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February 08 2014

Station's Rights to Sochi Games Leaves Caribbean Viewers in the Dark

Six Caribbean teams are competing in this year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Bermudathe Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Naturally, sports fans throughout the region want to watch – but there's a problem. SportsMax, a premium subscription-based television station, has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2014 Sochi games in the Caribbean. “Inside The Games” reported on the details:

The deal, announced between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and  International Media Content Ltd (IMC), the parent company of SportsMax, is applicable for 21 nations and territories ranging from Anguilla to Trinidad and Tobago.

It consists of exclusive English language broadcast rights on all media platforms, with live coverage to be provided on both SportsMax and SportsMax2 for the duration of the Games when they get underway in Sochi.

Columbus Communications, owners of the Flow cable network which operates in several Caribbean territories, took to its social media outlets to address the issue:

Flow Fans, please be advised that SportsMax holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the '2014 Winter Olympics’ in the Caribbean for the period February 7th to 23rd 2014. Olympic programming will be broadcast mainly on Sportsmax 1 with some content on Sportsmax 2. Consequently, we are legally required to blackout the coverage of the games on all channels including but not limited to NBC & CBC who will be carrying portions of the SOCHI games. During the blackout periods the affected channels will carry a notice to our customers advising of the blackout requirement and directing you to SportsMax. 

We understand the inconvenience that this issue poses and are aware and acknowledge that blocked content is disruptive for our viewers, however we MUST comply. Once the broadcast rights to air a program is (sic) purchased we are obligated to block out that program (when requested) as both a legal and regulatory (TATT) obligation. Failing to comply could lead to legal actions against Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited. This arrangement is not unique to Trinidad, all video service providers worldwide will be required to take similar action based on the Network which has purchased the rights in that country. 

Irate Jamaicans posted on Flow Jamaica's Facebook page about having to pay to watch their team parading in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Diego Armando Thomas had this to say

So because i don't have the #SportsMax package on #Flow I am not allowed to watch the #Olympics? This is BULL. You block the channels am paying for? Really!!!

Another viewer, David Valentine, urged Jamaicans to take action by writing to the Jamaican Broadcast Commission:

This is a sheg up situation, taking advantage of the people who no have no options. The blasted Olympics should not be held ransom, by forcing people to pay for some purely subscriber based channel. Imagine if Showtime did have the exclusive rights to the Olympics? Something wrong with this blow wow picture man. Them really corrupted. PEOPLE WRITE TO THE BROADCAST COMMISION!!

Others expressed their disgust on Twitter:

One viewer who subscribed to the SportsMax service was dissatisfied with the coverage of the opening ceremony:

Competitor cable provider Lime has been offering viewers in some of the countries in which it operates, a free trial of SportsMax for the duration of the games:

The issue of broadcast rights for local television stations versus those of the cable company was discussed in this post:

Television programmes generate advertising revenue for broadcasters such as TV6 and CNC3. While customers pay cable providers for premium channels, it should be noted that  the programmes which occupy the schedules on these channels are governed by separate contracts.

While SportsMax is indigenous to the region, it is a pay-per-view service, and some netizens have complained about the failure of free-to-air broadcasters to obtain rights to the games. Yvon Tripper commented on an article in the Bermuda Royal Gazette:

IOC simply gives rights to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping a Bermuda-based broadcaster from asking the IOC for Bermuda-only rights, and then just using the American and Canadian feeds. If no one in Bermuda pays for broadcast rights for the island's Olympic coverage rights, then there's no point in complaining when someone else does. The IOC would be happy to exclude Bermuda from the Caribbean region if it mean that they got more money — it's all about the Redbirds, baby.

While Trinidad and Tobago is not competing in the games, none of the terrestrial broadcasters have purchased rights to the games, forcing interested viewers to subscribe to SportsMax for live coverage. Annoyed cable subscribers vented their feelings on Twitter:

The Sochi Games run until February 23, 2014.

February 07 2014

Caribbean: Discrimination is Discrimination

Groundation Grenada has partnered with Trinidad-based artist Joshua Lu “to create a visual campaign to draw analogies between sexual orientation/gender identity discrimination and other forms of discrimination.” Check out the first few installations in the campaign, here.

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February 04 2014

Blog Carnival Shows the Caribbean Some Love

The online feminist collective CODE RED hosted a month-long blog carnival called e-Mas, under the theme “To the Caribbean, With Love.”  The series featured contributions from writers all over the Caribbean. According to the organizers:

Still confused about what a blog carnival is? Think of all the usual ingredients of a Caribbean carnival and try to replicate those with words, images and/or sound.  The theme is broad enough that you can guh to town pun it!

