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OECS council of ministers navigate geopolitical landscape – Caribbean News Now

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OECS Foreign Affairs Ministers

CASTRIES, Saint Lucia — OECS ministers of foreign affairs concluded a successful fifth meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (COMFA) on May 12, 2019. The meeting was held in St George’s, Grenada under the chairmanship of that country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Peter David and involved ministerial representation by all members of the council except one which was represented at the level of ambassador/commissioner.

The meeting addressed a number of issues of critical concern to the OECS and its member states, including (inter alia):

  • Key developments in the international arena;
  • Negotiations between the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) and the European Union (EU) on a new relationship to come into effect in 2020;
  • The financial blacklisting of OECS member states (and others) by the EU as “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions;”
  • The progressive enlargement of the OECS;
  • Strategic joint diplomatic and commercial engagement in specified jurisdictions; and
  • OECS climate action within the ambit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and beyond.

In welcoming participants to the meeting, Ambassador Anthony Severin, the commission’s head of international relations, noted that the international geopolitical environment had become increasingly intense and complex and that it had continued to engage the full attention of members of the Council.

He noted further that “Developments in the hemisphere, in Latin America and particularly in Venezuela had served to severely test the region’s capacity to satisfy a key treaty objective of the OECS, namely foreign policy coordination and harmonization.”

He opined that the capacity for foreign policy coordination and harmonization went to the heart of the region’s integration effort and that notwithstanding the sovereign character of our individual member states, it is a capacity which we must strive continuously to strengthen if we are to navigate the profoundly complex, geopolitical landscape successfully.

The Commission’s head of international relations reminded delegates that “As practitioners in the field of international relations and diplomacy we have a responsibility to foster engagement – to develop and promote structured approaches to engagement among ourselves and with the rest of the world; we have a responsibility, notwithstanding our small size, to encourage, to promote and to champion multilateralism over unilateral action and international law over the extraterritorial application of domestic law.”

He saw these responsibilities as deriving from “a proud and shared history that teaches us that we too have a contribution to make to global civilisation and that this contribution is not only valid but both rich and profound.”

Representing the outgoing chair, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Ambassador Felix Gregoire noted that the work of the Ministerial Council was critical to achieving the mandates of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre and expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the OECS in the area of international relations, particularly in the establishment of a resident diplomatic presence in Africa; and in the continued enlargement of the organisation’s membership, with the recent accession of Guadeloupe to associate membership of the organisation and the transition of St Martin from observer status to associate membership in the coming months.

The incoming chair of the Council, Peter David considered the full and high-level participation of member states at the fifth meeting of the Council to be an expression of the “individual and collective commitment to integration and cooperation for the betterment of our peoples.”

He opined that the Council has ushered “a new era of bilateral and regional cooperation in Caribbean relations” through its work and saw it as providing “powerful impetus for building a stronger OECS community.”

The incoming chair expressed the expectation that “The deliberain particular, climate change and better access to climate finance, the development of renewable energy sources, agriculture and food security, the promotion of science and technology and the enhancement of air and sea connectivity. He urged the Council to work to strengthen the OECS and to “make (its) voice heard in the international domain.”

The fifth meeting of COMFA reaffirmed its commitment to remain engaged on the major issues of concern to the organisation and its member states at the global, hemispheric and regional levels and to work toward their resolution in the interest of the region.



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Ridge to Reef supports capacity building through Apiculture training

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In an effort to build capacity in sustainable livelihoods the GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef (R2R) Project in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Resilience, the Environment, Forestry, Fisheries, Disaster Management and Information hosted an introductory Apiculture Training Programme in the communities of Happy Hill and New Hampshire.

After 20 days of interactive classroom sessions, several students of the Happy Hill Secondary School and farmers from the New Hampshire community completed the training programme.

Apiculture or beekeeping is the practice of maintaining honeybee colonies for the purpose of honey production or other bee products such as wax, propolis, pollen or royal jelly. In addition to being breed for their products, bees can also be kept for their ecological service of pollination.

