that “in Trinidad, Christmas is Parang”, while Dominica Weekly blogs about seasonal celebrations in the Nature Isle.

November 05 2010

Trinidad & Tobago: PM's Statement Causes Backlash

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister has come under fire for her statements about hurricane relief to some of the CARICOM nations that were severely damaged by Hurricane Tomas. Bloggers throughout the Caribbean archipelago were offended by the sentiment that any release of the twin island republic's aid dollars hinged on reciprocal economic benefits. The PM's position has left a bitter taste in the mouths of those affected by the storm and prompted an online boycott of Trinidad and Tobago products in a region already not particularly enamoured of the country's approach to doing business.

Discuss SVG, whose island took quite a beating from the storm, was “saddened” by the Prime Minister's statements, but conceded:

The reality is any diplomatic offering, whether it be humanitarian aid, regional investment or otherwise always comes with strings attached, whether it comes from a developed country or developing nation. Maybe Kamla has simply not realised that such declarations are better not made in the public forum, limited only to confidential discourse among regional peers.

Politics aside, what upset her was “the callousness of the statement”:

How dare she rank the desire to ensure the benefit of her nationals in the same category of the families, villages and communities that have been ravaged by Tomas? Has she seen or was she even cognizant of the dire needs not trivial wants of St. Lucia, Barbados and our very own Hairouna? I am tempted to blog on the possible effects of this Hurricane on the political landscape but I shall refrain while I pray and do my best to bring our nation back on its feet.

In contrast, Barbadian bloggers Barbados Free Press and Barbados Underground saw the statement for what it was, and thought that all the fallout was unnecessary. BFP even admitted that:

The BFP crew joined the outrage against Persad-Bissessar’s statements made earlier this week – until Marcus walked into the room and gave us his outstanding impression of Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II…

‘We’re both part of the same hypocrisy…

…but Kamla’s decided she’d rather tell the truth.'

The post continued:

Proponents of CARICOM love to talk about how wonderful and strong the Caribbean Community could be if we would only unite and put aside our selfishness. If the stronger and wealthier countries would help our neighbours to the best of our ability, the entire family would progress.

Fine words. Fine thoughts.

The Caricom party line heard for decades ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

So when Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said that Trinidad and Tobago taxpayers are getting tired of being thought of as the CARICOM family piggy bank, that she has to consult with the citizens before her government can make promises AND that if houses are to be built as a gift from T&T, it will be T&T companies that build them with T&T materials… WELL… that put the mongoose in the chicken pen!

The blog couldn't help but note similarities to Haiti in the wake of the January 12 earthquake: not in terms of the scale of the disaster, but in Caribbean's people's response to the victims:

It didn’t take long to cut through the Bajan veneer of sincerity about Haiti, did it?

Barbados did not take in a single injured patient from Haiti. Not twenty. Not ten. Not five. Not two. Not even one.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas, the small island nations of St. Vincent, Barbados and St. Lucia are looking for help from Trinidad & Tobago.

Ask yourself these questions… Did we really do as much as we could for Haiti for the last nine months? Why should we expect anything different from our neighbour, Trinidad and Tobago?

You know the answer, because ‘We’re both part of the same hypocrisy'

BU thought the whole affair was nothing but “a storm in a teacup”:

It is understandable for people to become emotional at this time when St. Lucians and Vincentians are in obvious distress. It may come as a surprise that BU see nothing wrong with the meaning behind Kamla’s position. Perhaps her message was twisted by a media which is always on the hunt to sensationalize news of late.

If the aid had come form China, USA, Britain and a host of other countries the issue of reciprocal arrangements would be a moot point. It is generally known – taken for granted some might suggest – that many of the so called developed countries attached conditionalities to how aid is deployed. Why should T&T dump aid in St, Lucia for example and the government there feel under no obligation to purchase raw materials from T&T?

KnowTnT.com expressed similar feelings and was in support of his Prime Minister's position:

When the Prime Minister announced to CARICOM earlier this year that the Trinidad and Tobago ATM is now closed, many probably thought it was political rhetoric. Now that she is exercising the Republic’s prerogative by expecting some measure of reciprocity by our CARICOM brothers and sisters in their time of need she is being vilified.

For years Trinidad and Tobago has been seen as the financial big brother to the rest of CARICOM and the countless millions that we have pumped into that black hole has returned very little to the Republic except maybe some good will. Clearly, and a few years too late this position must change and if we are to continue to benefit from CARICOM membership we must exist as an equal partner or leave.

The blogger also addressed the online call for a T&T boycott…

There have been reports that on Facebook and other social media many CARICOM nationals are calling for a boycott of Trinidad and Tobago products and services. Retaliatory marketing can only foster estrangement and if regional governments support this then they confirm the status quo as being fair-weather friends and aren’t we better off without this kind of arrangement?

…and examined the statement in the context of the country's current economic reality:

During the election campaign there were calls for better governance, economic progress and a generally better standard of living for all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. Now that we have the leadership we wanted how could we expect it to be business as usual? The actual and opportunity costs of any expenditure must be put in its proper perspective so that we don’t embark on imprudent fiscal activity that could prove deleterious to our already precarious economy.

