RSS

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Rosalind Brewer becomes first female Sam’s Club CEO

Rosalind Brewer becomes first female Sam's Club CEO

 

Rosalind Brewer (Getty Images)

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s biggest retailer, said Friday that it has named Rosalind Brewer as CEO of Sam’s Club — the first woman and the first African-American to hold a CEO position at one of the company’s business units.

Brewer, 49, is replacing Brian Cornell, 52, who is leaving the company so he can return to the Northeast for family reasons.

Brewer, who will also be president of Sam’s Club, was previously president of the retailer’s U.S.division. She will report to CEO Mike Duke. The moves are effective Feb. 1.

Wal-Mart has in recent years has been battered by a combination of the slow-growing economy and its own decisions that caused U.S. customers to flee to competitors. But it has refocused on offering the lowest prices and shoppers’ favorite goods and that strategy has been paying off. In its third fiscal quarter ended Oct. 28, its net income fell 2.9 percent but it reversed a slump inU.S. namesake business.

Its Sam’s Club warehouse club business has outperformed its namesake stores. Revenue in stores open at least one year rose 5.7 percent at Sam’s Club and 1.3 percent at Walmart U.S.stores in its third quarter. The measure is a key gauge of a retailer’s financial health.

Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Brewer held a number of executive positions at Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Wal-Mart also said Friday that it is promoting Gisel Ruiz, 41, to executive vice president and chief operating officer for its U.S. operations. Ruiz has been an executive vice president working on human relations and store innovation issues.

Wal-Mart is also promoting Rollin Ford, 49, to chief administrative officer. Ford was chief information officer. He will be replaced as CIO by Karenann Terrell, 50.

Wal-Mart shares rose 55 cents to $61.16 in morning trading Friday.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Advertisements
 

The Year 2011 in Jamaican Arts& Entertainment – Jamaica Year in Review 2011

Buju Banton

Books and Authors
Jamaica’s literary scene was vibrant throughout 2011, and authors are looking forward to 2012. Notably, there was a preview of the 2012 Kingston Book Festival held in March 2011 at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. Sponsored by the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, authors liek Diana McCaulay and Edward Seaga participated along with poets and illustrators, who took the opportunity to display their literary achievements and interests.

Author Jean Lowrie-Chin discussed her early life in Westmoreland and her real-life experiences growing up in Jamaica in her book of poems and prose called “Souldance.” She wrote about her mother’s religious devotion and her dedication in ensuring her children received a good education. Her writing resonates with readers who identify with the familiar issues of Jamaican society presented by Lowrie-Chin.

A new book, “In Praise of Jamaica,” presents a view of Jamaica’s ancestry and celebrates the achievements of individuals of Jamaican heritage during the 50 years since Independence. Written by George Meikle, the book features a mix of stories and photographss. It is targeted at the Jamaican Diaspora community as well as tourists who visit Jamaica. udge Patrick Robinson, president of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, wrote the book’s introduction.

Film and Theater
The Jamaican film industry move forward with strong support from a variety of agencies, and Jamaican filmmakers gained ground on the international scene. Paul Campbell, world-renown actor and artist introduced a new film “Out the Gate,” in 2011. It features the talents of Oliver Samuels, the “king of Jamaican comedy.”

Jamaican animators garnered considerable attention with their participation at the international Animae Caribe Film Festival held at JAMPRO. This event offered a forum for local producers to share with and learn from international professionals.

Music videos also had a place in Jamaica’s industry in 2011. Protoje, a musician who is gaining popularity in the local music scene, made a music video for his new single “No Lipstick,” which was filmed on location at Great Huts Resort in Portland by his sister LeAnn “Dream Seeker” Ollivierre.

In another theatrical development, the popular Russian play “The Inspector General” has been adapted for Jamaican audiences by William F. Lampert, lecturer at the Edna Manley College School of Drama (SODr). The original play tells the story of a small town that is to be inspected by a government official. The Jamaican adaptation follows an official in Montego Bay who realizes that his administration will be reviewed by a higher authority.

The story of Jamaican Maroons will be told in a  new film by Roy T. Anderson. The film, called “Akwantu,” was funded by Anderson who also provides the narration and direction. The film discusses Maroon, African, and Jamaican history. Vivian Crawford, executive director of the Institute of Jamaica, praised the film and its celebration of Jamaican ancestry. Colonel Frank Lunsden, speaking on behalf of the Maroon community, said there was “genuine passion” in Anderson’s work.

Music Business
The music business in Jamaica remains a strong influence worldwide. One of the most important Jamaican music producers, Sanjay “Freeze” Pennant, of Mandeville was showcased globally in 2011. He was was inspired by locals Don Corleon Christopher and Pharrell.

Jamaicanmusic.com, a Jamaican music website, expanded into digital distribution by leveraging the site’s popularity to increase sales of Jamaican music. It has partnered with Dubshot, which currently provide digital distribution for several different record labels.

In music publishing, Caribbean 2 World (C2W) is a startup firm that plans to raise $140 million  by offering one-quarter of the company to the public in an IPO on the Junior Stock Exchange.

Brother and sister Adrian and Amada Lopez are working to create their own niche in the expanding music video industry on the island with the founding of their Liquid Light production company. They are focusing on computer-generated imagery (CGI) and are moving into episodic television and continue to push the creative envelope to make their work stand out.

Music Events
The year 2011 saw many well-attended and significant music events that garnered popular and critical support, including Sumfest 2011, which featured a Dancehall night in Montego Baywith I-Octaine delivering an especially noted performance. Jamaica Jam Fest was held in Rufus King Park in Kingston in August. This family-friendly event honored 15 years of outdoor entertainment and attracted over 150,000 attendees to its showcase of 450 multicultural vendors, children’s rides, auto exhibit, and farmers’ market.

In addition, Jamaica Music 50 was launched during Sumfest in 2011. This review of the evolution of Jamaican music during the years since the country’s independence from Britain in 1962 includes Bunny Wailer, Junior Lincoln, and Wayne Chen among those involved with an in-depth study of reggae music in the review. Sumfest’s International Night was a success, despite the fact that R. Kelly, who had been the scheduled headliner, had to have emergency throat surgery and could not perform. Filling in for him were Coco Tea and Beres Hammond.

What was characterized as the “ultimate” album for 2011 became available in August, as Tad’s Records, a prominent recording and music publishing company based in Jamaica introduced a “major experience in Dancehall.” The album provides 25 of the top Dancehall tunes of the year and was made available over the Internet as well as in stores. The album features Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Buju Banton, I-Octane, Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, and Lady Saw.

The Smirnoff Nightlight Exchange Project (SNEP) searched for the best nightlife from around the globe as approximately 50 nations participated in the event at Hope Gardens in Kingston in November. Hope Gardens was established in the 1870s and 1880s by Major Richard Hope was the location for this cultural fusion event, which was designed to mix the features of “London rave” with “Kingston swag.”

Music Crime/Investigations 
Segments of Jamaica’s music industry and some artistes were the focus of criminal charges and/or investigations during 2011. In September, Cashflow Records denied its involvement in a scam that allegedly sold the promise of interactions with famous musicians for a price. The company said someone posing as representing Cashflow was responsible for this activity; only DJ Neil or Father P of Cashflow can conduct business on behalf of the company, said Buju Wayne, Cashflow’s publicist. Anyone else is conducting a scam, he said.

Buju Banton, a popular reggae musician convicted on drug-related charges, continued to fight this conviction, filing an appeal in the United States. He was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm to further a drug-trafficking offense, and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking offense. While the gun charge was dropped, Banton faces 10 years in prison for the other charges. His defense claims the U.S. government sought to entrap him and that he did not conspire to commit these offenses.

Denroy Morgan, reggae singer, was arrested in September 2011 for marijuana possession in the Bronx, New York. He was found to be in possession of 25 pounds of the drug when he was stopped by police for a traffic violation. Morgan ultimately led police to a house in the Bronx where they found an additional 310 pounds of marijuana. Morgan, 66, is the creator of the group Morgan Heritage.

