Category Archives: PR News

Daily regional news summary from Cuba!: The source for the latest news throughout Cuba and Caribbean.

TOURISTS RETURN TO HAITI FOR SECOND ANNUAL “IMPACT WEEK” VOYAGE SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 16 – 20, 2014

impactweek

CaribPR Wire, NEW YORK, NY — October 7, 2013:  My Haiti Travels, a U.S.-based boutique concierge firm that coordinates high-quality travel services to Haiti for leisure and business travelers, announced its second annual “Impact Week” signature international expedition to Haiti.  Scheduled for January 16-20, 2014, the all-inclusive five-day and four-night travel package will feature cultural activities, premium hotel and beach resort stays, volunteerism and touristic exploration of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince and the Arcadins Coast, a popular Caribbean beach destination.  The inaugural “Impact Week 2013” trip was hailed by travelers as a fun, rewarding and safe experience.  With a mission to expose a positive image of Haiti and help stimulate the local economy, “Impact Week 2014” will showcase Haiti’s authentic beauty and history through the eyes of the My Haiti Travels agency.

Founded by Dina Simon shortly following the devastating earthquake of January 2010 to support the resurgence of tourism and investment in Haiti, My Haiti Travels representatives liaise with hotel and resort establishments, restaurants and professional tour guides to provide unique experiences tailored to each client’s specific needs, lifestyle and budget.  Led by a bi-lingual staff and local professionals across Haiti’s hospitality and tourism sector, “Impact Week 2014” offers an exclusive itinerary of live music and entertainment, beach resort activities and fine dining in the trendy Pétion-Ville neighborhood of top restaurants and premier social hot spots.

Travelers will also enjoy notable museum exhibitions, mountain hiking, artisan market visits and city tours of Haiti that capture its long and renowned history as the first independent sovereign nation in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the first black republic in the world when it declared independence from France during the Haitian Revolution on January 1, 1804.  The robust tour schedule also allows quality time for individual exploration of Haiti’s dynamic Taino, African, Latin and French ancestry.

“The vision for Impact Week is to make Haiti the ultimate multicultural experience for travelers, and to offer the perfect mix of civic and social interaction,” said Dina Simon, founder and managing director, My Haiti Travels. “We are excited to invite travelers to join us in January to experience Haiti through our eyes.”

For the second consecutive year, “Impact Week” is scheduled during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday in the United States, and will include a Project Day to provide volunteer services to elementary students of PRODEV (Progress and Development through the Youth of Haiti). Established in 1995 to empower the youth of Haiti through education, PRODEV is a Haitian-led non-profit, non-political foundation officially recognized by the government of Haiti.

A discounted early-bird registration rate is now available through November 2, 2013.  For more information and to register for “Impact Week 2014,” visit www.ImpactWeekHaiti.com.

Media partners of “Impact Week 2014” include Bel Ti Fi, Haitian All-Starz, The Haitian Times, Kiskeácity, Radio Soleil and The Stewardship Report.  For sponsorship inquiries, media partnership opportunities and more information regarding “Impact Week Haiti 2014,” please contact My Haiti Travels at info@myhaititravels.com.

About My Haiti Travels

My Haiti Travels (MHT) is a U.S.-based boutique concierge firm that coordinates high-quality travel services to Haiti for leisure and business travelers.  My Haiti Travels will host U.S. multicultural professionals during its second annual IMPACT WEEK HAITI trip, a five-day and four-night all-inclusive French-Caribbean voyage filled with leisure activities, volunteerism, networking and touristic exploration of Port-au-Prince, Haiti during the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) holiday weekend on January 16 – 20, 2014.  To educate people about Haiti and its rich culture, My Haiti Travels also publishes the “Haiti Through Our Eyes” newsletter that features guest blogs and travel stories.  For more information, please visit www.ImpactWeekHaiti.com and follow My Haiti Travels on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube.

