Archives for March 2017
The signs are becoming even clearer each day for the workers of the Enmore and LBI Estates of the closure of those East Coast Demerara (ECD) facilities. Back in 2016, the Enmore and LBI estates were combined into the East Demerara Estate in an effort to save both facilities.
On Wednesday morning, the workers of the estate responsible for applying fertiliser to the canes informed the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) that they were ordered to halt such proceedings.
The workers engaged the Union’s General Secretary Seepaul Narine and revealed that they were informed by Estate Management that they were no longer required to apply fertiliser.
However, the female workers were told by management that they were still required to weed and the males to harvest the canes.
This, according to the workers, is adding weight to reports of the closure of the estates to which they strongly oppose.
The workers continue to voice their dissatisfaction, noting that they would be unable to find jobs should the decision be fully pursued.
Early last week, GAWU met with 40 workers attached to the estates after they were informed that GuySuCo’s Management had instructed the workers, those responsible for planting cane that their services for such would no longer be needed.
However, they were told that the cane cutting procedure would be continued. As such, the workers began calling for their severance pay as their services were no longer needed.
According to GAWU, even though the announcement was not made, the ending of cane planting activities is a clear indication that GuySuCo is gearing to close down its operations at the estate.
“The decision by the Corporation to end cane planting is testimony that the Estate is being geared for closure,” GAWU contends. “Interestingly, so far, no official announcement to that end has been made, either by the Government or by the GuySuCo, yet the Corporation is implementing steps indicating the estate’s closure,” GAWU had said after meeting with the workers.
This revelation, according to GAWU contradicts the words of the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo that “sugar will not die”.
The Union had informed that it learned through a meeting with GuySuCo that plans to end cane planting at the East Demerara Estate and at the Rose Hall Estate in East Berbice were afoot.
Early in this Month, this newspaper was informed by workers of the Enmore Estate – who took to the streets in protest – that they were given letters from the Agriculture Ministry which stated that the East Demerara Estate would stop proceedings after the 2017 crop harvest.
GAWU noted that the East Demerara Estate employs some 2200 employees in the field, factory, security, administrative and managerial sections.
All will be unemployed if the estate is to be closed.
It was yet another colourful display when the Government of Barbados launched Carifesta XIII on Monday, with a live broadcast of the occasion.
The event was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown, Barbados. Barbados has set aside Bds$6 million for the hosting of the regional cultural arts festival later this year, August 17-27. Some 3000 artistes are expected to attend Carifesta from 15 countries, while interest had been generated in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Cuba.
The Carifesta Secretariat has already been established, with a logo and jingle created, while the website had gone live, CMC reported.
Under the theme, “Asserting Our Culture, Celebrating Ourselves”, Barbados is hoping to host the best Carifesta yet. In addition to the Grand Market, there will be a number of entertainment events at various venues across the island “where the extensive talent of this region will be showcased”, the Barbados Culture, Sports and Youth Ministry was quoted in local media as earlier saying.
According to the Ministry, plans are being made for two super concerts, three signal events and nightly performances from the various country delegations.
Many of the venues, including some schools, are currently at various stages of refurbishment in preparation for the festival, last hosted in Barbados in 1981.
Barbados Culture Minister Stephen Lashley is urging local businesses to use the Festival as an opportunity to showcase their services and their goods to the world.
“I hope you’ve thought a lot about the creative sector. There are many opportunities, within the Carifesta experience…I want you to factor in how business and entrepreneurs will respond to the opportunity of Carifesta,” Lashley recently said.
“This event is not just another Carifesta, it focuses on the empowerment of men and women through the creation of business ideas that can be transformed into products and services the rest of the world wants,” the Culture Minister noted.
AG Williams continues to shift blame for ‘outburst’ in Court
Although Justice Franklin Holder has called on Attorney General Basil Williams to apologise for his outbursts in court, the State’s chief legal adviser has expressed an unwillingness to do so.
“What? I don’t know about apology,” Williams declared on Wednesday during a brief press conference when prompted by reporters on whether he would heed the Judge’s desires and issue an apology.
Justice Holder had written to the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards complaining of the behaviour of the Attorney General during the hearing of a prominent court matter involving trade unionist Carvil Duncan.
