Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up
Saving rum from the fiscal cliff
Who got what in the UK Honours list
Tony Greig remembered
On Hugo Chavez watch
Saving rum from the fiscal cliff
While many focused on taxes and the last-minute 2012-13 US Congress “fiscal cliff” deal, as the dust settled, it became clear that other tax deals had also made it through the vote.
This includes the $222m for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, in the form of excise taxes on rum imported by the US.
The excise, which places a $13-a- gallon tax on all rum entering the US, has been the subject of discussion by Caricom with the US since 2012.
The Congress deal, passed on 2 January, extends this tax deal and the money supporting the rum industries in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for a further year.
New Year Honours – who got what
Caribbean people both in the region and in the UK were reflected in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
While in the UK, the emphasis was on sports and community service, several of the Caribbean awards centred on anti-corruption.
In Jamaica, the former assistant police commissioner and head of the country’s anti-corruption branch, Justin Felice, earned an OBE.
After being appointed as head of Jamaica’s Financial Investigations Division (FID) in August last year, Mr Felice vowed to tackle money laundering, financial crimes and corruption and to “make Jamaica an investor-friendly environment”.
Also in Jamaica, another English former assistant police commissioner, head of crime Leslie Green, was also awarded an OBE for services to the UK and Jamaican national security.
Mr Green stepped down from eight years on secondment to Jamaica in December. He told the Gleaner newspaper that the job had been “challenging” but that the Jamaican force was “more capable”, although still “working with limited resources”.
In the Caymans, Anti-Corruption Commission member Leonard Ebanks, who won a Jubilee award earlier in 2012, was also awarded an OBE.
Following the overhaul of the legal system and a return to direct rule for the Turks and Caicos, the former chair of the islands’ Consultative Forum, Lillian Swann-Misick, also received an OBE.
She was appointed in November to the Turks and Caicos Assembly by the governor to join elected members.
An MBE went to Mary Doreen Misick, a former member of the Turks and Caicos Advisory Council and a human rights commissioner.
T&C’s superintendent of prisons, Ian Sargent, also received an MBE.
There were some cultural and community awards too. Henry Muttoo, artistic director of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, received an MBE, as did Montserratian community and social fund worker Kenneth Scotland.
There were also a number of honours for public, legal, education and business service across the Caribbean: six for Antigua and Barbuda, nine for Barbados, four for Belize, three for Grenada, two in St Kitts-Nevis and six in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In the UK, British TV’s Hustle and stage star Adrian Lester was awarded an OBE. British-born of Jamaican parents, he has often been called a “pioneer” for black British actors.
Jamaican-born Pat Cumper, the artistic director of the UK’s top black theatre Talawa, received an MBE.
A co-founder of Talawa, Pat Cumper had said she wanted to avoid portraying “black men as violent, profligate and oversexed or black women [as] earth mothers, church sisters or sexual predators”.
In other stage news, Ballet Black founder Cassa Pancho (British-born of Trinidadian and British parentage) also received an MBE.
Trinidad-born British-based music promoter Wilfred Walker received a CBE for development of live black music.
Tony Greig dies
Tributes have continued to pour in for South African-born 1970s England cricket captain Tony Greig, who died at the end of 2012.
Captain from 1974 to 1977 and known for what some called his “boldness” both in fielding and batting, he is also remembered for many controversial decisions, including taking part in Kerry Packer’s commercial World Series cricket, which divided the sporting world.
For many West Indies fans, he stood out for a range of incidents during the England 1973-74 tour, including throwing down the stumps at Trinidad’s Queens Park Oval, becoming the first to make a century for England at Barbados’ Kensington Oval and going on to make another century in Georgetown.
However, he is also famously known by Windies fans for his 1976 comments that his side would “make them [the West Indies] grovel”.
Greig had said the day before the first Test in a BBC interview that everybody had been “building these West Indians up” and that he wasn’t sure “they’re as good as everyone thinks they are”.
As the book They Gave the Crowd Plenty Fun recalled: “As a South African, Tony Greig may have opted for an aggressive line of verbal attack to demonstrate his nationalistic credentials to be an England cricket captain.
“However, it was clear that this test series would now be viewed by some in the Caribbean diaspora as a political showdown and identified as a black-white contest.”
Writer Colin Babb’s book explores the effect these comments had on Windies players at the time.
“Tony Greig’s comments…helped to further galvanise the West Indies team and propelled them to a convincing 3-0 series win,” he wrote.
To his credit, Greig did his own on-pitch “grovel” performance at the end of the rout at the Oval, which was applauded by some of the jubilant Windies fans in London.
Caribbean countries remained on Hugo Chavez watch over the Christmas and New Year holidays as the Venezuelan leader travelled for Cuba for his third bout of treatment for cancer.
After his October 2012 presidential election win, there had been a collective sigh among the 18 nations that benefit from Venezuela’s cheap oil alliance.
Bloomberg estimates that the PetroCaribe deal represents about $7bn of subsidised oil exports, helping to prop up economies and contain inflation in a region extending from Jamaica and Cuba through to the eastern Caribbean.
Only Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados have stood aloof from the oil deal which, according to the World Bank, has lessened the impact of high oil prices for participating countries that spend up to 13% of their GDP on oil imports.
American commentator Johanna Mendelson wrote in December that “while no one can predict the future, finance ministers in the Caribbean and Central America should do some arithmetic.
“Even if PetroCaribe oil contracts are not immediately terminated with a new government in Venezuela, the future of PetroCaribe oil hangs in the balance, if only because it is not sustainable.”
Caribbean Council’s David Jessop said in December: “Whatever the eventual outcome in Caracas, what is becoming clear is that in nations across the Caribbean Basin, there is some nervousness about whether, if Venezuela has to go to elections, the terms of the PetroCaribe arrangement for preferential energy supply might be modified in the medium or longer term.”