Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is Pusey For Real?

When one reads about some of  the judgments being handed down by Senior Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey, it becomes more difficult with each passing day to retain confidence in her as a judge.

The first sign that all was not well was when she sentenced a man who stole a few mangoes, to three months in jail, in a country where people routinely get suspended sentences or a slap on the wrist for stealing millions!

Then came the decision that shocked the nation, when Pusey ruled that Kern Spencer, the former Junior Minister of Technology, who had been charged with stealing over $200 million in what is known as the "Cuban Light bulb Scandal" had no case to answer.

This shocking judgement was closely followed by the dismissal of the case against two Surinamese visitors, Gene Roshen Daniels and Reingoud Mackel Murvoin, who had been charged by the police for having some $60 million in cash on them, money which they had not declared on entering the island nor could they give the police any explanation for how they had acquired it.

Does this mean that any terrorist can now bring millions into Jamaica to buy weapons to carry out murderous acts anywhere in the world without anyone being able to stop them? For according to the Pusey doctrine, it is now legal to walk around the country with millions in cash without ever having to declare it, explain source or explain what  it is to be used for!!!!

I wonder if Pusey  and the powers that be in Jamaica recognize the implications of this judgement!?                                                                                      

Religion and Violence

As I have  tried to understand the love of  violence by the Jamaican people which has caused us to be number 6 in terms of countries with the highest number of murders per capita, yet according to the Guinness book of world records, we also boast the highest number of churches per square, I have been becoming more and more convinced that there is a direct relationship.

This small payer meeting was the only sign of religious activity I saw in a 146 km drive from Holguin to Frank Pais on good Friday!
More specifically, I have surmised  that our penchant for violence has something to do with our love for the Old Testament, which is in my book, one of the most violent publications ever unleashed on this world.

My views are even more reinforced now that I have returned to Cuba and seen that people there have no interest in religion although religious freedom is in no way restricted, yet they are such peaceful and loving people with a very low rate of violent confrontation .

Yessome people tell me that it is because they have a repressive government but  Latin America is replete with a history of repressive governments while retaining their  love for religion yet the murder rates in countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are running Jamaica hard!

Yes sir, until I can find a more logical explanation, I remain even more convinced that as long as the Old Testament is drummed into the heads of our children, we have no hope of ever becoming a civilised,  peaceful, loving society!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Poor in Cuba versus the Poor in Jamaica, Haiti etc.

I could never live in a communist country as I value my freedoms too much. However, after visiting my family in Cuba over the Easter holidays and seeing in general how the Cubans live, I am convinced that the poor there have much better living conditions than the poor in either Jamaica or Haiti.
My little cousin Brian

To begin with, there is no vulgar gap between the rich and the poor there as most people are poor but most importantly, they are not starving and their health needs are looked after.

My cousin there lost her home in 1963 to hurricane Flora and was given a two bedroom flat in a two storey building and she has never had to pay a cent for living there. Granted because they do not own it, they do not paint it or look after it but it is solid and comfortable.

Further she has all the lifestyle diseases that most of us get with old age, eg. diabetes etc and she gets total free health care and pays very little for medication. In addition, she gets a extra half liter of milk every other day to ensure that she is getting good nutrition.

 In Cuba too, education up to university level is free and the only thing the parents have to pay is the a small fee for the uniforms. Granted a doctor only starts at about Can $30 per month when he graduates, but at least he has a great education and therefore possibly a good future because he is educated.

In Jamaica and Haiti if you are sick and poor, by the time you get medical attention you are dead after living a life of constant pain and no one cares whether you starve or not and getting medical attention or even the simplest operation is as hard as winning the lottery.

Yes there are beggars in Cuba but few and far between and in the general, the people look far healthier than our poor do. Yes wages are low but basics including transportation and food is subsidized so people eat well.

Cuban adults and teens are very responsible too as you do not see them walking around with a string of uncared for children as you see here and in most Latin American countries. While the government does not restrict the number of children people can have, they offer free contraceptives and abortion and because the people recognise that they do not have much, they do not breed indiscriminately but have only one child or two at the most two and because they do not have  a slew of kids stressing them out, they really cherish them.

I was felt so warm all over as I watched the parents drop off kids at a kindergarten near us and the fathers hugged and kissed their kids, even the boys as they watched until they were safely in the school yard. Of course they dropped them off on bicycles or walked, but they were there for them  all the way and you could feel the love and see how much they cherished their kids.

