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Caribbean Updates: Trinidad and Tobago’s femicide crisis (June 20, 2023)

Just Caribbean Updates:  Trinidad and Tobago's femicide crisis
Just Caribbean Updates

Trinidad and Tobago’s femicide rates are at an all time high, reports the Guardian. “As of May, this year’s death toll was at 280, already overtaking the same period of 2022 – a year which saw 614 violent deaths.” The trend is part of a broader increase in homicides and crime — the Caribbean nation, with a population of about 1.5 million, now has the sixth-highest crime rate in the world.

Experts say the government is failing to respond to the problems of domestic violence or child abuse, in part due to concern that such interventions are seen as a threat to the ideology of the traditional family by predominantly Christian and male-dominated groups.

In March, the police commissioner, Erla Harewood-Christopher, said “an evil had spread over the land” and that reducing murder rates was “a bit beyond” the force’s capabilities.

And “there have been no attempts to legislate or control the illegal “PH” (private hire) taxi drivers, who are widely regarded as a risk to the safety of women and girls in a country where public transport is limited and expensive imported cars are beyond the means of many,” reports the Guardian.

More:

  • Families of Trinidadian femicide victims courageously recount their stories. — The Guardian.

Windrush at 75

Seventy-five years ago, the Empire Windrush ship docked in London in June 1948, bringing the first of hundreds of thousands of people who moved to Britain over a 23-year period to help rebuild the country following World War Two. (Reuters)

Under the British Nationality Act 1948, people on board, many of them children, were granted the right to settle in the UK. However, the Home Office did not keep any record or paperwork of those granted leave to remain. As a result, it became increasingly difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove their legal status.

In 2018 it emerged that thousands Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were from the Windrush generation, had been wrongly denied legal rights, detained and threatened with deportation from the UK by the Home Office. That year, Britain apologised for its “appalling” handling of the Windrush generation. (Times of London, via Repeating Islands)

The 2018 Windrush scheme was set up to provide documentary confirmation of British citizenship and residency rights for the Windrush generation and other commonwealth citizens, and their children, in the wake of the scandal. But in the years since, this scandal has only deepened, writes Shaila Pal in The Conversation.

Though “Windrush Day” is observed annually on 22 June, “Windrush history is not included in the UK school curriculum, resulting in an incomplete view of Britain’s history of cultural diversity,” writes Les Johnson in The Conversation.

More Windrush

  • An exhibition by photographer Jim Grover, Windrush: A Voyage through the Generations explores what the distinctive Caribbean culture of the first arrivals means for the subsequent generations. (BBC)

  • The Conversation has a series exploring the history and impact of the Windrush generation.

  • Alford Gardner was 22 when he boarded HMT Empire Windrush in Kingston, Jamaica, along with 491 other West Indians. Seventy-five years later, he is one of the few left to tell the story. Gardner told the Guardian that if he could live it all again, he says he wouldn’t change a ‘damn thing’.

  • Finding Home, a memoir Gardner co-authored with his son, Howard, chronicles Caribbean pioneers’ pitfalls and triumphs in a country that often seemed to despise them. “I’ll never understand,” writes Gardner early on, “how the colour of my skin can make these people so mad.” (Guardian)

  • “I didn’t know what racism was until I came here,” Windrush child Derrick Burton told the BBC.

  • “The literary contribution of the Windrush generation … offers an important opportunity to witness the transformative moment when empire came home, changing stories of Britain forever,” writes Alison Donnell in The Conversation. “Their writing rendered Caribbean people and places in ways that challenged traditional colonial views and gave descriptive power to the complicated realities of migrant lives. And just as they offered distinctive and compelling stories on what constituted Britishness, they also brought a new idea of literary English into circulation.”

  • “The literary wave that followed the arrival of the Windrush generation in the UK wasn’t the beginning of Black British literature by any means, but the anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks on 21 June 1948 seems like a good moment to celebrate 75 books that have shaped the Black British experience,” writes Gaverne Bennett in the Guardian.

  • The British indenture system transported over two million men, women and children from India to parts of the empire across the globe, but is rarely acknowledged by UK public institutions. “Indeed, the silence that surrounds it perhaps indicates how troubling its presence is in British imperial history as it disrupts the idea of the British empire as an institution that did not profit from exploitative systems of unfree labour after the abolition of slavery, writes María del Pilar Kaladeen in The Conversation on the invisible part of the Windrush generation.

  • Racism forced many new Windrush arrivals – predominantly black Caribbean men looking for employment in manual jobs – to set up their own cricket clubs — Michael Collins in The Conversation.

