Category Archives: Portia Simpson Miller

Read the cables yourself: Cables from the US Embassy in Kingston now available on Wikileaks website

While the Gleaner is much to be thanked and praised for publishing articles on the US Embassy cables (made available to the world by Wikileaks), most of us would rather read the cables ourselves and make up our own minds about the contents.

 

The Gleaner for some reason is leaving out the juicy bits (yes, Phillip Paulwell is the corrupt senior PNP politician that the US Embassy hoped would not be in Portia’s Cabinet…..) and the funny bits (yes, the US Embassy describes the JLP as being the party of the “middle class intelligentsia”…..).

The currently available cables from Embassy Kingston are here:


Anyway, for those of you short on time some of the cables are excerpted below. Enjoy.

Source tells US Embassy that Peter Phillips has PNP leadership election locked up in early 2006:

Sample from cable:

According to
XXXXXXXXXXXX, Patterson persuaded Davies to enter the race to
provide a more promising (and palatable) alternative than
Blythe to Phillips and Simpson Miller, and because Patterson
harbors long-standing grudges against both Phillips and
Simpson Miller.  Patterson, he explained, has never forgotten
that it was Phillips who conveyed then-Prime Minister Michael
Manley's 1991 request for Patterson's resignation as Finance
Minister after Patterson was found to have improperly waived
fuel import duties for a PNP crony who was also the local
manager for a multinational petroleum company.  As for
Simpson Miller, she earned Patterson's ire by daring to run
(unsuccessfully, as it turned out) against him to succeed
Manley in 1992, and by frequently missing or arriving late to
Cabinet meetings over the years, which Patterson viewed as a
lack of respect for his authority.

 

After Portia wins the February 2006 PNP leadership election, US Embassy hopes that she won’t appoint Paulwell to her Cabinet:http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06KINGSTON542.html

Gleaner story on this cable from Friday, May 27th, 2011: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110527/lead/lead1.html
Sample:

Canadian DCM Brian Burton told DCM 

March 16 that Hylton had visited his boss, Canadian High
Commissioner Claudio Valle, earlier that day to ask Valle
whether the U.S. Ambassador and the British High Commissioner
had intended to convey a message to Simpson Miller.
According to Burton, Valle, who knows Simpson Miller well
from two previous tours in Jamaica and who planned to have a
one-on-one conversation with her about corruption concerns,
responded frankly to Hylton's inquiry.  Valle bluntly
confirmed to Hylton that the Canadian, U.S. and U.K. missions
are indeed concerned about Paulwell's reputed illicit
activities and associations, and by the possibility that he
(or others like him who supported Simpson Miller's campaign)
could hold sensitive positions, or wield influence, in her
government. Burton added that Hylton did not seem surprised
by Valle's remarks.

 

US Embassy in Kingston speculates on the 2007 election:

Sample from cable:

f the JLP Wins: How will the U.S. accommodate a closer
relationship?
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 

7.(C)  A JLP victory would represent a sea change in
Jamaica's political direction.  As outlined Reftel (F),
across a broad spectrum of issues-- from Venezuela and Cuba
to trade liberalization, market-driven development,
anti-corruption efforts, and Iraq-- the fundamental
orientation of the JLP is more consonant with U.S. policies
than that of the current Government.  In private discussions
with DCM and Emboff, Golding and other JLP officials have
stated that, upon taking power, they will look to the U.S.
for advice and assistance in areas as diverse as: 

-- harnessing remittances to boost economic development
-- biofuels
-- expansion of microfinance
-- reform, clean-up, and training/equipping of the Jamaica
Constabulary Force (JCF)
-- financing infrastructure development. 

In short, the expectations of a newly-elected JLP Government
would be high; the U.S. might well have difficulty meeting
them.  Washington should accommodate to the extent possible
Golding's request for a visit (Reftel D) to discuss areas of
potential cooperation, and begin thinking about what sort of
response we would be able to make to a request for enhanced
engagement by a more U.S.-oriented JLP Government, should
that come to pass.

 

Sharon Hay-Webster shenanigans mentioned in this August 2009 cable:

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09KINGSTON611.html

Sample:

One PNP MP representing South Central St. Catherine, visited Embassy Kingston on July 31 to renounce U.S. citizenship, only to withdraw the renunciation four days later.  Nevertheless, over a week later the Jamaica Gleaner published an article on the MP's renunciation
with no mention of its withdrawal, suggesting that the MP intends to leave the public impression of having renounced U.S. citizenship.

