carCaribcast will host a launch event on August 1st to introduce a joint endeavor with, a public affairs TV program called The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly (coming to South Florida mainstream television later this year) and Irie Times, an online Caribbean oriented broadcast channel that will be joining the Caribcast lineup. The event will take place at the Grand Palms Resort (in the L’Fontana Restaurant & Lounge)on August 1, 2014, at 7:00PM. The Grand Palms Resort is located at 110 Grand Palms Drive, Pembroke Pines, Florida.

“We are extremely proud of the content and quality of programming we have been able to produce with The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly, and we are excited to present it to the greater South Florida audience,” said Tyrone G. Robertson, CEO of Caribcast. “We welcome Irie Times and its extensive community of viewers and listeners to the Caribcast family and look forward to enhancing new media offerings to satisfy the multimedia needs of the Caribbean diaspora”.

The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly is a joint television production of Caribcast, and Blondie Ras Productions. The 30-minute public affairs series offers light and entertaining news, interviews and opinions from the diaspora. It currently broadcasts in over 20 Caribbean countries and 9 North American regions via Caribvision and One Caribbean cable channels. In South Florida, it can currently be viewed in West Indian restaurants on Caribcast screens.

irie-times-tvLater this year, the show will be introduced to a mainstream audience when it hits South Florida broadcast television. The updated format will feature content unique to South Florida’s West Indian community. According to the show’s main host and producer Calibe Thompson, “South Florida has a vibrant Caribbean community yet those of us from the English speaking diaspora are represented nowhere on mainstream television. We’re happy to ask for the support of the community in making this transition a reality.”

[. . .] Collaboration between Irie Times and Caribcast will position these digital properties as viable media outlets to consumers and business entities alike.  Live event streaming, multi-screen viewing, social media sharing and advertising are just a few of the services that are being offered.

The launch event is open to the public who can RSVP at Special guests will be in attendance.


For full article, see



Award-winning filmmaker Behn Zeitlin says Montserrat can capitalize on its natural assets to build a film industry.

Zeiltin, the Oscar-nominated director of Beast of the Southern Wild has been visiting the island since September 2013 in preparation for his next feature film expected to begin production in 2015, reports.

“A film commission will make it a lot more efficient for production companies to work on Montserrat,” Zeitlin noted. “While Court 13’s style of film production is more flexible, it can make it easier for others to be able to understand where to go and what is necessary to make a film here.”

Montserrat has seen an increase in the number of film crews and news agencies coming on island to produce documentaries, features and even reality shows.

However, the island does not have an established process: to deal with inquiries in a transparent and consistent manner; to negotiate with producers in order to manage the island’s reputation; and to use film production as a way to promote Montserrat.

Media Strategist Nerissa Golden, whose company has been facilitating the production process for television and film producers on Montserrat says “While the relevant agencies are open to working with film producers, it can take time to figure out how the local system works and having an established structure will make it easier for filmmakers to decide where to shoot, what equipment and staff they will need to bring in order to have a successful production.”

Zeitlin, who has been spending time on Montserrat researching and writing his next film project says it has been refreshing and educational. “It has been really interesting going on the hikes with the local guides, getting to know the people. I am very fascinated with the learning about traditional ways of farming and cooking, healing remedies and the wildlife. Everyone has been very open to teaching me what they know and I am looking forward to incorporating their stories and the people in my next project.”

He admitted to being enamored by the stark contrasts of Montserrat’s landscapes declaring that the island’s “natural diversity makes it a great place to shoot. You are steps away from a rainforest and a volcano with Plymouth giving you another dramatic experience of devastation and desert.”

Golden also wants to see the island join with other regional film commissions to exploit the potential for growing the Caribbean film industry. “In 2013, nine of the region’s 14 film commissions formed a partnership to work together to attract more international film productions to the Caribbean, as well as to promote the development of an indigenous film culture. Montserrat’s abandoned capital Plymouth offers a unique location which you can’t find anywhere else in the region and it can be added to the portfolio of film sets for the region.”