Caribbean American Entrepreneur Among Thousands In March For Immigration Reform

Felicia Persaud, the Caribbean-born executive of Hard Beat Communications, rallies for immigration reform on Oct. 5, 2013. (NAN Image)

Felicia Persaud, the Caribbean-born executive of Hard Beat Communications, rallies for immigration reform on Oct. 5, 2013. (NAN Image)

CaribPR Wire, NEW YORK, NY, Sun. Oct. 6, 2013:  Caribbean-born, New York-based media entrepreneur and columnist, Felicia J. Persaud, was among tens of thousands in the United States joining the march nationally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, (CIR), on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

The Hard Beat Communications executive, along with Guyanese Valence Williams and Menes De Griot were the lone Caribbean nationals joining the New York Immigration Coalition organized rally in Brooklyn, NY, as they put the spotlight on the voiceless Caribbeans who are undocumented and desperate for immigration reform yet remain in the shadows.

Carrying a sign that read simply: “Caribbeans Too Need Immigration Reform,” Persaud, founder of CaribPR Wire, News Americas Now and Invest Caribbean Now, who has penned her 46th open letter to President Obama in her weekly column in the New York Amsterdam News calling for immigration reform now, got the thumbs up from Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York City mayoral front-runner, Bill de Blasio, whose roots extend to the Caribbean, as she proudly carried her sign around Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn, NY.

Then along with De Griot on the drum and Williams on the cowbells, Persaud marched over the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday afternoon along with thousands of mainly Latino advocates to send a message to President Obama and the U.S. Congress that passage of comprehensive reform reform was an issue  just as important as the debt ceiling and the re-opening of the government.

“The fact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and consuls worldwide are largely open because of immigrants fees and the government shutdown has not affected them tells why the Congress needs to pass CIR now,” Persaud said.

Though they were only three, the small Caribbean contingent stole the show with their rhythm and sent a clear message that the Caribbean was in the house and also needed immigration reform.

Valence Williams, l., and Menes De Griot marching over the Brooklyn bridge. (NAN Image)

Valence Williams, l., and Menes De Griot marching over the Brooklyn bridge. (NAN Image)

Carrying a sign that read simply, “Caribbeans Too Need Immigration Reform,” Persaud, founder of CaribPR Wire, News Americas Now and Invest Caribbean Now, who has penned her 46th open letter to President Obama in her weekly column in the New York Amsterdam News calling for immigration reform now, got the thumbs up from Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York City mayoral front-runner, Bill de Blasio, whose roots extend to the Caribbean, as she proudly carried her sign around Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn, NY.

Then along with De Griot on the drum and Williams on the cowbells, Persaud marched over the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday afternoon along with thousands of mainly Latino advocates to send a message to President Obama and the U.S. Congress that passage of comprehensive reform reform was an issue was just as important as the debt ceiling and the re-opening of the government.

“The fact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and consuls worldwide are largely open because of immigrants fees and the government shutdown has not affected them tells why the Congress needs to pass CIR now,” Persaud said.

Though they were only three, the small Caribbean contingent stole the show with their rhythm and sent a clear message that the Caribbean was in the house and also needed immigration reform.

“It’s beyond incomprehensible that some three million Caribbean people can party each year down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York but only three of us can show up to make our voices heard for something that is important to thousands in our community,” said Persaud.

The march by tens of thousands nationally took place on the 100th day anniversary since the passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act in the Senate. The Republican controlled House has refused to bring the measure to a vote, insisting they will address the hot button issue through smaller bills only but has yet to bring any bills to the House floor.

The rally was held under the theme, “National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect,” and came just days after House Democrats introduced their own immigration bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, calling too for immigration reform and a path to citizenship for 11 plus million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

West Indian Powerhouse Dwayne Bravo To Film Movie Debut On His Birthday

West Indian Powerhouse Dwayne Bravo goes through some dance moves on the set of ‘Ula.'

West Indian Powerhouse Dwayne Bravo goes through some dance moves at a press conference to announce his signing to the movie, ‘Ula.’

CaribPR Wire, LONDON, England, Sun. Oct. 6, 2013: West Indies Cricket ODI Captain and one of the biggest sporting stars to emerge from the Caribbean in recent times, Dwayne Bravo, is set to spend his 30th birthday on Monday, October 7th, filming his movie debut in an Indian thriller.

