Monthly Archives: February 2010

Political, religious, race-based agendas and fears are destroying our historical records

Our old friend and retired “Twotter” pilot Jim Lynch loves to preserve Barbados history and is a treasure-trove of information and advice for those seeking to learn about their Caribbean ancestry. He has published some very special books that will occupy you for weeks if you get one in your hands. Two years ago we covered his work in our article Old Barbados Newspapers Are A Treasure Of History.

Today Jim stopped by BFP and left the following comment that we think is worth a few minutes of your time.

Thanks, Jim! (I think the photo is about 25 years old, but you haven’t aged a bit, have you?) 🙂

I have been commended – and abused – in the past for saying what others think but refuse to put into words.

In Barbados, as in other Caribbean islands (and indeed in other parts of the world), records are destroyed – or not consciously preserved (same thing in a tropical setting) – for reasons of race, religion, or some other prejudice or irrational fear.

In this case, Barbados makes it difficult for “foreigners” to obtain genealogical information because there are some people in government who prefer to leave slavery and other unpleasant memories of the past in the dust of time. The excuses you will hear – in one of the most highly taxed populations in the world – is that they cannot afford the cost of preservation over other, more pressing, priorities.

Jordan and Walsh make it “pellucidly” clear in their book “White Cargo” that not only were the first slaves in the Caribbean – indeed, as elsewhere – white, but these men, women and children were as ripped from their English, Scottish and Irish homes and abused as much as black slaves were, and in vast numbers – hundreds of thousands were shipped to the West Indies for little or no reason. Most of the population of Ireland were being simply displaced and discarded as an English land-grab.

Present-day Caribbean governments, however, choose to remember only black slaves with white masters, hence the abuse of yesterday’s historical records.

The reason for the presence of the “RedLegs” who still exist in Barbados seems to have been conveniently forgotten – they were Scottish “indentured servants”, a class of servants who were treated worse than slaves and many of whom had their “period of service” extended indefinitely on any pretext.

So (in Barbados, at least) not only are these records becoming shoddy and insect-damaged, but in the last two decades there have been rumours of whole truckloads of historical documents being dumped into the sea late at night on the west coast. In St. Vincent there are rumours of whole cell blocks in forgotten garrisons filled with documents rotting from the damp ground up.

Once in the Barbados National Archives, however, records seem to be taken care of. But, as in other countries – as you may already have experienced – cash or money orders sent to pay incumbent workers in the various institutions for research or copies of documents manage to disappear without trace, and my understanding is that their managers refuse to take any action or even to investigate.

I do know of a reliable and knowledgeable professional researcher who does outstanding work in Barbados and charges reasonable fees. If you wish to make contact, please send me an email through this form (it is an anti-SPAM resource) and I will respond direct to you.
http://www.candoo.com/contactform/index.html

Regards,

Jim Lynch

4 Comments

Filed under Africa, Aviation, Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, History, Race

Who is really in charge of WATER in Barbados?

Should Barbados ration water?

Perhaps we should start fixing the pipes too!

Something is fundamentally wrong with our decision-makers’ brains, there seems to be a fault in their logic and reasoning area.

It`s Tuesday Morning, 1:30am, yet sleep eludes me, because something is bothering me. I took my usual trip to the bathroom and and without much thought depressed the tank lever and the toilet was flushed; a function we take for granted and other Caribbean countries, even those with rivers cannot, because of drought caused by climate Change.

Jamaica, Trinidad and even Guyana with their rivers have being experiencing dry taps and saw it fit to ration their water supply.

People, thanks to Global Warming, droughts in one area and flooding in others will be the norm so get used to it. A Growing population, urbanisation, deforestation, global climatic changes and pollution are some reasons for the increased pressure on the existing water bodies. Population expansion is the single biggest reason behind the increased pressure on fresh water resources. Water consumption has almost doubled in the last fifty years and naturally, per capita availability of water has steadily decreased.

Broken main left running and unfixed for 5 days in 2007. Has the response improved since then?

I have heard lots of talk on Barbados not being a water scarce country so I will inform the uninformed that water is a finite commodity. If a country has less than a thousand (1,000) cubic metres (m3) per capita per year it is designated a Water Scarce Country. Barbados’ available water resources are currently rated by the FAO at (390) Cubic Metres per person. One cubic metre is equivalent to 220 gallons.  We are adjudged to be the fifteenth water scarce country in the world.

Though approximately 70 per cent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, only 2.5 per cent of it is fit for drinking. The rest is all salt water, which fills up the vast expanse of the oceans and seas — unfit for human consumption. Why then in 2010 are we are still flushing expensive potable water down our toilets and using it for agriculture.

Common sense also tells me that the BWA should have long ago been encouraging persons to conserve water and start water rationing.

Logic suggests to me that the BWA is leading the Minister responsible for The BWA rather than the Minister leading the BWA.

This modus operandi can only lead to poor judgment and chaos, as well as poor decision-making. Thus it’s like a case of a Private  leading a troop into battle, rather than the Commanding Officer. Will it take our Hotels, Schools and Restaurants’ taps to run dry before we act?

Deja Vu all over again: In 2008 Roshell Small hauled water to her home. In 2010: same old, same old.

