Daily Archives: June 21, 2007

Nation News Censors Important Story & Letter To Editor – Millionaire Philanthropist Abused By Barbados Government

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Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Donor Shakes The Bajan Dust From His Shoes – Forced Out By Government Abuse

Like all Barbados news media outlets, we received the below “letter to the editor” from Stuart Heaslet at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary on Tuesday, June 12, 2007. We held off publishing it as, frankly, we wanted to see what the Barbados print and broadcast media would do with it. We particularly wanted to see whether or not Barbados largest circulation newspaper would print the letter.

In the past, the government-fearing lapdog Nation News has been caught red-handed censoring letters and news concerning the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. (See Outrage As Deceitful Nation News Censors Letter From National Park Donor Peter Allard)

We wondered what they would do with this story now – that one of Barbados’ premier natural showpieces has been put up for sale and the millionaire philanthropist who poured millions into Barbados and asked for nothing is shaking the Bajan dust from his shoes and moving on.

There are many good folks behind the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, but without Canadian philanthropist Peter Allard pouring US$20 million into this last mangrove swamp, by now the place would be a concrete jungle of condos and hotels instead of a wonderful gift to the people of Barbados.

But now the nature sanctuary is for sale and Mr. Allard is pulling out of Barbados.

Peter Allard is not stopping his philanthropic projects – far from it. He just won’t be giving tens of millions of dollars to Barbados anymore.

And THAT, my friends, is a NEWS STORY.

Date: 12 June 2007

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

As many of you are aware, the advertisement for the sale of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is currently in the London Times and International Herald Tribune. Details are at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary website (link here for PDF file)

The general mood on our part is one of sadness, as Peter Allard, owner of the Sanctuary, has spent years attempting to do good environmental work in Barbados. My job has been to execute his mission of environmental preservation and education, not just for the lands owned by the Sanctuary, but for the surrounding environmentally sensitive buffer lands owned by Government, and a few private owners.

It has been our experience that national legacies of environmental conservation and preservation must stem from government-led initiatives and policies that reflect the national pride in those lands which are most significant. We have experience supporting other governments and organizations in this regard, notably the Morne Diablotin National Park project in Dominica, which was successfully declared by Parliament after 27 months of cooperative effort and fundraising.

Over the past 14 years there has been significant offshore investment in the Sanctuary by Mr. Allard, under the mandate that responsible offshore investment should be socially and environmentally appropriate and ultimately transfer technologies to Barbados, to be run by 100% Barbadian management and staff. We have complied with the spirit and intent of this mandate.

Philanthropically speaking, we respect the sovereign responsibility of Barbados for its environmental legacy, and generally disagree with those who seek to transfer the responsibility for preserving the Barbados environment to private, for-profit interests. Progressive national environmental preservation, as well as cultural, recreational and agricultural opportunities, must belong to, and be managed directly by, the people and Government of Barbados. In this case, we fear that profit motives for the land at Graeme Hall outweigh those for preservation and the health and welfare of citizens on the South Coast.

Unfortunately, here in Barbados we have not received any substantive response or engagement from the Government of Barbados for well over a decade in regard to multiple, formal offers of land, finances, technical and management support for Government-led environmental preservation and national park initiatives.

Therefore, we are seeking, and investing in, alternative uses for Allard Family philanthropy.

We commend the efforts of The Friends of Graeme Hall (website here) and trust that they will continue to actively seek a partnership with the Government of Barbados to form, and manage, the proposed Graeme Hall National Park. That said, we are of course open to any last minute discussions with those in Government if they include a well thought out plan and commitments from the highest levels.

Stuart Heaslet
Board Representative
Oversight and Philanthropy
Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (Barbados)
Barbados contact telephone: 246.428.2776

Note about the writer: For over ten years Mr. Heaslet has provided design, construction, programming, oversight and philanthropic services for Mr. Peter Allard at Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, News Media, Politics & Corruption

Grenada Coup Sentencing: Allegation That Judge Has Conflict Of Interest Over Barbados Political Movement

Will The Judge Release Those Who Murdered Maurice Bishop & Cabinet Ministers?

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – A judge tasked with determining new sentences for 13 prisoners convicted for their roles in Grenada’s 1983 coup has received an unsigned letter alleging he has a conflict of interest in the case.

Supreme Court Judge Francis Bell adjourned a public hearing Wednesday and called a private meeting with prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss the letter. It accused him of belonging to an unnamed “political movement” in Barbados in the early 1980s that did not condemn the coup by Marxist hard-liners.

Bell did not discuss the letter in court and did not respond to calls for comment about the allegations. Copies of the letter also were distributed to journalists.

…continue reading this article at Jacksonville.com 

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What A Change In Uganda – Minister of Tourism Launches Uganda Martyrs Trail

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We don’t know why the International Institute For Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) included Barbados Free Press on it’s distribution list, but we’re happy to help out with some publicity. We see that the Tourism Boards of Bermuda, Zambia and Jordan assisted with the Ugandan conference, along with the World Bank, United Nations and the Africa Travel Association.