“We have the potential to capitalize on what is naturally available here to promote and build our economy and this is the time to work towards that,” she added.

More information on filming on Montserrat can be found at

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 31, 2014

An attack against Mary Seacole in London’s Daily Mail

Mary Seacole

The Daily Mail—not necessarily a newspaper with a stellar journalistic reputation—has published a frontal attack on Mary Seacole in defense of Florence Nightingale, reproduced below. It is written by Lynn McDonald, author of Mary Seacole: The Making of the Myth. Prof. McDonald takes aim at those who have written in praise of Mrs Seacole’s role in the Crimea with some disdain. As one of those (see Mrs Seacole’s Adventures) I think the professor does protest too much, but here’s her piece for you to judge by yourselves.

Lessons in lies: How the BBC, school text books and even exam boards have twisted history to smear Florence Nightingale and make a saint of this woman

Across the river from the Houses of Parliament in London, a small yet significant ceremony took place last month.

As a few dignitaries looked on in the gardens of St Thomas’ Hospital, a Church of England chaplain blessed the ground where a 10ft statue is to be erected next summer.

While few public artworks are treated with quite such reverence, all the great and good who gathered for the event were conscious that the £500,000 bronze will be the first public memorial to celebrate the ‘black pioneer nurse’ Mary Seacole.

As actress Suzanne Packer, of the TV hospital drama Casualty, unveiled a plaque to mark the spot where the statue will stand, she warmly declared: ‘It makes me proud, as a black woman, to have such a powerful and courageous role model.’

Sceptics, however, have been quick to point out another, more controversial, reason why the actress’s involvement in the ceremony may have been fitting.

Packer’s TV role, as nurse Tess Bateman, is of course fictional – and so, too, I am afraid to say, are most of the claims made for Mary Seacole.

Indeed, the planned statue might better be viewed not as a monument to a giant of nursing, but as a symbol to the way in which history is being twisted, even falsified, to fit a political agenda.

In the case of Mary Seacole, the cause is to promote her as an early black heroine who lovingly tended British troops in the Crimean War.

Indeed, Seacole’s supporters, including the BBC, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), reputable publishers and school exam boards, seem determined to elevate this Victorian businesswoman and adventurer almost to the status of a modern-day saint. But the truth is that she was never a nurse.

Although school history books now treat her as an equal to Florence Nightingale, Seacole never nursed in a hospital, did not start a nursing school, never wrote books or articles on nursing. Indeed, she never did anything to rival Nightingale’s truly pioneering work to improve healthcare.

Yet while her modern cheerleaders champion Seacole as ‘the real angel of the Crimean War’, and the RCN parades her as a role model, Florence Nightingale, who founded the nursing profession, is being increasingly undervalued and even denigrated.

As an academic who has edited Nightingale’s writings, I have been left baffled, frustrated and wearied by the refusal of the pro-Seacole lobby to recognise historical facts.

It was Nightingale who reformed hospital practice and went on to save countless millions of lives with her bold reforms.

But in the name of political correctness, nursing’s greatest figure is depicted as a stick-in-the-mud and even a racist, while Seacole’s undoubted qualities of kindness and compassion are over-praised.

And woe betide those who dare to raise the question of accuracy.

When, as Education Secretary, Michael Gove tried to have Seacole removed from the curriculum last year, he came under concentrated fire from opponents who accused him of wanting more ‘white British males’ in the syllabus.

So, who was Mary Seacole?

Born in 1805, she came from a fairly privileged background. Though she is now described as a black Jamaican, she was three-quarters white, the daughter of a Scottish soldier and a mixed-race Jamaican woman who ran Blundell Hall, one of the more salubrious hotels in the Caribbean island’s capital, Kingston.

Despite efforts to portray her as an early black heroine, she had a white husband, a white business partner and white clientele.

As for her ‘nursing’ prowess, the young Seacole learnt herbal healing from her mother, who worked as a ‘doctress’ (healer), and gleaned informal tips from doctors staying with her family.

