JET Launches International Coastal Cleanup Day with Release of Research on Garbage in Montego Bay

Garbage in the South Gully in the vicinity of Dome Street, Montego Bay. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)
Garbage in the South Gully in the vicinity of Dome Street, Montego Bay. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

I am sorry I was not able to get out of town today with JET, to view the situation in Montego Bay’s South Gully and to learn more about the specific issues of solid waste management affecting Jamaica’s “second city” and tourism centre. Nevertheless, here is JET’s press release and photographs giving details. (Mark your calendars: International Coastal Cleanup Day is September 17, 2016!)

The mouth of the South Gully, which empties into the Montego Bay harbor in the vicinity of the Pier One complex. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

The mouth of the South Gully, which empties into the Montego Bay harbor in the vicinity of the Pier One complex. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

July 27, 2016

JET Launches International Coastal Cleanup Day with Release of Research on Garbage in Montego Bay

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has released the findings of a recently-concluded research project looking at solid waste management issues surrounding the South Gully in Montego Bay, St. James. The report of the South Gully Research Project (SGRP) was released at the launch of 2016 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day Jamaica activities, which took place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James on Wednesday, July 27. The SGRP and ICC Jamaica activities are being delivered by JET with funding by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) under the Clean Coasts Project (CCP). The annual ICC event which has been coordinated in Jamaica by JET since 2008, is scheduled to take place on September 17th this year. 

The launch event included a bus tour of the South Gully and its environs in Montego Bay, giving a first-hand look at how poor solid waste management has affected the town and its marine environment. “The challenges with solid waste in the South Gully and Montego Bay can be seen replicated across Jamaica and even beyond our shores,” said Diana McCaulay, JET’s CEO. “The garbage we throw away carelessly on land not only has a direct impact on public health, but travels to the coast via gullies and other waterways washing up on beaches and impacting tourism and fisheries.” She went on, “JET tries to raise awareness about this issue through our coordination of International Coastal Cleanup Day; so it was only fitting to launch the South Gully research findings as we kick off our 2016 ICC activities.”

The South Gully Research Project used surveys, interviews and a focus group to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of residents, business operators and government stakeholders regarding solid waste management and the South Gully. The major findings from the SGRP report were:

  • The garbage found in the South Gully is predominantly domestic waste, specifically plastic bottles, plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers.
  • The garbage is either dumped directly into the gully, or washes into the gully from open lots and streets by way of natural and man-made drainage channels.
  • Downtown Montego Bay has a longstanding flooding problem which is commonly attributed to an accumulation of garbage and debris in gullies. The design of the gully network also presents a challenge; the South Gully for example, is fed by several narrow, shallow ‘channelized’ tributaries, which tend to overflow their banks.
  • The pile up of garbage in the South Gully has also been blamed for increases in pests and disease vectors.
  • During heavy rainfall, much of the garbage dumped in gullies washes into the Montego Bay Harbour. This results in many tourist attractions located along its coast constantly cleaning up garbage which washes onshore. Recreational users of the coastline also frequently encounter solid waste which has washed out to sea.
  • Illegal dumping in the South Gully is attributed to several factors, including erratic garbage collection schedules, unwillingness of garbage trucks to service informal settlements, a lack of garbage bins in public spaces, a lack of enforcement of the anti-litter laws and weak solid waste management regulations. Poor cultural attitudes to solid waste management in Montego Bay is also identified as playing a major role.
  • According to local authorities, millions of Jamaican dollars have been spent on cleaning the South Gully and other waterways in Montego Bay; but there is a marked lack of consensus from survey respondents about the frequency and adequacy of these gully cleanups.
  • Among Montego Bay’s residents, businesses and government stakeholders, solid waste management in the South Gully and surrounding communities is recognised as problem, but very few people admitted to themselves dumping garbage illegally.
  • There is a strong consensus on public education as a solution to Montego Bay’s solid waste challenges. Other groups pointed to the need for more capital resources to tackle the problem, and greater enforcement of solid waste management legislation in the city.

JET has made several recommendations based on the findings of the SGRP, including improved garbage management infrastructure and services, a targeted public education for the town of Montego Bay on solid waste management issues, revision of Jamaica’s solid waste management act, and increased enforcement of anti-dumping and anti-litter laws.

“The garbage problem Jamaica faces must be tackled using a multi-faceted approach at the local, national, institutional and state level,” said Suzanne Stanley, Deputy CEO of JET. “At the individual level, we as Jamaicans need to take greater responsibility for our garbage, and educate ourselves about what happens to our waste once we have discarded it. One way to get involved is by participating in activities like ICC.”

Last year, Jamaica’s ICC day was in the top 15 worldwide, ranking 14th out of 93 countries. This year JET will again be partnering with several other government agencies and the private sector to stage the event, which is planned to take place at over 120 beaches across Jamaica on September 17th.

For the full SGRP report and more information on how to get involved in International Coastal Cleanup Day activities and register to be a part of the event this year log on to JET’s website: http://www.jamentrust.org

Contact:
Suzanne Stanley
Jamaica Environment Trust
123 Constant Spring Road, Unit 5, Kingston 8
Tel: (876) 960-3693/ 470-7580
Fax: (876) 926-0212
E-mail: sstanley.jet@gmail.com
Website: http://www.jamentrust.org

The Leo Club of Montego Bay cleaned up sections of the Montego Bay coastline on International Coastal Cleanup Day 2015. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

The Leo Club of Montego Bay cleaned up sections of the Montego Bay coastline on International Coastal Cleanup Day 2015. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

51% Coalition’s Public Forum on Building a Women’s Constituency: TOMORROW (Thursday July 28): Do Join Us!

