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July 24 2012

The Bahamas: Comments on the Colorado Shooting

There has not been a significant reaction in the Caribbean blogosphere about the Colorado movie theatre shooting - which is being cited as one of the deadliest in recent U.S. history - save for two Bahamian bloggers, for whom the news hit close to home. As the Caribbean nation located closest to the United States (southeast of Florida), the Bahamas, despite its Commonwealth status, strongly relies on the American economy to keep its tourism and offshore finance industries healthy and is often influenced by U.S. media, culture and policy.

One of the country's newest blogs, Pure Fawkery, suggested that the mainstream media's response to the killings was biased and republished a photo that has been making the rounds on Facebook. (The photo caption suggests that because of the suspect's skin colour, he was portrayed more favourably by the media):

I saw this photo circulating on Facebook and I knew I had to share it. It so poignantly addresses the overt media bias. It speaks for itself and the silence in response to this message is deafening!

The most pressing issue that the incident raised for Blogworld, though, was the question of gun control. Referring to a recent article in The New Yorker, which talked about “gun crazy” America, Blogworld's Nicolette Bethel commented:

And here, in the Bahamas, some of us discuss, seriously, that Bahamians should be allowed to carry handguns. We happen to live in that part of the world which was founded on the concept that it is some people’s god-given right to sail across an ocean, map out other people’s lands, eradicate those people, resettle those lands, import other people, and make fortunes out of the process.We are the broken men and women who are struggling to create civilizations out of that history. But we cannot, because we were created out of a philosophy that sees human life not as something sacred, but as something expendable—something that is less important than profit, or than massacre. The genocide and enslavement on which the ‘New' world was founded have left a legacy in which massacre is enacted again and again, and presented to the world as freedom.

She also questioned the wisdom of thinking in simplistic, absolute terms:

And here in The Bahamas, we believe that nonsense. We believe that true freedom consists of the right to kill other people. We believe that some people are ‘bad' and others are ‘good' and the ‘good' people have the right to arm themselves and eradicate the ‘bad' people. We ourselves are always the ‘good' people. Who, then, are ‘bad'?

May 18 2012

May 10 2012

Bahamas: Power of the People

“It no longer feels like hatred for me when the PLP wins, it no longer feels like time to panic”: A reflection on the country's recent elections, from Womanish Words.

May 09 2012

Bahamas: Bloggers Comment on Election Results

The result of Monday's general elections in the Bahamas has given the country a new government: the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), which previously occupied the opposition bench in Parliament, was voted into power in what bloggers are calling a “landslide” victory. Rick Lowe at Weblog Bahamas gave a quick overview of the results:

Reports are the PLP have won at least 27 of the 38 seats and will form the new government of The Bahamas defeating the governing FNM [Free National Movement].

The upstart DNA [Democratic National Alliance] did not win a seat but might have been the spoilers for a couple of the seats that were expected to be won by the FNM. However, I do not think they caused the FNM to lose.

Congratulations to Mr. Perry Christie and the Progressive Liberal Party.

His gracious congratulations to the winning party came a day after he wrote this post, in which he took issue with the now-Prime Minister Perry Christie's brother “attempt[ing] to defend [the former's] economic record” by quoting the blogger “completely out of context” in his capacity as a fiscal expert:

The point being made at the time, (February 2012), was that even with such high revenue as a result of the world's super charged economy back then, it was egregious for government to be running such huge deficits. It's patently clear this was not defending the governments fiscal or economic policies.

Mr. Christie has every right to defend his perception of his brother's economic track record, but that does not give him the right to distort comments from other people.

One priority of any government should be intellectual honesty so they do not make the same mistakes twice.

On election day itself, Blogworld posted some musings about different factors that would likely have an impact on the outcome:

This is the most fascinating election period that has occurred in a long, long time, and because every prediction out there has to contend with a new, unfamiliar curve ball: the rise of the third party movement.

Note I didn’t say the DNA. That’s because the Democratic National Alliance is just capitalising on something that has changed in the country, something that I believe is going to continue to grow, even if the two-party acolytes succeed in killing the DNA off. It’s the fact that the split between two major parties in The Bahamas has developed almost by default. Its roots are in that most ancient and powerful division in our nation: the centuries-long categorisation of Bahamians of colour as “natives” (white Bahamians were “residents”) whose purpose was to serve their betters—not to lead. The FNM-PLP split, for better or for worse, is buried in this dichotomy, and for decades one could fairly safely assume that PLP supporters tended towards the privileging of black Bahamians, while FNM supporters advocated the One Bahamas movement (by which I mean the recognition that Bahamian and black are not necessarily synonymous). As a result, anyone who has voted in two or more elections should recall that no election season till this one has been allowed to pass without the invocation of race—whether from rally platforms, in letters to the editor, or by reference to the American TV miniseries Roots.

