News in brief from the Caribbean and abroad
Bolt, Fraser-Pryce win top athletic awards
WADA satisfied with Jamaica
Caricom, Haiti and the Dominican Republic
A petitition for a Vietnam vet
Montserrat on film
[For the week ending 17 Nov]
Usain Bolt and Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce were named male and female athletes of the year by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) on 16 November.
It is the fifth time for Bolt (2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) who hinted at the awards ceremony in Monaco that he is seeking to do the 200m in under 19 seconds.
“This season will be the one to go for the [200m] world record. I want to get ready to attack the world record,” he said in Monaco.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce regained her 100m title and ran the fastest 200m time for 2013, as well as leading her 4x100m team to the second-fastest time in history.
“I’m shocked and excited,” she told the Monaco audience.
“They did it!” said the Jamaica Observer, pointing out that they were the first Jamaican duo to cop both IAAF titles in one year.
Jamaica’s anti-doping agency has been given another chance by the World Doping Agency (WADA).
A short 14 November statement issued by WADA, which is currently meeting in South Africa at its 2013 conference on doping in sports, said it was “satisfied” with the practical suggestions made by Jamaica’s minister responsible for sport in Jamaica, Natalie Neita-Headley.
The minister has announced additional money and staff for the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), following a visit by WADA officials last month.
“The government of Jamaica has made a clear commitment to address any deficiencies that exist, and to improve on the efficiency and efficacy of the anti-doping program in Jamaica,” the WADA statement said.
It added that WADA would continue to work with JADCO in the interest of dope-free sport and for the protection of its clean athletes.
The International Athletics Federation (IAAF) has said that Jamaica’s top athletes remain some of the most tested sports people in the world, despite problems with Jamaica’s in-country, out-of-competition testing problems.
Jamaica’s Olympic Association President Mike Fennell said after the WADA all-clear that many of the comments about Jamaica’s anti-doping issues had been “uninformed and not really related to the facts”.
“We have some weaknesses that have been corrected,” Mr Fennell said.
Jamaica’s top athletes have often been hauled into the coverage of the JADCO problems, angering both the athletes, their support teams and Jamaicans at home and abroad.
The Jamaican media also came out to support their athletes.
The Jamaica Gleaner reported on comments from IAAF President Lamine Diack to journalists, ahead of the gala awards in Monaco, about the “heavy-handed approach” by WADA to Jamaica.
"Stop all this nonsense!" the Gleaner reported Mr Diack as saying.
"Everyone knows the strength of Jamaica in the sprinting.
"I read in the newspapers and it was like a campaign against Jamaica and I think it was ridiculous. They are the most tested athletes in the world!"
After the exchange of comments by WADA, JADCO and Jamaican government officials, as well as help from some newspapers, the only unheard voices were those of Jamaica’s top athletes themselves.
Jamaican sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has said that she is continuing her work to set up a union to provide Jamaican athletes with a better voice.
She has also threatened a possible strike by athletes if Jamaica’s sports officials fail to do more to counter allegations of doping.
Caricom’s Bureau (made up of current, outgoing and incoming chairs, plus the Secretary-General) will meet on Tuesday to look at initiatives on the status of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic.
The Caricom meeting follows growing condemnation of a Dominican Republic court ruling that retroactively strips many Dominicans of Haitian descent of nationality.
Vincentian leader Ralph Gonsalves has asked for the country to be suspended from both Cariforum – the Caricom and Dominican Republic trading group – and from Venezuela’s regional cheap oil programme, Petrocaribe.
Describing the ruling as a “dastardly thing”, the St Vincent and the Grenadines leader has also written to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, asking him to exclude the Dominican Republic from Petrocaribe until it resolves the nationality issue.
“Frankly, this is a matter on which quiet diplomacy and muted behind-the-scenes dialogue are wholly insufficient,” Prime Minister Gonsalves said in a letter to Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina.
“Accordingly, St Vincent and the Grenadines has taken a robust stance publicly on this matter, while urging you to act properly in the interest of humanity and decency.”
President Medina has scheduled a meeting with the Venezuelan leader in the light of Prime Minister Gonsalves’ request.
According to 2012 figures, the Dominican Republic gets more than 40% of its oil through the Petrocaribe programme, estimated to be worth about US$600m.
In Venezuela, the country’s National Assembly has voted to approve a bill that will allow President Maduro to govern by decree for 12 months.
Mr Maduro has said that the special powers are needed to deal with corruption and the country’s economic crisis.
Critics say they could be used to silence his opposition ahead of December local elections.
The bill still needs revision by a special commission before a second assembly debate.
Various diaspora and human rights groups have been highlighting the case of a Jamaican veteran who fought for the United States under a false identity who is now facing deportation to Jamaica.
John Ferron admits to using a friend’s name and birth certificate to obtain an American social security card in 1974 and subsequently enlisting in the US navy.
After being injured, he was honourably discharged, but kept his friend’s identity.
Three years ago, the Vietnam vet was arrested and now faces deportation at the age of 57 to Jamaica.
Mr Ferron told CBS 5 News that he had no-one and no home to go back to in Jamaica and that he believed he would be living on the streets if sent back.
Stating that Mr Ferron suffers from various post-traumatic disorders, petition groups have asked people to write to President Barack Obama to block his detention and possible deportation.
Memories of the 1995 volcanic eruption in Montserrat have been revisited by a Montserratian-born student filmmaker.
Jonnel Benjamin, now aged 25, came to Leeds in the north of England at the age of nine with her family after the Soufriere Hills volcano wiped out two-thirds of her native Montserrat.
Now a student at Leeds Trinity University, she won a bursary and returned to make a film about her former home.
“When I first came to England, I hated it. It was cold, dark and grey, it was nothing like I imagined from movies and TV that I had watched in Montserrat,” she told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
But she added that she knew she had become a Yorkshire “lass” when she started calling people “pet”, “flower”, “duck” and “love”.
Quote of the week
"I have not been told of any boycott by the PM. I am aware that other countries are doing that, but that is not the case with Mrs Persad-Bissessar," a spokesman for the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaking to the Trinidad Guardian about the country’s foreign minister attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Sri Lanka.
For more in-depth news, check out our analysis pages. When you want to switch off from the news, try our cultural pages What’s the Buzz.