Women from several inner city communities in Kingston/St. Andrew participated in a training workshop at the University of Technology on June 7 and 8. The project is sponsored by UN Women.
Women from several inner city communities in Kingston/St. Andrew participated in a training workshop at the University of Technology on June 7 and 8. The project is sponsored by UN Women.

Tomorrow (Thursday July 28), the 51% Coalition will ask the question: What Do Jamaican Women Want? at a public forum sponsored by UN Women in partnership with Fi Wi Jamaica. The event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m at the Medallion Hall Hotel, 53 Hope Road, Kingston 6. Do join us! There are several interesting and revealing answers to these questions, and researchers at the Coalition have “dug deeper” to find out much more. This session is free and open to the public, so do come and bring a friend. This wrap-up meeting marks the end of a fruitful project funded by UN Women under the theme: Building a Women’s Political Constituency.

Trainer Hilary Nicholson in discussion with participants  at a workshop in Kingston.

Trainer Hilary Nicholson in discussion with participants at a workshop in Kingston.

The forum has several different components. Firstly, it will address the findings of the Coalition on the top priorities for women in Jamaica, gleaned from island-wide consultations conducted over the last six months. These interactive meetings with women at the grassroots level in rural and urban parishes were conducted in partnership with Fi Wi Jamaica and included human rights awareness and presentations on human trafficking. The meetings also gave women the opportunity to air their concerns and discuss possible solutions. Tomorrow’s forum will also take stock of the situation regarding women’s leadership in Jamaica: Have we broken the glass ceiling? What progress has been made? Finally, consultant Nicole Brown will also present the Coalition’s Strategic Plan going forward – a “Where do we go from here?”

Professor Rosalea Hamilton of Fi Wi Jamaica talks to women at a 51% Coalition workshop in Westmoreland.

Professor Rosalea Hamilton of Fi Wi Jamaica talks to women at a 51% Coalition workshop in Westmoreland.

Lastly, Professor Rosalea Hamilton, Project Director of the Fi Wi Jamaica Project and Vice President, Community Service and Development at the University of Technology will broaden the discussion further to discuss how society can help to strengthen women’s leadership in the political and other fields. What are the practical steps that can be taken? Where are the strengths and weaknesses in women’s participation in society?

We hope you will be able to join the 51% Coalition to hear much more about what women really want. This 51% of the population is the constituency we are talking about. Of course the timing is perfect, with the launch of Jamaica’s He For She campaign this evening, at Jamaica House.

There is much to look forward to, and much work to be done!

Women in Portland pose for their picture after a training session.

Women (and one man) in Portland pose for their picture after a training session. NB this was not the whole group!

Civil Society Organizations Mobilize to Monitor Jamaican Policies

Human rights advocacy in Jamaica is as critical as ever.
Human rights advocacy in Jamaica is as critical as ever.

Jamaica has several lobby groups advocating on behalf of marginalized communities. It has “watchdogs” that keep an eye on what the Government of the day is doing (or not doing) in relation to specific issues of concern to these communities. But could the watchdogs sharpen their skills some more? Tomorrow will see the opening of an important training session that will enhance the research capabilities and advocacy skills of several civil society organizations. Here is today’s press release:

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AT LEAST eight civil society organisations (CSOs) will on Tuesday (July 26, 2016) benefit from the first in a series of training sessions designed to boost their ability to monitor human rights and governance issues in Jamaica.

 The organizations will focus on human rights violations, especially where marginalized groups are concerned and also gender-equity issues.

The training is being conducted under the two-year project titled Improved Civil Society Capacity for Research-Based Advocacy. Funded by the European Union (EU), the project is being implemented jointly by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC).

“We want to make sure that these organizations have the capacity to do the relevant policy research and highlight areas where there needs to be greater accountability,” said Carolyn Gomes, Executive Director of CVC.

“CVC and JCSC intend to ensure that their partner organizations are coordinated to build momentum and continue to deepen and strengthen the engagement of civil society in the governance processes of the country,” she added.

CVC and its Dominican Republic-based partner El Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral Educando por la Vida have, over the past four years, managed a portfolio of more than 36 sub-grants in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica.

Those grants have developed and documented model advocacy and programming interventions in key populations that can be replicated by other donors and Caribbean governments.

Similarly, the JCSC has done research on and published position papers and advocacy documents on a number of critical national governance issues, including issues of electoral and party finance reform, the environment, human rights in respect of police conduct, the budgetary process, and corruption prevention issues.

Based on the work of both organizations, it was revealed that many CSOs have limited policy-monitoring capacity as well as limited ability to do the research required for policy critique and for the articulation of CSO policy positions and advocacy.

Among the organizations to receive training are: Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, The ASHE Company, Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network, J-FLAG, Stand up for Jamaica, Woman Inc, and Jamaica Network of Seropositives.

At Tuesday’s workshop, presentations will be made by representatives from the Ministry of Health, the National Family Planning Board, the EU, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Jamaica Employers’ Federation, the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) and the Health Economics Unit at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

The project is expected to do additional workshops on priority issues identification and policy analysis and advocacy.

