Edward Baugh’s Black Sand: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was recently launched by the Department of Literatures in English and the West Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies at the University of the West Indies-Mona (Jamaica). Tanya Shirley introduced Michael Bucknor, praising him for the achievements that made him suitable to speak about Baugh’s Black Sand; then Dr. Bucknor delivered an eloquent introduction to Dr. Baugh’s third collection of poetry. See details here with a link to the full article below:

“No dibbi-dibbi person could introduce Professor Baugh’s Black Sand,” declared Shirley as she proceeded to outline the many layers of academic achievement that made Bucknor suitable. Apparently, his currently tenure as Head of the Dept of Literatures was not enough. “Like a good preacher, he has been ordained to do this work,” Shirley said. And though he suggested that it would be hard to live up to Shirley’s high praise, Bucknor presented an insightful lens through which to view, understand and anticipate Baugh’s poetry. Himself a gifted man of words, Bucknor uncovered the imagery, method and meaning of Baugh’s poetry using the title poem as the piece upon which to build the foundation. Bucknor highlighted, that Baugh’s poetry illuminates the aspects of Jamaican life that “glamour would miss”. He explained that although it is the white sand that graces the pages of tourism brochures, there is beauty in the black sand, in the ordinary, describing Baugh’s work as having a “poetics of the unnoticed”.

“It screens the landscape that is not in the lime light,” Bucknor explained. He also pointed out that the title poem was also about the possibilities within poetry if it focuses on the marginal, the forgotten, the unnoticed. He remarked that poetry of Black Sand display great breadth exploring love, loss, journeys, memory, art and reflections on family and life. The task of highlighting Baugh’s earlier poetry, some of which is also included in Black Sands, fell to broadcaster Paula Ann Porter and dramatist Jean Small who delivered pieces from the collections It Was the Singing and A Tale from the Rainforest. Their readings were bracketed by performances from Trio Ambiance: Rosina Christina Moder, Peter Ashbourne and Jeremy Ashbourne. Having been so well introduced, when he took to the podium, Prof. Baugh allowed his poems to do most of the talking, keeping the banter between them brief. He opened with ‘I Wish You a Leaf Falling’ before turning to ‘Holy Fever’ and ‘At Coventry’.

Baugh’s reading highlighted the diversity of which Bucknor had spoken earlier. In ‘Choices’ he explored immigration while the ingenuity of the vendor was underscored in ‘The Ice Cream Man’. With ‘To the Editor Who Asked Me to Send Him Some of My Black Poems’ he outlined his wit while poking fun at the politics and polemics of race. With ‘A 19th Century Portrait’ Baugh explored history before turning into how stories that then become history are crafted with ‘Amadou’s Mother’. His questioning of history continued with ‘Monumental Man’ an intriguing look at George Washington who made dentures from ivory and the teeth of his slaves.

Baugh also delivered several pieces that danced with death including ‘For Attention’, ‘The Listening Dead’, and ‘Guinea Hen Weed’.  He closed the wonderful slate of readings with ‘Obituary Page’ a witty piece remarking on the ways in which we attempt to wrap ideas of death on the obituary page. “So listen me now/ when my time come/ just tell them other one for me, Mavis dead,” Baugh read, a striking note on which to end the morning.

For full article, see


Kathleen López’s Chinese Cubans: A Transnational History was published earlier this year [see previous post Coolie Diaspora: From Indentureship to Transnational Communities]. Evelyn Hu-DeHart (Brown University) describes it this way: “Meticulously researched and beautifully written, and with a deep, nuanced understanding of the Chinese-Cuban community, this is the first serious and comprehensive history of the Chinese in Cuba.”

Description: In the mid-nineteenth century, Cuba’s infamous “coolie” trade brought well over 100,000 Chinese indentured laborers to its shores. Though subjected to abominable conditions, they were followed during subsequent decades by smaller numbers of merchants, craftsmen, and free migrants searching for better lives far from home. In a comprehensive, vibrant history that draws deeply on Chinese- and Spanish-language sources in both China and Cuba, Kathleen López explores the transition of the Chinese from indentured to free migrants, the formation of transnational communities, and the eventual incorporation of the Chinese into the Cuban citizenry during the first half of the twentieth century.

