A Historic Meeting … Cuba


whitehouselogoa repost

President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Panama City  — marking the first full meeting between the leaders of the two countries since we announced a new diplomatic path with Cuba.

The two presidents discussed our shared histories, significant policy changes, and the positive response in both countries to this thaw in relations. “This is obviously a historic meeting,” said President Obama — who was in Central America for the seventh Summit of the Americas, a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the region.

Watch the President’s remarks at the Summit and learn more about his trip.

The President speaks at the Summit of the Americas.

Weekly Address: Tuition-Free Community College

In this week’s address, the Vice President laid out his and the President’s plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students. A better-educated citizenry is necessary to ensure that the United States continues to out-compete the rest of the world. Making two years of community college free is good for workers, good for companies, and good for our economy.

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Why Conversion Therapy Hurts All of Us

More than 120,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on the dangerous and unacceptable practice of conversion therapy — and on Wednesday, we responded. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy is neither medically or ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm. That’s why the Obama administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.

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West Wing Week: “A Good Deal”

Last week, the President made an important announcement about preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, traveled west to champion high-tech jobs in Louisville and clean energy jobs in Salt Lake City, had some fun at the 137th-annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and flew to Jamaica for a meeting with leaders of Caribbean nations.

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If not now, When?


mayorsagainstguns

just another rant …

and a question for Bernie Sanders and his supporters … at what point will you all say enough is enough?

The months wear on but most have NOT forgotten Newtown …

They say there are more deaths from hand guns, yet another massacre has taken place … can we just ban automatic weapons

Tell your Democratic or Republican member of Congress that the time has come for #GunSafety #GunReform #UniversalBackgroundChecks

People on the far left say they are progressive but i missed that enthusiasm for trying to do something progress like wanting to make folks accountable,change or reform the archaic laws on the books regarding guns which should be updated to meet our 21st Century lives … where are they?

I am against handguns … period.  The incidents my family, friends even some co-workers have experienced have molded my attitude over the years, and a narrow escape or two of my own. The thought of a teacher being responsible for having or being forced to keep a handgun or anything larger in the classroom just does not make sense.

As more Americans watch, wait and wonder when Congress will take a stand on gun control, more say there is absolutely no reason a civilian should own or have access to an assault weapon. The fact is assault weapons, the standard infantry combat choice for most modern armies has no place in a civil society.  Police already have trouble protecting and serving our communities against illegal guns, legislation that broadly regulates the firearms industry and firearms owners let alone automatic weapons solely made and meant to kill people quickly.

At what point will our members of Congress, the firearm industry and owners stand up speak up or out over the current stalemate to move gun laws into the 21st Century. The NRA has been a thorn in all our sides, spending millions lobbying for gun rights while controlling votes in Congress. The Second Amendment, states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”   I have to say, who doesn’t believe this amendment is in dire need of revaluation for the lives of our citizens.

In 1994, Congress added a background check system to strengthen our existing laws to keep guns out of the hands of felons, drug abusers, and the mentally ill. In 2004, Congress let the assault weapons ban expire. It is time to recognize and change the flaws in the background check system that have enabled folks to arrange hits, commit heinous crimes, violent deaths or massacres like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Arizona, Michigan, Washington state Colorado, Chicago , Texas, Santa Monica,DC,Illinois,Ohio,NY,San Bernardino, Missouri,Baltimore,Minnesota

If not now, when is a good question.

written 4/2013

New thinking about the Caribbean


June 14, 2015

In North America and Europe there are from time to time international conferences that quietly enable new thinking. It is mostly an unseen process whereby governments, foundations or think tanks facilitate conversations, in ways that variously attempt to address intractable problems such as those in the Middle East, form a consensus on future policy, or enable the participants to look over the horizon.

These events allow invited participants to escape from their day-to-day responsibilities and usually in a group of 50 or less, debate and explore new ideas or solutions in private. The value is not just in the dialogue and the outcome, but in the freedom to say what you think knowing that no one will quote you, in the personal contacts made in the margins, and the associated trust that develops which can last throughout a career.

Such events rarely focus on the Caribbean, but a little over a week ago about sixty invited guests from the Caribbean as a whole, the UK and North America met at Wilton Park in the English countryside.

The objective of ‘Caribbean 2030: new thinking for a new generation’ was to bring together a mix of voices, young and more experienced, to consider what the region might look like fifteen years from now, and to hear in particular how younger participants from politics, government, the private sector, academia and civil society see the Caribbean’s future and how they might play a role in taking it there.

The conference, which was developed in conjunction with the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) and Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was wide-ranging in its scope, but a number of general themes emerged which suggest a different Caribbean in fifteen years time.

