Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tomas leaves trail of destruction

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sunday October 31, 2010 – Hurricane Tomas left a long trail of property damage in Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines – tearing off roofs, damaging houses and other buildings, and downing power lines – and even reportedly claimed lives as it stormed through parts of the Eastern Caribbean. It is now continuing on a path that forecasters say could take it near to Jamaica.

Yesterday was the second of consecutive “horrible Saturdays” in Barbados, according to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, coming a week after his predecessor David Thompson passed away of pancreatic cancer.
Parishes all across the island were affected by Tomas. The high winds blew roofs off homes, forcing people to seek shelter elsewhere; felled trees, making some roads impassable; and caused less sturdy homes to collapse. 
There was widespread disruption of electricity services, beginning late Friday night, and up to this morning some residents said they still had no power. Water was also cut off in some areas.

The storm seemed to have caught the island off guard. There were no usual watches or advisories before residents heard that they were under a tropical storm warning.

By 11 pm, Tomas made its presence felt, pounding the island with heavy rains, and Director of Emergency Management, Judy Thomas, issued an order for the entire island to be shutdown and for all Barbadians to be indoors by 12:30 am.
The all-clear was given at 2:22 pm yesterday after Tomas had passed. This morning the Grantley Adams International Airport, which had been closed, was reopened. Airports in St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, where Tomas moved on as a Category 1 hurricane, were also closed.

Unconfirmed reports of deaths

The hurricane left damage in those islands, similar to what it caused in Barbados, and thousands of people were left without electricity as Tomas raged. In St Vincent, it was reported that three people were killed but those deaths have not been confirmed.

The country’s north was hardest hit. Emergency management officials in that island said fierce winds tore roofs from nearly 100 homes and more than 400 people sought emergency shelter.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who left a meeting in Barbados on Friday before the storm passed that island, told the Nation newspaper that Tomas was the worst to hit St Vincent as far as he could remember, even though others had been stronger.

" a big hit. It is one which we can ill afford at any time but particularly at this time,‚" he told the newspaper, referring to the current economic challenges. "This is an expensive one‚".

In addition to damaging residences in St Lucia, Tomas’ winds also ripped roofs off a school, a hospital and a stadium. The hurricane’s rains also caused a landslide that blocked a main highway.

The destruction in St Lucia came as Prime Minister Stephenson King was stranded in Barbados where he had been on an official trip.

"It hurts me to know that I am not around to give courage, strength and guidance at a time when we all must bond together and give support to each other," he said in a statement.

Creole festival affected by Tomas

Over in Dominica, last night's events for the World Creole Music Festival had to be abandoned after just an hour and a half, when fierce winds proved to be too much. Today's schedule is expected to be packed, with performances from the acts that could not perform last night, joining those that had already been scheduled for tonight.

Meantime, regional airline LIAT also cancelled flights throughout the region as Tomas caused weather conditions to deteriorate.

This morning, it said it would make efforts to resume operations throughout its network today . However, LIAT said, there could still be some challenges.

"Passengers are advised that prevailing weather conditions as a result of the passage of Hurricane Tomas, as well as the need to reposition aircraft and crew, mean that there are likely to be delays and disruptions to services particularly in the Windward Islands," read a statement from the airline, adding that passengers travelling to islands that have been affected by the passage of the hurricane are advised to contact their local airport offices or the LIAT Call Centre to check on the status of their flights.

Tropical storm warnings are still in effect for Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, but forecasters say they are likely to be discontinued later today.

Tomas is slowly moving away from the Windward Islands and heavy rains are lingering over much of the Lesser Antilles.

At 8 am, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said Tomas was a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds near 100 miles per hour, and was expected to strengthen today. It was about 155 miles west of St Lucia and 355 miles south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tomas, the 12th hurricane of the Altantic Hurricane Season, is forecast to head toward Jamaica.A previous tropical storm which formed on Friday, Shary, dissipated yesterday after passing well east of Bermuda, much further than expected.