Her expertise in this area, however, can only be taken on faith. There is no hard evidence. As for the herbal ‘remedies’ she used for cholera, for instance, she described in her memoirs how she added lead acetate and mercury chloride. Both are highly toxic, cause dehydration and produce the opposite effect to the treatments used by doctors today.

Mary married a merchant, Edwin Seacole, and after she became a young widow, opened the grandly-titled British Hotel in Panama — actually a ramshackle building with a large dining room, one bedroom and a barber’s shop.

Much of her custom came from Americans heading for the Gold Rush and crossing the Panama isthmus as a quick route from the east coast of the U.S. to the goldfields of California.

An enterprising woman, Seacole put some of her profits into gold stocks and, when these started to fail, decided to go to London to investigate why.

It was only after two months without success in the gold business that she decided to try for a job as an army nurse – motivated by an impulse to help and to become, as she put it, a ‘heroine’.

But it was too late to join Nightingale and her team of nurses or even attach herself to the second group that went out to the Crimea.

She then hit upon a scheme for a ‘British Hotel’ near Balaclava in Crimea, well-situated to serve British officers involved in the siege of Russian-held Sevastopol as the Crimean War raged.

Instead of gold prospectors, her clients would now be army officers.

A friend quickly dissuaded her from actually offering beds, and she decided to concentrate on the much more lucrative business of selling food and wine, and catering for dinner parties.

It was while travelling to Crimea that she met a doctor who knew Florence Nightingale and gave her a letter of introduction.

Soon after arriving in Scutari, where the British nurse was at work, Seacole put this to use. Why she sought out Nightingale is not clear but, like many, she was an admirer of her work.

As she recorded in her memoirs, The Wonderful Adventures Of Mrs Seacole In Many Lands, Nightingale asked her warmly: ‘What do you want, Mrs Seacole? Anything we can do for you? If it lies in my power, I shall be very happy.’

Although the Scutari Barrack Hospital was overcrowded and the nurses badly overworked, Seacole was found a bed for the night.

The next day, after breakfast was brought to her, she continued on her voyage to Balaclava.

However, this is not how today’s equality activists prefer to tell the story about their heroine.

Just look, for example, at the version presented by Horrible Histories, the BBC’s supposedly educational children’s show. It depicts Nightingale elbowing Seacole out of the way, and has the Jamaican woman complain that she was turned down four times to join her staff.

This is complete nonsense.

Seacole had, in fact, gone to Crimea to start her business and didn’t ask once for a job.

Worse is the racist dialogue that the BBC programme falsely puts in Nightingale’s mouth. ‘The nursing corps is for British girls!’ cries this TV version. ‘You’re from Jamaica!’

What’s more, Horrible Histories claims that Seacole went on to build a ‘hostel’ with her own money to care for British soldiers.

The less heroic reality is that she went to Crimea in the spring of 1855 to set up a provisions store that sold luxury items (such as tinned lobster) to officers, and a restaurant and bar where they could dine and drink champagne.

It was hardly fare for rank and file soldiers.

Rather than ministering to the sick and wounded, Seacole’s main work by day was food preparation.

To be fair to her, it is true that on three occasions during the nearly year-long siege of Sevastapol, she did visit the battlefield, where she sewed the wounds of injured men – and sold ham sandwiches and bottles of wine to spectators.

I don’t wish to be critical of what this exciting woman did, but it is dishonest to pretend she had anything to do with real nursing.

The further travesty is that British children are not just being fed these historical lies at school, but forced to recite them to pass exams.

One recent GCSE paper, for instance, set by the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examination Board (OCR) required students to ‘briefly describe the career of Mary Seacole’.

In the outline of an ideal answer provided for markers, eight ‘facts’ are highlighted. Five of these are incorrect and three have minor inaccuracies. One of the more egregious is that her ‘British Hotel’ is promoted into a fully fledged hospital, the ‘British Hospital’, by the exam board.

This is far from an isolated case.

A children’s exercise book published by Cambridge University Press states that Seacole ‘worked as a nurse and saved many lives’. Indeed, I have found 14 books published for schoolchildren which offer false information and misleading pictures.