One of the more significant discussions that ran throughout the conference was whether the future fortunes of the region lay in economic convergence between complementary economies. It was suggested that rather than politically-led solutions, it was trade, investment and financial services between networked groups of nations that would create future growth and integration. One consequence was that participants from the northern Caribbean, and in particular from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, argued that there was greater value in Jamaica, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic having a stronger economic relationship that might also involve Cayman as a financial hub. The view of some was that such an approach would enable the Caribbean to escape being defined through its colonial past.

This was not to say that in terms of foreign relations and on issues of international or thematic importance that the region should not act through Caricom, nor for most was it to suggest that Caricom should be set aside; but many participants felt there were better opportunities for growth through a more rational approach to economic integration linked to improved infrastructure. The suggestion was that this thinking ought to drive policy across the region.

FYI: Caricom members include

 Antigua and Barbuda 4 July 1974
 Bahamas 4 July 1983 Not part of customs union
 Barbados 1 August 1973
 Belize 1 May 1974
 Dominica 1 May 1974
 Grenada 1 May 1974
 Guyana
 Haiti 2 July 2002 Provisional membership on 4 July 1998
 Jamaica 1 August 1973
 Montserrat 1 May 1974 British overseas territory
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 26 July 1974 Joined as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla
 Saint Lucia 1 May 1974
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1 May 1974
 Suriname 4 July 1995
 Trinidad and Tobago 1 August 1973 Founder of the Organization before handing over to Guyana
Associate  Anguilla July 1999 British overseas territory
 Bermuda 2 July 2003 British overseas territory
 British Virgin Islands July 1991 British overseas territory
 Cayman Islands 16 May 2002 British overseas territory
 Turks and Caicos Islands July 1991 British overseas territory
Observer  Aruba Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Colombia
 Curaçao Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Dominican Republic
 Mexico
 Puerto Rico Commonwealth of the USA
 Sint Maarten Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Venezuela

There were of course dissenting voices, particularly in some of the working groups. Some in particular from the Eastern Caribbean and from academia objected and declared themselves all but wedded to making what the region already had work, though when it came to the detail there was little to demonstrate how this might take the Caribbean beyond where it is today.

A second prevailing theme was that of the new economy and the growing irrelevance of borders.

These thoughts came especially from some of the younger participants involved in information technology, new media, tourism and the private sector more generally, who made clear that what they were doing made traditional geographic concepts and the size of the Caribbean irrelevant.

The conference was also notable for leaping the language and cultural divide with participants from the Dominican Republic being able to demonstrate in a neutral setting how their experience in many areas from alternative energy to tourism had relevance to most of the region. It also allowed them to set out the country’s thinking in terms of how it might be better connected with and work more closely with the nations of Caricom.

As you might expect there were detailed exchanges on energy security, the environment, and education which all agreed was a development priority if the region was to succeed. There were interesting mentions of the blue economy − the region’s largely unrealised offshore resource − and important exchanges on governance and security about which more in a future column.

There was not a stand-off between the politicians and the private sector. In fact there was a surprising degree of consensus that both needed one another and that the region had to end this false dichotomy if growth were to be achieved. It was suggested that as the generations changed this may no longer be so much of an issue. However, for some, the balance between the competing interests of social equity and the role of the market in Caribbean development needed to be resolved if the region was ever to experience significant economic growth.

For some of the younger participants the real problem that the region has to face in the next fifteen years was to escape from the dead hand of the region’s public sector. In a rarely voiced opinion it was suggested that it is the public sector and those who work with it who have a vested interest in ensuring that thinking and their influence remain the same.

The suggestion was that this was holding the region back.

Strikingly the relationship with the UK, Europe and the US was little mentioned by the younger participants. It was as if the Caribbean had moved on and had a much more balanced view of when and on what issues it wished to relate to a much broader range of external partners. In this context it was unclear whether China’s presence in the region was a threat, an opportunity, or both.

The downside of the meeting was that there was no authentic Cuban voice able to discuss the way it saw the region, the way in which detente with the US may change the Caribbean’s political and economic centre of gravity.

These are of course personal observations, and in due course there will be a report with suggested actions.

The value, however, of this quite different conference will only be known if the synergies, new thinking and the relationships established begin to change the Caribbean for the better.

Previous columns can be found at www. caribbean-council.org

Islanders … diverse


Virgin Islands People

People from the Virgin Islands are called Virgin Islanders and based on the island of residence are called St. Thomian, St. Johnian, Crucian and Water Islanders respectively.