The third party movement has queered that pitch. The 2012 election is historic in any number of ways, but one of the most significant is that I have not noticed any real reference to race in the campaigns…The simple fact is that race is no longer a major issue for most Bahamians. I am not saying that it is no longer relevant in our society; what I am suggesting that it is no longer a primary determinant of one’s ability to succeed in The Bahamas. And because of that, the principles on which both the FNM and the PLP were founded are growing obsolete, and both parties have for some time been losing their ‘base'.

The post continued:

There’s something else that’s important here, and something else that the pundits appear to have overlooked. The greatest obstacle to the ability of a third party to gain traction among Bahamian voters was its ability to get its message out. Until the by-election in Elizabeth in 2010, third parties needed considerable sums of money simply to make their voices heard. The advent of Facebook and Twitter, however, has changed the ground completely…much of what has enabled the green wave to continue to gather has been the presence of third-party candidates on the internet, their activity, their accessibility, and their willingness to engage in dialogue with potential voters. This is quite different from the traditional Voice-of-God politics that the older parties continue to practise.

Because of that, I think this election is too close to call. I believe anything could happen when the results start coming in an hour from now. Anything. A landslide victory for the FNM, say with the 4 x 7 sum of 28 seats? Sure. A landslide victory for the PLP, with the same numbers? Definitely. A split house, with (say) a tie between the FNM and the PLP, with the DNA holding the balance? Possible. A minority or coalition government, with the DNA calling the shots? Even that.

As it turned out, her second prediction was the most accurate. Weblog Bahamas concurred that the election was a “landmark” one, saying:

This particular Election, unlike the 1992 Election, demonstrated a coming of age for the Bahamian people (c.f. 1992, when we embarked on a course of political maturity, having harboured a single political party for far too long, so were mere political adolescents in the process).

What 2012 shows, however, is that the process is complete and we, as a people, are finally mature politically.

The blog, in a post by Edward Hutcheson, also suggested that this was “an historic opportunity for Mr. Perry Christie”:

Mr.Christie is getting a chance that few men get so late in life, and his effective use of this opportunity will require that he takes a few pages out of the political playbook of his outgoing nemesis.

The promises made, the grandiose ‘belief driven campaign', the pastoral crew who have gone on record as wanting to get even with those who have done them wrong, the MP’s who think they have an ordained right to be Cabinet ministers, these and many other demands will require a Percival Gladstone Christie that we may have envisioned but never seen. He can play it safe and let it be business as usual, but to the miss the opportunity of being counted among the number that only Bahamians can number? To be mentioned in the same breath as Pindling and Ingraham will take putting “believing” and ‘putting Bahamians first' into a context where there is no separation between what a leader is saying and what he is prepared to do for all Bahamians.

But there was another outcome of these elections that bloggers have been discussing - the resignation of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham as leader of the Free National Movement and his announcement that “he will not be sworn in as the member of Parliament for North Abaco and he will not swear in as leader of the opposition”. Larry Smith at Bahama Pundit commented:

Of course, Ingraham has been down and out before - in 2002, when the entire FNM cabinet was wiped out. But this time there will be no return - age and circumstance will see to that…In addition to doing the right thing and resigning as party leader, Ingraham also said he would not take up his North Abaco seat, throwing the FNM into an immediate leadership quandary…

Ironically (and sadly for some), Ingraham's retirement from public life came only one day after he asked the Bahamian people to give him a final chance to complete ‘the work of my lifetime', by re-electing the FNM to a fourth non-consecutive term.

Ingraham's swan song as prime minister was a time of immense progress and much-needed infrastructural investment. But the fall-out from the Great Recession also made it a time of economic stress for average Bahamians, who expressed their discomfort by voting in sufficient numbers against the party in power.

May 03 2012

Bahamas: Election Suggestion

Two posts from Weblog Bahamas on the country's upcoming elections, here (about a contentious oil drilling issue) and here (which offers a suggestion on what should guide voters come Monday).

Bahamas: Last Thoughts on Elections

Bahamians go the polls in the country's general election on Monday. With less than a week left before voting day, bloggers are posting their thoughts about their political choices.

Rick Lowe, writing at Weblog Bahamas, calls it “an interesting time in Bahamian politics” as he examines, point by point, the claims of a former Free National Movement (the incumbent) Cabinet Minister that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is “untrustworthy”:

Is this being untrustworthy or is it the way majority rule works? More than 51% of the FNM supported Mr. Ingraham and not us. But should we harbour resentment or lick our wounds and move on?

All this begs a question. Did Mr. Ingraham and his supporters feel they could not trust the Dupuch team? Looking back on all this, it seems quite plausible.

Circumstances and information change perspectives. I know my perspective has changed over the years and my epiphany was coming to the realisation that the larger government gets the worse off we become as citizens.