Bravo, a flamboyant and renowned entertainer, with two singles already released in collaboration with Grammy-award winning superstar Beenie Man, will feature in a specially created song and dance sequence for the much anticipated Tamil movie, ‘Ula,’ directed by the highly-respected Rajan Madhav and produced by Lv Srikanth Lakshman for Dreambridge Productions. This is Bravo’s first film role and he feels it is fitting that his debut will be in an Indian movie.

On the eve of the press conference announcing his signing for the movie, he told reporters: “India is like my second home now, so I was thrilled when my agent presented the opportunity to me and more so, when she mentioned it was going to be filmed in Chennai, a city to which I obviously have a deep affiliation as a member of the IPL team, Chennai Superkings. I love the people of Chennai and the people of India, and I am relishing the opportunity to work with a talented and highly respected cast and crew in my first film.”

Although the famed Chennai Superkings team lost in the semi-final round of the Cricket Champions League tournament on Friday, October 4th, Bravo was excited at the prospect of still giving something back to the adoring Chennai public – this time in the form of exhibiting his trademark song and dance moves in the movie ‘Ula,’ which features an impressive Indian cinematic cast including Ajmal, Viddharth, Ashok, Radhika Apte, Gayathrie and several other acclaimed stars. “It was totally unplanned that filming happened to fall on his 30th birthday, but it is a very special way for him to celebrate reaching this milestone and is a testament to all that he has achieved, and continues to achieve” Bravo’s representative, Emma Everett said.

Contrary to his image, however, it is not all about glitz and glamour for the gifted all-rounder, who is often referred to as the talisman in the much loved West Indies international cricket team for his incredible energy and confidence. Bravo will, as he does every year, spend his birthday visiting shelters for the homeless and children’s orphanages, to provide to the needy.

“It is something I do on my birthday each year. I have been very fortunate in my life, and I try to give back as much as I can to others who are less fortunate. During my birthday this year, I will take a break from filming to go and provide for a homeless shelter in Chennai,” the humble star stated. Whilst Bravo emphasizes an unquestionable priority to his international cricketing career; he does enjoy significant and worthy opportunities outside of cricket, being one of the most in-demand sporting superstars in the world. “On the rare occasions where my tour or training schedule may permit, I do like to challenge myself with opportunities that I feel may have a longer-term impact. There are a number of projects currently in the pipeline which I am very excited about,” Bravo said.

From farm to fork: improving nutrition in the Caribbean

Canadian and Caribbean researchers to participate in the Caribbean Week of Agriculture

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Researchers from universities in Canada and the Caribbean will discuss improvements in the region’s agriculture and nutrition during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA2013): Linking the Caribbean for Regional Food and Nutrition Security and Rural Development, to be held in Guyana, October 4-12, 2013.

Since 2011, researchers from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago and McGill University in Canada have been working together to improve to improve food production in the region, as well as the nutrition and health of CARICOM populations.  The project is funded under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a CA$124 million program that supports partnerships between Canadian and developing-country researchers to  increase food security through applied research in agriculture and nutrition.

The From farm to fork: improving nutrition in the Caribbean project seeks to address rising obesity rates in the region, due in large part to the limited attention Caribbean countries have paid to local food production. As a result, there is a high dependence on imports of high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. This has created a paradox of obesity and poor nutrition, which threatens people’s health throughout the region.

Results to date are promising. Children in Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts and Nevis are receiving improved school meals that contain vegetables and fruit produced by local farmers.  By adopting water management techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching, crop production has increased. Farmers have also diversified their crops. These and other research results will be presented during the two-day workshop Coming Soon: A Healthier, Food Secure Caribbean: Improving Nutrition and Health of CARICOM Population, Oct. 10-11.

IDRC will also participate in the CWA2013 exhibition and trade show. Journalists are invited to visit the interactive CIFSRF CARICOM Food Security Project booth to learn more about the work that the research teams are carrying out in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia.