For more information, contact Indi Mclymont-Lafayette at indidlk@yahoo.com or 852-8763.

Environment/Climate Change News, July 24, 2016: Grenada’s Blue Economy, Record Temperatures, Mangrove Restoration

Preparing for Denbigh: I stole this photo of Ms Senior, a student of Knox College, who is volunteering with the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM). She is helping to make the display for the Denbigh Agricultural Show, (July 31 - August 1). Do go see the final display at the show. (Photo: Facebook)
Preparing for Denbigh: I stole this photo of Ms Senior, a student of Knox College, who is volunteering with the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM). She is helping to make the display for the Denbigh Agricultural Show, (July 31 - August 1). Do go see the final display at the show. (Photo: Facebook)

Here’s my regular “Top Ten” of local and global news on the environment. Something for everyone! Please do share any of these stories you find of interest. I have embedded the links, so you can just click on the highlighted word or words. I am afraid the global news is not very cheerful!

Jamaica/Caribbean

Holland High School Biology students plant mangrove seedlings that they have been growing for the past 8 months. (Photo: Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation)

Holland High School Biology students plant mangrove seedlings that they have been growing for the past 8 months in Falmouth, Trelawny, where a large area of mangrove forest was destroyed when the cruise ship terminal was built. (Photo: Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation)

Students restore local mangrove forests: Here’s a really nice blog post by Amy Heemsoth, Director of Education at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, a non-profit ocean research foundation established in 2000 by Prince Khaled bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia. J.A.M.I.N. almost sounds like the Bob Marley song, but it’s the acronym for the Foundation’s Jamaican Awareness of Mangroves in Nature program, a year long environmental awareness education project for youth developed alongside the University of the West Indies (UWI) Discovery Bay Marine Lab. Now the Foundation has started B.A.M. (Bahamas Awareness of Mangroves) in Abaco. Students grow seedlings in their classroom and then plant them in areas where they have been destroyed. The program includes professional development for teachers (project-based learning, evaluation and development).

“Government is not doing enough to protect the environment”: So says CEO and founder of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) Diana McCaulay as she reflects on the 25 years of environmental activism. JET celebrates its 25th anniversary today. McCaulay commented in a Jamaica Star article: “I think we talk a good talk, but we often hear our politicians talk about making big changes, but it actually doesn’t play out to protect the environment. A lot more can be done, but we need the help of everyone to make a greater impact to improve the quality of our environment.”

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Rethinking waste management: The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) will present its report on the privatization of the National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA) tomorrow evening (Monday, July 25) at 6:00 p.m. at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. Do go along and hear what their findings are.

A trillion-dollar opportunity: The World Bank estimates that the market for low-carbon investments in Latin America and the Caribbean will be $1 trillion by 2040, with $600 billion materializing by 2030! What are we waiting for? Let’s move towards the green economy now!

Grenada hosted a Blue Growth Conference in May this year, supported by the Blue Network which comprises a number of international agencies and governments. (Photo: nowgrenada.com)

Grenada hosted a Blue Growth Conference in May this year, supported by the Global Blue Network which comprises a number of international agencies and governments. (Photo: nowgrenada.com)

Grenada’s Blue WeekGrenada is committed to growing its Blue Economy. As we know, our oceans cover more than seventy per cent of the Earth’s surface, and what could be more important to us in the Caribbean than our marine environment? The island joined the Global Blue Network in 2014, following the Global Oceans Action Summit and is now looking at around US$30 million in “blue” growth and innovative practices. The Blue Innovation Institute in Grenada, a new global body focused on innovation in blue growth, is to be established. Well, there is a place called True Blue in Grenada!

World

Dr. Kriss Kevorkian began to develop her theory of environmental grief after being affected by the decline of the orca population in Puget Sound in Washington State.

Dr. Kriss Kevorkian began to develop her theory of environmental grief after being affected by the decline of the orca population in Puget Sound in Washington State.

What is “environmental grief”? This is a term coined by Dr. Kriss Kevorkian, based in Washington State. She actually specializes in death and grieving. It sounds rather depressing – but she has a theory that many of us humans are experiencing “the grief reaction stemming from the environmental loss of ecosystems by natural and man-made events.” It is an unacknowledged, “disenfranchised” grief that we feel but do not openly express. There is a theory that this is preventing us from taking the necessary action on climate change and the care of our environment. We are frozen and helpless. Wow. Here’s how Scientific American describes Dr. Kevorkian’s theory.

The UK's new Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom wants to repeal the ban on fox hunting. (Photo: Getty)

The UK’s new Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom wants to repeal the ban on fox hunting. (Photo: Getty)

Politicians and the environment: I read several worrying articles about the current crop of politicians’ attitude to our environment. The new President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has said he will not honor the Paris Agreement on Climate Change signed last December. He says limits on carbon emissions for his country are “nonsense,” since it accounts for less than 1 per cent of emissions. That’s understandable for a developing country; but then we have the new Environment Secretary for the UK Andrea Leadsom, who reportedly questioned (last year) whether climate change was real. She also supports fox hunting and the selling off of what’s left of Britain’s forests. And then, of course, there are the Republicans in the United States (not in power of course, and hopefully will not be), who want to repeal President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (and in fact all his climate change-related initiatives) and halt funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The black line at the top shows 2016 global temperatures in terms of the degrees Centigrade difference from the 20th century average. (Graph: NASA)

The black line at the top shows 2016 global temperatures in terms of the degrees Centigrade difference from the 20th century average. (Graph: NASA)

Record temperatures – again: The global climate broke new records in the first half of this year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports. June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans. It marked the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984. “Another month, another record. And another. And another. Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fuelled by the strong 2015/2016 El Niño,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota has a fantastic website called Food Matters, with articles on several topics related to agriculture and the environment: water, food waste, food security and climate change. Interesting reading.