We’re very impressed that Jordan assisted with a conference when it knew that a dedication to Christian martyrs would be held.

Here’s the start of the media release as we received it…

African Conference on Peace through Tourism

(Kampala, Uganda June 20) Uganda Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Serapio Rukundo, launched the Uganda Martyrs Trail commemorating the events of 3 June 1886, when thirty-two young men were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. The Uganda Martyrs Trail was launched at a special ceremony during the 4th IIPT African Conference on Peace through Tourism.

Martyr’s Trail Basilica
Namugongo – Uganda

The arrival of Christian missionaries in the 1880’s marked a turning point in the religious life of the people of Buganda; as well as the political structure of the kingdom and the region at large. Christianity was received with much excitement but becoming a Christian required a commitment to break away from traditional lifestyles and adjusting to new moral and religious standards. The new believers were therefore regarded as ‘rebels’ who had abandoned tribal traditions.

Given these conflicting values, King Mwanga was determined to rid his kingdom of the new teaching and its followers. He ordered the converts to choose between their new faith, and complete obedience to his orders. Those unwilling to renounce their faith would be subject to death. Courageously, the young Christians chose their faith and the King ordered the burning to death of thirty two young Christian men at Namugongo on June 3, 1886.

… continue reading this article here

International Institute For Peace Through Tourism website here

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Filed under Africa, Barbados Tourism, Traveling and Tourism

Organisation Of American States Concerned About CARICOM Press Freedoms – Barbados News Media Fails To Mention This In Washington Coverage

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Barbados Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley wants to censor free speech on blogs, radio and television call-in shows and in the media, so it is no wonder that in Mottley’s latest briefing to the House of Assembly she did not mention that the Organisation of American States has expressed serious concerns about freedom of the press in CARICOM.

We expect that kind of censorship from Mia anytime she waddles up to a microphone, but why didn’t the Nation News inform Barbadians about the concerns voiced in Washington by the Organisation of American States?

The Barbados news media presented lots of stories on the Prime Minister’s trip to Washington, and we all saw the PM’s smiling face on televised photo-ops – but why nothing in Barbados print and broadcast news media about a major statement on CARICOM press freedoms by OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza?

Oh well, I guess we can all read the Miami Herald, Guyana’s Stabroek News or even the Fort Wayne Chronicle if we need to know about the attack on freedom of the press in CARICOM.

I notice that even the Joint Statement on the Conference on the Caribbean released by the U.S. Department of State did not mention freedom of the press. I guess that’s one thing that Owen Arthur and George W. Bush agreed upon to leave out of a joint statement.

Miami Herald – Monday, June 18, 2007

U.S., Caribbean Leaders Meet

WASHINGTON — A high-level conference designed to strengthen U.S.-Caribbean ties kicked off Monday with a meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and foreign ministers from the 15-member Caribbean Community, or CARICOM.

(snip)

OAS officials also said that they are increasingly worried about complaints of attacks on freedom of the press around the region.

Ignacio Alvarez, the OAS’ special rapporteur on freedom of the press, said in the coming months he plans to visit several Caribbean nations to investigate the problems, which include the killings of reporters in Haiti and the recent expulsion of journalists from Antigua.

”It’s starting to get a little ugly,” Karla Heusner Vernon, the editor of the Independent Reformer newspaper in Belize, said at the session. “If governments are not happy with the way media are doing their jobs, they need to find another way.”

… read the entire article at The Miami Herald (link here)

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Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General, Organization Of American States (website here)

Stabroek News – Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Archaic Laws In CARICOM Allow For Media Censorship – Insulza

Censorship and punishment of journalists and the media still exist in Guyana and other Caricom countries because the majority had not brought their criminal legislation in line with international standards, Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza says.

Meanwhile, the office of the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of the Press has announced that it would be conducting a survey on the freedom of expression in the Caribbean and based on its findings will make recommendations to governments on how they could work with the media to enhance democracy and development.

At the opening of a two-day seminar for Caribbean journalists at the OAS Head Office in Washington DC on Monday, Insulza said the Inter-American Commission on human rights has indicated that the criminal offence of desacato (lack of respect/disrespect for), which grants special protection to the honour and reputation of public officials in some OAS/Caricom member states, was incompatible with the right to freedom of expression.

“That is because, in a democratic society public officials should not receive such special protection but rather be exposed to a higher degree of scrutiny so as to foster public debate and democratic oversight of their conduct,” he said. “A more complex issue is how to handle forms of indirect pressure that are within the purview of the legitimate exercise of public responsibilities.

“Such as [when] under relatively equal conditions, all or most official news coverage is made available to media that support the government, or when legal government powers are used to silence the opposition media.

“What is at issue, is neither the letter of the law nor the right of the state to enforce it but rather the fact that, when this is done, a clear signal is being sent to the rest of the media causing self-censorship and fear.”

He said too, that the state was not the only source of restriction on freedom of expression but also the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few. “It is almost universally accepted today that concentration and monopolies in media ownership and control, regardless of whether [in] the hands of the state, individuals, or businesses, impair pluralism, which is a basic component of freedom of expression.”