However, when we get knocked down we have to get up, dust ourselves off and start all over again. I licked my political wounds, so to speak, and prefer to spend my free time learning, thinking about and critiquing public policy and offering alternatives that might make our country a better place for those of us here today and future generations.

Meanwhile, Political Bahamas Blog reports that the new political party on the scene, the Democratic National Alliance, is calling for the resignation of the Leader of the Opposition, Progressive Liberal Party leader Perceval “Perry” Christie over alleged connections to the Bahamas Petroleum Company.

While Weblog Bahamas' Edward Hutcheson wonders “what the nation would look like now if a different choice was made in 1984″, Bahama Republic sees it fit to give “a last prediction” about the upcoming elections:

The Bahamas will have the same government after the election as it does now. Nothing will change. That's right, I called it. But: This is not saying that I believe the FNM will win, that Hubert Ingraham will be Prime Minister again. This is saying that regardless of which party will send more MPs to the House, and regardless of whether the Prime Minister's name is going to be Hubert Ingraham, Perry Christie, or Branville McCartney, the policies put before us, and the style of governance will not significantly change.

Bahamas, you deserve better. But unless you demand better, you will only get same old, same old.

April 23 2012

Bahamas: Elections Getting Closer

With just two weeks to go until the country's general elections, the Bahamian blogosphere has been filled with political discussion. Blogworld yesterday compiled her usual Twitter Weekly Updates, which gave a good overview of the issues being discussed. The dark horse in the elections race (this is apparently the first year in the history of Bahamian politics that there is a strong third party contender - The Democratic National Alliance) tweeted:

@mydnaparty: @nicobet Our vision for ALL Bahamians is for us to be esteemed higher than any material or natural resources. We are worth so much more.

…to which she responded:

@nicobet: Great start–Details?>>RT @mydnaparty @nicobet Our vision for ALL Bahamians is to be esteemed higher than any material or natural resources.

Under the hashtag #Bahamas2012, @nicobet posted several tweets to the various political parties letting them know what voters were looking for:

@nicobet: #Bahamas2012 @YourFNM @MYPLP_Believe @mydnaparty We need a vision. We need deliverance from paternalism. We need, after all, a nation.

@nicobet: #Bahamas2012 Democracy is turning down the emotion & turning up the mind. Educate, investigate, interrogate. #DemandDebates

Other issues were also coming to the fore:

@nicobet: @sbaranha: Q: Which party transformed rusty steel into our national stadium? A: Communist Party of China. #DemandDebates”>>w/Chinese labour

@nicobet: Principles have to cut both ways. Under #PLP loan scholarships were being regularized, the way #FNM regularized mortgages. 6 of one & other. #

Edward Hutcheson, blogging at Weblog Bahamas, talked about the one-sidedness of the political discussions:

As May 7th approaches, all registered voters and people who we think are registered will be faced with a common problem. Someone is going to tell you how you should be voting. PLP, FNM, DNA or Independent.

It really does not matter, someone’s representative or even the candidate is going to get in your face in an attempt to have a one-sided discussion with you, based on their overly informed opinion. I would implore you to have the discussion, and, listen carefully to what they are saying. Those who would be fair will give you their opinion and not try to ‘win the argument'. Those who would try to win the argument will be coming from an environment where discussion is not really allowed, a place where persons dressed in the same colours are routinely slapped down for expressing views that are dissimilar or not as radical as they should be.

There are winners and losers in each election, but the real winners are the persons who can look over the fence or May 8th and say, ‘Good morning' to their neighbour, sincerely.

In another post, he called politics “a game” in which “there are no rules”:

The game board is comprised of players who claim that they want what is best for us. They will say anything and do anything to get ‘another chance', to do all the good things they would like to do for us. The good thing about political gaming is that we get to see them trying to do their best, but the worst of who they are always finds a way on to the stage. Those of us who are burdened with the task of voting, must be just as committed to our responsibility as citizens as the candidates are to playing their games. We will have to judge the newcomers by what they are saying and what we know about them from their public and business involvements. We will have to judge the experienced fellows as we relate what they have done to what they have previously said they will do.

Here is a suggestion. If you are still confused about what you hearing and all the stuff that is going on, get a hold of the recent financial disclosures made by the candidates and do the leg work to see which companies they are involved with. What you are looking for, are persons on opposite sides of the political spectrum who are actually business partners or associates, or who share responsibilities on different boards. If the company or association is a successful one, then you will have to question the disconnect between their public and private personas, which allows them to sit at the same table and make rational decisions but use public political behaviour to sow discord and separation among the persons they want to lead. We will have to have our own rules in place to deal with the political gamers.

Finally, Political Bahamas Blog republished mainstream newspaper articles which they felt were relevant, including criticism of key political parties not yet putting forward a manifesto and the impact that women voters could have at the polls.