 

Audrey Marks visits the U.S. Embassy to urge them not to pressure Bruce re Dudus in this September 9,  2009 cable:

Sample:

4. (C) The CDA stressed to Marks how important it is to the
USG that the GOJ observe its treaty obligations and cooperate
in Coke's extradition. Normally such extradition requests are
executed within two to three weeks of the issuance of a
diplomatic note. The CDA emphasized the USG's expectation
that the GOJ will not refuse the extradition request on a
technicality that had not been cited in similar extradition
requests.  CDA also noted that the extradition request on an
earlier indictment for Mark Clark had not been acted upon.
He expressed his hope that inaction would not be the norm for
extradition requests.

 

Ken Baugh, Minister of Foreign Affairs repeats the message in September 9, 2009:

Sample:

Nevertheless, Baugh assured EmbOff,
the GoJ would "meet its obligations under the Extradition
Treaty," although "due process" would have to be followed.
(Comment:  Baugh did not offer a specific timeframe.  His
concerns of possible civil unrest did not strike EmbOff as a
mere pretext for GoJ delay in arresting Coke; on the
contrary, his fears are well-founded.  End Comment.)
PARNELL

 

Ken Baugh, Ronald Robinson and Evadne Coye  hem and haw over the extradition with Parnell in a busy September 2009:

Sample:

7.(C) ChargC) then noted that a failure to extradite Coke would
represent "a serious step backward."  One of the reasons for
security concerns in Jamaica's "garrison" communities was precisely
because Coke and others were importing firearms and trafficking
drugs.  ChargC) asked whether the GoJ took the position that
extradition treaty provisions only applied to lesser criminals;
Baugh replied that anyone found guilty should be dealt with
according to law, and then noted that the "technical aspects" of
the Extradition Treaty must be decided by the Solicitor General and
Ministry of Justice, bearing in mind the GoJ's duty to ensure that
the rights of individual citizens were protected.  ChargC) then
pointed out that several years ago the Jamaican courts had ruled
that there was no requirement that extradition requests name
witnesses.  Baugh said he would be surprised if the Solicitor
General and Ministry of Justice were unfamiliar with the court's
previous rulings vis-C -vis extradition requests.  Baugh then raised
concerns over a recent lawsuit by a Jamaican who had been
extradited to the USA, filed on the grounds that extradition
procedures had not been followed properly.  ChargC) noted that a
number of extradition requests in which witnesses had not been 

named had been successfully processed by the GoJ; the U.S. was
disappointed that the GoJ had not moved more expeditiously and
positively in the Coke case, but would continue to look for ways to
move forward.

 

This is the cable filled with the most fun facts as the Embassy details Peter Phillips and Bruce Golding’s stand-off in Parliament in December 2009 (see if you can count how many lies Bruce told to the Manatt-Dudus Enquiry based on this cable alone….):

Sample:

According to Phillips's sources, the
Golding administration has been quietly reaching out to friends in
the U.S. Congress and the administration through backchannels to
try to circumvent the Departments of State and Justice and to make
their case to the White House.  Phillips also told Emboff that many
key JLP stalwarts - Minister of Finance Audley Shaw, Minister of
Education Andrew Holness, Minister of Housing Horace Chang, and
Minister of Foreign Affairs Kenneth Baugh among them - have
expressed to him their dissatisfaction with the Golding
administration's handling of the Coke extradition request, but that
they're unlikely to break with Golding over the issue, nor would he
expect any JLP MPs to cross the aisle over the issue

The US Embassy thinks things are looking up for Bruce and the JLP in January 2010:
Sample:

7. (SBU) Having spent most of 2009 lambasted by critics as
ineffective and indecisive, PM Golding and the GOJ now find
themselves in an unfamiliar position - riding a wave of policy
successes.  Meanwhile, the tragedy of the Haitian earthquake has
offered the PM a rare opportunity to rise above the bitterness and
rancor of party politics and to present himself as a regional
statesman and humanitarian, shepherding CARICOM's relief efforts
and working closely with the Secretary and the USG.  Nevertheless,
it remains to be seen whether the GOJ will take advantage of these
policy achievements to finally impose order on the nation's fiscal
 affairs, draw down its crushing debt burden in order to free up
resources for private investment, and rekindle economic growth.
Perhaps more troubling is the GOJ's recent recalcitrance in
granting U.S. extradition requests, suggesting a lack of
seriousness in addressing Jamaica's crime problems, or even the
possibility that garrison dons and criminal elements have
"captured" the GOJ.