But Williams maintained his innocence as he continued to cast blame on his predecessor, Anil Nandlall for causing Justice Holder to abruptly walk out the courtroom – even though the Judge has since clarified that the issue stemmed from the Attorney General’s “egregious” and “disrespectful” behaviour during the court proceedings.
“Nandlall was the one who caused the problem…we can’t allow Nandlall to create this problem and leave it unresolved. The Judge and I will resolve this issue,” Williams stated, in contradiction to the Judge’s explanation, which was published in snippets in the State-owned newspaper.
In fact, the Attorney General even defended his actions and his statements.
“Everything I dealt with in that short time was to disabuse the learned Judge’s mind that his interpretation was not (so),” he stated.
Williams believed that the Judge fell prey to “transferred frustration” as a result of Nandlall’s “barracking” of nearly three hours.
“Perhaps his detaining the learned Judge again as he was preparing to leave the bench, seeking clarity on whether the witness’s answer of ‘no’ was recorded, induced certain misapprehensions in the Judge’s mind in all the circumstances and the Attorney General became the victim of transferred frustration,” Williams said in a statement circulated during the media engagement.
But according to articles published in the State newspaper, Justice Holder, in a letter dated March 24, 2017 to Justice Cummings-Edwards, said he “took umbrage to his (Williams’) tone and what he was insinuating, which was in effect that the court was being selective in recording the evidence”.
The Judge said Williams responded by saying that the last person who told him what he should not say was a magistrate and he was now dead. “He further said all morning Mr Nandlall disrespecting you and you have not done anything about it,” Holder wrote, adding that he told Williams that this was not a true statement of what had occurred.
“This was followed by a most egregious statement by Mr Williams, which is: “I could say what I want to say and when I want to say it; I have always been like that.” At this point, Justice Holder said he left the bench without adjourning the matter. “Immediately after hearing these words, I rose from the bench and went into my chambers. I did not adjourn the matter, nor did I give any instructions to the parties,” Justice Holder outlined.
In the letter, he also expressed that the Attorney General should apologise to him in an open court. Nonetheless, Williams said he was prepared to work with the Judge to resolve the issue. In fact, the Attorney General said he would be responding to the complaint in writing.
Nandlall – who was Duncan’s lawyer during the court proceeding – had interpreted Williams’ statements as a death threat against the Judge and condemned the Minister’s actions.
But, during a press conference Friday last, Williams threatened to file legal action against news outlets that reported on the allegations of him issuing death threats.
Meanwhile, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has called on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to launch an investigation into the allegations.
Despite the Attorney General’s pleas of innocence, the PPP insists the matter warrants an extensive probe as it believes the threats should not be viewed in isolation, but in conjunction with other incidents where the Government has attempted to subvert independent offices.
City Magistrate Judy Latchman remanded to prison a 50-year-old resident of Oronoque Street, Georgetown, when he appeared to answer to two charges of narcotics possession.
It is alleged that Mark Stephens on March 24, 2017, at Da Silva Street, Kitty, Georgetown, had in his possession six grams of cannabis plus an additional 70 grams of the drug for the purpose of trafficking.
The fisherman denied the charges.
When asked why Stephens was charged separately with regard to the offences, the prosecution related to the court that the man had initially admitted to ownership of the six grams while denying any knowledge of the second parcel of cannabis. The court heard that on the day of Stephens’ arrest, he was sleeping on a bed in a Kitty house when Police Officers searched the premises and unearthed the substance on the said bed.
Stephens’ Attorney contended that the substance was found in a general area, which his client had no control over, as he was a mere occupant of the premises at the time of the raid.
Bail was granted in the sum of G$60,000 for the first charge (six grams), but the defendant was remanded for the second charge.
The matter continues on April 10 at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Guyana’s former UNESCO Secretary General, Carmen Jarvis, 91, died on Wednesday evening in the United States.
Following is a statement issued by her daughter.
