Monday, March 31, 2008

US Admiral Says Caribbean Possible Terrorist Threat

"We consider Latin America and the Caribbean to be potential bases for future terrorist threats to the United States and others in the Americas," Admiral James Stavridis

WASHINGTON, United States, March 31, 2008
- A top American military officer has pointed to the Caribbean as a possible terrorist threat to the United States.

US Navy Commander, Admiral James Stavridis noted the concern in the US Southern Command 2008 Posture Statement. The US Southern Command is charged with promoting security cooperation and conducting military operations in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.

"We consider Latin America and the Caribbean to be potential bases for future terrorist threats to the United States and others in the Americas," Admiral Stavridis noted.

"The conditions in parts of the region - easily skirted borders, black market economies, corruption, poverty, established illicit trafficking routes - all could provide manoeuvring room for any form of terrorism to exploit, to include Islamic radical groups."

He made reference to the alleged involvement of a Trinidadian and three Guyanese nationals in a reported plot to bomb the gas lines leading to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, saying that "the leading suspects' roots in the Caribbean raise the specter of Islamic terrorist activity gaining traction."

"We believe members, facilitators, and sympathisers of Islamic terrorist organisations are indeed present in our hemisphere," Admiral Stavridis indicated.

He however indicated that the US Southern Command which he leads has a unique regional plan to combat that threat through multiple avenues including "shaping the strategic environment through humanitarian operations that deter radical organisations from gaining a foothold in the region, and building partner nation capacity to detect

and defeat threats in a cooperative environment".

"These efforts will help ensure the forward defense of the United States and increased security of our partners," the military official said.

Among the key initiatives to address potential terrorist threats in the region is Operation Enduring Freedom-Caribbean and Central America (OEF-CCA) which began this year.

"Within a cooperative regional environment, OEF-CCA seeks to improve the capabilities of Caribbean and Central American partners to interdict and disrupt terrorists who might leverage illicit transnational routes and uncontrolled areas to threaten the United States and/or our neighbors," Admiral Stavridis explained.

"OEF-CCA is a long-term endeavor and will create a multi-layered counter-terrorism posture of mutual benefit to the United States and regional partners."

The US Southern Command's areas of focus in the Caribbean are Antigua and Barbuda,

Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Netherlands Antilles.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PETA Treatens More Action In St. Kitts

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, March 19, 2008 -

The People for the Ethical Treatment of animals (PETA) made good on its threat and picketed the St Kitts-based veterinary university it has accused of mutilating animals, but promised the protests would not end there if action is not taken against the school.

Speaking as she and other members of PETA demonstrated outside the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on Monday, spokesperson Melissa Karpel said the group which has over two million supporters across the globe would "take the step further and continue with the message worldwide" if the relevant authorities did not launch an investigation into what was going on at the institution.

PETA has called for the accreditation process which is underway for the university owned by the Chicago-based education company, DeVry Inc., to be halted until the school abandons "teaching exercises that harm and kill animals and switches to humane, modern teaching methods, including computer models and clinical training."

It has written to the school's officials asking them to halt the alleged practices, as well as to government officials, including Attorney General Dennis Merchant and Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor for the matter to be investigated.

"Ross University on St. Kitts is mutilating and killing dogs and other animals for needless surgical experiments and trainings, whereas many universities throughout the world and all the universities in the UK do not maim and torture animals for training purposes," she said. "So we are calling upon the attorney-general in St. Kitts to investigate and prosecute the university."

"Things that are happening here are unnecessary and are possible in violation of animal protection laws of St. Kitts."

PETA Research Director Kathy Guillermo has said Ross University must be penalized for "forcing students to harm animals in their quest to learn how to help them".

Eastern Caribbean Experiencing Unusual Weather Patterns

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, March 19, 2008 - Residents of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean have been warned to expect huge waves to affect their coasts, as a deep low pressure system centred over the North Atlantic threatens to generate large sea swells.

The Barbados and Saint Lucia Meteorological Offices yesterday issued weather forecasts indicating that "significant sea wave height" were expected over the Eastern Caribbean, starting today and continuing into tomorrow.

The Barbados Meteorological Office indicated that swells around four to five metres, or 12 to 16 feet, were expected over the coastal waters surrounding Barbados from late Wednesday/early Thursday.