Experts from IDRC, McGill University, and the University of the West Indies will be available for interviews before and during CWA2013.

Journalists and the public can join in the conversation through Twitter (#IDRC and #CWA2013) and Facebook.

For more information, visit www.idrc.ca.

Putting research to work

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funds practical research in developing countries to increase prosperity and security, and to foster democracy and the rule of law, in support of Canada’s international development efforts. We promote growth and development and encourage sharing knowledge with policymakers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting solutions that aim to bring change to those who need it most.

About CIFSRF

CIFSRF is a CA$124.5 million program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. CIFSRF supports applied research partnerships between Canadian and developing-country organizations to find lasting solutions to hunger and food insecurity. It is a core element of Canada’s Food Security Strategy.

For more information:
Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé
(+1 613) 696-2343
ibourgeault-tasse@idrc.ca
@IsabelleBT

Royal Canadian Mint Making Waves in the Caribbean

OTTAWA, Ontario, Oct. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The Royal Canadian Mint is pleased to announce recent contract wins with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Central Bank of Barbados and Centrale Bank van Curacao en Sint Maarten, representing both circulation and numismatic coins.

“For the past 35 years, the Mint has proudly produced coins for over 75 countries and maintaining and expanding our international business through superior quality and customer service remains a top priority,” said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint.

The recent contracts include:

  • Production of one-cent circulation coins for the ECCB.  This represents a re-order for this denomination, with the ECCB being a customer of the Mint’s since 2008.  The ECCB is the monetary authority of a group of eight independent Caribbean nations, namely namely Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Production of five-cent circulation coins for the Central Bank of Barbados.  The Mint has been proudly working with the Central Bank of Barbados since 1978.
  • A first-ever numismatic coin contract with the Centrale Bank van Curacao en Sint Maarten to produce painted nickel-silver coins to celebrate the 4th edition of the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival, which took place at the end of August.

The Royal Canadian Mint offers foreign customers a full spectrum of coin manufacturing and consulting services; from the production of circulation numismatic coins; ready-to-strike blanks; medals, medallions and tokens; to coin distribution management, marketing and communications, and technology transfers.

About the Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown Corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada’s circulation coins. An ISO 9001-2008 certified company, the Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, offering a wide range of specialized, high quality coinage products and related services on an international scale. For more information on the Mint, its products and services, visit www.mint.ca.

SOURCE: Royal Canadian Mint

(MNT. MNT.U.)

HBO Negotiations with WestStar TV Reach an Impasse

WestStar continues its unauthorized interception and rebroadcast of HBO programming

MIAMI, Oct. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Negotiations between HBO Latin America and Cayman Islands cable television operator WestStar TV have reached an impasse, after WestStar management did not accept HBO’s proposals that would have legalized WestStar’s rebroadcast of HBO programming under a licensing agreement with HBO LA.

“We had hoped that after we explored every possible business scenario with WestStar’s management, they would recognize their violation of international intellectual property rights and would have seen an end to WestStar’s unauthorized interception and rebroadcast of HBO programming in the Cayman Islands,” said Miguel Oliva, Vice President for Public Relations and Corporate Affairs at HBO Latin America.

WestStar was reported to have temporarily suspended HBO programming broadcasts for several days after receiving official notification that it lacked the consent and authorization of the copyright owners of the programming to legally distribute the broadcasts. Since then, the signal has been restored under the same non-ethical process. HBO Latin America will continue to pursue WestStar for its ongoing intellectual property rights violations by all means available and through any appropriate regulatory body in the Cayman Islands, the U.S. and Great Britain.

“We are hopeful that the Cayman Islands Government and the local regulatory authority will recognize that local companies such as WestStar should not be allowed to operate in this manner as it is affecting the island’s standing and reputation in the international business community,” said Oliva.  “We intend to pursue this matter with the newly elected government and remain confident that we may still avoid litigation, though HBO will pursue all legal options to enforce its rights and those of the copyright owners.”