 

Those 2004 MOU’s get a mention as Bruce makes more excuses to delay the extradition in February 2010:

Sample:

4.      (C)  Post requests that Department move forward with
diplomatic note addressing the GOJ's concerns regarding use of
wiretap information using talking points outlined in
McDonough/Parnell e-mail of February 3.  Charge has raised the
matter of disclosure of the 2004 MOU between UK/GOJ/DEA with UK
High Commissioner, and expects to get UK's views of MOU disclosure
on February 10.
Parnell

 

N.B. We know that there are other cables (lest we forget Lorna and the salad or Mayor McKenzie worrying about the “vacuum” ) but it is not clear if we will ever get all of them “onetime”….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Manatt Dudus Enquiry: National Security week, or how the MOU’s were lost and found

The Enquiry is proving what many have been saying for years : Jamaica needs a new cast of characters.

Consider the following line-up of long-in-tooth politicos :

For the past two weeks Peter Phillips, former PNP Minister of National Security (Predecessor: K.D. Knight-PNP  Successors Derrick Smith -JLP, Colonel Trevor McMillan-JLP, Dwight Nelson-JLP) and Dwight Nelson, current JLP Minister of National Security (Predecessors:Colonel Trevor McMillan-JLP, Derrick Smith -JLP, Peter Phillips-PNP) have been questioned and cross-examined by PNP Senator K.D. Knight (former PNP Minister of National Security 1989-2001, Phillips supporter in PNP leadership election of 2006) and Hugh Small, former PNP Minister of Finance (Predecessor: P.J Patterson-PNP   Successor: Omar Davies-PNP, supporter of Portia Simpson in PNP leadership election of 1992) and Frank Phipps (former JLP Senator), among others.

Small versus Phillips : Grudge match

Former Minister of National Security for the PNP, Peter Phillips

 

For all you youngsters out there, there is a reason why Hugh Small was alternately patronizing and spitting poison during his not-very-effective cross examination of Peter Phillips. Way back in 1992, Peter Phillips was General Secretary of the PNP. When Michael Manley retired, it was Peter Phillips who presided over the internal leadership election between Portia and P.J. Patterson. Desperate to cement his position in the hierarchy of the PNP,  Peter Phillips allowed P.J. supporters to stand over the ballot boxes inside the National Arena and ensure that the delegates did not “mistakenly” vote for Portia.

Phillips’ pro-P.J. strategy worked out badly for Hugh Small. Small had become Minister of Finance after P.J. had to resign because of the Shell waiver corruption scandal, and Small supported Portia in the 1992 leadership election. But P.J., not Portia,  became the Prime Minister, and Small was forced out of the Finance Ministry and then out of Parliament in 1993. That was the end of Hugh Small’s political career.

Now, perhaps for the first time since 1993, Hugh Small has an opportunity to revenge himself on his former PNP colleague Peter Phillips. Hugh Small is representing Prime Minister Bruce Golding and his task is to ensure that, whoever else might have to resign as a result of the Enquiry, it will not be Orrett Bruce Golding………While he’s at it, he can hope to frustrate, mock, and discredit Peter Phillips for having done a reasonably good job (as it turns out) as Jamaica’s  Minister of National Security. No, it’s not business, it’s strictly personal.

Knight/Atkinson/Gordon versus Nelson : Fencing with a stone wall

Dwight Nelson at the Enquiry

 

Just as most of the lawyers and witnesses have intertwined political lives, so are their lives intertwined with the Coke family. This tangled history is obviously why longtime JLP member Dwight Nelson opted for his moderately successful “stonewall” strategy. He claimed everything he and his colleagues did was right until they did exactly the opposite and that was right too.

The Jamaica Observer has a more-or-less-correct history of the Coke family here which explains the groans of disbelief  which greeted  Dwight Nelson’s insistence that he only knew about Dudus Coke “from the police reports” he received when he became Minister of National Security.

What should probably cause much greater bewilderment is that the JLP lawyers (Phipps, Small, John Vassal for Dwight Nelson) have spent so much time focusing on the MOU’s. They want us to believe that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (not to mention the JCF and JDF) forgot all about the Shower Posse and Jamaican drug gangs after Lester Lloyd Coke died in a Jamaican prison in 1992.

While reminding us of  the PNP’s convenient morality, the JLP lawyers also want us to believe that if it were not for Peter Phillips and the secret MOU’s, the U.S. government, the JCF and the JDF would have acquiesced in the continued local and international criminal activities of the Coke family and their cohorts.

And, not only that, but we should also believe that the coming to power in 2007 of Bruce Golding, the new M.P. for the West Kingston garrison, raised no eyebrows in the U.S.; and the U.S. DEA, the JCF and JDF took NO steps to ensure that the incoming JLP administration would not  frustrate their efforts to capture and convict JLP supporter Dudus Coke…… We can only hope that Wikileaks will soon provide us with the diplomatic cables that went from AMEMBASSY KINGSTON to the SECSTATE WASHDC circa September 2007……probably very interesting reading.

