Tag Archives: caribbean

A celebration of Diaspora Day – 176 years of Indians in Jamaica


T he Indian High Commission in Jamaica last Sunday marked Diaspora Day, a celebration of 176 years of Indians in Jamaica, with a social event held at the high commissioner’s offices in St Andrew.

A small number of people turned out to mark the occasion, among them, local Indian business leaders resident in Jamaica, as well as other prominent individuals.

Here are some photo highlights:


Mental health support for cops now in place

Just two days after the Jamaica Police Federation complained that cops were depressed on the job and had limited access to mental help, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) forged a crucial partnership with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to give police personnel fingertip access to have their stress, depression and mental health levels assessed.

Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson last Friday accepted mental health tools for the JCF from PAHO and World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Ian Stein. The handover took place at the Office of the Commissioner of Police in St Andrew.

The tools include a barcode and hyperlink, which the police will use to access a form they will fill out from their smartphones or other digital devices. The form will assess the varying levels of mental health and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). After filling out the form, each member will receive a score ranging from low to high. Members who return high scores will be referred for specific treatment and assistance to allow them to cope during the execution of their stressful jobs.

Other elements of the donation include audiovisual technology that will allow members of the JCF to access panel discussions which will educate and help them deal with non-communicable disorders and mental health issues. It will also have an element of imitating different situations of mental health disorders, types of injuries and rehabilitation and provide solutions which cops can apply.

According to Dr George Leveridge, who is the clinical director of the JCF medical services branch, the barcode will be promulgated through all of the police’s communication mechanism.

“We have an e-mail mechanism that we can send it through. We have a host of WhatsApp groups. We have got the buy-in from the representational bodies like the Jamaica Police Federation. They will actually help to promulgate it. We are going to have easy to reach posters in almost all policing facilities. What we intend to do for the members is allow them, in the comfort of their own space to fill out the form to find out their perceived levels of stress, whether they are at risk for depression (major or clinical depression) or whether they are at risk of PTSD.

“If they are at risk, they will have the option to seek help internally or otherwise. We also have an obligation. We can see from our side, persons who are out of range and if you don’t reach out to us we have an ethical obligation to reach out to you. It will now give us an aggregated picture of the prevalence of what is happening, where it is happening in the organisation, so we can design other types of intervention that could address these things in these persons,” Dr Leveridge told the Jamaica Observer.

Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson highlighted that the donation will strengthen the already functioning stress assessment capacity of the JCF, which has one of the lowest levels of suicide among police organisations across the world. He said having such a programme of assessment within the JCF was important because of the high-stress environment that cops operate under in Jamaica.

“Clearly in a highly violent operational space, you know that any day you go out you can end up in a gunfight and end up seeing traumatic things, even if it is a road accident. Trauma becomes a part of a police officer’s life here in Jamaica. You have to recognise that. The police officer who goes out there to patrol and is dealing with high violence every day, we also require that officer to shift from that scene and show empathy for a case of domestic violence.

“We are bringing in technologies that can reach across the force and extend across the country. Tools like this helps the officers assess themselves wherever they are and allow us to know what is going on across the country. We need to be very clear about what the levels of non-communicable diseases are in the force and target the people that need which type intervention. That is in keeping with the PAHO and WHO philosophy.”

The commissioner made the point that while other citizens got the chance to enjoy Christmas, most members of the force were hard at work, without receiving opportunity to refresh themselves.

“Within the context of our community called the JCF we have to find way of managing without taking breaks. The public does not get a chance to appreciate why they may see a particular behaviour or response. We recognise that we always have to be on our A game. We as leaders have to provide psychological support and not just to them, but also their families. A police officer’s family carries a heavy burden.”

Smith donates memoir to National Library of Jamaica

Retired Parliamentarian Derrick Smith last Thursday donated copies of his memoir, Turning Points, to the National Library of Jamaica.