Dancehall artiste Elephant Man was sued by a Jamaican fashion designer for JA$1 million for nonpayment of bills for clothing. This is not the first time the musician has faced financial difficulties. In 2010, his automobile was seized by tax officials for failure to pay taxes. He was also charged with theft of electricity from the Jamaica Public Service agency.

Godfry Fogah, 38, a Jamaican music promoter who has organized concerts for major stars, was identified as an illegal immigrant living under the false identity of Errol Stone in the United Kingdom. Fogah, who entered the country illegally in 2997, had directed events with stars such as 50 Cent, Ice Cube, and The Game. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison but will not face automatic deportation because his sentence was less than 12 months.

In September 2011, Joel Chin, a top producer of reggae music, was shot and killed near his home in Kingston. Police reported that the attacked occurred as Chin got out of his car in the driveway of his home late at night. No motive was given for the crime. Chin, 35, was the grandson of Vincent “Randy” Chin, a pioneer reggae producer and founder of VP Records in New York.

In November, Winston Riley, veteran producer and creator of Stalag Riddim, was shot in the head and arm in Kingston. Riley, 65, has been the victim of several violent attacks in 2011, being shot in August and stabbed in September. Riley began his career as a singer in 1962, forming the vocal group The Techniques.

Vybz Kartel
The major crime story involving a music star in 2011 is that of popular deejay and dancehall entertainer Vybz Kartel. He garnered a large number of headlines during the year, beginning with considerable criticism of his lyrics from a variety of sources. Authorities in Guyana banned his songs due to their “obscene lyrics” and said he brought “nothing positive” to the entertainment industry. This was the first time Guyana had taken such an action against a particular artist. He especially angered Guyana by not showing up at a government-sponsored concert in August 2011.

Kartel also faced questions about his line of skin bleaching products for men, which he introduced in October.Topping everything, however, are the charges relating to several murder cases.

Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, was arrested by police in Jamaica on suspicion of murder in October 2011 in connection with the death of Barrington Burton, 27, a promoter shot and killed in the street earlier in the year. While Kartel is acknowledged as commercially popular, his success has been linked to Kingston’s underworld, and his feud with fellow artiste Mavado caused an escalation of violence in Jamaica’s inner cities. Following the initial charge, an additional murder charge was imposed on Kartel, linking him to the killing of a Jamaican man known as “Lizard” in August 2011.

In November, prosecutors said they had video evidence and taped telephone conversations that incriminate Kartel in connection with the original murder charge.  Also in November, Kartel was investigated for five additional murders as detectives continued to find evidence implicating the Dancehall star in other cases in the Corporate Area and St. Catherine.

Adding to Kartel’s notoriety, it was reported in early December that Kartel had broken out of prison after pulling a gun on a law enforcement officer and starting a riot when he and other prisoners took control of the prison facility. A Jamaican news organization found that this was only a rumor originating on a blog.

Later in December 2011, Kartel was charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice in connection with false testimony given by Vanessa Saddler, also known as Gaza Slim. Also in December, Kartel was ordered to pay $15 million in damages to Alton Salmon, a Jamaican promoter in an unrelated case for failing to perform at a concert in Turks and Caicos in August 2009.

Musicians’ Opinions 
Jamaican musicians were not shy about voicing their opinions about topics ranging from the state of the local music and media industry to their political views.

In a pioneering effort, Jamaican-born reggae singer Mista Mahaj P made an album in support of gay rights, breaking a taboo among reggae artistes. He says he made the album to address homophobia and the hypocritical attitude about the subject in his homeland and around the world.

Controversial Vybz Kartel, Jamaican Dancehall artiste and deejay, answered critics who said his lyric damage Jamaica’s image. Kartel, 35, was originally a ghostwriter for Bounty Killer. He says the way he delivers his lyrics compensates for their “rawness.” He has dominated Jamaican radio with songs about X-rated activities and ghetto politics. His fued with Mavado, another Dancehall deejay, was discussed in a meeting in the Office of the Prime Minister as well.

L.A. Lewis, Jamaican entertainer, feels strongly enough about politics to run for the position of Member of Parliament for West Kingston, but he said he has been offered money to withdraw his name from the race. An anonymous person put J$100,000 on Lewis’s doorstep to encourage him not to run and not to mock the election. Lewis remained firm in his intention to run for office, however.

Duane Stephenson, world-renown reggae artiste, has enhanced his reputation for philanthropy by continuing to use his music to spread awareness about world hunger and support of the United Nations World Food Program. He has been focusing on conditions in the Horn of Africa where a long-term drought has caused major famine conditions.

Some musicians leveled criticism at the local music industry in 2011. According to Clifford “I-Wayne” Taylor, reggae star, the music industry in the country is lacking in purity and substance. He believes that the scene is not authentic and is overly focused on “nastiness” and “filth.” Taylor voiced his concern about the example such music sets for younger generations.

Ziggy Marley, reggae superstar and son of Bob Marley, said the music industry suffers from a lack of spirituality. Musicians are focused on making beats and rhythms, but they are not paying enough attention to the spirit of the music, which is what makes reggae popular throughout the world. Marley also noted the differences between his approach and that of his father Bob Marley. Marley could not eliminate “yes men” from his life, which had an impact on his career choices, according to Ziggy, and his womanizing made life difficult for his mother.

Andrew Tosh, son of 1960s reggae icon Peter Tosh, has decided to promote his father’s political recordings, which have been reissued by Columbia/Legacy complete with outtakes, alternate versions, and unreleased material. Tosh, who was one of the “founders” of reggae music along with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, was given less attention than Marley when he went out on his own, but he continued to play and record his political brand of music.

Controversy also attended the exhibition of the fine arts when Archbishop Emeritus Donald Reece criticized an Observer newspaper photo showing a “blasphemous scupture” of Jesus in its Easter Sunday edition. Laura Facey, the artist who created the sculpture of Jesus naked, defended her work and said she was glad it had sparked discussion.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Caribbean News

 

Awards, Honors and Recognition in 2011 – Jamaica Year in Review 2011

Lois Ingledew Samuels
Lois Ingledew Samuels

Jamaica’s Cabinet approved the acquisition of the birthplace of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the first national hero of the country. The property in St. Ann’s Bay is scheduled for rehabilitation, said Laleta Davis Mattis, executive director of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.The 124th anniversary of Garvey’s birth was celebrated at the site on August 17, 2011.

The Right Reverends E. Don Taylor and Alfred Reid both celebrated 50 years of service in the priesthood in 2011. The men received praise from leaders in religious, political, and business sectors at a banquet held in St. Andrew. The two priests have been close friends for 50 years and both held a variety of position within the Anglican Church.

Jamaican veterans of World Wars I and II were honored at National Heroes Park on the National Day of Remembrance on November 13, 2011. The nation also acknowledged their sacrifice with church services and parades throughout the country.

Jamaica’s new international airport in Ocho Rios was named for author Ian Fleming, who wrote the James Bond series of novels while living on the island. Prime Minister Bruce Golding officially opened the airport, which is designed to serve high-end tourists.

Headley Jones, head of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians, was honored with the Musgrave Gold Medal for his eminence in the field of music. Jones, 94, is also known for his work in astronomy and for making the first solid-body electric guitar. Jones was born in St. Catherine in 1917 and service with the Royal Air Force in World War II.

Dennis Brown, known as the “Crown Prince of Reggae,” was posthumously honored at the yearly National Awards ceremoney on Heroes Day, receiving the Order of Distinction and rank of Commander for the contributions he has made to the local music industry. Brown died in 1999 at the age of 42. He released over 50 albums during his career.

