Limbo Citizens or Stateless People? - Human Rights, Migration, and the Future for Dominicans of Haitian Ancestry
:: By Angelique V. Nixon, Ph.D ::
"No one can be hood-winked as to the reason and the purpose for this kind of discriminatory legislation. Within the region we have an obligation to speak and we cannot allow such inequities to go without our strongest condemnations." - P.J. Patterson
Caribbean people across the region and its diaspora have been responding with righteous (and necessary) outrage over the recent ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic that essentially strips away the birthright citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian ancestry.
I could not let today pass without noting that on October 19, 1983 Prime Minister of Grenada Maurice Bishop and seven of his advisers and ministers were executed by an army firing squad at Fort Rupert (now Fort George) in St. George’s. A faction of his New Jewel Movement had placed Bishop under house arrest five days earlier, because he had refused to share leadership of the political party with Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard. This was the only political assassination in the Caribbean – hopefully, the first and last.
Bishop had seized power on March 13, 1979, burning down the army barracks at True Blue while Prime Minister Eric Gairy was away at a United Nations meeting. These were the Cold War days; and troubled days they were.
During my recent visit to Grenada I did not visit Fort George, where Bishop and his ministers were killed. But I sensed that there were very mixed feelings about the period among older Grenadians. One told me Grenadians were all glad when the United States invaded, just a few days after Bishop’s assassination, because the country was in chaos and there was no food to eat. Others regretted the tragic chain of events, and pointed to the achievements of the Bishop regime during the few years he was in power.
In particular, everyone credited Maurice Bishop with the construction of the international airport at Point Salines (now named after him), which was officially opened just a year after his death. It was a huge step forward for the island. The Cuban Government reportedly provided about half of the funding for the airport to be built, plus much of the labor and equipment. Someone else told me that the Cubans had done much for Grenada at the time of Bishop’s revolutionary government. Everyone seemed to have their opinion about the Bishop era and its aftermath, and every opinion was different.
This airport, which Bishop called “of extreme importance to our revolutionary process,” replaced Pearls Airport, which was in Grenville – inconveniently situated over twenty miles away from the capital. We stopped at Pearls, only for a few minutes (how I hate guided tours). Of course, it is overgrown, and completely deserted apart from a few goats. I would have loved to explore some more; and tried to imagine what the place was like at night – imagining runway lights lighting up, ghostly planes taking off and landing, flying to Cuba and back with supplies.
I did see another haunted place though – what was once a mental institution, which had been mistakenly bombed by U.S. forces. It stands in ruins close to Fort Frederick, high above St. George’s. From the fort there are sweeping views of the town’s red roofs below, the harbor, and the wide blue horizon. On the other side are the quiet green hills and the outskirts of the town. Just below the fort to one side, we looked down at the mental home, where our guide told us at least thirty people died. It is not something that you will find much information about, normally.
But everyone has stories to tell. There are many stories. That is history, isn’t it.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/maurice-bishop-murder-grenada_n_1580944.html Maurice Bishop murder: Grenada seeks remains of slain Marxist Prime Minister: Huffington Post
Please find below a press release from the Caribbean Birding Trail, a project of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds. The CBT’s Interpretive Plan (see link below) is well worth reading and contemplating. It focuses on crucial issues for Jamaica, including tourism and development – and the potential of eco-tourism, which I have touched on in previous articles. It provides options, practical solutions and opportunities to enhance and protect Jamaica’s precious ecological and cultural heritage (such as the Portland Bight Protected Area/Goat Islands, and Cockpit Country) in a sustainable way.
Do contact Holly Robertson directly for further information on the Caribbean Birding Trail and related issues.
Everybody loves a good story. When a story is told well we are engaged and entertained. Chances are that we will walk away remembering what was said and perhaps be transformed by what we heard.
Jamaica is full of stories waiting to be told. Take, for instance, Cockpit Country. Fractured limestone, collapsed caves, undulating hills and valleys, and sinkholes make this region what it is today—an ecosystem and landscape like no other in the world. Cockpit Country supports outstanding biodiversity and species of plants and animals unique to the region. It is also a place of historical significance; the Tainos, Spanish, Africans, British, and Maroons are all integral to the narrative of Cockpit Country. Local legend recounts dramatic battles, mythical warriors, and an unprecedented history of conquest, land seizure, human enslavement, and liberation.