The presentation was made to National Librarian Beverley Lashley and her staff at the library, located at East Street in Kingston. Also involved in the handover was managing director of Ian Randle Publishers, Christine Randle, whose company undertook the production and printing of the memoir.

The book relates Smith’s journey from youth to adolescence, adulthood and political awakening, and is available islandwide.

According to the author, an official launch of his memoir will be held soon.

Pastors defend emotional Holness

TWO pastors have jumped to the defence of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, saying there should be space for a national leader to be emotional or even cry publicly.

This comes after three ex-policemen criticised Holness’s display of emotion on Wednesday, January 5 at the National Day of Prayer, at The Power of Faith Ministries in Portmore, St Catherine, held under the theme: ‘Family: The Bedrock of Society’.

Retired cops Reneto Adams and Clive “Karate Georgie” Lawrence had told the Sunday Observer that the PM may have inspired criminals with his tearfulness, and Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, former commissioner of police and former chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), said he was disinterested in Holness’s display of emotion.

However, during a Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange last week, Rev Major Canute Chambers, chairman of the Jamaica Pentecostal Union Apostolic (JPUA), who was present at The Power of Faith Ministries, told the Sunday Observer that Holness’s expression was timely, and reflected the current reality of the country.

“I was in the meeting itself, and I think it was a genuine show of emotion to say ‘Look, we have been doing, we have been doing, but we need support. We can’t do it alone.’ So it’s not that he was, perhaps by his emotion, expressing that we are hopeless or undermining the integrity or work of the force. Based on my perspective and what I saw, he was saying that we have done everything, but now we need the help of Jamaica,” said Chambers.

He said that Jamaica’s main takeaway should be that all citizens should come together and do their part to act against criminals.

“We need to talk what we see; we need to speak up; we need to support the crime-fighting strategies, support the military, support the police. That was my take on it – not that we are hopeless. We are never hopeless. Once we are alive, we have hope. With the living there is hope, and a living dog is better than a dead lion.”

Chambers further rubbished arguments that seeing the most senior politician crying makes him come across to the nation as weak.

“That is ridiculous. That is perhaps an archaic type of thinking. The culture is that men should be tough and not cry, and all the rest of it. And we see that, that perhaps -in itself – has damaged many men. If you check society now, our men are not emotionally sound in the sense that they can express their emotions,” he said.

“If we have an argument the first thing we want to do is to kill one another, or to fight, and the rest of it. So I think that is a culture that we need to change. Persons can and should freely express their emotions. If you need to cry, then cry. If you need to laugh, then laugh. We are humans.”

Chambers added: “In gentler societies, perhaps because of how their culture is, people can laugh at some things that we would take offence to as Jamaicans. I don’t find that emotions demean us or make us less of a person. In fact, it enhances our whole personality as real persons, so no challenges there.”

Rev Sam McCook, senior pastor of Hope Fellowship Church, told the Sunday Observer that something would be wrong with the prime minister if he wasn’t moved by the country’s crime situation.

“It must be a great burden to him that citizens are losing their lives in the way that they are losing their lives. And so, if he did not feel it emotionally we would have to question what kind of leader he is. Whether or not a display of it is appropriate is not for me to judge, but I don’t think that it should be dismissed,” said McCook.

“You are going to see it based on your position. The British stiff-upper-lip kind of approach is what persons expect. I don’t have a problem with it [crying] once it is an authentic expression of his position. In terms of its impact on criminals and on the crime-fighting situation, I think nobody can properly assess that.”

Adams and Lawrence both argued that Holness gave criminals a collective pat on their backs, and sent the message “You have defeated us.”

“I can’t challenge their perspectives because they are law enforcement people with some experience, so I couldn’t challenge that. But I do believe there is a place for a national leader to show emotional connection with the crises faced in the country, and we are in a crisis. Our backs are actually against the wall and we need solutions, so it is not an easy thing and [it is not easy] as the leader of the country,” McCook added.

