Monthly Archives: July 2009

USA Today Picks Up On Barbados Free Press Corruption Article – Hit Meter Goes Wild!

USA Today Corruption Barbados

“Barbados: Corruption Legislation Needed”

“It doesn’t matter how many tens of millions of dollars are missing at the end of a major project, no one ever goes to jail”: Barbados Free Press suggests that part of the problem is that “Barbados lacks the laws and the codified standards necessary to prosecute public officials for common acts of corruption.”

… from the USA Today web story Barbados: Corruption Legislation Needed and BFP’s article Tens of Millions Missing In Audit Of Barbados ABC Highway – But No Person Will Be Held Accountable

Welcome to our USA Today Visitors!

Barbados Free Press is receiving thousands of extra visitors today thanks in large measure to coverage from USA Today – the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States and second worldwide only to the #1 English language paper in the world – The Times of India.

For the last two days our article about the tens of millions of dollars that vanished during the building of the ABC Highway has been resonating with readers in Barbados and around the world. Harvard University’s Global Voices featured the article in various international forums including Governance, Law, Media and Politics – but the visitor rocket really took off when none other than USA Today posted a paragraph and a link to the story on the newspaper’s website.

So a big welcome to our thousands of extra visitors from USA Today and Harvard’s Global Voices.

Barbados is a wonderful country full of good people – but we have this one huge problem with a long-established culture of corruption and entitlement in politics and government service. BFP and other reform-minded folks believe that the only way the culture will change is if the international community starts examining the Barbados government’s actions, inaction and policies with a critical eye in decisions regarding Barbados investments, property ownership and business deals.

Barbados: A Country That Does Not Believe In Laws – Or The Rule Of Law

The reality of doing business in Barbados is often a shock to foreigners whose only impression of our country comes through positive press coverage by their own country’s news and entertainment media.

What foreign investors don’t know is that scores of professional journalists from some of the world’s most respected news organisations visit Barbados every year as guests of Barbados government agencies for tourism and investment.

Of course they write nice things about our country! And of course they stay away from contentious issues that threaten the carefully crafted image of Barbados as “Little Britain”.

International visitors to Barbados Free Press are usually shocked when they learn that Barbados government officials are not prohibited from accepting gifts of any value from land developers or companies that receive government contracts. Foreigners who purchase houses or lands are often flabbergasted when they realize that our Chaotic & Corrupt Land Titles System Makes For Risky Real Estate Transactions In Barbados. (Some folks have had to wait 20 or 30 YEARS to get a deed – if then!)

Buyers of Barbados condominiums are sometimes unpleasantly surprised (horrified!) to discover that Barbados lacks any laws that realistically prevent a developer from spending your money as he pleases and leaving you high and dry without your condo. Relying on our Barbados courts to solve your condo problem? Ha! Talk to Canadian John DeSanti who has been waiting 19 years for his condo!

In Barbados, Rule of Law means whatever those in power want it to mean. God help you if your land deal or business agreement collapses and you have to go to the courts! You are just as likely to discover that the judges, lawyers and government officials you deal with are land-speculators themselves and are in positions of great power in a country with a population of fewer than three hundred thousand people. Consider our article Corporate Records Involving Chief Justice Simmons Missing From Barbados Government Files!

A word to wise international investors – if you have any kind of a legal dispute in Barbados, don’t count on being able to access any government records as evidence. You see, if some big-up is involved in the court case, those government records will go missing until you leave the island with your tail between your legs.

When the highest judge in the land is a former Attorney General and Cabinet Minister, your chances of a fair trial are about the same as winning big money in the lottery.

Not to mention corrupt land expropriation! Here’s one for you: Government expropriates privately-owned land for “public housing’, then Government Minister Gline Clarke built a house for his mistress upon the same land!

No Integrity Legislation exists in Barbados. As a result, powerful Government Ministers like Mr. Clarke do not have to declare their assets or explain how it is that, as a Member of the Cabinet that approves the expropriation of privately-owned lands, a Minister of Government comes to live upon a choice building lot that was forceably taken from an owner – using the full power of the Government.

Integrity, transparency and accountability are just words to Barbados politicians, but to fellow taxpayers the failure of successive Barbados governments to implement and enforce ITAL (Integrity, Transparency and Accountability Legislation) says “corruption”.