April 21 2012

This Week in the Caribbean Blogosphere

In last week's summary of the regional blogosphere, a young comtemporary artist from Barbados made the observation that the region is “more than the beach and coconuts.” Here's a round-up of what Caribbean netizens were talking about this week, with not one mention of beaches or coconuts…

Jamaica
Jamaican bloggers were understandably excited about the launch of the Bob Marley movie yesterday, which also happened to be International Weed Day. Cucumber Juice, who already “saw the new documentary about Bob Marley as part of the 2012 DC International Film Festival”, wrote:

The documentary is worth every second of its 145 minutes. On its 4/20 opening day Marley will also stream on Facebook. All of the reviews that I have read – and there are many, from the New York Times to local papers in Silicon Valley, California – are enthusiastic about the film. I agree with the seemingly widespread sentiment that Marley is a well-needed portrait of Bob Marley the man, not the superstar, not the celebrity, not the prophet…just a man. It was something that his granddaughter Donisha Prendergast urged us to have in mind as we watched – think of Bob the man not Bob the celeb – but the caution wasn’t necessary even as I saw footage and heard the famous songs; I couldn’t help but think about him outside of the context of superstar, maybe even the first Third World superstar.

I still believe as I did during and immediately after the film that every Jamaican must watch this film. And I still say that without any hesitation, reservation, or hyperbole. Why? Because Bob Marley is an important historical figure and he is Jamaica’s own. Even though he has touched millions – maybe he belongs to them too – he’s Jamaica’s own first. It is simply important to know our history, and this documentary is a good place to start.

Jamaica Woman Tongue, meanwhile, took issue with the “complete mockery of the national flag” that took place during a political swearing-in ceremony:

This juvenile act proves that we have sunk to a new low in national politics. Even the flag is no longer safe in the mindless colour war between orange and green fanatics.

The distasteful anti-green flag is forcing us to take a fresh look at the meaning of this national symbol. We can no longer assume that as a society we all accept the grand idea that national pride is wrapped up in what is really just a piece of cloth. It seems as it we are quite prepared to cut up the cloth to suit our rather limited political agendas.

The Bahamas
Politics were also top of mind with Bahamian bloggers this week, as the country's general elections draw closer. New blogs have been adding depth and dimension to the online debate: in response to one of its posts, Blogworld wrote:

I tend to fall into its camp with regard to the ways in which we view ourselves, our fundamental conservatism and fear of confrontation, our need of “brain-un-washing”. I particularly agree with the idea that 2012 and possibly years to come ‘may see the continuation of the unfinished revolution of the 1960/70s.' I’m not sure I share all of its cynicism, and while I am as unimpressed with the “achievements” of the past five years as the author is, I have not been convinced that a return to a PLP administration will be the magic bullet that solves all our problems.

Her compatriot, Rick Lowe, blogging at Weblog Bahamas, thought that it was time for him “to hit the off button” when it comes to election propaganda, while Political Bahamas Blog republished a mainstream media opinion piece which suggested that:

It is imperative to state that a leader will be judged by and for successive generations based on his/her ability to, among other things, manage the economy in a manner that balances economic prudence, socio-economic expectations and infrastructural development.

Haiti
Haitian bloggers were talking about the magnitude of the country's cholera epidemic. Dady Chery noted that
“Haitian health officials have approved a medical trial of the oral cholera vaccine Shanchol on poor women and children”, saying:

This trial is being presented as a vaccination campaign and will curiously be administered in two of Port-au-Prince’s slums by researchers from Gheskio (Center for Haitian Studies of Kaposi Syndrome and Opportunistic Infections) a group closely associated with Partners in Health (PIH) that studies AIDS and enjoys generous funding from USAID…

To avoid possible abuse it is essential that, in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, the medical trial be monitored by a panel of impartial observers.

We can help the Haitian poor by giving them correct information and the choice to make appropriate decisions for themselves and their children. If poor women and children get coerced into becoming the guinea pigs for western pharmaceuticals, Haiti will add yet another sordid story to its long list of abuses.

Cuba
Diaspora bloggers were looking at numbers this week - Uncommon Sense republished statistics from “the opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation”, stating that there have been “almost 2,400 political arrests in first 3 months of 2012.” Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter took a longer view of what he called “the rising body count in Cuba.”

Pedazos de la Isla posted a recap of “another violent weekend in Cuba”, while Laritza Diversent blogged about the plight of “Sonia Garro Alfonso, a member of the Ladies in White and the Afro-Cuban Independent Foundation”, who was recently arrested. Crossing the Barbed Wire focused on another Lady in White, Yakelin Garcia Jaenz, whose husband is in prison:

She has been beaten and harassed by paramilitary Rapid Response Brigades and has been arrested arbitrarily for various hours, despite the fact that she is the mother of two small children.