He, however, said emotions should be backed up with clear action.

“I think the main argument that people would have to make is, while we appreciate the empathy and the expression, what the country is looking for is the actions that will lead to a reduction in violent crimes, and they do not need to be exclusive of each other. You can have somebody who feels, somebody who is moved emotionally, and [still] somebody who is firm in their actions. We are asking for somebody who feels and acts,” McCook told the Sunday Observer.


Desperate for lunch, this billy goat showed off its climbing skills on this fence in Stony Hill Square, St Andrew, last Wednesday afternoon. Even as passersby admired its acrobatic performance, the ram insisted that despite the public attraction and attention its actions created, a full belly was all that mattered. (Photo: HG Helps)


Martinique with More Than 7,000 COVID-19 Cases in One Week

Martinique has recorded an explosion of new COVID-19 cases with 2,235 new confirmed cases recorded in 24 hours.

According to the Agence Regionale de Sante (ARS), there are 112 hospitalisations and 35 patients in critical condition.

The total number of deaths since the start of the epidemic is 805.

ARS states the indicators related to the number of deaths have to be interpreted with caution due to the time in registration in administrative software by hospital institutions.

Throughout this week Martinique has posted high COVID-19 figures:

  • On January 13 – 1,117 new cases recorded in 24 hours  

  • On January 12 – 2,301 new cases recorded in 24 hours  

  • On January 11- 1, 246 new cases recorded in 24 hours  

  • On January 10- 1,842 new cases recorded in 24 hours

The French Caribbean Island since March 2020 has recorded 65,380 confirmed cases.

On Wednesday, PAHO during its COVID-19 briefing said 42 countries and territories in all Subregions of the Americas including the Caribbean have detected the Omicron variant.

It was also noted that in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are reporting the highest numbers of new infections, although other islands like Jamaica, Aruba, Curaçao, and Martinique are also seeing significant jumps in COVID-19 cases.

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TRAVEL by Eric Mackenzie Lamb

The Republic of Malta has always been one of the places I’ve wanted to visit. But due to today’s ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions on travel, the small island nation was difficult to get to. However, I did finally make it last summer. And what I saw was nothing short of fascinating. And that’s not even mentioning its history.

First, some background.Malta is an island country of the European Union consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 50 miles south of Italy, 176 miles east of Tunisia, and 207 miles north of Libya. With a population of around 515,000 over an area of just 122 square miles, it’s the world’s tenth smallest country in area. And its capital, Valletta, is the smallest in the E.U.

First, some background.

Malta is an island country of the European Union consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 50 miles south of Italy, 176 miles east of Tunisia, and 207 miles north of Libya. With a population of around 515,000 over an area of just 122 square miles, it’s the world’s tenth smallest country in area. And its capital, Valletta, is the smallest in the E.U.

Malta’s rugged coast. Image by the author.

The country’s national language is Maltese, which was derived from Sicilian Arabic over centuries, while English serves as its second official language.  Below is an example of how strikingly different they are from each other.

Inhabited since approximately 5,900 BC, Malta’s location in the central Mediterranean has historically given the island great strategic importance as a naval base, with a succession of powers having contested and ruled the islands, including Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Aragonese, the Knights of St John, and the French and British. Each left an indelible mark on the country’s culture. In 58 AD, Paul the Apostle remained in Malta for three months after his ship washed up on the island’s shore during a storm. Malta has had Christianity for centuries, although it was predominantly Muslim while under Arab rule. Muslim rule ended with the invasion of the island by Roger I and the Knights of Malta in 1091. Today, Catholicism is the country’s official religion but its  constitution guarantees freedom of worship for all.
Malta became a British colony in 1813, serving as a way station for ships as well as headquarters for the British Mediterranean naval fleet. During World War II, despite being besieged by the Axis powers, Malta became a strategic base for British military operations in North Africa. In 1964, the British parliament passed the Malta Independence Act. The country became a Republic in 1974 and a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations, with its own seat at the United Nations. It officially joined the European Union in 2004.When the Suez Canal opened in 1869, Malta’s strategic position, halfway between the Strait of Gibraltar and Egypt, proved to be its main asset and was considered an important stop on the way to India, a vital trade route for the British.Malta has three UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as seven temples which are some of the oldest free standing structures in the world.