The beautiful Snow Leopard lives in the mountains of Central and South Asia. It is listed as endangered. (Photo:Photo: Tom Brakefield / Getty Images)

The beautiful Snow Leopard lives in the mountains of Central and South Asia. It is listed as endangered. (Photo:Photo: Tom Brakefield / Getty Images)

The amazingly beautiful country of Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world with negative carbon emissions. Conservation of the natural environment is one of the four pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness creed (I wish Jamaican had one!) But global warming is impacting key species such as the snow leopard and causing the melting of glaciers, which could affect neighboring India negatively.

Flat Bridge, A New Hotel – and Emancipation Means Freedom to Party: Jamaica, Saturday July 23, 2016

Jamaica's Shannon Kalawan (right), the silver medal winner in yesterday's women's 400 metres hurdles, posing with gold medallist Anna Cockrell (centre) of the United States and Xahria Santiago of Canada who came third in the event at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. At the end of Day 5, Jamaica has five medals, including two gold. (Photo: Collin Reid/Gleaner)
Jamaica's Shannon Kalawan (right), the silver medal winner in yesterday's women's 400 metres hurdles, posing with gold medallist Anna Cockrell (centre) of the United States and Xahria Santiago of Canada who came third in the event at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. At the end of Day 5, Jamaica has five medals, including two gold. (Photo: Collin Reid/Gleaner)

It’s been a strange week – and a sad one for our household, as our beloved old dog Girly passed away. People who own and love dogs will understand how painful this was (and we now have one lonely young dog, who needs a companion or two and is missing Girly as much as we do). I’ve been a little fixated on world news lately (mostly terrorists and politicians). It is often depressing. Thank God we have got the clown show in Cleveland over with. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the first woman President of the United States sworn in.

No, it’s not the bridge, nor the roads either: It’s reckless, careless, downright stupid drivers – many without licenses or any concept of the rules of the road – that are causing the staggering number of road accidents and fatalities. I wrote about the Flat Bridge disaster for Global Voices here so I won’t repeat myself. There have been some interesting comments on the bridge on my Facebook page, which you might like to read. But I do believe that “fixing” Flat Bridge is not the answer. Yes, we have some bad roads, and some “hot spots.” But we need to find a way to police the roads efficiently, and Jamaicans need to pull themselves together and drive properly! We’ve lost count almost of the number of deaths on the road this year, but it is around 219. The Flat Bridge accident was not the only one; on Thursday two cars crashed in the early hours of the morning on Dyke Road in St. Catherine. Four people (including a policeman) were killed. Yes, the Traffic Division has “Operation Zero Tolerance” and has handed out 98,000 tickets to motorists since May; but what effect is it having?

I believe there is not "one way" to celebrate the holidays. This is J-FLAG's way.

I believe there is not “one way” to celebrate the holidays. This is J-FLAG’s way.

Moving right along… The Emancipation Day/Independence Day holiday looms near (I hate that term “Emancipendence”) and I note that our Cultural Ambassador Amina Blackwood-Meeks considers it inappropriate for “any little group to splinter off” and actually do what it feels like doing during the holiday period. She is upset with J-FLAG ; and with “the producers of rum” for having the nerve to put on parties during the period (well, isn’t this when people take time off? Makes sense to me to put on parties when people are on holiday!) As you note, Ambassador Blackwood-Meeks, Jamaican ancestors did indeed “shed blood, sweat and tears” for this very reason: so that the Jamaican people could be free! Even minorities! Thank you! (This reminds me of that Beastie Boys song: “We’re gonna fight for our right to party”!)

But then, perhaps the Cultural Ambassador would prefer the Cuban model for national holidays: Rows of obedient, happy flag-waving schoolchildren singing patriotic songs?

Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook (right), looks at the design for The Renfrew at the launch of the hotel project in New Kingston on July 18. Architect Evan Williams (left) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Downsound Records, Josef Bogdanovich, are the partners in the project. (Photo: JIS)

Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook (right), looks at the design for The Renfrew at the launch of the hotel project in New Kingston on July 18. Architect Evan Williams (left) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Downsound Records, Josef Bogdanovich, are the partners in the project. (Photo: JIS)

A new Kingston hotel venture: It is always good to hear of a new venture in my beloved city of Kingston. Last week, Jamaican architect Evan Williams and American investor Joe Bogdanovich announced the development of The Renfrew, a four-star hotel in New Kingston, for business and extended stay visitors. I am guessing that the site is on Renfrew Road. For some reason, the planned project has been on hold for a few years, but now completion date is expected to be next year. Meanwhile, I am trying to figure out what is happening to the old Wyndham Hotel, which is apparently being fixed up?