Yes, we had a good laugh at poor Lorna Golding and her day-old salad, but at least she knew what clock was striking for her husband. Clearly, Bruce, Daryl, Dwight and Dorothy hadn’t a clue. It must have been a happy day for the senior officers of both the JDF and the JCF  when they handed over the secret MOU’s in March 2010 and got to watch that cat scattering the JLP pigeons.

Irony of the week: Dwight Nelson who is the first Minister of National Security in decades to preside over a substantial decline in the murder rate is being given not an ounce of credit for this achievement. Wonder why ?

State of play: Soldiers not romping

Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin with his attorney, Lt. Col Linton Gordon

Lieutenant Colonel Linton Gordon representing his JDF colleagues Lt. Col. Cole, Maj. Gen. Saunders and R. Adm. Lewin (Lewin was head of both the JDF and the JCF) introduced a new note into the proceedings on Thursday Feb 24, 2011.

He asked Dwight Nelson if he was prepared to give a commitment to the country to sever links between criminal gangs and the JLP ! Laugh ? I nearly cried.

He then went on to ask Dwight Nelson if he would give a commitment that no more garrisons would be established by the JLP. Poor Dwight !

And to finish, he suggested that Dwight Nelson, and by inference his JLP colleagues, were motivated by fear as they tried to prevent Dudus being extradited. Now there’s something we can all believe in!

So the Jamaica Defence Force has given fair warning to the witnesses to come, notably Prime Minster and Minister of Defence Bruce Golding, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne.  The gloves are off!!!

N.B. The Commissioners for the Manatt Dudus Commission of Enquiry have asked for an extension until April 2011. This is obviously to keep us amused until Dudus’ trial begins in New York.

 

The Jamaican 2007 elections : Not even close ?

“Not even close ” is what Cliff Hughes, Jamaica’s only Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist, was muttering to himself last Friday evening during his show on Nationwide.

He had just been covering the RJR polls done by Ian Boxhill and his team (the former Stone pollsters). The polls being discussed were done in 2 constituencies – Central Manchester (Sally Porteous, JLP leads Peter Bunting, PNP – very close, within the margin of error) and South East St. Andrew (Education Minister Maxine Henry-Wilson leads JLP’s Joan Gordon-Webley).

Did Cliff Hughes mean that his sources were telling him that the RJR polls (which have not yet been released in their entirety) showed a big lead for the PNP ?

Or had his sources told him what was in the Bill Johnson polls published yesterday in the Sunday Gleaner, which show the PNP at 40% and the JLP at 34% ?

Or was he referring to the Don Anderson’s polls for CVM TV released earlier in the week which showed the PNP with a 4% lead over the JLP ?

Who knows ? But the polls last week do indicate that it is “not even close ” and Madam Prime Minister is set to get her first term – it’s just a question of how many seats.


“The Wisdom of Crowds” (James Surowiecki)

The media has been doing an even more valiant job than they did in 2002 in trying to create the impression that this election is a real struggle for power. Read the convoluted analyses now presented by every pollster which are designed to show that “the JLP is gaining ground”. See Byron Buckley’s article where you can skip the whole confusing “of interest ONLY to trained statisticians and professional political analysts” first section and just read the last paragraph which gives you the only interesting information garnered by the poll: Who’s ahead ?

Both Gleaner and Observer columnists, and most of the talk shows have taken the line that “the polls don’t really tell us anything much”. The Gleaner election forum is full of JLP supporters explaining why the polls are wrong, done incorrectly or just don’t mean anything…..

I have no problem with the media doing their best to ensure that the Jamaican public is fully aware of the consequences of re-electing the PNP, and is also fully aware of the consequences of not electing the JLP for the fifth time in a row.

As long as we keep in mind that the polls are the only way that the political parties, the analysts and the average person have of getting any idea what’s going to happen on election day……..

And as long as we keep in mind that:

The Prime Minister has been around, like forever, and since way back in 1992, the Jamaican people have told every pollster that they wanted Portia for Prime Minister. If she gets elected, this should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone at all……..

It took Edward Seaga 40 years to mash up the JLP, and Bruce Golding has only had 2 years to try and heal it…….


“The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies” (Bryan Caplan)

Delroy Chuck, JLP MP, writes a “farewell column” in the Gleaner that suggests how a continued insistence on ignoring poll data may cause someone to react after August 27th. If the JLP wins then Mr. Chuck will be happy, but if the PNP wins, this apparently means “the end of the JLP” and “the PNP will rule ”forever“…..