The Department of Emergency Management (DEM) indicated it has been made aware of the situation and was putting contingency arrangements in place. A similar approach has been taken by the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) in St Lucia, which said it was monitoring the situation and putting local contingency measures in place particularly for the safe harbour of vessels.

The Barbados-based CDERA also urged the public to note that "over the next two days potential significant sea swells may be observed".

Meantime, the weather won't be very calm in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) either.

A cold front moving across the local area started producing scattered showers and gusty winds yesterday and was also expected to generate very large swells.

"As the swells arrive, marine conditions will continue to deteriorate and large swells approaching the local area may be in excess of nine to 12 feet increasing to 16 feet or more," a release from CDERA indicated.

"For that reason, a Small Craft Advisory remains in effect until Friday night, a High Surf Advisory is in effect until 2 p.m. Friday, and a Coastal Flood Watch is in effect until Friday."

The BVI Department of Disaster Management on Tuesday, March 18 in a release captioned and captioned "Dangerous sea conditions to affect the BVI waters". urged BVI residents and visitors to exercise extreme caution when venturing out to swim deadly rip currents and strong-break-to shore waves will be present.

It added that mariners should also be very cautious when securing and operating vessels since the waves are supposed to be larger than usual and may create very hazardous conditions.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Joint Venture Key To Seizing EPA Opportunities

KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 10, 2008 -

Jamaica's Prime Minister is urging Caribbean companies to get busy now in order to take advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which the region will officially sign in June.

Bruce Golding told members of the press at CARICOM's 19th Inter-Sessional meeting in the Bahamas that businesses across the region must come together in joint ventures if they want to benefit from the new trade deal.

Noting that the EPA will provide a challenge for the region, he cautioned that trying to go it alone would not allow them to penetrate the European markets or achieve the levels of efficiency to dominate those markets.

The Jamaican leader said CARICOM countries should use the opportunity to seek out and invite investors from across the world.

"This is a great opportunity to attract foreign investment but the foreign investments won't arrive in the region. We have to go into the investment markets. It is a commodity and it has to be marketed," Mr Golding said.

"If we sit around and wait on EPA to transform our lives, it will never happen. We need to get busy," he added.

He said if businesses across the region could penetrate even a small part of the European market of 450 million people, thousands of jobs could be created for Caribbean citizens.


CARICOM Suspends External Tariffs

NASSAU, Bahamas, March 10, 2008 - Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads have agreed to temporarily suspend the Common External Tariff (CET) to give regional governments the go ahead to drop the duty on some goods in order to help reduce the cost of living in their respective countries.

Meeting in the Bahamas over the weekend for their 19th Inter-Sessional meeting, CARICOM heads received the list of items that the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) had approved for suspension of the CET with immediate effect for a period of two years, ending March 4th, 2010.

The CET provides a harmonized coding system and a consistent tariff rate structure for the importation of goods from outside CARICOM. It sets minimum and maximum duty rates for all member countries.

St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas indicated that "national governments have been advised that they should take appropriate action so as to safeguard the interest of their citizens with regards to the price of goods and services."

"It's really up to the different governments to apply what I believe would be the right thing after consultations with the private sector and their representatives at the national level," he added.

The issue of crime and security also took centre stage at the meeting and a communiqué issued at the end the two-day meeting indicated that a special summit on crime in Trinidad and Tobago will be held early next month to fully explore the issue "and to agree to a Strategy and Action Plan to stem the rising tide of violent criminality."

Progress of CSME

In their discussions on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the leaders noted a report on the establishment of the single economy and the progress made towards making the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) and Agency operational.

"Heads of Government noted the scope of the fund which would retain the CSME-related special and differential policy measures as a significant component but, for effective insertion in today's global economy, would include a more outwardly-oriented component," the communiqué indicated. "This would include the promotion of investment, improvement of enterprise competitiveness, development of infrastructure and technical and financial assistance."

Member states were also urged to make their contributions in order to expedite the start up of the CDF.

Although leaders said they were satisfied with the progress of some aspects of the integration, particularly the free movement of skilled nationals, member states were urged to ensure that all the necessary measures were put in place for the effective exercise of these rights.

"In that regard, where the legal process has not been completed, it was agreed that eligible CARICOM nationals must be facilitated administratively," the communiqué noted.

The regional heads also expressed regret that limited progress had been made with respect to the development of a protocol on Contingent Rights which affect nationals exercising the right of free movement. They also expressed regret that in many Member States, national consultations are yet to be held or completed and urged Member States to ensure that these talks are completed by early April.