Mr Lowe, this is an issue of National Security please show some leadership and stamp your authority. Our inability to imagine what we may be faced with and be proactive is because we have never experienced the stench from unflushed toilets.  Can someone tell me if the BWA management has employed an obeah man or some seer thus the delay of a water caution decision until March? Or is this another case of poor advice from technocrats to Ministers who are afraid to manage their ministers for fear of been accused of micro-managing.

Mr Lowe  can you please pilot legislation as your legacy, so that all homes can be encouraged through a tax rebate to install water tanks for water harvesting.

Finally I genuinely recommend the reading of the Biblical parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) to those responsible for the managing of our water supply.

Kammie Holder

28 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment

IMF praises Barbados Government actions, gives contradictory recommendations and says it’s all out of control anyway…

As our friend Amit at Pull! Push! blog says, “IANAE – I am not an economist”, so I’ll leave the in-depth analysis of the IMF’s latest press release and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s recent rant to folks who know more than I do. (Like Living in Barbados who lives and breathes economics.)

That said, I’ll publish yesterday’s IMF press release about Barbados and make a few totally uninformed comments by an ordinary person who has in the last year seen their cash savings go to nothing. It didn’t take much for Shona and I to go from comfortable to living from day to day. Some serious car repairs and helping out someone in worse shape than we are for a month when they lost their business was all it took to empty the bank account. With the increases in food especially and some other must-haves, our savings aren’t going to return anytime soon.

Here are a few observations about the IMF press release…

IMF Praises Barbados Government

This is the standard opening for any IMF press release. The guys who work at the sharp end of the IMF are no fools. They know if they don’t go with this “Praise the Government” opening, the next time they stay at the Hilton someone will pee in their soup. Really.

The first rule of life is “Always treat the kitchen staff and food servers with respect.” Some folks take a long time to learn this vital life rule, but like I said – the working folks at the IMF know what it means when the waiter asks, “Sir, is the soup salty enough?”

Contradictory Recommendations

The IMF says “More taxes, more broadly applied” AND “raise the private sector’s willingness to invest in Barbados.”

Once again, IANAE, but I’ve always believed that more taxes equal less willingness to invest in Barbados.

OK, tell me I’m wrong. I can take it.

Reduce Government Spending

Easy for the IMF to say. Fact of life on this rock is that over 50% of the population is on the government payroll in one form or another.

Think about that fact, then couple it with our culture of entitlement, low productivity in both the private and government sectors and the attitude “guvmnt gon fix”.

No Sir… it’s not like the DLP government is engaging in a bunch of spendthrift mega-projects like the BLP did. The DLP Thompson government was left with a broken infrastructure because Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley and the gang blew it all during the good years and ignored the basics.

Like water coming out of taps.

So the IMF can whine all it wants about reducing spending. There is only so much the PM can do and only so far that he dares to go. That’s a fact.

Owen Arthur says Barbados should spend it’s way to prosperity!

Yup, that’s pretty well what he said the other night at UWI. That’s a photo of Owen talking courtesy of Ian Bourne at the Bajan Reporter.

I’m not sure but it looks like the former Prime Minister needed a bottle of water during his speech. That is water, isn’t it?

Ian Bourne has a first person account and says that Arthur and Mottley are true lovers once more or something like that. If true, I don’t think that Owen was drinking bottled water during his speech!

The big IMF message: It’s all out of control

Ok, you go ahead and read the IMF statement below and see what the members of this great international old boys’ club have to say. Just remember: the folks who are issuing the advice are so closely connected with the ones who caused the current economic meltdown that only conjoined twins could be closer.

Irony defined: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says don’t believe things are getting better because they aren’t.

And that is the way I see things from near Grape Hall on a sleepy Saturday morning.

Statement by an IMF Mission to Barbados
Press Release No. 10/66
February 26, 2010

Marcello Estevão, chief of an International Monetary Fund Mission to Barbados, issued the following statement today in Bridgetown, following a five-day staff visit:

“Barbados has been severely affected by the global economic crisis. In particular, the deep global recession has curbed tourism, affecting related activities such as construction and trade which, in turn, depressed aggregate demand and raised unemployment. As a result, economic activity contracted significantly in 2009 after remaining broadly stagnant in 2008.

“Despite these hardships, policy moves and other developments have limited the adverse effects of the crisis. International reserves are at comfortable levels, among other things thanks to a successful foreign debt placement last year and the SDR allocation. In addition, authorities implemented measures to alleviate the impact of the crisis on the population. However, as a result of these measures and, more importantly, of the economic cycle, the fiscal deficit surged, and the public debt now stands above 100 percent of GDP. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Offshore Investments, Politics

Chile: Massive 8.8 Earthquake This Morning

Tsunami warnings issued over a wide area as far away as Japan

SANTIAGO, Chile – A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami.

A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles (660 kilometers) off the Chilean coast, said President Michele Bachelet.
Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands.

“It has been a devastating earthquake,” Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma told reporters.

… from the AP article 8.8-magnitude earthquake hits central Chile

You can get your updates at Drudge Report

8 Comments

Filed under Disaster

Queen Elizabeth Hospital full-page advertisement a poor use of our tax dollars

Is this full-page advertisement a reward for paper’s editorial support of DLP government?

Dear Barbados Free Press

Last Sunday, February 21, 2010, a full page advertisement for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was printed in the Barbados Advocate newspaper. (editor’s note: click on small photo above for larger version)

This self-congratulatory AREN’T WE WONDERFUL advertisement has some positive statements by two patients in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department who were treated soon after their arrival, an assurance by the Board of Directors that more staff is being hired and some positive statements about how wonderful the nurses and doctors are.

