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News Article
Cuban-American relations

Dear Editor,
 
For over a year now, those of us of Cuban heritage and residing in the United States have been flooded with information about the relations, or lack thereof, between the countries and the many missed opportunities by the Obama administration to change Cuba policy, to match what Cuba is doing about its way of governing and its economy, boiling down to "what one country does and the other does or does not".
These are maximized by the expectation of many in the United States that the government should make further changes to its policies (the legitimacy and/or value of these policies are not going to be debated here) towards Cuba as a result of the changes that Cuba is in the process of putting into effect or has already done.
I, for one, do not agree that any changes need to be made as a direct result of the ongoing changes that the Cuban revolutionary government is making or proposing to make.  I also do not agree with any of the sanctions now in place with regard to Cuba, nor do I subscribe to the theory that Cuba is "a terrorist nation" - the furthest thing from my belief.  But I do not tie one country's internal changes to another's foreign policies.
What is happening in Cuba is the direct result of erroneous economic, and to a certain degree political, decisions in the past.  Some of them were derived from the Cold War mentality, which still prevails in some circles of both governments.  Others came about as a result of mismanagement and/or lack of managerial ability.  But these are Cuban problems, these are Cuban decisions taken at this time, I trust, to correct the problems from the past mistakes that were made and make life better for its citizens.
Once again we continue to interfere in the internal affairs of Cuba, and we do it with other nations too.  I noted with keen interest that Raul Castro (I believe it was him) said in days past that if an individual is caught in this country (i.e. United States), receiving money from Cuba, he/she is prosecuted under several of our laws, unless registered as a representative of a foreign country - which if done I would imagine that our government's radars would be on that individual or group 24/7/365!  And yet the United State criticizes Cuba for the prosecution of those that are actively taking money, and orders, from the United States' government and dressing themselves as "periodistas", but without journalism degrees. This, at the very least is total hypocrisy.
The conclusion is simple.  Whatever Cuba does internally is the problem of its government and its people, and nothing should be expected or demanded by them or others as payment for their changes.  On the other side of the coin, the United States government needs to discontinue two things:
1) The flow of money - taxpayers' money - to individuals and organizations that "promote" democracy or regime change in Cuba.  This is direct interference in the internal affairs of another country.
2) Disengage the "this-for-that" policies and realize that the embargo has been a failure, and an excuse, and that Americans should be able to travel to Cuba as they please.
 
- Jose A. Gonzalez

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News Article
The state of the Republic of Haiti

Every year at this time, I try to take a fresh look at the progress and setbacks of the Republic of Haiti.† January 1 is a universal milestone for reflection and for pondering on the achievements and missteps of the year past.† Haiti has the privilege of celebrating its birthday on January 1, a double occasion to look back to forge ahead better.

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News Article
New Group Established to Represent the Interests of Bahamians Abroad

A new public interest
group The Council for Concerned Bahamians Abroad (CBA) has recently
been established. The Council is a non-partisan, apolitical group of
Bahamians Abroad, and Friends of the Bahamas concerned about policies
and initiatives affecting the Bahamas, its people, its economy, and its
development. The Council's concerns include the protection and
preservation of the economic and family interests of Bahamians residing
or domiciled outside the Bahamas. A primary concern of the Council is
the impact of Bahamian governmental initiatives.

The Council has
issued an invitation to all Bahamians and Bahamian organizations
residing or domiciled outside the Bahamas, Bahamian-Americans, and
Friends of the Bahamas with concerns about the future of the Bahamas and
its people...

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News Article
OAS Secretary General Calls for National Unity and Respect for Institutions in Guatemala

As a result of the political situation in Guatemala, in the context of
the electoral process leading up to presidential elections in September, the Secretary General of the Organization of American
States (OAS), Josť Miguel Insulza, said he is "concerned about the
environment of political tension that in this context has been
created in the Central American country, especially by the
definition of the registration of candidates from different political organizations."