Finally, something you may not know: in 1989, Malta was the venue for a historic meeting between US President George H.W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Mikhael Gorbachev, an event which marked the end of the Cold War.Oh, and lest we forget: Malta even has its own carnival during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. A touch of Caribbean culture?

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Caribbean Airlines New Boeing 737-8 Takes to the Sky

Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737-8 aircraft took to the skies for the first time today, January 14. The airline’s Boeing 9Y-CAL maiden jet service departed the Piarco International Airport destined to the Norman Manley International, Kingston, Jamaica.

Earlier today Caribbean Airlines hosted a brief ceremony at the Piarco International Airport to launch the new aircraft, which offers passengers exceptional levels of convenience and comfort. The re-fleeting coincides with the airline’s 15th anniversary. Some lucky customers on the inaugural service won an extra 15,000 miles and all customers received bags of goodies and other memorabilia!

Caribbean Airlines’ CEO, Garvin Medera, in commenting said: “The introduction of this new aircraft into service, represents Caribbean Airlines’ initiative to ‘REset Expectations’ for 2022.The 737-8 is the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world and it brings a range of benefits for Caribbean Airlines, our customers, and the environment. Fuel and maintenance costs are lower, each plane has 10 more seats than its predecessor with a total of 160 seats and the aircraft offers state-of-the-art technology and an upgraded level of comfort in both the business class and economy cabin, including in seat power for mobile devices, a new sky interior, sleek modern seats and much more.”

Mr. Medera continued: “We’re really excited about the plans and improvements for the coming year, all done with you in mind. Be sure to stay informed via our social media channels and follow us on #REcalibrate as we REset Expectations in 2022.”

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Queen Elizabeth Personally Stripped Prince Andrew of His Royal and Military Titles Over the Epstein Scandal

  • Prince Andrew was stripped of his royal patronages and military titles on Thursday.
  • The Queen personally informed him in a 90-minute meeting at Windsor Castle, per the Daily Mail and NY Post.

Queen Elizabeth II personally told Prince Andrew in a 90-minute meeting that he would be stripped of his royal patronages and military titles, the Daily Mail and the New York Post reported.

The monarch summoned her second son for the meeting to Windsor Castle on Thursday morning to tell him he would no longer hold the title of His Royal Highness “in any official capacity,” the Post reported.

The Daily Mail also published photos of the Duke of York leaving his nearby home, Royal Lodge, by car.

He was accompanied by his attorney, Gary Bloxsome, who had to wait for Andrew in the parking lot as he was not allowed into Windsor Castle, the Mail reported. It is unclear why the lawyer was unable to enter the royal residence.

It is also unclear if anyone else was  at the meeting.

A source told the Post the meeting was “cutting.”

“There was nothing from the Queen about her sadness or dismay, nothing emotional at all,” the Post’s source said.

Buckingham Palace on Thursday announced that Andrew had been stripped of his military titles and royal patronages and that he will defend himself from sexual-assault allegations as a private citizen. A royal source also told Insider’s Mikhaila Friel that the duke would lose his HRH status.

The palace’s announcement came days after a New York court rejected Andrew’s request to dismiss a sexual-assault lawsuit brought about by the Jeffrey Epstein accuser, Virginia Giuffre Roberts.

Giuffre, who for years has alleged that she was forced by Epstein to have sex with Andrew, filed a lawsuit against the royal in August 2021, accusing him of sexually assaulting her. Andrew has repeatedly denied those claims.

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