The 127th anniversary of the birth of Sir William Alexander Bustamante was celebrated in Blenheim, Hanover. Bustamante was the first Prime Minister of Jamaica after its independence. Born in 1884, he founded the Jamaica Labor Party in 1943 and became Prime Minister in 1962. He also founded the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union in 1938. He died in 1977.

A Wall of Honor was constructed at National Heroes Park in Kingston in June 2011 to commemorate the police officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson had announced the building of the wall at the 68th Annual Joint Central Conference of the Jamaica Police Federation.

Dr. Neil Gardner received the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence, only the seventh individual to win this honor. Gardner represented one of the best 400-meter hurdlers in Jamaica and reached the semi-finals at the Atlanta, Georgia, Olympic Games in 1996.

Lawrence Rowe, the former batsman for the West Indies, was honored by the Jamaican Cricket Association with a dedicated stand in his name at Sabina Park in Kingston. Rowe is best known for  his triple hundred and world record of a century and double century in his debut Test.

The Engineering Project of the Year Award sponsored by the Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) has been given to Wigton Windfarm Ltd. The company won the award for its 18-megawatt windfarm expansion project, which represents US$47.5 million in investments. The project involved installing nine 2-megawatt wind turbines, upgrading an existing 69-kilovolt transmission line, constructing a new substation, building two kilometers of a new access road, and creating a resource center focused on renewable energy training and technology transfer.

Jamaica was recognized during the World Travel Awards program in October. The island led the recovery of the tourism industry in the Caribbean. These awards are known as “Oscars of the travel industry,”

Cassandra Whyte won the Miss Deaf International 2011 competition, the first Jamaican to win this honor. Whyte was selected from a field of over 20 young women and will act as an ambassador for deaf women around the globe.

Lois Samuels became the first cover girl on Vogue Magazine from the Caribbean. She was discovered at Hampton High School for Girls in St. Elizabeth during a visit by Kingsley Cooper, chief executive officer of Pulse. Samuels has been compared to Grace Jones and is paving the way for other models from the island.

Nandi Chin Fernandez won the 2011 Brides Magazine Operation Dream Dress competition. The contest gives emerging designers a chance to create the ultimate wedding dress. Fernandez, who graduated Immaculate Conception High School and the Fashion Institute of Technology, designed a dress with draping and pleating inspired by the “Birth of Venus” painting by Sandro Botticelli.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Caribbean News

 

Business and Finance in 2011 – Jamaica Year in Review 2011

Business and Finance in 2011

At the beginning of 2011, Jamaican businesses had an optimistic view of the nation’s economic growth, but consumers were more pessimistic about the state of the economy. In the business sector, optimism rose to its highest level since the third quarter of 2007, when the current government took office. During the last quarter of 2010, however, Jamaican consumers were more pessimistic than they were in the third quarter of the year. However, less than one in 20 citizens blamed the government for the poor state of the economy. In contrast, many business leaders felt the government was the reason for the economic downturn.

Entrepreneurship 
Several entrepreneurial programs were made available to women in 2011. Jamaica’s National Commercial Bank made $113 million in sponsorship funding to support women-owned and operated developing businesses, with an additional $100 million provided to support loans. This arrangement represents a partnership with the Women Business Owners of Jamaica Ltd. for a three-year period to provide training opportunities for women entrepreneurs Many women in Jamaica are likely to benefit from the “Way Out” program sponsored by the government. Beginning in March, the program will focus on training and education that will lead to better jobs for women. The former executive director of Jamaica’s Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Glenda Simms, held a recruitment drive in June to find new members for St. Elizabeth Women Ltd., which is dedicated to the creation of sustainable development in rural communities by giving aid to women at the grass-roots level with a focus on  horticulture, farming, and crafts.

Olivia Grange, Jamaican Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, took special note of the importance of entrepreneurial activities for youth and announced the commitment of the government to developing the entrepreneurial spirit in young people through organizations like the Jamaica Youth Business Trust and the Young Entrepreneurs’ Association. Because young people represent the largest segment of the population, they are critical to the economic well-being of country in the future. Another government program that focuses on long-term development is Vision 2030, which was designed to encourage Jamaica to recognize its potential over the next 20 years through infrastructure building and economic growth.

Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Enterprises, launched the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship in September 2011 in Montego Bay. The center is designed to help entrepreneurs succeed in creating responsible businesses. Branson said entrepreneurship is crucial to the creation of a strong, sustainable economy in the region. Michael Stern, Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, urged business support organizations to help local firms succeed, noting that these organizations allow small businesses to development the technical capabilities they need to take advantage of existing and emerging trade opportunities.

Bauxite
Jamaica’s bauxite industry saw several significant developments in 2011. Industry observers said there were indications that the aluminum industry is recovering from the economic downturn. Alumina Company Jamalco reported its best company performance for a six-month period in 52 years. The increased production was attributed to the replacement of old equipment and efficiencies gained by using caustic soda to extract alumina from bauxite. Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners estimated that it would reach record levels of production by 2012. Company president Pansy Johnson said that while 2011 would likely be “challenging” for the St.Ann-based firm, production of bauxite would increase by about 20 percent to an estimated minimum of 5.1 million tons during 2012.

Solamon Energy met with the Jamaican government to discuss solar solutions to be developed on sites that were previously the locations of bauxite mines. Jamaica has thousands of unused bauxite mines, and research funding and development are available to use some of these mine sites as solar farms. Solamon will devote its resources to supplying a number of solar farms on the abandoned mine sites.

Infrastructure
After much delay, the new cruise ship port at Falmouth was ready to welcome its first visitors. Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas had the honor of being the first ship to dock at the new facility, which opened months behind schedule due to construction difficulties. Work on the port terminal was also delayed by a strike held by 450 construction workers protesting the taxes imposed on their year-end bonuses. Also of benefit to cruise passengers was a new system of transportation announced by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett. While the current system separates responsibilities for transferring passengers of cruise ships among several entities, the new system uses a single firm, which is responsible for handling ground transportation for all passengers.

Mike Henry, Jamaican Minister of Transportation, announced a search for some $300 million in private investments to revive an island-wide train system that was discontinued in the 1980s. He cited the success of a month-long trial run of a temporary train system installed between Spanish Town and Linstead, which saw more than 2,000 passengers every day.

Rose Hall Developments, which owns 7,000 acres of the Rose Hall Plantation and Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, developed and launched Founders Village in Montego Bay. The new community features luxury residences on lots of three to four acres. The gated community provides ocean views of the Caribbean and easy access to beaches, shopping, and golf.

The new Harbor View Sewage Treatment Plant was finally commissioned after 30 years of non-operation.

The National Water Commission and other government agencies were taken to court by area residents who wanted something done about the non-functioning plant. The lawsuit claimed that the absence of the plant caused environmental degradation and presented a significant health risk. In July 2010, an out-of-court settlement was reached, and the NWC promised to build an interim sewage treatment facility within six months. The agency also promised to revamp the Harbor View Sewage plant within 18 months.

Lloyd Cole, a Jamaican physician, proposed the construction of a dry dock facility in Clarendon at Jackson Bay 20 years ago, but the project, totaling US$3 billion, remains dormant even after gaining the support of government officials in several successive administrations. Cole, who has become frustrated with the delay, made a second appeal for his project, noting that it could create employment for up to 5,000 Jamaicans.

Energy
The Jamaican government is looking for alternative sources of energy to counter the rising costs of oil. It is investigating a variety of energy sources, including wind, solar, tides, and geothermal heat. The government stated its intention to incorporate alternative sources into its overall energy policy and has created the first national energy policy designed to develop a modern energy infrastructure, with energy management a key feature of the policy. In the area of conservation, the Jamaica Productivity Center noted that individual and business consumers could realize savings to J$15.4 billion on power bills if two critical measures of fuel and system losses correlate with regional and sector averages. This was the conclusion reached in a study by the agency showing that savings would represent about 20 percent of the average power bill. Damian Obiglio, the president and CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company, asked consumers to take steps to conserve energy in response to rising oil prices. Oil prices in December 2010 increased by more than US$91 per barrel, and in 2011, the increase was estimated at US$100 per barrel. EX-IM Bank said that energy producers in Jamaica should retrofit their operations to make them more efficient and to control costs. Additionally, the bank urged producers to access energy loans designed to support the development of renewable energy systems.

