Daily Archives: July 13, 2012

Victoria Rowell to replace pot-smoking Rihanna for Barbados Tourism Authority spokesperson? Victoria WHO?

“Rihanna knows she’s the BTA spokesperson, so what’s with the drugs in public?”

Dear Barbados Free Press,

Today we are treated in the news to dueling stories about the outgoing and incoming spokesgirls for the Barbados Tourism Authority.

Barbados Ambassador Rihanna is at it again, having been photographed in Barbados smoking an apparent ‘blunt’. Looks like a blunt to me. (For the unfamiliar, a ‘blunt’ is a hollowed-out cigarello filled with some choice weed of which we have plenty in B’town.) I know the girl was here for her grandmother’s funeral and I respect that, and I don’t think that smoking some herb will do any harm to a person.


The girl is supposed to be the BTA spokesperson and we’re paying her who knows how much to represent the very best face for this island. She knows she’s being photographed. She knows she’s the BTA spokesperson, so what’s with the drugs in public? This latest photo follows similar photos elsewhere (Hawaii ?) and Rihanna’s Tweets about smoking grass. The ‘best by’ expiry date is long past for the girl as the BTA spokesperson, know what I mean? Time to find a replacement.

Meet Rihanna’s BTA replacement… WHO?

Truth be told I never lived under no rock for the past twenty years. I have a job. I have friends, I watch CBC and download torrents of first run Hollywood movies from Pirate’s Bay. I read the newspapers and kill a paperback a month while sitting on the toilet, know what I mean?

I never heard of no Victoria Rowell. I heard of the soap opera The Young and The Restless, but I never watched it. I never heard of the character ‘Drucilla Winters’ or Victoria Rowell, the actress who plays her. I know Rowell plays ‘Drucilla Winters’ because I read it in the Barbados Advocate. In the Nation they have a photo of Rowell with two other women and one man and they have to identify her by saying “second right“. Man, how famous is you when the photo has to say “second right”?

It looks like the BTA traded Rihanna for Victoria Rowell (WHO?) and Victoria was in the news touring Bim and saying nice things about a place she’s obviously never been before.

How much are we paying for all this? I just can’t take it anymore. The pain is too much!

Pass that blunt, RiRi. I need to breathe deep.

Junior Tomas, Crab Hill


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Celebrities

Three years later, what has become of the restructuring at the Barbados Tourism Authority?

Bajan papers always report big talk and big promises: but never follow up…

Over three years ago Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy (photo above) announced a major restructuring of the Barbados Tourism Authority. It seemed a fine idea at the time: separate tourism marketing and product development companies.

Except: it never happened.

Time and time again we at Barbados Free Press have suggested to the island news media that if they want to improve their credibility they should only report on events that are completed. Of course, if they did that, they wouldn’t have any stories at all because half of what they print is promises and musing from politicians.

How about it, Barbados Advocate and Nation… can you go a week without printing mindless chatter, wishing and speculation from the political class?

From the March 18, 2009 edition of the Barbados Advocate (still online here):

Changes at BTA


By Shawn Cumberbatch

AFTER earning a record $2.4 billion from tourism last year, Government is giving the sector an institutional shake-up in the midst of a 7.7 decline in long-stay visitor arrivals.

The Barbados Tourism Authority’s (BTA) board has been trimmed by seven and separate tourism marketing and product development companies are being created as part of a major restructuring exercise, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy announced yesterday. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Barbados Free Press republishes deleted Harlequin news story

Why was this Harlequin news story removed by Echo-news.co.uk ?

BFP readers supply over 30 copies of deleted Harlequin news story

As BFP reported yesterday, Echo’s news story ‘Wickford man at the centre of storm in the Caribbean property market‘ by investigative journalist Jon Austin was deleted from the internet the day after it was published in the dead-tree edition, and within hours of being posted online.

This deletion of internet content fits right in with our observation last week that articles critical of Harlequin are disappearing. In some cases entire websites have disappeared.

Barbados Free Press has received legal advice concerning our use of a news story originally published on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 by echo-news.co.uk on pages 14 and 15 of their dead tree edition, and on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 on the internet.

This is of vital interest to Bajans due to freedom of the press issues, and also of interest to those investors who have very legitimate questions about why so few units have been completed throughout the Harlequin projects list, why the construction is not following the schedules communicated earlier by Mr. David Ames and where and how investors’ money is being spent.

