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News Article

August 10, 2010
Shades of Creation

By ALESHA CADET

Tribune Features Writer

Wenly and Bea Fowler have always been drawn to the artistic expressions of God, through nature, design, thought and patterns.

But it was not until recently, when they finally gave in to the demands of family and friends to share their talents, that the couple decided to hold their first art exhibition.

On Wednesday August 4- Friday August 6th, Wenly and Bea Fowler hosted an art exhibition under the theme, " Shades of Creation" at The National Centre for the Performing Arts on Shirley Street.

The creative couple had met on a college campus when they were studying education.

Since those early days, most of their artistic expressions were ...

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News Article

August 10, 2010
Letter: Removal of the Cheshire Home Deed of Trust from Registrar General's department

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Firstly, I express sincere gratitude to the family of Rotary Clubs in The Bahamas on behalf of all disable persons who resided in and otherwise benefited from the existence of Cheshire Home, for having undertaken the establishment of that very much needed, disabled-friendly residential facility on Dolphin Drive, in the 1980s. Acknowledgment and gratitude are also extended to Sir Durward Knowles for the leading roll he played in seeing the home come into existence.

Gratitude and appreciation are also extended to members of the general public for having financially supported the various fund raising efforts by the Rotary Clubs, which resulted in the eventual construction o ...

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News Article

August 10, 2010
Government in talks for judo training centre

By ERIKA RAHMING

VLAD Marinescu, personal assistant to Marius Vizer, president of the International Judo Federation (IJF), met with several high ranking Bahamian officials to discuss plans for the future of judo in the Bahamas and the Caribbean region.

Mr Marinescu was in town for the Bahamas Judo Open this past weekend.

Bahamas Judo Federation (BJF) president D'Arcy Rahming and Mr Marinescu met with Minister of Youth and Sports Charles Maynard to discuss the possibility of a regional judo training centre for the Caribbean within the sports complex currently being built here in New Providence.

The minister was enthusiastic and expressed interest in reviewing a more detailed plan.

Mr ...

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News Article

August 13, 2010
Letter: Social policies needed to deal with teenage prostitution

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Teenage prostitution published by The Tribune on July 23 is a report about underage girls exchanging sexual pleasures commercially. The well reported article features primarily Dr Sandra Dean-Patterson, director of the Bahamas Crisis Centre, discussing the matter. Dr Dean-Patterson expresses that the problem of teen prostitution doesn't exist because individuals under the age of 16 cannot give consent to sex; therefore, they are not committing prostitution. She said the girls are being exploited.

On the Tribune's website (www.tribune242.com) some people opined under the article. They aired how much they disagreed with Dr Dean-Patterson's assertion that the kid ...

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News Article

May 23, 2011
Win or lose, give me that sweet rush

By NOELLE NICOLLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
nnicolls@tribunemedia.net

THERE is a Yoruba story that says when the earth lost its tongue and could no longer speak the heavens gave birth to the drum. In the ceremony of Junkanoo, when the goatskin drums start to beat and the brass band starts to play, the Junkanooer disappears into a deep meditation as the spirit expresses itself in movement and sound.
If Junkanoo were to exist in its most natural form, perhaps it would appear more like a masked ancestral ritual on African soil or the dance of a honugan in a Haitian Voudon ceremony. But as with much else, we are living outside of the natural order of things.
Win or lose, I don’t care; just ...

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News Article

January 08, 2012
Bahamas Christian Council's preamble to their responses to URCA's list of consultative questions

First of all, we are very grateful to God and to URCA
for the privilege of being able to participate in this consultative
process to develop a Code of Practice for the regulation of content
services and audiovisual media services in The Bahamas. This
consultative process is an expression of the rich democracy which we
continue to enjoy in our beloved nation, and we greatly value this
opportunity to speak on behalf of hundreds of the churches represented
by The Bahamas Christian Council and thousands of citizens in our
churches and country who share our views and values on matters of
morality.

Without hesitation, we acknowledge that this consultative exercise brings...

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News Article

June 08, 2011
Cable: PM in spat with U.S. over Cuba

American diplomats expressed concerns about Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's apparent double-talk on the Cuba issue and wrote in an October 2008 diplomatic cable that his approaching trip to the Communist nation was "troubling".
On October 4, 2008, Ingraham informed a U.S. Embassy official that he was considering joining a group of his peers on a CARICOM-sponsored visit to Cuba that December, according to the cable.
Ingraham reportedly said he had traveled to Cuba "a couple of decades ago" and noted that his Free National Movement party had unsuccessfully opposed the Progressive Liberal Party government when it established diplomatic relations with Havana in 2006.
The embassy official, according to the cable, told Ingraham he was certain that at best the United States government would be "deeply disappointed" if the prime minister were to travel to Cuba.
"The U.S. considered The Bahamas a close friend but such a trip would be troubling," the official wrote.
The official noted that the Cuban regime had taken no significant steps to warrant such a visit by the prime minister.
According to the cable, Ingraham listened without comment to a message from the U.S. Embassy that the Castro government had rejected repeated U.S. offers of humanitarian hurricane assistance for the Cuban people.
The cable said Ingraham energetically stated that the "U.S. stands alone on the Cuban embargo" and told the embassy official that during a meeting at the White House, President Bill Clinton had bluntly told him that the embargo policy was based entirely on Florida electoral votes.
According to the document, the embassy official replied that the U.S. government was pursuing a principled and long-standing bi-partisan policy toward a repressive regime.
"The prime minister countered that the argument would be better if the U.S. had not adopted very different policies toward North Korea, China and other such countries," the cable said.
"He added his view that U.S. Cuba policy would in any event look much different after the November elections in the U.S. regardless of which candidate won."
The U.S. diplomat recorded in the cable: "Until very recently, the PM had deliberately kept his government at a distance from Cuba."
The official noted that after months of inaction Ingraham had recently named a new ambassador to Cuba -- former immigration director Vernon Burrows.
"To follow that up with a personal visit would complete the picture of [the Government of The Bahamas'] engagement with Cuba," the cable said.
"Dissuading PM Ingraham would be difficult, particularly given the apparent CARICOM cover for the trip and given his having moved on to the next administration in his political calculations.
"Direct engagement by an appropriately senior Washington interlocutor might get the PM to reconsider, but it would be an outside chance."
The Americans noted in a December 2008 cable that Ingraham traveled to Santiago de Cuba for the CARICOM high-level meeting on December 8 and "framed his government's basic continuation of the previous PLP government's Cuba policy as a matter of pragmatism, rather than conviction."
The cable pointed out that Ingraham, in remarks to the media, distanced his government from the PLP decision to elevate the consultate-general in Havana to an embassy, yet spoke supportively of education and medical exchanges with Cuba and downplayed the failure to reverse course on any front.
"Two days before International Human Rights Day, notably, Ingraham did not make any statements of support for democracy in Cuba or say anything that could be construed as critical of the Castro regime," the cable.
The embassy official noted that Ingraham had characterized the former government's policies toward Cuba as unnecessary and ad hoc.
In the comment section of the cable, the embassy official remarked: "The PM's attempt to have his cake and eat it too on Cuba was less surprising than the PLP's justification of its 'non-ideological' and 'strategic' attitude.
"Coming soon after a similar spat over Venezuela's Petrocaribe, which the [Government of The Bahamas] continues to oppose in the face of opposition criticism, the trading of barbs reveals a bigger difference in attitude toward the U.S., perhaps than toward either of the other two countries."
The American diplomat observed: "Ingraham's remarks also confirm, however, that the FNM will not make any effort to promote human rights in Cuba going foward.
"Bahamians appear convinced that the Obama administration will make significant changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba and, though some are critical of the democratic deficit in Cuba, none in power see any advantage in criticizing the Castro regime during a time of transition in Washington."
 