In an effort to give some relief to electricity consumers, the Jamaica Public Service Company provided a reduction of some five percent in the total electric bill for August. The decrease was attributed to a lowering in fuel and IPP charges applied to the August bills. Petrojam, the state-owned oil refinery, announced reductions in gasoline prices for a time due to changes in U.S. Gulf Reference prices. It was expected that there would be some lowering of prices for diesel, propane, kerosene, and butane as well.

According to a survey from the Consumer Affairs Commission, residents of rural areas pay more for gasoline than do people who live in cities.  The Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association alleged that these higher costs are not related to transportation expenses, but to pricing policies used by marketing firms. The survey found a price gap of as much as $22 between the prices paid by rural residents for regular gas and those paid by city dwellers. The rural gas gap did increase in 2011, said the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), but not by much.

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica Center for Excellence for Renewable Energy and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute will invest $10.3 million into determining the feasibility of a biodiesel project based on Jamaica’s oil-seed-bearing plants. The plants, including local castor beans and the seeds of the jatrophe tree, could be used to produce fuel for the automotive industry. The On the other hand, the Canadian oil exploration firm Sagres Energy will invest J$250 million to search for oil in Jamaica. This is the company’s largest outlay of capital to date. The Canadian oil exploration firm said it would start drilling by the end of 2011.

Engineers at the Annual Conference of the Jamaica Institute of Engineers discussed the future of the island’s energy sector and proposed using more green technology to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Electricity in Jamaica costs just under US$0.40 per kilowatt hour – four times what the average U.S. consumer pays. The high cost is due to the Jamaica’s reliance on old-fashioned generators that use oil, much of which must be imported. More than 90 percent of Jamaica’s electricity is generated with heavy fuel oil and diesel fuel, both very expensive and inefficient sources of energy.

Paul Chong of St. Mary invested over $5 million in a system to power his house over the past five years. He decided to take charge and generate his own energy after Hurricane Dean, which left him without power for weeks. When the Jamaica Public Service Company recently charged him for 222 kilowatts of power usage over three months when he actually used only 71 kilowatts – a difference in charges of $5,000 – Chong decided to leave the electric grid altogether. He now uses his own wind-driven power system at his residence.

Jamaica’s government approved the transfer of 40 percent of the shares of the Jamaica Public Service Company to Korea East West Power Company. The shares were sold by Marubeni, a Japanese firm that held 80 percent of the JPS stock. After the sale, Marubeni and Korea East West both own 40 percent of JPS. Minister of Energy Clive Mullings stated that the Korean company will improve the operations of JPS significantly. He also said that Jamaican consumers remain the ultimate shareholders of the firm.

Israel offered to help Jamaica with its energy crisis.1Israel’s ambassador to Jamaica, Moshe Sermoneta, also noted that agriculture and tourism in Jamaica could benefit from a closer relationship with Israel. Because Israel has few natural resources, it has been forced to develop alternative energy sources, and Jamaica could reap the benefits of its experience, said Sermoneta.

Product Promotion
Jamaican-based chef and singer Keith “Levi Roots” Graham appeared on a television program in the United Kingdom in 2007 that showcased Jamaican entrepreneurs. The program, called “Dragon’s Den,” gave individuals the chance to pitch business ideas to five investors. Graham brought his Jamaican jerk sauce, which he represented with a reggae song about his business. Now, four years later, he remains the chief marketing feature for the company, and his Levi Roots brand is now the main Caribbean brand in the UK.

The Culinary Federation of Jamaica (CFJ) showcased some of the foods featured in competition at the International Culinary contest in Miami, Florida. Executive chefs on the island used local produce to highlight regional foods. The participating chefs embraced the “Eat What You Grow-From Farm to the Table” campaign sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture in their contest submissions.

The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) designated the month of February as a time to celebrate reggae music. The annual Dennis Brown concert will be held during Reggae Month, and other activities, including Save the Music also occur. The Save the Music initiative provides weekly concerts at the Edna Manley College. The JaRIA Honor Awards are presented at the time as well. Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Jamaica’s culture minister, encouraged local music industry representatives to adapt to the global economy and participate in similar marketing efforts.

In a blow to the Jamaican brand, the island’s signature beer, Red Stripe, decided to move its production facilities for the United States to a North American location, causing significant job losses for Jamaica. However, the company believes that overall returns from the U.S. penetration of the product will make the company stronger in the long run

Technology Sector
The Jamaican government approved a merger between Digicel Jamaica and Claro. The merger joins the largest and smallest telecommunications firms on the island. The new combined firm will represent over 75 percent of the wireless market in Jamaica, and government immediately faced criticism for its decision to approve the merger.

The telecommunications company LIME introduced a new plan designed to enhance Internet penetration across Jamaica. It offers customers an inexpensive laptop computer with a two-year residential service package. Known as the “FLIPtop” plan, LIME implemented the new offering after examining survey results showing how the high cost of computers and other devices kept many people from accessing the Internet. LIME also signed an agreement with the secretariat of CARICOM to provide video-conferencing services and equipment to Jamaica and seven other member nations. CARICOM appointed the firm after issuing a request for proposal to provide and install the equipment. LIME will work on this project with Polycom, a leader in unified communications solutions.

Marc Canter, founder of Macromedia, will invest in a local start-up firm. Canter, who founded the American software firm that introduced Flash technology, said that opportunities are “ripe” for tech start-ups in Jamaica.  In fact, he said Jamaica may even have a better investment environment than the U.S. at present. According to Canter, the tourism and cultural sectors in Jamaica also represent major investment opportunities.

Paul Lennox Buchanan, parliamentary candidate for West Rural St. Andrew, said that the area’s unemployment can be addressed by turning to information technology. His opinion created a stir in the constituency because the area has historically been focused on farming. West Rural St. Andrew comprises rural living areas and upper middle class settlements, struggles economically and needs to find real solutions. Buchanan said that all modern nations promote information technology, and this area offers considerable human potential that only needs technical training to create stable jobs in computer programming and software.

Tourism
The deal between Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines was “up in the air” for some time during 2011, causing uncertainties in the marketplace. Ultimately, it was finalized and agreements were signed by Audley Shaw, Jamaican Minister of Finance, and Winston Dookeran, finance minister of Trinidad & Tobago, in the presence of T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Under the agreement, Jamaica’s government has a 16-percent stake in shares of Caribbean Airlines and makes the airline the national carrier of Jamaica. In May, many flights to and from Jamaica were delayed or cancelled as air traffic controllers went on strike, leaving passengers stranded in airport lobbies.

Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, encouraged the island to promote its facilities in the faith-based tourist market. The inaugural stop of the ship Carnival Destiny’s “Cruise with a Cause” in Montego Bay brought more than 4,000 passengers and crew members to the port.  Passengers included religious leaders and music ministers who accounted for almost J$1 billion in expenditures, plus the passengers participated in a number of community outreach projects on the island. Dr. Paul Rhodes, hotelier and medical practitioner, proposed transforming downtown Kingston into a destination for religious tourists. He noted that the several churches located in the area make Kingston an under-utilized “cultural gem” of the Caribbean region. Christian heritage tourism could bring a boost to downtown Kingston. The Great Huts Hotel partnered with Olde Jamaica Tours to offer visitors an eight-night tour of the church treasures of Jamaica.Bartlett also announced making aggressive marketing approaches to China to enhance trade and tourism between the two nations. More tourists from China have been coming to Jamaica in recent years.