To international investors, the refusal of Barbados governments to define and regulate obvious conflicts of interest by elected and appointed officials says “higher risk”. After all, nothing says “banana republic” like the fact that Barbados citizens have an expectation and an acceptance that government officials can become millionaires while in office.

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Tens of Millions Missing In Audit Of Barbados ABC Highway – But No Person Will Be Held Accountable

Updated July 18, 2010

Here’s an article about the ABC Highway scandal that we first published in July 2009. It’s a year later and has anyone been charged? Any lawsuits launched to recover our stolen/wasted tax dollars?

You mek sport!

My friends, read it again and weep for your country. We predicted (and we were correct) that no one would be held accountable and that nothing would happen because there is only one political party on this island. DLP = BLP = DLP = BLP.

We were wrong about one thing though: the Auditor General did post his report on the internet and it revealed that 3S, the US firm that obtained the contract, submitted a proposal to the Owen Arthur government a week before the tender was announced (start hysterical laughter here).

It doesn’t matter though… the money is gone and no one will be charged or otherwise held accountable.

Original article published July 29, 2009…

Welcome to Barbados, folks!

In the past few days we have learned once again that this is truly a country for the “entrepreneurial” politician.

You see – it doesn’t matter how many tens of millions of dollars are missing at the end of a major project, no one ever goes to jail. There is always the speech in Parliament – duly reported in the papers of course – castigating the previous government for all manner of “recklessness and wastage… bordering on corruption” – but no jail. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Prime Minister Thompson and the Barbados News Media Agree That Some Things Aren’t Worth Talking About: Like Integrity Legislation, Freedom of Information, CLICO Conflicts of Interest etc.

Just a quick note before I head off to work…

Prime Minister Thompson and the Barbados news media had themselves a little party earlier this evening where the conversation was as carefully scripted as a Broadway play. You can read about it in the Nation (Hotel Help) and the Barbados Advocate (PM discusses economy) – but that won’t tell you about the disgusting silence by media and the Government concerning the ongoing conflicts of interest by Thompson over CLICO.

Sure, Thompson says FOI and Integrity Legislation are “coming” – Thompson has been saying that since he failed to keep his promises to implement a Ministerial Code of Conduct IMMEDIATELY upon taking office – but the cowardly lapdog news media allows him to talk in generalities instead of saying, “Mr. Prime Minister: How much did CLICO and your friend Mr. Parris contribute to your campaign… and why should public funds be used to cover those campaign donations now?”

I have to run, but perhaps our friends at the old news media could take a read of what Journalism-UK says about Barbados’ press…

Trinidad’s tabloids scream loudly, but Barbados’ press could do with some balls.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados News & Media, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press

Mottley Barbados Labour Party Demands Answers About CLICO & Sam Lord’s – Too Bad The BLP Weren’t So Committed To Transparency When They Formed The Government!

Mia was always happy to meet a fellow despot.

When Deputy Prime Minister, Mia Mottley was always happy to meet a fellow despot.

Mia Mottley and her band of deposed, dethroned and defeated government despots make for just about the poorest quality official opposition that Barbados has suffered under in many a year.

The trouble with the BLP and Mottley as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is, of course, that the defeated BLP Arthur/Mottley government is generally acknowledged to have been the most corrupt and despotic bunch of politicians this country has seen since independence…

… and that is saying quite a bit!

Whether it was Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke building a house for his mistress on land that his government expropriated for “public housing”, Mia Mottley calling for talk shows and blogs to be censored, Tourism Minister Noel Lynch storming off a radio show because a listener asked how Minister Lynch became a millionaire on a government salary – or any number of other scandals, hardly a week went by without the BLP government exhibiting some new corruption.

So Mia Mottley and the gang don’t have much credibility to stand up and criticize the Thompson government for being pretty much as corrupt as the BLP government was. I mean… what is Mottley going to do? Complain that Thompson hasn’t kept his promise about Freedom of Information legislation when Mottley’s BLP didn’t introduce such laws in fourteen years of majority government? Ha… Thompson would laugh and say “De fat one mek sport!”

So the tendency is to marginalise and ignore the BLP Opposition, and we at BFP understand that because we mostly ignore them too – just like the Thompson government ignores them.