CAUTIOUS ON CUBA
In the lead-up to the 2007 general election, the Americans repeatedly stated that they did not expect Ingraham to express a great interest in building relations with Cuba.
"From the United States' perspective, an Ingraham-led government would likely abandon the PLP's sympathetic posture toward Cuba..." an official wrote in a 2006 cable.
"Ingraham would also give us an interlocutor willing and able to make decisions and follow through on them. His 10 years as prime minister have given him a good understanding of the United States and how to work with us, and he certainly looks forward to maintaining our traditionally close relations."
A U.S. diplomat wrote in 2007 that compared to Christie, Ingraham's foreign policy will likely be less multilateralist and more nationalistic.
"Ingraham has been critical of the PLP's closeness to Cuba, and he indicated to us that he would downgrade relations with Cuba if elected from an embassy to a consultate," the diplomat wrote.
An embassy official also wrote of Foreign Affairs Minister Brent Symonette in the cables: "We can expect him to be a strong partner for the U.S., who will be more decisive and more inclined to support U.S. positions than his predecessor.
"He will almost certainly focus less on relations with Cuba and he will be less engaged in CARICOM and the Non-Aligned Movement than Fred Mitchell."
The Americans said they expected The Bahamas' flirtations with Cuba to "cool" under the Ingraham administration.
A read of the cables show that it was not unusual for Bahamian government officials -- both PLP and FNM administrations -- to discuss approaching trips with the Americans.
A 2004 cable notes that at previous meetings with embassy officials, Tommy Turnquest (at the time FNM leader) "ever cautious not to step on the toes of the giant neighbor to the north", asked how the United States would receive the news that he has been invited to Cuba, and was considering a visit.
According to the cable, the embassy official explained to Turnquest "that it is completely up to him as a citizen of a sovereign country to exercise his right to visit Cuba, but strongly urged him to meet with the U.S. Interests Section and with the members of the democratic opposition and human rights movement (in Cuba) despite what will inevitably be Cuban government pressure not to do so."
The embassy official, according to the cable, also offered to help Turnquest arrange meetings via the Interests Section, outside of those that would be offered by the Castro regime, including with religious figures and the Catholic Church in order to give him more exposure and a more balanced visit in Cuba.
An embassy official remarked in a separate cable: "It is difficult to imagine any concrete benefits to The Bahamas from establishing a closer relationship to Cuba.
"The small size of the Bahamian population precludes major commercial sales to/purchases from Cuba, but Bahamians currently trading do make significant profits.
The embassy official also noted that medi-tourism was growing as fiscally prudent Bahamians seek a high-quality, lower-cost alternative to Miami for medical treatment.
"Ideologically, [Foreign Affairs Minister] Fred Mitchell and others in the Bahamian Cabinet will also get psychological gratification from proving that they can conduct an independent foreign policy at odds with [their] superpower neighbor."
In another cable, an embassy official wrote that The Bahamas' expansion of diplomatic ties with Cuba appeared driven by a pragmatic goal of addressing chronic Cuban migration issues.
"However, as a result of embarrassing incidents involving Cuban migrants, The Bahamas' vote for Cuba on the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the opening of the embassy in Havana, the government has come under increasing pressure from the opposition (the FNM) and the Bahamian public, making Cuban relations a likely election issue," the cable said.
 
CHRISTIE'S CONCERNS
A September 24, 2007 cable said former Prime Minister Perry Christie hosted a working lunch for U.S. Embassy officials to exchange views on current bilateral issues and domestic Bahamian politics.
"Christie, who remains as leader of the opposition, emphasized his party's commitment throughout their tenure in office to maintaining close relations with the U.S. and his desire that we continue to view the PLP as a trusted partner," the cable said.
"He registered his concern that a perception had developed prior to the election that the U.S. was unhappy with [his] administration because of its decision to establish formal diplomatic ties with Cuba.
"Christie thanked the [charge d' affaires] for this affirmation, and then launched into a defense of his opening of formal diplomatic relations with Cuba..."
The U.S. Embassy official noted he had heard the former prime minister speak before of his concern for the perceptions created by this opening. He said he believed Christie was more concerned by the relationship than the U.S. was.
"[The official] explained that the U.S. understood The Bahamas' need to work with Cuba to resolve migration matters and look after Bahamians who travel to or study in Cuba," the cable said.
"At the same time, we sought to encourage democratic countries, such as The Bahamas, to use their relationship with Cuba to encourage Cuban government respect for the same values and rights that people in The Bahamas demand."
 