Worst storm in living memory – St Vincent PM

By Stabroek editor

That’s how St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves yesterday described the passage of Hurricane Tomas.

In 2004, Barbados’ closest Caribbean neighbour was faced with Hurricane Ivan, which is best remembered there for its strong sea surges that caused immense damage to the coastline. Three years later, Hurricane Dean pounded the country, causing numerous landslides.

But when contacted yesterday, Gonsalves told the SUNDAY SUN that neither could compare to Tomas, which though not nearly as strong, was the most sustained of the three systems.

Tomas, which arrived at St Vincent’s doorsteps around 2 p.m. Saturday as a Category 1, battered the country for most of the day with 75 mile per hour winds and torrential rains.

Relief was not expected before 10 o’clock last night, ending an eight-hour onslaught by the system which also flooded several villages.

“It is terrible, we are in a bad way,” said Gonsalves, who spoke to the SUNDAY SUN during the passage of the storm.

By then, he had received word from the National Emergency Management Office that more than 100 homes had been destroyed and that the north of the island was hardest hit.

“It’s a big hit. It is one which we can ill afford at any time but particularly at this (challenging economic) time,” said Gonsalves, explaining that Tomas had touched him at two levels.

At the national level, the Prime Minister said he was moved by “some real sad stories of people losing their homes”, while at the personal level, he was most concerned that the home of his 91-year-old mother was damaged by the storm.

“Part of the roof of the house in which she is at Connery has been raised up. She had to move out from her bedroom and go into another room downstairs but she is okay,” he said, while noting that sections of his official residence had also been impacted by water.

Apart from infrastuctural damage, several communities were left severely waterlogged. Numerous food crops were also damaged and the country forced to operate without electricity for most of the day.

The Prime Minister, who had earlier addressed the nation at 6:45 a.m, was thankful that there were no reports of loss of life or serious injury but expects Tomas’ costs will be high.

“It is mad, this is an expensive one,” he said.

“Obviously, we don’t have a situation of Grenada in 1994. It is not an Ivan, I mean it is a Category 1 hurricane 75 miles, but 75 miles is a lot of wind and when they are sustained and accompanied by rain and they have gusts which should be higher and where houses are not as well constructed in some areas, you are going to have real difficulty,” he pointed out.

The Prime Minister, who rushed back home from a meeting in Barbados on Friday to chair a meeting of the National Emergency Council, said he was pleased with the country’s response, at very short notice, to the storm.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SVG celebrates 31st anniversary

October 27, 2010 by Oscar Ramjeet

St Vincent and the Grenadines celebrates its 31st anniversary of independence from Britain on Wednesday, October 27, and messages of congratulations are pouring in to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

One was sent by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on behalf of President Barack Obama and the people of the United States. It reads in part "I congratulate the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines as you celebrate 31 years of independence this October 27.Our two nations are united by a shared commitment to advancing democracy and human rights as we work to build a brighter future for all our people."

Clinton's message also stated that "we will continue to strengthen the ties and friendship between our countries as we expand our cooperation on these and many other important initiatives."

But the Gonsalves administration is not only close to the United States, it also has ties to socialist Cuba, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and his link to these leftist countries is posing a big problem with his countrymen.

Since independence in 1979, the multi island state has seen at least five governments. The first was under Milton Cato, who saw his St Vincent Labour Party (SVLP) to independence, winning the first post-independence election in 1979.

Expecting an easy victory for the SVLP in 1984, Cato called early elections. The results were surprising: with a record 89% turnout. James Mitchell's New Democratic Party (NDP) won nine seats in the House of Assembly and, bolstered by a resurgent economy in the mid 1980s, Mitchell led his party to an unprecedented sweep of all 15 House of Assembly seats in the 1989 elections.

The opposition emerged from the election weakened and fragmented, but was able to win three seats during the February 1994 elections under a "unity" coalition.