Translating Cuba posted an article dealing with the case of El Ñaño, the imprisoned Rastafarian priest, while Havana-based Iván García was focused on the fact that Cubans are too busy “in search of their daily food” to notice “the flowers of the flamboyant on Havana’s Santa Catalina Avenue already [beginning] to change color”:

Increasingly, many Havana families find it difficult to put a decent meal on the table…The issue of food is a national headache. It takes about 90% of the money that a family receives. And so everyone may not always eat decently.

Trinidad and Tobago
Globewriter blogged about a group whose mission is to “empower youth to deal with difficulties regarding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression”:

Sitting in that first meeting held at a conference table at the University of the West Indies I looked at the young faces and listened to them emphatically stating that young people being driven to despair because they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning was not acceptable and I can’t really describe how proud I felt and how full of hope for the future.

His post gave details about “a project that will be a first for T&T – a Day of Silence which will be observed on Friday”:

This might seem like a small act to achieve a very big change – and it is – but it is a start and it will mark a major turning point in the fight for LGBTQ kids to be given the dignity and respect that they deserve as equal human beings. This is also being done in a country in the English speaking Caribbean – not normally viewed as an especially tolerant environment for such vulnerable kids. In practice T&T is nowhere as unwelcoming as say Jamaica but there are still discriminatory (though rarely enforced) rules on the books and LGBT people face discrimination on a daily basis simply because of who they are.

In support of the cause, his blog was silent until midnight on April 20.

Other Trinidadian bloggers were focused on the arrest of Ian Alleyne, controversial host of a popular television show, “Crime Watch.” The Eternal Pantomine said:

The People’s Police Commissioner Ian Alleyne has been arrested and it was all done on national television!

I get confused…under which act? Dangerous Dogs? Mental Health? Both?

Bear in mind that Ian come like a saviour/messiah figure to many members of the society who feel they can’t get justice from the police and judicial services here…if nothing else shows you how decrepit a society we have become, Ian Alleyne’s rise from pastor’s son, to obscure television host….to Trinidad’s Batman is a metre gauge that we shouldn’t ignore.

Mere minutes after Alleyne’s arrest the meme generators was on fire and youtube was under pressure. There is a part of me that even wondering if the entire arrest was staged given how over the top this entire thing has been. Raids for rape tapes and now raids to arrest…. If there is a show today….it will be EPIC.

Kudos to TV6 who has successfully removed itself from culpability by insisting that Alleyne responsible for his own show…that way the station never have to get any flack for the filth aired on the programme while getting all the viewership, advertising and ratings.

In a follow-up post, she repeated her point about the television station's culpability and raised questions about Alleyne's track record:

Since Ian doesn’t own a television station, or broadcast rights…nor in fact pressed play on the tape button, doesn’t the TV station have some culpability in this matter? Didn’t the station allow the tape to be aired not once but TWICE…showing the face of a minor engaged questionable circumstances.

All yuh see why I asking if is the Mental Health Act or Dangerous Dogs Act? Because somebody in tv6 has to be liable too…because is the station broadcast the thing.

Another issue I have is this…ppl keep calling Ian the poor people’s champion and alleging he has done so much for this country…how many of Alleyne’s arrests have resulted in solid convictions? Because a crime is only solved when there is a conviction…so, how many solid convictions has Alleyne’s show really resulted in?

Could it be people have faith in Ian because he does put on a good (pappy) show

April 14 2012

This Week in the Caribbean Blogosphere

It has been another interesting week in the Caribbean blogosphere, with netizens discussing everything from crime to elections…

Trinidad & Tobago

There was outrage in the blogosphere over the death of two-year-old Aliyah Johnson, a victim of child abuse. Guanaguanare was worried “that [it] will amount to nothing”:

The sort of callousness that did not recognise or respect her humanity/divinity is not something that was just one lifetime in the making. This sin is generational and it will also be generations before it is lifted…and only if we begin right away to work towards that future.

Government offices and officials can only do so much. We are the ones, however, who have actually heard the cries and have seen the bruises and other signs of abuse. We continue to be the silent witnesses in our neighbourhoods and maybe even in our own homes. We have to stop pretending that it will all go away…

In a follow-up post, the blogger linked to a video that could help “[address] the problem of child abuse and the wider problem of violence (and the connection between the two) in our country.”

The Eternal Pantomime added:

Remember Daniel Guerra? Remember he was picked up in a car a stone’s throw from his house, by a parlour, and days later his body was found in the Tarouba waterway system?

Remember the Prime Minister wrote a Letter to Daniel, that was really a letter promising to save all the children of Trinidad and Tobago promising that what happened to Daniel, Akiel, Sean Luke, Amy, Hope…would never happen again…

Well…crimes against children are on the rise, and the government has been quietly dismantling social work and welfare projects that can assist in these situations…So think about little Aaliyah now, who, according the forensic report was beaten to death… This is going to happen again and again partly because this society is very sick and partly because very few systems are properly enabled to deal with these issues…when last you hear about the trial against the two boys that killed Sean Luke? I done talk…

Bloggers in Trinidad and Tobago also focused on other issues this past week, including the Dangerous Dogs Act “as news of yet another innocent child being violently ripped and torn apart by yet another, dangerously-aggressive, unrestrained dog makes the rounds” and patients' rights, as cancer patients who were over-exposed to radiation at a national facility continue to seek justice.