Some depict Seacole in the blue dress and white apron that was later the nurses’ uniform at Nightingale’s nursing school. In fact shee never wore those clothes, any more than she was a ‘doctor’ or a ‘midwife’, as some books claim. These are wild fictions, which have no place in any education system.

The irony is that Britain does boast the greatest pioneer nurse of all – the woman who founded the first nursing school, who revolutionised hospital architecture to bring light and clean air into the wards, and even reformed military catering by getting the Army to start cooking schools.

But Florence Nightingale, of course, was born into the white English upper class.

Little does it matter to the equality zealots that Nightingale actually deserves to be hailed as a multicultural heroine. For it was she who exposed high death rates in colonial schools and hospitals, and for years promoted healthcare in India.

Of course, nurses from ethnic minorities should have historical role models and there are plenty of suitable figures. But Mary Seacole is not one of them.

A wonderful example is Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, probably the first black nurse in the NHS when it began in 1948.

She trained at the Nightingale school, went on to be appointed vice-president of the International Council of Nurses and eventually became the first Nigerian to be chief nurse in her own country.

With justification, Kofo Pratt is known as ‘Africa’s Florence Nightingale’ – and she developed her skills in Britain. Surely that is something to celebrate.

Her story may not be as thrilling as the daredevil tales of the Crimean battlefield. But history has a duty to be honest, to relate the facts as they happened, not to celebrate fictional exploits that suit the political point which campaigners want to make.

So let’s have a statue to Mary Seacole, by all means. But let it be one without the ‘pioneer nurse’ claim – and not at the hospital where Florence Nightingale really did pioneer nursing.

For the original report go to


Seven men will stand trial for last year’s murder of sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora after a judge’s ruling in a preliminary hearing in Costa Rica’s Caribbean port city of Limón on Tuesday, Lindsay Fendt reports for The Tico Times.

Prosecutors have charged the suspects – alleged poachers – with kidnapping Mora and four foreign volunteers on Moín Beach in Limón the night of May 31, 2013. The volunteers escaped, but the attackers beat and killed Mora after dragging him in the sand behind their vehicle. The suspects, Felipe Arauz, Héctor Cash, Ernesto Enrique Centeno, William Delgado, José Bryan Quesada and brothers Darwin and Donald Alberto Salmón, have been in preventive detention since their arrests in July 2013.

The Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that the trial will be open to the public. A trial date has not yet been set.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 30, 2014

Most famous Haitian-Dominican is now officially Dominican


A post by Peter Jordens.

The Central Electoral Board (JCE) of the Dominican Republic has announced that the application file for an identity card (cédula) for Juliana Dequis Pierre is now complete and she can collect her cédula at any cédula-issuing office.

Dequis, who requested her ID card on July 21, 2013, became the face of the struggle for citizenship by Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic when the Constitutional Court denied her request for a cédula and issued the infamous September 23, 2013 ruling 168-13 which rendered thousands of second and third-generation Dominicans of Haitian ancestry potentially stateless. See our post Injustice for Dominicans of Haitian descent.

Dequis has now benefited by expedited naturalization for humanitarian reasons under the special regime established by Law 169-14, which was introduced by the government and adopted by Congress on May 22, 2014.

Sources: and

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 30, 2014

Author Alvarez honored in Washington


Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

After receiving the 2013 National Medal of Arts on Monday, Vermont author Julia Alvarez took her seat in the audience at a White House ceremony and snapped photos of fellow recipients with her iPhone, Nicole Gaudiano reports for The Burlington Free Press.

Alvarez, author of books including “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” and “In the Time of the Butterflies,” has received numerous awards for her work. But this one — the highest award the federal government gives for the arts — was special to her, in part because she received it with people who inspired her, she said.

“I wanted to be able to share it with family and friends who couldn’t be here,” said Alvarez, of Weybridge, after receiving the award.

A writer-in-residence at Middlebury College, Alvarez was among a dozen recipients of the 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

The citation for her award recognizes her “extraordinary storytelling” and notes that in “poetry and in prose, Ms. Alvarez explores themes of identity, family, and cultural divides. She illustrates the complexity of navigating two worlds and reveals the human capacity for strength in the face of oppression.”

