Monthly Archives: March 2010

Were the CLICO pension funds segregated and managed separately as required in law?

Prior to being appointed to his regulatory position, (current Barbados Supervisor of Insurance) Carlos Belgrave was the General Manager of a local company that manufactures “flour, animal and poultry feeds” … from OffshoreAlert’s 2006 “Worst Regulator” Award

Barbados Thompson Government continues with the CLICO cover-up

“There are many persons in Barbados who owe, not so much the public, but more importantly the Policy-holders of CLICO, a complete candid set of answers, free of rhetoric and put in the simplest form.

It is being re-iterated that Mr. Leroy Parris is still Chairman so he owes the first set of explanations. It is his responsibility even if he chooses to delegate it. If you are in charge, you have to face the music at crunch time. The Board of Directors must also show that they are not asleep at the wheel. The Board should have a full investigation and someone has to be held responsible. If no-one is responsible, the members of the Board will have to answer other questions.

Mr. Thornhill and the other members of CLICO’s management team must be more candid and direct in their statements. They have to come out of their state of denial and accept responsibility for this state of events. They cannot hide behind CL Financial because managing the risk of a CL Financial failure must have been one of the contingencies they were planning against.

Mr. Parris most importantly has to speak out on the issue of Pensions. As I understand it these funds ought to be segregated and managed separately. I am yet to hear a definitive set of assurances that these various pension funds are fully intact. If they are not intact, CLICO also has to come under closer scrutiny with a view to whether or not there was any breaking of statutes on the part of the company.

The Government of Barbados also needs to provide the public a full explanation of what appears to be a systemic failing of institutions that were created to protect the public interest. Furthermore, the former Prime Minister ought for the record to explain what was happening under his watch or that of any other Minister who might have had responsibility for the Office of the Supervisor of insurance.”

… taken from an absolutely excellent article by The Devil’s Advocate over at Ian Bourne’s Bajan Reporter: CLICO Unplugged: An Insider’s Perspective

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Did Barbados Government Minister David Estwick threaten Opposition member with a gun in Parliament?

Cover Up not possible – Time for the truth

The Barbados news media has been full of coy references to an “alleged” incident where it is “rumoured” that Government Minister of Economic Affairs David Estwick threatened Opposition member Dale Marshall with a gun in Parliament.

Or so we’ve heard. Sort of.

No one, including Dale Marshall, will directly say what happened.

Opposition leader Mia Mottley is calling for a gun policy for Parliament, but won’t say why it’s needed. She says she won’t be in Parliament after April 20th if the government doesn’t implement a gun policy for members. (Nation: Gun Stand)

Some Government members privately say they are confused because they don’t think Mottley has ever seen a gun before and wouldn’t know what one looked like even if she held it in her hands.

Lawyer and journalist Stephen Alleyne skillfully wrote hundreds of words on the subject without mentioning the subject. (Barbados Advocate: Under Scrutiny: Over to you, Mr. Speaker!)

Similarly, Dale Marshall gave a press conference stating that democracy is at risk, but won’t say what happened to put democracy at risk.

“No member of Parliament should fear for his life and his safety when he is in Parliament doing the people’s business,” the former Attorney General said.

… from the Nation article Democracy at risk warns Marshall

OK… so what happened?

As Stephen Alleyne pointed out in his article, Parliament has always be a sacred place where the peoples’ representatives can often push the limits without being arrested to interfered with. But there are limits.

Was Estwick carrying a concealed handgun in Parliament? Why?

Did he threaten Dale Marshall with it? Did Estwick pull out his gun and shove it in Marshall’s face? (That would be a sight!)

Or… were they having an argument where there was no reference to a gun but Marshall saw that Estwick was carrying a handgun (or already knew he habitually carried a weapon) and decided to make something of it by making up a story?

We, the public, deserve an answer and we’re not going to put up with another protracted “investigation” that fades off to nothing in six months.

Mia Mottley says she’ll pull out of Parliament if the government doesn’t put in place a gun policy by April 20th.

That is a dishonest position on her part. Dishonest because she hasn’t the courage to let the truth be told – whatever it is. Mottley and Marshall are throwing innuendo at the public for political purposes.

If Estwick actually threatened Marshall with a gun in Parliament – that is the peoples’ business. We deserve a full explanation from everyone involved.

So far all we have is innuendo. We the people deserve more respect from Mottley and Marshall.

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Ethics, Police, Politics

Bajan jazz star Elan Trotman doing well – on tour and teaching

We’ve followed sax wizard Elan Trotman for more than a couple of years and were pleased to see his CD release This Time Around last summer. Yesterday we came across an article in a Boston newspaper that says when Elan is not on tour he teaches music in the local elementary schools. I wonder if those kids have any idea of just how lucky they are to be instructed by someone with so much talent.