The Caribbean Birding Trail (CBT) seeks to tell these stories and offer interpretation  of Caribbean heritage by using the region’s vast cultural and natural resources as the storylines. The CBT is a newly launched initiative by the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB)  with funding from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund. The mission of the CBT is to create and promote nature-based, authentic experiences that engage visitors and locals with the unique birds of the Caribbean and connect them to the extraordinary places, diverse cultures and people of each island.
Critical to the CBT’s mission is its interpretive strategy—a guide for how to tell the story of the region’s abundant biodiversity. Professional interpreter Ted Eubanks of Fermata Inc, worked with the SCSCB over the past year to craft this strategy that has now been made available to the public in a document called The Caribbean Birding Trail – An Interpretive Plan for Seven Key Biodiversity Areas in Grenada, Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
For Jamaica, the SCSCB focused on Cockpit Country and Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA). The PBPA is another area largely unknown to the international – and perhaps local – population. It is the largest protected area in Jamaica and comprises 1,880 square kilometers of dense forests, vibrant wetlands, colorful coral reefs, lush seagrass beds, offshore cays, and human communities that depend on them. The natural and cultural treasures of both Cockpit Country and the PBPA are currently threatened by development schemes. Perhaps the reason is that the story of their value has yet to be told.
The Caribbean Birding Trail Interpretive Plan contains much more than just the interpretive strategy. It also contains an in-depth tourism market analysis of the Caribbean tourism industry, comprehensive Resource Assessments of each Key Biodiversity Area, and recommendations for building capacity and promoting the sites.
Local partners that reviewed the plan are very enthusiastic about being part of the CBT and having this new tool. The next step will be to implement certain recommendations made within the plan for Cockpit Country and the PBPA—actions that will build the capacity of the local communities to raise awareness about the unique ecosystems in which they live and to be able to share this with those fortunate enough to visit these spectacular sites.
The Interpretive Plan can be downloaded from the CBT website at the following link: www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org/interpretation/. For more information about how to visit these areas, please visit www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org and look under Sites.
For more information, and to arrange an interview, please contact:
Holly Robertson, Caribbean Birding Trail Project Manager, Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB). Email: email@example.com. Tel: (608) 698-3448
NOTES TO EDITORS:
According to the National Association for Interpretation, interpretation is a mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and meanings inherent in the resource. It is a process of conveying information about an interpretive site or resource by telling a story rather than reciting facts. A wide variety of people are involved in the interpretive guide profession, such as tour guides, museum docents, volunteers, cruise directors, naturalists, park rangers, zoo docents, and bus driver guides. For more information, visit www.interpnet.com. Environmental interpretation is often applied to eco-tourism, because travelers seek to learn and connect with the new places they are visiting. Effective interpretation, therefore, can help reveal meanings behind the landscape and help create a lasting memory and experience for visitors, whether local or international.
The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) is the largest single regional organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean. It is a non-profit organization whose goals are to promote the scientific study and conservation of Caribbean birds and their habitats, and to promote greater public awareness of the bird life of the region. For more details, see: http://www.scscb.org & http://www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org.
Captions to the photos below:
Jamaican Tody. By Ricardo Miller. A species of bird endemic to Jamaica that can be found throughout the island, from coast to mountains.
Portland Bight Protected Area, by Ted Eubanks.
Cockpit Country, by Ted Eubanks.
Religion in the Caribbean is an enduring institution and an integral part of our culturescape. Besides the ways it enriches the spiritual lives of religious people, it creates social spaces for communal fellowship and where useful friendships are formed. Religion has also historically operated as a mobilizing force against oppression. Recently, the Grenada Conference of Churches spearheaded innovative debt reduction negotiations to alleviate Grenada's national debt; they continue to engage meaningfully with the Government of Grenada and the IMF to avoid structural adjustment strictures that are potentially damaging to Grenada.
In no particular order here are 10 boss posts from Caribbean feminist bloggers writing out loud. Read, share and tell me what other articles should be on this list. Enjoy this gift from the Caribbean femisphere!
Why? Quick wit. Pulse firmly on Caribbean popular culture!