The first people known to have inhabited what is today the Virgin Islands were the Carib, Arawak and Ciboney Indians. These indigenous people are believed to have left and/or been forcibly removed by the late 1500’s.

Between the early 1600s and mid-1800’s the residents of the islands were of European and African extraction. Settlers, mainly from Holland, England, Denmark, Ireland and France, came to the islands to operate plantations, to run shops and warehouses, as indentured servants and to live in the fledging new colonies. Outnumbering the European whites were African slaves that were forcibly brought to the islands as labor for the plantations. Whites and Blacks born in the islands were called Creoles. At the end of the plantation era many of the white planters and their families returned to Europe.

In 1917 the United States bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark. The population in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s changed greatly. There was an influx of immigrants from neighboring Puerto Rico to St. Croix to work in agriculture. French immigrants from St. Barths and British immigrants from the British Virgin Islands came to St. Thomas and today are well established. As a new US territory American officials and military personal were sent to the islands. These five groups made up the majority of the population in the early 1900s. After Naval rule ended most of the military personal and officials returned to the mainland and a new group of US mainlanders began coming to the islands; tourist! With tourism came a boom in the economy and another influx of immigrants. This was the mid-1900s. More French from St. Barths and more British from the British Virgin Islands came to work in hotels and restaurants on St. Thomas. Americans from the mainland came to the islands to invest in hotels and property and to enjoy island living. As tourism grew and the prospect of better jobs and a better livelihood so did the population. Large numbers of immigrants from throughout the Caribbean came to the islands and while this migration is much smaller today it still continues. Presently almost every island in the Caribbean is represented in the Virgin Islands from St. Kitts to Trinidad and Dominca to Anguilla.

A small close knit Middle Eastern community established themselves in the Virgin Islands shortly after the 1967 war in which Israel occupied areas on the west bank of the Jordan river.

There is also a small but well established Indian community in the Virgin Islands, mostly on St. Thomas. The Indian community is made up primarily of Sindhis.

Today the population of the Virgin Islands is 78% black, 10% white and 12% other. While 81% of the population is of West Indian background only 49% were born in the Virgin Islands. The remaining 32% were born elsewhere in the Caribbean. Residents originally from the US Mainland make up 13% of the population and Puerto Ricans make up 4%. The remaining 2% is a mixture of immigrants from across the world including the middle east, India and Asia. (Source: US Census Bureau – 2000)

While the population of the Virgin Islands may seem largely the same and residents may outwardly express nationalistic pride as Americans and Virgin Islanders, residents do not forget where they and their neighbors are from.

A Virgin Islander will quickly differentiate themselves from other residents who are from neighboring Caribbean islands. Differentiations are also made between white Virgin Islanders from old families, from French families and white continentals. Differences between residents from St. Kitts, Dominica, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Tortola… are not forgotten and most residents can identify the various groups by differences in accent, slight differences in skin color and facial features and last names.

While the population is largely Black West Indian, it is still an ensemble of different groups.

Source: Internet

One Caribbean or several different faces of ~ Caribbean Island Countries ~


RTX1H6EIHaitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent yell slogans during a protest in Santo Domingo June 18, 2015. People took to the streets to demonstrate against the risk of deportation from the Dominican Republic due to a deadline of a national immigration law.  Reuters

just another rantRTR4YTSMHaitian Rolando Joshept (R), 19, sits near a Dominican soldier on a bus of the National Migration Office in Santo Domingo June 24, 2015. Joshept is returning to Haiti voluntarily after a new Dominican migration law requires hundreds of thousands of Haitians and people of Haitian descent to show identity documents or register for a so-called “regularization” program.  Reuters

Just another rant …

In 2011, Officials of the Dominican Republic warned DR nationals and after many changes to the rules, they seem determined to deport at least onehundred thousand Haitians.   According to the media, approximately 250K applied for residency but only about 10k had the proper paper work.  This means that DR Officials might implement the papers please rule as the U.S. state of Arizona tried.

It has gotten worse.

There are reports that the Dominican Republic seems to be engaging in what some consider ethnic cleansing.  The idea that DR officials decided they needed to deport DR nationals without due process is disturbing. When In fact, some are of DR descent, others  are undocumented most have worked and lived there for all their lives to only have a few weeks before being “rounded up” as stated by DR officials.  So far, approximately 26K undocumented DR nationals have left voluntarily.  Is it possible that Dominican elites want to regain their privileged lives at the expense of families, possibly family ties as well?