But…

We Should Listen To What Mottley & The BLP Say About CLICO and Sam Lord’s Castle…

Here is what Mottley and the BLP have to say about the government’s compulsory aquisition of Sam Lord’s Castle. The article was originally published in the Barbados Advocate and also circulated as a BLP emailed newsletter. When you read the article, put aside your thoughts about the BLP being corrupt themselves… and just go on the merits of the article itself.

So read the article and then, let’s talk… because this corruption from the Thompson DLP government isn’t getting any better…

BLP column: That Sam Lord’s conundrum

7/27/2009

Why is the David Thompson Administration rushing to compulsorily acquire Sam Lord’s Castle from Clico? This is the question Barbadians want answered today. After all the promises of open Government, how is it that Barbadians first learnt of the acquisition through a Section 3 notice published only in the Barbados Advocate?

Why, despite his promises of transparency, has the Prime Minister not kept the country up to date on the state of Clico’s affairs in Barbados? Why has he neglected for months the concerns of Barbadian investors and policyholders, who are unable to get their money and who do not know what is going on?

How is it that the OECS regulators are moving to place the CL Financial subsidiary – British American – under judicial management in the Eastern Caribbean, but here in Barbados, despite repeated calls from the Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, that is not an appropriate remedy for our own people?

Why is it that the Memorandum of Understanding with Clico still has not been made public as it was in Trinidad & Tobago? What are the terms of reference of the Oversight Committee? Why has the Oversight Committee not invited offers for the Sam Lord’s property from the private sector, when interest has been expressed in that quarter? And why, after criticising the Owen Arthur Administration for investing in Gems, is the David Thompson Administration now seeking to compulsorily acquire a dilapidated castle without any plan for its development? The cart before the horse syndrome has risen to new heights on this deal, even by Democratic Labour Party standards. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Why Is Costa Rica “The Happiest Place On Earth” ? How Happy are Barbadians?

In an age of uncertainty, society globally needs a new compass to set it on a path of real progress. The Happy Planet Index (HPI) provides that compass by measuring what truly matters to us – our well-being in terms of long, happy and meaningful lives – and what matters to the planet – our rate of resource consumption.

The HPI brings them together in a unique form which captures the ecological efficiency with which we are achieving good lives. This report presents results from the second global HPI. It shows that we are still far from achieving sustainable well-being, and puts forward a vision of what we need to do to get there…

…”Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth.”

… from The Happy Planet Index 2.0 2009 published by the New Economics Foundation

“Economics as if people and the planet mattered”

The New Economics Foundation recently published the latest edition of their Happy Planet Index with Costa Rica grabbing the number one spot and the U.K. rated at a pathetic number seventy-four.

Barbados wasn’t listed, but if I had to make a guess I would think that true to our “Little Britain” moniker, Bim would fall closer to the U.K. than the land of “Pura Vida” (“Pura Vida” – Pure Life – is Costa Rica’s national cultural saying).

Why (IMHO) would Barbados be low on the Happy Planet list?

Look at what we, our families and our communities became as we raced for the dollar above all. Look at what our beautiful island became: garbage everywhere, destroyed coastlines and decayed water, health and public security infrastructures. Look at how “we culture” has so readily adopted bad parts of North American popular culture and consumerism.

Sure, you may have a new car or a bigger home than your parents did – but how many happy times do you spend with your family, your children? Can you walk to a nearby clean park or beach? Is your street clean and safe? Does clean water come from your tap without fail?

Remember when you were little – the excitement of waking up, the “can’t wait” to see what life would bring that day? How much do you enjoy waking up now? Do you enjoy your life, your country, your community at this moment?

How much of your dissatisfaction relates to the decaying natural and cultural environments of Barbados that you find yourself living in?

If progress means that five years from now I’ll have to spend an additional hour on the road driving the same distance to work, you can have your “progress”. If progress means that our green spaces will be filled with housing, and the beaches will be disappeared or inaccessible without buying a condo… you can have your “progress”.

How much more of this “progress” can our island take?