I spent a little time (very short, so these are truly only glimpses) in the capital of Grenada, St. George’s, recently. On my first day, I took a minibus and wandered around – alone and un-harrassed by anyone – during one warm and humid day, and spent a little time there too with groups during subsequent field trips. Here are a few photos I took that will give you an impression of the town of some 36,000 inhabitants (about half the size of the population of May Pen in Clarendon, Jamaica; and about one third of the total population of the island). The town was built by the French in 1650, and then later the British moved in. Despite the devastation of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the town retains some lovely historic buildings, a charming waterfront and a lively atmosphere.
You can find more photos of Saint George’s (and more from the field trips, to follow) on my Facebook page.
While I was in Grenada, I was staying at St. George’s University (near the capital, St. George’s) on its True Blue Campus, which was founded in 1976. True Blue (lovely name) seems to be the name of the area, and it’s quite appropriate, as you can see from the photos I am sharing with you below. I was attending the 19th Conference of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds. Please look out for future blog posts on the many issues covered, including conservation, culture, development and all the other factors affecting our environment and our birds. For more information, see the BirdsCaribbean Facebook page, visit the website at http://www.scscb.org or follow us on Twitter @BirdsCaribbean.
Blue sea, red roofs, blue sky…
For more on St. George’s University, which is a private, offshore institution offering a range of programs mainly in the medical field, take a look at their website: http://www.sgu.edu.
Anyway, this one contained a recipe, which I found interesting. Partly because of the name, “Oil Down.” This reminds me of the Jamaican “Rundown,” and the cooking technique seems similar in a way. Now, oil-down is Grenada’s National Dish, the equivalent of Jamaica’s Ackee and Saltfish. The Government of Grenada‘s website describes it as a “simple, delicious and robust dish.” But then, their version of it has slightly different ingredients; I suppose it varies depending on availability. Breadfruit, though, is a must. And how I love breadfruit!
Somehow it reminds me of the French cassoulet - a classic dish in which all kinds of meat and other stuff are thrown into the pot and cooked down. I recall that my dear brother, after eating a dishful at a restaurant in Carcassonne during a family holiday in France, immediately retired to bed on returning home, emerging hours later. Not that I expect Oil Down to have the same effect… I would love to hear more about the origin of the Grenadian dish, however.
Anyway, here’s the recipe. I suppose you could do a vegetarian version, but then it wouldn’t be oily. Why not give it a try?
Breadfruit Oil Down
250 grams salt meat
250 grams saltfish
2 small breadfruit
2 sprigs thyme
1 whole chilli
1 stick celery
1 whole pepper
1.5 liters coconut milk
1/8 tsp salt
Soak fish and meat overnight in cold water. Drain. Remove the breadfruit core, peel and slice. In a saucepan, put alternate layers of breadfruit, meat and saltfish. Tie chilli, thyme, chive and add to the pan with celery and coconut milk. Cover tightly and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until everything is cooked and tender. When cooked, the liquid should all be absorbed and the stew should be oily.
P.S. In case you are wondering, my culinary skills are absolute zero. I try to avoid kitchens (including my own). However I can boil an egg, and make a nice salad. My coffee and tea-making skills are also exemplary. (And I’m not being overly modest; my husband agrees with this assessment; but did just point out that I can actually boil more than one egg at a time).
Bird conservation-climate change conference a success! (petchary.wordpress.com)
The Breadfruit, Bligh’s Gift to Jamaica and the Mutiny it Caused (insidejourneys.com)
Dr. Howard Nelson, President of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB), the largest organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean, has described the Society’s 19th international meeting in Grenada as a resounding success. The theme of the conference, held on the St. George’s University campus from July 27-31, 2013 on the island of Grenada, was “Bird Conservation in a Changing Climate.” Over 200 individuals attended the meeting including 165 international delegates from 37 countries. Important issues discussed included the threats and management needs of Grenada’s now iconic national bird, the Grenada Dove.
Dr. Lisa Sorenson, Executive Director, said, “Given the threat of climate change to the survival of the critically endangered Grenada Dove, the international focus was timely and essential.” Bonnie Rusk, Founding Director of the Grenada Dove Conservation Programme, believes there are fewer than 150 doves left in the wild. Its coastal dry forest habitat is threatened by hurricanes and fires, which are exacerbated by region-wide climate change trends of increasing drought and more severe storms. Loss of habitat from development and predation by mongoose, rats and feral cats are other important causes of the dove’s extremely small and fragmented population.