 
 
 
 

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News Article

January 10, 2012
Touching many 'soles'

Everyone's familiar with the phrase "to walk a mile in somebody's shoes", but one organization has been bringing it to life - with a Bahamian-American artist contributing a pair herself.
Multidisciplinary artist Alexis Caputo created a pair of shoes telling her own story of dual identity, including lots of Bahamian flair, as part of a group of artists working with a major organization for a good cause.
This organization, Sole Plus, the brainchild of Brian Keith Miller, combines art, education and activism to help disadvantaged communities. Pairing up with Converse Shoes, Sole Plus ventures into the community and encourages people to use the shoe as a canvas for their story. Such an exercise is not only cathartic and creative, but the results, says the organization on its website, show the closeness of human interconnectivity.
To that end, the project can oftentimes be used to raise awareness and funds for social issues. A group of artists came together to create a pair of their own shoes for Sole Plus which were then auctioned off and the proceeds donated to organizations benefitting the homeless.
The project appealed to Caputo, who has done a significant amount of work with women's shelters and disadvantaged youth.
The homeless component struck a cord with me because it's a universal issue," she points out.
"I lived in New York City where you walk outside of your front door and there's a homeless man, woman or child there and it's something that was very prominent and in my face regularly," says Caputo. "When I navigated to South Florida, I don't see it as much, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist."
In a nod to her Caribbean roots, the proceeds from some of the auctions will go towards funds helping those who lost their homes and continue to live in a state of homelessness in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
"I'm always a staunch supporter of anything that relates to cross-cultural exchanges, something that's educational," says Caputo.
"Because so many people in that nation have remained displaced and homeless, we thought, Haiti is right in our backyard, so why not participate in this? Why not raise funds? Why not be able to call international attention to it? It's not something that has to stop in Florida or stop in Haiti - it's something a lot of people can relate to and identify with."
Yet Caputo took the practice further, inspired to write a poem, "Soul to Sole" that addresses this universal issue and encourages those who find themselves in such a situation to keep their head up and find release and strength in self-expression and creativity. It also encourages literacy, says Caputo.
"I think that there are many different ways to interpret something and to translate something," she says.
"I wanted to find another way I could connect to this project. It doesn't just have to be a visual component. Maybe someone will appreciate or relate to the literary version rather than the visual shoe, or vice-versa."
Indeed, the multidisciplinary artist has been finding many ways to connect disadvantaged communities with art. With a background in writing, dancing, performance and music, Caputo is also an educator and activist, working closely with disadvantaged women, youth and cross-cultural projects.
In 2009, she formed the non-profit "Project Witness" in order to expand on that artistic practice and intention to foster social unity through art, cultural exploration, education and activism.
"I decided to expand my platform rather than just contributing to solo and collective projects and speak to diverse audiences with multicultural projects, and an inter-generational audience," she explains.
"The best way I felt to do that would be to launch a project that has appeal in the arts, has appeal as it relates to cultural exploration and education using arts and education and activism."
It's the reason she responded so positively and passionately to the Sole Plus Project - though it wasn't formed out of Project Witness, Caputo points out that its goals run parallel to her organization.
"That phrase 'walk a mile in my shoes' means absolutely nothing if you can't directly relate to someone who has been in the situation," she says. "I thought this was a fantastic platform to be able to raise awareness about homelessness."
As a Bahamian-American artist living abroad, her next move would be to plan to collaborate with other Bahamian artists to raise awareness about social issues in The Bahamas - perhaps even visiting to lead such an exchange.
"For such a very long time I've had an interest and desire in having a cross-cultural exchange with other Bahamian artists to create a bridge between The Bahamas and the U.S.A to create and debate ideas," she says.
"There's so much access and resource for things that could be done in terms of projects that have international appeal. There are so many great causes and so much room; there's so much great potential there that I would welcome the opportunity to be a part of that in any way."
For more about Sole Plus, check out www.soleplus.org. For more about Project Witness, check out their page on Facebook or www.projectwitnessinternational.org or contact them at inquiries@projectwitnessinternational.org. To contact Alexis Caputo, e-mail scribe@alexiscaputo.com.

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News Article

February 21, 2012
Singing the national anthem

Dear  Editor,
 
Am I the only Bahamian disgusted to see the cultural shift to Americanize the singing of our national anthem?  Is our proximity to the United States invading or pervading this aspect of our culture too?  Since when do we stand at attention and become spectators at the singing of our anthem?  Since when does the singing of our anthem become an artistic rendition of some soloist?  Since when do  we clap at the end of the singing of our anthem?  Seriously!  Since when?
In The Bahamas, at least the last time I checked, we were taught to participate in the singing of our anthem, not spectate.  And after the singing we immediately recite, hopefully sincerely, the pledge of allegiance.  Most of us adults know of American artists who gaffe at some special national event because they don't remember, more like don't know, the words of their anthem.  That is a natural consequence of the average citizen listening, spectating rather than participating.
Let us get back to our tradition.  There is no apparent cultural advancement or cultural progression inherent in spectating as compared to participating.  So why the shift?  As a matter of fact, during last year's senior boys basketball championship, with high level government officials attending, the anthem was sung solo style and the audience broke out in applause.  The pledge was completely forgotten until someone yelled out for the pledge.  And yes, the announcer said, "Oh  yes, the pledge."  Is it any wonder that that happened?  And apparently no leader sought to correct that even for future references.
When the national stadium opens this week, will we all proudly stand and sing our anthem.  Or will we stand and spectate, listening to a soloist?  When Prince Harry visits, will he see Bahamian culture at the singing of our anthem, or will he be treated to the American version?  Will he hear the voices of thousands of our present and next generation of young people proudly singing their anthem or will he be treated to one of our talented soloists followed by handclapping and hooting?
Let us get back to the participatory singing/pledge and refuse absolutely to let the solo, the clapping and hooting creep into this most unique indispensable expression of our culture.  Let us lift up our head, our hearts and our voices and sing proudly our national anthem.
 