In 1998, Prime Minister Mitchell and the NDP were returned to power for an unprecedented fourth term, but only with a slim margin of 8 seats to 7 for the United Labour Party (ULP). The NDP was able to accomplish a return to power while receiving a lesser share of the popular vote, approximately 45% to the ULP's 55%.

However, in March 2001, the ULP led by Ralph Gonsalves assumed power after winning 12 of the 15 seats in Parliament.

In December 2005 parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Gonsalves and the ULP retained their 12-3 majority over the NDP.

Elections are constitutionally due in March next year -- less than five months away -- and it is a surprising that the politicians have not yet hit the campaign trail because it is reported that the elections would be keen between the incumbent and the New Democratic Party (NDP), which is getting support from former prime minister Sir James Mitchell.

A lot has transpired during the 31 years of independence -- good, bad and indifferent -- but all in all the country has done reasonably well despite criticism. It boasts of an excellent judiciary -- a circuit of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

It is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and its currency, the Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar, is stable. In fact, the EC dollar cannot be devalued or revalued without the concurrence of the governments of the entire sub-region.

Education is important for any developing country, and one cannot criticize St Vincent and the Grenadines in this department, since the Ralph Gonsalves administration is placing much emphasis in this area.

However, the government has come in for criticism for the high unemployment rate and the escalation of violent crime especially in mainland St Vincent and what makes it worse is that a large number of these crimes are unsolved.

Banana production employs most of the work force, but there is a decline in production, possibly because of the fluctuations in banana prices and reduced European Union trade preferences. This led to disgruntled farmers to turn to illicit agriculture and the rise in marijuana cultivation. The multi island state is now known as the largest marijuana producer in the Eastern Caribbean and it is reported that they even export the weed to other Caribbean islands and further afield.

As the country moves into its 32nd year, I hope that there would be less crime and more employment.

Congratulations, St Vincent and the Grenadines and best wishes in the years ahead.

Copyright© 2007-2010 Caribbean News Now!

Independence Day

The website Being Garifuna sends its regards on the occasion of the Independence Day of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. You can read their message at:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Message From US

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 26, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as you celebrate 31 years of independence this October 27. Our two nations are united by a shared commitment to advancing democracy and human rights as we work to build a brighter future for all our people.

Through our cooperation in the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, and the Partnership Framework for HIV and AIDS, we are working to enhance the security and health of the entire region. We will continue to strengthen the ties of friendship between our countries as we expand our cooperation on these and many other important initiatives.

As you gather to enjoy your Independence Day parade and honor the rich history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I wish all Vincentians a peaceful holiday celebration and a prosperous year.

Outreach in LA

There is an annual fundraising Dinner Dance by the Western US diaspora in the Radisson Airport Hotel (LAX) on November 6th. Search for WWW. SVGOUTREACH.ORG

Out To The Cays

There is a nice description of a day in the Tobago Cays on:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mandarin Restaurant

There is a new restaurant open in Villa. Between Indian Bay and Villa Beach, just short of the high point in that stretch of road, is a building originally built as a hotel but now open as a new restaurant with Chinese cuisine, the Mandarin Restaurant.

Sally and I ate lunch there today and I thought we ate well. The style of the cooking is international chinese: there are maybe a dozen dishes in the core menu, including Lo Mein and General Gao’s Chicken, which we had.

The meals are what you’d expect in a similarly priced chinese restaurant in the US or UK, with the exception that Sally would have wanted more vegetables. However, since Vincentians don’t eat vegetables in general, we were not overly surprised. The service was good (and will be better once the staff gets used to the cash register) and the ambiance, while not exotically oriental, was clean and comfortable.

The price for meals for two with drinks was 40 ecd, which is quite reasonable. There were enough noodles left over from Sally’s Lo Mein to make us an evening meal.

We will certainly go back.