This led to a wide variety of posts being published – essays, poems, photography, even vidblogs – touching on a broad spectrum of topics, all united by the Twitter hashtag #DearCaribbean.

Carla Moore presented a vidblog in which she discusses why some people choose to stay at home in the Caribbean even when they can leave:

Moore inspired Klieon Cavon to do his own vidblog entitled “Basseterre Woman”:

Akeema-Zane preferred to write about her experience: 

For the first time you will eat swordfish from Oistins and cry out loud in the clear blue waters of Pebbles Beach, praising the universe and all of creation for the now, the yesteryears and the tomorrows and acknowledging in that present moment that you deserve every rainbow, every sun-kissing sky, every laugh and smile. You will hug yourself tightly because you dared to feel the enormity of your existence-that you are real and not imagined; that you are highest form of beauty personified. You will love yourself so strongly, so deeply, that you will be moved to the highest gratitude of thanks. For everything known and unknown and everyone who allowed you to be!

Saieed I. Khalil examined what the Caribbean integration movement can learn from the mass protests in Ukraine:

But who among us will participate in the uprising to galvanize policymakers to act? In Ukraine, some estimates put the portion of youths under 30 participating in the protests at 90%! Many of them are students and wield degrees. This leads us to the second lesson of the Maidan protests: a mass of young, educated people who are sufficiently mobilized can lead the strike for regional integration. Why them, and not older folks?

Diaspora Dash shared her discovery about the cultural impact of the migration from the Anglophone/Francophone Caribbean into Venezuela, while Jermain Ostiana wrote a poem entitled Trujillonomics:

Little kids drawing veves
with anti-capitalist
black angel dust.
Yeah pah I love you
even if you been god-awfully indoctrinated by the Dutch.
While you suited up
in a cold temperatured office
helping the corporate to connive.
The kids be in classes without airco and iPads, school teachers struggling to inspire.
And this kingdom s’posed to be heaven?

Maureen St. Clair admitted that she did not really learn to love her own body until she moved to the Caribbean:

 I began to respect and love my soft round belly passed down by my Mother, Grandmother and Great Grand. In Grenada for the first time I witnessed gorgeous full bodied women who weren’t afraid to be their natural selves, who weren’t afraid of the flesh on their bodies, didn’t try to hide or camouflage their size through large clothing, didn’t feel great shame for the bodies their mamas passed on to them.  It was the first time I experienced women moving with confidence and delight; gratitude and pride.

Lina Free wrote “a love letter to the Caribbean”:

Every day is a struggle, oui, but here in the Caribbean is where I want to be battling. From the beach in Tobago where I spent my first New Years Eve after coming back, drinking too much and hugging up everybody too much, just abrim with love, to the tent cities of Port Au Prince where women bathed, bare breasted, in plain sight of every tom, dick, and harry passerby- you continue to succor as well as challenge me, Caribbean. This, I love. 

Gabrielle Hosein wrote about the challenges of being an Indo-Caribbean feminist:

Indian womanhood now is even more complex than three generations ago. Unapologetically, I’m in solidarity with the young Indian lesbians from South, the well-educated Muslim mothers not ready to marry, the young Hindu women who have chosen to terminate pregnancies because of unreliable partners or income, and the girls whose decisions about love may cross racial lines. I’m all for the ‘good’ Indian girls too, whoever and wherever they are. We all draw on religion, history, ancestry, mythology, cultural diversity, modernity and sisterhoods that cross ethnicity in ways we creatively combine. Regardless of how we choose to weave together our best, most fulfilled, most equal selves, I think it’s our right to decide.

Vidyaratha Kissoon, who inspired the blogging mas, also wrote about being Indian and from the Caribbean:

But is funny, when I lef dis part uh de world.. how ah does push de Caribbean ting. ( i was tellin’ a fren is Burnham jumbie in me.. an’ I laff when I remembah how dem people in Englan’ used to tell me dat i soun ‘black’ an’ how i join up wid de African and Caribbean Students Society instead of de Asian Students because I feel like I had more in common wid black ‘Caribbean’ people. Anodda time ah had to laff because a drunk India coolie computer man.. we bin at a conference party.. tell me dat is a good ting we ancestors lef India because at least we could dance.