“Your accomplishments have enriched our lives and reveal something about ourselves and about our country,” Obama told recipients during the ceremony.

Alvarez was born in New York City but moved with her family back to the Dominican Republic at 3 months old. Ten years later, her family fled the country because of her father’s political activities and returned to the United States in 1960.

Alvarez said the award was special for many reasons, including that it was presented by the first African-American president, “a real writer.” Another reason: Maxine Hong Kingston, author of “The Woman Warrior,” was among her fellow recipients. Alvarez said she never thought immigrants’ stories would be part of American literature until she read Hong Kingtston’s stories of Chinese immigrants living in the United States.

“They could as well have been Dominicans in the Bronx,” she said of Hong Kingston’s subjects. “It was my story.”

Winning the award made her think of her late parents and “how they were so worried that we would be sent back if we didn’t prove that we were good enough,” she said.

“Oh my gosh, what they would have felt being here today,” she said. “And they are.”

Alvarez, who is on the board at Vermont’s Shelburne Farms, said she brought the first family a cookbook with recipes from students and farmers who participated in the farm’s sustainability program. She also spent a lot of time deciding which books to give them individually. She didn’t get to present them on stage, but she mentioned her gifts to the first lady.

“I told Michelle — first-name terms now — I said, ‘Michelle I brought you some presents,'” Alvarez said later. “She said, ‘Oh, that’s great.'”

For the president, Alvarez settled on “A Wedding in Haiti,” a non-fiction novel dealing with immigration issues. “And he’s in the thick of that right now, right?” Alvarez said.

Michelle Obama received “The Woman I Kept to Myself,” poems about becoming a woman with a voice, she said. Alvarez said she gave that to Michelle Obama because the first lady is a powerful example for women and young girls.

Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Shields Robinson, was also given a poetry book, “Homecoming,” and the Obama girls received copies of “In the Time of Butterflies” and “Before We Were Free.”

Alvarez thought of children’s books for the girls until she researched the young women.

“When did they grow up?” she asked.

Monday’s ceremony also honored dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, who has worked on several projects commissioned by the Flynn Center in Burlington.

Other recipients Monday were the Brooklyn Academy of Music; arts patron Joan Harris; musical-theater composer John Kander; film director Jeffrey Katzenberg; documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles; singer Linda Ronstadt; architects Billie Tsien and Tod Williams; and visual artist James Turrell.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 30, 2014

Square in Italy to be named after García Márquez’ novel


A post by Peter Jordens.

A district of the city of Perdasdefogu, located on the Italian island of Sardinia, will name a square ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ in honor of the stellar novel of the late Colombian writer Gabriel ‘Gabo’ Garcia Marquez (1927 – 2014).

The mayor of Perdasdefogu, Mariano Carta, made the announcement while inaugurating the second edition of the literary program called ‘Seven nights, seven squares, seven books.’

The relationship between Gabo, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature,, and Italy dates from when he came to study Italian neorealism, a movement that he loved and that, as he mentioned on several occasions, influenced his magical realism.

‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ (1967) is considered Garcia Marquez’ magnum opus. Approximately 60 million copies have been sold worldwide and it has been translated into 37 languages.


Sources: and

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 30, 2014

Call for submissions for ttff and bpTT Film in Development Award


If you’re the Caribbean producer of a narrative feature film or creative documentary in pre-production, then the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) is interested in you! 

For the third year running, the Festival is making a call for submissions for its Film in Development Award, sponsored by bpTT. The award is a place in the Rotterdam Lab for producers at the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2015.

The Rotterdam Lab — of which the ttff is a nominating partner — is designed to provide emerging film producers with assistance in getting their film projects completed and brought to audiences around the world. The lab includes panel discussions organised on different topics, like development, production, sales, financing, distribution, promotion and television.

In these panels, experts from the international film industry provide producers tools on how to present their projects and how to build up a useful international network.

In addition to the organised Lab programme, selected producers are encouraged to take advantage of their time in Rotterdam as much as possible by strengthening their network and participate in other events, like networking lunches, cocktails and other panels.