Garifuna In New York

For people interested in garafuna-related activities in the New York area (an active area for the garifuna diaspora) you should make a point of keeping up with the blogsite at Among the recent events mentioned are:

Friday, October 22, 2010

In Massachusetts

We go back to the US for a while in the summer, primarily to visit our various doctors for follow-ups on our various old folks diseases. One of the things we do to amuse ourselves while we wait for appointments is to go to yard sales. The latest thing to start showing up is digital cameras. Somehow I can't resist a $400 camera for $4, even if it costs me $20 for a cable to connect it to my laptop.

In any case the picture above is our house in Massachusetts. Probably built in the 1730s with some recycled boards that are older than 1700 because they were hand made with a pitsaw.

Camille's Video

A speech given at the swearing-in of the most recent group of Peace Corps volunteers can be found at:

I highly recommend the speech itself as showing there are still some good Americans around, but because it looks like Camille's blog will be a good one to follow. It is always good to have a different pair of eyes to see the things that are so familiar that we no longer see them at all.

Sex in SVG

A news item:

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 22, 2010: Sex can cost, and a lot - as a St. Vincent and the Grenadines-based company discovered this week.

The SVG-based company Clover Holdings bought the hot domain, for $13m (£8.2m), according to BBC News. As many as 12 different companies had reportedly been bidding for control of the domain, which was put up for auction back in July after owners Escom LLC went bankrupt.

But Clover Holdings placed the winning bid, and will become the proud owner of the highly sought-after domain once the sale is approved by a bankruptcy court.


Which is interesting just as it stands, but it raises some local questions. Who is "Clover Holdings" and, if it is a Vincentian organization, what is it doing on St. Vincent that is worth $13millionUSD? Is there 13millionUSD worth of sex happening on St. Vincent? How is 13millionUSD worth of commercial sex marketed on St. Vincent at the rate of 130USD per person, including prepubescents? It certainly is curious.

Anybody who knows anything about Clover Holdings should feel free to email

The Second Carib War

The Second Carib War (called by the British, "the Brigand's War") was a critical turningpoint in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It not only gave the British the opportunity to expel the Garifuna completely from St. Vincent but it left the British in a position to repel French attempts to dominate the Caribbean. Because St. Vincent remained a British Colony from 1800 to 1979 the history of the 2nd Carib War is generally described from a British point of view. Only recently, with the recognition of Chief Chatoyer as a National Hero, has there been any attempt to create a history of St. Vincent from anything other than a european colonial point of view.

There is, however, material available forom another viewpoint. Not aboriginal, but at least not British. Alexandre Moreau de Jonnes wrote a memoire of his service as a French spy in the Caribbean during the period of the Second Carib War, and I posted on the internet part of General Abdy's 1920 translation of Moreau's memoir at HTTP:// That has the fault, however, of seeing the action from the limited point-of-view of a footsoldier.

That fault has been provided with a remedy by Dr. James Sweeney in a thesis that includes material from the Moreau memoires in addition to other sources, so that one gets a picture of the entire conflict. Unfortunately it is not in print, to my knowledge, although it would be nice if it were available as a history text in the schools of St. Vincent.

Dr. Sweeney has provided me with a copy of the thesis and after I have reread it and General Abdy's translation I will deposit them in the St. Vincent archives so they will remain available to serious scholars.


A history of the Caribbean that, like most, is written from a european point of view. At least it lists the wars on St. Vincent as the First and Second Carib Wars. It includes two pictures that include Chatoyer as representative of the Caribs in general.


Papaya, picked moments ago in our back yard. The conveniently located tree finally fruited while we were here.

Tastes good, too!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

C. L. R. James and Cricket

While I had the scanner hooked up I thought I'd mention "Beyond A Boundary" by C. L. R. James, the celebrated Caribbean author. James manages to make cricket symbolic of everything caribbean, even to an american only mildly interested in baseball and football. I highly recommend it.