Jamaica hosted a two-day regional meeting focused on the economic potential of sports. The Business of Sport conference attracted presenters from the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Caribbean. Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Jamaican Minister of Sport, and her counterpart Anil Roberts of Trinidad and Tobago, presented the government perspective on the issue and looked at how governments can support making sport a viable industry in the Caribbean.

Agriculture/Farming
Crop production in Jamaica rose by 24 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared to production in 2010, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. A total of 147,378 tons of produce was grown in the first quarter of 2011, the highest amount recorded for a single quarter period since 1999.

Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners (NJBP) partnered with small farmers and schools in St. Ann to encourage the use of greenhouses to improve production. A program developed together with USAID allowed the Greenhouse Association, Rural Agricultural Development Authority, and the Bauxite Institute, to build four greenhouses to augment three experimental greenhouses built in 2009 on rehabilitated mine lands in Burnt Ground.

The Coffee Industry Board received an emergency loan totaling J$310.5 million via the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in an attempt to save the coffee industry. The money comes from the EX-IM Bank and the Development Bank of Jamaica and will purchase coffee in the High and Blue Mountains for coffee dealers.

A cassava processing plant was opened by Tropical Foods Ltd. in March 2011. It is expected to produce as many as five tons of bammies and other cassava products each week.

Poultry producers in Jamaica presented a petition designed to pressure the Ministry of Agriculture to join with them in fighting a plan to reduce the taxation of chicken imports. The proposed cuts from the Ministry of Finance, which are meant to reform the Common External Tariff structure, would lower the duty on chicken to 20 percent from 100 percent.

Jamaica’s sugar industry saw a ray of hope in the daily factory operations report presented in June. It showed a total of 134,507 tons of sugar produced among five of seven estates, and three factories reported surpassing their projected totals for the year.

More than 40 shrimp vendors in Middle Quarters, St. Elizabeth, participated in Team Jamaica training as part of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s Rural Economic Initiative program. The program provided $3 million in funding for training that covers self-esteem, customer service, cultural awareness, and history. The vendors were also trained in business development and food handling.

Dr. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, called for more agricultural sector investments, noting the opportunities available in the growing of local produce. Tufton said now is a good time to use entrepreneurial methods and creativity to improve systems for production. He stated his position at the launch of the “Eat Jamaican Campaign,” as $17.2 million project of the Food and Agricultural Organization, the European Union, and the Agriculture Ministry meant to encourage the consumption of locally produced food.

Workforce Issues
The Land Administration and Management Program allowed more Jamaicans to become landowners during its 11th year of operation. The program seeks to end poverty and facilitate economic growth and create efficient markets for real estate in urban and rural areas. The most recent part of the program focused on St. Elizabeth, Manchester, and Clarendon. In commenting on land ownership among workers, Ronald Thwaites, a deacon and member of the Opposition People’s National Party, noted that Jamaican laws and high costs linked to regularizing tenure denied the working class the right to own property and keeps these workers from participating fully in the national economy.

The year 2011 saw reports of color prejudice among Jamaican employers in their hiring practices. Labor and Social Security Minister, Pearnel Charles, compared discrimination on the basis of skin tone to apartheid in South Africa and promised to bring bigoted employers to court. Portia Simpson Miller, Opposition leader, suggested boycotting businesses that appeared to hire only light-skinned individuals.

Companies that refuse to pay their workers the lowest wage named under the National Minimum Wage Act will be assessed a fine of $1 million, up from the previous amount of $1,000. The law also imposed a one-year prison sentence on employers who do not comply with its provisions. Both a fine and prison could be imposed. The National Minimum Wage rose from $4,070 per 40-hour week to $4,500 per 40-hour week as of February 28, 2011.

Tang Jianguo, the chief executive officer of the COMPLANT Group of Companies, the Chinese organization that bought Jamaica’s sugar factories, said most of the managers and workers at the factories will be Jamaicans, and not foreign workers. He made his assurances in the light of criticism of the company’s policies. Day-to-day operations will be handled chiefly by local Jamaican workers, Tang said.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Caribbean News

 

Diaspora Activities 2011 – Jamaica Year in Review 2011

 Diaspora

Jamaican Arts and Entertainment Around the World
A number of Caribbean and Jamaican films were introduced at the Caribbean Tales Toronto Film Festival in Canada, showcasing the area’s considerable talent over ten days in September. The Jamaican film “Better Mus’ Come” written and directed by Storm Saulter led off the prestigious Bahamas International Film Festival. Saulter’s first feature film, it was the only Jamaican film at the festival and was called a “new benchmark” for the country’s filmmaking. It focuses on the late 1970s in Jamaica and the “political tribalism” of the time.

The Toronto festival was also the site of the first viewing of the Jamaican action film “Ghett’a Life,” from director Chris Browne. Ten years in the making, the films was funded by local Jamaican investors and features local music and talent in a story of life in inner-city Kingston.

Jamaican musicians continued to make their mark around the world. Music pioneers were invited to share their expertise and participate in the largest international workshop held in Tokyo, Japan, at the Red Bull Music Academy. The workshop seeks to foster an exchange of ideas and concepts about music. Japan was also the scene of a Jamaican cultural showcase in September 2011 as Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Olivia Grange facilitated a an event called Jamaica Rocks in cooperation with the Min-On Concert Association and the Embassy of Jamaica in Tokyo. The event played in 24 cities in Japan and included folk and popular music, presenting the evolution of music from Mento to Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, and Dancehall types. The musicians’ performances received high praise from the Japanese audiences.

Jamaican musicians played concerts all over the globe in 2011. Mavado brought his dancehall performances to Winnipeg, Canada in March. Stephen Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, played a concert in St. Petersburg, Florida in July. Although he was born in the United States, Marley retains strong ties to Jamaica and has won five Grammy awards. In November, Jamaican dancehall star Toya from Downsound Records performed her Caribbean-style sounds to an audience of 25 million homes in Scandinavia during a special appearance on Cruisetv, a travel series broadcast on TVNorge. Toya was featured in a program episode that focused on the sensuality of young women in Jamaica. Big Youth and I Wayne were among the performers at a salute to reggae held in Brooklyn, New York, in October. The event featured reggae music and artistes and honored Harry Belafonte. The event also included a screening of a documentary about government-sponsored violence against Rastafarians in Jamaica called “Bad Friday.”

Reggae music was also honored by a surprise “flash mob” in New York City in May when over 200 fans performed choreographed dance moves in Union Square to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the death of Bob Marley. The event was sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board and Flash Mob America and was attended by Ziggy Marley, Devon Harris, members of Jamaica’s women’s basketball team, and Jamaican chess master Maurice Ashley.

Smile Jamaica from Television Jamaica partnered with the Today Show at NBC in the United States to provide programming that combined both presentations in March. Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Simon Crosskill, Neville Bell, Simone Clarke-Cooper and Carlette DeLeon were on location in Jamaica to tape the show which will be shown in May. This was a first-of-its-kind production for Jamaican television.

Jamaican actor and award-winning producer and playwright David Heron was awarded a lead role in a television ad for Xoom.com. The advertisement features the company’s new mobile site. Heron said he is glad to be associated with this product because it allows Jamaicans in the United States to send money back home via a mobile phone.

Jamaican entrepreneur Fitzroy Gordon, who has been active in Canadian media for about 30 years, has decided to create a new radio station in Canada devoted to playing Caribbean music, including soca, world beat, and reggae, which will have a permanent home at this new mainstream radio station, which is scheduled to begin broadcasting in October.

Three Jamaican authors now living in Canada joined together to present their views during Black History Month 2011. Olive Senior, Lorna Goodison, and Pamela Mordecai with, between them, hundreds of titles to their credit, participated in a special Black History Month series event at the Toronto Public Library.

