Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up

  • Accounting for Haiti's aid
  • Misick move
  • Mary Seacole
  • Cuba changes
  • Part-time Puerto Rico



CI news logo Haiti: Accounting for the aid three years on
The decision by Canada’s minister of international co-operation, Julian Fantino, to freeze new aid to Haiti has caused Canadians, Haitians and the media to examine the impact made by aid sent since January 2010.
Added to the collapse of singer Wyclef Jean’s humanitarian Yele Haiti Foundation in late 2012, more focus than ever is being given to the use of aid on the third anniversary of the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake.
Announcing the freeze on future aid, Mr Fantino said the money did not seem to be getting the results which “Canadians had the right to expect”. 
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) clarified its situation in an 8 January statement.
“While the results of specific projects have largely met expectations, progress towards a self-sustaining Haitian society has been limited,” it explained.
“Our government has a responsibility to maximize the value of Canadian taxpayer dollars. That is why Canada is reviewing its long-term engagement strategy with Haiti, like we do with all of our programs.”
“Canada's assistance will not be a blank cheque. We expect accountability, we expect transparency, and we expect tangible results for those most in need.”
The New York Times provided a graphic depiction, breaking down the spending of the $9.5bn in public funds in relief and recovery aid since 2010, using figures from the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti. $9.5 billion in relief and recovery aid to Haiti for 2010 to 2012$9.5 billion in relief and recovery aid to Haiti for 2010 to 2012.
Some $3.6bn of the $9.5bn – mostly US aid – is yet to be disbursed.
The disbursed $5.9bn has been spent as:
  • 40% ($2.2bn) on immediate humanitarian aid – post-quake tent camps, food, medical care and water
  • $1.4bn on transportation, health, education, water and sanitation
  • $693m on existing projects
  • $215m on permanent housing
The rest of the money has been spent on agriculture, food security, disaster prevention and projects for women, children and justice.
United Nations Office of the Special Envoy For HaitiThis does not include the estimated $1.2bn in private funds.
Haiti’s economy and finance minister, Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie, told local media that Mr Fantino should “not question the management and efficacy of the Haitian state”. 
She also said that if Canada believed that the CIDA funds are poorly managed, this had nothing to do with the Haitian state.
Canadians are also split on whether it’s fair to simply cut fresh aid or to help Haiti find a solution for better disbursement of future money.
The Toronto Star said in an editorial: “The answer isn’t to slam the brakes on Canadian assistance. It’s to give Haitians the resources they need to shape their own future.”
While the global debate continues on aid to Haiti, the country itself is marking the third anniversary of the 2010 earthquake still mired in what the Miami Herald described as deepening poverty, stalled reconstruction and “political paralysis”.
The paper’s Caribbean correspondent, Jacqueline Charles, wrote: “In trying to rebuild, [Haitian tent dweller Alexandra] Simin and other former tent dwellers say switching back their tattered lives is proving to be as elusive as the lofty promises.”
CI logo Misick move
Britain has formally requested the extradition of former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick from Brazil.
Mr Misick was detained in Rio de Janeiro on 7 December on his way to Sao Paulo to seek legal help in applying to remain in Brazil.
A statement on the Facebook page of the TCI Governor on 9 January said the extradition request would be submitted within 60 days under an extradition treaty between Britain and Brazil, which extends to the TCI.
Mr Misick then has the opportunity to contest his extradition.
“If he does not contest the extradition and there are no other outstanding issues, then everything possible will be done by Turks and Caicos authorities, in collaboration with his legal advisors and the Brazilian authorities, to ensure his speedy return to face questions in relation to alleged crimes during his time in office and to face trial in accordance with our laws,” Governor Ric Todd said.
“We have received assurances that during his time in custody, Mr Misick will receive consular assistance from the British Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, who will work to ensure that Mr Misick receives the same level of treatment as other British prisoners in Brazil and is treated in accordance with international minimum standards.
“The consular staff in Rio will provide the same level of consular assistance offered to all British citizens in Brazil.”
