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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

Archive for February, 2008

Below is a letter response written by Adella Toulon-Foerster living in Salisbury,Dominica to the editor of Caribbean Net News regarding the recent on the article – Dominica: The Caribbean’s Next “Terror Island”?

Dear Sir:

There are a number of statements in Nikolas Kozloff’s recent commentary on Dominica that cry out for correction.

Firstly is his assertion that Dominica is a land of “grinding poverty”.

Dominica may not have economic indicators that match those in the G8, but it’s especially interesting that Dominica now has an influx of illegal immigrants from countries like Haiti and the Dominican Republic who are seeking a better economic situation. They can be found late Friday afternoons queued outside of every Western Union and Money Gram sending money back home. That said, unlike many other societies, Dominican culture doesn’t place cold hard cash at the apex of its system of values.

For example, Dominicans objected to the Venezuelan refinery, as we have a number of other foreign-pushed initiatives, not just because it might interfere with ecotourism initiatives, but also because many people would simply prefer to be surrounded by natural splendour rather than a foul-smelling refinery. That’s hardly the attitude of a people living with “grinding poverty”.

As for emigration, like most of the Caribbean, mobility is part of Dominican culture. We traveled to England during the 40s and 50s after the war left many jobs open there. We traveled so much that we even made a business out of it — an entrepreneurial venture called huckstering. We’re also accustomed to traveling abroad for higher education.

Secondly, Dr Kozloff seems to believe that Dominica’s relationship with Cuba and Venezuela is somehow remarkable, and is a recent development.

Neither of these is the case. Students from Dominica and many other Caribbean countries have been going to university in Cuba on scholarship for many years, and doctors from Cuba can be found on many islands throughout the region. My cousin currently attends school in Cuba on scholarship, alongside students from St Lucia, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana and several countries in Africa — also on scholarship.

As for PetroCaribe, it’s an arrangement that involves seventeen countries including St Lucia, the Bahamas and Antigua. It’s true that Dominica is the first English-speaking member of ALBA, but since Nicaragua is simultaneously participating in ALBA and CAFTA that’s clearly not something the Americans consider an act of war.

Thirdly is that in a McCain Administration that countries that have relationships with Cuba and Venezuela will face special difficulty from the US State Department. Since Cuba and Venezuela have been conducting dollar diplomacy (as it were) for some time, should Mr McCain actually become president, Dominica would be just one on a long list of invasion targets, assuming he’d have any soldiers to spare during his hundred year occupation of the Middle East.

Besides, recipients of Chavez’s largesse include the Northeastern US, which received shipments of Venezuelan heating oil. Does Dr Kozloff expect McCain to invade Boston as well?

Adella Toulon-Foerster
Salisbury, Dominica

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education-black-women.jpgPhoto by:angela7dreams

In recent years, CARICOM’s Council for Human and Social Development has consistently reported that Caribbean girls are out-performing boys by a way in education, which could have explosive consequences in many regional societies.

Despite these warnings, there has been no change. According to University of the West Indies (UWI) statistics, some 82 percent of the students who matriculated to the institution in the 2007 academic year were women. The general consensus is that the gender imbalance at UWI has now reached a crisis point, which will have serious social consequences if it goes unchecked. Other important education institutions, teachers’ colleges, face a similar situation.

Women are continuously knocking on doors that used to be closed to them; they are increasingly asserting themselves in previously exclusively male roles like provider, protector, and academic. Meanwhile, boys and young men appear to be less focused on education and tend to display a distinctly weaker work ethic in the Caribbean

One of the most frequently cited theories for academic under achievement of your males, refers to a growing culture of rebellion and frustration, particularly among working class young males, arising from their deprivation, and lack of both self-confidence and opportunity. Some regional studies have found that strong anti-school sentiments were common among working class males.


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