Gavin Hutchinson has written a memoir about his journey from idealism to reality and the experiences he had along the way. Hutchinson, 28, has released the story of his life in a book called “Tried and True: Revelations of a Rebellious Youth,” which describes his jobs as a weekly talk show host, working for the Bob Marley family, and launching a nonprofit meant to empower Jamaican youth through the arts and culture. Also entering the autobiographical waters was Ewart Walters, Jamaican-born journalist who started his own newspaper in Canada. His book tells the story of his experiences at Calabar High School in Kingston and his work on the newspaper. Walters left Jamaica in 1951 after Hurricane Charlie left hundreds of thousands of island residents dead, injured, and homeless. His book also covers his years with the Jamaican government as Counselor in Ottawa and as an advisor on privacy and access to information in the office of the President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The first Caribbean Women Writers Conference was held at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College and featured experts discussing works from all Caribbean regional cultures.

Diane Abbot, a British member of parliament of Jamaican descent, has decided to campaign against the Patois Bible. She does not think Patois is a legitimate language and therefore the Bible should not be translated into it. Abbott says she cherishes the Jamaican dialect, but believes it is important that Jamaicans speak English as their first language because English is the language of global commerce.

Government Officials and Representatives Traveled the World
Arthur Williams, Jamaica’s Minister responsible for Public Service and Information, took a delegation on a study tour of Singapore’s public sector. The tour was recommended by Minh Pham, the resident representative to Jamaica of the United Nations Development Program.

Jamaican diplomat and advertising entrepreneur Arnold Foote met with Pope Benedict XVI in May. Foote is the president of the World Federation of Consuls. This is the first time that members of the Federation will be received by the Pope.

Five Jamaican students won scholarships to study medicine at Cuban universities in 2011/2012 through the Cuba-Jamaica Medical Scholarship Program. Yuri Gala Lopez, Cuba’s ambassador to Jamaica, presented the scholarships at a ceremony that took place at Cuba’s embassy in Kingston.

Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, attended a community meeting at the Jamaica High Commission in London, which permitted him to promote the 50th Anniversary of Independence in 2012, He also discussed the importance of the Jamaican Diaspora in the UK.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding led a delegation from Jamaica to the Inter-American Development Bank International Forum on Caribbean Investment and Development on June 5 and June 10. The delegation took part in a discussion between public and private sector organizations concerning trade and finance issues of importance to the Caribbean.

Jamaican Ambassador to the United States Audrey P. Marks made her first official visit to Florida and met with members of the Diaspora to strengthen the ties between them and Jamaicans on the home island. Marks traveled on a six-day tour of Florida and focused her attention on maximizing the benefits of the relationship between Jamaica and the U.S. Jamaica’s Ambassador to Japan Claudia Barnes took a vacation on the home island after attending a meeting called by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. In discussing the experience of the March 2011 earthquake in Japan, she noted that the Ministry was able to account for every Jamaican known to be in Japan at the time of the quake.

The Reverend Don Meredith, originally from St. Ann, was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Meredith, 47, says he is “humbled” that the Prime Minister recommended him for the Senate position. Meredith immigrated to Canada at the age of 12 and graduated from Toronto’s Weston Collegiate Institution.

Angella Reid, a Jamaican-born hotelier, will be the first female chief usher at the White House, the home of the President of the United States in Washington, D.C. Reid was born in Trinityville, St. Thomas, and went to Excelsior High School in Kingston before becoming a front-office trainee at the Montego Bay Half Moon Hotel in 1978.

Tracy Robinson, a Jamaican and senior lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies, was elected to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Robinson, who is also a Rhodes Scholar, was elected at the 41st regular meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in El Salvador.

Anthony Jackson, the Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom made a visit to Edinburgh in Scotland, which was meant to strengthen ties between Jamaica and the UK. He visited businesses and politicians the visit, which was only the second time in history that a Jamaican High Commissioner mad an official visit to Scotland.

Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Karl Samuda, traveled to London on a trade and investment mission designed to encourage demand for Jamaica’s products in the international marketplace. Samuda also hoped to generate new direct foreign investments and partnerships between the United Kingdom and Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Worldwide Sports Representatives
Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, told attendees at a fundraising dinner for the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in Birmingham, England, that Jamaica is ready to become the leading training center for sprint athletes from around the globe. She encouraged sports investors to develop initiatives for improving facilities in Jamaica with this goal in mind.

Kevin Morrison, the FIFA award-winning referee from Jamaica, has been selected as to bring his skills to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Morrison, 33, received the FIFA Referee of the Year award from the Jamaica Football Referees Association, the second major award for Morrison, who also received the Digicel Premier League Referee of the Year award in 2010.

Jamaican football-playing youths made a positive impression on the Austrian football club of USK Anif. Craig Butler and four members of the Phoenix All Star Football Academy pioneered a move into Austria to create a major opportunity for the Jamaican players. According to Butler, the young players will be able to develop their skills outside of Jamaica in a way that could not be accomplished at home and that will benefit them in the future.

Jamaican Products Showcased
The International Food and Drink Expo in London celebrated Jamaica Day on March 15, 2011. Jamaica was the featured nation on the “Meet the World” stage at the all-day event. Colin Brown, a Jamaican chef who is based in the UK, and famous storyteller Joan Andrea Hutchinson were featured celebrities at the Expo.

Yendi Phillips, the current Miss Jamaica Universe, has taken on the role of an ambassador representing the interests of Jamaica’s Coffee Industry Board and the Association of Japanese Importers of Jamaican Coffee. She presented a gift of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee to Japan’s Minister of Agriculture Michihiko Kano while on her trip to work on the campaign.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Caribbean News

 

Diplomacy and International Relations 2011 – Jamaica Year in Review 2011

Diplomacy and International Relations 2011

A key incident from 2010 continued to make its impact felt diplomatically in 2011. The attempt of Jamaican soldiers to capture Christopher “Dudus” Coke, local gang leader wanted by the United States as he had been indicted on charges of operating an international drug ring, caused the deaths of 73 individuals in Tivoli Gardens on May 24, 2010. The incident resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Bruce Golding and his replacement with Minister of Education Andrew Holness. It was also discovered later in the year that the United States’ Department of Homeland Security possesses a videotape taken by a secret spy plane during the battle of Tivoli Gardens. The tape is likely to provide more information about the actions of security forces during the incident and whether they killed members of a crime syndicate or innocent residents who were victims of house-to-house fighting. More than 500 Jamaican soldiers went into the neighborhood. The contents of the video have never been revealed to the public. In spite of earlier denials by Jamaica’s National Security Minister Dwight Nelson, Holness admitted that Jamaica made an agreement with the U.S. government to perform surveillance during security operations in Tivoli Gardens during Coke extradition process. In 2010, Daryl Vaz, who was the Information Minister at the time, also denied that Jamaica received any external help during the mission.

Jamaica was involved with many countries around the world during 2011, creating policies and making international agreements with local implications.

Canada
The Canadian military entered into negotiations with Jamaican authorities to create an arrangement by which the island would become a staging area for responses to natural disasters or other troubles in the Caribbean. This was another in a series of agreements between the two countries to create closer ties. The closer relationship was illustrated in the deployment of three CH-146 Griffon helicopters as back-ups for the Jamaica Defense Force.

During an incident of racism perpetrated by students at a business school in Montreal, Anthony Morgan, a law student of Jamaican descent, filmed white students at the school wearing blackface and Jamaican colors and chanting in fake Jamaican accents about using marijuana. According to Morgan, students at Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) took part in these activities during an annual sporting event traditionally held during freshmen week. School authorities issued a formal apology and initiated an investigation and sensitivity trainings to ensure that similar incidents or behavior do not occur in the future.