The discussions on the CSME came against a call from the CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington for a "unity of purpose and action to achieve the goals of the integration movement", as he warned that "time was not on the side of the region as it sought to advance the interests of the people of the Community."

"Time is not on our side if we are to safeguard our security. Time is not on our side if we are to achieve the goal of a single market and economy in the time frame that you as heads of government have set and time is not on our side if we are to achieve the Community for all," he said in his address at the opening of the meeting.

Trade negotiations

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which the region will officially sign in a few months and which is the focus of review by some member states, was also brought up for discussion.

The heads committed themselves to taking the necessary steps to complete these internal consultations to facilitate signature and provisional applications of the agreement by 30 June.

Mr Carrington said he hoped the lessons learnt from the recently concluded negotiations would strengthen the region as it moves towards upcoming new negotiations.

The leaders also discussed the matters of functional cooperation, health and tourism among other issues.


Monday, March 10, 2008

The Caribbean Beat Online Magazine & Blog

We've got some great news -- the CRB, which was incorporated as a nonprofit in Trinidad & Tobago last year, has received a substantial grant from the Prince Claus fund to develop the magazine!

That includes increasing the magazine's size and scope, as well as a pilot translation project to make the magazine available in multiple languages throughout the region.

The latest issue of the CRB (No.15: February 2008) now has excerpted articles online, and all past issues -- including the last November 2007 issue -- are now available in our ONLINE ARCHIVE, free of charge. For articles over 500 words, you'll need to set up a free online account with us.

Thanks as always for your support, and don't forget to check us out online:


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Barbados, Canada sign the Caribbean's first open skies deal


OTTAWA, Canada, March 6, 2008 - Barbados and Canada have reached an Open Skies-type air transport agreement to increase trade, tourism and investment between the two countries.

The deal which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, allows carriers to provide scheduled air services as frequently as desired between cities in Canada and Barbados. The agreement also allows the airlines to react quickly to market conditions by more effectively adjusting prices and gives them greater flexibility in offering both passenger and cargo flights to and from third countries, including Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states.

The provisions of the deal will be applied immediately and once ratified, the agreement will replace the 1985 one now in force.

Canada's Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Lawrence Cannon announced the negotiated agreement which builds on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's July 2007 visit to the Caribbean region. During that trip, the North American leader outlined his country's re-engagement in the Americas as a critical, long-term international priority for the government.

"This is Canada's first Open Skies-type agreement in the Caribbean region and signals another step forward in providing greater flexibility for air services for passengers, businesses, air carriers and airports," said Mr Cannon. "I am pleased with the outcome of these negotiations, marking another bilateral air services agreement achieved under Canada's Blue Sky policy."

Minister of International Trade, David Emerson added that the new agreement will provide a stronger basis for competitive air services.

"We anticipate this will generate even more growth in trade, tourism and investment," he said.

Last year trade between Canada and CARICOM member states stood at CAD$2.2 billion (US$2.23 billion), a 20-per-cent increase from 2006. Canadian merchandise exports to CARICOM totalled CAD$725 million (US$736 million) and merchandise imports from CARICOM totalled CAD$1.47 billion (US$1.49 billion).

In 2006, 25,600 Canadians travelled to Barbados, while the CARICOM region received more than 251,100 Canadian tourists in 2006.

See Side Bar Link Caribbean360

Manning Was Tactless


Thursday, March 6 2008

Prime Minister Patrick Manning was less than tactful when on Saturday he commented at a news conference on a matter that is now properly before the Courts of fellow Caricom country, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), involving the Prime Minister of that country, Dr Ralph Gonzalves.

While it is a matter of record that the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Director of Public Prosecutions, after examining the evidence, decided not to pursue legal action with respect to allegations made by a female Police officer against PM Gonzalves, nonetheless a judicial review had been sought of the DPP’s decision, and the SVG law courts are to rule later this month on whether or not to allow charges to be proceeded with against Dr Gonzalves. The 36-year-old female Police officer had been part of the guard detail at the SVG PM’s residence at the time of the alleged incident.