This advertisement is not a proper use of the tax dollars and other public funds that go to health care and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. How much did the full page ad cost? Wouldn’t spending the money directly on health care have been a better use? Who decided to place this advertisement? Is it part of a larger campaign?

I noticed that the Barbados Advocate recently published a series of positive news articles about the QEH. Is this full page advertisement payment for those positive stories? Is is a way of directing government revenues to a newspaper that is generally supportive of the current government? Is the advertisement “quid pro quo” on a couple of levels?

I don’t expect any answers to my questions from the QEH board, the newspaper or the government.

Thank you to Barbados Free Press for the opportunity to vent.

Sincerely,

(name removed by BFP editor)

4 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Health, News Media, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Thompson delivers the fatted calf while the BLP leadership fight each other…

Message to Shona

I saw this photo of a cow in a motorcycle sidecar and just had to insert the Prime Minister delivering the promised “fatted calf”. I’m not as good as you are, but I’d love to see Thompson driving by Owen and Mia having a fist fight on the side of the road. What do you think? Can you do it?

Can any of our readers think of another version or caption?

😉

Cliverton

3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Cartoons, Politics

Big excitement in Barbados over direct Brazil flights – but still no Portuguese language on Barbados Tourism Authority website after ten years

Why won’t the Barbados Tourism Authority get off it’s lazy ass and welcome BTA website visitors in Portuguese?

Sorry for the subtitle language, folks. I don’t know how to express the frustration of the entire Barbados tourism industry in any clearer manner.

Hotel owners have been asking the BTA to put up welcome pages in Portuguese and Spanish for over a decade. Tourism and Industry ministers under four different governments have talked about tapping into the huge tourism potential of Brazil and some of our other Central and South American neighbours for 17 years. Barbados spends millions upon millions of dollars every year in tourism marketing and subsidies but we haven’t got what it takes to put up a few webpages to say “Come to Barbados!” in the language that our prospective customers speak.

It just boggles the mind.

“Language is one of the strongest elements of Brazil’s national unity. Portuguese is spoken by nearly 99.9 percent of the population.”

… from Wikipedia’s entry on Brazil

Pointing out the BTA’s lack of Portuguese & Spanish website for five months

BFP started focusing on this one simple issue in our September 23, 2009 article: Idiocy! Government Minister Hutson says “Look to Latinos”, but Barbados Tourism Authority failed to establish Spanish, Portuguese language websites despite 10 years of begging by hotel owners

We followed up on November 6, 2009 with this story: Six weeks later: Still no Spanish, Portuguese language welcome on Barbados Tourism or Investment & Development websites.

“Its now over ten years since I pleaded with the BTA to place a Spanish and Portuguese language version on the national website, so at least some of those 400 million plus potential travelers could do the prior research or planning.
 Look on YouTube and you will see a Spanish version of a television ‘ad’ prepared for the BTA. Of course it was almost a waste of time and money because it contained no-call-to action (telephone number or website address).”

… Adrian Loveridge, private sector hotel owner, “Peach & Quiet Hotel” Barbados

What is it about the BTA that makes them unable to understand the importance of language in marketing?

The Barbados Tourism Authority should have established a Portuguese-language welcome page at the BTA website a decade ago. It’s a basic requirement for entering any tourism market: you have to be able to speak to your target audience. If you’re not willing to do that you are just pretending.

In the case of the BTA, they can do things ass-backwards because they’re playing with the never-ending buckets of our tax dollars and don’t have to show any measurable results. The BTA can make so many basic errors and nobody seems to call them on it.

This is just so stupid.

Our government went to the trouble and expense of lobbying for and facilitating scheduled flights between Brazil and Barbados, but can’t spend what amounts to rum-money to hire a translator to provide some basic information on the BTA website in Portuguese. We’re not even talking about hiring a Brazilian call center to answer questions by prospective tourists – but that’s pretty basic too.

Is there something I’m missing here? PLEASE tell me I’m wrong or crazy or something. Tell me I don’t understand tourism marketing. Explain to me why I should believe that our BTA people are doing the right things at the right time and they are not a bunch of idiots who are unable to make such a simple and low-cost, yet vital, addition to the BTA website.

31 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

Barbados athletes to train in West Sussex for Commonwealth Games & 2012 Olympics

Bajan athletes will train at K2 in Crawley

This makes sense to me. Barbados has chosen one venue in the UK as a training location for both the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Olympics. That way our best athletes will be able to develop a familiarity and comfort level with their surroundings as they ready themselves to be the best they can be.

The home team always has an advantage and part of that is simply the physical comfort of being in known surroundings. Nothing makes up for being at home, but it looks like the folks who are running our work-up to the 2012 Olympics are making decisions based upon what is best for our athletes within whatever budget they have to work with.

Here’s looking forward to seeing Bajan colours on the podium in Glasgow and then London in 2012!

Some excerpts from the BBC story West Sussex to host Barbados athletes for 2012 Olympics

Crawley has been named as the official training site for athletes from Barbados in the run up to London 2012.

The team will use the K2 leisure centre, which has an 50m swimming pool, running track and other facilities. Crawley Borough Council said the town’s proximity to London had also helped attract the Barbados National Olympic squad to the venue. West Sussex County Council leader Henry Smith said he believed their decision would boost the area’s economy.