It is with the deepest sadness and a full heart that Alison and I announce that our dear mother Carmen Enid Peterkin Jarvis, made her transition early last evening in Atlanta, GA. She passed peacefully in her sleep. My mother was a phenomenal woman – a tower of love and strength to her immediate and extended family and a shining example of godly womanhood. She shared herself and her God-given gifts freely with others and with her community and always exhorted others to aim for excellence in everything they undertook. As a result she leaves behind an inimitable legacy of achievement in many areas, including education, international development, Girl Guiding, civic and charitable involvement and two books. I am so happy that I was able to take her home to Guyana and to New York for the launching of her autobiography last October, because she derived so much pleasure from being able to meet and greet dear family members and long-time friends. It is hard to imagine what life will be like without having my Mum to speak to almost on a daily basis, because she was lucid until the end; but she was ready to go. Hers was a life well-lived and even while we mourn, we celebrate this fact and the substantial legacy she has left. May the angels carry her safely on their wings and may God receive his faithful servant with open arms. Rest in eternal peace, dearest Mum.
Following several rounds of consultations, civil society groups have made several submissions with regard to their nominees for the chairmanship of the Guyana Elections Commissions (GECOM) to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Opposition.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had on March 21, met with 55 representatives of 33 civil society organisations, which included leaders of the Christian, Hindu and Muslim faiths; the Private Sector, the Guyana Trades Union Congress and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana; Amerindian organisations, the National Toshaos Council and the Justice Institute.
During the consultation last week, the civil society bodies were given up to March 27 to submit the names of nominees that met the new requirements set out by President David Granger.
According to Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, at a press conference on Wednesday, some of the groups have made their submissions while others are having difficulties finding persons to fulfil all the criteria set out by the President.
“We’ve got about 12 to 15 (submissions)…but there are some civil society bodies who’ve indicated that when they examined the criteria, even when they come up with names, not one name can fulfil all the criteria,” she stated.
Teixeira explained that while the proposed nominees may meet one requirement, such as exercising jurisdiction in civil matters, they may not fulfil the other part of the criteria which is a wide electoral knowledge.
She added that should one go “strictly” by the new requirements, even the nominees submitted by civil society may not fulfil the criteria. To this end, the Opposition Chief Whip insisted that the criteria set by the President undermined the constitutional provisions and were causing extreme duress in finding nominees.
“His Excellency, the President, has gone beyond the Constitution and place undue restrictions and pressure and duress on the selection of the position of Chairperson, which the Constitution itself did not contemplate. The focus of the Constitution was the integrity and the independence of the post holder, and we stand firmly by that position,” she noted.
According to Teixeira, the remaining submissions of nominees from civil society for the GECOM chairmanship are to be handed over by the end of Wednesday. She added upon the receipt of all the nominees, the Party would then examine the next step forward.
After rejecting the initial list submitted by the Opposition Leader, President Granger has since outlined the qualities that the nominees for the GECOM chairmanship should possess in order for him to consider them for the post.
The President’s criteria state that the candidate should be qualified to be a judge of the High Court or an Attorney for a minimum of seven years.
In the absence of those requirements, the President said any other “fit and proper person” should have wide electoral knowledge and be capable of handling electoral matters since he/she was qualified to exercise unlimited jurisdiction in civil matters.
That person should not be an activist in any form – gender, racial or religious nor should that person have any political affiliation or belong to any political party in any form, apparent or hidden.
That person must be able to discharge his/her functions neutrally, between the two opposing parties, as he or she would have done in court between two opposing litigants.
Additionally, the person must be able to discharge the functions without fear or favour, not allowing any person or organisation to influence him or her to compromise his or her neutrality.
The President also said that the person should have a general character of honesty, integrity, faithfulness and diligence in the discharge of their duty as Chairman of GECOM.
However, following the consultations with the civil society bodies last week, a statement from the Opposition Leader’s office noted that the criteria were considered “an imposition on the Constitution which makes no such demands”.
The statement said most disconcerting was the stipulation that the candidate must not be an activist in any form. “(It) was thought to be discriminatory and violated the anti-discrimination articles of the Constitution,” the statement explained.
During the consultations, Jagdeo said he had grave reservations about the legality and constitutionality of these criteria outlined by the President. In fact, he expressed his intention to bring these concerns to the attention of the Head of State.
Nonetheless, the Opposition Leader said he remained committed to submitting six more names as requested by the President.