The Contessa wrote about appropriating the Baby Doll ole mas character as a way to challenge conventional notions of sexuality:

The Baby doll conventionally provides commentary on teen-pregnancy and responsible fathering and can easily be extended to other related issues such as breast feeding and child rights. At the competition level, baby dolls tend to use current social and political events, making their speeches relevant, witty and sometimes controversial.  This however did not prevent the looks of slight shock and discomfort I received back stage after telling two of the other “dolls” that I would be looking for my child mother and not father this time around. I guess some things remain taboo despite our Carnival’s history. 

Take a look at all the submissions, here.

November 05 2013

NaBloPoMo, Caribbean Style!

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has spawned NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), which, in turn, is getting quite a few Caribbean netizens blogging – here, here and here.

October 26 2013

Grenada: Remembering the Revolution

This month marks thirty years since the end of the People's Revolutionary Government in Grenada. An era came to a bloody end on October 19, 1983, when Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, along with union leaders and members of his Cabinet, were lined up against a wall and executed by an army unit loyal to the deputy leader of the governing New Jewel Movement, Bernard Coard, at Fort Rupert in St. George's. Coard, who was later convicted of murder, has denied giving any orders to kill Bishop.

The two were not always at loggerheads. Former schoolmates with a mutual interest in left wing politics, the revolution began with their group's overthrow of the Eric Gairy Government in 1979. The Gairy regime had come to be seen as despotic and the revolution had great popular support, but power struggles ensued between the charismatic Bishop and Coard, who had proposed a power-sharing agreement between them. When Bishop refused, the Coard faction placed him under house arrest, which led to street protests and violent clashes between Bishop supporters and the military, culminating with the mass executions. Six days later, the United States (with the support of several Eastern Caribbean governments) launched Operation Urgent Fury. U.S. troops invaded Grenada and put an end to the short lived military regime which had taken control of the island.

Looking back on the course of events, Invent the Future felt that the end of the revolution was a great tragedy which hindered progress in the Caribbean:

There are many stones still to be unturned in connection with the revolution’s collapse and the anti-popular coup that paved the way for US invasion, but it’s clear that the movement fell victim to the sectarianism, dogmatism and individualism that emerge with frustrating frequency on the left. Combined with the systematic campaign of destabilisation and psychological warfare waged by the US, these factors led to the destruction of one of the most promising political processes of the latter part of the 20th century.

The blog placed Bishop within the pantheon of other left-wing leaders in the Americas:

Maurice Bishop was a popular, creative and intelligent revolutionary, with an intuitive grasp of where the masses were at. The clear leader of the Grenadian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the corrupt and pro-imperialist administration of Eric Gairy, Bishop was a brilliant communicator, and his mutual empathy with the masses of the people was one of the major driving forces of the revolution – not unlike the relationship between Fidel and the Cuban people, or Chávez and Venezuelan people. 

Petchary recounted her recent trip to Grenada and the feelings of the locals about Maurice Bishop, the People's Revolutionary Government and the invasion:

During my recent visit to Grenada I did not visit Fort George (sic), where Bishop and his ministers were killed. But I sensed that there were very mixed feelings about the period among older Grenadians. One told me Grenadians were all glad when the United States invaded, just a few days after Bishop’s assassination, because the country was in chaos and there was no food to eat. Others regretted the tragic chain of events, and pointed to the achievements of the Bishop regime during the few years he was in power.

Opinions about Bishop himself were especially mixed:

In particular, everyone credited Maurice Bishop with the construction of the international airport at Point Salines (now named after him), which was officially opened just a year after his death. It was a huge step forward for the island. The Cuban Government reportedly provided about half of the funding for the airport to be built, plus much of the labor and equipment. Someone else told me that the Cubans had done much for Grenada at the time of Bishop’s revolutionary government. Everyone seemed to have their opinion about the Bishop era and its aftermath, and every opinion was different.

 Canadian writer N Oji Mzilikazi felt that for some, the American actions in Grenada are praised more than the revolution itself:  

Apologists for America’s invasion of Grenada use the term ‘intervention’ rather than ‘invasion.’ Sadly, October 25, the date of the infamous invasion is a public holiday in Grenada — Thanksgiving, commemorating the anniversary of the 1983 Caribbean and American military ‘intervention’ in Grenada.

Logically, methinks October 19, is much more deserving of public holiday status, giving the economically downward slide Grenada has taken after the killing of Bishop and America’s ‘intervention.’