PNP surprises: The People’s National Party (PNP) did a sort of backflip (or bellyflop?) a few days ago. While we thought there might be a robust challenge to the current party leader Portia Simpson Miller at its upcoming conference in September, one of the main contenders, Peter Bunting, has now withdrawn his pending challenge. Surprise #1! Simpson Miller was unopposed for a while, while another ambitious comrade, Lisa Hanna, who had been talking a lot about “renewal,” signed her nomination form. Surprise #2! But, lo! From the shadows strode an enigmatic but dashing figure – Dr. Karl Blythe, another 70-year-old, to challenge the former Prime Minister! Surprise #3! Now the fight is on in earnest! Or is it?  PS to Ms. Simpson Miller: Did you not say you would disclose your financials in Parliament, and when was that again?

Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton addresses Town Hall Meeting announced that Jamaica will shortly be participating in a number of clinical trials with a view to finding a vaccine to treat the Zika Virus. (Photo: JIS)

Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton addresses Town Hall Meeting announced that Jamaica will shortly be participating in a number of clinical trials with a view to finding a vaccine to treat the Zika Virus. (Photo: JIS)

Zika update: Health Minister Christopher Tufton announced this week that Jamaica would participate in clinical trials to identify a vaccine for the Zika virus. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is doing a good job of keeping us up to date on the Zika virus. The latest statistics are here (dated July 18). Thank you, Minister and team, and please keep it up!

National Security Minister Robert Montague has found his voice again (and is talking a little too loudly, in my view; turn down the volume a little, please – we can hear you!) While some of his recent remarks have sounded a little off-key to me, he has some interesting ideas. I am very glad, too, that he is not going to throw out the proverbial baby and is going to retain some of his predecessor Peter Bunting’s anti-crime measures – including the Unite for Change program, which shows promise. The Minister held a very well-attended National Conference on Citizen Security in Montego Bay this week and from this it appears he is open to ideas. Good. Keep your listening ear open, Minister Montague!

Six years on (well this is pretty much the norm in our justice system) Reverend Merrick “Al” Miller was found guilty yesterday of attempting to pervert the course of justice – in other words, corruption – in connection with the infamous incident in which he reportedly chauffeured the then fugitive Christopher “Dudus” Coke along the Mandela Highway, post-Tivoli incursion. If you recall, the Reverend claimed he was taking Mr. Coke – who was wearing a ridiculous wig and glasses at the time – to the U.S. Embassy. He will be sentenced on September 15. The judge said he was “less than candid with the court.” Oh dear, Reverend.

In my view, the National Gallery of Jamaica has done a great job in recent years of attracting more of the general public to the gallery, with some terrific exhibitions too. "Last Sundays" has been a nice innovation. Here's next week's event.

The National Gallery of Jamaica has done a great job in recent years of attracting more of the general public to the gallery, with some terrific exhibitions too. “Last Sundays” has been a nice innovation. Here’s next week’s event. Do go and see for yourself!

The National Gallery of Jamaica has a new board, headed by Tom Tavares-Finson. He is Head of the Senate and a well-known defense lawyer. Is this a purely political appointment? I am told he has a fantastic art collection, and yes, there are many art collectors (especially wealthy lawyers). On this note, why isn’t there greater transparency in the naming of Government Boards? How many have now been appointed, and where can we find a list? (Minister Olivia Grange’s comments on the new National Gallery board puzzle me: The Minister added that she is confident that Senator Tavares-Finson and the new board he leads will steer the NGJ in a new direction that is in keeping with global trends as it relates to the development of art and galleries.” Was the National Gallery heading in the wrong direction? What are these global trends?)

The Alpart plant in Nain, St. Elizabeth. Are we going to have a coal plant belching plant belching out fumes over the countryside?

The Alpart plant in Nain, St. Elizabeth. Are we going to have a coal plant belching plant belching out fumes over the countryside?

NO coal please! Russian mining company UC Rusal signed a deal this week for the US$300-million sale of its 1.6-million-tonne Alpart alumina refinery in Jamaica to China’s Jinquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO). In a separate pact with the Jamaican Government, JISCO agreed to the rehabilitation and expansion of the plant and its conversion to 500,000-tonne-a-year aluminium smelter, industry sources say. This will require a great deal of energy. Don’t even think about it: NO to coal! If so, our claims that we care about climate change will be laughed at!

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left), in dialogue with Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, during his visit. (Photo: JIS)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left), in dialogue with Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, during the latter’s visit. (Photo: JIS)

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago came and went this week. He stayed four days on an official visit. He and his Jamaican counterpart have a Framework Bilateral Cooperation Agreement to establish a Joint Commission “under consideration” – but not yet signed. Both countries agreed that CARICOM should do better – yes, indeed. There were some nice speeches, but I am not seeing much substance in the visit, except that Jamaica and Trinidad are friends again. Or did I miss something?

A malfunctioning AC unit due to low voltage forced Senators to remove some of their clothing in Parliament yesterday. (Photo: Gleaner)

A malfunctioning AC unit due to low voltage forced Senators to remove some of their clothing in Parliament yesterday. (Photo: Gleaner)

Climate change? Senators yesterday sweated so hard in their jackets that they were eventually allowed to remove them. The Parliament building is suffering from regular low voltage problems. (Cue for a joke here, but I can’t think of one)…

I give full marks to the Government for its clever use of social media. I think this is working well, although opponents may dismiss it as trivial. In light of the current mayhem on the roads, Prime Minister Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) tweeted a road safety message. It’s worth following him – other ministers are doing pretty well on social media too (@christufton gets special mention).

Lisa's latest meme.