Caribbean Outdoors

A guide to the Caribbean area including St. Vincent And The Grenadines. The edition I have dates to 1989 but not much has changed about the geology of the islands since them, and surprisingly little about the facilities. I'll try to do some more specific blogs about things to visit in St. Vincent; but this is still a good way to get a general idea of what you might want to visit.

Conservation in SVG

A collection of papers, dedicated to the late Dr. Earle Kirby, and several relating to SVG, that center on the natural environment of the Caribbean, and particularly the island of Saint Vincent. It includes a reprint of the 1825 report on the history and state of the botanical garden. A note on a book about "Doc" Kirby is found elsewhere in this blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Joseph Palacio: The Garifuna

I wandered in to the Museum on back street this morning (I was in town to renew the registration on the family car) and there was an exhibition of books about St. Vincent put on by the Gaymes Book Store, although I think many of them were unique copies in Denis Gaymes’ collection.

In any case I bought a copy of Joseph Palacio’s “The Garifuna”. I’m interested in the garifuna, in the part they played in Vincentian history and culture, and in the excellent collection of archeological artifacts that the Museum has on display. But I am particularly interested in the Second Carib War.

Most of the accounts of that war, and the life of the Vincentian Caribs during that period, are based on British sources to whom the Caribs were savages at best and traitors colluding with the French at worst. That was why I was fascinated when Peter Hulme published extracts from the Memoires of Alexandre Moreau de Jonnes in one of his papers. I was more than amazed when Palacio’s book not only contains Hulmes translation of Moreau’s Memoires, but also a “History of the Caribs” by the Marquis De Lambertye. Hulme describes this as being “perhaps the fullest account of Carib life in the middle of the 18th century”.

I put a copy of Gen Abdy’s translation of the Caribbean section of Moreau’s memoire on the internet at

The Palacio book is in print, so you’ll have to buy a copy from the Gaynes Bookstore.

PM wins defamation case in SVG

By Kenton X. Chance

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – The High Court has struck out the defence of talk show host Junior Bacchus and BDS Limited, owners of Nice Radio, in a defamation case brought against them by St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
The case stems from statements Bacchus made last year on Nice Radio.
Bacchus had commented about the alleged ownership of state lands by Gonsalves, his wife, and the chairman of National Properties Limited, a state-owned company.
“This serious allegation was presented as a fact and there is no indication in the defence that any steps were taken to verify his information or that any comment was sought from the claimant,” Master Cheryl Mathurin said in a written judgement.
She further said there was no indication that the defendants tried to verify ownership of land by searching at the Land Registry.
“… [T]the tone of the article is not investigative and does not raise questions as to if and how the claimant came to own state lands, as alleged. There is no question anywhere that there was any urgency in informing the public of this matter,” the judgement said.
“In the premises, having examined the pleadings of the defendants, I conclude that they have no prospect of establishing that they acted in accordance with the tenets of responsible journalism or that they had a duty to broadcast to the public and that the public had an interest in receiving the broadcast,” the judgement further said.
“In conclusion, I find that the defendants have no prospect of succeeding on the defences pleaded, of fair comments and qualified privilege and that these defences are incurably bad and, as such, the defences are struck out with cost to the claimant to be accessed upon application,” it further stated.
“I always tell fellas don’t go about and just slander me so,” Gonsalves said at a media briefing on Monday.
“Don’t judge me on the basis of how you all operate — just being willy-nilly. No. I don’t own any state lands. And if I were to own any state lands, it wouldn’t be surreptitiously. It would be through proper procedure. I own no state lands. And you hear what the judge said: they have no prospect of establishing that they acted in accordance with the tenets of responsible journalism. The fellas just lie; just lie. It is as though there is a drug going abroad with some people, called Liagra. You get it to keep you permanently lying, when it comes to Ralph. So, this is what happens. This is what happens,” Gonsalves said. (Caribbean News Now)

Article printed from Moontown:
URL to article:

Click here to print.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

HMS Manchester to visit SVG

As part of the Independence celebrations, a British Naval vessel, the HMS Manchester, will visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines this month.