HBO Latin America is proud of its licensed and authorized Cayman Islands partners, LIME and Logic, who offer world class HBO and MAX programming to their subscribers with the authority and license of the copyright owners.

About HBO Latin America

HBO Latin America is the premium television network leader that, in addition to being recognized for the quality and diversity of its original programming, films and documentaries, also provides services with the highest technology in SD and HD formats in more than 24 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean through its channels HBO, HBO2, HBO Signature, HBO Plus, HBO Family, HBO Caribbean, HBO On Demand, HBO GO, Cinemax, MAX and MaxPrime.

Cummins Power South names Tess Truck & Equipment Sales and Services as an official Cummins Power Generation dealer in the Bahamas

ATLANTA, Oct. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – In April of this year, Cummins Power South announced plans for the expansion of its Cummins Power Generation business in the Caribbean.  A vital part of the Caribbean expansion focuses on partnering with local businesses in the area to provide customers with Cummins world class support and exceptional service.  Cummins Power South is pleased to announce Tess Truck & Equipment Sales and Services as the official Cummins Power Generation dealer in the Bahamas.

Tess Truck & Equipment Sales and Services has been in business since the early 1970s providing industrial vehicles and equipment to the Bahama islands through their flagship of Bahamas Mack.   Expanding upon their product offering, Tess Truck & Equipment Sales and Services will now provide the full line of Cummins Power Generation products from residential and light commercial generators to commercial generator sets and power systems.  As the infrastructure in the Bahamas continues to grow, Tess Truck & Equipment Sales & Services, with the support of Cummins Power South, will help meet the energy needs of expanding industries such as healthcare, hospitality, government and water management as well as supply dependable backup emergency power for residential homes and communities throughout the islands.  Tess Truck & Equipment Sales and Services will serve as the main source of Cummins Power Generation sales and service, offering legendary Cummins service as the only certified Cummins Power Generation dealer in the Bahamas.

Detailed information on Cummins Power South and the expansion in the Bahamas may be obtained by visiting the company’s website at www.cumminspowersouth.com/bahamas/ .

Established in 2006, Cummins Power South, LLC is a joint venture distributorship within the Cummins North American Distributor System. Cummins Power South specializes in the sales and service of all Cummins engines, generators and related products within Georgia, Florida, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, as well as selected areas of the Caribbean.  Cummins Power South is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) with service locations in Atlanta, Albany, Augusta, Gainesville, Savannah, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Ocala, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Chattanooga, TN. Additional information about the company may be found at www.cumminspowersouth.com

2nd Annual PanAfrican Entrepreneurs Conference to Convene in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic over Thanksgiving Holiday

Sister Organization of the National Black Chamber of Commerce Brings Entrepreneurs Together in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for Three Days of Extraordinary Networking

NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The second annual PanAfrican Entrepreneurs Conference (PAEC) will convene at the luxurious, all-inclusive Paradisus Palma Real Golf and Spa Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  The conference will be held over the US Thanksgiving holiday, from November 28 to December 1, 2013.

Amongst the invitees are American and foreign business and government officials ready to share insights on some of the conference’s key topics. These hot topics will range from intellectual property, trade secrets, and currency exchange issues to analyzing the anatomy of an international scam and more. “The mission of PAEC is to create an arena for entrepreneurs and business people within the Black Diaspora to meet and further business connections,” says Kay DeBow, president of PAEC, adding that “discussions will consist of policy improvements and issue awareness that will benefit the status of black entrepreneurs internationally.”

PAEC’s project strategies are to promote, help develop and expose procurement opportunities for entrepreneurs. These opportunities include:  infrastructure, energy, water management, agri-business, telecommunications, fashion, logistics, transportation, healthcare, environmental management, bidding/tender/RFP management, IT, and rare minerals.

Conference participants will learn about innovative capital formation through various avenues such as the World Bank, IMF, Export Import Bank, Hermes, Asian Development Bank, Equity Funding, European Union, and others.  Proud of the innovative techniques being showcased at the conference, Harry C. Alford, president/CEO of National Black Chamber of Commerce comments, “Several attendees possess the capacity to fund projects through BOTs (build-operate-transfer) and BOOTs (build-own-operate-transfer) and therefore do not require any investment assistance.”