 Mzilikazi also argued that despite the rhetoric, the United States has not actually done much for Grenada:

What has America done for Grenadians as compared to Cuba, when Maurice Bishop was alive? Did America invest in Grenada and raised (sic) its standards of living?

On September 7, 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed by conservative estimates, over seventy per cent of Grenada. Only when Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State surveyed the devastation one month later, did America truly made the effort to assist.

America’s economic neglect of nations inhabiting the Caribbean Basin forced them to look elsewhere for investments and aid — to predatory China and Taiwan.

Grenada got into bed with Taiwan, and then switched to China. The Export-Import Bank of Taiwan then sued the Grenada government in a New York court for US$21 million plus interest payments for its loans for several projects.

Groundation Grenada said the the gains from the Revolution should never be forgotten:

From the implementation of free health care to increases in real wages for workers to education being treated as an inalienable right, Grenadians were witnessing important and material changes. Other changes included the creation of a national social insurance plan to the entrenchment of women’s rights and the implementation of national training and education programs for teachers and the general public. Despite one’s political take on the Revolution, it’s extremely hard to deny the real and material benefits that were gained. Not only were these changes led by the leadership of the People’s Revolutionary Government but from farmers to students to teachers, Grenadians remained critical to the decision making process.

Groundation Grenada is currently soliciting thoughts about the revolution for a project they plan to unveil in March 2014, in honour of the 35th anniversary of the beginning of the revolution.

October 04 2013

Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada: “The Killing of a Revolution”

I was transfixed; in turns horrified, unbelieving, angry, and sad. Worse still, frustrated. Because the verdict of the film as to who was really responsible was inconclusive.

Norman Girvan reviews Bruce's Paddington's film “Forward Ever”, about the executions of former Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and members of his cabinet.

July 10 2013

Grenada: Electronic Media Ignorance?

Grenada's controversial Electronic Crimes Bill will be debated today in Parliament, but Blah Bloh Blog is “at a loss as to how they are going to establish such legislation…given the very well-known fact that literally NO ONE in the government…knows anything about computers, the internet, electronic communications or social media.”

July 09 2013

Caribbean: Tropical Storm Chantal

Tropical Storm Chantal has caused the temporary closure of some regional airports and the cancellation of flights. The Bajan Reporter has the latest.

July 01 2013

Grenada: Cleaning Up Social Media

The Electronic Crimes Bill…makes it an offence to send offensive messages electronically publicly, especially via social media such as Facebook and Twitter…be responsible for spoof and spam emails and to violate another person’s privacy.

New legislation in Grenada tackles social media.

February 25 2013

Caribbean: One Billion Rising

On February 14th, various groups throughout the Caribbean participated in the global “One Billion Rising”campaign. The campaign called for women across the world to dance together in protest of violence against women (the “one billion” is in reference to a statistic that one in three women will be assaulted or raped in their lifetime):

When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness. Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It's dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It's free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It's contagious and it spreads quickly. It's of the body. It's transcendent.

The feminist collective Code Red highlighted some of the events on its blog and compiled a photoset from various events all over the region.

Barbados hosted two One Billion Rising events. One event was held at Heroes Square in Bridgetown and was organized by the One Billion Rising Barbados Planning Committee, which is an umbrella organization for the SAVE Foundation, the National Organisation of Women, and UN Women.

One Billion Rising, Heroes Square, Bridgetown, Barbados

One Billion Rising, Heroes Square, Bridgetown, Barbados

One Billion Rising, Heroes Square, Bridgetown, Barbados

One Billion Rising, Heroes Square, Bridgetown, Barbados

Another event was held at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill campus, inside the Guild of Students Union. This event was organized by the Institute for Gender and Development Studies.

One Billion Rising, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados

Women of Antigua (WOA) organized the One Billion Rising event there; it took place at Lower Redcliffe Street, St. John's.

One Billion Rising in St. John's, Antigua.

One Billion Rising in Lower Redcliffe Street, St. John's, Antigua.

The event in Grenada was organized by the students at St. George's University. There was also a spinoff yoga event hosted by Groundation Grenada at Camerhogne Park.


One Billion Rising, St. George's University, Grenada

In Guyana, Stella's Sisterhood of Support and Service Foundation (S4) organized the event, which took place at the Promenade Gardens in Georgetown. The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination also participated.