(snip)

Crawley Councillor Lenny Walker said: “This is fantastic news for Crawley and the county.

“K2 Crawley is the jewel in the crown of the town’s leisure facilities and it’s extremely gratifying to get this kind of international approval.

“However, this isn’t just about a few weeks in 2012. The Bajan athletes are looking to use K2 Crawley as a training venue before this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow so we are looking to build educational, cultural and sporting links with Barbados over the next few years.”

3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Olympics, Sports

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister shows the world what corruption is all about.

St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Douglas knows nothing about US$95,000 cheque.

There is a story brewing in St. Kitts and Nevis that is just one more example of what happens when those in government use their insider positions, knowledge, authority and influence to put money in their own pockets – or in the pockets of their close family members. It’s really all the same, you know.

It turns out that Kate Woodley, the mother of the children of recently re-elected Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, has a “consulting business” that received funds from the Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party. It gets worse: she is a Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee at the St. Kitts and Nevis Consulate in Manhattan, New York.

That’s really all you need to know. Sure, we’ll tell you how those funds were directed and cleaned and processed to end up in the Douglas family bank account – but it really doesn’t matter.

All you need to know is right here… “Money donated to the Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party by voters and businesses ended up in the personal bank accounts of family members of Prime Minister Denzil Douglas.”

It gets worse…

During the recent election campaign the opposition People’s Action Movement had distributed copies of documents that appeared to show large sums of money passing through Lex’s accounts over the years, as well as copies of cheques including one for US$95,000 dated December 30th made out to Dr. Denzil Douglas.

Wednesday, Dr. Douglas acknowledged that his son, also Denzil Llewellyn Douglas, lived at the same address as the home-based company, but dismissed any knowledge of a cheque from Lex made out to him, the Prime Minister.

“I don’t know what cheque you’re speaking about,” the Prime Minister said.

… from the Winn FM article No Conflict Of Interest With Lex Says PM

It gets much worse…

Prime Minister Douglas is using the old “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along” defense…

“Several Government employees have private businesses, so that is nothing new.  There is no conflict of interest there,” Dr. Douglas said.

Public records indicate that Lex Consulting (LLC) is managed by Kate Alex Woodley, the mother of the Prime Ministers two children.  WINN FM understands that Ms. Woodley is an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, assigned to the St. Kitts and Nevis New York-based Consulate Office in Manhattan.

Speaking at a press conference in the Parliamentary Lounge a Government Headquarters, the Prime Minister reiterated previous statements that Lex had provided consulting services to a number of companies including the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party.

… from the Winn FM article No Conflict Of Interest With Lex Says PM

Did any of Lex Consulting’s clients obtain government contracts at any time?

This gets worse because here is the way it happens… A government official will issue a government contract to a company we’ll call “Company A”. Company “A” then hires a “consulting” firm that just happens to be owned and run by the wife or lover of the same government official who issued the government contract to Company “A”.

Very slick.

The “consulting” done by the government official’s wife or lover is never on the project for which the contract was issued. It’s always some nebulous job like “office automation consulting” or “marketing consulting” – and the money is often deposited overseas.

For instance, into the New York bank account of the consulting company run by the Prime Minister’s ex-squeeze.

Slick. Very slick.

Probably No Rules Broken because like Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis doesn’t have Integrity Legislation

For over forty years Barbados politicians of both major parties have promised to introduce Integrity Legislation and conflicts of interest standards. The current DLP Thompson government is no exception. Thompson said he would implement a Ministerial Code of Conduct “immediately” upon forming a government, and would introduce Integrity Legislation and Freedom of Information laws within the first 100 days.

That was over two years ago – but the DLP have become very slick indeed at managing the political fallout from failing to keep their promises.

The latest ploy by the Democratic Labour Party and Prime Minister David Thompson was to suddenly announce that their proposed integrity legislation will include the private sector as well.

That just about guarantees failure for passing the legislation and the PM knows that. That’s why he included the private sector!

DLP Stage Managing to ensure failure of Integrity Legislation

So here’s the drill… The DLP will introduce something in late 2010 that will eventually die in process. Given just a little more time and the next election campaign will be approaching. The DLP will pull out a couple of old BLP scandals that they have been hoarding for the event. Thompson will wave around another couple of cheques at a rally similar to 2007 when he showed everyone the “campaign donation” cheque that then-Prime Minister Owen Arthur put into his personal bank account.

Thompson will claim that the BLP is blocking the legislation etc etc etc and that he needs a mandate from the people… and off we’ll go into the next election.

And Thompson and the DLP will have had four solid years of operating without Integrity Legislation or Freedom of Information laws.

That’s the way it is near Grape Hall on a Wednesday morning.

PM Thompson Says His Use Of CLICO's Business Jet Is None Of Your Business

As to transparency and conflicts of interest, one of David Thompson’s first official acts as a newly-elected Prime Minister was to borrow the corporate jet of a company that does business with the Barbados government – and to refuse to release any details of the costs and arrangements.

33 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Government GEMS Hotels folly continues. Where did all our money go? Three remaining GEMS hotels valued at only $74 million!

How much money is missing: Two Hundred Million? More?

by Adrian Loveridge, Peach & Quiet hotel owner

According to an article carried in the Midweek Nation Wednesday 24th February, 2010 ‘the book value of the (GEMS) properties was only $74 million’.

How is this figure arrived at?

 Reading from their own website, Savannah has 98 rooms, Time Out at the Gap, 76 and Blue Horizon 70.

So a total of 244 rooms or a stated ‘book value’ of $303,278 per room with ‘accumulated debt of $229 million’.

Put that in context to our little hotel of 22 rooms and it would value us at around $6.672 million. One big difference of course, we have no outstanding debt and have been profitable for a consistent number of years.

Both Time Out at the Gap and Blue Horizon need extensive refurbishment, if they are going to live-up to their stated ‘3star’ rating.

No private sector in their right mind would take on the massive debt burden over the equity value, so where does Government go from here?

While the taxpayer is beginning to get some idea of the folly of this entire ‘ill-conceived project’, including the predatory pricing which has contributed to the closure of over 30 private sector hotels, there are still questions to be answered.

Where did the proceeds of the sale of Eastry House and Silver Rock Hotel go?

Predatory Pricing by Government… upon privately-owned hotels!

Prior to the closure of Silver Rock, the refurbishment and building of another 40 rooms, that property’s lowest published rate was US$118.
$40 million later and it re-opened as a GEMS property with room rates as low as US$80 per night.

Clearly intended to systematically undermine all the other private sector hotels in the area!

Perhaps most the most appalling revelation of this whole saga is the statement by Minister Estwick, that Hotels and Resorts Limited ‘could not carry out any audited financials because of the patchy nature of its accounting’.

What a terrible indictment of the GEMS Chairman, Board of Directors and management at that time and their absolute dereliction of duty to perform due diligence.

I can understand the current Government’s reluctance to put yet more money ($3 million) into this seemingly bottomless pit, but when will this end, and at what cost to the private sector that in many cases are hanging on by its coat tails?

Adrian Loveridge
24th February 2010

Article title and bold subtitles by BFP editor

Comment by Barbados Free Press

The most damning reference in The Nation article is the following…

“(Minister of Economic Affairs) Estwick also said HRL, which was created to bailout all of the non-performing assets of Barbados Labour Party Party families and friends, could not carry out any audited financials because of the patchy nature of its accounting.”

… from The Nation article Let Go of Gems!

Our questions for Minister Estwick and also Prime Minister David Thompson…

1/ What laws were broken by the BLP government in creating the GEMS scheme “to bailout all the non-performing assets of Barbados Labour Party families and friends,” ?

2/ When will the DLP government launch legal action to recover the ill-gotten money from “Barbados Labour Party families and friends” ?

3/ It took the Thompson Government over two years to figure this out? Really? You just found out about this even though everyone on the island knew for at least five or six years? Really? What were you doing in Opposition… sleeping?

4/ Which DLP family members and friends have done business with the government since the David Thompson became Prime Minister over two years ago?

Further Reading

Here is the full Nation News article Let Go of GEMS! published here because The Nation has re-written history in the past by selectively removing and modifying online news articles. Continue reading

11 Comments

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

Remembering Joan Benjamin (1915-1994): The pen was her sword, her conscience and her voice.

To Barbados Free Press

Dear Editor,

On a recent trip to Barbados, I visited the Nidhe Israel Museum and its graveyard. I noticed a gravestone for Joan Benjamin (Born 24th  1915  Died 31st Jan 1994) with its epitaph: THE PEN WAS HER SWORD, HER CONSCIENCE AND HER VOICE

When I tried to find info on the net I was led to a series of letters on your blog site. They were from September 2008 and centered on crooked lawyers. Joan Benjamin’s name was mentioned a number of times.  Can anyone tell me who Joan Benjamin was and what made so many people remember her???

thank you,
Barbara Boyden

BFP Editor replies:

Thanks for your letter. We’ll let our readers reply and you’ll see that no matter how folks received what Joan Benjamin wrote – agree or disagree – Joan made people think.

For our readers, here is the article that Barbara Boyden is talking about, and the comments where various readers including Prime Minister Thompson’s mum remember Joan Benjamin: Crooked Barbados Lawyers Being Charged With Theft Mostly By Foreigners: Bajan Global Report.

14 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Freedom Of The Press

Long Beach developers, Barbados government – limiting citizen access to Environmental Impact Assessment Report

Same old tricks by Developers & Barbados Government

Developers want to build a new hotel, commercial and residential complex at Long Beach, Christ Church. At this point I’m not sure whether I’m in favour of the project or not and I’d like to become more informed – but true to form the political and business elites are doing everything they can to prevent the public from effectively studying the environmental impact assessment report.

It just wouldn’t do to have citizens showing up at a meeting, armed with their own copies of the report after having been able to properly research and cross-check the contents. Informed discussion by a well-informed citizenry? Nope. Can’t have any of that happening in Barbados.

But don’t worry friends – the developers and the government have the environmental impact assessment report dance choreographed to the last step to prevent those bothersome citizens from interfering with what is probably already a done deal. One of their techniques is to ensure the environmental impact assessment report is studied by as few people as possible. Here’s how they do it…

click to view full size

A newspaper advert indicates that the public meeting will be held on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 7:30pm at St. Christopher Primary School, Christ Church “to discuss the environmental impact assessment report for the proposed residential, hotel and commercial development at Long Beach, Christ Church”

The advert further says that the Environmental Impact Assessment Report can be viewed from Thursday, 18 February to Wednesday 17 March, 2010 at The Town Planning Department, St. Christopher’s Primary School and the Oistins Library.

We’ve been down this road many times before folks, so we’re going to again tell you why and how your government and their developer friends are doing everything they can to prevent citizens from having effective access to the environmental impact assessment report about a major new development on our southern coast.

We citizens saw this before in 2006 when Matthew Kerins and his partners wanted to put a theme park in the Graeme Hall watershed. In 2006 we learned much about how slippery some developers can be – but nothing has changed since that time because the new DLP Government is doing the same things the BLP did:  treating citizens like mushrooms kept in the dark and fed horse manure.

Same old, same old ’bout hey…

– Only three paper copies of the Long Beach Environmental Impact Assessment Report are made available for the entire nation. Three copies, a quarter million citizens. You do the math.
– The report is not for sale at any price and is not placed online.
– The addendum to the report containing comments and observations from the Government regulatory bodies is not made available to the public, even though it is part of the report.
– Citizens arriving to examine the report are time-limited “so others can look at the report.” (300 plus pages of highly technical information. How fast can you read? You have 20 minutes… GO!)
– Citizens are not allowed to make photocopies of, or photograph, any parts of the report “because it is copyrighted and owned by the developers”.
– In some cases in the past few years citizens have not even been allowed to make handwritten notes while “studying” the hundreds of pages.

All of this is done to ensure that while the “letter of the law” has been fulfilled, no citizen will actually have reasonable access to the information contained in the report.

David Thompson and the Democratic Labour Party promised increased transparency & access to information. They promised changes in laws, changes in government attitudes and procedures that would give citizens meaningful access to supposedly public information. Our information.

In two years we’ve seen nothing but more of the same old, same old from the DLP. “Freedom of Information” does NOT mean community information meetings consisting of political speeches and performances by the local church choir. “Access to public information” does NOT mean three copies of an important report for a quarter of a million people.

Prime Minister Thompson – Please have the Long Beach Environmental Impact Assessment Report placed online now in a format that is searchable. Order the developers to make paper copies available for purchase at a reasonable price. Instruct the places where the report is on display to allow photographs and copies to be made of the report.

You promised us meaningful access to public information. You said things would change.

Mr. Prime Minister, it’s time you delivered on your promise.

Further Reading…

BFP, August 10, 2006: Caribbean Splash Waterpark – Excerpts From “Secret” Barbados Government Report

An opinion by “Bajan George”… Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Environment, Freedom Of Information, Real Estate

New “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie being filmed – but not in Barbados

The famous pirate ship Black Pearl sailed from the Bahamas all the way to Hawaii because the next (fourth) installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series is being filmed in Oahu. Johnny Depp will continue his role as Jack Sparrow in the film “On Stranger Tides”.

Hawaii is all excited about the millions of dollars that will result from their selection as the location of the next movie.

I can't exactly explain why, but I loved Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Second only to The Godfather series, it's probably my fave movie in the whole world.

I love the Pirates of the Caribbean series almost as much as I loved Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but I would like a straight answer from someone in government… just the truth.

Was Barbados ever in contention as the location for the next Pirates of the Caribbean film?

If not, why not? What can be done by government and business leaders to bring this kind of lucrative film making to Barbados?

Cliverton

Further Reading

Hawaii News Now: Pirate ship arrives on Oahu

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Filed under Barbados, Celebrities

Barbados Maritime Ship Registry to investigate rescue delay of Concordia Survivors

Brazil didn’t launch search aircraft for 19 hours after receiving distress signal

Why didn’t senior Concordia crew members have Satellite-based personal rescue beacons?

Barbados-flagged sailing vessel sank on Wednesday afternoon. Automatic distress signal was sent.
Brazilian Navy did not receive distress signal until many hours later.
Upon receiving the signal Brazilian Navy tried unsuccessfully to contact vessel but did NOT send out search aircraft until 19 hours later – the next afternoon.
Canadian military officials say search aircraft should have been launched immediately.
Ship owner says Barbados Maritime ship Registry is looking into the search delay as well as the sinking.

See Washington Post article Brazil defends its search efforts in shipwreck

Barbados Maritime Ship Registry website features lost sailing vessel Concordia

Barbados Maritime Ship Registry says Concordia should have received annual inspections.

The website of the Barbados Maritime Ship Registry (BMSR) in London, England, states that the Concordia should have received annual inspections to comply with international laws and Barbados’ requirements.

“The Administration in ensuring that the good standing of the Flag is not brought into disrepute has required the Administration to apply a strict ship inspection policy.”

… from the Barbados Maritime Ship Registry website.

Strangely enough, the BMSR website features the Canadian S.V. Concordia on various pages. Nothing to do with the sinking – they just chose that vessel to illustrate the website.

No doubt the inspection record, design of the ship and the state of hatchways, watertight doors and open ports during normal cruising will be looked at, but without reaching any judgments until the event is looked at by experts, we should remember two basic things…

– The sea is inherently dangerous and unforgiving of the slightest error, incapacity or neglect.

– It is possible to do everything right and still lose a vessel to the sea.

Pride of Baltimore sank in a similar incident in 1986

Not the first time a Microburst destroyed a seaworthy ship

Thanks to some input from one of our regular readers we researched the “microburst” event that the Concordia’s Captain says took down the ship in a matter of seconds. What we found was surprising: there is a long and well documented history of ships and airplanes being destroyed by this weather phenomena.

