This Week in the Caribbean Blogosphere

In last week's summary of the regional blogosphere, a young comtemporary artist from Barbados made the observation that the region is “more than the beach and coconuts.” Here's a round-up of what Caribbean netizens were talking about this week, with not one mention of beaches or coconuts…

Jamaican bloggers were understandably excited about the launch of the Bob Marley movie yesterday, which also happened to be International Weed Day. Cucumber Juice, who already “saw the new documentary about Bob Marley as part of the 2012 DC International Film Festival”, wrote:

The documentary is worth every second of its 145 minutes. On its 4/20 opening day Marley will also stream on Facebook. All of the reviews that I have read – and there are many, from the New York Times to local papers in Silicon Valley, California – are enthusiastic about the film. I agree with the seemingly widespread sentiment that Marley is a well-needed portrait of Bob Marley the man, not the superstar, not the celebrity, not the prophet…just a man. It was something that his granddaughter Donisha Prendergast urged us to have in mind as we watched – think of Bob the man not Bob the celeb – but the caution wasn’t necessary even as I saw footage and heard the famous songs; I couldn’t help but think about him outside of the context of superstar, maybe even the first Third World superstar.

I still believe as I did during and immediately after the film that every Jamaican must watch this film. And I still say that without any hesitation, reservation, or hyperbole. Why? Because Bob Marley is an important historical figure and he is Jamaica’s own. Even though he has touched millions – maybe he belongs to them too – he’s Jamaica’s own first. It is simply important to know our history, and this documentary is a good place to start.

Jamaica Woman Tongue, meanwhile, took issue with the “complete mockery of the national flag” that took place during a political swearing-in ceremony:

This juvenile act proves that we have sunk to a new low in national politics. Even the flag is no longer safe in the mindless colour war between orange and green fanatics.

The distasteful anti-green flag is forcing us to take a fresh look at the meaning of this national symbol. We can no longer assume that as a society we all accept the grand idea that national pride is wrapped up in what is really just a piece of cloth. It seems as it we are quite prepared to cut up the cloth to suit our rather limited political agendas.

The Bahamas
Politics were also top of mind with Bahamian bloggers this week, as the country's general elections draw closer. New blogs have been adding depth and dimension to the online debate: in response to one of its posts, Blogworld wrote:

I tend to fall into its camp with regard to the ways in which we view ourselves, our fundamental conservatism and fear of confrontation, our need of “brain-un-washing”. I particularly agree with the idea that 2012 and possibly years to come ‘may see the continuation of the unfinished revolution of the 1960/70s.’ I’m not sure I share all of its cynicism, and while I am as unimpressed with the “achievements” of the past five years as the author is, I have not been convinced that a return to a PLP administration will be the magic bullet that solves all our problems.

Her compatriot, Rick Lowe, blogging at Weblog Bahamas, thought that it was time for him “to hit the off button” when it comes to election propaganda, while Political Bahamas Blog republished a mainstream media opinion piece which suggested that:

It is imperative to state that a leader will be judged by and for successive generations based on his/her ability to, among other things, manage the economy in a manner that balances economic prudence, socio-economic expectations and infrastructural development.

Haitian bloggers were talking about the magnitude of the country's cholera epidemic. Dady Chery noted that
“Haitian health officials have approved a medical trial of the oral cholera vaccine Shanchol on poor women and children”, saying:

This trial is being presented as a vaccination campaign and will curiously be administered in two of Port-au-Prince’s slums by researchers from Gheskio (Center for Haitian Studies of Kaposi Syndrome and Opportunistic Infections) a group closely associated with Partners in Health (PIH) that studies AIDS and enjoys generous funding from USAID…

To avoid possible abuse it is essential that, in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, the medical trial be monitored by a panel of impartial observers.

We can help the Haitian poor by giving them correct information and the choice to make appropriate decisions for themselves and their children. If poor women and children get coerced into becoming the guinea pigs for western pharmaceuticals, Haiti will add yet another sordid story to its long list of abuses.