Racial Justice

  • Young Haitian men, particularly those with unusual looks, are often stopped for questioning by police — they must often appeal to the “commander in popular jargon, and to invoke his efforts to always live within the precepts of the law. This scene with which most young people can identify today is told in the song Kòmandan by rapper Loco Dahy,” reports the Haitian news collective DÈYÈ MÒN ENFO.

The Caribbean and the World

  • Canada will lead an international aid effort for Haiti, supporting the country’s embattled police, months after U.N. proposal for a multi-national security mission failed to obtain backers. Canada’s foreign minister announced the effort will be led from the Dominican Republic, in a bid to coordinate international aid including funds, equipment and technical support for the country’s embattled police force. (See last Friday’s Latin America Daily Briefing.)

  • But in a post on social media, DR Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez said no deal been struck, adding that the Dominican government has not even discussed such a plan. (Reuters)

  • Some Haitians “viewed it as the latest example of a foreign government offering aid to Haiti but providing benefits to its neighbor next door,” reports the Miami Herald. Though “to be fair, a number of aid agencies, Haitian businesses and at least one diplomatic mission in the last year has quietly relocated to Santo Domingo due to the dire security situation in Port-au-Prince.”

  • The Caribbean specialty food trend has been gaining popularity for years in the U.S. and has been recognized by several larger manufacturers that have seized the opportunity to produce competitively priced Caribbean products. “This has naturally put authentic Caribbean foods at a disadvantage— particularly those with a manufacturing base in the Caribbean, forced to contend with inconsistency in the supply and cost of raw materials,” writes Daphne Ewing-Chou in Forbes.

  • The Jamaica Spices project, under the auspices of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food for Progress, will support about 7,500 farmers (including women and youth) to increase Jamaica’s yields of turmeric, ginger, and pimento on 2,250 hectares of land by 50 percent, with an emphasis on quality to meet international standards — Petchary’s Blog.

  • European Union diplomats Federica Mogherini and Josep Borrell continue efforts to build a strong relationship with Havana, according to La Joven Cuba. On a recent visit to Havana, Borrell discussed several issues, including the U.S. embargo and Cuba’s inclusion in the U.S. List of State Sponsors of Terrorism, topics with significant economic interest for both Cuba and the European Union.

Economics and Finance

  • Banker turned green developmentalist, Avinash Persaud, climate envoy to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, “is testing the limits of what can be accomplished within the existing financial architecture,” according to Foreign Policy. “The current global debt crisis is Persaud’s big moment. The reform agenda he has designed with Mottley, the Bridgetown Initiative, aims to reform international financial flows to help poor countries spend countercyclically during market contractions and industrialize without destroying the planet.”

  • DeLisle Worrell’s Development and Stabilization in Small Economies: Theories and Evidence from Caribbean Experience is a work of love by one of the masters of Caribbean economics, writes Scott MacDonald at The Global Americans.

Climate and Environmental Justice

  • Climate impacts make living in North Paramaribo, Suriname unsafe. Despite experts’ warnings, the government allows landowners to remain, according to Climate Tracker.

  • Suriname’s challenges, particularly climate change, have garnered the attention of the Netherlands, which has pledged support to address the pressing issues faced by the country, reports Climate Tracker.

  • A pilot study on the effects of climate change on queer Jamaicans in 2021 by Fulbright scholar Emme Christie, found that queer Jamaicans were less likely to be able to sufficiently cope with the effects of a natural disaster.  — Climate Tracker.

  • Unprecedented storms, rising sea levels, and warming oceans pose immediate threats in Barbados, where climate resilience is now a matter of national survival, according to Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.  IFC profiles some of the entrepreneurs, academics, activists, and government officials helping their country confront the challenge. —Shorthand Stories.

Energy

  • The boundaries between ExxonMobil and Guyana’s government are becoming progressively blurred, according to The Intercept. “Where the company ends and the government begins is increasingly unclear”.

  • The oil PR blitz has included Exxon sponsorship of Guyana’s cricket team, and luring away journalists working on the oil and gas beat away from the country’s papers and into corporate public relations and state-run newsrooms. (The Intercept)

Gender

  • Tegan Zimmerman’s Matria Redux: Caribbean Women Novelize the Past is a feminist exploration of postcolonial Caribbean literature, analyzed within the framework of an imagined maternal space and time. (Repeating Islands)

LGBTQ

  • During Pride Month, La Joven Cuba (LJC) interviews Adiel González Maimó, a Cuban activist who shares his opinions on the evolution of Cuban society regarding respect for the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals and discusses the controversies surrounding the approval of the Family Code, the rise of religious fundamentalism and anti-rights movements in Cuba and Latin America.

Just Caribbean Updates
https://caribbeannewsupdates.blogspot.com/

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