“There are also serious public questions about the Harlequin’s relationships with various officials and why certain governments have, among other unusual decisions, allowed Harlequin to get away with not filing financial statements as required by law for periods of up to four years.”

This is of special concern to Barbadians as our country has no Integrity Legislation, no Freedom of Information and no Conflicts of Interests rules for public officials: this despite 30 years of promises by various DLP and BLP governments.

There seems to be a concerted effort to prevent serious, in-depth public discussion about issues surrounding Harlequin, its operations, finances, and its relationships with politicians in various countries. That is bad for freedom of the press, transparency and accountability. It is also bad for democracy.

Our legal advice is that BFP is allowed to publish the Echo article in full to review and discuss the content, and the takedown. Especially in the absence of Integrity and transparency laws in Barbados, both the content of the news article and the circumstances of its removal from the internet are of vital public interest that supersedes any copyright issues.

BFP and our readers recognize that any allegations in the article are unproven, and we invite representatives from Harlequin to join in the discussion to correct or clarify any inaccuracies. If Harlequin so desires, BFP will publish any response or communications from the company with due respect and prominence as we have done before for Harlequin and others.

For discussion:

Why was this story removed by Echo-news.co.uk?

Are there any inaccuracies or omissions in the news story?

Readers, please feel free to use the comment section to discuss these questions and others that are of vital public interest.

Thank you!

Our sincere gratitude to the over 30 readers who sent us copies of the Echo-news.co.uk news article ‘Wickford man at the centre of storm in the Caribbean property market’

Here is the story. Class; discuss! …

Wickford man at the centre of storm in the Caribbean property market

Wednesday 11th July 2012
By Jon Austin

A SOUTH Essex businessman is at the centre of a political storm in the Caribbean where his firm is striving to develop a series of luxury holiday resorts.

The Harlequin group – run by David Ames from Brock Hill, Wickford – has become a political football in St Vincent, home to the company’s partially-open resort.

The Basildon-based firm is meant to be building six resorts in the Caribbean and one in Brazil.

In April, an Echo investigation revealed some of the 6,000 people who invested in the resorts wanted deposits refunded due to delays to some projects.

Now some investors have launched court claims in St Vincent in a bid to win back their cash.

At the same time staff, contractors and suppliers, working at Harlequin’s flagship Buccament Bay resort, are also taking action through the courts amid claims they haven’t been paid for several weeks.

The firm also hasn’t filed any accounts in St Vincent for the past four years, meaning investors cannot track what has happened to their cash, which has been sent overseas to build properties.

Harlequin Property in St Vincent, which owns Buccament Bay, could be struck off in the country if it fails to bring records up to date.

Mr Ames, 60, who said he was recently made a citizen of St Vincent and has the backing of the ruling Unity Labour Party, vehemently denied allegations staff were not being paid. The claims have been raised in the Vincentian parliament.

He said all resort staff were being paid on time and it was down to individual contractors to pay workers.

The business, which has a marketing office in Honeywood Road, Basildon, has so far built around 300 out of 1,120 units at Buccament Bay, with work yet to start in earnest on other resorts.

Opposition politicians from the New Democratic Party of St Vincent said at least eight claims – including some lodged by unpaid workers as well as investors – are going to court.

The party’s leader Arhnim Eustace called on the government to ensure payments were made to local contractors and employees.

He told the Echo: “I am aware a number of local contractors who say they have not been paid have filed cases in the court. This includes local contractors, workers and a supplier of vegetables.”

He said amounts claimed in cases varied, but at least one involved an alleged unpaid amount of £118,000. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption

Police target citizen journalists

The above video makes some good points about how police in the USA are targeting citizen journalists with illegal arrest and even acts of unprovoked violence. Dangerous business for individual freedoms – great for a police state.

The irony of the video is that it is put together by RT TV – Russia Today Television – owned by the Russian Government, and it of course doesn’t mention how Mr. Putin and the other big-ups from the KGB have for almost a hundred years targeted and murdered journalists as casually as one would order a cup of coffee. Nice touch for RT TV to make the piece about US police while ignoring the KGB or whatever they are called today.

But, it’s still interesting and worthwhile viewing.

A further point found on RT TV’s Wikipedia entry: “The 2012 Russian Federal Budget allocated 11 billion rubles (US$334 million) to RT’s parent company ANO TV-Novosti.”

Also of interest: Media Roots: The Establishment vs. Citizen Journalism

Thanks to an old friend for suggesting this video.


Filed under Barbados News & Media, Crime & Law, Freedom Of The Press, Human Rights, News Media, Police