- Alastair "Dr. B." Basden
 

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News Article

February 29, 2012
Youth Express Essay, Rap and Poetry Competition Launched to Promote a Drug-free Life

Finalists to Participate in National Geographic's Photo Camp on Cape Eleuthera

The
United States Embassy in partnership with the Bahamas National Drug
Council (BNDC) is pleased to announce the launch of the first "Youth
Express" Essay, Rap and Poetry Competition. The purpose of the contest
is to encourage students throughout The Bahamas to consider the harmful
impact of illegal drugs and to reflect on how they can resist negative
peer pressure and act as leaders against drugs in their community.  This
exciting program is part of a continuing partnership between the US
Embassy, the Bahamas National Drug Council and the National Anti-Drug
Secretariat to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and foster ...

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News Article

January 31, 2012
Wilson: PM's criticism of Atlantis loan 'foolishness'

Criticizing the PLP for permitting Kerzner International to take on a $2.5 billion mortgage in 2006 is "foolishness", according to the chairman of Arawak Homes.
Franklyn Wilson said Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's recent comments in Freeport are misguided because it fails to take into account the country's international reputation.
"In the minds of leaders in 2006, whatever the government of the day, to say no to Atlantis in terms of taking on a mortgage would have had implications," he told Guardian Business. "It's foolishness to say it was a bad decision."
Wilson felt a refusal on the part of the Perry Christie administration would have "sent a very powerful message to the international investing community". He also said the purpose of the funding was not just to build a sister hotel in Dubai, but to also "internationalize" the Atlantis brand.
With the Paradise Island property as the flagship, the result is greater visibility worldwide that, at the time, was in the national interest.
"The first always remains the icon," he added. "Atlantis was going to be a global brand pioneered in The Bahamas. It would have added value to the country tremendously."
On January 19, Ingraham told The Nassau Guardian it was "inappropriate and wrong" for the government at the time to agree for the properties on Paradise Island to be put up as a security for a loan.
"That was a big, big mistake," the prime minister said.
The chairman of Arawak Homes wished to go "even further" and point out Sol Kerzner, the founder of Atlantis, was also undertaking stage three of the resort through the construction of The Cove and The Reef. He felt this completion was also in the national interest and noted that the prime minister attended the opening of this phase last summer.
Kerzner's commitment to The Bahamas is unchallenged, he added, and the fact he was willing to "double-down" in such a debt only validated his belief in the country.
"To say Christie made a terrible error in judgement to put a mortgage on the property is disingenuous. It's not in the national interest for any responsible national figure to put forward that view," Wilson told Guardian Business.
Wilson next turned his attention to Zhivargo Laing, the state minister of finance, accusing him of a "dereliction of duty" for not being fully aware of the court battle between Brookfield and senior lenders of Kerzner International earlier this month.
On January 5, when contacted by Guardian Business, Laing said he was unsure of where the matter stood, but expressed confidence the deal was well in hand.
"That is a serious dereliction of duty. How could you not be following it? What was more important?" Wilson asked.
Nevertheless, the top executive told Guardian Business it remains his hope that the Atlantis restructuring has a good ending both for The Bahamas and Kerzner.
"Let us not be self-centered. As important as jobs are for Bahamians, let us not be so narrow in our thinking as to not recognize the implications of this for Mr. Kerzner and his family," Wilson said. "He has done so much for this country. I hope the outcome will give him the opportunity to improve his standing and come to a more favorable arrangement."

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News Article

January 09, 2012
MINISTRY HOPEFUL OVER SOLUTIONS TO VISION AIRLIFT

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM executives expressed optimism yesterday that within the next two months Vision Airlines' performance in Grand Bahama will improve, the tourism director-general telling Tribune Business that "there can be no tourism sector in Grand Bahama without a robust airlift program".

Vision Airlines began flights to Grand Bahama on November 11, providing direct non-stop service from five US cities and, with its competitive low fares, was expected to bring an additional 100,000 seats annually to Grand Bahama in its first phase of operations.

In an earlier interview with Tribune Business, though, David Johnso ...

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News Article

January 10, 2012
MEGA RESORT THREAT CLOSER

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

LEGISLATION to bring three Las Vegas-style casino mega resorts to South Florida - and in direct competition with Bahamian hotels - has been passed by a US Senate committee.

Florida lawmakers began their examination of the Bills yesterday after a 7-3 vote in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Monday.

Last year, Kerzner International Bahamas' managing director George Markantonis expressed concern about the proposal.

He said the establishment of high-end resorts in the immediate area and on US soil would be a problem not just for Atlantis and Baha Mar, but the entire tourism industry of the Bahamas.

Since ...

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News Article

January 13, 2012
(VIDEO) Orvis Company returns for 5th year to do catalog shoot on Grand Bahama

The Bahamas Film Commission in keeping with their mandate to
encourage international film making and photographic shoots in The Bahamas, they have
succeeded for the fifth year in a row at welcoming the Orvis Clothing line to return to do yet another
shoot for it's newest line of women's clothing on Grand Bahama Island. The
Bahamas Weekly had the opportunity to go on-location at the Grand Lucayan where
they were shooting models on the beach and at the rear of the manor house at
the famous Gazebo were so many have made their wedding vows.