During the training programme participants gained knowledge about the various practices employed in beekeeping through a mixture of practical and theoretical classroom sessions. The sessions highlighted the practices necessary to ensure the cultivation, management and maintenance of healthy beehives. Participants were also introduced to the biodiversity-friendly, livelihood opportunity that beekeeping provides. As an entrepreneurial avenue, beekeeping can have positive impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, in addition to serving as a source of income to provide a level of financial sustainability to farmers.

Trainer and Adult participants of the GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Apiculture Training Programme.

The R2R Bee Keeping Training Programme is one of several project activities which are directed towards supporting capacity building, sustainable livelihoods and Grenada’s progression towards achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable livelihoods allow stakeholders to cope with and recover from stresses and shocks without undermining or depleting the natural resource base which they depend upon.

The Ridge to Reef project continually seeks to promote sustainable livelihoods and sustainable land management practices geared towards enhancing biodiversity and sustaining ecosystems of Grenada.

Ridge to Reef

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Open letter to Franka Alexis-Bernardine, Political Leader NDC

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9 November 2019
Franka Alexis-Bernardine
Political Leader
National Democratic Congress

Greetings Madam Political Leader!

Re: Your Election as Party Leader

The nation has greeted with great interest and expectation your ascendancy to the office of Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress. It appears to be a “watershed” moment for women in politics in Grenada. Permit me to offer my congratulations and a few comments/observations.

Congratulations, Madam, on your COURAGE and BRAVERY to serve your party and Grenada in this position and at this juncture in our country. Politics is BRUTAL, perhaps even dangerous, moreso for women.

Political leadership of the party is pointing ultimately in the direction of leadership of the country. Your entry into politics did not come via the electoral route but rather you answered a call to serve and became a Minister via a Senate appointment so you are starting a little handicapped since there is no “safe seat” in which to field the Political Leader. I therefore hope that you will have a circle of persons around you on whom you can depend – people who “have got your back” and want to see you SUCCEED. I do not mean “yes people” but people whom you can trust and will tell you what you need to know/hear. When the party leader succeeds, then the party looks good and everyone associated with the party looks good and confidence is built.

I recall the SHABBY treatment and disrespect meted out to former Party Leader/Political Leader, Tillman Thomas, during his term as Prime Minister. I trust, Madam, that the entire party has learnt from that episode and that your political colleagues will appreciate and value your capability and experience. Thankfully, “maximum leadership” does not appear to be the style of your party. However, a collection of bright persons DO NOT make a team and in the post-revolutionary period we the people have bemoaned the fact that a lot of bright people occupying the same political space NEVER seem to get their act together!! I hope that a Compact has been negotiated, that there are/will be protocols and procedures about how party business is conducted and its disputes are settled and that provisions are made for certain eventualities. You have served in the development NGO sector which considers process – including conflict resolution and concensus building – to be essential to a sustainable, quality product/output. Process is of paramount importance to organisational building and I trust it will become a hallmark of your political organisation. If a party cannot “take care of its own business”, how then can the public have confidence that it can run a country?

Role of Women in the Party

Traditionally, the women of the NDC party have been hardworking, no-nonsense people who, on more than one occasion, have brought a paralysed party out of crisis – going back as far as the post-Nicholas Brathwaite period. Thus, this public recognition by the party of the worth of its women has been LONG in coming. Even though the party has been at the vanguard of advancing the rights and status of women in Grenada, within the party, it has been slow in according that recognition and respect to its women, if one were to judge by the percentage of leadership positions held by women in the party and the percentage of women offered as candidates. Your party’s political rival, the New National Party, understands the international political capital of these numbers and has done well for itself in this regard. Regrettably, those numbers do not translate into influence on decision-making and agenda-setting, the improvement of the status of the women in Grenada or good governance in general. They are all wearing the same khaki cloth, in the same cut as the “boys”.

Clearly, in the recent elections of the Executive which brought you to the helm, an attempt seems to have been made to redress this gender inequality and I note there is almost 50-50 representation on the new Executive. Therefore, I trust Madam, that under your stewardship, there will be concerted efforts to develop the self-confidence and capacity of these and other capable women (and men) in the party to hold high office.

Party’s Business

As you are aware Madam, your party is under intense scrutiny. Indeed, sometimes it seems that there is a different yardstick by which certain interests measure the party when compared with its political rival, the New National Party. And there seems to be those who have made it their quest to “mash” up your party. So, the party needs to be mindful of distraction, “keep its eye on the prize”, and address its business in order to be seen as a credible alternative to be entrusted with the stewardship of the people’s business.