Asia
China’s Vice Premier Hui Liangyu and Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding met and held discussions in Kingston. Hui noted that Jamaica was the first country in the Caribbean to establish diplomatic relations with China about 30 years ago and introduced a five-point plan to further enhance the relations between two countries. Hui and Golding emphasized the need to develop stronger economic and trade links between their nations.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding expressed his concern about Jamaicans who live in Japan and was awaiting word about them after the major earthquake and tsunami that occurred there. Golding contacted Claudia Barnes, Jamaica’s ambassador in Japan, to find out about her situation and the safety of other Jamaicans living there. He was assured that all Jamaicans had been accounted for after the disaster.

Caribbean Neighbors
Dwight Nelson, National Security Minister, expressed the government’s position that Jamaica’s border controls are too lax and announced its plans to address the issue. Nelson noted that some areas of the nation are primed for smuggling and cause concern because they allow guns and ammunition to come into the country. The government will call upon the police and the army to help control the borders.

In March, the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) said that the Treaty of Chaquaramas is not applied evenly by the members of CARICOM. Omar Azan, president of the JMA, said the treatment of Shanique Myrie at the Guntley Adams airport in Barbados was particularly alarming. Myrie claimed she was abused by immigration officials at the airport because she is Jamaican. Azan said the incident indicated that the provisions of the Treaty are applied differently to citizens of different member states.

Maria Angela Holguin, foreign minister of Colombia, and Jamaican foreign minister Kenneth Baugh, examined the possibility of conducting joint offshore oil explorations in the maritime area shared by the two countries. The Hydrocarbons Agency of Colombia and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica began to perform environmental impact studies as part of the investigation.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett called for a common Caribbean travel visa, which would make it easier for the region to market itself as a single tourist destination. Under Bartlett’s plan, visitors coming to Jamaica would automatically be able to move on to other Caribbean countries without having to apply for additional travel documents. Bartlett also stated his support for electronic visas, noting that the technology could make international entry arrangements safer and easier.

The Complete Snapshot study conducted in April 2011 by Dr. Herbert Gayle discovered that Jamaicans have little or no interest in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) regional union. Only 24 percent of 200 individuals surveyed believe that Jamaica benefits from CARICOM, which has been in existence since 1973. Sixteen percent of Jamaicans surveyed believe that Jamaica loses in being part of CARICOM.

Barbados
A case of alleged mistreatment of a Jamaican woman by authorities at the Barbados airport caused significant repercussions. Jamaica asked the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to consider the case, the first time the CCJ was asked to rule in a dispute between the two countries. The Foreign Ministry of Jamaica received hundreds of complaints from citizens reporting mistreatment at the hands of immigration officials in Barbados. A number of Jamaicans living in Barbados reported “inappropriate” actions taken against them at Brantley Adams International Airport. A five-member team of Jamaican officials traveled to Barbados to discuss the incident involving the Jamaican woman who claimed she was mistreated by immigration workers at the Barbados airport. Authorities in Barbados denied any wrongdoing, but Bruce Golding, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, said he was not satisfied with the explanations. Golding noted the treatment of Caribbean visitors by officials in Barbados has long been a problem.

Haiti
The Foreign Minister of Jamaica and the Head of Public Health listened to explanations from Haiti’s Charge d’Affaires about an isolation measure imposed on a Jamaican national team player after discovering malaria among the players in 2007 during an epidemic on the island. The isolation measure remained in effect in 2011. Haitian officials cited lack of respect and hospitality toward its delegation, but Jamaican authorities rejected any thought of diplomatic conflict with Haiti because of what they call an “unfortunate incident.”

A group of People’s National Party members known as “the Patriots” issued a condemnation of actions by several Haitians protestors who burned the Jamaican flag. The Patriots said the desecration of the flag is an insult to the country. The protestors were angry about what they perceived to be the poor treatment of team members who were withdrawn from the CONCACAF U17 tournament without reason.

Honduras
Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that the government of Honduras confirmed the captain of a fishing vessel involved in a confrontation with Jamaican coast guards was killed. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, spoke via telephone with Mario Canahuati, Foreign Minister of Honduras to discuss the incident. Baugh expressed his regret for the death, which he noted was the result of illegal activities by the Hondurans who were illegally fishing in Jamaican waters. Discussions were held between Jamaica and Honduras at the end of January on a variety of consular issues. The constructive discussions addressed the two vessels from Honduras that remain in Jamaican custody and updated the situation of the 30 crew members from those vessels who were detained in Kingston. Ambassador Jorge Alberto Milla Reyes, Honduran ambassador, and David Alfonso Hernandez Caballero, consul general of Honduras in Houston, Texas, took part in the talks.

Jamaica lost over US$130 million due to illegal fishing in its territorial waters. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries turned its attention to the issue after a Honduran vessel was seen near the Pedro Cays. Minister of Agriculture Dr. Christopher Tufton expressed concern about poaching and the exploitation of Jamaican resources by foreign vessels. In 2011, 42 foreign vessels were seen fishing illegally on the Pedro bank, and only three were apprehended.
Caymans
The Cabinet considered easing visa requirements for Jamaican nationals in order to facilitate entry to the Cayman Islands and to encourage visits by business travelers. If the current regulations were removed, travel would be easier for some Jamaicans who visit the Caymans. Removal of the regulation would chiefly affect individuals under the age of 15 and older than 70. Ultimately, the Cayman Islands decided that children under age 15 and elderly Jamaicans over age 70 would be allowed to travel to the country without visas. This decision was reached after the governor refused to permit the premier to eliminate a visa requirement for all Jamaicans who already had United Kingdom or United State visas.
Trinidad and Tobago
Representatives of state and private sector interests in Jamaica met with their counterparts from Trinidad and Tobago to discuss a potential collaboration in regard to London’s 2012 Olympic Games. Officials included Mark Thomas, the manager of corporate communications at Jamaica Trade and Invest, and Stanley Beard, the chairman of T&T Tourism Development Company.

The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) in Trinidad and Tobago are concerned about the lack of security in Jamaica’s Port of Kingston. Inadequate port security represents a threat to local importers and customs brokers, who may be used without their knowledge to ship illegal substances throughout the Caribbean region. DOMA’s concerns were emphasized by the discovery of a shipping container full of marijuana valued at $30 million at the Pt. Lisas Port.

St. Maarten
The government of St. Maarten decided that Jamaican travelers will need visas to visit the country. Roland Duncan, Minister of Justice in St. Maarten, confirmed the visa requirement, but gave no reason for his decision. Private sources indicated that the new requirement is based on statistics showing that Jamaican and Guyanese visitors overstay their entry time in St. Maarten. The new visas will be granted only for a period of three months.

Israel
The Israel Project found that 42 percent of Jamaicans want their government to provide support to Israel, while just nine percent favored support for Palestinian interests. In October, Jamaica voted on a unilateral Palestinian effort for state recognition without the need for negotiations with Israel. A large majority of Jamaicans believe that this effort by the Palestinians only hardened the positions of extremists on both sides of the issue, making peace in the region even more difficult to obtain.

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom announced it was ready to create over 10,000 jobs in Jamaica and enhance the island’s ability to fight crime and handle natural disasters. The UK made a stronger commitment to provide support to the Caribbean. Andrew Mitchell, secretary of state for the UK, announced a four-year plan worth 75 million pounds to help Jamaica’s 50 most volatile urban communities.

United States
Dr. Adrian Stokes, vice president of Scotiabank’s product development and a financial analyst, stated that if there is a financial default in the United States, Jamaicans living in both countries would-be affected by the economic downturn that could occur.

Pamela Bridgewater, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, said steps should be taken immediately to control the crime rate in the country and to eliminate obstacles to direct investment. The faster such steps are taken, the faster Jamaica can reap the rewards of greater investment. Money likes to go where there is stability, said Bridgewater.

A diplomatic cable sent to the United States in March 2007 said that officials at the local U.S. embassy in Kingston claimed that Portia Simpson-Miller’s lack of leadership had left the People’s National Party (PNP) “in shambles.” The cable also claimed that the party appeared to be “lost at sea” and unable to accept its defeat.