MicroburstAs usual, Wikipedia is a good place to start with their entries on Microburst and their List of microburst incidents. They also have an entry for white squallwhich some say is a microburst-associated event.

Many ships have gone down over the years, but this quote concerning the May 14, 1986 sinking of the sailing vessel Pride of Baltimore says it all…

“A tremendous whistling sound suddenly roared through the rigging and a wall of wind hit us in the back. The Pride heeled over in a matter of seconds. The 70-knot (130 km/h) wind pushed a 20-foot (6.1 m) high wall of water into the starboard side. She sank in minutes.”

Personal Locator Beacons – Why didn’t Concordia crew members have them?

They are about the size of a cell phone. They are waterproof – and they transmit a distress signal to satellites from anywhere in the world telling search and rescue and military agencies that you are in dire trouble. They say who you are and they broadcast signals to alert the world and to guide searchers to within 100 meters of your location anywhere in the world.

A Distress Radio Beacon fits in your pocket. It hangs on your belt.

It costs about US$400 from Sporty’s Pilot Shop via the internet.

None of the crew of the sunken school ship S.V. Concordia had one in their pocket or on on their belt when the vessel went down.

As our old friend Adrian Loveridge is fond of saying… “Let’s do the math.”

48 students paid US$40,000 tuition each for the cruise. That’s a total of almost two million dollars – US$1,920,000.

But not one of the parents spent US$400 for a personal rescue beacon. The ship’s owners didn’t spend a lousy US$1,200 to equip three members of the crew with personal rescue beacons to be carried 24/7 just in case.

Your only child is going on a year-long cruise on a tall-ship. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean and confronting the worst that Mother Nature can conjure up.

Why wouldn’t you spend a lousy four hundred US dollars for your child’s safety? Why wouldn’t such beacons be mandatory for a certain percentage of crew members?

Something to think about on a Sunday evening in Barbados.

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Filed under Barbados, Canada, Disaster

Barbados will lead investigation into sinking of sailing vessel Concordia

UPDATE on Concordia sinking:

– Captain says “a miracle” that everyone survived.

– Micro-burst: Ship went from upright to sinking in 15 or 20 seconds before Mayday could be sent. 30 hours in lifeboats

“The ship had gone from sailing upright to being on her side in the water in about 15 or 20 seconds,” William Curry said. “I knew, of course, that the blow to the ship was fatal and that she was not going to right.”

…The gust that knocked the ship on its side came so suddenly there was no time to radio for help before all communications equipment was submerged and ruined. So hope rested on a distress beacon that launched automatically when the vessel capsized.”

… from the AP article Shipwrecked students feared remote death at sea

BFP’s original story below with added video at end…

All rescued after school vessel capsized & sank off Brazil on Thursday

Barbados will be responsible for carrying out an investigation into the rough-weather sinking of the sailing vessel Concordia because the ship was registered in our country. According to Transport Canada spokesman Steve Bone, these are rules even though the ship was based in Lunenburg, Canada and was owned by a Canadian school “Class Afloat”.

A total of 64 crew and students took to the lifeboats and were rescued about 500kms off the coast of Brazil. A Brazilian Navy report says the vessel turned upside down in strong winds and that the survivors were picked up after spending almost 24 hours adrift in their lifeboats.

I can’t imagine what it would take to perform a proper investigation into the sinking, but presumably our officials would have to interview all crew and many of the students. The vessel was built eighteen years ago in Poland and there have probably been changes since then. Perhaps videos or photos from past cruises would be helpful.

The news media says that the vessel had a good reputation for being seaworthy and was seriously inspected last year by Canadian authorities as a requirement to allow the ship to travel between Canadian ports as part of a Tall Ship festival.

In 1996 an explosion on board caused the death of a student en route to Australia. There is no indication in the media as to whether Barbados officials investigated that event.

I presume that Barbados will be responsible for the entire cost of the current investigation as it just goes with the job if our country is in the business of offering itself as a flag of convenience to offshore vessel owners.

Thank the Lord there were no deaths because then we’d really have to pull out all the stops for an investigation and in a worst-case disaster that could be expensive.

Now there’s a question: How much does Barbados receive every year for allowing vessels to use our flag? How many vessels and how much money per vessel? What are the expenses to run such a registration system? And what about vessels that default on payment? What does Barbados do then?

It seems to me that the answers to those questions would make an interesting story.

Thanks to an old friend for sending us this video of the ship and its mission…

Further Reading

Chronicle Herald Nova Scotia: Canadian agency won’t play big role in probe

Vancouver Sun: Canadian ship sinks off Brazil, all aboard rescued

The Globe and Mail: First rescued Canadians dock in Rio

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Filed under Barbados, Canada, Disaster

Harrison’s Cave Barbados – $85 million renovation, how many visitors a year? Do the math

UPDATED: September 28, 2010

A little birdy tells BFP that there are problems with the new elevators at Harrison’s Cave and that management is debating on a fix – which seems to indicate more of a problem than just a few bad parts. Our anonymous source didn’t say the nature of the problem so we don’t know if it’s something to do with the windows or mechanism. There was a story going round a while ago about a window problem but we haven’t heard any more on that and the elevators looked fine to us when we visited a while ago.

Can anyone out there provide more information?

Meanwhile, here’s our original story first published on February 20, 2010…

How long will it take to pay for our “Investment”?

EIGHTY-FIVE million dollars!!! Is this figure correct?

