Notes From The Margin

November 20, 2007

Venezuela Attacks Guyana – Is This A First Strike?

We’ve been monitoring reports of Venezuelan soldiers blowing up mining barges in the Guyana interior.

Venezuela has denied destroying two gold-mining dredges on Guyanese territory following a strong protest from Guyana’s government.Guyana says 36 Venezuelan soldiers used helicopters and Compostion-4 (C-4), a type of plastic explosive, to blow up the two dredging machines on Thursday. It has summoned Venezuela’s ambassador to explain the incident.Venezuela denies using force and said the army was removing illegal miners inside its own territory.


Now for those of you who haven’t been following, Venezuela claims about two thirds of Guyana’s territory. Now usually this has been a very quiet border dispute, but there have been incidents in the past.


The thing to remember about Venezuela’s statement is that as far as they are concerned Venezuela stops at the Essiquibo, not the internationally recognised border, so their statement does not mean that the miners were actually in Venezuela. (at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned). Venezuela has a vastly superior military (which is being enhanced by recent purchases from Russia) so Guyana has little hope of defending its claim. However most of Guyana’s mineral wealth is to be found west of the Essequibo in the disputed area (or “Zona De Reclamacion” as the Venezuelans call it). Typically in a situation like this Guyana should be able to rely on the global public opinion, and the loudest voices should be the territories of Caricom however that help is unlikely to come. The Petro Caribe agreements will force many of the Caricom territories to toe the Caracas line, otherwise they face the possibility of having debts being called for their presumption to call a spade a spade.



This blog has asked the question many times “What does Chavez get out of Petro Caribe?” it is our deepest fear that we are about to find out.



Further Reading:

Venezuela and Its Claim of Most of Guyana’s Land
Details on Aves Island – How Venezuela Controls the Caribbean Sea
Venezuela and Bird Island
How Trinidad Recognised Venezuela’s Claim to Most Of Guyana’s Land
Third Petro Caribe Summit

October 19, 2007

It MUST Be The Silly Season…, They Are Talking About New TV Stations

Well if there was a confirmation that the silly season is upon us it came yesterday, when Joseph Atherly started talking about broadcasting in Barbados and the “intention” of the Government to grant a new TV license.

Rev. Atherley later elaborated on issues examined at the meeting: ”While no decision has been taken yet as regards numbers, we are considering it, but in a context where we are looking to modernise the regulatory framework around broadcasting, both radio and television.”…

“….Liberalisation in terms of television will take place, but it is not that tomorrow we will issue a licence. We will modernise the regulatory framework, broaden the policy framework within which we operate, to capture those emerging technologies and those broadcast television entities which want to be thematic and perhaps be narrowly focused in their transmissions. All of that is in the mix.”


Politicians from every party have ALL promised to grant another TV licence , and then found some reason not to (“We need to get things into place”) We on the Margin think that there have been promises of another station for as long as there has been a CBC.


The irony of this is that advances in technology have largely made the local tv license an irrelevant  relic.  Satellite broadcasting comes direct from the USA potentially to every home.  The fragmentation of the TV viewing public into micro markets by cable, means that very few people watch local TV anyway. On a broader scale, the rise of high speed internet means that more and more people spend their evenings in front of the computer rather than in front of the TV.  And if you are thinking about the TV license as a means of control over the flow of information, that concept has been swept on to the trash heap of history by the rise of the blogs.


The politicians may well find that by the time they are ready to grant a TV license, no one may want one any more.



October 6, 2007

A note on the Minibus crash in the Garden and the Press

I suppose we have become inured to this type of thing. A couple of months ago the blogs would have been all over this story. Yes there is only one fatality instead of the multiple deaths we have seen in other incidents. However a public service vehicle loaded with children and other travelers, from the reports in the media overturned after making what was a risky overtaking maneuver and colliding with a backhoe. At the time of writing investigations are still ongoing as to if the lady who was killed was a passenger or a pedestrian. The other Barbados blogs have been notably silent on the matter.

We on the Margin have blogged about police stopping reporters from taking pictures at the scenes of such incidences and arguing that it was a curtailment of the legitimate freedom of the press. However today the Nation today published a picture of injured CHILDREN awaiting treatment. I think the paper should strongly consider how it uses the freedoms it has.

We have no problem with pictures of the smashed vehicles or Emergency Services at work, however when the press choose to publish images of helpless victims at possibly the worst moments of their lives,  we recoil.

We are happy to go to bat for the press to receive the freedom that it needs to function in a democracy, however the press must also exercise those freedoms responsibly.


October 2, 2007

Another LIAT Horror Story

Filed under: aviation,Barbados,blogging,Caribbean,Caricom,Grenada,LIAT,St. Vincent,tourism,transport — notesfromthemargin @ 2:59 am

We found another LIAT horror story online on, it would seem that their director of news was bound to Barbados from St. Vincent to connect to an Air Jamaica flight. Little did he know what LIAT had in store for him….

After the LIAT aircraft had closed its doors and was taxying to the runway for taking off from St Vincent and the Grenadines airport this morning, the air hostess announced to the surprise of many on board that flight 752 to Barbados was now renamed flight 761 to Grenada.

Affected passengers with connecting flights onward were reassured that the plane would still arrive in Barbados in good time and if need be, connecting flights would wait. In the case of flights to Jamaica and with onward connections to Cuba, those passengers need not worry as there would be “plenty of time” to check-in at the Air Jamaica counter.

However, at the superb Cuban-built airport in Grenada which had been used as an excuse by the United States to invade and overthrow the government of that island nation in 1983, a further delay occured due to a shortage of seats on the aircraft which was now covering for a second flight route.


Needless to say by the time the flight got to Barbados, the beleaguered editor  missed his connection. This consolidation of flights is not unusual to anyone who travels LIAT regularly. However there were some interesting observations about transiting through Barbados’ new 200 million dollar HUB airport.


Not only are passengers subjected to a lengthy bureaucratic form-filling operation that gives them a visa to remain in Barbados even if wishing to do nothing more than transfer flights, but the immigration officer will pose unwaranted questions!

Passengers in transit through Barbados to independent island nations such as St Vincent or Dominica which long ago threw off British colonialism, but which may not have airports large enough to receive direct international flights, are then subjected to questioning by the immigration officials: “Why are you going to St Vincent (or insert other destination here)?”

Most European and North American travellers are told they must answer these questions if they wish to pass through and may then be told “why don’t you stay in Barbados? We have this that and the other on offer”, however, those more aware usually answer something like “mind your own business, you are not the government of St Vincent.”

The fact of this unjustified questioning is well known among both the community and government and business leaders in St Vincent, and there are already rumblings of doing something about it.


Now we’ve heard the Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch talk about how the main function of LIAT is to protect Barbados’ investment in being a hub (which makes sense) however  unless the Government can facilitate the smooth passage of transiting passengers this 200 million dollar investment (plus whatever we have sunk into LIAT) will be wasted.


And if you think that there is nothing that can be done about it,  one of the reasons given by Allan Chastenet (St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism) for pursuing American Eagle was that transiting passengers were being charged Barbados departure tax. When they are booked through on AA they don’t have to pay. The lesson to be taken from that is that unless Barbados can sort out the legal and institutional frameworks for being a functioning hub, being the prettiest airport in the world will get you nowhere.



October 1, 2007

…. And we’re back

Filed under: blogging — notesfromthemargin @ 1:37 pm

Gee leave the island for a weekend and the trolls take over!  We’re back in the land of the living and will have something up later today.

Thought we’d have access where we went (we didn’t) so NFTM sort of piloted itself over the weekend.

Thanks for bearing with us.


September 27, 2007

Barbados Free Press Going Offline For 24 Hours Or Less

Filed under: Barbados,Barbados Free Press,blogging,Blogroll — notesfromthemargin @ 2:50 am
We received this email from Barbados Free Press as a comment to a post. We felt it deserved a little more prominence.

Hello Folks

Before 11pm on Wednesday, September 26, 2007, Barbados Free Press will be going offline for an estimated 24 hours – or less. At times the blog will entirely disappear – while at other times we will be online but none of the moderators will be on duty.

Whether we are down for the entire day or a few hours all depends on how quickly we can make some things happen.

The reason for this will be clear upon our return.

My friends…

We are not living in the Barbados of our parents – where no matter what hardships we faced, our elected representatives, police and judicial officials at least knew right from wrong and the importance of the Rule of Law. No, people didn’t always live up to the standards as they should have: but at least they knew enough to know when they were doing wrong.

Comment by Marcus – Barbados Free Press — September 27, 2007 @ 2:17 am

September 18, 2007

The Stupidity of Barbados Free Press Exposed

We on the margin were all very disturbed by post over on Barbados Free Press that we read earlier today. It involved threats against a well known commentator:

Making threats against a person is against the law. With the information in the post, Mr. Loveridge could conceivably go to the police and have them track who had the Caribsurf IP address at the time. BTW the location of Tudor Street discussed in the subsequent comments is not relevant to anything other than as a placeholder for Bridgetown in Google Maps.

It is unfortunate that the Blogosphere in Barbados has evolved into almost a wild west environment. We’ve already written our thoughts about Barbados Free Press, however Barbados Free Press Exposed represents the worst example of cyberthuggery that one can think of. There is no attempt to engage in discussion (which we had hoped is how BFPE would have developed) it is simply brutish, abuse. The output of BFPE is so bad, that the opinion has been voiced that it may well be DLP supporters trying to make the BLP look bad.

Whoever is behind BFPE, they seem to have missed the point that to swamp the BFP with abusive comments only leads persons thinking that there is credence to what is posted on BFP. After all, if it was absolute nonsence no one would devote so much time and resources to shut it down would they? Dale Carnegie had a saying that “No One Kicks A Dead Dog” and that is what is being played out here. Far from stifling BFP, BFPE is making their case for them.

This post may well land us on BFPE’s s**t list. However we believe that our record of fairness and balance stands for all to see. IF (and we stress that word) the political directorate is involved with BFPE, they should know that it is rapidly becoming an embarrassment not only to themselves but to Barbados as a whole.

The operators of BFPE need to think and try again.


September 15, 2007

The Demise of Net Neutrality Part 2 – How it will affect Barbados’ And The Caribbean’s Development…

An article in the Advocate today about Acting PM Reginald Farley making a speech at the opening of Cable & Wireless’ new Network Operations Centre.

“…Saying that technology is a potent force for the development of small countries, Farley recalled that in the old development model, countries had to be large with enormous economic bases, natural resources, and cash in order to make an insertion into the world economy.

Farley stated that with technology all of that has changed. According to him, with the Internet, a small business in a small country like Barbados can not only contemplate, but can operationalise its intentions to make its products and services available across the world and at very low costs.

Farley, who is also the Minister of Housing and Lands, said that the Government of Barbados has been leveraging technology to enhance and accelerate the country’s economic development.”

The promise of the internet, and the ability of a small company to offer products across the world will be compromised if in the US big companies are given an advantage over the little guy. Once again, the world will shift back to the “old development” model, where large resources are required to get on to the “fast internet”.

The bill currently in the US congress presents a strategic threat to the future development of Barbados and indeed the wider developing world, and should be considered as such.


(For further information on net neutrality see part 1 of the series HERE)

September 11, 2007

How The Concept Of Net Neutrality Affects Us

We on the margin are deeply concerned about a debate that is currently taking place in the US on the concept of “net neutrality” or to be more precise whether or not to allow the lack of it.  To break the concept down to a simple level, what is basically being debated in the US corridors of power is whether US telecoms should be able to charge to guarantee delivery of particular streams of packets or information. MIT’s Technology Review puts it this way:

At issue, potentially, is the ability of Internet users to visit the sites they want, with no speed difference in the delivery of data between a site that pays for preferential treatment (say, Google) and one that doesn’t (say, your favorite blog).

There is major money on the table for the winners of this debate, and the two sides are equally powerful:

On one side of the issue stand powerful Internet and software companies such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon. They — and others — are arguing that all bits should be equal — that a “best effort” should be made to deliver Internet information, regardless of where it comes from.

On the other side are the powerful infrastructure companies, who own the conduits through which the traffic flows, such as Comcast, Bell South, and SBC. They argue that because they own the pipes, they ought to have the right to charge companies such as Google or Apple something extra to “guarantee delivery” of their data.

This of course will affect the fundamental nature of the internet, with far reaching consequences. The potential impacts of this bill if it gets written into law are potentially quite scary.  The site lists a number of possible impacts:

How does this threat to Internet freedom affect you?


For those of us on the outside of the US we could find ourselves as permanant second class citizens of the web. With things we take for granted such as blogs and the ability to access the US market with the net being automatically assigned to the slow lane. Further what impact will this have on call centres and data intensive offshore businesses that currently use Voice Over IP technology (VOIP)? The demise of Net Neutrality will negate the “death of distance” that has opened many developmental opportunities in the developing world. This is one case where what happens in the US DOES directly affect us on the margins of the globalised world.


Over the course of a series of articles we will be looking at Net Neutrality and how it affects us in the Caribbean and in the wider developing world.



September 4, 2007

The True Test of Democracy – The Loser Accepts Defeat

Filed under: blogging,Caribbean,Caricom,Jamaica,law,politicians — notesfromthemargin @ 4:06 pm

The results of the election in Jamaica are in, and the result is close.  31 to 29 in favour of the JLP (former opposition) Portia Simpson Miller has refused to concede defeat so plunging the island into a highly uncertain situation.

 Jamaica was on Monday night plunged into a state of political uncertainty after the Jamaica Labour Party scraped to victory by the narrowest of margins.
The People’s National Party has refused to concede defeat after it slumped to a two seat loss.

It is reported that at least one noted legal luminary is saying there is no constitutional crisis as there is a majority for the Governor General to work with to form a new Government.

While legally there may be no constitutional crisis, in a country that is famous for electoral violence, Mrs. Simpson Miller’s refusal to concede could have the potential to lead to civil instability in Jamaica. The challenges for Bruce Golding to implement his programme in the face of an intransigent loser would be enormous (particularly with a 2 seat majority, which must also supply the house speaker).  We hope that for the good of all that cool heads will prevail.

 As we have seen time and time again (most times positively in the Caribbean) the true test of democracy is not when the people vote, but when all sides (especially the loser) accepts the outcome of the election as being representative of the will of the people. We hope that for the sake of Jamaica Mrs. Simpson Millar will act acordingly.


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