Yes poverty is all over the country there as it is here and in Haiti but at least in Cuba, poverty is not a sentence to perpetual suffering and I suspect, that having grown up not knowing what freedom is, when they migrate it is for the same reason that out people migrate and that is to try and get by better, economically. 

Ridiculous visa Requirement

Can you believe that to get a visa to visit the European union countries you must have an insurance which includes a guarantee to bring back your dead body!(reparation) How gross. (Spoilt my enthusiasm for the vacation right away)

I wonder who has been killing off visitors to those states that has led them to put in this morbid clause?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Forestry Trek 2014

The annual hike by the Forestry Department was well organised as usual, except that they ran out of water for the return hike.

About twelve large JUTC buses pulled out of the Constant Spring Road spot on schedule at 7am for the hour ride to Schwallenberg in St. Ann ( near Faith's Pen) from where we would hike to Holly Mount Great House in St. Catherine via Mount Diablo. 

When we got to Schwallenberg there was a briefing before we set off in groups of 25 with a forestry representative. 

Fun and Thrills was well represented although we had to register with Chuck's Rotary of St. Andrew to get the group rate. Sheriff, Sparkles, Charles, Johann, Tricia, Charlene, Karen (Chuck) and  Thomas were there, but they stayed with the groups they were registered with.

Braheem centre
Our leader (from the forestry Department) was Braheem who was born in Senegal, grew up in Barbados and now lives and works in Jamaica about which he is very knowledgeable.

The terrain was a bit rough but the lush, varied vegetation including some of the most beautiful ferns and fern trees you will see anywhere, fresh air and camaraderie made up for every discomfort.

There were three or four rest stations along the way with water, even coconut water at one and a good variety of fruits and peeled sugar cane.

We saw raspberries blossoming along the side of the road and I did find a ripe bunch to eat but it was rather sour, but who cares when eating off the land is always half the fun.

We were in no hurry so we drank in the scenery, took pictures and learnt about some of our endemic plants which had been labeled by the organisers and at the end of the journey, I planted a mahogany tree. 

I knew the great house was owned by an acquaintance of mine, Pat Marston,  but I did not know she would have been there, so although she was not allowing the 600 or so hikers to tramp all over her house, she gave us a tour.
Pat (right) with famous artist Carol Crighton inside the great house/

The house was built in the 1800's and her family are the first non-white owners of  the seven families that have owned what had originally been a sugar plantation.

She and her late husband (Toby, who was murdered some years ago) bought the 152 acre property from the family of the late Perry Henzel  of the "The Harder They Come" fame.

He grew up there, she tells me. She had been growing coffee on the property but after destruction of the crop by one of our numerous hurricanes and being unable to collect from the insurers, she abandoned that exercise and now rents the great house to guests.

There is a wonderful view from  every angle of the four bedroom house and from the veranda, you can see  see Bridgeport in St. Catherine, most of eastern St. Ann and Oracabessa in St. Mary and some of the most beautiful mountains and vegetation you will see anywhere.

After the tour, we had lunch and headed down but unfortunately Carol slipped, fell and twisted her ankle but luckily we saw a forestry vehicle going down shortly after and she was able to get a lift.

On the return journey we were unfortunate enough to go in a bus which had a power problem as it limped over all the hills but picked up speed on the flat causing another driver to stop to ask our driver what was happening to us as everyone passed us by.

Anyway, we got back safely after a great day of exercise, learning and camaraderie.

JOAN WILLIAMS, co-host of JUSTICE on POWER 106, describes herself as an unapologetic addict to the Jamaican outdoors. A foundation member of FUN AND THRILLS ADVENTURE CLUB, she explores the island at any given opportunity cycling, hiking or swimming with that group, family, Jah 3 and anyone else who will have her. In 1995, she published the popular TOUR JAMAICA and the 4th edition is now an ebook available at;

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Corruption Lessons

According to the Economist magazine, Nigeria  with a GDP of $509 billion is now has the largest  economy in Africa, passing South Africa for the fist time with their GDP of $354 billion.

The bad news though is that because of endemic corruption, over 70% of the 170 million population there live below the poverty line,  a large number barely existing in a country awash with oil, with an income of US$1.00 per day.

Jamaica is following a similar line and for the same reason, for we have more resources than every other island in the English speaking Caribbean, yet have the lowest per capita income and with a population of 2.7 million, we were recently told that  some 1.1 millions are now living below the poverty line. This was the result of a finding by American Counselling Association and the Association of Adventist Family Life Professional Dr. Alanzo Smith. 
I wonder if the general population here will ever learn to stop accepting corruption as the normal way of life?