Why is this bothering me? The last time I asked folks to boycott, there were reports of fights about who looks more Dominican or not and in the wake of men women and children being assaulted based on their looks and skin colour dealing with a papers please law is beyond my understanding. I know this is not a new problem, but in this 21st Century, one would think the Caribbean Community would come together and implement solutions.  The problem seems to be an archaic caste system that needs to end.  Where is the CARICOM community and what side are they on?

Thing is, the Caribbean and i use that to cover a wide range of territory …beyond beautiful, a paradise, a tourist destination, reported as having a corrupt government police and always under constant threats of natural disasters  so these issues of color,land,looks,legacy religion seem petty when some serious money can be made … but the government needs to be legitimate …the soul of the Caribbean kept intact

the question: is the government and police corrupt?

There is a Common Wealth of and a Republic of; yet both are a part of the Caribbean Community.

Folks are suffering victims of crime, corruption and a huge debt due to economic austerity. While some visitors choose to ignore it others conveniently bring up the label given to differentiate the face of one Caribbean Community member from another.  I have read it so many times and though I roll my eyes at the clichés “ they are very very serious about making sure folks “are not confused with” or “pronounced as”. The fact remains, the Dominica and all the islands on that coast are still apart of the sum total called the Caribbean Community and more often than not; “the not to be confused” locales are groomed island destinations for the rich.  I know, not all rich folks are, but a whole lot are buying land, usually white and from the UK, France and now so are folks from the US, making it a place that is or once was 86% to 95% black (Caribbean) now a  place that provides low wages for resort bartenders,  house cleaners, ethnic-entertainers  while being another place beaten used and eaten up by eco-tourism. Studies show that when tourism flounders so does the economy …duh. so, alternative sustainable options need to be considered.

Most of us would say eco-tourism is not bad as it mostly helps protect against deforestation, but now days you need to ask what are the locals getting out of it. We need to think about all the Caribbean islands or similar hard to get to places with extraordinary weather, climate, food, mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots that tourists tend to trample or buy up.  The waterfronts are now home to cruise liners that not only take up space, it has resulted in a loss of land,  some fishing rights, and reports are that cruise ships have been quietly dumping environmental waste into what used to be pristine waterways. In the end, like so many destinations of paradise or eco-tourist friendly places succumb to new developments and or modernization of facilities now have fewer visitors, even with all the tax perks which happens to negatively affects the locals and their overall economy in far too many cases.

There is a difference between the Commonwealth and a Republic in my opinion.   If you read the news, the common wealth is far more likely to be groomed for “the people” most are hard to get to.  That means a whole lot of tourists and definitely user friendly; the other is usually a little more urban, rugged a lot less likely to havemany tourists.  The leaders in a common wealth are more likely and able to make a deal with countries like the US,UK or France while the people of a Republic probably choose to talk with China or any other resource seeking nation.  The fact remains that fifteen CARICOM members include the Dominican Republican as well as the Dominica are all in this crisis, all members need to step up.

In a letter to CARICOM, chair Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie, the organization expressed shock that the regional body has not commented on the issue.  “We are shocked but not surprised about CARICOM’s silence during this period when the Chair has fallen to the Prime Minister of The Bahamas”.

In the image to the left, a Haitian man is pulled back toward the Haitian side of the border by Dominican soldiers, at the Jimani border crossing, in the Dominican Republic last Wednesday. The man was later allowed to pass. Authorities are prepared to resume deporting non-citizens without legal residency in the Dominican Republic after largely putting the practice on hold for a year, the head of the country’s immigration agency said. For decades, the Dominican Republic has deported noncitizens, the vast majority of whom come from neighbouring Haiti to work in low-wage jobs. (PHOTO: AP)

I don’t know the answers … though I think Caribbean island nations and those that have, like the Republic of Madagascar similar weather,lakes, water falls,  forests and amazons want to export what they make not have folks come in and take it, promise or build massive structures making the indigenous people’s give up land, fishing rights only to get a small amount of return or actual help then it ends with a series of broken promises.  Some thinking they are doing well, talk about having jobs like being tour guides, cultural dancers are helping them or giving them an opportunity because they had nothing before … this is such bs! We need to help our fellow man with income inequality, demand not only human rights, see actual humanitarian acts completed and a legit government. We must always try to prevent or stop the slashing, burning and deforestation because it is one of many things that will prevent the next generation from thriving not to mention trying to keep the next generation healthy

These nations, regions or countries considered islands of paradise they ultimate vacay destination are people that should not be poor …

Resources:

jamaicaobserver.com

wiki

ft.com

Barbados today

12newsnow.com

Jamaica-gleaner.com

ibtimes.org

A Case of Mistaken Identity: Antihaitianismo in Dominican Culture By Ernesto Sagás

started June 18