To be eligible for the Film in Development Award, you must be a citizen or permanent resident of a Caribbean country producing a film in the region. You must provide:

  • A producer’s statement
  • A treatment between five and ten pages long
  • An estimated budget
  • A list of key crew members (if any committed)

In addition to a place on the Lab, the chosen producer will be provided with five nights’ accommodation in Rotterdam as well as a festival pass and invitations to networking events. Please note the Lab is conducted in English and airfare and per diem are the responsibility of the producer.

Send your submission to (subject line: Film in Development Award) no later than Monday 01 September. Shortlisted candidates will be notified by 14 September and the awardee will be announced at the ttff/13 awards ceremony on 28 September.

Founded in 2006, the ttff is an annual celebration of films from and about Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and its diaspora. The Festival also screens films curated from contemporary world cinema. In addition, the ttff seeks to facilitate the growth of the Caribbean film industry by hosting workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities. The Festival is presented by Flow, and given leading sponsorship by bpTT and TTFC.

Caption for photo: The 2012 Film in Development Award went to Deresha Beresford and Teneille Newallo for their film, The Cutlass


Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean is the inaugural publication of Peekash Press, a joint imprint of Caribbean literature by Akashic Books (Brooklyn, NY, USA) and Peepal Tree Press (Leeds, UK). With a preface by Jamaican-born writer Olive Senior, Pepperpot (published in April 2014) is “a pan-Caribbean anthology of original short stories culled from the very best entries to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.”

Description: In collaboration with the Commonwealth Writers, the British Council, the Kingston Book Festival, and CaribLit, Akashic and Peepal Tree — already recognized as publishers of high-quality Caribbean literature — further their commitment to writers from the region with this exciting new imprint. Pepperpot gathers the very best Caribbean entries to the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, including a mix of established and up-and-coming writers from islands throughout the Caribbean.

The volume features short fiction by: Sharon Millar (Trinidad and Tobago), Dwight Thompson (Jamaica), Kevin Baldeosingh, (Trinidad and Tobago), Ivory Kelly (Belize), Barbara Jenkins (Trinidad and Tobago), Sharon Leach (Jamaica), Joanne C. Hillhouse (Antigua and Barbuda), Ezekel Alan (Jamaica), Heather Barker (Barbados), Janice Lynn Mather (Bahamas), Kimmisha Thomas (Jamaica), Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago), and Garfield Ellis (Jamaica).

For more information, see and


One of the many events celebrating Jamaica’s emancipation and independence day anniversaries in the South Florida Jamaican community is an art exhibition by Jamaican-born artist Richard Hugh Blackford entitled “Augus’ Mawnin” (August Morning). The exhibition will open on Friday, August 1, 2014, at the Miramar City Hall, 2300 Civic Center Place, in Miramar, Florida. The one week exhibition will run until August 7, under the patronage of Jamaica’s Consul General, Mr. Franz Hall, who will officially launch the display at a cocktail reception beginning at 5:30pm.


This year, Jamaica celebrates its 52nd year as an independent country and will observe the 180th anniversary of Emancipation from slavery. The significance of the exhibition “Augus’ Mawnin” covers the portfolio of work to be displayed which will highlight aspects of a surging Jamaica; its people taking charge of their own destinies as a free and independent people and making positive strides in the global sphere, according to Mr. Blackford. This is captured in the title piece “Augus’ Mawnin” which features a cluster of the island’s majority black population as they march steadfastly into the sunrise embracing the dawning of a new day on this Independent Nation.

Another piece “The Birth of Legends” mirrors the rise of the “Ska” music beat on the island in the late 1950s and celebrates the legendary band “The Skatellites” whose instrumental music formed the foundation of the island’s world renowned Reggae music. Of course, the islands’ strong athletic culture is captured emphatically in the piece “Black Green and Golden” a celebration of more than 50 years of success on the global athletic scene.

Since 2005, Richard Hugh Blackford has conducted solo exhibitions locally and internationally in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. [. . .]

For original post, see

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