One Billion Rising, Promenade Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana

One Billion Rising, Promenade Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana

One Billion Rising, Promenade Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana

One Billion Rising, Promenade Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana

In Saint Lucia, the One Billion Rising event was organized by the victim's advocacy group PROSAF and was supported by the  They Often Cry Out (TOCO) Foundation, which continued its annual Clothesline Project.

One Billion Rising, Derek Walcott Square, Castries, Saint Lucia

One Billion Rising, Derek Walcott Square, Castries, Saint Lucia


There were also gatherings at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and in downtown Nassau in the Bahamas.

Code Red shared a comment which questioned the use of dance as a critical component of the One Billion Rising campaign:

I wish every Feminist initiative, everywhere around the globe, wholehearted success. But… I have a seeeerious problem with the ‘Let’s All Dance!’ focus for the
‘One Billion Rising’ event. Could someone tell me WHY – and in a way that makes pellucid sense to me, WHY Women, in their seemingly chronic male-designation as Abuse Fodder, would choose the carefree, spontaneous, *celebratory* act of …dance: to (somehow?!?) symbolize the One Billion Rising initiative?

Code Red continued:

The whole things seems miscued, somehow; it appears – at least to me, like some desperate psychological ‘buffer’ being enacted by Women globally, to try to distance themselves emotionally from what I have NO FEAR in stating as The Harsh REALITY: i.e., WOMEN’S RIGHTS IS ON A STEADILY DOWNWARD CURVE!

Patrice disagreed with this position instead arguing that “…not every action, event, initiative or strategy is designed to have the same impact or achieve the same goals”:

One Billion Rising is meant to raise awareness. In talking about One Billion Rising, I have had the opportunity to share information and statistics which have startled, alarmed and disgusted people. People are more aware and this awareness can impact the conversations they have and entertain, the political candidates they endorse, the demands they make of their leaders and the overarching climate of the country.

She added:

As for the dancing, I do not see the dance as a dance of ignorance and distraction. The dance is not to make mockery or to make light. Indeed, many of the dancers will be the women who are still burning. The originator of the movement herself burned physically and sexually at the hands of her father for years. I see dancing, especially as woman, as rebellious. So many political wars are fought on and around women’s bodies that, as a woman, taking control over your body and bucking tradition by moving it, wiggling it, shaking it, bouncing it and simply owning, embracing and enjoying its movements in that moment, can be a powerful experience.

Damali and Karen Robinson also discussed One Billion Rising on their podcast “Ennufff.”


February 21 2013

St. Vincent, Grenada: Silly Electoral System?

The stupidity is the electoral system we operate under that leaves thousands without a political voice in the Parliamentary Halls.

A landslide victory for the opposition in Grenada's national elections prompts Abeni to wonder whether the region needs constitutional and electoral reform.

October 24 2012

Grenada: Remembering a Revolution

October 19 was the 29th anniversary of the bloody military coup in Grenada which ousted leader Maurice Bishop from government and prompted the United States-led invasion of the country. Two bloggers marked the occasion with detailed posts about what happened and how it forever changed the course of Grenada's history.

Blah Bloh Blog, who reposts her 2005 blog entry about the events every year on the anniversary of the uprising, noted that:

The events of that fateful day would have profound social and political ramifications that resound in Grenada even now in 2012.

North American Congress on Latin America blogger Kevin Edmonds remembered the date as “[when] the United States attacked the island’s population of 110,000 with 7,000 troops via land, sea, and air” and put examined the decision in the context of the Cold War:

Reagan was also eager to score a military victory and restore the confidence that had been lost after the Vietnam War and the overthrowing of the Shah in Iran. This victory was to come at the expense of the Grenadian people, and the wider hopes of the Caribbean, in constructing a model of society based on social justice.

Edmonds provided further background by explaining:

The Grenadian Revolution began on March 13, 1979, when the New Joint Endeavor for Welfare Education and Liberation, or the New Jewel Movement, overthrew the corrupt and increasingly oppressive government of Eric Gairy. Bishop described life under Gairy as one of ‘a total dependence on imperialism, a reality that meant extreme poverty, characterized by massive unemployment, with more than half of the work force out of work, high malnutrition, illiteracy, backwardness, superstition, poor housing and health conditions combined with overall economic stagnation and massive migration.'

