Notes From The Margin

March 19, 2008

Eastern Caribbean Braces For Dangerously Large Waves

Don't be like these guys, exercise some caution around big waves....

A deep low pressure centre that spawned tornadoes and thunderstorms across the US earlier this week is set to generate massive sea swells in the Caribbean over the next two or three days.

The Barbados and Saint Lucia Meteorological Offices yesterday issued weather forecasts indicating that “significant sea wave height” were expected over the Eastern Caribbean, starting today and continuing into tomorrow.

The Barbados Meteorological Office indicated that swells around four to five metres, or 12 to 16 feet, were expected over the coastal waters surrounding Barbados from late Wednesday/early Thursday.

Islands further north are projecting EVEN LARGER waves!

So concerned are officials that in Barbados and St. Lucia the National Disaster Management agencies (Department of Emergency Management in Barbados and National Emergency Management Organisation in St. Lucia) have quietly started to put contingency plans in place in the event that they need to take action.
In Puerto Rico ships are being temporarily relocated, and people are being cautioned….
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jim Tunstall in San Juan:-

“This is not a storm that surfers and others that typically enjoy relatively heavy surf need to go out in”

 

We will keep abreast of this story as it develops…..

 

Marginal

February 25, 2008

Do We Need A Caribbean FBI?

Faced with rising crime rates, Caribbean governments have struggled to keep pace. However at a time of challenging economic conditions and soaring levels of indebtedness, many Caribbean police forces are overwhelmed, underpaid, and under-equipped. This is particularly the case in the smaller economies of the OECS (you will note that I did not say “smaller islands”) The Caribbean with it’s inadquately equipped security forces, and many islands with inlets and coves make the chain attractive as a route for drug traffickers to move narcotics to the metropolitan markets.

The wealthier economies in the region have attempted to strengthen their security apparatus however, they are often faced with criminals who have more sophisticated equipment than they do.  The problem is compounded by the lack of financial assistance for security ( a mindset that is slowly changing).

It is against this background that Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning recently proposed the development of a Pan Caribbean law enforcement agency.

Patrick Manning said a well-trained, equipped regional force with the power to legally operate in any CARICOM country would be part of the answer to combating the crime situation – one which he insists is being driven by the illegal drug trade.

“Many of us in the Caribbean today are challenged by the unacceptable levels of criminal activity in our country, most of which are now spurred by the global traffic in illegal drugs. The trade in illegal arms and gang warfare lead to an unacceptable level of homicide in our main urban centres,” he said, while delivering the keynote address at the recent University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus Commemoration Dinner in Jamaica….

…..Mr Manning said his country had sought to stem the flow of illegal drugs and arms into the country through initiatives which he believes will eventually rid the country of the drug trade, such as round the clock surveillance of the twin island republic’s largely unprotected coastline. But he also noted that the pattern in the past demonstrated that when the operations of drug lords are interrupted in one country they move to another.

“(That) pattern emphasises the need for multilateral efforts among ourselves and with the wider world. Failure to effectively deal with the issue of crime could stymie the economic and social development of the Caribbean,” he said.

Mr Manning further urged CARICOM heads to spearhead the process of greater cooperation in the sharing of intelligence among police forces to head off migratory drug smugglers.

In theory this sounds like a great idea, and we on the margin support it generally. However would such a “federal” force be allowed to operate? To often in the Caribbean there are rumours (and we  aren’t prepared to say they are only rumours) of “certain people” in certain countries being untouchable, would a CFBI be allowed to go after them?If they were it would open an interesting can of worms.

Would the criminals arrested by this federal force be prosecuted in local or regional courts? For example we have many cases of witnesses in Trinidad being murdered before they can testify, we also have rumours of corrupt judiciaries in some countries, would people arrested by the “Federales” have a likely chance of getting convicted in a local court?

When you look at the implications of a Caribbean Law Enforcement agency, it’s not as simple as it might appear at first blush. For it to be really effective it would have to be part of a Pan Caribbean judicial system.