The statement comes after some TCI papers reported that Mr Misick was being badly treated in his Brazilian jail.
He was arrested at Rio’s Santos Dumont airport, where he was about to board a plane to Sao Paulo to consult lawyers.
He had been enjoying a luxury lifestyle in Rio’s beachside Ipanema district, having entered Brazil requesting political asylum.
His asylum application was turned down in November 2012 and Caribbean Intelligence© had learned that Mr Misick had been planning another legal bid to remain in Brazil.
Mr Misick faces corruption charges after being accused of amassing a fortune of $180m by the time he left office in 2009.
Britain suspended the autonomous rule of the TCI, a British Overseas Territory, and conducted an investigation into high-level corruption.
Direct rule was restored in the TCI in November after a three-year revamp of the country’s corruption regulations, culminating in fresh elections.
CI logo Mary Seacole
For a younger Caribbean diaspora generation in the UK, Mary Seacole represents a new relevance in the school curriculum.
For older people of Caribbean descent in the UK, you were taught about Florence Nightingale by day and told about Mary Seacole at home.
Many saw the placing of the Jamaican-born Crimean war nurse on the national curriculum in England and Wales in 2007 as a huge step towards allowing Britain’s black heritage to appear in school history books.
So the late 2012 leaking of the proposed new curriculum core has angered many – both black and white.
The changes will allegedly remove Mary Seacole and some others from the curriculum – the core minimum teaching agenda recommended for teachers.
Education secretary Michael Gove has said in the past that syllabuses have been stripped of core content and is keen to make a difference.
Reaction has been swift. “Time to knock the black icon off her perch appears to be the philosophy,” wrote Hugh Muir in the Guardian.
Jamaican-born MP Diane Abbott was quoted by the Independent as saying: “She is one of the most distinct examples of how black history is an integral part of British history. Michael Gove should be fully aware of the message that this decision sends. “
In the other corner, the Daily Mail ran a story headlined: “The black Florence Nightingale and the making of a PC myth. One historian explains how Mary Seacole’s story never stood up.”  
Mary Seacole retains her place as one of the top people in the black community to make a mark on British society – not for anti-racism causes, but for doing a notable job during the Crimean war.
A petition to keep Mary Seacole on the school curriculum, launched by the lobby group Operation Black Vote, has already attracted more than 5,000 supporters online.
CI logo Cuba changes
According to changes announced last October, from 14 January Cubans will be able to leave the island without the previous permits and paperwork.
Entry permits and relatives’ letters of invitation will no longer be needed and Cubans will be able to stay outside their country for two years without losing their residency.
The Cuban press agency, Prensa Latina, has said that people who illegally left Cuba after 1994 can also return once they have been away for more than eight years.
Those in military service and other work considered “professional” will still face travel restrictions.
Cuba has said that it needs to defend its social interests and preserve its professional workforce.
Cubans will still have to seek visas from countries they plan to visit – first overcoming fears that they might not want to merely visit third countries, but apply for asylum.
Cuban exile groups in Miami are not impressed by the upcoming changes.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-born representative in the US Congress, told the BBC that the measure was "nothing more than Mr Castro's desperate attempts to fool the world into thinking that Cuba is changing".
In another development to watch, the Cuban authorities are set to grant more foreigners the right to live and invest in the country.
CI logo Part-time Puerto Rico
The party with the most seats in Puerto Rico’s legislature is proposing a return to part-time legislatures to save money.
Puerto Rico and some other US states had part-time legislatures until two decades ago. In 1997, Puerto Rico’s lawmakers moved to full-time status, in order to deal with the country’s larger issues.
Now the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) estimates that it could save millions of dollars and become more efficient by changing back.
Travel and food stipends for legislators would also be cut to suit, which the PDM also believes will save about 30% of the current legislature budget.
The money saved would be put towards the country’s National Guard and its forensic unit to improve crime fighting and to deal with child abuse programmes.
Reservations already being expressed include the possibility of causing conflicts of interest for legislators who find other part-time work.
The recommendations, which are currently before a commission, will go forward for public consultation. If successful, they will come into force by July of this year.
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