You can visit Elan’s website here and sample his music. If you like his sounds, buy his CD and support a son of Barbados.

Further Reading

Roslindale Transcript: Call him the music man of Roslindale’s Mozart and Philbrick schools

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Filed under Barbados, Music

Canadian news media reports “outrage” at tourist killer’s sentence. Schwarzfeld family says “Sentence made no sense.”

Canadians still following the Terry Schwarzfeld story

Adrian Loveridge interviewed by Ottawa Citizen

The sentencing of Curtis Joel Foster in the killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld and the subsequent appeal by the Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions continues to be news in Canada.

The Ottawa Citizen published a weekend article Barbados sentence ‘unduly lenient’ as did the CanWest news agency in papers across Canada. The Canadian press interviewed Schwarzfeld’s sister, Joan Schwarzfeld, and hotelier Adrian Loveridge, who chairs the safety and security committee of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.

Former Attorney General Dale Marshall – Embarrassing

As well, the Ottawa Citizen focused upon the idiotic (our description) comments of former Attorney General Dale Marshall – who is quoted as saying that Foster’s sentencing should have no impact on tourism from Canada.

Judging by the articles in the Canadian press and the comments online from both Canadians and Bajans, Dale Marshall is totally out of touch with his constituents and the rest of the world on the danger to our tourism industry if Barbados is perceived to be uncaring or soft on violence against visitors and citizens.

Prospective tourists can get over the fact that a visitor was murdered while strolling on a beach in broad daylight – provided they believe it was an isolated incident and that Barbados citizens and our government and courts responded appropriately.

In our opinion, Canadians still believe that Barbados is one of the safest tourist destinations in the world – and rightly so, because Barbados still provides about as safe a vacation as can be had anywhere.

Where Barbados fell down in this case was in the initial response and incident handling, and also in our government’s poor treatment of the victims’ families who were ignored and kept in the dark throughout the process.

Court dates were set, decisions and deals were made and actions were taken by the DPP, the police and the government without basic courtesy or concern for informing the victims’ families. Often there was not even a phone call or an email to inform family members as to an important event as the case processed through our courts. The Schwarzfeld family told the Canadian press that they were not being informed of important developments by the Barbados authorities. Like everyone else, they mostly heard about the deals and delays through the news media or this blog.

Where did the law stop and politics begin?

The decision to not proceed on the murder charge against Foster may have been properly taken according to the best legal advice – but there is also a suspicion in Canada, Barbados and elsewhere that the government simply wanted to avoid the drawn-out publicity a lengthy murder trial. Undoubtedly the failure of our Royal Barbados Police Force to note and address Curtis Joel Foster’s long series of violent crimes against tourists at Long Beach would have been a central issue in any trial.

So the prosecution offered a deal and asked for 16 to 20 years. To the utter amazement of everyone, the judge gave 10 years – proving that Dale Marshall has at least one other neighbour on whatever different planet he lives on.

Had Foster received what Bajans and Canadians consider a reasonable sentence in all the circumstances, the government of Barbados would have happily seen this case fade from the public eye with the average tourist believing that justice was done. That is not to be though.

Two Lessons for Barbados

There are two main lessons that Barbados should take away from this unhappy event. Firstly, we failed to do our best to protect visitors and citizens against a known threat at a specific location. As we mentioned in our article Guilty plea in killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld raises official hopes that the story will now go away, that was basically a police leadership and competence problem that is as yet unresolved.

Secondly, we failed the family and friends of Terry Schwarzfeld and her daughter-in-law Lauana Cotsman by failing to keep them informed about court dates and decisions in the prosecution of the person who killed their loved one. Oh, our government and politicians were good for a couple of weeks after the murder, but then it all fell apart in the long run because we have no real plan or crisis handling team in place for incidents involving foreign visitors. We wing it every time with no checklist and no institutional memory of what went right or wrong last time.

This is part of a larger problem that our government shares with our news media: in a crisis we prefer cover-ups instead of acknowledging problems and implementing proper responses. We used to be able to operate like this because the government could control the flow of information both locally and abroad.

That was before YouTube and a camera in every mobile phone. That was before instant messaging, blogs, FaceBook and personal websites. That was before TripAdvisor and a host of other travel websites and forums.

We don’t seem to learn the lessons we need to. Six months after the Schwarzfeld beach murder, the British press reported British Tourist Shot, Robbed Near Sandy Lane Resort Barbados On June 4, 2009 – Victim Alleges Silence By Barbados News Media, Hotel, Tourism Authorities.

I am surprised and disappointed that as a country that relies almost exclusively upon tourism for our economy, Barbados has no crisis handling team or plan for the long term management of situations involving foreign visitors. If we did have proper management in place, members of the Schwarzfeld family would not be telling their fellow Canadians that Barbados did not care enough to keep them informed about important developments surrounding the death of their loved one.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, News Media, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

Reader asks: Is corruption widespread in Barbados? With no Freedom of Information, how do citizens examine the facts?