Madam, it amazes me how the general public seems to always be “in the know” in respect of the party’s internal business. I believe that this is destructive and needs to be remedied. While party business is indeed the people’s business, ALL dirty/other linen need not always be washed/aired out in public.

Brand

While one has to be sensitive/responsive to the public – since one is seeking their vote of approval – you as Political Leader will need to have YOUR, unique brand. I imagine, Madam, that soon, you and your advisors, will be shaping YOUR brand and the party’s brand. Among the qualities of that brand Madam, I hope, is that the TRUTH will always be told to the public.

I am sure Madam, that you would not want to come across as any “Saviour” or “knight in shining armour” who is going “to save” Grenada. You are much too pragmatic. It is about educating, empowering, inspiring and mobilising Grenadians to save themselves – to imbue them with the confidence and means that THEY CAN. ALL hands and colours have a part to play and are needed on board in the business of building Grenada.

Men, Women and Children

None better than you Madam appreciates the dire plight facing some of our women and children in this country, as has come to the fore recently. You have made enormous contributions to the design and implementation of programs to address some of those challenges. Your party also has several experienced, capable persons in this regard. I trust that your party will have a clearly articulated agenda that it can begin to implement, even while out of office. That said, the MEN also have to be brought along.

Stewardship of the People’s Assets

I trust, Madam, that your party, if elected to office, will remember at all times, it is the STEWARDS of the people’s business and ASSETS. We hope that at all times, it is going to be UPFRONT and TRANSPARENT in its relationship with foreign investors and governments and that it will not thrust its own version of “development’ upon us, particularly when that entails “giving away” our assets. There must be mechanisms by which we, the people can collectively participate in decision-making about matters of this nature.

We appreciate that government is a continuum and that decisions and commitments made by a previous government have to be honoured by the successor government. We are entering on TRICKY ground here, Madam Political Leader. On ascending to office in 2008, your administration inherited quite a number of these “suspect” projects. It is my considered view that the NDC administration of 2008-2013 had the sovereign authority to have rescued the people’s property in Levera from the debt junkie, Paul Taylor. It chose not to and played along with the so-called millionaire investor and now this property has apparently ended up in the hands of some Far Eastern group whose intent, it seems, is to create a millionaires’ playground. Based on a video circulated, apparently, there is not even room for Grenadians to be hewers of wood and carriers of water. The debt junkie seems to have benefitted HANDSOMELY while Grenadians whose LANDS WERE ACQUIRED are still awaiting payment. One or two have even gone to the great beyond. Your party has to have a definite plan as to how it would negotiate such MURKY situations.

Financing and the People’s Property

At all times, it must be remembered and understood by all and sundry, Madam Political Leader, that there are no free lunches!! Nations, institutions and individuals are not parting with their money because “dey like us”!! Among the questions to be pondered are: WHO are they, WHAT do they want in return and whether we can afford it. How will our people be impacted negatively and positively? Our political leaders seem to have a penchant for being blinded by apparent “glits and glamour”. They do not dig beyond the surface (DUE DILIGENCE) and it has become too much the trend that Grenadians are expected to “step aside” and GIVE UP what is their own to accommodate foreign investors because they “bringing jobs and development”. There are TOO many of these examples where promises have not been delivered, dreams broken, our assets alienated and we the people are left holding the debt and/or the white elephants. ENOUGH is enough!! So Madam Political Leader, when the party is negotiating financing, it must be remembered, that without informed people’s participation in the decision-making, the people’s property is OFF LIMITS!

The Journey Now Start

I thank you, Madam Political Leader, for the opportunity to offer these comments and I wish you very best wishes as you embark on this new phase of the journey as Political Leader of your party. May the Most High bless, inspire and protect you!

Kind regards!
Sandra CA Ferguson

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Faustino Asprilla: Ex-Colombia striker urged hitman not to kill Jose Luis Chilavert

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Former Colombia striker Faustino Asprilla says he had to convince a hitman not to kill Paraguay goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert after a World Cup qualifying match in 1997.



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