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News Article
The public life

Charles Maynard will be buried on Friday after a funeral at Christ Church Cathedral. Maynard died at 42.
He is from a political family. His father Andrew 'Dud' Maynard was the longest serving chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), and Charles grew up around politics. His uncle, Sir Clement Maynard, was deputy prime minister. His first cousin Allyson Maynard-Gibson is attorney general, a PLP senator and former MP for her party.
Charles Maynard was a PLP, the former deputy leader of the now defunct Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR) and a Cabinet minister in the last Free National Movement (FNM) administration. He did all this in 42 years. He died in Abaco on the campaign trail trying to keep the seat Hubert Ingraham is resigning from on the FNM's side in the upcoming by-election. He died on the political battlefield.
Maynard decided to dedicate his life to public service. Many take great pleasure criticizing every action made by politicians. Some think they all are corrupt, dishonest. Some are. But many are not.
What we must respect about the decision made by people such as Maynard is that he was willing to make the sacrifice.
Speaking at a memorial service for Maynard at the FNM's Mackey Street headquarters yesterday Ingraham said that his former Cabinet colleague was dedicated.
"He was a talented, personable, enthusiastic, energetic, reliable, productive and a loyal FNM," he said.
"Charlie was a gifted addition to the FNM's ranks. We do not have now and could never have enough Charlies in our ranks. Indeed Charlies are very rare individuals."
Maynard was elected chairman of the FNM in May after he lost his Golden Isles seat in the general election and his party was voted out of office.
The Bahamas can only improve if its best and brightest sons and daughters offer themselves for public service. Simply complaining from the sidelines is not good enough if the desire of the next generation is to make their country better than they met it.
As Maynard is remembered today and at his funeral tomorrow, younger Bahamians should reflect on the decision he made to dedicate his life to public service. While it is possible to make contributions through civic organizations and being a good parent, people are needed to make laws, to run ministries, to think of new directions for the economy, to figure out reforms to the criminal justice system. We need thinkers and executers in our government.
Maynard tried. Whether you liked him or not, he tried. More of you should do so too.

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News Article
Of Jamaica, republics and the Commonwealth

What effect will Jamaica becoming a republic and leaving the 53-nation Commonwealth have on the rest of the Caribbean countries? Will they follow Jamaica to become republics and leave the Commonwealth?
Those were the questions put to me by the editor of an Internet news website just as I had begun to write a commentary after a two-day seminar at Cambridge University in the UK that grappled with the issue of the Commonwealth and its relevance to its 1.2 billion people after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia last October.
I will return to the outcome of the seminar in my next commentary. Suffice it to say for now that The Round Table, arguably the oldest journal on Commonwealth matters, is in its 101st year of publication in Britain and the Commonwealth. Over the decades, the material published in the journal has been both a record of Commonwealth events and a serious contributor to the shape and direction of the now 53-nation organization.
After each Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference (CHOGM), The Round Table has convened a meeting of representatives of Commonwealth non-governmental organizations, ministers, academics and the Commonwealth secretary-general to assess the outcomes of the conference. It did so at Cambridge University in the UK on January 9 and 10 with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and Lord Howells, the British minister for commonwealth affairs actively participating.
I attended as a member of the International Advisory Board of The Round Table and a member of the Eminent Persons Group that submitted a report to last October's CHOGM in Australia on urgent reform of the Commonwealth. The question that dominated the 2-day meeting in Cambridge is whether, as a result of the Australia CHOGM, the Commonwealth is better or worse placed to serve the needs of the people and to make a meaningful contribution to the international community.
I had meant to write about the outcome of the seminar but this matter of Jamaica commands immediate attention. So, this week, I give it priority.
The posing of the editor's question shows how misunderstood the Commonwealth is even by journalists whose breadth of knowledge about world events is considerable. It also underscores the necessity for the Commonwealth to improve significantly its own information and education machinery.
The editor's question arose because newly-elected Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller in a televised debate on the eve of last month's general election, said quite clearly that she wanted "a Jamaican Queen". The remark from the leader of the People's National Party (PNP) was not a new sentiment. The former leader of the PNP and former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson had also declared his party's wish to end Jamaica's monarchical status, in which it shares Queen Elizabeth with 14 other countries as its sovereign.
What was intriguing about the editor's question was the underlying assumption that, if the Jamaican people choose to end Jamaica's monarchical relationship and become a Republic, Jamaica would have to leave the Commonwealth of which the Queen is head.
This was the same assumption that Ireland made in 1949 when it chose to become a republic. Having made that choice, Ireland departed from the Commonwealth. India was set to follow Ireland in becoming a republic and leaving the Commonwealth because the government of independent India (1948) was not about to allow the British monarch to continue to reign over it. However, mature and sensible heads worked out a solution which was that India would become a republic and remain in the Commonwealth, recognizing the British monarch as "Head of the Commonwealth" and "a symbol of the voluntary association" of independent countries. While the Queen is strongest champion of the Commonwealth family of nations, she has no executive authority over the organization.
Other countries that became independent of Britain and chose to become republics have continued as members of the Commonwealth on the same basis as India. Among those countries are three Caribbean ones: Dominica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Indeed, more recently, other republics that were never colonies of Britain have become members of the Commonwealth. These are: Cameroon, Mozambique, and Rwanda.
Republican status is not incompatible with Commonwealth membership, and I am confident that Jamaica would not leave the Commonwealth if it becomes a republic. Jamaica derives no disadvantage from its membership of the Commonwealth. Indeed, its membership brings it great benefits, among which are: technical assistance in a range of skill-areas in which it lacks sufficient expertise; advocacy for dealing with issues that affect it such as debt and trade; and help in training people to deal with HIV/AIDS , and mitigating against the harmful effects of climate change. Additionally, Jamaican professionals, including judges, lawyers, engineers, nurses and teachers belong to Commonwealth organizations that provide them with a vast network of contacts across over 50 nations that help to improve their knowledge and access to resources.
The associated question put to me is also interesting: should Jamaica decide to become a republic, will it influence governments of the remaining independent Caribbean countries that are still monarchies to do the same? The answer is not necessarily yes. Two years ago, the government of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in St. Vincent and the Grenadines received a resounding "no" from the people when the issue was included in a referendum question. About four years ago, the government of Barbados, under then Prime Minister Owen Arthur, had also declared itself for a republic with no unanimous support for the idea. Further, the fact that three Commonwealth Caribbean countries have been republics for many years has not encouraged other Caribbean states to follow.
Circumstances in each Caribbean country are different. Their governments will each have to weigh carefully the sentiment of the people before they risk a referendum on republican status.
In Jamaica, the matter could be decided easily if the two political parties agree that the time has come to cut the monarchical knot. Such a decision will not affect Jamaica's membership of the Commonwealth, nor will it cause other non-republican governments in the Commonwealth Caribbean to follow.
 