The Bahamas

More north along the Caribbean archipelago, Bahamian netizens had elections on their mind. Blogworld, who recently posted her own voter's manifesto said:

So, in the parlance of the day: Papa has rung the bell.

I can talk the talk like any other Bahamian in 2012. Papa = the current prime minister, Hubert Ingraham. ‘The Bell' = the announcement of a date for the next general election. I know how to translate the statement.

I just don’t know what it means.

She went on to explain:

Some time ago, I wrote up my own manifesto (since the political parties vying for leadership of the country hadn’t seen fit to share any of their promises or policies for the next five years) as a voter, a participant in a process that is commonly called “democratic”. Since that time, others have joined me in making similar statements, and a few voices have called for our leaders and other politicians to have the balls to step out from behind their carefully crafted propaganda and open themselves up to discussions of issues with reasonable citizens.

But, disappointingly, and with one important exception (Branville McCartney of the DNA) they haven’t.

And this, to my mind, does not bode well for our future.

So my question is this. Given the passion and energy being expended in tearing down the other parties, or the other leaders—in dismissing reasonable questions and observations as ‘FNM' or ‘PLP' or even ‘DNA'—each of these being intended as insult, what happens the day after elections, when one party has won and the other(s) has/ve not? How do we work on building a nation of Bahamians?

So as we stare down the home stretch, as we slide into these last three weeks before Bahamians go to the polls and cast our votes, I would like at least one day to be dedicated to having the people who are contesting the elections to tell us what their vision is for this nation. Where do we go from here? How do we find our place in the twenty-first century?

Weblog Bahamas‘ Rick Lowe, meanwhile, hoped that “the level of discussion will be raised for the campaigns”:

If this is what we will get from the opposition it certainly seems to narrow the choice. It also makes me wonder why we must refer to some M.P.s as honourable.

Cuba

Cuban diaspora bloggers acknowledged the passing of Miami-based Catholic Bishop Agustin Roman. Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter said:

Cubans have lost the physical presence of one of the great leaders of the Cuban exile community who passed away yesterday night at the age of 83 but his spirit and his writings live on. Monsignor Agustín Román wrote and spoke about the challenges facing the Cuban people and…offered a profound analysis of the state of the Cuban dissident movement that remains extremely relevant.

Pedazos de la Isla said of a speech the late Bishop made “about the importance of the internal Cuban opposition, dissidence, or Resistance”:

As he explains in this heartfelt piece, no matter what you call those brave Cubans inside the island, they all fight for justice. And justice is what Roman also represented in his 84 years of life. Although he is now physically gone, he will always spiritually guide not just Cuban exiles, but all Cubans, into freedom. His example was one worth emulating- a true man of God, a true Catholic, and a true Cuban. He was not afraid to tell the world that his brothers and sisters were in need of freedom, he was not afraid to say that he was an exile, and he was not afraid to explain why he was exiled (he was sent out of the country at gunpoint by the Cuban regime). Agustin Roman did not live off of hate or bitterness, and yet, he was clear in explaining that fighting peacefully was not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of great strength and courage.

babalu shared details about the funeral arrangements:

This afternoon, Father Agustin Roman will be laid to rest. At noon today, a funeral procession will leave La Ermita de la Caridad and make several stops throughout Miami.

Diaspora bloggers also expressed concerned about the safety of the man who was arrested before the start of a Papal Mass in Santiago de Cuba for shouting “Down with communism!” and published a translation of an interview with the man's mother.

On island, bloggers were talking about the trial of El Ñaño, an imprisoned Rastafarian priest. (This post gives some background on the case). Even before yesterday's trial, bloggers were tweeting about his innocence; they also live-tweeted the court proceedings, ending with the following update:

The trail has ended but the judgment may be delayed for months.

Other Territories

Jamaica: Abeng News Magazine kept its readers au courant with the latest developments in the Trayvon Martin case.

Puerto Rico: Gil the Jenius likened the country's increasing violence to a cancer.

St. Vincent & the Grenadines: And Still I Rise marked the thirty third anniversary of the La Soufriere eruption.

Barbados: Contemporary artist Sheena Rose commented on the stereotypical image many people have of the Caribbean:

The more I travel, the more I realize that people do not know the Caribbean. I get the feeling that they thinking we live at the beach all day, have the steel pan playing and drinking coconuts all day, living in a paradise. Yes to me, my home is my paradise but it have more than the beach and coconuts.