The vessel is a Type 42 Batch 3 Destroyer and is approaching her third decade of service in the Royal Navy.

However, through extensive modernization, it remains one of the most potent weapons platforms in the world.

Superintendent of Police, Michael Charles, said the vessel will take part in the National Independence Parade on October 27th.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chatting With The Comrade

Anyone interested in St. Vincent and the Grenadines should look at the blog "Chatting With The Comrade" at

There is also a web page at

I haven't figured out how they are connected, but if he keeps it up it will be a good thing not only for residents interested in politics, but for those in the diaspora.

I'll certainly follow it.

I may buy his books, too, for my SVG collection.

More Orchids

Back In Villa

We arrived back home to Villa last wednesday, Oct. 6. Pretty soon we will have reacclimated to the tropics and I'll be able to do more than just put in clippings from other people's blogs. I can start with something new, however. We were greeted by some orchids in bloom, which is pleasant. More later, I hope.

PM Gonsalves to launch book this month

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC - Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves will on October 20 launch his 397-page autobiography, “The Making of ‘The Comrade’: The Political Journey of Ralph Gonsalves”, his second book this month.

Gonsalves told supporters of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) at a rally in Stubbs on Thursday that he completed the monograph in four months and was inspired to write it after six young persons, ages 18 and 19 visited him.
“And, as I spoke to them, I realised that when we came to office, they were just nine years old, and there are many things they don’t know about the Comrade,” Gonsalves said.

“There are many things they don’t know about those of us who were born immediately after the Second World War, much less to those who were born before. And the journey we have travelled from plantation system and British colonialism to independence. How we have moved to this region and what are the connections

Gonsalves, a lawyer and former university lecturer, said he has been a political activist for 42 years, explaining that his “journey” began on October 16, 1968 when he was president of the student body at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
He said he led a demonstration of several thousands in Kingston after the then government, “in an act of unfreedom and arbitrariness” prevented Walter Rodney from returning to Jamaica.
He said many persons were beaten and tear-gassed and the university was locked down and surrounded by the military for two weeks.

“And, I quietly made up my mind as a 22-year-old young man that I will put my bucket down among the Caribbean people and more particularly the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the land of my birth, and to give to them, the benefit of my knowledge and my experience and commitment to bring decency to public life, freedom, deepening democracy, to help to wipe out poverty, to provide education for everyone, health, housing, development.

“And those things, which moved me as a 22-year-old youngster, they move me today, 42 years later at 64 years of age. And this is my journey and this is the journey of our people,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves also launched “Diary of a Prime Minister: Ten days among Benedictine Monks” at a prayer breakfast in Kingstown on Thursday, October 7.

Friday, October 01, 2010

NCB To Be Privatized

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Friday October 1, 2010 – St Vincent and the Grenadines' state-owned National Commercial Bank (SVG) Limited will soon have private ownership.

The government has reached agreement with the East Caribbean Financial Holding Company Limited (ECFH) of St Lucia to take over 51 percent share in the national bank.

The government will retain the balance of shares, with the intention of divesting 29 percent of that to the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Insurance Service, citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines, including bank staff and citizens of the region within the next 12 months.

The move followed the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ invitation to ECFH, parent company of the Bank of St Lucia Limited, to consider acquiring an interest in the bank.

“In pursuance of the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ stated policy on the privatization of the Bank, the ECFH Group’s vision of regional expansion, and in support of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s (ECCB) efforts at strengthening the banking system through mergers and alliances, ECFH was pleased to accept the invitation,” a statement from the St Lucian bank said.

All formalities of the acquisition are expected to be finalized by October 31st.

The agreement is subject to regulatory approval of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, but the ECFH said it expected the approval to be forthcoming.

ECFH is the product of a 2001 merger of the largest commercial bank and the sole development bank in St Lucia.