Chinese Cubans shows how Chinese migration, intermarriage, and assimilation are central to Cuban history and national identity during a key period of transition from slave to wage labor and from colony to nation. On a broader level, López draws out implications for issues of race, national identity, and transnational migration, especially along the Pacific rim.

Kathleen López is assistant professor of history and Latino and Hispanic Caribbean studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

For more information, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | December 8, 2013

Sleek New Ferries Dedicated in the U.S. Virgin islands


In the U.S. Virgin islands, brand new catamaran ferries to run between Red Hook (St. Thomas) and Cruz Bay (St. John) were dedicated by Governor John deJongh Jr. He said that, in the future, ferry service will be extended between St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Dedicated With the sun shining over Crown Bay, St. Thomas, on Friday morning, the territory’s two new sleek blue catamaran ferries were dedicated in high style with champagne splashing from the decks of the Red Hook 1 and Cruz Bay 1.

After asking everyone to stand for a moment of silence observing the passing of Nelson Mandela, Gov. John deJongh Jr. expressed his joy at the arrival of the handsome two-decked boats which each seat 201 passengers.

The governor said it was “more than a dream come true, 10 years in the planning.” He lauded the “strong partnership for the last three years between the Federal Highway Administration Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Division and the V.I. Department of Public Works.” The governor said the spiffy catamarans cost more than $3.5 million each, with $3 million coming from the Obama administration economic stimulus funds, approximately $2.7 in ferryboat discretionary funding and another $2.1 million from DPW’s regular lines of funding from the FHA. “The boats are designated solely to operate between Red Hook and Cruz Bay,” the governor said, adding some exciting news for the future. Ferry service between St. Thomas and St. Croix will be right behind this, along with service between Water Island, Crown Bay, Yacht Haven Grand and the West Indian Co. dock at Havensight,” the governor said.

The Harbor Transportation Project that the governor referred to will provide alternative transportation to the district with five stopping points for ferry vessels that can carry between 50 and 100 passengers, according to Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls. The project is still in the design phase, which is about 30 percent complete.

At a Downtown Revitalization Forum last month, Smalls said his department is hoping to implement the ferry project in Fiscal Year 2015. The St. Thomas/St. Croix ferry service is likewise in the “request for proposal stage” at this point, Smalls said.

The audience was studded with local dignitaries – commissioners, senators – and several Federal Highway Administration personnel from Puerto Rico and Florida, as well as Capt. Loredon Boynes Jr. of Transportation Services.

[. . .] Michael Hinojosa, founder and president of Midship Marine, strode around the Red Hook 1 during a tour, looking proud as a new papa. He said the two catamarans were built within a year. “They are unique to this area,” he said, adding that the ferry design incorporates aircraft materials including lightweight aluminum panels. Tapping the handsome flooring, Hinojosa said, “This will never wear out.”

The boats top speed is 32 knots, or 31 mph, but they will probably operate at 23 knots, he said.
Hinojosa said Midship Marine has been in business since 1983, designing aluminum ships and boats for more than 27 years.

The government-owned boats will be leased to the Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services franchises. Smalls said the ferries should be in operation by Christmas. [. . .]

For full article, see

[Photo of Cruz Bay by Jaclyn Hubersberger.]

Posted by: ivetteromero | December 8, 2013

Shipwrecked Person in Cuba Receives Temporary Passport

ocean-300x225A search operation is still going on for missing people that were shipwrecked in Cuban seas. Only one person—Silvio Helmijr—was rescued and he received a temporary passport so that he can return home to Curaçao. Three people are still missing. Here are excerpts from the latest Amigoe article:

Silvio Helmijr is the only victim to be rescued after a shipwreck in the territorial waters of Cuba. Another man, whom Cuban fishermen had found in a lifeboat together with him, passed away just before the rescue. Helmijr is still in Cuba but the Bureau Buitenlandse Betrekkingen (BBB) is working together with the Kingdom’s embassy in Havana to give him a temporary passport. Helmijr is staying in the office of the Immigration Service in anticipation of a temporary passport and an e-Ticket so he can return to Curaçao. He’s not allowed to stay at a hotel because he didn’t have any ID or other documents with him at the time of his rescue.