Dr. Nelson noted that both local and international support is urgently needed to prevent further population decline and possible extinction of this uniquely Caribbean bird. Nelson noted that the dove had now become a symbol of the urgent need to ensure that human development does not lead to extinction on islands. Conference delegates toured the bird’s habitat in small groups and had the opportunity to see Grenada’s iconic dove along with other species found only on Grenada, such as the endangered Grenada Hooked-billed Kite.
Mr. Tyrone Buckmire, chair of the Grenadian Organizing Committee said he was thrilled that Grenada hosted this year’s meeting in the Isle of Spice. Senator Simon Steil, Parliamentary Secretary in Grenada’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture Alexandra Otway-Noel addressed the meeting’s Opening Ceremony.
The meeting provided an unparalleled opportunity for sharing of information and dialogue about the science, management, education, and community outreach and engagement needed to conserve Caribbean birds and their habitats, especially under the threat of climate change. Key presentations, developments and outcomes of the meeting included:
- Reviews of the effects of climate change on biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean and mitigation strategies by Drs. Adam Terando and Ruth Blyther, and others.
- The development of an alien invasive species eradication plan for the habitat of the Grenada Dove that seeks to manage the rat and mongoose threat to nesting doves.
- A workshop on building and expanding the Caribbean Birding Trail, an unprecedented effort led by the Society to connect many countries, islands and languages in a pan-Caribbean bird watching interpretive trail.
The society’s members also reviewed a new five-year strategic plan that proposed far- reaching changes to the Society’s structure and program of work. Key elements of the new strategic direction include a re-branding of the organization and a strengthened approach for working with and through regional partners to promote conservation of birds and their habitats. Nelson said this would involve the organization:
- Serving as the Caribbean’s primary forum for sharing best practices, tools, innovations, and lessons learned about the conservation of birds and their habitats.
- Expanding and developing flagship programs, such as the highly successful Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival that draws over 100,000 participants from 23 Caribbean nations.
- Generating core operational funds needed to hire and sustain full-time staff, field projects and Caribbean-wide education programs.
Many local persons attended the conference including tour guides trained under the Caribbean Birding Trail Project; Grenada Scouts, who assist with the conservation of the Grenada Dove; concerned members of the public; and the staff of the Grenada Fund for Conservation and Grenada Forestry Department. Major sponsors of the conference were St. George’s University, Grenada Fund for Conservation, the Grenada Forestry Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Wildlife Without Borders and Division of Migratory Birds), The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Forest Service – International Programs, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, Bermuda Audubon Society, Caribbean Horizons, Sunsation Tours, True Blue Bay Resort, Blue Horizons Garden Resort, Osprey Lines Ltd., De La Grenade Industries, Grenada Distillers, Grenada Scouting Association (volunteers), Grenada Board of Tourism, Belmont Estate & The Grenada Chocolate Company, Island Catering, and the Grenada Art Community.
For more information, and to arrange an interview, please contact:
Grenadian Local Organizing Committee Rep: Tyrone Buckmire, Executive Director, Grenada Fund for Conservation, St. George’s, Grenada. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Grenada Dove, please contact: Bonnie L Rusk, Grenada Dove Conservation Programme, St George’s, Grenada. Email: email@example.com, Tel: 473-403-3361, 473-440-2934 (Grenada).
1. Dr. Howard Nelson has extensive research, policy and teaching experience in wildlife ecology, forestry and biodiversity conservation. He was the biodiversity specialist at the Environmental Policy and Planning Division of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Planning, Housing and Environment. Currently, he is the Coordinator for a Regional Biodiversity and Sustainable Development MSc Programme, and a lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI). He is also a member of the Board of the Guardian Life Wildlife Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.
2. The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) is the largest single regional organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean. It is a non-profit organization whose goals are to promote the scientific study and conservation of Caribbean birds and their habitats, and to promote greater public awareness of the bird life of the region. For more details, see: http://www.scscb.org.
The theme for this year’s conference is closely related to the global theme for Earth Day 2013, “The Face of Climate Change.” International Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd. For further details see:
Conference Details: For further information on the conference program, keynote speakers and sessions please visit: https://sites.google.com/site/scscbmeeting2013/home
The Caribbean Birding Trail is being organized by the SCSCB to create and promote nature-based, authentic experiences that engage visitors and locals with the unique birds of the Caribbean, and connect them to the extraordinary places, diverse cultures and people of each island. For more information, please visit: www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org.