The role of the Grenadian Revolution, its importance to the wider Caribbean, and the threat it posed for the United States was best summed up by Bishop who remarked in 1980 that ‘We are obviously no threat to America, nor is Cuba for that matter. I think Washington fears that we could set an example for the rest of the region if our Revolution succeeds. In the Caribbean region you’re talking about small countries with small populations and limited resources, countries that over the years have been classic examples of neo-capitalist depend­encies. Now you have these new governments like Nicaragua and Grenada that are attempting a different experiment.They are no longer looking at development as how many hotels you have on the beach but in terms of what benefits people get. We certainly believe in Grenada that the people of the English-speaking Caribbean want to see an experiment like that succeed. America understands that and obviously if we are able to succeed where previous governments following different models failed, that would be very, very subversive.'

The blog post claims that “the Reagan administration had to figure out a way to portray Grenada as an immediate threat to the world’s preeminent superpower” and claims that “this was done by portraying the construction of the Port Salines International Airport as the latest Soviet attempt to launch an attack on the United States.”

Both bloggers agreed on the push factors that caused the coup. Blah Bloh Blog explained:

In the latter years of the Revolution (or the Revo as it is still called), Bishop and his political partner Bernard Coard began to drift apart ideologically. As one writer would put it, ‘One current of Grenadian socialism was egalitarian, democratic, and Jamesian; the other was hierarchical, statist, command-oriented, placing power above the masses..'

…while Kevin Edmonds wrote:

A personal and factional rivalry began between Bishop and Bernard Coard. Bishop was regarded as being more pragmatic, while Coard on the other hand was seen by many as being much more ‘Stalinist' and doctrinaire in character. Coard’s ultra-left counter-revolution was extremely bloody, killing Bishop, his pregnant girlfriend, and many of his supporters in the Revolutionary cabinet. With the killing of such a charismatic and visionary leader, this was the date when the Grenadian Revolution was dealt its hardest blow; the invasion simply finished things off.

Before this could happen, one of the most vital elements which helped Reagan build his case for invasion came in the form of a request by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to invade Grenada to restore democratic institutions. The OECS leader and Prime Minister of Dominica, Eugenia Charles, made the request.

Twenty-nine years later, the events are still fresh in Blah Bloh Blog's mind:

I remember that day even now. October 19th 1983. I was 12, and my grandmother kept my brother and me home from school. Days before this, Maurice Bishop had been placed under house arrest by the Revolutionary Army, under the directive of Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin.The citizenry was worried, confused and agitated. There were rumours of impending student demonstrations and strike actions.

At about 1pm we could hear the sounds of gunfire coming from St George’s, the sounds of car horns blaring, the screams and shots of people running out of town. I remember my grandmother being terrified for the safety of my uncle who was working in the heart of St George’s; thankfully he showed up unhurt and full of news later on that afternoon.

The total civilian casualties from that day have never been accurately assessed. What had become apparent is that there were definitely some young people who were never seen again, but whose families have NEVER reported them missing, for reasons I don’t know.

The blogger continued:

Despite the best, and often grossly misguided, efforts at delving into the truth about what really happened that day, who was to blame, etc., the events of October 1983 have left a brutal, sad and violent scar on the psyches of Grenadians. This is still evident in 2009, when the last of the Grenada 17, which included Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin, were recently released from Richmond Hill Prison, a sensitive topic for Grenadians on either side of the issue. There are too many wounds, hurts and grievances have been left unattended, paramount among which is the question of the whereabouts of the remains of Bishop, Creft and the others who were executed. Additionally, because of the poignant silence from the families of the others who died or disappeared on that day, it is still unknown if there are other bodies as yet un-recovered or accounted for. There is so much about that day we don’t know; a lot we probably don’t want to know.

Kevin Edmonds summed it up this way:

The Grenadian Revolution was notable in the English speaking Caribbean for its firm declaration of anti- imperialist politics and the advancement of grass roots democracy, economic self-reliance, and agricultural cooperatives.

In many ways, [it] was also traumatic blow to the wider Caribbean left, revealing sharp warnings about ideological factionalism and ever-present U.S. destabilization campaigns and military intervention. That said, we can see signs of hope. As a sign of the transition towards recognizing the good of the Revolution, in 2009, the Point Salines International Airport—the target of so much U.S. propaganda efforts—was renamed the Maurice Bishop International Airport.

With the deterioration of living conditions and limited opportunities for so many people in the Caribbean, the words of Bishop and the positive lessons from the Grenadian Revolution are now more important than ever. While August 2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of independence for Jamaica and Trinidad, the current levels of poverty, inequality, violence, and lack of opportunity across the wider Caribbean, reveal that political independence is often a hollow prize if not reinforced by efforts to remake society along the lines of greater equality and justice.