The Cuban fishermen found the lifeboat with two Dutchmen on November 29th along the coastline at Maisí, a city in the province Guantánamo. After bringing the lifeboat to shore it appeared that one of the men gave no sign of life. The Cuban authorities were informed and the Immigration Service had contacted the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 2nd with the message that the man Helmijr had been brought to the embassy.

[. . .] The survivor was subsequently heard on what had happened. According to his statement, he was in a boat named ‘Broker Vessel’ together with four other men. That boat sailed under the American flag because they left from New York to the Dominican Republic and Curaçao.

However, en route they ran into a storm and the boat sank within minutes. The crew had just enough time to jump in the lifeboat, which appeared to be leaking. Two crewmembers were swept overboard by huge waves, Helmijr stated. He couldn’t remember when the third crewmember disappeared.

According to Helmijr, he and the man who died later on spent four days at sea with nothing to drink or eat. During those days he saw an American boat from the Coast Guard and a helicopter but assumed they could not see him due to the huge waves.

They were spotter later on by the Cuban fishermen but by then it was already too late for the fourth victim. He passed away just before they were rescued, Helmijr said. The mortal remains of this man were brought to a mortuary in Santiago de Cuba. His personal data isn’t known yet.

The other shipwrecked persons of which the police announced the personal data are still missing. The immigration office on Cuba doesn’t know if the Cuban Coast Guard came into action after it became known that the three men were missing. It regards KTK-captains Nelo Cranne and Elton Thijs and machinist Hansen. On being asked, KTK-manager Lionel Stacie stated before the Amigoe yesterday that the employees were to return from holiday last Friday. The family was contacted when they didn’t show up for work but the former hadn’t heard from the men. According to Stacie, it was decided to wait a day or two but when nothing was heard from the men on Saturday and Sunday we decided to help the family members of the men. The local Cuban and Dominican authorities were informed of their concerns. [. . .]

For full article, see

Also see

Posted by: ivetteromero | December 7, 2013

Guadeloupe’s ÎloJazz Festival 2013


The fifth season of ÎloJazz Festival is here. Under the auspices of Cap Excellence and the communities of Pointe-à-Pitre and Abymes in Guadeloupe, the festival will take place from December 9 to 15, 2013. It will include several musical stage shows, master classes, concerts in the streets, film screenings, the kabaré and karaoke jazz. For a week, jazz will take over the city.

The sponsor of the festival is none other than Marcus Miller, who just completed his “Renaissance Tour” and has been named UNESCO’s Artist for Peace. The well-known bassist knows Guadeloupe well and has already been on the island in the past; he is happy to return to close the festival at Victory Square (Sunday, December 15 at 9:00pm).

Festival director Dominique Bérose has proposed this year to present his Carte Blanche. For this ambitious project, Dominique will first present the repertoire of his album Parcours, but will also share the event with saxophonist Luther François and guitarist Lionel Louéké of Benin. Carte Blanche will present an opportunity for an exchange and a lyannaj between Africa and the Caribbean at the tune of highlife, biguine jazz, and gwoka (Sunday, December 15 at 7:30pm).

For original article (in French), see

Also see Dominique Bérose speaking about the festival at

Posted by: ivetteromero | December 7, 2013

Bermudian Stanley Paris Starts Circumnavigation Challenge


Former Bermuda hotelier Stanley Paris, 76, will try to become the oldest and fastest person to sail around the globe by beating the current mark (150 days set by the late Dodge Morgan). He ran the Deepdene Manor Hotel in the early 70s but now lives in St Augustine, Florida, from where he set sail. Today, he reached Bermuda waters.

At 1015 LT today 7th December Bermuda Radio, recorded the single handed sailing vessel “Kiwi Spirit” as being 0.8 nm East of St Davids Lighthouse. This position marks the start of a circum navigation of the globe by skipper Stanley Paris.

Mr Paris is hoping to accomplish 3 main goals.

  • To complete the circumnavigation in less than 150 day 6hrs and 1 minute, which is the previous record held by Dodge Morgan.
  • To become the oldest person to complete the circumnavigation at age 76
  • To complete the navigation without using any fuel at all. All power will be supplied by wind and solar energy with sealed diesel tanks available in case of emergency.

The 64ft cutter rigged vessel is carrying 120 dehydrated meals, 120 deep frozen meals and a large stock of MRIs and dried foods. Water will be collected from the deck and the vessel has an electric water maker. Mr Paris will have satellite communications and will be writing a blog every couple of days or so, this can be viewed at

He also has a yellow brick tracker that will enable people to follow his progress

The most treacherous part of the voyage is expected to be the rounding of the Cape Horn at a latitude of around 56 Degrees South.

Mr Paris also mentioned that his son Alan Paris was the first Bermudian to complete a circumnavigation of the globe in 2003 on “Velocity”

For original article, see and

Posted by: ivetteromero | December 7, 2013

Rihanna on the Cover Glamour UK January Issue

Rihanna Glamour-January14_cover

Caribbean Entertainment Magazine focuses on Rihanna’s front cover photo and participation in the January issue of Glamour UK.

In the latest issue of GLAMOUR UK, Rihanna reveals that she is looking forward to being a mom one day, and how she had to go away for a while to regain her fearlessness.  “One day I will have kids. I look forward to the day when I’m gonna be a mum,” she told UK Glamour. “But I’m nowhere close. I don’t even have a potential baby daddy!” On overcoming fear with the help of her mom Monica Braithwaite

“I had to regain my fearlessness because it did go away for a bit. My mother said something to me a few years ago: ‘I’ve seen something in your eyes I’ve never seen before: fear.’ She was like, ‘No, this is not you’. I just got back to being OK with myself,” she said. “I can’t run from (the haters). You can’t change who you are. It’s important for me to know who I am and work with that. They’re gonna keep knocking away until all this comes crashing down. But I’m not ever gonna crash. I’m in control,” she added.

The singer admitted her experiences of bullying when she was at school helped her to deal with the constant scrutiny. “I got teased my entire school life. What they were picking on I don’t understand,” she said. “But I’m notvictimised – I’m grateful. I think those experiences were strategically put together by God for the preparation of being in the music industry. It’s so easy for me to deal with the bull**** now.” The Bajan beauty who graces the January cover of the magazine- also added the she goes home to Barbados to stay “real”.

Read the full interview in the January issue of Glamour.

For original article, see


The Corozal Organization of East Indian Cultural Heritage (COEICH) supported by The National Institute of Culture & History (NICH), The Indo-Cultural Union of the Caribbean and the Americas, and The Belize Chapter of GOPIO International extend a call for papers for the International Conference on The Indian Diaspora in Belize and the Wider Caribbean, which will be held in Belize from August 5 to 11, 2014, on the theme “The Indian Diaspora in Belize and the wider Caribbean.” This is the first conference of its kind to be held in this English-speaking country and in Central America. The deadline is December 29, 2013.

Description: Formally known as British Honduras, Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America. Bordered by Mexico in the North and Guatemala in the West and South, it lies at the heart of the Caribbean Basin. Belize has giant Mayan Temples and the world’s second largest barrier reef. It has a mélange of over ten different cultures which are concentrated in specific areas in six districts.

Unlike any other Caribbean country, Belize experienced three waves of East Indian migration, commencing in 1858. The first wave of migrants consisted of 1000 deported ex-soldiers (and their families) who had rebelled against the British Government in India’s First War of Independence/ Sepoy Rebellion. The second wave of Indians came to Belize in 1872 as ex-indentured workers from Jamaica. The third wave of Indian migrants to Belize left from Guatemala, from where they had gone to work in the coffee plantations in Cafe Mountains. Unique to Indian history in the Caribbean is the fact that early immigrant labourers worked in Belize in the sugarcane, as well as lumber and banana plantations. As early as the 1860s, they worked under the employment of American ex-confederates. With the passage of time, the mainly-Hindu immigrants have all converted to Christianity, resulting in the absence of temples and lack of festivals in the country. The only remnants of Indian culture are the special preparation of food with turmeric [curry] and the observance of Hosay/ Muharram [Who-se-me-say]. Indians now comprise about four percent (7,000 persons) of the multi-ethnic population of Belize.

Corozal Organization of East Indian Cultural Heritage (COEICH) will be the main host and organiser of the conference. COEICH was formed in 2009 as a non-profit organization committed to preserve and promote East Indian culture in Corozal in particular, and Belize in general. It has embraced opportunities to establish connections with people of similar culture within and outside of Belize and, in so doing, has built a support network to help revive a lost heritage.

The conference organisers will provide subsidised breakfast and lunch, and ground transportation during the conference. Rooms can be shared to minimise the cost of accommodation. Participants are free to choose their own accommodation at their own cost. However, all participants should stay at or near the conference venues for security and convenience. Participants are encouraged to invite and bring their friends and family members for the week-long event in Belize. There is no registration fee. The tentative programme includes ceremonial speeches, cultural performances, exhibition displays and academic presentations in Corozal in north Belize and Punta Gorda (PG) in the south. There will be educational tours to the National Assembly, Herman’s cave and Blue Hole in Belmopan, and visits to East Indian communities in Forest Home, Elridgeville, Jacintoville and Mafredi.

The conference aims to bring together academics, scholars, teachers and students at all levels with an interest in the Indian Diaspora in the Caribbean to discuss their research findings.

Space will be provided for less formal presentations from activists and practitioners in the field in order to contribute to the limited store of public knowledge on Indians in Belize. Possible paper themes can include, but are not limited to history, migration, inter-ethnic marriages, culture loss, alcoholism, business, remittances, agriculture, education and gender. At least two-thirds of each paper to be presented must deal with Indians in Belize. Submitted papers will be assigned to particular panels according to similarities in theme, topic and discipline.

Please send abstract of 200 words and brief biodata no more than 100 words (via Word attachment) by Sunday, December 29, 2013, to Ms. Sylvia Perez Gilharry in Belize (Corozal Organization of East Indian Cultural Heritage) at and Dr. Kumar Mahabir (University of Trinidad and Tobago) in Trinidad at

Each abstract should include the title of the proposed paper, author’s name, affiliation, address, telephone number and e-mail address. Please type “Belize Conference” in the Subject line of the e-mail to be sent. The deadline date for the submission of the full paper is Friday February 28, 2014.

Image from

Posted by: ivetteromero | December 7, 2013

Venezuela and the Battle against Transgenic Seeds


The Council on Hemispheric Affairs reports that over the past two months, efforts to introduce a bill in the Venezuelan National Assembly that could have paved the way for the entrance of transgenic seeds into the country met stiff opposition from the agroecology and ecosocialist movements, stopping Monsanto and other GM firms from getting a foothold in the country. These movements also managed to place the construction of a new seed law in the hands of the major stakeholders, and in particular, farmers and consumers. As the authors of this piece—Frederick B. Mills and William Camacaro—state, “Ecosocialism in Venezuela is part of a diverse worldwide movement that despite philosophical and political differences is still united in opposition to use of transgenic seeds and in support of agroecological farming.” The article below gives a detailed look at the current battle against transgenic seeds in Venezuela; see excerpts with a link to the full article below:

On November 4, 2013, the Country Plan (2013 – 2019) proposed by the late President Hugo Chavez, which includes an explicit commitment to ecosocialism, was voted into law by Venezuela’s National Assembly with the tenacious support of President Nicholas Maduro. As a result the measure gives a boost to the current legal and political struggle of the ecosocialist movement to prevent transgenic seeds from entering the country. [. . .] In Venezuela, successful resistance to the privatization of seeds was made possible by what Venezuela scholar George Ciccariello-Maher describes as dual power, the leverage that popular power has in relation to revolutionaries at the highest levels of the state. [. . .] The popular sectors include significant agroecology and ecosocialist movements. On account of their intense and rapid mobilization over the past month, the venue for deliberations on the Seed Law and overall seed policy has been extended from the legislature, where hasty action might have legalized transgenics, to the pueblo legislador, the people as legislators. What follows is approximately how events have unfolded.

Ecosocialists Mobilize to Stop Ambiguous Seed Law: Venezuela’s seed policy is based on an earlier 2002 Seed Law that was passed in a highly polarized political environment, just months after a short-lived coup against President Hugo Chavez and just weeks prior to an opposition led strike and sabotage of the oil industry. This law was superseded in April of 2004, when after halting a project to plant Monsanto transgenic soybeans on 500,000 acres of land, then President Hugo Chavez declared, “The people of the United States, of Latin America, and the world, ought to follow the example of a Venezuela free of transgenics.” [. . .] This declaration constituted a virtual ban of transgenics. It was also consistent with the government’s emphasis on endogenous development. [. . .]

The ban on transgenics received further support when in June 2012, Chavez made the Country Plan (2013 – 2019) his campaign platform; it includes among the five major objectives, “the construction of an ecosocialist economic model of production based on a harmonic relationship between human and nature that guarantees the rational and optimal use of natural resources, respecting the processes and cycles of nature” (introduction). [. . .] The ink on the Country Plan hardly had been dry when Venezuela became a member of Mercosur (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile) in July of 2012, joining a commercial block that had already become major consumers of transgenic seeds. [. . .]

[. . .] On the 21st of October 2013 a coalition of agroecologists, ecosocialists, members of cooperatives and other agricultural production units, and peasant activists gathered outside the National Assembly in Caracas to demand that the proposed Seed Law be drafted and debated — not within the confines of the National Assembly building, but rather among the pueblo legislador, and in particular among the peasant-producers who are among the major stake holders. [. . .] In a communiqué published that same day, the coalition maintained that the attempt to open Venezuela to a transgenic seed regime is part of the economic war against the Bolivarian Revolution and an effort to compromise the move towards food sovereignty. The coalition also expressed concern that the bill would threaten the biodiversity and ancestral bio-cultural traditions of the peoples of Venezuela. This argument clearly links ecosocialism to the indigenous and Afro-descendant contributions to ecological agricultural techniques. The communiqué singled out several features of the proposed Seed Law that the coalition interpreted as particularly ominous. [. . .]

International Implications of Seed Policy in Venezuela: This debate over seed policy in Venezuela has critical national and international implications. On the eve of critical municipal elections and in the midst of the manipulation of supply by major food distributors, Venezuela is on the front lines of a significant resistance in South America against the ingress of transgenic seeds and in defense of the traditional semilla compesina. When the authors visited Venezuela during the summer of 2013, they witnessed an all-out effort to increase agricultural production, using agroecological and organic farming methods, both in urban and rural areas of the country.

For full article, see


38th Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies
University of Glasgow
2-4 July 2014

The Society for Caribbean Studies invites submissions of short abstracts of no more than 250 words for research papers on the Hispanic, Francophone, Dutch and Anglophone Caribbean and their diasporas for this annual international conference. Papers are welcomed from all disciplines and can address the themes outlined below.

We also welcome abstracts for papers that fall outside this list of topics, and we particularly welcome proposals for complete panels, which should consist of three papers.

Those selected for the conference will be invited to give a 20-minute presentation. Abstracts should be submitted along with a short bio of no more than 150 words by 13th January, 2014. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.

Submit an abstract here.

For more information about the conference and the Society for Caribbean Studies go to

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