Lisa’s latest meme.

On a social media/political note: Contender for the vice presidency of the People’s National Party and acknowledged Instagram Queen Lisa Hanna tweeted this beautiful meme, with the message: Rose: important to antiauthoritarian, socialist/social democratic political parties and used in a fist by Socialist International. Somehow I don’t see the Miss World 1993 as a radical, anti-authoritarian figure.  Clearly though, I am wrong; I am sure her campaign manager the formidable K.D. Knight, knows best. 

Meanwhile, the murders continue, although our western parishes have quietened down, at last. My condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who lost their lives this week. 

Errol Lewin, Old Hope Road, Kingston

Durrant Robinson, 19, Denham Town, Kingston

Winston Jones, 41, Windsor Road/Spanish Town, St. Catherine

Unidentified man, Ewarton, St. Catherine

Michael Richards, 45, Hazard, Clarendon

Jeneisha Bartley, 24, New Paisley, Clarendon

Waldo Biggs, New Paisley, Clarendon

Unidentified man, Bounty Hall/Wakefield, Trelawny

Damion Pettigrew, 33, Grange Hill, Westmoreland

Quitting on Integrity: A Blog Post from Kenya’s Patrick Gathara

The offices of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo: Nation Media Group)
The offices of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo: Nation Media Group)

I’m a big fan of Patrick Gathara’s political blog from Kenya. So well written and so thought-provoking!  This article can be found at http://gathara.blogspot.com/2016/07/quitting-on-integrity.html

Does this ring a bell, my dear fellow Jamaicans? As they say on social media, “I am leaving this right here.”

It came as no big surprise. “I will not resign,” declared the new chair of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Philip Kinisu, regurgitating what has become a stock phrase in the vocabulary of all Kenyan public officials. Barely six months after he was appointed to head the country’s premier public ethics agency, Kinisu has been accused of ethical violations of his own, after his family-owned firm was found to be transacting business with entities he was meant to be investigating.

There is nothing new in his claim that “resigning would be setting a terrible precedent because any person can fabricate a claim against a public official.” It is the same excuse we have heard before most notably from the embattled commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The defiant language is reminiscent of similar statements from cabinet ministers such as Anne Waiguru and Amos Kimunya, who memorably declared that he would rather die than resign. In fact, there is a long and unsavory history of refusal to resign, or to step aside, whenever the integrity of public officials is questioned.

Professor J. Patrick Dobel, of the University of Washington in his article entitled The Ethics of Resigning published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, states that “resigning from office is a critical ethical decision for individuals. Resignation also remains one of the basic moral resources for individuals of integrity. The option to resign reinforces integrity, buttresses responsibility and supports accountability.”

The impetus for resignation flows from the understanding that public office is held on trust, the belief that what matters more is safeguarding the faith that the public has in the mechanisms and systems of democratic governance rather than the individual culpability of office holders. In fact, a principled resignation is paradoxically a reflection of the abundance, not of the lack, of personal ethics among such officials.

Kenyans yearn for such displays of integrity from the folks they pay to manage their affairs. But sadly for a country where the abuse of public office for private gain has been elevated to an art form, personal interest has always seemed to trump public interest. Whether it is as a result of principled policy disagreement or because of allegations of wrongdoing, politicians and bureaucrats alike have been loath to let go of their jobs, many time preferring to be pushed rather than to jump.

One can take lessons from the resignation of the immediate former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, over the loss of the Brexit referendum. It did not require the hullaballoo of street protests or parliamentary committee decisions to force him out. The decision was personal, the stinging rebuke delivered by the electorate sufficient. Contrast this with the actions of then President Mwai Kibaki, who after losing a referendum on a new constitution in 2005, chose to fire those whom the public had sided with. It is clear that he did not think his mandate to govern was in any way affected by the fact that the people in whose name he claimed to do so, had disagreed with him on such a fundamental issue.

On the other hand, one could also question the actions of the “rebels” in Kibaki’s cabinet, led by Raila Odinga, who, despite their disagreement with the official government position on this most basic of all issues, would themselves not contemplate principled resignation, but rather, opted to hang on till they were fired.

The fact that resignations from office are so rare in Kenyan history is thus a telling indictment of the logic that permeates our pretend democracy where government is divorced from the consent and will of the governed. As Kinisu’s explanation demonstrates, it is a system that privileges the position of officials above the credibility of the institutions they lead; one that is less concerned with what the public thinks than with the private tribulations of the elite that lords it over them. This is the real and far more terrible precedent that Kinisu seeks to preserve by his refusal to jump.

Heading for Rio? Here’s Important Advice for Jamaicans

Sprinter Usain Bolt will lead the Jamaican team to the Rio Olympics. (Photo: bbc.co.uk)
Sprinter Usain Bolt will lead the Jamaican team to the Rio Olympics. (Photo: bbc.co.uk)

The Olympics are coming up fast. Excitement is building for the track events, especially among Jamaicans. We have a formidable team heading down south to the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. As with all travels, you need to be prepared. If you are going to Rio, please take note of the following guidelines and information from the Jamaican Embassy in Brazil, issued recently by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Please share this with anyone who is going to the Olympics. Enjoy your trip and stay safe!