October 08 2012

Grenada: Ruling Party Expels Seven Members at Convention

The theme song tonight at the end of convention rally of Grenada's ruling National Democratic Congress was “Better Days Are Coming.” Interestingly the response chorus to the song was: “They lying, they lying and they lying.”

Hamlet Mark reports on the NDC convention in Grenada, where seven prominent members of the party were expelled, in absentia.

August 10 2012

Kirani James Delivers on Grenada's Olympic Dream

On Monday August 6, 2012, Kirani James won the Gold Medal in the Men's 400 Metres race at the London Olympics with a time of 43.94, making him the first person from Grenada and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to win an Olympic medal of any kind. James led a Caribbean sweep of the medals in this event: Luguelin Santos from the Dominican Republic won the Silver (44.46) and Lalonde Gordon from Trinidad & Tobago won Bronze (44.52).

Broadcaster George Grant saw Kirani's victory as an event which should encourage more Grenadians abroad to give back:

But, Grenadians abroad can help through other means without any fanfare. Dr. Kenrick Lewis is a vivid example. Over the years, Dr. Lewis, a catalyst chemist and famous for his contributions in the development of silicons, has given scholarships to students at primary schools in the Parish of St. John's to attend one of Grenada's secondary schools.

Kirani James, a student at the St. John's Anglican Primary School, won one of Dr. Lewis' scholarships. That scholarship afforded Kirani the opportunity to attend the Grenada Boys' Secondary School (GBSS) where he excelled. Well, one can say the rest is history.

Abeni, who lives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was thrilled for Kirani and his countrymen:

In 2012, history was to be made when 19 yr old Kirani James of Grenada ran an impressive 43.94 to win gold. I think it is safe to say that not only is the American dominance over but Michael Johnson's record is under threat.

She added:

Grenada, the tiny most southerly of the Windward Islands has always stood out from its neighbours. The Spice isle as it's affectionately called for its production of nutmeg and other spices has long been punching above its weight.

Now Kirani James has given the island its first Olympic medal-gold to boot complementing his 2011 Worlds gold. Additionally, Janelle Redhead has continued Grenada's tremendous run at the Olympics by qualifying for the female 200m semis.

Large up yourselves Grenada, 133 sq miles and 93,000 to the world.

James also received a lot of positive feedback on Facebook for what netizens were calling “one of the most beautiful moments of the Olympics”. Caribbean Beat wrote:

Grenada star Kirani James - after winning his 400m semis - swapped bibs with the heroic, talented double-amputee Oscar Pistorius at the end of the race. We have never been more proud to have such a sportsman on our cover.

The wall post attracted 30 comments, 269 shares and more than 275 likes.

A crowd gathered at Cuthbert Peters Park in Kirani's home village of Gouyave to watch the race on a large screen:

Another crowd gathered in Morne Rouge, St. Georges:

The crowd in Gouyave watched in anticipation:

Once Kirani won, pandemonium ensued:

The celebrations quickly turned into a street party:

Prime Minister of Grenada, Tillman Thomas, addressed the crowd at Gouyave following the medal ceremony:

Today, Kirani James rewrote the history of Grenada with his feet. No longer will Grenada be renowned just for nutmeg, revolution and invasion.

“Kirani City” by Grenadian musician Hollis Mapp aka Mr. Killa:

Video of Kirani's hometown, Gouyave:

April 09 2012

Grenada, Barbados: The Fallout over Journalist's Firing

As another regional journalist pays the price for standing by his story, bloggers are wondering about the state of press freedom in the Caribbean. Rawle Titus -veteran journalist and president of the Media Workers Association of Grenada since 2008- was dismissed from his post as editor of the Grenada Advocate after he refused to retract or apologize for a front-page story in the March 9th edition of the newspaper headlined “Prime Minister Makes Fresh Moves.” (The Grenada Advocate is owned and published by the Advocate Publishers (2000) Inc, based in Fontabelle, St. Michael, Barbados.)

According to the story, leader of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Prime Minister of Grenada, Tillman Thomas, held a caucus where candidates for the upcoming elections were selected, without informing senior members of the now fractious party. Government press secretary (and former journalist) Richard Simon wrote to the management in Barbados twice, seeking a retraction for what were deemed to be inaccuracies. After the 2nd letter, Titus was dismissed by General Manager Sandra Clarke, effective March 30th, 2012.

