Connections: Seafood, Fiber Optics, Political “Donations” and Barbados National Policy

Looking At The Barbados Company “Columbus Communications”

Some time ago, I read a piece that claimed that the world is all connected in ways that are not immediately evident, and that these unseen connections have great influence over the daily lives of people everywhere. If we could just see these hidden connections, the author argued, our understanding of how the world works would receive an enormous boost.

The author’s premise seemed to make sense, so now I watch for connections. And even if I don’t understand the implications for every connection I make, there’s always somebody out there who does.

Here’s a connection. Let’s see what Barbados Free Press readers can make of it…


– Halifax-based John Risley is a Canadian fish industry gazillionaire with a contrary position on the environmental impact of bottom trawling. Surprise, surprise – this industry giant who made his gazillions bottom trawling says that “there is no proof” that bottom trawling damages the ocean and even if it does, so what… we can’t do anything about it. (That’s a pretty accurate picture of his position – If Mr. Risley disagrees, we’d love to publish his response.)

– John Risley is a key investor in the Clearwater Seafood Income fund, as well as Fishery Products International – FPL Inc. in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

– John Risley is also heavily into Barbados-based Columbus Communications – Jamaican-born Canadian billionaire Michael Lee-Chin’s little baby that is stringing fiber-optic cable throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. According to a press release, Columbus Communications has a capital expenditure budget for 2007 of $US200 million. Hey… that’s some serious coin.

– Columbus Communications is a competitor to the communications giant Cable and Wireless.

– The Government of Barbados has given Cable and Wireless pretty well exclusive rights to pick the pockets of Bajans until (I think) 2011 or so. (PDF here) There are a couple of lawsuits a-brewing over this.

– Lee-Chin and Risley are no fools, and they think ahead – way ahead.

– 2011 – the year when Cable and Wireless’ exclusive contract ends – is rapidly approaching, and before that is the next Barbados national election.

– There are no controls or transparency over election funding in Barbados.

Bearing in mind all of the above, Barbados should be asking the following questions…

1/ How much of a “campaign donation” will the Barbados Labour Party “suggest” that Columbus Communications make prior to the next election?

2/ Will a telecommunications deal with Columbus Communications – under or over the table – involve our fisheries in any way?

3/ Shouldn’t all Barbadians have a right to know how much money their political parties receive, and from whom?


Filed under Barbados, Business, Environment, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption

5 responses to “Connections: Seafood, Fiber Optics, Political “Donations” and Barbados National Policy

  1. reality check

    good question BFP but you missed the most important ones!!!

    just before the last election Digicel and other companies were vying for new competitive licenses. Where did the political contributions and inducement fees go ?

    and of course , the most important question of all!!!

    What did Cable and Wireless pay to have the right to maintain all international calls having to go through its infrastructure. Cable and Wireless laid off countless hundreds of Bajans workers in the guise of free competition and yet with this monopolitic holdover never made so much money
    the following years. Who got paid what?

    Maybe BFP can cite what C & W actually made post new licenses being granted and which Barbadan government representatives sit and sat on the Board?

  2. passin thru

    Nice post BFP! As RC says, it raises many more questions.

    Have you noticed that voters are starting to ask questions that have not been asked before in Barbados politics? The Nation News and the other newspapers and television news never ask these questions or try to make connections.

    Thank you Barbados Free Press. May you always be here!

  3. God Bless David

    Guys – please note that C&W no longer has exclusive licences in Barbados for the delivery of any service…the last bit of exclusivity was surrendered early last year (2005), when Digicel and Cingular were allowed to handle international traffic for themselves.

  4. BFP Cliverton

    So noted God Bless David, and thanks!

    That is what is good about blogging. So many of us have a few different pieces of any puzzle, but together we are much better at seeing the whole picture.

  5. I doubt a Great White Shark like Risley will disturb our fisherfolk. Our fishing is small-fry for him. But feeding off the carcass of Cable and Wireless- that’s worth his attention.

    Digicell may have distributed largesse extravagantly to get a foothold, but they came as a breath of fresh air. They can rely on the fact that legislation about party contribution transparency is far from a priority to those benefitting from it.