Sir Ronald Sanders is a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group appointed to recommend ways to reform the Commonwealth. Get more info at: www.sirronaldsanders.com.
Reprinted with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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News Article
Preliminary autopsy report on the general election

Dear Editor,

The following is my preliminary autopsy report on the May 07, 2012 general election, which resulted in the crushing defeat of the Free National Movement (FNM) party and its now deflated leader, Hubert Alexander Ingraham.
Firstly, it was a people's victory - more than one for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). The last five years were financially exhaustive for many of us; and scores of Bahamians, including me, have expressed how it was the worst time economically that we have faced in our lifetime.
Home ownership was lost left, right and center; unemployment increased dramatically, and we the people became naturally apprehensive about our and our children's futures while we watched a very grand road improvement and infrastructure project gobble up hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowed funds.
Then, there were fellow FNM supporters who had abandoned ship in mass numbers during the last term of the Free National Movement government. It was indeed a creepy experience to be witness to card carrying FNMs from the inception of the party move on to other political organizations.
The FNM defeat was in the making the day after its 2007 general election victory. Most FNM MPs had abandoned their constituents from 2007 to 2012; and when they did confront the voters to vote for them this time, they discovered that they were out of favor with the people. Brensil Rolle, Tommy Turnquest, Carl Bethel, and a lot of others now understand that the Bahamian electorate would not tolerate rotten representation.
Through it all, how was it that the FNM incumbent candidate for Killarney was able to hold on to his seat in believable fashion, despite the massive PLP wave? The answer to this holds the key to the future successes of the FNM party - in my humble opinion.

- Dennis Dames

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News Article
Hubert Ingraham: A man for all seasons