Diaspora bloggers were looking at numbers this week – Uncommon Sense republished statistics from “the opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation”, stating that there have been “almost 2,400 political arrests in first 3 months of 2012.” Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter took a longer view of what he called “the rising body count in Cuba.”

Pedazos de la Isla posted a recap of “another violent weekend in Cuba”, while Laritza Diversent blogged about the plight of “Sonia Garro Alfonso, a member of the Ladies in White and the Afro-Cuban Independent Foundation”, who was recently arrested. Crossing the Barbed Wire focused on another Lady in White, Yakelin Garcia Jaenz, whose husband is in prison:

She has been beaten and harassed by paramilitary Rapid Response Brigades and has been arrested arbitrarily for various hours, despite the fact that she is the mother of two small children.

Translating Cuba posted an article dealing with the case of El Ñaño, the imprisoned Rastafarian priest, while Havana-based Iván García was focused on the fact that Cubans are too busy “in search of their daily food” to notice “the flowers of the flamboyant on Havana’s Santa Catalina Avenue already [beginning] to change color”:

Increasingly, many Havana families find it difficult to put a decent meal on the table…The issue of food is a national headache. It takes about 90% of the money that a family receives. And so everyone may not always eat decently.

Trinidad and Tobago
Globewriter blogged about a group whose mission is to “empower youth to deal with difficulties regarding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression”:

Sitting in that first meeting held at a conference table at the University of the West Indies I looked at the young faces and listened to them emphatically stating that young people being driven to despair because they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning was not acceptable and I can’t really describe how proud I felt and how full of hope for the future.

His post gave details about “a project that will be a first for T&T – a Day of Silence which will be observed on Friday”:

This might seem like a small act to achieve a very big change – and it is – but it is a start and it will mark a major turning point in the fight for LGBTQ kids to be given the dignity and respect that they deserve as equal human beings. This is also being done in a country in the English speaking Caribbean – not normally viewed as an especially tolerant environment for such vulnerable kids. In practice T&T is nowhere as unwelcoming as say Jamaica but there are still discriminatory (though rarely enforced) rules on the books and LGBT people face discrimination on a daily basis simply because of who they are.

In support of the cause, his blog was silent until midnight on April 20.

Other Trinidadian bloggers were focused on the arrest of Ian Alleyne, controversial host of a popular television show, “Crime Watch.” The Eternal Pantomine said:

The People’s Police Commissioner Ian Alleyne has been arrested and it was all done on national television!

I get confused…under which act? Dangerous Dogs? Mental Health? Both?

Bear in mind that Ian come like a saviour/messiah figure to many members of the society who feel they can’t get justice from the police and judicial services here…if nothing else shows you how decrepit a society we have become, Ian Alleyne’s rise from pastor’s son, to obscure television host….to Trinidad’s Batman is a metre gauge that we shouldn’t ignore.

Mere minutes after Alleyne’s arrest the meme generators was on fire and youtube was under pressure. There is a part of me that even wondering if the entire arrest was staged given how over the top this entire thing has been. Raids for rape tapes and now raids to arrest…. If there is a show today….it will be EPIC.

Kudos to TV6 who has successfully removed itself from culpability by insisting that Alleyne responsible for his own show…that way the station never have to get any flack for the filth aired on the programme while getting all the viewership, advertising and ratings.

In a follow-up post, she repeated her point about the television station's culpability and raised questions about Alleyne's track record:

Since Ian doesn’t own a television station, or broadcast rights…nor in fact pressed play on the tape button, doesn’t the TV station have some culpability in this matter? Didn’t the station allow the tape to be aired not once but TWICE…showing the face of a minor engaged questionable circumstances.

All yuh see why I asking if is the Mental Health Act or Dangerous Dogs Act? Because somebody in tv6 has to be liable too…because is the station broadcast the thing.

Another issue I have is this…ppl keep calling Ian the poor people’s champion and alleging he has done so much for this country…how many of Alleyne’s arrests have resulted in solid convictions? Because a crime is only solved when there is a conviction…so, how many solid convictions has Alleyne’s show really resulted in?

Could it be people have faith in Ian because he does put on a good (pappy) show

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