The United States Embassy in Jamaica revoked the visitor visa of Justin O’Gilvie, a former associate of Christopher “Dudus” Coke. O’Gilvie had a visitor’s visa but was not able to cancel this visa physically. Therefore, the Embassy issued a letter requesting airlines to prohibit him from boarding any flights bound for the U.S. on the basis of that visa. O’Gilvie was a partner of Coke in Incomparable Enterprises Limited.

The United States Department of State said that Jamaica’s government is not imposing strong enough penalties on those found guilty of human trafficking. Research findings published in the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report showed the island still at the Tier-2 level it attained in 2010. Tier-2 denotes nations with governments that do not completely comply with minimum standards imposed by the U.S. Trafficking Victims Prevention Act, but that have made progress in attempting to meet those standards. Jamaica’s punishment of up to ten years in prison for human trafficking is insufficient in comparison to punishments for other serious crimes, said the report.

James Robertson, Jamaica’s Minister of Energy and Mining, left his cabinet position after the United States government revoked his visa. The visa revocation was imposed by what Robertson characterized as unproven allegations of wrongdoing. No comment was forthcoming from the U.S. State Department on the matter. Robertson sent a letter to Prime Minister Bruce Golding stating that Robertson would leave his office immediately. He plans to keep his seat in Parliament, however, and his position as one of four deputy heads of the Jamaica Labor Party.

The battle is on to save the seasonal United States-Jamaica Farm Work Program, which has been in operation for 66 years. The fight arose after new regulations governing the hiring of Jamaica’s migrant workers by the United States were imposed. The new rules delay the workers’ admission to the U.S. and deny them comprehensive benefits. This seriously undermined the future of the program, since all future costs must then be paid only by growers and employers in the U.S.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Caribbean News

 

Education Issues 2011 – Jamaica Year in Review 2011

Education Issues

Schools
Dr. Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, supports providing subsidies for vocational and tertiary education to areas with the greatest need. Government-subsidized education and training programs should be focused on the challenges facing the nation as a whole, rather than being perceived as a means for taxpayers to fund all areas of study, said Tufton.

Minister of Education Andrew Holness is urging Jamaica to include the subject of civics to the school curriculum again. According to Holness, teaching civics helps children develop into active citizens with good character. Teaching civics will improve students’ behavior, he said, and teaching about the rights and duties of citizenship will allow schools to make a significant contribution to improving the country as a whole.

The Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) implemented a program designed to help Jamaican children living in Port Antonio. The nonprofit organization, which is based in the United States, presented educational supplies to the Good Hope School in Portland parish. CMEx plans to make both financial and in-kind contributions to other communities that demonstrate a need in the region.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Education created and imposed a dress code that teachers must follow while they are in class. The dress code is meant to highlight the importance for all school staff and teachers to be well-groomed and dressed appropriately for their jobs.  Failure to follow the dress code could result in disciplinary actions for teachers.

Corporeal punishment will no longer be imposed in Jamaican public schools. Officials took action on the matter after discovering that a student in a fifth grade class lost most of the vision in one eye after being struck by a teacher. However, Minister of Education Andrew Holness said that “moderate and reasonable” punishment would remain legal at all educational institutions other than those handling early childhood populations.

Several schools were singled out by Andrew Holness in his position as Minister of Education for their poor performance, teaching standards, or morale. Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St. Ann’s Bay was one of those targeted for its infighting at all organizational levels. Math teachers are six high schools were singled out for their approach to the subject, which was found to be “didactic and expository” and targeted for improvement. Holness also turned his attention to six primary schools that continued to perform poorly on the Grade Fourth Literacy Test, noting that some of them had shown mastery on the 2011 exam of zero percent. These results will no longer be tolerated, according to Holness.

School principals were advised to be better leaders in order to improve student performance in schools across the country. Improved leadership by principals could lead to better quality of students at all levels, according to Elaine Foster-Allen, principal of Shortwood Teachers’ College, and Dr. Tamika Benjamin, lecturer at Mico University College. School performance and leadership from principals have been directly correlated, they said.

HEART College of Innovation and Technology was granted university status by the government of Jamaica. This is only one of several educational institutions slated to receive the upgrade in status over the next ten years, said Andrew Holness, Minister of Education. The school was formerly known as the Caribbean Institute of Technology (CIT). It will now represent one part of the government’s investment in technical education, which is a common practice in countries like Germany, Austria, and Japan.

Early education efforts in Jamaica received a boost from business leaders as they announced their intent to support the government’s focus in this area. Glen Christian, executive chairman of Cari-Med Ltd., and other business representatives were in agreement that Jamaica requires greater investment in education, which represents a strategic development tool. Business leaders are supporting the efforts of Andrew Holness, Minister of Education, as he moves the focus of aid to early childhood programs in rural areas where many schools are currently providing inadequate education.

The United States Embassy in Kingston provided $10 million to nine organizations and programs designed to fund a wide range of educational and training initiatives. The funds were given to Children First, Clarendon Association for Street People Benevolent Society, Operation Friendship, Jamaica Basketball Association, Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Jamaica Fulbright Association, Jamaica Theological Seminary, University of the West Indies, and Northern Caribbean University.

Literacy
Discussions about literacy in Jamaica frequently turn to the consideration of Patois and whether or not it is a “real” language. The children’s television program “Rastamouse” uses a mouse and his band of reggae musicians to teach viewers how to speak the Jamaican dialect they hear on the show. The Bible Society of the West Indies stated that Jamaican Patois is indeed a valid language and translating the Bible into Patois is a worthwhile effort. On the other hand, some like Dr. Franklin Johnston, believes such a translation to be a waste of time.

In other literacy efforts, the Jamaica Partnership for Education  and the Jamaica National Building Society partnered to provide tools to the schools for improving the rate of literacy. The Society began raising funds to eliminate illiteracy from Jamaica’s schools in 2009, and since then, it has provided computer-based tools and interactive software to eight primary schools in rural areas to further its efforts. Jamaica’s government called upon the private sector for help in promoting literacy among young people on the island as well. The Read Across Jamaica Day is an initiative sponsored by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, which the government hopes will help to create a literacy rate among Jamaicans of 100 percent by 2016. And a literacy monitoring program received the support of Minister of Education Andrew Holness, who called it a program of major importance for the island. The development of a national plan to achieve universal literacy in Jamaica represents the first time a Caribbean nation has attempted to make an accurate measurement of its literacy levels.

Preserving History
Efforts to preserve the history of Jamaica experienced ups and downs in 2011. Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen urged Jamaicans to keep the country’s national heritage relevant by educating young people about the island’s culture. If children are taught to value their heritage, the future of the culture is ensured. Allen also recognized the contributions of the Jamaica Information Service in preserving island history and culture. The head of the Institute of Jamaica, Vivian Crawford, has worked to preserve and promote the nation’s history for more than 11 years. As a leading authority on the island’s arts and culture, Crawford attributed his appreciation of history and culture to his childhood in Moore Town, Portland, and the many stories he heard there. He has been instrumental in promoting Jamaica culture and history, particularly through a fund-raising effort to commemorate the place where the Proclamation of Emancipation of Slaves was read in 1838. A memorial plaque was installed to mark that location through Crawford’s efforts.

The fate of the historic building that housed the first offices of the first university in Jamaica is still up in the air after two years of negotiations between a government agency and a nonprofit. The building on Lady Musgrave Road was home to the University of the West Indies in 1947 and also served as the base of Jamaica’s first parliamentary ombudsman and as part of the police force. The building has recently fallen victim to scrap metal thieves and looters.

Phillip Martin, an American engineer, historian, and horologist, indicated his interest in preserving the historic “heritage clocks” in Jamaica. He believes the nation needs to take immediate action to preserve about 30 clocks on the island, some of which are 150 years old. They represent important elements in the history of Jamaica, Martin said, and as such, should be saved.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Caribbean News

 
 
%d bloggers like this: