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February 21 2014

February 13 2014

February 10 2014

Guyana, U.S.A.: Aviation Security Threat?

Two blogs are reporting that the US has issued a security alert to its citizens about an ‘unconfirmed threat’ to flights from Guyana. Netizens are also sharing the news via Facebook.

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.

January 28 2014

Guyanese Website could be Game Changer in Regional Crime Fighting

One tech entrepreneur based in Georgetown, Guyana is taking a fresh approach to the country's crime problems. Vijay Datadin is the main player behind Guyana Crime Reports, the country's newest data journalism website. Guyana Crime Reports combines GIS mapping and crowdsourced crime detection to bring a fresh look to traditional online reporting.

Datadin says the site was born of the desire not to report news, but to fight crime. This goal is undoubtedly supported by the fact that Datadin is also the founder of Red Spider, a small web development startup, which today maintains Guyana Crime Reports’ presence on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, where its handle is @GuyanaCrime.

The tweets give concise, but specific information:

The site's Facebook page often shares more detailed stories of robberies, etc. by linking to mainstream media reports.

Guyana Crime Reports is part news aggregator, making it a good one-stop source for various crime reports related to Guyana, published in local and international news media. Citizens can submit crime reports through a form on the website, although those reports are verified more rigorously than stories aggregated from established media sources. On the site, incidents of crime are organised into different categories, ranging from fatal crime to domestic abuse – and users can get alerts from the site should an incident happen within 20 kilometers of their location.

Encouraging Conversations About Crime
Red Spider is considering forging informal relationships directly with journalists who share their interest in improving the way that crime is reported in Guyana – the aim being not to compete with established media companies, but rather to enhance the essential news service that they provide.

For Datadin, it is exciting to think of traditional and new media working together, as he believes they share a common goal, existing not just to distribute information but also to help readers make sense of large amounts of information over time. He has embraced the responsibility of helping followers understand how local crime fits into a larger national picture:

As a citizen [of Guyana], it would be to my benefit if crime went down. I'm doing this not for any immediate commercial benefit but because I think it needed to be done. There [has] to be a public conversation about crime…based not only on opinion but on facts, one that affords a more reasoned and inclusive debate about factors that cause crime and the policies that can help curb it.

He sees a more informed public as a critical part of having constructive discussions about crime, but concedes that the site has taken only early evolutionary steps toward that goal. His ultimate objective is to have a positive impact not just on public discourse, but on public policy. The company has already made what he calls “soft approaches” to the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mapping Crime Trends
Datadin holds a postgraduate Masters degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from Edinburgh University, Scotland. Plus, the word ‘data’ is literally in his name! No surprise, then, that Guyana Crime Reports relies heavily on maps to visually represent the spread and scope of crime, thereby helping users of the service to see exactly where an incident took place.

By making the crime maps public, Guyana Crime Reports effectively creates an equal opportunity for anyone seeking to understand how crime is trending both in their area and nationally. Both the public and policing officials can review the map and detect trends, both in specific areas and throughout the country as a whole. According to Datadin:

You can see not just what happened recently but what has been happening over time.

By using maps to visualise crime data, Guyana Crime Reports has already set a significant precedent for digital journalism in the region. Its popularity and success thus far suggest that audiences across the region would benefit if more Caribbean newsrooms added maps to their arsenal of storytelling tools.

January 13 2014

Guyana Spurns USAID Democracy Project

Guyanese blogger, Sara Bharrat, writes an open letter to Roger F. Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat in Guyana, concerning the Guyana's decision to pull out of a USAID project to support local elections and political participation due to “lack of consultation.”

…why should the US have to come into my home and clean for me? Can I and my brothers and sisters not do it on our own? I have decided that I will clean my own house. Democracy is not a gift that someone can simply hand us. Democracy is a journey, a path of self discovery, which we must take alone and together all at once.

December 25 2013

December 06 2013

Caribbean: Farewell, Nelson Mandela

It's not like Caribbean – or global – netizens haven't been preparing themselves for news of Nelson Mandela's death. The former South African president and anti-apartheid activist was, after all, 95 years old and in poor health, having been hospitalised several times this year for recurring respiratory infections. Still, the announcement, when it came, dealt a hard blow. Regional bloggers and social media users shared their thoughts about the passing of one of the world's most enduring icons of peaceful resistance.

Bloggers, for the most part, seemed lost for words, preferring – at least for the moment – to share news reports or quote official statements about Mandela's passing. Guyana's Propaganda Press republished excerpts from President Jacob Zuma's address to the people of South Africa, along with a short biography of Mandela, while The Bajan Reporter posted a tribute to the late president by former Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Shridath Ramphal.

The majority of Caribbean netizens chose to share their reactions on Facebook and Twitter. Raynier Maharaj, a member of the Trinidadian diaspora and a journalist, commented on Facebook:

OK, if it seems I am dwelling on Mandela's passing, it is because it means a whole lot to me. Of all the ‘famous’ people I have met in my life — and this includes the Queen and the Dalai Lama — meeting Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest privileges in my life. He was the epitome of dignity and grace.

Another Trinidadian journalist, Vernon O'Reilly Ramesar, noted:

A testament to his importance that even the US media break into programming to announce the passing of Nelson Mandela.

Facebook user Skye Hernandez was saddened to hear of his death:

I feel strangely sad at the news of Madiba's passing. He has finally gone to his rest and that is surely a good thing. But his story and South Africa's have been so inspiring, sometimes so vexing, always riveting. He's been with us for all of our lives. Travel well, Nelson Mandela.

Franz Gillezeau suggested that people:

Mourn the man, but remember to celebrate the legend.

Facebook was also filled with newly uploaded photo albums chronicling Mandela's regional visits – this one, courtesy the Jamaica Information Service, of his visit to the island in the early 1990s, and this one, by Amber Media Productions, of his 2004 visit to Trinidad and Tobago.

On flickr, Georgia Popplewell posted a photo of Mandela, noting:

I fear it will be a long time before we see another leader of his calibre again. Farewell, dear Madiba. #Mandela

Nelson Mandela; image by caribbeanfreephoto

Nelson Mandela; image by caribbeanfreephoto

Not everyone agreed with this assessment, however. Over at the Cuban diaspora blog babalu, drillanwr wrote:

History will remember his life, to be sure.

While I appreciate and respect Nelson Mandela's struggles and his being a political prisoner within his own country for a large part of his life, I am not unaware of his post-prison political ideology and all the friendships he held with some of the world's nastiest leaders.

In a follow-up post at the same blog, Carlos Eire suggested that:

Mandela's sainthood falls short of universal acclaim, especially among Cubans. While he dedicated himself to a noble and righteous cause – ending discrimination against black Africans in South Africa – Mandela was not at all opposed to employing violence as a means for his cause. Worse than that, he expressed nothing but admiration for Fidel Castro and his noxiously racist tyranny, and never stopped singing Fidel’s praises.

In striking contrast, Capitol Hill Cubans shared this perspective:

Nelson Mandela is no longer physically among us, but his legacy of sacrifice, perseverance and freedom will endure forever.

Despite first espousing violence during the early days of his activism, Mandela's life journey demonstrates the transformational power of peaceful, civil disobedience.

His passing is also a reminder of the sacrifice of the world's historic political prisoners, such as Cuba's Eusebio Penalver Mazorra, the longest serving political prisoner of African descent in modern history, having served 28-years. Sadly, Penalver passed in 2006, without seeing his beloved homeland free.

Along with former Czech leader Vaclav Havel, Mandela is the ultimate representation of a political prisoner-turned-freely elected leader. From Cuba to North Korea, his extraordinary life gives endless hope to the democratic aspirations of dissidents, political prisoners and activists throughout the world.

Rest in peace and freedom.

Twitter users – world-wide – have been using the hashtags #mandela #death to offer their condolences. The Caribbean blogosphere will undoubtedly have much more to say about Nelson Mandela and his legacy once the reality of his death sinks in; the GV Caribbean team will provide updates accordingly.

July 12 2013

July 11 2013

Guyana: Sea Wall Mended

Further to this post, Guyana-Gyal is happy to report that the hole in the capital city's sea wall has been fixed…or is she?

April 16 2013

Guyana: Smelly City

A canal in the capital smells so rancid “it can kill a nation”. Guyana-Gyal smelled it and lived to tell the tale.

March 14 2013

Guyana, Cuba: Habemus Papam, But “Who Is He”?

It's been a full day since the white smoke billowing above the Sistine Chapel signalled the news that Catholics the world over were waiting for: Habemus Papam. As it turned out, the Conclave of Cardinals elected the first Latin American and the first ever Jesuit pope, perhaps one who will be able to better understand the circumstances of the faithful who hail from developing nations, which is where more than 40% of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics reside. In the Caribbean, Facebook was filled with status updates about the papal choice and links to articles about the new pope's record – but only a handful of bloggers were moved enough to actually write posts about Bergoglio, who has chosen the papal name of Francis.

Guyana's Demerara Waves republished the message of the country's Roman Catholic Bishop, who thought that Bergoglio's election “would help narrow the distance between the Caribbean and the Vatican”:

‘When his name was announced and he came on the balcony, just for him to very simply ask the people to pray for him before he would give them the blessing; it left a stamp there right away. It set a tone that this is a man very much aware of people, his own limitations. A message there that whatever he does and what he has to do, it is about the people, coming from them and for them. We just want to invest in that Pope.’

Other than that, Cuban bloggers seemed to be the only ones paying attention. El Cafe Cubano uploaded a video of the new pontiff's first speech, while Havana Times reported that “Cuban President Raul Castro…congratulated Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, elected the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church and head of state of the Vatican City”. The post also noted that:

This is the first non-European Pope and Jesuit in history, though he has been criticized for his passivity during the crimes committed by the dictatorship in Argentina, as well as for his opposition to the Law of Marriage between people of the same sex, adopted in that country in 2010.

Dariela Aquique, guest blogging at Havana Times, shared an interesting perspective and questioned the rationale behind the celebration of so many Latin Americans:

By virtue of having gone so many centuries exploited and discriminated by the great powers, any achievement for the Latin American population is magnified from its perspective.

It’s as if that we are crying out to the world: “Look at us, we exist!” This is why today almost all Latin Americans — parishioners and even those who aren’t believers — are elated and proud of the election of a pope born from this side of the world.

For the first time in history there’s an Argentinean Pope, and this has caused people to take to the streets in celebration. Many leaders in the region have even posted their pleasure with this fact on social networks.

Still, I wonder… what does it matter where the Pope was born? If he’s European, Latino, African or Asian, that doesn’t change anything if he’s not an integral human being.

She continued:

This gentleman…has a personal history that’s somewhat regrettable: He collaborated with the dictatorship in Argentina. What’s more, there are charges that he turned people over to the authorities that are on the list of the disappeared.

In addition, he has opposed Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez on the issue of same-sex marriage, a stance that she has called medieval.

Therefore I don’t understand all the excitement by Argentineans and other Latin Americans. The past has weight and nobody changes from yesterday to today. The new Pope will be, in my opinion, another backward church figure.

He is like his predecessor, who once belonged to the Hitler Youth, encouraged the taking of oaths of silence in the face of charges of sexual corruption, and whose pontificate was marked by several scandals.

So, while Latinos are enthusiastically shouting: Habemus Papam, I ask have to ask: But who is he?

March 07 2013

Guyana: Taming the Beast of Power

I start to call it the red-eye beast that can whisper in you’ head and tell you to do unspeakable things.

Guyana-Gyal blogs about power, and how it affects all relationships.

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.”


January 24 2013

Guyana: Literary Controversy

Writer Ruel Johnson has expressed concern at what he considers to be possible case of nepotism at Caribbean Press, a publishing company owned by the government of Guyana:

When I saw the recent launch of young Ashley Anthony’s book Mysterious Association and the Virtu Gems [sic] I declined to publicly point out the irony of Minister Frank Anthony’s – Ashley’s father – woeful record of creating the sort of space for other young aspiring Guyanese authors to write and publish their work.

I have nothing against precociously intelligent children – I happen to be the proud father of one.  I intend to use whatever humble resources I possess at my disposal to ensure that he not only gets the best education I can afford, but also that his natural talents find proper outlet; I am sure that Minister has the same outlook with his children.

The Caribbean Press was founded in 2009 after a commitment was made by then President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo at Carifesta X, which was hosted by Guyana. The press was intended to create an avenue for writers throughout the Anglo-phone Caribbean to get published. The first big project from the Caribbean Press was the reissuing of a selection of Guyanese classics.

Johnson's problem was with the way the book was published:

Ashley Anthony’s book has the publication label “Caribbean Press” on it.  As far as I know, the Caribbean Press is a publication mechanism established about three years ago, in the wake of the 2008 commitment by former President Jagdeo to give US $100,000 a year to establish a publishing house.  The original intent was clearly to find an outlet for the publication of writers resident in Guyana (and, secondarily, the wider Caribbean); after a couple months of silence, it was announced that the Press would start off by publishing a series of out of print books called the Guyana Classics series.  The publication of contemporary local writers was postponed after the full run of some 36 “classic” titles, upon which new writers would be considered for publication.

He also considered the situation to be indicative of the corruption in other sectors of society:

This is a clear-cut case of nepotism, and one that has been shamefully thrown in the face not of local writers alone, but that of the general public.  In addition, it is a brazen and unapologetic act of corruption: taxpayers dollars go to fund the literary efforts of the daughter of a minister of government, who then profits from that investment from the sale of her books, at thirteen years old.  This in a country where the government was only recently involved in a scandal where it refused to recognize the copyright of authors who’ve produced textbooks that are used in the school curriculum.

Jeremy Poynting, publisher of Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom replied to Johnson's note about this issue:

It does reinforce the point I made much earlier that the best model for state support for the arts and publishing was a hands-off one with an independent funding body. Peepal Tree has no voice in or connection with the organisation of the Caribbean Press. We facilitated the Guyanese Classics series by handling the technical side of production and arranging the printing. We thought this a worthwhile exercise to get new editions of Guyanese books into schools and libraries. We also licensed copies of some of our own Caribbean Classics series for non-sale, limited distribution to schools, for which we were paid covering costs, from which authors and estates will be paid royalties.

After a follow-up note  was eventually published in the Stabroek Newspaper, Johnson received a response from the authorities. Johnson recounted:

A few hours after having sent off my second letter on the Ashley Anthony/Caribbean Press fiasco, I received a telephone call from a Ministry of Culture official inquiring about my home address.  After having given it, a short time after I received another call for more detail about directions to get to the address I had freely given.  Having signed for the envelope, courtesy of Culture Permanent Secretary Alfred King, I opened it to extract, as I had predicted, a lawyer’s letter from Park Avenue, New York firm Cozen O’Connor, threatening legal action under “Section 4 et al” of what I presume to be the Laws of Guyana, and not New York State.  Chapter 6:03 (Defamation Act) Section 4 (Slander affecting official, professional or business reputation), states:

‘In any action for slander in respect of words calculated to disparage the plaintiff in any office, profession, calling, trade or business held or carried on by him at the time of the publication, it shall not be necessary to allege or prove special damage, whether or not the words are spoken of the plaintiff in the way of his office, profession, calling, trade or business.'

The writer and blogger said that he wasn't intimidated and saw the possible legal action against him as a way to hold Minister Anthony accountable:

…should he see it fit to make good his threat of litigation, he should be prepared to have his management of cultural policy in Guyana – from CARIFESTA to the Caribbean Press – held under a microscope, inclusive of his awarding of contracts, emoluments paid to consultants, and the selection of contingents for overseas events in which the Ministry has taken part.

Mr. Anthony should also be ready to provide the date in which the policy governing the Caribbean Press shifted from publications of historical or literary value – as judged by an advisory committee, including Dr. Ian McDonald – to one in which a thirteen year old with little or no history of exemplary writing can have her father [allegedly] pay what I presume to be fair market value for the use of the Press’ brand and whatever other unnamed resources.  I personally have not found any such announcement of a policy shift, including when the Minister handed over more of the ‘Guyana Classics' series to CARICOM last week, or during the press conference of the book launching in which the mention of the Caribbean Press as publisher was conspicuously absent.

Professor David Dabydeen, a member of the Caribbean Press board, weighed in on the issue in the Stabroek Newspaper, stating that the Caribbean Press is “peer-reviewed press, and primarily concerned with literary quality” and that Minister Anthony had in fact voluntary paid for the printing and shipping of his daughter's book himself.

In a follow-up article, Ruel Johnson replied to Professor Dabydeen's response:

The Minister has made the claim, subsequent to my interrogation, that he paid for the production of the book - David Dabydeen specifies printing and shipping costs. Yet, as your mention of the licensing of copies of some of your titles suggests, there are other intangible costs associated with the production of books. The Caribbean Press' entire existence (infrastructure, services and branding) having been established entirely and exclusively with taxpayer dollars, how is it that the Minister can claim to have paid for the production of his daughter's work yet only mention printing and shipping costs. If there is a zero dollar value related to the use of the name, Caribbean Press, then I should be able to use the name on my book cover and not be sued for any damages.

In this response to Dabydeen, Johnson summarized a few key points in the comments section of Dabydeen's letter:

* Printing and shipping do no constitute the entire costs of a publication. I may pay to have my sneakers produced by the same sweatshop Nike uses, but I cannot simply put the Nike logo on my footwear without the proper paid licensing by NIke. The government of Guyana may want to build a hotel, but branding it with Marriott involves generous licensing fees.

* The book being published in the first place is premised on David Dabydeen's sole opinion that it is of literary and historical merit - yet he claims that the Press is peer-reviewed. A proper publication process involves an editorial board, not a sole editor who shepherds a selection through to print. I challenge Dabydeen to point any such reputable publicly or privately funded mechanism in the UK, from the Scottish Arts Trust to the Royal Society of Literature (of which he is a fellow) that is as devoid of a system of transparent and accountability as is the Caribbean Press.

* The basis fact of Ms. Anthony's parentage is irrelevant to the literary quality of her work - but Dabydeen offers no evidence that submissions from the children of carpenters, joiners, canecutters, office personnel, or minibus drivers were invited to compare with the work of the Minister's daughter. Would he have us believe that she is the only child with literary ambitions or talent in Guyana?

On Facebook, Stone Blind wrote (in the comments section of Johnson's post) that this situation reminded him of another promise made during Carifesta X:

This whole issue, triggers my memory of an issue in which just before the recent carifesta, the local musicians threatened to boycott Carifesta because of the issue of copyrights. The royal and loyal minister of culture immediately put out a statement in which he ardently promised that the issue of modern and effective copyright legislation would be addressed as soon as Carifesta was over. To date nothing further has issued from the minister's honourable mouth on the issue and it appears that once again the creative and music production community must wait and burn as their rulers fiddle!!

January 23 2013

Guyana: Minimum Wage and Inflation

The welfare of the working poor who have seen their purchasing power steadily eroded in the past ten years, or what one must consider, after reviewing the facts, as phantom concerns over inflation? Or is there something more than money involved?

Guyana Mosquito responds to Ralph Ramkarran's argument that increasing the minimum wage for public servants would lead to inflation.

January 22 2013

Guyana: Modern Architecture and the State of The Nation

Now why would the toga wearing Vitruvius have anything relevant to say about modern day Guyana architecture …until one considers the proliferation in this far away land of Roman columns.

Guyana Mosquito thinks the trends in modern Guyanese architecture are indicative of the state of the country.

November 27 2012

Protests Put an End to Chris Brown's Guyana Gig

Just over a month ago, Guyanese bloggers were voicing their displeasure over talk of a Chris Brown concert in the country's capital city that was allegedly being supported by the government. Much of the controversy was linked to the singer's 2009 assault of then-girlfriend, Barbadian-born singer Rihanna and the message that his notoriety could send in a country with a high incidence of domestic violence.

Chris Brown in concert, image by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

It now appears as if their concern has been registered: two Guyanese bloggers are reporting that the Chris Brown concert has been cancelled. A few days ago, Guyana-Gyal said:

I read it online last night, Chris Brown cancel he show here because o' protests against what he do to Rihanna in ‘09.

She went on to explain that “the protests send a strong and sad message about domestic violence here”, but wondered whether the message was reaching those who needed to hear it the most:

The men and the women who need the help most, the ones who need therapy, they gon hear?

And what about political violence, when women get beat-up then, in me lovely native land, and women groups stay silent? What kinda message that is sending out?

Yesterday, livingguyana confirmed reports of the show's cancellation by quoting an article in the Huffington Post:

Organizers say American R&B star Chris Brown has canceled a stadium concert in Guyana after local protests over his 2009 beating of then-girlfriend Rihanna.

Brown was billed to headline a Dec. 26 show. But he drew the ire of women's rights groups and opposition lawmakers who said Brown would not be welcome in Guyana three years after his assault of Barbadian superstar Rihanna.

Concert promoter Hits & Jams Entertainment said Thursday that Brown backed out, citing discomfort with the protests.

Reactions were coming in on Twitter under the hashtags #chrisbrown #guyana, with one user, @beckyrachael posting a photo of a news item related to the concert's cancellation - the headline reads:

Guyanese women send Chris Brown a message: Don't come here - Rihanna might forgive, but Guyana doesn't.

November 13 2012

Blogging Contest Focuses on Child Development

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has announced its first contest for bloggers, which will focus on issues related to child development:

Now is your chance to share your ideas! You can tell us about a child development success story in your country or analyze various innovative methodologies. The topic is open. In order to participate, you just have to get your creative juices flowing and share your winning idea with us.


November 09 2012

Guyana: Women are not Objects

[It is] a racist, sexist colonial throwback which draws on a long history of the sexualisation, commodification and thingification of the brown woman’s body.

Code Red is trying to raise awareness of the dangers of sexist advertising.

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