Sr. Art Director, Rick Ruso took a few minutes off from the
shoot to do an impromptu interview with TheBahamasWeekly.com. He expressed his
pleasure to be back on Grand Bahama Island in the company of gorgeous fashion
models amidst the scenic

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News Article

June 02, 2011
Ingraham: Many judges incompetent

During a final courtesy call with then U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas John Rood days before the 2007 general election, Free National Movement (FNM) leader Hubert Ingraham remarked that many of the judges in The Bahamas were "simply not competent, having been appointed for political reasons," a U.S. diplomat claimed in one of the cables in the batch of diplomatic documents obtained exclusively by The Nassau Guardian through WikiLeaks.
"Ingraham acknowledged that the Bahamian courts were dysfunctional, and needed changes in leadership," the embassy official wrote.
According to the cable, Ingraham said he did not have a problem with extraditing major drug dealers, but believed that small time drug dealers should be prosecuted locally.
Ingraham reportedly told the ambassador that cases move too slowly and many criminals are out on bail committing new offenses.  "He also noted that Bahamian prosecutors are often wary of taking high profile cases to jury due to possible tampering, and that in non-jury trials the maximum sentence for a drug offense is five years."
The cable revealed that Ingraham and the ambassador sparred over the case of five baggage handlers arrested in December 2006 in Florida on suspicion of drug trafficking.
"Ingraham made it clear he believes the Nassau Flight Services baggage handlers were set up," the cable said.
"The ambassador stated that the training (the baggage handlers were going on) was routine, as others went and came back, adding that if individuals who commit crimes against U.S. law come to the U.S., they will be arrested."
The cable said Ingraham stated that his sources at the airport indicated otherwise.
He further indicated that if he was prime minister, the arrests occurring in this manner would have caused a serious bilateral issue, according to the cable.
Ingraham was quoted as saying, "If they committed the crimes here, they should be tried here".
The cable said he did not dispute the right of the United States to arrest them once they had entered U.S. territory.
In the end, the ambassador and Ingraham agreed to disagree on the manner of the arrests.
According to the cable, Deputy Chief of Mission Dr. Brent Hardt noted that other baggage handlers who did not travel to Florida in December had been picked up by the police but had not been charged.
He asked Ingraham how he would respond as prime minister if individuals engaged in such acts were unable to be prosecuted.
It is then that Ingraham allegedly made the comment about the dysfunctional court system.
"The opposition leader pledged that, if elected, he would make improvements in the Bahamian judiciary to speed up trials and get more criminals off the streets, the cable said.
The state of the judiciary was just one of several issues Ingraham discussed with the Americans, according to that cable.
Discussing aviation, Ingraham reportedly promised to work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration on aviation issues if elected, and stated, according to the cable, that he "knew where his bread was buttered."
The cable said the ambassador raised the issue of airport security and safety problems with Ingraham, stating that he remained concerned by both security vulnerabilities and overall airport management.
He told Ingraham that he would support the imposition of a 90-day review period for the airport if no progress is made on addressing long-standing security concerns, though he acknowledged that the government did now appear to be giving the issue serious attention, the 2007 cable said.
Ingraham reportedly asked the ambassador to elaborate on the problems.
The cable said: "Not needing any further prodding, the ambassador outlined several problems, including: The aesthetic appearance of the facilities, the slow pace in processing passengers, radar problems, and endemic security concerns.
"Ingraham stated that Minister of Transport and Aviation (Glenys) Hanna-Martin was 'out of her depth' and that there is no direction being given to civil aviation."
The cable said charges that his government had purchased a radar system that did not work (the ASR-9) concerned Ingraham.
He reportedly noted that his government had purchased the system upon a U.S. recommendation, and added that if he wins the election, he would make changes at the airport, to include getting the new radar system repaired and on line.
The cable said Ingraham also stated that he supports FAA running the Flight Information Region, observing that he had learned through hard experience that it would be too risky to defy the U.S. on such a sensitive safety issue.
The Christie administration had pledged to gain full control of The Bahamas' airspace and had promised that such an effort would result in tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the government. However, this was never achieved.
 
INGRAHAM ON POLITICS
The cable said that turning to the political scene, Ingraham observed that he would support Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader Perry Christie (then prime minister) for many jobs, but prime minister was not one of them.
As he did when he sat down with a U.S. diplomat in 2003, Ingraham in 2007 described Christie as "fatally disorganized and incapable of running a government."
The cable noted that the day before the meeting with the ambassador, the press widely quoted an exchange between Christie and Ingraham in which Ingraham referred to Christie as "impotent."
"Ingraham wryly noted that he was referring only to matters of governance," the cable said.
"He said that in his view, the PLP believes it has 'the right to govern' and that the FNM victories in 1992 and 1997 were accidents.
"He expressed the view that some of the investment projects such as Bimini Bay were too large, and that the environmental bureaucracy was unworkable."
Despite prodding, neither Ingraham nor Desmond Bannister, then chairman of the FNM, would reveal the FNM's budget for the upcoming election, the cable said.
It noted that parties are free to take money from any source, and Ingraham said that most of the money comes from businesses.
Persons outside the country can also contribute to parties, and he said that normally only outsiders with interests in The Bahamas do so, according to the cable.
"Ingraham also said that he had enough money for the campaign, but not all that he could use. Typically, money tends to flow in at the last minute when it is too late to deploy effectively, he pointed out," the cable said.
Observing that the PLP was running many more radio advertisements than the FNM this early in the campaign, he reportedly suggested that this reflected their anxiety about the election.
Much of the money used for campaign paraphernalia is actually spent in the United States to buy T-shirts and hats, he noted, according to the cable.
RACES TO WATCH
The cable said the FNM leader said he expected a short campaign of 24 days, with elections called soon after Easter.
Ingraham provided the ambassador with a "scorecard" of key races to watch to determine the outcome of the 2007 election, the cable added.
"In Fox Hill, he predicted that if the PLP wins that seat, they are going to probably win the election, but he also felt that Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell would be defeated by his candidate," the cable said.
"He also noted his surprise that Tourism Minister (Obie) Wilchcombe may be in trouble in his own constituency.
"On the other hand, if Housing Minister Neville Wisdom is reelected, that would be a sign the PLP was on its way to victory."
The diplomat wrote in that 2007 cable that the FNM expects to win the Exuma seat being contested by former Bahamian Ambassador to the U.S. Joshua Sears.
According to the cable, Ingraham noted that the polls in 2002 were more accurate than often acknowledged, adding that the lesson from that campaign was that undecided voters usually broke against the government.
"Polls are now being taken on the larger islands, but Ingraham refused to divulge the results," the cable said.
"Ingraham said the PLP strategy was to increase the negative perceptions of him and make him a central election issue."
The American diplomat wrote that Ingraham is a very polarizing figure and PLP ads are clearly targeting him personally.
"(Ingraham) alluded that many people are personally benefiting from the PLP government and do not want the gravy train to end with an FNM victory," the cable said.
"Ingraham dismissed the PLP's use of the race card, linking his party to the former colonial UBP party, stating that he had credibility on the issue and noted that Christie's own grandfather was white."
In the comment section of the cable, the American noted that Ingraham is "always engaging and never at a loss for words."
"Ingraham seemed very comfortable on the issues and did not shy away from disagreeing with the ambassador, as in the case of the airport arrests," the cable said.
"While he pledged cooperation on aviation issues and promised to make the judicial system work better, he also made clear he would not hesitate to disagree with the U.S. if he felt Bahamian interests were not being well served."
The diplomat added:  "Ingraham conveyed the self-assurance of a leader who has been in charge before and believes he soon will be again.
"From the United States' perspective, an Ingraham-led government would likely abandon the PLP's sympathetic posture toward Cuba and might be less interested in engaging China.
"Ingraham would also give us an interlocutor willing and able to make decisions and follow through on them.
"His ten years as prime minister have given him a good understanding of the United States and how to work with us, and he certainly looks forward to maintaining our traditionally close relations."
 
