Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up

Hugo Chavez
  • Remembering Hugo Chavez
  • The IMF gives Antigua the thumbs up
  • The secret to a long life from Dominica
  • New writers competition shortlisting
CI logo Chavez’s fans
While critics and supporters alike mull over the political and economic legacy of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, spare a thought for the people of New York.
As the New York Times pointed out this week, the late Venezuelan leader was one president from “the South” who provided aid for poor people in the Big Apple.
When he wasn’t comparing US presidents to dogs and smelling sulphur in their wake, in 2005, Hugo Chavez visited the South Bronx during a stay in New York for a United Nations General Assembly.
The New York Times charts the story of one Lucia Solano, whose education foundation, Servicio Basico Educativo, had been behind on its rent.
She followed the Venezuelan president during his walkabout in the Bronx area, stated her case and later received a cheque to cover the back rent.
President Chavez was later to provide millions of dollars in aid for the South Bronx and its people – a reversal of the North giving aid to the South.
His visit to the area is still remembered for the hours he spent meeting local community leaders and making sure that aides provided monetary back-up to follow the down-home meeting-and-greeting.
It was the same approach to the poor and downtrodden that has left many people across the Caribbean mourning him as one of their own.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, described Hugo Chavez as "a sincere, jovial, and a very vociferous and committed leader in the defence of the rights and welfare of the most marginalised and vulnerable in the society and a fighter to correct inequalities in his country, the Americas and the Caribbean region". 
Apart from the gasoline and crude oil exports from Venezuela to Jamaica and the joint venture of Petrojam Ltd, the Petrocaribe alliance also helps Jamaican farmers to buy fertiliser, seeds and farm machinery.
Further down the island chain in Dominica, the Petrocaribe programme provides fuel oil for electric power generation, gasoline and liquid petroleum gas, as well as funding social projects in agriculture, sports, education, tourism, food sovereignty and housing.
“Fellow Dominicans, this is not the time nor place for me to itemise the specific acts of kindness of President Chavez to Dominica,” Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said in an address to the nation.
“His love for and assistance to this island transcended the monetary, material or even visual.”
“As for me, I have lost a colleague, a father, a brother… and a friend. Hugo Chavez held my hand in the brightest and darkest hours of my tenure to date as your prime minister. Dominica and I could have looked to him for guidance and we received such in the spirit of mutual friendship and respect,” he added.
For more on the Petrocaribe relationship and its future, see our story – Hugo Chavez: Death of a Petro Daddy.
CI logo IMF to Antigua: Keep it up
Antigua and Barbuda has received the thumbs up from the International Monetary Fund after a visit by an IMF team at the end of February.
The team concluded that the country is doing all the right things on tax compliance, changes to laws underpinning the economy and public spending.
“The authorities have made significant progress towards meeting the goals of their fiscal consolidation programme, to restore debt sustainability and lay the foundations for sustainable growth, despite a challenging international economic environment and domestic financial sector problems,” an IMF statement said.
It also hailed the country’s debt restructuring and fiscal consolidation, despite economic contraction between 2009 and 2012.
“All of this provides a solid anchor for economic recovery and growth, which is already bearing fruit,” the IMF statement said.
The statement said that growth was being led by recovery in the tourism and construction sectors.
A Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) state-of-play report earlier this year indicated that the tourism and construction sectors were providing the region with a route towards growth in the current global economic climate.
CI logo Dominica and the secret of life
What is it about the island of Dominica and longevity?
As far back as 2002, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) reported that, out of a population of 70,000 people, 21 had lived to beyond a hundred years old.
PAHO’s Perspective in Health magazine had put it down to fresh food, pure air and clean water.
It had profiled Ma Pampo who, born in 1875, had been credited in 2000 as the world’s oldest inhabitant. She had put it down to eating only “natural” food.
Ma Pampo died a year after that interview in 2003, making her 128 at the time of her death.
Today, the longevity legacy lives on.
On 26 February, Marian Victor, known as Ma Victor, and on 8 March, Clementina “Ma Googoo” Abraham also joined the ranks of Dominica’s 100-plus club.
Dominica News Online outlined the lifestyle of fresh food and an active life of the island’s centenarians.
Maybe there’s a message in there for us all?
CI logo Caribbean Intelligence New Writers competition
The shortlisting has been completed for the Short Story competition run by Caribbean Intelligence in 2012.
Entries from around the world were judged by a team of Caribbean and English judges.
The results will be announced this month on this website.
Thanks to all the aspiring writers who took part in our first competition.
Details of the next contest will appear soon.
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