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The Embassy of Jamaica in Brazil and the Diaspora and Consular Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade wish to provide the following useful advice for Jamaicans planning to attend the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 2016 Olympics and Paralympics will take place in Brazil from 05 – 21 August 2016 and 07 – 18 September 2016, respectively.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade in Jamaica and the Jamaican Embassy in Brazil are committed to their mandate to protect the welfare of Jamaican citizens abroad. The Consular Section of the Jamaican Embassy in Brazil is required to carry out this mandate, within the limits of its authority and in accordance with international law. Jamaica and Brazil are signatories to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 and are, therefore, bound by it.

The representatives of the Embassy are prepared to provide assistance to citizens of Jamaica in Brazil, but within the limits of the Convention.

The Embassy of Jamaica is located in Brasilia, the Capital of Brazil, about 200 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro.

The contact details for the Embassy are: Telephone: (61) 2192-9774/2194-7234 Emergency: (61) 8107-7794 (after 5:00 pm) E-Mail: embajam@jamaicanembassy.br.com/ jamaicanembassy.brazil@gmail.com

An aerial view of the Olympic Stadium in Rio. (Photo: Sky Sports)

An aerial view of the Olympic Stadium in Rio. (Photo: Sky Sports)

There are steps that you as Jamaican citizens can take to ensure that your stay in Brazil is pleasant, memorable, safe and free of undesirable incidents. You should:

  • Abide by the laws of Brazil;
  • Keep your passport together with the documents given to you by the Brazilian immigration officer on arrival, other important documents and your valuables secure at all times;
  • Make confirmed and adequate arrangements for your visit prior to travelling, for example obtaining travel insurance;
  • Make confirmed and secure arrangements for your accommodation;
  • Have adequate funds or a back-up source in case of need for emergency funding; the Brazilian Real (R$) is the recognised currency. However, be mindful of the risks of travelling with large amounts of cash. The average exchange rate is US$1=R$3.20
  • Be sensitive to and respectful of the culture and values of Brazil;
  • Be aware of your immediate surroundings and take as much precaution as you can for your personal well-being and security;
  • Travel with the details of an emergency contact on your person.
  • You will need to travel with or buy an adapter on arrival to plug in and charge your electronic devises and cell phones. Please note that the voltage for Brazil is 220 V and it may be necessary to have a converter.
  • Please bring warm clothing as the Olympics and Paralympics will be taking place during Brazil’s winter season. Expect average temperatures at around 65ºF/18ºC – 70ºF/22ºC.
Rio is a city of over six million people. Here is the world famous Maracana football stadium, with Turano and Mangueira favelas (slums) on both sides. Security is an issue, but the authorities will be pulling out all the stops to protect visitors. (Photo: Reuters/Sergio Moraes)

Rio is a city of over six million people. Here is the world famous Maracana football stadium, with Turano and Mangueira favelas (slums) on both sides. Security is an issue, but the authorities will be pulling out all the stops to protect visitors. (Photo: Reuters/Sergio Moraes)

  •  Services the Jamaican Embassy CAN provide to Jamaican Citizens (General)

    Here are some of the services we will be offering during the Olympics. See our Website for a more detailed list at http://www.jamaicanembassy.br.com/OtherServices

  • In medical emergencies, we provide lists of local doctors and hospitals and assistance in arranging a medical evacuation (at your expense);
  • Provide advice and support to you and your family in Jamaica in the case of an accident or serious illness. We will also ensure nominated contacts are informed (if you give your consent);
  • Advise next-of-kin if you are a victim of serious crime, including arranging for nominated contacts to be informed (if you give your consent);
  • Assist if you are arrested in Brazil, by visiting or contacting you and by arranging for your family to be informed (if you give your consent). We will also seek to ensure that you are treated fairly under the laws of Brazil, and will provide you with a list of local lawyers;
  • Assist in cases of missing persons by liaising with the local authorities and relatives;
  • Facilitate the replacement of your passport with an emergency travel document if it has been lost/stolen/damaged (relevant fees apply). However, nationals are strongly urged to secure their travel documents;
  • Assist you to contact relatives or friends for help with money or airfare.

    Rio has stunning beaches - Ipanema and Copacabana are famous ones. Be careful of street crime, though!

    Rio has stunning beaches – Ipanema and Copacabana are famous ones. 

  •  Services the Jamaican Embassy CANNOT provide:
  • Extend your stay, grant a waiver or make any other change to your immigration status in Brazil. This is a private matter between you and the Brazilian immigration authorities;
  • Replace lost airline tickets or immigration documents issued by a foreign government. It is your duty to keep these documents safe;
  • Pay or guarantee payment of your hotel, airline, or other bills;
  • Get you out of prison, post bail for you, pay your legal expenses, intervene in court appearances or seek special treatment for you;
  • Intervene in deportation matters. Jamaican citizens are subject to the laws of the countries to which they travel. However, once a Jamaican is arrested, we do everything in our power under the Vienna Convention to protect his or her rights and welfare;
  • Investigate dead or missing persons’ cases. Reports of missing/deceased persons are investigated by the police. The Embassy can only make inquiries on behalf of families and obtain reports from the relevant authorities;
  • Provide or pay for search and rescue services (although we can help you arrange these services);
  • Provide or pay for medical services or medication;
  • Provide translation, interpretation, telephone or Internet services, except in an emergency (discretionary);
  • Intervene in customs or quarantine requirements and regulations of Brazil;
  • Provide physical protection or security;
  • Accept responsibility for the custody or return of lost luggage/property;
  • Report anyone to the Immigration or police authorities. In cases of criminal complaints, persons will be directed to the appropriate Police Post.