Marginal

January 30, 2008

Why did we get upset about Caribbean Star again?

Does anyone remember the arguments that were given around the time when Caribbean Star started up? This crossed my mind today, when I think back the main objection to Caribbean Star went something like this….
“We don’t want to have Caribbean Star run LIAT out of business and then have regional air travel at the mercy of an American who could then charge whatever he wanted”

That’s not a quote, that’s my summary of it.  So where are we now? Allan Stanford and the Caribbean governments have both spent huge amounts of money propping up unprofitable airlines. The standard of service was not raised by the competition, in fact Caribbean Star seemed to gravitate towards LIAT’s service levels.   However, fares were low and people traveled.

Realising that he was in a competition that couldn’t be won, Allan Standford blinked. “selling out” Caribbean Star in a merger with LIAT, and what has happened.

We now have an airline in the Caribbean that can offer terrible service, charges astronomical prices way above what the marketplace considers acceptable. Further it has a level of staffing (particularly in Antigua) that defies any rational economic explaination, and continues to be subsidised by the taxpayers of the shareholder governments.

Exactly HOW are we better off?

Marginal

December 26, 2007

Delays, Lost Luggage, Chaos at Check In on LIAT – The World’s Most Expensive Low Cost Carrier!

One of the consistent themes of conversation this Christmas is the Worlds Most Expensive Low Cost Carrier LIAT. Across the Caribbean people are still waiting for luggage with Christmas gifts and just their basic necessities to arrive. Many of them are hoping their luggage will arrive before they have to go back home (on TWMELCC) when it probably will be lost again.

Those of us on the margin, can only comment on the chaos at the check in counter in Barbados which required Airport Security and Police to be called to keep order. It should be noted that this disorder stemmed from the fact that none of the passengers having the remotest idea what was happening with their flight. To the observer it appeared that the logic was whoever pushed their way to the counter got checked in. Whoever didn’t; got left.

No effort was made by LIAT to tell passengers where they should queue. No staff member out front, no indication on the fancy new flat screens above the check in, not even a note written in marker on paper and stuck where people could see it. Calls to all LIAT numbers were met with either no answers or voice mails which gave the obviously irrellevant flight schedule. The chaos at the check in could have been avoided by simply telling people what was going on.

Yes we on the margin can appreciate that LIAT was struggling to move the back log due to industrial action by it’s cabin crew, however how they managed that back log was pathetic and inexcusable. The staff members appeared to be carrying out the same processes as if it were a normal day, when it was clearly anything but. Having let things got out of hand they had to resort to airport security and police to restore order.

It should be noted that we have only good things to say about how the police and the security officers took control of the situation in a professional manner without needing to resort to strong arm tactics.

LIAT’s shareholders need to ask some hard questions about what is being done with their money. We now have a monopoly carrier that treats its customers with disdain and charges higher prices while insulting our intelligence by telling us they are a “low cost airline”

Marginal

December 11, 2007

BNOC GM Points Out The Obvious – Petro Caribe Is A Debt Trap!

We are applauding a statement by the current General Manager of the Barbados National Petroleum Company on the “gift with strings” that is Petro Caribe.

 Ron Hewitt, Barbados National Oil Company General Manager said on Monday, that Chavez’s Petrocaribe is not helping Caribbean countries, but making their finances worst. ” Petrocaribe is not helping at all to coup with the high oil prices, Caribbean countries are just running a large debt with Venezuela. “

 

Petrocaribe is just a scheme to create an oil dependency from Venezuela, added Hewitt at the two-day Caribbean Energy conference at the Hilton Trinidad in Port Spain.

 

“It doesn’t’t represent what we are looking for in Barbados. You have to pay part of the cost now and get a credit. That credit then goes onto your national debt. It’s not an asset….” Hewitt said.

 It is scary that the other Caribbean countries could not see this from the outset.  What is remarkable is that Barbados has been pilloried in all sorts of regional fora for not signing on. The truth of the matter is that Petro Caribe does NOT help the Caribbean, it is NOT in the Caribbean’s best interest. It simply gives Venezuela power over a key sector of our economies and increases our debt. Further the condition of accessing the “concessions” mean that Venezuela will have power over the supply chain so that it will be difficult for those in the Net to escape it.

Marginal

November 30, 2007

Regional Update on Earthquake Aftermath

We came across this article on reliefweb, that gives a good summary of the damage.

On Thursday, 29 November at 15:00 hrs (13:00 hrs local Caribbean time) an earthquake of magnitude 7.4 (National Earthquake Information Center http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/neic/) occurred near the island of Martinique – Windward Islands in the Caribbean. The epicentre was located at 14.921°N, 61.264°W. (21 km east of Martinique) at a depth of 145.4 km (90.4 miles). Tremors of varying time lengths and magnitude were felt in other Caribbean islands – Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Mobile phone services have been interrupted in many cases, and the tremor was felt hundreds of miles away in Guyana, on continental South America. However, as the depth of the event is considerable, the impact on the surface has been moderate.

In Martinique there have been reports of rocks fallen on roads and panic in supermarkets as products fell from shelves. The Prefecture scheduled a meeting to revise and evaluate the damages.

In St. Lucia there was some damage to the water lines, though no major damages reported. Some damages in the water lines.

There was temporary disruption of cell phone service in Dominica, but there have been no reports of injury or damage to buildings.

One injury was reported in Barbados when a person stumbled down the stairs during evacuation of a building. One house destroyed in Ellerton, St. George and some land-slides reported.

 This could have been much worse.

Marginal

November 29, 2007

Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake Hits the Caribbean

We all bolted for the door this afternoon as we felt and saw the ground shake beneath our feet. Outside other persons were rushing from buildings and car alarms were going off. By the time we realised what was going on it was beginning to subside. Everyone is asking what’s going on and no one appears to know. Calls on cell phones are met with “Network Busy”, calls on landlines are met with busy tones. No one is hurt but everyone is calling their loved ones to see that they are okay. People are sounding strained on the phone not because they are scared for themselves but because they fear for those dear to them. “My husband is on a construction site”, “My parents are on a plane coming in, will the airport be okay?” “I can’t get through to my children’s school I wonder if they are okay?”  a jumbled montage of thoughts and of concern.

It now appears that there has been a major earthquake just north of Martinique magnitude 7.3 (some sites are reporting 7.4)  it was strong enough to knock a house down in St. George, reports from friends in St. Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad have all reported feeling it and have all reported that they are fine. (thank goodness)

No word yet from Martinique or Dominica. As we get word we’ll post.

It’s a time to hug your family and count your blessings, it could have been much much worse.

Marginal

September 11, 2007

Super Ferry!

Saw this interesting article on STV this week on National Geographic with regard to the construction of the “Hawaii Super Ferry”, it turns out that the new ferry is the first high speed ferry service to operate in the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii Superferry plans to use Austal fast ferry technology to establish Hawaii’s first high-speed vehicle-passenger service. Each catamaran can carry 866 passengers and up to 282 cars (or a combination of 28 twelve metre trucks and 65 cars) and provide services connecting Honolulu to Maui and Kauai in three hours and from Honolulu to the Big Island in approximately four hours. The second ferry will begin service in early 2009. With the entry into service of the second ferry, two round trips per day between Maui and Oahu and one round trip per day between Kauai and Oahu and the Island of Hawaii and Oahu will be offered.

With a draft of 3.6 metres (11’8”) and a beam of 24 metres (78’), the ferry will commute between the Hawaiian Islands at speeds up to 40 knots. The vessel is four decks high, including two decks for the car and truck loading, one deck for passengers and the bridge deck reserved for the pilot and his crew. The 2nd deck or mezzanine deck is 2/3 hoistable in order to facilitate parking for lighter cars and leave maximum parking space for the larger trucks.

The Upper Deck or passenger deck includes many premiere amenities for 866 passengers of all ages besides comfortable seating. This deck includes a bar and lounge on each end, food counter, gift shop, video game room, children’s play area, restrooms, crew mess, purser’s office, and first aid room.

At 40 knots the ferry would be able to make the 100 mile Barbados to St. Vincent Run in just under two and a half hours. When you consider the total time of travel with LIAT (not counting delays) the ferry begins to look attractive. Also the shipping of cargo between the islands would also be revolutionised. Currently several of the islands fly produce to Barbados for onward shipment to the UK in the belly cargo of the transatlantic wide bodies. A major constraint on those industries is the carrying capacity of a Dash 8, which is currently the only effective way of moving between the islands. A high speed ferry could open new opportunities for these segments of the OECS economies.

 

The only question we are left to ask is how much longer will we have to wait for this service?

 

Marginal

August 14, 2007

Update – Tropical Storm Dean – updated for 5.00 am bulletin – Moving Closer

Filed under: Antigua,Barbados,Caribbean,Caricom,Dominica,Grenada,hurricane,meterology — notesfromthemargin @ 3:20 pm

The 5.00 bulletin keeps the track of the storm close to Barbados on Friday afternoon. We need to keep an eye on this one. If it continues on this track it will be close.

Tropical Storm DEAN Public Advisory


Home Public Adv Fcst/Adv Discussion Wind Probs Maps/Charts Archive


000
WTNT34 KNHC 150831
TCPAT4
BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM DEAN ADVISORY NUMBER   8
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL   AL042007
500 AM AST WED AUG 15 2007

...DEAN MOVING QUICKLY WESTWARD WITH LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH...

INTERESTS IN THE LESSER ANTILLES SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF
DEAN.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...INCLUDING POSSIBLE
INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED
BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.

AT 500 AM AST...0900Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM DEAN WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 12.2 NORTH...LONGITUDE 44.2 WEST OR ABOUT 1170
MILES...1880 KM...EAST OF THE LESSER ANTILLES.

DEAN IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR 18 MPH...30 KM/HR...AND THIS
MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE FOR THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 50 MPH...85 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.  SOME STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 50 MILES...85 KM
FROM THE CENTER.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1000 MB...29.53 INCHES.

REPEATING THE 500 AM AST POSITION...12.2 N...44.2 W.  MOVEMENT
TOWARD...WEST NEAR 18 MPH.  MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH.
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1000 MB.

THE NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AT
1100 AM AST.

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN


Third Petro Caribe Summit

The recently concluded Petro Caribe summit in Venezuela sounded very positive and very nice.

 Hardbeatnews, CARACAS, Venezuela, Mon. Aug. 13, 2007: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has vowed to cater to the long-term oil needs of the Caribbean.

 

Chavez, meeting with several Caribbean leaders at the third Petro Caribe Summit in Venezuela, said “the Caribbean shouldn’t have problems this century and beyond.”

“Venezuela puts this oil wealth at the disposition of our peoples of the Caribbean,” Chavez said.

Maybe those of us on the margin are getting cynical in our old age but the question that we have to ask is

“What’s The Catch?”

 There are so many things about Venezuela that we would urge careful examination of any deal.:

 

1. What effect does Petro Caribe have on Venezuela’s claim on Bird Rock, that ffects the territorial claims of a number of Caribbean Countries?

2. What effect does Petro Caribe have on Venezuela’s claim on more than half of the territory of Guyana?

3. Does it involve the Caribbean in the upcoming pissing match between Venezuela and the US?

4. What happens when the Caribbean wants to express an opinion that Mr. Chavez doesn’t like?

5 . Given that there’s no discount, are the signatories just mortgaging their children’s future even more?

6. What effect does that debt burden have on a signatory’s overall credit rating?

 

We could go on….

 

What’s particularly troubling is how those who have expressed reluctance about the deal have been branded. Even our former opposition leader advised from the opposition side of the house that the Government should “Ignore the geo-political issues and just sign”  (I believe his opinion has changed along with the side of the house he’s sitting on 🙂 ). There is an old saying “He who pays the piper calls the tune”,  one day Venezuela is going to present their playlist.

 

Marginal

 

 

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.