February 01 2012

Bahamas: Same Old Election Game

Blogworld “regard[s] the incoherencies that pass for election rhetoric with a sense of disgust” and explains why.

Bahamas: Freedom of Information Debate

“Once passed, the legislation will be brought into effect by the middle of this year, binding any future government. So we are late again, but potentially a big step closer to delivering more openness and accountability in public affairs”: The country is getting ready to debate its Freedom of Information Bill; Bahama Pundit's Larry Smith reports.

January 19 2012

Bahamas: A Belief in Democracy

“To date, my country has not put in place anything to serve and build me; to every politician who has served in parliament in the time I have been voting, people like me have been invisible. In our democracy, we do not count”: Hence the reason Blogworld puts forward her Voter's Manifesto, which garners one response, here.

January 16 2012

Bahamas: Need for a Voters' Manifesto

“It’s 2012 and the silly season is officially upon us”: Blogworld notes that “it’s a rare situation this election. For the first time in 35 years, it’s a proper three-way race…[yet] predictably, and unfortunately so, the discussion is progressing the way football hooligans support their favourite teams.”

January 06 2012

Bahamas: Storytelling

A Global Voices post gets Womanish Words “thinking about stories, how powerful they are, how the act of telling them is also incredibly powerful.”

January 04 2012

Bahamas: Remembering the Zybines

Blogworld pays tribut to Alex and Violette Zybine, “dancers who worked in The Bahamas during the 1960s and 1970s”, who died in a tragic accident.

January 03 2012

Caribbean: Looking Back on 2011

The regional blogosphere in 2011 saw a few territories, most notably Cuba, taking front and centre - especially when it came to digital activism. The rest of the Caribbean meanwhile, grappled with everything from homophobia to states of emergency, weathered hurricanes and questioned the boundaries of online privacy, discussed a plane crash and World AIDS Day and became ardent fans of Project Runway. Here's a quick look at what our Spanish Language Editor, Firuzeh Shokooh Valle and I agreed was noteworthy this year…

Haiti - Earthquake Recovery, Aristide & Elections
As physically and economically ravaged Haiti struggled to find its bearings a year after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, Twitter was full of tweets bearing the hashtags #remember #Haiti as netizens recalled the devastation and spared a thought for earthquake victims and survivors alike. The country was soon to face another strange reality in the form of ousted dictator Jean Claude Duvalier's curiously timed return to his homeland. There was soon talk of an impending arrest for acts of corruption during his tenure, but although charges were filed, the case soon appeared to fall by the wayside, reportedly because the statute of limitations had expired.



Tent city, Juvenat, by caribbeanfreephoto, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License.

A couple of months later, the country's elections took centre stage, with reports of election threats and subsequent violence. As it turned out, the candidate accused of leveling those threats, Michel Martelly, popularly known by the moniker “Sweet Micky”, went on to claim victory in the polls.

Throughout the earthquake and election turmoil, frustration continued to mount against the United Nations presence in Haiti (MINUSTAH), partly as a result of its troops being responsible for an outbreak of cholera that killed thousands of Haitians, and partly for their crimes against the Haitian people.

Cuba - Deaths of Dissident & Las Damas Leader and Reforms
The (albeit measured) jubilation over the release of Cuban political prisoners in 2010 soon turned to sadness following the death of opposition member Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia. Local dissidents insisted that he had been beaten by police, while the government maintained that Soto's “acute pancreatitis…led to multiple organ failure”, even calling the allegations of police brutality a “'smear campaign' aimed at weakening the Cuban revolution.” The incident called into question modus operandi of the Cuban government, especially considering its routine crackdowns on Las Damas de Blanco, one of the most respected opposition movements on the island, whose members comprise the wives of prisoners of conscience.

The Ladies in White were soon thrust into the spotlight again - this time because of the hospitalization of the group's vibrant leader, Laura Pollan, who subsequently passed away. The official cause of death was an unidentified infection that reportedly turned out to be dengue fever, but some camps suggested that her treatment may have been sub-standard because of her political stance. Even as tributes poured in for the late human rights activist, bloggers expressed concern for the safety of other Cuban dissidents, given the climate of apparent state-sanctioned aggression against them.

#TwitHab 2011. Photo by Elaine Díaz.

One of the high points in the Cuban blogosphere this year was the first meeting of users of the social network Twitter #TwitHab, held last July in Havana at 23rd and 12th of the Vedado district and in the Pabellón Cuba. The event hosted almost 100 people, mostly young journalism students, administrators, professors, journalists and bloggers, among others. The event was not free of controversy; nevertheless, Twitter has evidently served as an interesting venue for expression, debate and solidarity.

The sixth congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), held in Havana from April 16 - 19, marked a turning point for the Cuban economic system, and for Cuban society at large. Party members approved measures to institute term limits for top party and government leaders, legalize home ownership and sales, and restructure state salaries so that they will be determined in part by the amount and quality of labor performed by workers.