I’m sure that there are many young people in the JLP (Andrew Holness, for example) who think that a JLP defeat this month will only mean the end of Bruce Golding’s political career, and will be a wonderful chance for the younger generation( Mr. Chuck included) to sweep away the disastrous legacy of the past….

Well, the debates are this week :

Minister of National Security Peter Phillips debates JLP’s Ken Baugh on August 8 – Wednesday night

The JLP”s Audley Shaw debates Minister of Finance Omar Davies on August 10 – Friday night

The Prime Minister debates the Leader of the Opposition on August 11 – Saturday night

The debates, in the minds of many JLP supporters, represent a great chance for the JLP leader to show up the Prime Minister’s apparent lack of knowledge on substantive issues. They think that a poor performance by the Prime Minister could swing the public into the JLP’s camp and be the decisive factor in a JLP victory. They may be right.

I personally would never put my money on someone as telegenic and charming as Portia Simpson Miller “losing” a debate to Bruce Golding who, let’s say, is not quite so telegenic or charming. He may win every point but, if people like Portia because they identify with her, then any apparent condescension or bullying or attempt to humiliate will likely backfire on Mr. Golding.

I think he will easily demonstrate his superior abilities. What will be harder is to make himself appear both (1) likable and (2) respectful of women in general and the Prime Minister in particular…… Let’s see if he can use the debates to put the JLP ahead in the last lap…… Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, please.


“Speed (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition)” (Jan de Bont)

 


“The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth” (M. Scott Peck)

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4 biggest non-debates in the lead-up to the election in Jamaica

1. The debate over numerology and the place of religion in politics

Phinn-11

Pastor Phillip Phinn

Everyone (from the talk shows to the columnists) attacks the Prime Minister for supposedly advocating numerology and/or being guided by Pastor Phinn’s prophecies in her choice of election date. This debate reminds us that this election will be about who owns Jamaica.

Jamaican politicians use religious symbolism as a matter of course and always have done. The pundits and the middle classes (who, dare we say it, probably check their horoscopes every day) always decry it as a sign of the slide into superstition and ignorance…. Ian Boyne has their number….

The Prime Minister laughs at her critics, and bestows seven kisses on JLP Deputy Leader Derrick Smith at the signing of the Political Code of Conduct…….

20070717T230000-0500 125395 Obs Parties Make Another Commitment For Peace 1
JLP Deputy Leader tries to duck the seventh kiss

What comes next: More of the same.

Who wins : The Prime Minister. Every attack reminds “the masses” how they and their beliefs are despised by the media and the middle classes. Only Sister P is on their side…….

2. The debate over whether this election will be more violent than the last

The Peace Management Initiative is already throwing up its hands. Since they have no power, and moral suasion is limited, what are they to do when:-

JLP leader Bruce Golding compares the Prime Minister to Hitler (re: her popularity) and to Saddam Hussein (re: her Information Minister Donald Buchanan) ?

PNP Information Minister Donald Buchanan goes on a political platform to shout “Dem lie, dem lie, dem lie” in reference to Bruce Golding’s claim that his motorcade was shot at in Brandon Hill ?

Party supporters on both sides are armed and apparently unable to resist any provocation

What comes next: More debate, more shootings, another murder

Who wins: No one, unless you happen to own a funeral parlour. (However, the Prime Minister’s religiosity and serial kissing is starting to look good next to the Leader of the Opposition’s rants.)

3. Education and Healthcare – free or not ?

This debate is depressing for every reason.

Free secondary education (promised by the JLP) will not improve either the quality of teachers in schools or reduce the huge number of children in every class or assist the hundreds of schools plagued by violence or improve conditions at the hundreds of schools with not enough desks, books or classrooms to accommodate the children enrolled there.

Free healthcare for children under 18 (recently implemented by the ruling PNP) will not improve the chronic shortage of supplies, beds and equipment at any of the island’s hospitals and clinics.

So all the discussion and promises from the platform will not contribute one iota to improving healthcare or education in Jamaica.

What comes next: More, more, more of the same with promises of freeness becoming more extravagant as Election Day approaches

Who wins: Whichever party forms the next Government since the people won’t be expecting any improvements whatsoever, only that we shouldn’t have to pay for whatever inadequate services are provided……

4. The intelligence of the electorate

Are Jamaicans intelligent or stupid ? (Edward Seaga, Martin Henry, John Maxwell – and every other person in the street – want to discuss this…..)

You’re intelligent if (choose one ) you’re not swayed by (a) JLP promises (b) PNP promises (c) your instinctive fondness for Sister P

You’re stupid if (choose one) you are swayed by (a) JLP promises (b) PNP promises (c) your instinctive fondness for Sister P

Can you be uneducated AND also intelligent ?