Barbados Queen Elizabeth Hospital Washroom - "Progress & Quality Of Life" As Defined By The Arthur/Mottley BLP Government

Barbados Queen Elizabeth Hospital Washroom - "Progress & Quality Of Life" As Defined By The Owen Arthur /Mia Mottley BLP Government

What is “Progress” for a Country and an Individual?

Since 1994, Barbados has had some truly good years economically. Considering how small we are, those years of economic success were probably not so much to do with how we ran our country as with the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Barbados did well when the rest of the world was doing well, and not so well when the world’s economy shuddered.

During those good years though, where did we invest our profits? What were our priorities?

I’d suggest that during the good years the Barbados BLP government “invested” money in many places that didn’t matter: in failed mega-projects like Cricket World Cup, Hotels and Resorts Inc., that were supposed to “improve the economy”. Then there were the countless wasted smaller projects that were merely give-aways for political expediency and favours. (Hey… how many of those government giveaway weedeaters ever saw an honest day’s work and income generated for their original recipients?)

Instead of improving public transit, the BLP government built more roads and allowed more cars. The BLP government had money for roads, but not for repairing a water distribution system that is leaking up to 60% of the clean water we can produce. Money for “economic progress” instead of hospital maintenance and staffing.

Video: How Graeme Hall was before PM Thompson decided to let his friends build on the wetlands.

Graeme Hall as it was before PM Thompson stole 2/3 of the parkland for his developer friends.

Millions for new and fancy diplomatic missions in New York and Miami – but no money or government desire to fix a rusted sluice gate and save the last mangrove forest on the island.

Did the BLP Arthur/Mottley government make these choices because the citizens demanded such “progress”, or because this was the BLP’s vision of “progress”? Or a little of both?

How Do We Bring About Positive Changes To Barbados?

The current DLP-Thompson Government of Barbados has been conducting an “environmental sustainability” publicity campaign for the last six or so months. I use the words “publicity campaign” rather than just the word “campaign” because I wouldn’t want anyone to misunderstand what the Thompson government’s new-found environmental talk is really all about. The government’s environmental publicity campaign is about words, promises and more words. Image, not reality. Advertising, not positive change.

The Thompson government is certainly slicker at publicity and spin than the Arthur/Mottley government ever was – but the priorities and economics-based definition of “progress” have remained the same.

And like the Arthur/Mottley government, the David Thompson government deals primarily with words – not actions.

Some may argue that talk, discussion and education are necessary precursors to cultural change and real action – and that is true. Some say that words are the catalyst for the personal changes that lead to changes in individual actions.

All that is true as far as it goes, but without real actions on the part of government the status quo will remain. Talk does not produce change. Action does.

And then there is that one huge factor we love to ignore in Barbados when we speak of change, that one part of the equation that successive governments have failed miserably at: the leading role that laws and the rule of law play in changing culture and individual actions.

Want To Change Our Society? Establish Good Laws and Enforce Them Justly For Everyone.

When the USA and Canada wanted to stop public smoking and smoking in general for well-found reasons of public health and cost, not a whole lot happened until various levels of government started to change their laws to prohibit smoking in public places and in the workplace. Some jurisdictions enacted laws that even prohibited smoking in one’s own car if children were present.

And people stopped smoking.

Changes in laws led the way for societal change. The same was true for the cultural and attitude shifts that took place about wearing seatbelts, drinking and driving and wearing helmets on motorcycles and bicycles.

These changes saved lives and millions of dollars in health costs – but it took changes in the laws before the people embraced the underlying cultural changes.

The USA and Canada use laws to make cultural changes because their governments know that laws are generally respected by citizens and fairly enforced by authorities. In short, laws can change culture in the USA and Canada because the rule of law is respected.

"Campaign Donation" deposited to Prime Minister Owen Arthur's personal bank account. Barbados political elites break laws without fear.

No "Rule of Law" in Barbados - This "campaign donation" cheque was deposited to Prime Minister Owen Arthur's personal bank account. Barbados political elites break laws without fear because they know they will never be held accountable by the next government. Its all about being part of "the Club"!

There is a huge difference between the rule of law in the USA and Canada – and in Barbados where laws are seldom enforced and the rule of law is secondary to the social and economic position of privileged law-breakers. When powerful people can buy their way out of rape or assault charges, when ex-Prime Minister Owen Arthur doesn’t have to answer for depositing “campaign donations” into his personal bank account – or when Prime Minister Thompson can misuse his position to give public funds to his friend’s company (CLICO) – and at the same time shield it from public scrutiny – the citizens soon learn that the law is not to be respected or obeyed.