Freedom of Information is not about media freedom

“It is important to review the Freedom of Information Law. Freedom of information is not about media freedom. It has to do with access to information and disclosure which can enable public discourse.

The right to information is a crucial underpinning of participatory democracy. Promotion of open government and maximum disclosure can be the single most important step towards eliminating corruption.”

… sent by a contributor to BFP who didn’t inform us if it was OK to use his name.  🙂

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Thumbs Up for Barbados Prime Minister as he cancels Vybz Kartel, Mavado concert

Auntie Moses plants a kiss on the PM for his leadership.

David Thompson says no to violent Jamaican dance hall culture

Prime Minister Thompson just delivered an unequivocal message: We the people of Barbados don’t want the violent dance hall culture of Jamaica in our country and we sure don’t want our young people exposed to the people who promote this destructive influence.

The PM spoke in a very politic manner, giving as little offense as he could in the circumstances. One has to admire not only the statesmanship of his delivery but also the leadership he exhibited by wading into a mess that had become important enough to require the intervention of the Prime Minister.

Said the PM, “I don’t feel in this particular instance people should be demonised for a well-intentioned effort that could have gone awry, but in circumstances where there is public concern and where the State needs to intervene to protect our young people we will do it…”

Violent culture is a circle – not a linear cause and effect

We won’t re-hash the entire controversy here – except to say that Jamaican violence is a circular problem that is fed by the music of the day and the personalities associated with the music.

Folks can argue about where the circle of Jamaican cultural violence started but that doesn’t really matter – The violence inspires the music that inspires the tribalism that inspires the violence that inspires the music… and on and on and on.

The violence is not a linear problem with specific causes and effects – but a circle that feeds upon itself.

Prime Minister David Thompson just damaged that circle by removing some of the music and conflict personalities from our society – and Barbados is safer and better off for his decision.

Thanks, Prime Minister!

Now – What about the Police leadership?

Or, to be more specific: is conflict between senior police officers negatively impacting the Royal Barbados Police Force?

In the last few days the Barbados public was treated to the disgusting spectacle of Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin having to admit that his Deputy undermined his orders and authority regarding the Vybz Kartel, Mavado concert. Dottin had announced that the police would not grant a license for the show. Hinds countermanded that decision in public.

And the very worst of it was that Commissioner Dottin had to hear about it on the public radio!

The Prime Minister was forced to step in due in part to the leadership punch-up between Dottin and Hinds. That too is embarrassing for all concerned.

So… who should resign, Dottin or Hinds?

That gets complex because it is more than time for Dottin to go – but in this case Hinds was wrong to go behind the Commissioner’s back.

Perhaps the answer is to fire retire both of them and promote one of the three people we know of in the RBPF who have the right combination of professionalism and leadership talent.

Who are they? Ha! We won’t say because that would surely poison their chances. Let’s just hope that something big happens soon to provide the kind of leadership that the RBPF deserves.

Further Reading

This Nation article is a pretty good synopsis of the disgusting public quarrel between Dottin and Hinds…

Angry Chief

THE DECISION yesterday to give the green light for this weekend’s controversial Vybz Kartel and Mavado show has opened a potential row between Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin and his deputy Bertie Hinds.

In an exclusive interview, a visibly upset Dottin told THE NATION yesterday that he first learnt of the decision to grant licences for the show through a radio news flash while on his way to Grantley Adams International Airport.

“It sends a very bad image and message that the Commissioner of Police has been having discussions on these issues and nobody had the decency to consult him.

“It reflects very poorly on the administration of the force,” he added.

Confirmed reports indicated that Hinds, who acts as commissioner while Dottin is on leave, made the decision to grant the promoters requested licences for the show during a meeting yesterday.

When contacted for comment that he acted contrary to the force’s protocol, Hinds would only say: “I have nothing to say, full-stop.”

… continue reading this article at The Nation: Angry Chief

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Jamaica, Music, Police

Barbados Prosecutor appeals tourist killer’s ten year sentence: “unduly lenient, does not reflect public concern…”

Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions, Charles Leacock, says that the 10-year sentence handed out to Curtis Joel Foster for the killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld is inadequate. The prosecution had asked for a 16 to 20 year sentence on a plea to manslaughter rather than the original murder charge.

A formal appeal has been filed because, unlike former Attorney General Dale Marshall, DPP Leacock recognizes that the light 10 year sentence “does not reflect the gravity of the offence” and “does not reflect the public’s concern about offences of this nature.”

Too right!

Further Reading

The Nation: Not Enough

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Police, Tourism, Traveling and Tourism