 
 
 
 
 

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News Article

June 06, 2011
US: Local terror ties suspected

A United States Embassy assessment of possible terrorist activity in this country claimed that in 2006 there was information to indicate that there might have been terrorist "support and financial cells in The Bahamas," and "financing links" within the country, according to a classified communication exclusively obtained by The Nassau Guardian through WikiLeaks.
That cable also claimed that some members of the local Muslim population were being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and another agency.
The cable detailed the result of a Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) completed by an official at the embassy and classified "secret" in February 2006.
The SEPQ labeled some local Muslims as sympathetic toward foreign terrorist groups and claimed that they posed a possible threat to U.S. and Bahamian security.
"There is an Islamic community building a mosque in Nassau from which some threat information was obtained," the cable revealed.
"The leader and other members of the mosque are currently under investigation by the FBI and (another agency)."
The cable went on to state that the embassy was "unable to make a full assessment" at the time "but there does not appear to be imminent hostile intent."
When The Nassau Guardian asked leaders of the local Muslim community if their organization had any ties to terrorist groups, they categorically denied any such links.
The leaders added that they were "deeply offended" by the content of the cables.
"They have no basis for that statement.  Where is the evidence of this?"" asked Amir Faisal Hepburn, one of the administrators of the mosque on Carmichael Road where many Muslims worship.
"Those who have done nothing fear nothing.  We are a properly registered religious organization in the Bahamas.  The Bahamian people on the whole, their character is not (disposed) to terrorism."
One of the elders said that the Muslim community has met repeatedly with the officials from the U.S. Embassy who have had questions about the nature of activities at the mosque.
In addition, the elder claimed, Muslim leaders have also repeatedly met with police and other law enforcement officials to quell any fears about the Islamic community in the country.
The construction of the mosque was also the focus of some attention by the U.S. government and even a representative of the government of Israel.
According to a 2005 cable, visiting Israeli Ambassador David Dadonn -- who was stationed in Mexico City -- told the U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas John Rood that he had "expressed concern about (the building of a large mosque on New Providence) to Bahamian officials but that they indicated that they could do nothing about its construction."
The cable went on to speculate that the mosque was being constructed with funds from the government of Saudi Arabia.
"Dadonn promised to forward any additional information about the mosque, its programs, or its funding that became available to him," the cable said.
Hepburn said the financing of the mosque has nothing to do with the United States or Israel.
"Organizations all around the world receive gifts and contributions from all sources and we are no exception to it," he said. "So we say categorically that it has nothing to do with terrorism and it has nothing to do with that biased statement by an Israeli.  The Bahamas is far away from Israel.  What can he (Dadonn) look into?  He should be more concerned about what is happening in Israel."
However, Hepburn admitted that the mosque's construction was funded in part by Saudi citizens.
"There is a difference between funding by the Saudi government and funding by Muslims in Saudi Arabia.  We are not funded by the Saudi government, that's not so. Now the citizens might be a part of the government, but that's a different thing."
Amir Hepburn alleged officials at the U.S. Embassy have consistently harassed and profiled Muslims in The Bahamas since the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. soil.
"Recently, we have Muslims who were called to the (U.S.) embassy to say that something was wrong with their visa and the American cancelled it.  When they asked them why the visa was being cancelled, they said, 'They don't have to give an answer.'"
One of the elders added that the Americans "will never say any Muslim is a good guy."
The threat assessment also commented on the "level, intent, and scope of hostile intelligence services...relative to potential anti-American terrorist acts" in the country.
"Cuba and China have a presence in country," noted the embassy. "Two known Cuban intelligence officers are working at the Cuban Embassy.  Post is not aware of any Chinese Intelligence Officers in the Bahamas but approaches have been made to U.S. officials that have previously been reported."
The Bahamas' ability to deal with a terrorist threat
Even though the U.S. Embassy did not believe there was any imminent hostile threat from the Muslim community in The Bahamas, it was still required to assess local law enforcement capabilities.
The questionnaire revealed that it was the embassy's view that the Royal Bahamas Police Force was a "professional police organization" that was "reasonably well trained" and did not suffer from "serious, widespread" corruption.
But the SEPQ noted that, "They suffer from a lack of material and personnel resources, which causes difficulty in responding to U.S. (government) inquiries in a timely manner."
The fact that the RBPF frequently receives training from numerous U.S. agencies was also highlighted.
Still, the SEPQ stated that the RBPF was only "somewhat" capable of deterring terrorist actions.
"The RBPF has the only intelligence gathering apparatus in The Bahamas.  It is rudimentary, but continues to develop with U.S. (government) assistance," the cable revealed.
"They are frequently slow to take action or initiate investigations.  They lack modern equipment with which to identify, catalog, or monitor terrorists or terrorist activity in the Bahamas."
The SEPQ remarked that local intelligence services had been cooperative with U.S. requests "but with frequently slow response times."
The embassy also assessed overall security at major airports in the country at the time as "average/poor".
Customs, immigration and border control security forces in the country were assessed as "average."
The embassy also gave its assessment on the availability of weapons and explosives in country or from nearby countries for hostile terrorist elements.
"Smuggling in the Bahamas is easy and occurs frequently," the assessment said.
"Historically, the Bahamas has been the point of entry for illegal migrants, drugs, and contraband into the southeast United States.  Weapons are easily obtained, either locally or from other countries."
 