You can be uneducated and intelligent if (choose one) (a) you plan to vote for the PNP because of the last 18 years (b) you plan to vote for the JLP because of the last 18 years

Can you be educated AND also stupid ?

You can be educated AND also stupid if (choose one)

(a) you led your party to election defeat after election defeat and still refused to give up being Leader of the Opposition
(b) you have a column in the paper and every week use it to defend your horrible record as Leader of the Opposition

What comes next : The majority of voters decide the election on Aug 27, and the next Prime Minister congratulates us on how smart we are

Who wins : Jamaicans who vote and respect the outcome, regardless of which party forms the next government

Real debates (hopefully…..)

THE JAMAICA DEBATES COMMISSION DEBATES ARE SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 8TH, 10TH AND 11TH AND WILL BE AIRED LIVE ON RADIO, TV AND ON THE INTERNET AT 9.00 PM JAMAICA TIME

For all election news all the time:-

The Gleaner has started an election website. Nothing interesting on it yet, but all Gleaner election articles are collected here, so if you don’t want to pore over the website for relevant stories you can go here

Good old RJR maintains a fairly topical website which is useful for reading breaking news late in the day. They don’t update much on weekends. It’s here.

Total Jamaican election addicts can listen to the discussions:-

Newstalk 93 here. Newstalk 93 used to be Radio Mona and features Anthony Abrahams and Trevor Munroe on The Breakfast Club- 6.00 am to 9.00 am Jamaica time and Steve Golding (Junior Bangarang) on The Corner-2.30pm to 5.00pm in the afternoons.

Nationwide News Network is here. It features Cliff Hughes, Carol Narcisse5.00pm to 8.00pm Jamaica time and Emily Crooks 6.00 am to 9.00 am Jamaica time. Nationwide is still the leader for stories the other media houses won’t/don’t cover.

JLP ads on YouTube are here. The JLP website is here.

Portia videos on YouTube are here : Election announcement in Halfway Tree . The PNP website is here. Portia tribute and more videos here.

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The general elections in Jamaica : All over bar the shouting ?

The Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has announced that August 27 will be election day in Jamaica.

So who will win the election ?

There have been no new polls published this week (well, Bill Johnson has produced polls of a sort) , so the PNP is still ahead as far as we know.

How is it possible that Jamaica should be considering giving the PNP a fifth term ? Why does it appear likely that they will win ?

The Prime Minister remains the most popular politician in the country. Much has been said about the folly of voting for people we like, but being popular is a necessary condition for being elected in any democracy. It is not the only condition, of course. Policies are important, and performance and anticipated performance are important. All that being said, political analysts tell us that when the voter is in the polling booth, they think about who they want to be Prime Minister NOT about who they want to be their M.P.

In 18 years of PNP government Jamaicans have had their daily lives transformed. Not only does everyone have a cellphone, but busy professionals and businessmen often have several supplied by different providers. The bus service has been improved by massive subsidies and increased regulation. Young people can now buy a car within a few months of securing a job, as credit unions and banks compete to offer 90% financing. Office parking lots are full of brand new deportees (3 year old second-hand cars imported from Japan).

The Government of Jamaica remains the biggest employer of salaried workers. Despite the long standing program of “Public Sector Reform”, the one thing the government has NOT done is to decrease the size of the public sector. The JLP did cut private sector employment in the 80’s and paid for it at the ballot box in 1989. People will put up with a tiny salary and poor working conditions if the alternative is having no job……

The industries established by the JLP in the 1980’s (garment industry, data entry, non-traditional crops) have vanished with globalization and improved communications technologies. The non-traditional crops that have succeeded (mangoes, dasheen, ackees) are not the ones promoted by the JLP in the 80″s (winter vegetables, rice……).

The construction of new highways and the construction of the Spanish hotels has provided thousand of jobs (temporary in construction, permanent in the tourism industries). The men employed in construction are looking forward to the work still to come (the Kingston – Ocho Rios highway, the new hotels planned all over the North Coast). Everyone else is looking forward to all the spin-offs from the new hotels (jobs, markets for farm produce, new customers for restaurants and vendors).

The PNP is running 24 (out of a possible 60) new candidates. Among the new candidates are obvious Cabinet material like banker Peter Bunting and academic and trade unionist Trevor Munroe, who, we are being allowed to imagine, will replace two of the PNP’s least popular Ministers (Minister of Finance Omar Davies and Minister of Education Maxine Henry Wilson).

The crime plan already in place includes 4 police officers from Scotland Yard. Our faith in them may be touching, but so far the decline in the murder rate over the past 2 years suggests it may be justified.