Clearly, it would have been better had Prime Minister Manning waited until the determination of the judicial review and any other appeals which may have followed before offering any comment on the matter, if he thought such comment was necessary. This would include an appeal, for example, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which, incidentally, is the final Court of Appeal in such matters for both Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Surely, Mr Manning should have appreciated that his tactless comment, bore, however unintentionally, the official seal of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and not that of an ordinary citizen which, in whatever way you look at it would have been unfortunate. Patrick Manning was not voicing an opinion in a private capacity in the confines of a living room in a private residence, but rather making a comment, an official one at that, as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

And this, particularly, as his statement was made at an officially called media conference, admittedly to deal with another issue, and held at the Diplomatic Centre of the Prime Minister’s Residence. What, exactly, did Mr Manning mean by this statement which was published in Sunday’s issue of Newsday: “It is the people of Trinidad and Tobago who determine who stays in office and who does not stay in office and we will continue to have it that way as long as the PNM is in office. There is going to be democracy in this country, and not mob rule or justice that is based on allegations.”

We hope that Prime Minister Manning, on reading the news report, must have wished he had put together a somewhat different selection of words. While it can be argued that Mr Manning statement, made as it was at Trinidad and Tobago’s Diplomatic Centre, at St Ann’s, Trinidad, did not fall within the jurisdiction of the courts of St Vincent and the Grenadines and, therefore, could not in any way be classified as commenting on an issue that was before our domestic courts. However, in the age of not merely the print media, but the broadcast media as well, Mr Manning’s statement would have been read, heard and viewed in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

We urge Mr Manning that as long as he is Prime Minister that while he may feel the need to come to the defence of a fellow Caricom Prime Minister, to exercise tact when dealing with issues, made all the more sensitive because they can be seen to before the courts whether in St Vincent or otherwise.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Do You Really Know Why You Are Here?

The mission of social networking sites like Linkedin and Plaxo is to provide a forum where like minded people in business could share ideas and connect with each other. These sites are better known as business networking sites. Ostensibly, members join accepting TOS of the site and as such the site's mission. The real reason most members join is to promote themselves. Most time the only thing they are willing to contribute to the network is a personal business or affiliate link. So why are you here?

Was reading an NLP post recently that pushed the question on why people really do things. They explained a process to determine your real motivations which I will like to share with you. Hopefully, it will help you get to the real reason you have joined these networks. Whatever your response is to the question of why are you doing anything follow it up with the Why question. This is easier explained with an example.

Question: Why did you join Plaxo?
Answer: To meet more people online.
Question: Why?
Answer: So that I can build a network of friends
Question: Why?
Answer: So that I could build my business
Question: Why?
Answer: To maintain my life stlye and pay my bills
Question: Why?
Answer: My family, children wife is depending on me
Question: Why?
Answer: Because I love them and have a responsibility to provide

By now you must have the point. Find the real reason you do the things you do so that it could guide your actions. OK, using the Caribbean Basin Think Tank as an example.

Shortly after joining Plaxo I decided to create a Group that focused on developing the Caribbean business community. It was easy to setup and was quick approved by both Linkedin $ Plaxo. It also, just as quickly attracted member who I thought were interested in the Group's mission. Not wanting to assume why all these individuals joined, I asked the question and started a poll. The response was poor most group members did not participate.

That in and of itself was an interesting response. According to NLP esperts, the human species cannot NOT communicate, even non-participation is a response. So the question still remains: Why did you join the Caribbean Basin Think Tank?

Personally, I have no problem with lurkers, in fact, I am a lurker on many groups i.e. I read their post but do not participate. Mostly because I am absorbing and do not feel passionate enough about the subject to butt in. Thats and aside, lets get back on topic.

We have built a Group of over 160 members who, from their communication (joining) have stated that they are interested in at least learning about the Caribbean Basin and how they could expand their global reach. 90% of these individuals are lurkers and of the 10% that participate 90% of them are self promoters of products or services that are not remotely related to the Caribbean.
This again begs the question: Why did they join the Caribbean Basin Think Tank?

Our questions went unanswered. Our polls were ignored. So we postulated, deduced and rationalized the real reason for the attraction to the Caribbean Basin Think Tank. Before we share our conclusions we will like to hear from you. Why do you think that most people joined this group?

If you don't feel like sharing, just ask yourself, Really, Why am I here?

Monday, March 3, 2008


Find out what the Caribbean diaspora is doing in the United Kingdom. This is the prime online resource for the Caribbean community and Caribbean culture in the UK. You can access a business and services directory, articles and information about Caribbeans living in the UK. View over 2,000 pages of information relating to all things Caribbean in London and around the UK. Go visit.

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