As Global Voices celebrates its fifth anniversary, the occasion has given us all an opportunity to reflect on why we do what we do and how our work makes a difference. As my colleague Jillian York so succinctly put it, “We spread stories. We spread words.” We manage to do that effectively because of the many people who are so committed to making this project everything it is and more. Some of those wonderful people are on the Caribbean team, and in the spirit of reflection, we're taking a look back at some of the most interesting/important/eye-opening regional posts of 2009…
This was a year for social movements, it seemed. From expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza who suffered through the bombings to speaking up for themselves “against all sorts of abuses”, Guadeloupe and the French Overseas Territories put their stamp on the regional blogosphere. Haitian bloggers were also very outspoken on the political front, while Puerto Rico and Bermuda had protests of their own.
The global financial crisis certainly had an impact on the Caribbean. Bloggers from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and the rest of the region were abuzz with tales of financial governance gone awry. Bloggers also had a lot to say about the economic ramifications of the 5th Summit of the Americas, held earlier this year in Trinidad and Tobago.
The biggest health story of the year was, without a doubt, the H1N1 outbreak.
Crime and Punishment
Several Caribbean territories had their bone to pick with the law this year: Guadeloupe, Barbados, and in a particularly heart-wrenching story, Guyana. Violent crime rates also seemed to be on the rise in several islands – including domestic abuse and gender violence – and many West Indian bloggers used Barbadian pop star Rihanna's unfortunate incident with then-boyfriend Chris Brown to send a message about the issue.
Press freedom (or lack thereof) was a popular topic for regional discussion once again this year, as was censorship and freedom of expression. The story that perhaps best demonstrated the dangers of self expression in some parts of the region was the seizure of Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez (along with two colleagues) as they made their way to an anti-violence march in Havana.
In honour of Blog Action Day 2009, Cariabbean bloggers added their voices to the global discussion on climate change, while over in Guadeloupe, water availability was on everyone's mind.
The IAAF World Championships brought joy and celebration to regional sports fans, thanks to the outstanding performances of Jamaica's Usain Bolt and other Caribbean athletes.
There were, of course, other fascinating stories that we covered: the ban on explicit music in Jamaica, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott's withdrawal from the race for the coveted position of Oxford Professor of Poetry, Haiti's touching farewell to the late Fr. Jean-Juste. We tracked the path of the Caribs, built online art networks, and attended Cuba's Concert for Peace. And we can't wait to see what 2010 will have in store. Happy New Year!