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News Article

June 01, 2011
Support for stiffer penalties for gun crimes

Harsher penalties for gun crimes would be welcome news to the police force, according to Assistant Commissioner Glenn Miller.
"Whenever it comes to stiffer penalties for unlicensed firearms the police welcome that," Miller said.
Miller's comments came after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced in the House of Assembly on Monday that the government is considering amending the Firearms Act.
Ingraham also said the government would seek to amend the Bail Act to make it more difficult for persons accused of serious crimes to get bail.
"We are still giving consideration to the question of gun related crimes," said Ingraham as he opened debate on the 2011/2012 budget in the House of Assembly.
"As you know we have sought to get away from minimum sentences.  We are troubled by the six-month, one year, 18 months sentences given to persons found in possession of weapons, particularly at a time when so much criminality and violence is taking place in our society."
So far this year, more than 70 percent of the 52 murder victims died as a result of gun shot injuries, according to police.
Guns are also the weapon of choice in most robberies.
"I hope to have a consensus among the policial class," Ingraham said.  "The reality is that the maximum sentence a magistrate court can reasonably give is five years even though some think it possible to impose higher sentences."
Police have taken about 180 guns off the streets so far this year.
Firearms can be obtained with relative ease, according to authorities.
The government announced in January that in conjunction with the judiciary it had set up a gun court so those found in possession of illegal firearms are quickly prosecuted.
Ingraham said since then there have been successes.
"The magistrate court hearing firearm offenses has in the first two months [of existence] heard more than 180 cases, several of which are ongoing," he said.
Former chairman of the National Advisory Council on Crime Bishop Simeon Hall has previously expressed support for stiffer penalties for gun crimes.
"The fact that guns remain the predominant weapon used in brazen robberies and murders in our country should motivate the authorities to revisit the existing gun laws with the view of removing guns and gun users from the country," Hall said in a statement earlier this year when the murder count stood that 34.
He said the high crime rate clearly indicates that criminals have no regard for the existing gun laws of the country.
According to police statistics, firearms were used in 69 of the 94 murders that occurred last year.
Police seized 351 illegal firearms and 2,624 rounds of ammunition in 2010, according to statistics they made public.
As it relates to the Bail Act, the government declared in the Speech from the Throne that it will bring an amendment to Parliament which would further restrict the right to bail for accused serious offenders.
However, there has been some concern surrounding the constitutionality of such a move.
The Nassau Guardian understands that the Office of the Attorney General has already drafted the legislation that would restrict bail.
Ingraham said the bill would be brought to Parliament soon.