    Visa/Entry Requirements

    Note carefully!: The Olympics involve high security in Brazil. The immigration official is the final authority on granting entry into the country, whether or not a visa is required. The onus is on the visitor to convince the officer of their purpose of travel. Please make sure everything is in order.

  • Jamaican citizens travelling on a Jamaican passport do not require a visa to enter Brazil for tourism purposes only. Please make sure that your passport is valid for more than six (6) months and that you have a round trip ticket and yellow fever vaccination certificate.
  • Journalists and other categories of visitors require visas. Please contact the Embassy of Brazil in Kingston and for Jamaicans outside of Jamaica, the nearest Brazilian Consulate or Embassy for an appointment to apply for your visa. The Brazilian Embassy in Kingston is located at 23 Millsborough Crescent, Kingston 6; Telephone: 946-9812; 927-8964; 978-8608. E-Mail: brasemb.kingston@itamaraty.gov.br.
  • In cases of applications for minors (under 18) where visas are required, they must be accompanied by a notarised (i.e., stamped by a Justice of the Peace) travel authorisation from either parent (or a guardian) as Minors are not allowed to travel with one parent without the permission of the other parent;
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination
    Brazil requires all travellers to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever and show proof by means of a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Please ensure you take yours with you on your flights. In Jamaica, the vaccination can be obtained from the Comprehensive Clinic in Kingston on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 8:30am – 4:00pm and Montego Bay: Type 5 Health Centres – Mondays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
  • Travellers should also have at least one ticket for one of the Olympic events or the receipts as proof of purchase.
  • Please note that spectators and journalists/camerapersons who already have a valid entry visa to Brazil in their passports may use it to attend the Olympics.

         Tickets for Rio Olympics 2016

  • NOTE CAREFULLY!!
    Neither the Jamaican Embassy, nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade of Jamaica can help you to obtain tickets for the events.
  • Information about tickets and rules for entering the stadium can be found at the Rio 2016 website: https://www.rio2016.com/en/tickets

         Additional Travel Tips

  •  Copy the bio-data page of your passport and leave it with a designated contact person (just in case of loss, theft or damage);
  • Prior to arrival or on arrival in Brazil, register with the Jamaican Embassy. Registration form is located on the Embassy’s Website at http://www.jamaicanembassy.br.com . Registration can be done via e-mail at embajam@jamaicanembassy.br.com by sending name, contact details in Jamaica and contact details in Brazil.
  • As far as possible, travel in groups, especially at nights;
  • Identify essential service providers in your locale – fire, police, nearest hospital;
  • Ensure that you have adequate traveller’s insurance (including medical) that can be used in Brazil;
  • If you have a chronic medical condition which requires medication, ensure that you have an adequate supply of the medication for the duration of your visit. Keep the name and contact details of your doctor available (give a copy to a friend/relative);
  • It is also recommended that you wear a medical alert bracelet if you have one.
  • Additional Information: ZIKA & H1N1 Viruses
  • We urge Jamaicans to follow the WHO and PAHO guidelines to avoid contracting the ZIK V and H1N1 viruses. For H1N1 getting vaccinated is strongly encouraged. Regarding ZIK-V, use insect repellants with DEET, wear light coloured clothing that covers as much of the body as possible and stay away from densely populated areas and avoid intimate contact such as kissing with strangers. Fortunately the Games will be taking place in one of the coolest months in Brazil so covering up should not be too uncomfortable. In case anyone comes down with the Zika virus, our team will give information on the nearest healthcare centre where the Brazilian healthcare professionals are fully equipped to deal with the symptoms.
The military are to begin patrolling sports venues from July 24, authorities say. Yes, security IS an issue. (Photo: Reuters)

The military are to begin patrolling sports venues from July 24, authorities say. Yes, security IS an issue. (Photo: Reuters)

Safety & Security

  • General safety and security measures that you would observe anywhere else in the world as a tourist obtains in Brazil.
  • DO avoid: travelling outside the normal crowded areas; wearing exposed expensive jewelry; exposing expensive smartphones and cameras; drinking too much alcohol; handling cash in public.

Contacts for the Jamaican Consulate and Jamaica Hospitality House in Rio de Janeiro

  • Consulate of Jamaica, Av. Rio Branco, 99, 9o Andar; Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ; Tel: 55 21 2122-8464; CEP: 20040- 004; e-mail: contato@consuladodajamaica.com.br.
  • “JAMAICA HOSPITALITY HOUSE 2016” will also be another central point of contact for Jamaicans. It will be located at the Jockey Club. Address: Praça Santos Dumont, 31 – Gávea, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, CEP: 22470-060; telephone:+55 21 3534-9000
 Language:
  •  Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. English is spoken by some persons in Rio de Janeiro including at hotel reception areas, but please be mindful that you may not always readily find English speakers. It would be good to learn a few useful phrases before your trip.

Issued courtesy of:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

The Jamaican Embassy in Brazil
July 2016

 

Rio de Janeiro is a stunningly beautiful city in so many ways, with an exciting and vibrant culture. My visit there some years ago was memorable. Just don't let it all go to your head!  :-)

Rio de Janeiro is a stunningly beautiful city in so many ways, with a unique, vibrant culture. My visit there some years ago was memorable. Just don’t let it all go to your head!:-)