The JLP is united in every respect except one – the former Opposition leader Edward Seaga feels free to criticize his successor, Bruce Golding, in public. The election date was announced on Sunday. The next day JLP leader Bruce Golding criticizes the Prime Minister for announcing the election 7 weeks (as opposed to the usual 3 weeks) in advance and announces that one of his first acts in office will be to introduce a fixed election date. Edward Seaga then goes on the talk shows to tell everyone why a fixed election date is a bad idea…..

 


“The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream” (Paulo Coelho)


Why is it still possible that the PNP could lose ?

The JLP may have found an election winner in its promise to spend 15% of the budget on education and to provide free secondary education for all children. Every parent feels the pain of the present cost sharing program.

The Prime Minister has persisted in defying the conventional wisdom. The pundits decided that she could not call the election in August ( because people are on holiday; the teachers, who are the backbone of the electoral system on election day, are preparing for the new school year; parents who struggling with the cost of books, uniforms and school fees don’t think kindly of any government in August) and she has called the election in August. She may have gambled one time too many, and the pundits may have last laugh.

The PNP are mired in corruption and have broken election promises left, right and centre. Very few people have been fired or punished, and those who have been forced out (like Dr. Vin Lawrence) are back on the party platforms within months. Or they reappear as “consultants” to government agencies earning huge fees.

Pastor Phinn, who has prophesied victory for the PM, may be wrong. (For those interested in prophecies, the Pastor is also predicting that Hillary Clinton will become President of the U.S. in 2008 and Jamaica will discover oil very soon…..)

The simple desire for change may yet overturn Prime Minister Charming.


“The Prophet” (Kahlil Gibran)

 

 

Why can the JLP win, despite what the pollsters predict?

There is no historical precedent for these elections ( a Government seeking a fifth term), hence the election may, for once, come down to the particular candidate running in each constituency. The JLP has been on the ground in all 60 constituencies for over a year and are very well organized. They are confident that the JLP can win as long as the voters vote for who they want as their M.P., instead of for party or Prime Minister.

Why we should want the JLP to win

Eighteen years is too long for any government to be in power, albeit under 3 different leaders (Manley, Patterson, Simpson Miller).

The Cabinet is beyond tired and bereft of energy and ideas.

Corruption permeates every aspect of Jamaican life. Political connections are still more important than competence and reputation when government contracts are being awarded, and there are hundreds of new, but shoddily built houses, roads and schools across the island as proof that neither P.J. nor Portia are serious about “stamping out corruption”.

The JLP and PNP have very similar programs and policies, however the PNP has proven to be weak on implementation. Time for a new team to tackle the country’s needs and wants.

 

Why we should want the PNP to win

Times have changed and the JLP have not changed with them. The JLP has failed in 18 years to produce a leader with whom most people can either identify (Patterson, Simpson Miller) or adore (Manley). The PNP has had three very popular leaders over the same period. If the JLP loses again, they will be forced to seek a leader and a slate of candidates who can actually win a general election……

 


“Mind Set!: Reset Your Thinking and See the Future” (John Naisbitt)

 

 

[posted with ecto]

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Learning to speak Spanish on Jamaica’s north coast

“Vaya con dios, mis amigos” means “Go with God, my friends”

Long ago, Jamaican hoteliers Butch Stewart (owner of the Sandals/Beaches chain) and the Issa family (owners of Superclubs/Breezes chain ) used to call for Jamaican Government to take tourism more seriously……they probably imagined that a massive increase in the island’s hotel rooms and visitor arrivals would be to their benefit…..

Sandals Ocho Rios ( 237 rooms)

As it turns out, the Spanish hotel chains (Riu, Pinero, Iberostar) are undercutting the Jamaican-owned chains at every turn…….they have more rooms, reservation systems that actually work and lower room rates…….Sandals is now trying to reposition itself upmarket in order to maintain its’ room rates……

Riu Ocho Rios (800+ rooms)

“Que sera, sera…” means “What will be, will be……”

In May 2006 Jamaican environmental groups (JET, NJCA) won a judgement against the Government for it’s failure to follow its own environmental regulations when it approved the construction of the Grupo Pinero’s Bahia Principe hotel. They probably imagined that the Government and its regulatory agencies would now proceed with greater care and attention to the long term environmental impact of building massive hotels all along the north coast.

As it turns out, with a general election looming,massive hotel projects are still being approved and construction begun immediately…. totally disregarding not only the environment, but labour relations and the health and safety of the workers.

No infrastucture ? No problema ! Number of rooms far exceeds the carrying capacity of the town/village/community where you plan to locate the hotel ? No problema !