Dear Editor,

I have had my share of political and personal differences with former Prime Minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham during his various administrations. The time has come, however, to acknowledge the good that he may have done on behalf of the people of The Bahamas.
Ingraham was a polarizing figure of the highest order. He seemed to relish that fact and glorified in his ability to do so at the drop of a hat. He also had the innate ability to rub people the wrong way. Like or hate him, however, he was a man for all seasons.
A strong and highly principled individual, Ingraham could never tolerate or encourage slackness, foolishness or ineptness by political colleagues.
He was brash in the execution of his duties as Primus inter pares (first among equals).
He held a bold vision, if sometimes flawed, for The Bahamas. One might not have agreed with his execution of the same but we always knew where he stood on an issue.
Dr. Wess Roberts, an American author, wrote a book "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun" a few years ago. In the same, he wrote: "Leadership is the privilege to have the responsibility to direct the actions of others in carrying out the purposes of organizations at various levels of authority and with accountability for both successful and failed endeavors...".
Ingraham possessed those traits and those who succeed him would do well to emulate him in this regard. Of course, he could be boorish and often acted almost dictator-like, at whim, but successful leaders are and must be seen as chameleons par excellence. Whether it is a holdover from our days as slaves in Africa is debatable but, clearly, the average Bahamian prefers a strong leader.
Much was accomplished during Ingraham's three terms in office. He did us, however, no gratuitous favors. He came into office a relatively poor man, financially. Today, he is a declared multimillionaire and will collect a comfortable pension until the day he dies. Having said that, however, it cannot be denied that he delivered, even if at great financial expenses to taxpayers.
He has carved out his legacy and he will be remembered as long as there is a Bahamas and the Master continues to tarry. I am of the opinion that the gold rush will, eventually, find its feet and will succeed. I am also persuaded that the current leader of the FNM, Dr. Hubert Alexander Minnis (FNM-Killarney), is of prime ministerial material.
If the gold rush were to fail and if Minnis proves unable or incapable of cutting it, there is a distinct possibility that Ingraham will, once again, be drafted and recalled back into service by a disillusioned and jittery Bahamian electorate. It is as simple as that.
I hold no brief, as I once did, for Ingraham, but political realities and possibilities are strange things. The current chairman of the PLP will be retiring in a few short months but he has stated that if Ingraham were to even attempt to come back that he, Bradley Roberts, would come out of his own retirement to prevent such a scenario. Mudda sick! Big Bad Brad is something else.
He is my personal friend and benefactor, but he knows that he is no match for a focused and fired up Hubert. I see Philip Brave Davis as the next prime minister within the next year and I make no apologies for this.
What happens, however, after 2017, a few short years away, is anyone's guess. I do not make guesses. I make prophecies. With the right advisors and allies, Brave could have a long and bright tenure as PM.
To God then, in all things, be the glory.

- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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News Article
The public life

Charles Maynard was buried a week ago after a funeral at Christ Church Cathedral. Maynard died at 42.
He is from a political family. His father Andrew 'Dud' Maynard was the longest serving chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), and Charles grew up around politics. His uncle, Sir Clement Maynard, was deputy prime minister. His first cousin Allyson Maynard-Gibson is attorney general, a PLP senator and former MP for her party.
Charles Maynard was a PLP, the former deputy leader of the now defunct Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR) and a Cabinet minister in the last Free National Movement (FNM) administration. He did all this in 42 years. He died in Abaco on the campaign trail trying to keep the seat Hubert Ingraham is resigning from on the FNM's side in the upcoming by-election. He died on the political battlefield.
Maynard decided to dedicate his life to public service. Many take great pleasure criticizing every action made by politicians. Some think they all are corrupt, dishonest. Some are. But many are not.
What we must respect about the decision made by people such as Maynard is that he was willing to make the sacrifice.
Speaking at a memorial service for Maynard at the FNM's Mackey Street headquarters just before the funeral, Ingraham said that his former Cabinet colleague was dedicated.
"He was a talented, personable, enthusiastic, energetic, reliable, productive and a loyal FNM," he said.
"Charlie was a gifted addition to the FNM's ranks. We do not have now and could never have enough Charlies in our ranks. Indeed Charlies are very rare individuals."
Maynard was elected chairman of the FNM in May after he lost his Golden Isles seat in the general election and his party was voted out of office.
The Bahamas can only improve if its best and brightest sons and daughters offer themselves for public service. Simply complaining from the sidelines is not good enough if the desire of the next generation is to make their country better than they met it.
As Maynard is remembered today and at his funeral tomorrow, younger Bahamians should reflect on the decision he made to dedicate his life to public service. While it is possible to make contributions through civic organizations and being a good parent, people are needed to make laws, to run ministries, to think of new directions for the economy, to figure out reforms to the criminal justice system. We need thinkers and executers in our government.
Maynard tried. Whether you liked him or not, he tried. More of you should do so too.

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News Article
U.S. Embassy Supports Women's Empowerment Through Two Professional Exchanges

Nassau, Bahamas - 

In
keeping with the U.S. Embassy's ongoing efforts in supports of the
empowerment of women and girls and in recognition of The Bahamas' 50th
anniversary of the Women's Suffrage Movement, two Bahamian women were
recently given the opportunity to participate in separate professional
exchanges with female leaders from around the world. 

The
Honorable Melanie Griffin, Member of Parliament for Yamacraw,
participated in an exchange focused on "Women's Leadership and Political
Participation," while Miss Keva Nairn, Family Island District
Commissioner of The Bahamas Girl Guides Association, participated in a
program focused on "Girl Scouts and Girl Guides: Building and Developing
Capacity for Girl-Serving Organizations."   Both exchange opportunities
were organized by the U.S. Department of State's Office of...

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