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How could this have happened?

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by R. Andrew Cummings

ESPN is the one of the leading print and electronic media organizations in the world. Its huge tentacles reach into every continent. Its reliability as a conveyor of information and education (mainly sports) is the core of its credibility. So when I received an ESPN e-mail headed “Summer Olympics – Country Glances”, I regarded it as essential reading.{{more}}

How could this have happened?

Near to a map of St. Lucia is the following highlighted print:
St Lucia and the Grenadines
Capital: Castries; Kingstown
Population: 281,406
Other Info: No information currently available

Bootoo

Isn’t this the age of high-speed Internet communication wherein the world is commonly referred to as a “global village”? Have not St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines taken part in previous Olympic games as separate and independent countries? How could this world media giant ESPN be ignorant of or insulated from such basic information and so present it wrongly to millions around the world? What has become of the boasted revolution in knowledge and information which takes place every five years or so instead of the 100 years in times past?
Looked at from any angle, this must be classified as a “bootoo” for either St. Lucia or St. Vincent or both.

Not For the First Time
Caribbean Wise

A few years ago the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held forth in one of its bulletins that 10 per cent of school age children in Barbados were not attending school. In another of its publications, Barbados was indicted for its treatment and status of its women folk. Needless to say, both pieces of information were shocking and shameful departures from the truth. After protest, full apologies were made to the people and government of Barbados.

Indifference

Small island states in the Caribbean cannot feign indifference as if “it is no big thing”. Our economies are far too fragile to cope with the potentially devastating effects – especially on tourism upon which we have become so reliant.
It is only right that the international community must have the correct information about us in order that it may form a true perception. For far too often we are the butt of ridicule and even flatulent contempt because, somewhere along the line, the wrong information is peddled.
The foregoing apart we must always be mindful that we are generally dismissed as minnows from the standpoints of size, economic resources and intellectual capital. Of course, we know the awesome potential and capacity of our region, which we have a mandate to harness to the full.

ESPN, UNESCO, et al.

Powerful and resourceful bodies like UNESCO and ESPN have no excuse. Their unpardonable mistakes are not due to sloppy clerical errors but more so to an inbred arrogance and haughtiness of the mighty for whom and to whom we are just worthless digits.
Of course we are bombarded with the sound and fury of the overworked cliches: “globalization; fair play; fair trade; level playing field; one humanity”. All vanity!

Dissonance

The Olympics seeks to promote among other things, unity, comity and understanding among nations and about nations. Where in the world does one find St. Lucia and the Grenadines with its capital Castries, Kingstown?
Stop! Check your perception! Is this a laughing matter? Or maybe “no big thing”?

“The Party’s Over for the Caribbean
Spendthrift Government”

The Economist of Tuesday, August 31, 2004, hit out in a stinging critique on the debt situation in the Caribbean.
On account of the limitations of time and space I list some of the essential points:

1) In proportion to the size of the economies, all 14 of the independent countries in the Caribbean community (CARICOM) are among the 30 most heavily indebted emerging economies;
2) The public debt of St. Kitts and Nevis is less that $600 million – but that is 150 per cent of its GDP. Economists worry when public debt owes above 50 per cent GDP;
3) The top 10 indebted countries are: Guyana, Lebanon, St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Uruguay and Belize;
4) The situation is partly due to a slow down in tourism after September 11, 2001, more frequent natural disasters and poor management in some cases;
5) In the Caribbean there is a Micawberish assumption that when things get really tough, someone will step in to provide.

SVG

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not in the top 10 but our Prime Minister knows all too well, “When your neighbour’s house is on fire wet yours.”
Victim as we are of external pressures, natural disasters and the like, the public needs education and information on the executable strategies to deal with the times ahead. Why not discuss and debate in various fora especially on the chatty talk shows? After all we are a resilient and creative people, who are quite capable of rising to the challenge. We must demonstrate to the developed world that we have gone beyond “Micawberish” assumptions.

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