Just what does $85,000,000 dollars have to do with reality?

Well, well, well. If one just takes into account the entrance fee, 60 dollars, and forgets such things as salary for the administrators, cave guides, guards, gardeners, maintenance crews and any other running costs, Barbadians will still be paying back for a very long time.

$85 million divided by $60 entry fee = 1,416,666.6 people have to pass through the Cave gates. That means, 56,666.66 people per year for the next 25 years.

Or, on average, 156 people, every single day, weekends, holidays included, arriving at the caves for the next 25 years.

We have never been told what the original work on the caves cost or seen anything on the cost breakdowns of these new multimillions.

What about all those who still hardly have running water? Were The Caves, really, the very best way to spend such money?

Continue reading

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

Shameful but Legal: Corruption by Barbados Coastal Zone Management Unit Director Leo Brewster

UPDATED October 22, 2011 

(Pinned to top. Scroll down for newer content)

Populace learns another lesson about the Protected Class…

You have to love this country, folks. Dr Leo Brewster gets a job running a government agency, the CZMU. As part of the job, he hands out millions of dollars of contracts to others. Then he and a fellow government employee start a company and Brewster awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in ‘work’ to his own company. Not satisfied with this, he has the government purchase equipment for his company to use. The equipment cannot be found in government inventory.

Nothing like having the government equip your business – keeps those start-up costs down. Slick!

This goes on for almost four years during which time Brewster’s company also collects VAT and fails to remit the tax to government. Yup, they collected the tax from the government agency and failed to remit back to government. So it wasn’t just a loss of collected tax revenues, it was an actual theft OF government funds.

That’s really slick!

Here we are a year and a half later and just like we predicted at the time, it all faded away. Dr. Brewster is still Director at CMZU. Nothing changed.

Perhaps there was something in the news that we missed – perhaps not – but does it really matter?

The lesson is again taught to the populace: Government job = money on the side with no worries. Even if you get caught.

Original story first published February 19, 2010…

Leo Brewster awarded government contracts to own company!

Dr. Leo Brewster shouldn’t get too upset about the current allegations that he directed hundreds of thousands of dollars of government contracts to his own company.

Heck, that’s standard operating procedure in Barbados and it’s not against the law because neither the former BLP government nor the current DLP government want to outlaw this common practice by elected and appointed government officials. They don’t want to kill that golden goose just yet, ya know! (Not until we get closer to the next election. Gotta get that last bit ‘o juice before the game changes.)

If Brewster had been a little wiser he would have put the company in his sister’s name or something like other government officials do, but except for the embarrassment of being caught with his hand in the cookie jar he need not fear any charges. Oh, there might be an issue with the VAT his company collected and didn’t pay, but even that will be excused away as a cashflow problem. Hell, they just forgave $20 million in taxes to the Barbados Turf Club so why should good old Leo be treated differently than the rich pony owners? Continue reading

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

Barbados Bar Association: Some lawyers in prominent public positions are dishonest

The association [ Barbados Bar Association] also said that it hoped Thompson’s remarks about the legal profession not being the best place for any argument concerning “the integrity, the equanimity and the outlook that is consistent with modern Barbadian society and our quest for social justice” was taken out of context.

“Not only are equanimity and the quest for social justice hallmarks of the profession, but the majority of lawyers in Barbados hold to the highest principles of honesty and integrity and many occupy some of the most prominent positions in public life in Barbados employing those same virtues in the service of Barbadians generally,” the association noted.

… from The Nation February 17, 2010 article Angry Bar

So according to the Barbados Bar Association, the majority of lawyers are honest. How big is the minority and what high offices do they hold?

(… the above sent to BFP by a reader)

Barbados Bar Association upset of Prime Minister’s Remarks

In our recent article Barbados Prime Minister slams retiring Chief Justice David Simmons over the ethics of Simmons’ appointment we praised Prime Minister David Thompson for clearly talking about how morally wrong it was for David Simmons to have accepted the position of Chief Justice. The PM said that Simmons’ performance in the job could not make up for the wrong done at the start.

The Prime Minister also gave a slap in the face to the Barbados Bar Association as several of their members were whining about how Simmons was unfaired when the PM didn’t grant him an extension in the position.

Career politician was no independent judge

Those comments by some members of the Bar Association showed that they haven’t a clue about how important it is to the citizens that the court system and the judges themselves have the appearance of independence and impartiality.

Those comments showed that the Bar Association has lost touch with our society and the word INTEGRITY as it should apply to lawyers, judges and the entire justice system.

Here’s what the PM said that the Bar Association is criticising him for…

“Chief Justices are not appointed to help lawyers. Chief Justices are appointed to dispense justice to citizens, so my choice for a Chief Justice is not going to be based on any cacophony of noise from the legal profession. Someone has to be chosen who has the integrity, the equanimity and the outlook that is consistent with modern Barbadian society and our quest for social justice… I am not sure that the legal profession is the best place for that argument,”

… Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson

We firmly support the Prime Minister in his determination that our next Chief Justice should not be a political hack and that the lawyer class will not dictate the candidates.

Our Prime Minister knows that the position of Chief Justice is far too important to leave to the members of an agenda-driven legal profession who never had the courage and the conviction to oppose David Simmons’ original appointment when they had the chance.

Well done, Mr. Prime Minister, and may the Lord guide you and your government as you consider who is the right choice for our next Chief Justice.

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption