Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up
European cuts and the Caribbean
Caribbean tourism’s new strategy
Champs foreign stream ends
Regional pope watch
EU cuts and the Caribbean
This week saw two proposals for cuts that could have an impact on European Union (EU) spending in the Caribbean over the next seven years.
The budget proposal for the EU’s external relations, including aid, is expected to fall by some 13% following a European Commission proposal.
The European Development Committee has proposed a $12bn (€9.3bn) cut in the original $91bn (€70bn) budget.
In addition, the European Development Fund (EDF) is to be cut by 11%.
The proposed cuts come at a time when Europe has been pushing its development strategy in the Caribbean, despite economic difficulties facing EU member states.
Also this week, the European Development Committee signed off on cuts of about $13bn in the EU’s 2014-2020 budget, mostly affecting spending on external relations.
Before the Development Committee’s deliberations this week, a group of Euro-MPs (MEPs) had urged a rethink on budget cuts in development spending.
The MEPs had said that “cutting this investment would be a false economy and hit the world’s poorest”.
The Committee said it regretted the cuts, but added that bigger cuts had originally been suggested.
EU spending on African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries amounted to more than $28bn in the last EDF round, which comes to an end this year.
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Commonwealth Day on 11 March brought out an array of Caribbean flags in central London, alongside those of other member nations. But more unusually, it also attracted high-profile attention in the British media.
The coverage partly dealt with the Queen’s illness, which saw her cancel part of her Commonwealth Day celebration schedule.
British media also looked at the growing controversy over the next Commonwealth heads of government (CHOGM) summit, to be held in Sri Lanka, while the new Commonwealth Charter, signed by the Queen on 11 March, made the headlines as well.
Some coverage of the new charter focused on the core value of opposing “all forms of discrimination”, as some gay rights groups sought to make an issue of the treatment of homosexuals in some Commonwealth countries.
While there are no direct references to the rights of lesbian and gay people, some papers representing the LGBT community have suggested that this should be made more specific in the Commonwealth Charter.
However, the biggest media outcry over the charter has centred on Sri Lanka’s political health as the next CHOGM host, amid growing pressure to seek another venue.
British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire hosted a Q&A via Twitter, in which many of the comments and statements were prompted by Sri Lanka.
Across the Caribbean, schools in particular marked Commonwealth Day.
Answering questions on the relevance of the Commonwealth in the 21st Century, Jamaica’s Foreign Minister, AJ Nicholson, told a Commonwealth Day Youth symposium about what the organisation has done for Jamaica.
He said these included strengthening the country’s debt recording and management, helping small businesses to become more competitive and providing help for agribusiness and crime prevention.
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Marketing the Caribbean
Promoting a Caribbean beyond the stereotypes – that’s the challenge the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) is setting itself this year.
In the face of continuing global recession and the emergence of other places offering sun, sand and sea, the CTO has been kept on its toes in the last few years.
The CTO said on 14 March that it will be pulling together what it calls a “sustainable tourism” model when its members meet in April in Trinidad.
So what does sustainable tourism mean?
The CTO outlines plans to pursue what it calls “intelligent destination branding and marketing”, increasing year-round spending on local goods and services by visitors and “learning from winning destinations’ good practice models in tourism sustainability”.
The CTO conference takes place from 15 to 18 April in Trinidad.
Sessions of interest are likely to be the Stakeholder Speak-out sessions and the youth-based discussions.
No Champs abroad
It began with Trinidad’s copyright chiefs and a heated debate over the financial value of Carnival’s intellectual property.
Now the foreign rights discussion has moved to Jamaica, after the country’s annual schools athletics showcase, Champs, was absent from US broadcaster SportsMax’s schedules this year.
SportsMax has broadcast Champs live since 2011, as a free internet stream and on its CEEN channel in the US.
But this time, SportsMax said, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), which organises the event, held on to the rights.
SportsMax's chief executive officer, Olly McIntosh, was clearly surprised at the move.
"It is quite unusual that for such a major event, the TV broadcast rights would not be offered, as the association, the student athletes and the fans lose value,” Mr McIntosh said in a statement.
“In our company's history, this is the first we have experienced the TV broadcast rights for an event of this magnitude not being made available."
ISSA’s growing success in retaining old sponsors and gaining new ones has been hailed as one of Jamaica’s commercial success stories.
However, as in Trinidad’s carnival case, it was the diaspora that felt the impact of the no-streaming decision.
“Does any of my #TeamJJamaica followers know a live stream for champs??? im getting aggravated cuz I cnt find 1 lol,” said one tweet.
“So.. If SportsMax doesn't have live stream and TVJ doesn't have live stream of Champs. Then who does?” said another.
One of the most frustrated tweets spotted by Caribbean Intelligence© was incorrectly directed at Jamaican TV: “Why can’t you guys live stream Champs online?? I hate y’all!!!”
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Regional Pope watch
Caribbean countries joined the rest of the world in keeping an eye out for the choice of the next pope.
One tweet from Dominica News online Wednesday morning summed it up – “No pope yet” – as the conclave went into another session to whittle down their choices.
By the time of the 13 March announcement that Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had become Pope Francis I, the Caribbean joined global newsrooms in sharing the news and their knowledge of Latin.
Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was one of the first off the mark with a statement which summed up the regional view.
"We are delighted with the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, the first pontiff from the Americas. His selection speaks to the strength and vitality of the Latin American and Caribbean region," Prime Minister Skerrit said.
Across the region, Catholic leaders welcomed a Latin American Pope – the first in history and also the first Jesuit to reach the papacy.
The Archbishop of Port of Spain, Father Joseph Harris, described it as “a new beginning for the Catholic Church”.
"And for him to come from the lower hemisphere and the Americas is a fantastic recognition of the universality of the church. I saw him standing there in front of the people and it was indeed a very powerful moment," Monsignor Christian Pereira told the Trinidad Express.
The Express also quoted Archbishop Nicolas Girasoli, the Vatican representative to Trinidad and Tobago, who said: "For me personally, I am extremely happy at the selection. I had worked with this cardinal when I served in Argentina. He is a simple man loved by all, especially the poor, and he is respected for his simplicity and love for the poor."
In Jamaica, the archdiocese of Kingston issued a statement and congratulations to the 76-year-old pontiff.
For watchers of Latin American politics, the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil is similar to the Caribbean one between Jamaica and Trinidad.
The BBC’s Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo reported on Brazilians’ “wry” welcome for an Argentine pope.
Brazilians were proud that the 266th pontiff is Latin American, but made light of the fact that the choice had been in favour of Argentina.
Some social media humour suggested on Twitter that atheism and evangelism would surely rise in popularity in Brazil.
"If God is Brazilian," asked one person on social media, "then why is the Pope from Argentina?"
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