And three people caught between a rock and a hard place:

(1) Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

The rock ? The need to demonstrate that “she run things” by firing a few more P.J. cronies and by setting a new-fresh-totally-different direction for the government in order to win the next general election…..

The hard place ? The need to maintain party unity and keep long time PNP ministers, activists and financiers happy in order to have the money and internal support needed to win the next general election……

(2) Leader of the Opposition Bruce Golding

The rock ? Representing Jamaica’s most notorious garrison constituency, famed for its guns and dons…….(July 2001 violence)

The hard place ? Presenting an image as the leader best able to deal with Jamaica’s most pressing problem :- crime and violence…..

(3) DCP Mark Shields

The rock ? The investigation of the murder of the Bob Woolmer and the detailed, time consuming work involved in finding the killer – the eyes of the world are upon him. His reputation and his future are at stake…..

The hard place ? The explosion of violence around Jamaica, a bad omen for the general elections scheduled for later this year. As the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Crime, his reputation and his future are at stake…..

And there’s no run……

Fresh air

Perhaps because he has recently been re-elected, or perhaps because his people clearly enjoyed the cricket, the President of Guyana, Bharat Jagdeo, is NOT joining the chorus of Caribbean leaders blaming the ICC, the WICB, Chris Dehring etc for their own poor stewardship of their own citizens’ tax dollars…

He reckons that World Cup Cricket was good for Guyana.

Hot air

Meanwhile, much to the relief of those who believe everything they read, Chris Dehring has announced that Cricket World Cup 2007 is proceeding according to plan. Lots of money is rolling in and even the crowds are pretty much as he expected. So much for all the whiny hoteliers and governments who are complaining that the whole exercise has been a massive disappointment …….

P.J. Patterson (retrospectively) smells somewhat like a rose

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica P.J. Patterson must be smiling at the praise he’s receiving from one of his (formerly) fiercest critics.

This administration has a leader who is now reaping the benefits from the Patterson-led one. The physical successes are there to see. Sprawling highways being built across the island. Huge hotels being constructed on the north coast. The rising of a new, black middle class being able to afford $50,000 three-day vacations in the more moderately priced all-inclusive (questionable service) hotels on the north coast. (Mark Wignall, Jamaica Observer)

Turns out that P.J. Patterson was just a wonderful Prime Minister whose long list of achievements are now being unjustly claimed by his successor, Portia Simpson Miller….

Jamaica prepares for elections (God help us)

In line with the usual election preparations, the Jamaican security forces have conducted a huge operation in West Kingston (the stronghold of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party). Four people dead – 2 killed by gunmen, 2 by the police

The Naysayers remind us that terrorising Tivoli is the usual election gambit by the ruling PNP.

The Yeasayers remind us that the gunbattle lasted for nearly 3 hours (that’s a lot of guns and ammunition in the hands of men who are not members of the security forces) and that the operation included the PNP stronghold of Arnett Gardens.

The front page of the The Daily Gleaner says it all – a screaming, terrified child who has just learnt that his brother is among the dead…………

When did we get used to this ?

Electricity company employees find out the meaning of “minority shareholder”

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo), the island’s main (but not sole) provider of electricity has been sold to a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate, Marubeni.

A cursory reading of Marubeni’s website indicates that this should be a cause for rejoicing, as, unlike bruk-pocket previous owners Mirant, Marubeni is a Fortune 500 company (2006 rank:215) which operates in 72 countries.

However, as the Government of Jamaica is a mere 20% shareholder in the JPSCo, the sale of the company was a matter for the former majority shareholders, Mirant. They chose to inform their Jamaican employees of the sale of the company at the same time (April 17, 2007) as they informed the Jamaican public.

The employees and their union representatives are furious. Just imagine how they’re going to feel if Marubeni decides to introduce a few famously efficient Japanese-style working practices……….Speaking as a consumer, I can’t wait.

Jamaican Christians finally get around to reading the New Testament

Jamaican church and political leaders have called for their fellow citizens to cease attacking and killing people whom they believe to be homosexual. Congratulations to Colonel Trevor McMillan (JLP), Councillor Angela Brown-Burke (PNP) and various church leaders for saying, albeit reluctantly, that homosexuals are fellow human beings.

For years, the island’s sodomy laws have been used by people (who openly commit such sins as adultery, covetousness and bearing false witness) to condemn homosexuals and to say that they only get what they deserve. The Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church has a few words for the self-righteous.

Of course, if all Jamaicans are to get what we deserve according to the Bible, we might as well prepare for a very dark future indeed…….

Since Easter has just passed, let’s remember what we were supposed to be celebrating (King James version, Luke 10) :-

25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.