According to the MWAG, the Advocate was pressured into firing Titus and added:

We have growing concerns about increasing incidents that will suggest that those guarantees are coming under attack. This latest incident follows a series of other developments we have been monitoring in the past.

Titus and Richard Simon each made an appearance on Day Break Grenada, a morning program aired on the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN), to express their side of the story.

On Sunday, April 1st,  Titus, Simon and Information Minister Glen Noel were interviewed on the current affairs radio program “Sundays With George Grant” (starting at the 84:00 minute mark.)

On Monday, April 2nd, Titus’ staged a one-man protest in front of the Office of the Prime Minister at the Botanical Gardens, St. Georges. The  text and video of Titus' full statement were posted on the blog of Nicole Best, the General Secretary of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (which also released a statement). After reading the statement, Titus explained some of his on the concerns raised and answered some questions.

Hamlet Mark, a friend of both Titus and Richard Simon, shared some thoughts on his own blog :

It is one thing for anyone to point out inaccuracies, which any responsible journalist must correct if it is found beyond doubt to be such.

But since when do you demand ‘an apology and retraction' in two letters about some perceived ‘inaccuracy', without it being seen as undue pressure when it comes from an office as powerful as the Prime Minister’s?

And when the reporter says he is satisfied with his information – after cross checking it again – you still insist on an apology – to the point where he had to standup not just for his dignity but his manhood – so that a frightened Barbadian team – unschooled in Grenadian political realities – got cold feet and sent a man home they concede that they never had to question his professionalism before.

If the letters from the Prime Minister’s office were not meant to be used as undue pressure – why the demand for an ‘apology' – if you said it was just some inaccuracies?

And if the reporter decided to stand by his story, isn't the normal thing in that circumstance to release your version of events – and let the public decide?

On March 27th, The Government of Grenada released a statement denying responsibility for Titus’ firing:

Neither the Prime Minister nor his office, sought directly or indirectly, the termination of Mr. Titus, and is unaware of the reason or reasons for his termination by the newspaper’s management.  The Grenada government has never, over the past three years, attempted to pressure or intimidate any business or media house to ‘tow the government’s line' or to influence the dismissal of any journalist, as previous administrations have done.

Hamlet Mark offered some comments on the statement from the Prime Minister’s office:

It was a timely and useful assurance, and everyone should take the administration at its word, without ever letting their guards down.

While the statement went on to give the assurance, it tainted it with – well – at least one inaccuracy; that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) never asked for ‘an apology nor retraction.'
Having seen the e-mail sent to ‘Advocate’; and having determined it is authentic; then the claim in the press release that it did not happen is bogus.

A colleague of mine calls it a blatant lie. But I’ll be kind. It is just an innocent inaccuracy.
While as Prime Minister, the buck will always have to stop with Tillman Thomas, I have this sneaky feeling that his soldiers let him down on this issue.

Whatever you may think about the man – and having seen him operate up close and personal through the years – I believe that he genuinely believes in the issue of freedom of the media, almost to a fault.

He is a man of considerable faults, but some admirable strengths as well – and I firmly believe on that issue – this is one of his strengths.

Richard will have to correct me, if it’s an “inaccuracy” (and unless someone in the PMO is trying to set me up too), that the whole hullabaloo about the Advocate report was not an idea of the PM.

Reporters Without Borders released a statement calling for Titus to be reinstated and also made reference to the liquidation of the Grenada Today Weekly, which was forced to shutdown after the owners were unable to pay damages to former Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell after he successfully sued them.

January 18 2012

November 09 2011

Grenada: On Self-Publishing

Tobias Buckell is “seriously getting tired of prominent self publishers” and explains why, here.

November 07 2011

Caribbean: the meaning of identity

Creative Commess hosts a blog symposium “about Caribbean people, about West Indian people, about our contemporary experiences … ranging through race & identity to culture, mental health to constructs of beauty and more,” with contributions from seven Caribbean bloggers.

July 25 2011

Caribbean: Commonwealth Stories for Online Time Capsule

The Royal Commonwealth Society is creating the world's largest online time capsule in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and wants regional/Commonwealth bloggers to share their stories. Get involved, here.

April 13 2011

Grenada, Caribbean: WICB Woes

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

Blah Bloh Blog is unimpressed with the new logo for the West Indies Cricket Team, while WICB Expose renames the Calypso Cup the “Collapso Cup”.

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