Governments, he noted, also use the lack of access to public information as a mean of stifling freedom of expression. “No society can claim to be pluralist, tolerant, and rooted in justice and mutual respect if it fails to guarantee its citizens the right to elicit information regarding the work of public institutions, so that they can contribute to their improvement and thereby enhance the potential for democratic governance.”

During the session on ‘Good Governance and Access to Information’, OAS Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression Ignacio Alvarez noted the number of challenges facing the media in relation to the freedom of expression in the Caribbean, which was rated as one of the regions in the world where the press more or less operated freely.

He cited emerging challenges, including the killing of 19 media workers in the Caribbean. (This figure did not include the five Kaieteur News pressmen since the circumstances of their killing were still unclear.)

He also pointed to the issue of the withdrawal of advertisements by the Guyana Government from Stabroek News, which was raised by two speakers and participants from the floor, and was being looked at by his office. He said based on the response from Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the OAS would take whatever action was in its scope.

Referring to the expulsion of two Caribbean journalists from Antigua and Barbuda, he said that in the same manner in which governments could use the awarding/withholding of advertisements to certain media houses, they could also use the granting/denial of work permits to their benefit.

Similarly, he said, governments also use the granting/ not granting of radio licences as a means of controlling the media.

Calling on the media to urge their governments to honour their obligations by signing onto the instruments that promote democracy in the region, Alvarez noted that Guyana was among several Caricom countries, which had not signed on to the Inter-American Systems of Human Rights and the Inter-Ameri-can Commission on Human Rights but it was a signatory to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

… read the original article at Stabroek News (link here)

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Inter-Regional Trade Down 22 Per Cent – What Do You Expect When Inter-Regional Flights Are Slashed By 40 Per Cent?

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‘Our inter-regional trade is down 22 per cent. That’s a lot’

So disclosed Peter ODLE. Bajan hotelier and President of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), at their annual conference in Miami yesterday (Tuesday 19th June 2007).

‘Already what has happened (with the impending merger of LIAT and Caribbean Star) is that (they) have reduced from 30 aircraft a week to approximately 14 aircraft. They have reduced the flight schedule by almost 40 per cent throughout the region’ said Odle.

After the Barbadian taxpayer has already ploughed over $40 million into LIAT according to the Prime Minister, the current high airfare levels are killing intra regional travel.

Mr Odle adds ‘Present airfares will keep Caribbean vacation travellers at home and will deter island hopping by foreign visitors who might have wanted to visit a neighbouring island or two during their holiday’.

Just how many more of the region’s tourism industry leaders have to voice their extreme concern before ‘our’ Tourism Minister is galvanised into action?

Based on average stay and spend, the Government of Barbados loses more than US$128 in VAT revenue alone for each Caribbean traveller that doesn’t grace our shores.

If ‘we’ (Barbados) are also down around 22 per cent in regional long stay visitor arrivals, it does not take a rocket scientist to calculate the overall national loss in tourism revenue to the country.

Add to this the reduced number of US visitors so far this year and ‘we’ have a problem!

Adrian Loveridge

See Regional trade falls after airline trouble Trinidad Express, Wednesday 20th June 2007.

Photo: LIAT does a “Bob Hoover” on short final for the last time

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

BFP Reader Peter Simmons Tears A Strip From A Pro-Waterpark Commenter

Editor’s Note: This letter has had two sentences removed by BFP…

My attention has been drawn to comments of some cowardly cretin on the BFP of June 15 under the alias of “BAJANMAN4EVER” who makes a number of idiotic accusations against me on the WWW which I cannot allow to go unanswered.

Since “Bajanman4ever” is obviously a permanent resident of the gutter, a place where I am never comfortable, I cannot resile from my responsibility to clear the record and respond to this transparently counterfeit Barbadian.

I have NEVER, prior to this submission, sent anything to the BFP. NEVER! I am not and have no idea who is “Bajan Citizen Forever”.

All of my submissions to the press or on the airwaves about Caribbean Water Splash have always been in my own name. ALL! EVERYONE, EVERY TIME!

My objections to the water park at Graeme Hall are well known. When therefore I am accused of describing “housing as carbuncles”, what is the cretin thinking of and attributing to me?

Yes, I described the proposed water park as “a grotesque carbuncle on the landscape” To link the water park and housing is the product of a very sick mind or just a squalid and deliberate lie.

But hang on. Could it be a subliminal triumph of the hidden agenda over the endless diet of ox manure which has been dumped on the unsuspecting and naïve? Will upscale condos and town-houses rise from the 5 acres of concrete of the failed water park?

I really don’t to be hard on Bajanman4ever, but before he comes back, please ask a real Bajan (we pride ourselves on our literacy) to teach you the difference between “their” and “there”.

I note with interest and amusement but no surprise BFP’s alleged unmasking of Lawrence Loughlin. If true, how despicable! Now Barbadians will understand what all of us are up against. And I suspect there is more to come.

PETER SIMMONS
Barbados

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Filed under Barbados, Environment