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News Article

June 01, 2011
The Haitian problem

On Friday May 20th , 2011 a group of Bahamian and Haitian-Bahamian artists, hosted an art exhibit and mini musical concert in Nassau at Jacaranda House, called "Nostrum Fabula" (Latin for "Our Story").  The event was under the patronage of the Bahamian Governor General and the Haitian Ambassador to The Bahamas; the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture also attended.  Leading broadcast journalist, Jerome Sawyer, served as the master of ceremonies.  It featured Bahamian folk musical artists like the Region Bells and the disc jockey alternated between Kompa and Goombay music.
An untitled art piece by Bernard Petit-Homme, a 26 year old Bahamian born of Haitian immigrant parents, served as the cover art for invitations and promotional material for the event.  The image features the Bahamian and Haitian flags.  The flags make up the torso of a man who is both black and white; he is silhouetted by the orange and yellow sun; his arms stretch across blue waters of the sea. In the painting Petit-Homme seeks to reconcile his Haitian and Bahamian selves and acknowledge the mixed bloodlines of many as a consequence of slavery.  He crafts a celebratory message of unity and brotherhood; a message that ran like a thread throughout the entire event, at which the Bahamian and Haitian national anthems were played.
However, the spirit of unity, tolerance, mutual understanding and respect expressed at the exhibit are not shared by everyone in The Bahamas.  Indeed, it is safe to say, that despite their proximity, their many shared cultural practices and a long history of relations between Haiti and The Bahamas, the attitudes of most Bahamians towards Haitians is one of resentment, suspicion or outright hostility.
The Haitian "problem" in The Bahamas is shaped by a number of factors.  Haitian migrants are a crucial source of cheap, reliable, motivated labor, particularly in the agricultural sector.  Increasingly, however, as the middle class shrinks and the ranks of the Bahamian working poor swell, there is growing resentment toward Haitian immigrants and their children because they are now competing for jobs deemed above their social station.  Where once a Haitain only worked as a gardener, farmer, grounds keeper or "handyman"--work young Bahamian men have looked down on for the past forty years--they are now working at gas stations, in hardware stores, and gaining employment as masons and carpenters, jobs Bahamian men have dominated.  Many a Bahamian contractor prefers Haitian immigrant labor to Bahamian, not simply because it is cheaper, but because it is better.
There is also the real and perceived strain on national services, such as education and health care, created by the immigrant influx.  And there are national security concerns, fed by the fear of Haitian immigrants "violent" people.  Added to this are Bahamians' fears of cultural erasure, and political/economic displacement due to the perception of Haitians as a lurking enemy intent on "taking over."  All of these factors make the Haitian-Bahamian encounter a vexed one; one that reveals class, color and ethnic fault lines.
The often bigoted public discourse in newspapers, on radio and television speak to the volatility of the situation.  For a time I would cut out the more virulent letters to the editor I came across in the papers.  One of the most memorable was entitled "Haitians Attract Flies."  The most recent was blaming the devastating quake in Haiti on devil worship.  I grew up with certain received notions about the Haitian people; they have been the butt of jokes my whole life.  There was no greater insult among us as children than to be called Highshun.  There is a stigma attached to Haitian origins; a social/ethnic blemish that many young people try to hide because of the stinging ridicule and contempt heaped on them through no fault of their own.  I remember a young man at COB who insisted on Anglicizing his name in my class and others who tolerated all sorts of mispronunciations because they at least didn't sound French.
In this uneasy climate, many Bahamian artists attempt to resist the stereotyping of the Haitian people.  Artists such as John Cox, John Beadle, Jackson Petit-Homme, Maxwell Taylor, and Eric Ellis, and writers such as myself, Telcine Turner-Rolle, Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Keith Russell, Nicolette Bethel and others have attempted to prick the conscience of Bahamian society.  My play "Diary of Souls" was a fictional treatment of a true event; the tragic death of Haitian refugees at sea in the Exumas in 1990.  Sadly, these tragedies have been happening for a very, very long time and still happen.
At stake is the very notion of what it means to be a Bahamian.  Haitian immigration challenges the core values/ideals of the Bahamian state, putting the people and the nation on trial, and calling international attention to the question of just how committed The Bahamas is to freedom, equality and justice for all.
But we are an itsy bitsy country.  We cannot possibly be expected to have an open door policy.  We have the right to protect our borders from illegal entry.  We are not the continental United States or Canada; we are specs on the world map.  And even in a nation the size of the US, illegal immigration from Mexico and further south is the source of heated debate and conflict.
But though we may protect our borders, Haitian immigrants and those of Haitian descent are here to stay.  We may not all want them here but all need them here.  We need them, as we have always needed immigrants, to help build our country by doing the things we can't or won't do.  It makes no sense to drive a wedge between them and us, to create a hated, disenfranchised underclass.
The reality is that our citizenship laws ensure the imperilment, not the protection, of The Bahamas.  Disenfranchising a person for 18 years or more, while they await entry into the exclusive club of Bahamian citizenship, creates frustration, shame, anger, alienation and bitterness in the hearts thousands of young people who know, have, and want no other home but this one.  It's simply inhumane, short sighted and stupid.
If we cannot bring ourselves to make citizenship automatic upon one's birth for all those born here, we should at least amend the constitution to lower the eligibility date. Why not 10 years old instead of 18?  Avoid creating frustrated stateless teens that can't get scholarships, can't fully participate in national life.
Of course, there's always the other option.  While picking up my son from school, a gentleman who was also waiting for a child, told me he had the solution to the Haitian problem.  "I would blow their boats right out of the water when we find them."  And then he proceeded to carefully lovingly take a child's hand and lead her out of the school yard.
IAN STRACHAN is Associate Professor at the College of The Bahamas.

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News Article

June 13, 2011
DNA leader challenges PM, CHRISTIE to run against him

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Deputy Chief Reporter

tthompson@tribunemedia.net

BRANVILLE McCartney challenged Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and Opposition Leader Perry Christie to run against him in Bamboo Town if they are secure of their party's support in the area.

The heads of the country's two major parties have expressed confidence that their candidate will wrestle the constituency away from Mr McCartney in the next general election.

"Both Mr Ingraham and Mr Christie said it's FNM and it's PLP - I challenge them to run against me in Bamboo Town. Leaders running in one area, leaders against leaders. (They say) Bamboo Town is their town - let's go for it - and see whos ...

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News Article

June 11, 2011
PACBO looks to expand Cuba training for locals

The working relationship between the Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organization and the Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas could result in the very near future, in an expanded 'project' of Bahamian boxers training in Cuba.
As president of PACBO, I have had recent dialogue and official communication towards that end during a trip to Cuba. The idea is for the project to be directed from the Northern Bahamas base in Freeport through Terry Goldsmith.
The president of the Grand Bahama Amateur Boxing Association and who also heads the YMCA Club, Goldsmith works very closely with PACBO. Together a successful Easter Saturday event was staged. Wellington Miller, the Bahamas Olympic Committee President and the long-standing chief of the amateur boxing expressed his "delight over the "encouraging prospect."
"This is great. We are very happy and we thank the Cuban Boxing Institution for the success of Taureano (Johnson) and now, Valentino (Knowles) and Carl (Heild). It's a rugged job trying always to find money to give our boxers the best opportunities to develop.
"For that reason it is such a pleasure to have the assistance of a regional body like PACBO. We have already gotten a lot of assistance from PACBO in the way of equipment and tournaments. This is another way PACBO is seeking to help and we are grateful," Miller said.
Throughout the modern history of the Caribbean, Cuba has had the finest sports structure, particularly in boxing. For a number of reasons, sports leaders in the Caribbean nations have not taken full advantage of such an excellent opportunity to help drive their respective national sports development programs.
Amazingly while the rest of the world long ago recognized the benefits of the Cuban sports expertise and utilized the same, among Cuba's Caribbean sisters, this has not been the case.
The boxing family in The Bahamas made a determination during the early part of the last decade that Cuba would be the base for advanced training of the local amateurs. Accordingly, Johnson became pound-for-pound, the best boxer in the English-Speaking Caribbean. His high point before turning professional came in 2008 when he won two matches at the Beijing Olympics and finished the year as the No. 4 welterweight in the world.
Presently, light welterweight Knowles and Heild have taken the mantle and the Cuban boxing background has done wonders for them. Knowles is the only Bahamian to have won a bout at the World Championships. He captured a Central American and Caribbean Games gold medal and a Commonwealth Games bronze medal.
Welterweight Heild won a silver medal at the prestigious Dominican Republic Independencia Tournament and also a Commonwealth Games bronze medal. The PACBO project would hopefully help to create more little Bahamian boxers to emulate Johnson Knowles and Heild.
It is proposed that small groups through the Freeport base would travel into Havana to understudy the Cuban program. Hopefully the project will begin later this year.
 

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