And that is the problem that is faced by any Barbados government at this time in our history: the law has been so disrespected by our leadership for so many years that it is no longer effective as a tool for leading positive change.

Robert with Cliverton

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Environment, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

My Fellow Bajans, Repeat after me… “I will never drink that much ever again. I will never drink that much ever again…”

Barbados Crop OverMy Crop Is Definitely Over…

They tell me I had a great time last night, so I must have.

Haven’t heard from Marcus or Robert this fine morning either. Can’t see the sun. That’s good.

I want to write about the Dacosta Mannings debacle and Commission of Enquiry in St. Kitts/Nevis that is looking into the alleged corrupt activities of former Barbados Cabinet Minister Don Blackman.

And I will write about those stories… Later. Not now…

Must go back to bed. Not even noon yet.

Later. Much later.

Cliverton

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Hollywood Actor Sean Michael Field on Barbados Free Press, Rihanna’s Mohawk & Segway Polo Championship: “I’m going to have to say something about this…”

Actor Sean Field - Comfortable with or without mohawk, in Hollywood or Bridgetown

Actor Sean Field - Comfortable with or without mohawk, in Hollywood, New York or Bridgetown

Ok I’m going to have to say something about this. (BFP’s article Rihanna: We Want Our Girl Back The Way She Was)

Just a few years ago being the first man in Bim to have a mohawk I was gawked at, ridiculed, etc. Personally I could give a ra_____. (substitute traditional bajan slang here) The reality is I am who i am and if i choose to wear locks, a bald head, or mohawk and dye it green, its my blasted head.

Now three years later i walk the streets of Bridgetown and see ZR conductors, kids at school (and yes my son was the first one back then too), women, you name it, all wearing a mohawk. No more ridicule, now we have acceptance. Did I set out to change something in Barbados? No. Did Gigi Jones? No. We just did us. She was the first woman in Bim to do so as well. And we rocked it with style. (which we continue to rock without asking permission)

What we have in Barbados is a conservative society blended with an usual desire to seek confirmation from outside sources. We need to first be able to be ourselves. Regardless of what that is.

rihanna-mohawk-haircutThe girl cut she hair, why is this news? She was made an ambassador to the youth for one reason only, she is the ONLY superstar we have (so far, I’m working on changing that) and this will always bring attention.

And yes, Rihanna is a superstar. Living here in LA all I have to do is mention Barbados and every person says “Rihanna”. That wasn’t the case a few years ago.

Does it mean that she is a role model for children in the country? NO. That is what parents are for. And in Barbados we have plenty of those to go around, along with aunties and uncles. So at the end of the day does it matter that she has a mohawk? NO. Does it matter that someone at BFP doesnt like it? NO. That’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it.

I mean just turn on CBC anytime cricket is playing and there splashed across the screen is my face, mohawk and all, advertising condoms. And that for the National HIV Commission. I got ridicule for that. Did i care? NO. It was my choice and i wore it gladly. The real thing is we need to have the courage to be ourselves. Regardless of what that is. If the girl come out tomorrow and say she gay what people would say then? Seriously, we need to end the judgmental, gossiping by the rumshop mentality that has permeated our society for years and try to show the world what we have. Regardless of what that is. I mean we just won the Segway championship, to me that is just another example of how were finally expanding in this global society as a real player. No pun intended.

Lets try and realise that only Rihanna is living Rihanna’s life. Everyone else needs to go and live theirs.

Exiting soapbox now….

Sean Michael Field

Website: SeanField.com

Editor’s Note:

Barbados-born Sean Michael Field is an actor, artist, host, model and spoken word poet. Within a week of moving to Los Angeles in 2007, he was hand picked from a line of 300 actors and two days later was in a scene in the blockbuster film Hancock, starring Will Smith. Since then he has been seen on popular TV shows such as CSI Miami, ER, Lincoln Heights, 24, NCIS,  Two and a Half Men, Dirty Sexy Money and the pilot for Life on Mars.

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Filed under Barbados, Celebrities, Rihanna