For political historians, 2011 has provided lots of fresh fodder. Never before in the history of the Caribbean have there been general elections in two countries on the same date; coupled with a state of emergency in another; allegations of assassinations against two prime ministers; the surprise resignation of a prime minister, not to mention the democratic change of government in Haiti, all within a 12-month period.
In addition, Barbados's Prime Minister Freundel Stuart warned leading members his administration that any attempt to derail his government would have "certain consequences." At the start of the year, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves stunned Parliament with his disclosure of an alleged assassination plot against him by criminals. This statement followed public pronouncements by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace that the government would fall by the end of 2011.
January 12 2010 will go down as one of the most catastrophic dates in history. When an earthquake that hit the Richter scale at 7.0 hit the country of Haiti and left devastation in its wake. Estimates state that over 316,000 people were killed, 300,000 injured, just under million displaced, 97,294 houses destroyed and 188,383 damaged in the Port-au-Prince area and in much of southern Haiti*.
Later we would hear about tens of billions of dollars collected by large NGOs for aid to help those impacted by the earthquake, yet tent cities that housed those displaced seemed to remain instead of there appear to be homes being built. Also stories of not much of the funds being spent on the ground began to surface.
Gangs battle for cash; money used to buy guns, drugs, flashy cars
United States authorities say that millions of dollars, tucked away by senior citizens for their retirement, are now ending up in the pockets of Jamaican crime syndicates. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is a plague,Ã¢â‚¬Â said U.S. Postal Inspector Bladismir Rojo, adding Ã¢â‚¬Å“when word-of-mouth spreads of free money, there is no way to put it out.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Rojo told reporters here late last month that lottery frauds, based in Jamaica, have exploded in popularity, with estimates that as much as $300 million will be bilked from U.S. residents, largely the elderly, this year alone. He said proceeds from the alleged swindles are used to buy guns, drugs and flashy cars in Jamaica, with gang members sometimes fighting and dying over the illicit cash.
The recent changing of the guard at the highest level of government in Jamaica Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with further possible changes on the horizon as the country awaits elections - has sparked debate among Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora.
The Oct. 23 swearing in of Andrew Holness, the youngest prime minister ever in JamaicaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history is the Ã¢â‚¬Å“secondÃ¢â‚¬Â of two Ã¢â‚¬Å“firstsÃ¢â‚¬Â for the country. Bruce GoldingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resignation as the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leader led the double billing as no prime minister had ever had to walk away from the job, especially with the political and social upheaval left in his wake.