Whereas the PM's statement is acerbic in nature the reality is that we will not sign a blank cheque to aid anyone and this must be seen as the responsible thing.

Objectively, we are already in deficit financing from the latest budget. Any expenditure we undertake outside this deficit carries us deeper into the red. How are we to pay for this ‘aid'?

While the blogger admitted that “from a diplomatic perspective it [the statement] is a disaster and we can expect the consequences to be far ranging and protracted”, he also drew attention to the recent fallout “when most of CARICOM signed onto Chavez's Petrocaribe deal”:

They essentially told Trinidad and Tobago to go to hell with your oil and gas we'll support Chavez. The consequence being that Trinidad and Tobago had to expand its extra regional and international marketing to compensate for the losses incurred. We weren't brothers and sisters then. All concerned made decisions relevant to their economics and even though they've bounded their economies to Chavez for years to come they made choices that benefited them and had the potential of crippling our own economy. Regardless of the situation, sovereign responsibility is the first priority: anything beyond that is a betrayal of the mandate voted for by the people.

Of course, in true Caribbean fashion, humour has been one way that bloggers are tackling the issue. No sooner had the Prime Minister's statements conjured up regional ire than @fake Kamla made her debut on Twitter; her political foe and the country's former fake Prime Minister, @patrickmanning, was the first to comment:

So Kamla and I not so different after all. Only thing is she talking country, whereas I used to talk Patos' pocket.

Fake Patrick Manning even wrote a blog post about it, publishing comical letters he purportedly received from a range of characters who are unhappy about the current Prime Minister's resolve.

Back on Twitter, Fake Kamla decided to crowdsource her apology to CARICOM; suggestions ranged from blaming alcohol and PMS to channeling Margaret Thatcher.

Using an interesting bit of logic, the fake Prime Minister defended her position by saying:

CARICOM, giving you aid $ to spend on goods made in other countries = buying clothes for your husband to wear to go out and horn you.

She addressed the issue of the boycott, noting that the campaign seemed to be offline and asking:

Looking for a CARICOM person who's actually boycotting T&T goods. What T&T product DIDN'T you buy today?

Referring to her trip to St. Lucia today, the fake PM tweeted:

Packing for St. Lucia trip. Anyone know what fabric resists banana stains the best?

Finally, in response to a netizen's link to a mainstream media story suggesting that her statement's were misunderstood, she enthusiastically agreed:

Damn right I was! RT @jovanreid: T&T PM says she was misunderstood http://bit.ly/a2OKON

October 31 2010

Caribbean: Hurricane Tomas

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Trinidad and Tobago, the twin island republic that seemed to be directly in Tomaspath on Friday, was spared its effects, but as the storm veered north, islands that had previously been out of its path were suddenly thrust into storm warning mode.

Barbados, still grappling over the death of its Prime Minister, was the first to get hit. Barbados Free Press' reported that:

It’s not too bad. Noisy. Wet. Water went off with the power, but it’s back. One of our friends has one of those little wind things on top of his house and it hit 87 mph just before a calm period maybe an hour and a half ago.

A later update stated:

There are a couple of boats smashed up at Oistins. Lots of damage, roofs off. It looks like the south took a harder hit than we did.

Facebook was filled with private updates discussing the intensity of the storm and the fact that some areas were without electricity; after the worst was over, My Barbados Blog posted this update:

The parishes hardest hit by Tomas were St George, St Philip, St Joseph, St Michael, St Andrew and St Lucy with roofs blown off, trees uprooted, palings blown down, streets blocked, and downed utility poles.

The Bajan Reporter posted a story which stated that the country's Department of Emergency Management was caught “pretty much off-guard” by the warnings from the Barbados Meteorological Service.

The storm ploughed through St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Martinique where damage primarily consisted of felled trees, downed power lines, flooding in some areas and roofs being torn off, but Vincentian bloggers have been uncharacteristically quiet, leading to speculation that internet access may also be affected. Dominica News Blog said:

The passage of Hurricane Tomas to the south of Dominica has brought a day of gusty winds and heavy showers. No damage has been reported as yet, but the current poor weather conditions are set to continue overnight.

The storm now appears to be headed towards Jamaica; bloggers have been discussing the country's level of preparedness on Twitter. @anniepaul said:

ppl are aware and nervous but we're still recovering from Nicole RT @Fledgist: @anniepaul How ready is Jca for Tomás?

@therealnickmack added:

@anniepaul We're not ready! There are so many damaged roads & bridges that are either being repaired or not yet assessed!

Tomas is now situated south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico; the hope remains that the Category 2 storm, which is expected to gather more strength, will steer clear of Haiti, which is still dealing with the debilitating effects of the massive January 12 earthquake and a recent cholera outbreak. real hope for haiti is reporting that:

Haiti issued an orange storm alert, the second highest level. Authorities warned southern and western regions — including the quake-ravaged capital of Port-au-Prince, where an estimated 1.3 million people are living in tent camps — to be on guard for high winds, thunderstorms and possible flooding.

October 27 2010

Caribbean: Perception of Corruption

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Repeating Islands re-posts the results of Transparency International's latest Corruption Perception Index, and reports that Caribbean nations have not fared so well.

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