Dominican Republic - Drugs, Hurricanes and Gold Medals
Last November, the Partido de  la Liberación Dominicana (PLD-Dominican Liberation Party) nominated Margarita Cedeño, the wife of current president Leonel Fernández, to run for vice-president in the next elections. The drug connection between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico has also made headlines this year: September saw was the sentencing of the infamous Figueroa Acosta case [es], considered one of the most scandalous cases of drug trafficking in both these islands.

At the start of the hurricane season, Hurricane Irene devastated the north coast of Dominican Republic [es] leaving approximately 30,000 affected and 11,000 people displaced. (The storm also affected the Bahamas).

Finally, it was a great year in sports: the Dominican Republic achieved a historical record of medals [es] in the past edition of the Pan-American Games held in Guadalajara, Mexico, with seven gold, nine silver, and 17 bronze medals in 26 events.

 
Trinidad and Tobago - State of Emergency

In August, many netizens were taken aback at the unexpected declaration of a state of emergency, ostensibly to deal with the country's rising crime rate. Nicholas Laughlin summed up the general feeling by pointing out that “this legal step, which affects a broad range of civil rights, has triggered widespread debate about the roots of violent crime in Trinidad and Tobago and the implications of the government's latest strategy.” The government's gaffes resulted in confusion and mounting frustration; bloggers vented online here and here. When the state of emergency finally came to an end and as expected, violent crime rebounded, the citizenry was left wondering what it achieved, if anything at all.

Puerto Rico - Domestic Violence & Crime, The Arts & Sports
The year 2011 was the most violent in the Island’s history with 1,136 murders as of early in the day December 31 [es], a 15% increase from 2010. Twenty-six women were murdered (eight cases are still under investigation) by their partners or ex-partners, one of the highest rates in years. The feminist movement and a group of active feminist bloggers [es] have been at the forefront, denouncing the state’s lack of action against domestic violence. The United States Justice Department also accused the Puerto Rico Police Department of a pattern of civil rights violations and illegal practices.
On the other hand, it was a wonderful year for the arts and sports. The Puerto Rican hip hop duo Calle 13 achieved a record in the most recent Latin Grammy Awards where they won nine awards for their most recent album “Entren los que quieran” for a record of a total of 19 Latin Grammys in their career.  Their beautiful song “Latinoamérica” has already become a kind of an anthem for Latin Americans all over the world. In sports, the Puerto Rican professional basketball player José Juan Barea became one of the most beloved national icons after winning the 2011 US National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Championship playing for the Mavericks team from Dallas, Texas (check this short video on Barea’s life).

Farewells
Finally, Caribbean bloggers were eloquent in their farewells to some luminary people, both home-grown and international. Trinidad and Tobago lost an environmental champion with the passing of Professor Julian Kenny, as well as an important cultural icon with the death of Dr. Pat Bishop. Remembrances also poured in as tech-minded bloggers learned of the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and wrote about how his visionary products helped to transform their work and their lives.

The human rights activist Sonia Pierre died on December 4. She was 48.  Pierre dedicated her life to advocate for the rights of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic and of Dominicans of Haitian origin. Pierre was the founder of MUDHA — Movimiento De Mujeres Dominico-Haitiana or Movement of Dominican Haitian Women. She is remembered as a courageous activist who fought against racism and sexism all her life.

More to look forward to
We have no doubt that in 2012, Caribbean bloggers will have a lot more to talk about - the outcome of Jamaica's recently-held general elections is just one topic that comes to mind - and we look forward to following the regional blogosphere as we continue to strive to facilitate a meaningful exchange of ideas.

Firuzeh Shokooh Valle contributed to this post. In the Cuba section, excerpts from posts by GV authors Ellery Biddle and Elaine Díaz are included. Thanks to Emil Rodríguez Garabot for his help on the section on Dominican Republic.

December 09 2011

Bahamas: Postcolonialism Issues

A recent “one-day symposium in honour of Frantz Fanon, the Martinican psychiatrist whose field of study was the psyche of the colonized” gets Blogworld “thinking about the value of democracy, of statehood, of the wretchedness of postcolonialism.”

November 25 2011

Bahamas: Male Violence Against Women

Womanish Words would like the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to be called what it really is - the International Day for the Elimination of Male Violence Against Women, and posts a rant poem in an “honest attempt to contribute to the naming and defining of male violence against women, of defining it so that we can recognize it, and stop it.”

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.

November 04 2011

Bahamas: Fear of Crime or Denying Kids a Good Time?

Womanish Words has a message - albeit a late one - for “all you people who say you don't like Halloween so that you can relieve yourselves of the responsibility of contributing to a fun, safe, community, holiday event for children - I say to you: you are the reason Nassau is a scary place to live. You contribute to the darkness.”

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