Entrepreneurs in attendance will be integral to an international discussion on trade policy formation. This discussion will include: AGOA oversight, tariffs and duty relief, US Corrupt Practices Act, best practices in foreign business, DR-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and implications of Whole Foods, General Electric and Walmart in Africa.

This event is open to the public.  Reserve your suite now, early bird discount rates will expire September 30 and October 26 is the final deadline to register at www.panafricanec.org. Conference registration is free, and all food, beverages, gratuities, greens fees, nightly shows and beach activities are included in the hotel suite rate.

UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITION AWARDED TO NOTED ARCHITECT RODNEY LEON TO HONOR VICTIMS OF SLAVERY AND THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE

The Winning “Ark of Return” Permanent Memorial Announced By Secretary-General

Ban Ki-moon During Special Ceremony At The United Nations on September 23, 2013

: Judges, Rodney Leon (standing, third from left) and the "Ark of Return," the winning design for the United Nations Permanent Memorial in Honor of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. (Photo: DPI/the U.N.)

Memorial designer Rodney Leon (standing, third from left) along side judges next to model of the “Ark of Return,” the winning design for the United Nations Permanent Memorial in Honor of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. (Photo: DPI / the U.N.)

CaribPR Wire, NEW YORK, NY (September 24, 2013) – Rodney Leon Architects announced its winning design of the International Competition for the Permanent Memorial at the United Nations as a significant symbol to remember and honor the victims of slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  The United Nations’ theme for the competition, “Acknowledge the Tragedy, Consider the Legacy, Lest We Forget,” formed the inspiration for Rodney Leon’s winning design entitled The Ark of Return.  Leon’s winning design expresses the cross-cultural and global impact of the slave trade, while honoring those who have died and those who have shared their struggle.

The international competition garnered 310 entrants from 83 countries.  A panel of internationally acclaimed design professionals, artists, and other relevant stakeholders served as jurors. Haitian-American Leon was unanimously chosen from among seven finalists representing countries including China, Columbia, Finland, France, Italy, Portugal and the United States. The competition was launched two years ago by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with support from the UN Department of Public Information’s Remember Slavery Programme, and Member States from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union.  Jamaica serves as Chairman of the Permanent Memorial Committee.

A special Unveiling Ceremony was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 23, 2013 to recognize the competition’s finalists and officially announce Leon’s winning design. Notable presenters and guests included: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal; Mr. John W. Ashe, President of the 68th session of the General Assembly; Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica; Arnold Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jamaica; Pierre Richard Casimir, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion of Haiti; UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova; and Mr. Courtenay Rattray, Chair, Permanent Memorial Committee.

Commenting on winning this groundbreaking competition, Leon noted, “It’s a privilege to have been chosen by the International Design Competition Panel of Judges to honor victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.  I designed The Ark of Return memorial as a sacred space to psychologically and spiritually transport visitors to the United Nations to a place where acknowledgement, education, reflection and healing can take place.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the memorial “will serve as a reminder of the bravery of those slaves, abolitionists and unsung heroes who managed to rise up against an oppressive system, fight for their freedom and end the practice.”

The memorial’s exterior form is constructed in a fashion to reflect the image of a vessel or ship in acknowledgement of the millions of African people transported on slave ships to different parts of the world during the “Middle Passage.”  Images of maps depicting the “Triangular Slave Trade” influenced the use of the triangle as a primary element in designing the memorial’s shape. The memorial is conceptually also organized in three parts and visitors are meant to pass through The Ark of Return to intimately experience three primary elements on the interior space.

Native New Yorker Rodney Leon, the founder and principal of Manhattan-based Rodney Leon Architects PLLC, has an architectural background as a designer on a diversity of projects including memorials, housing, churches and cultural institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Leon received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute School of Architecture and his Masters of Architecture from Yale University. As a graduate student, he served as a teaching assistant for the eminent African art historian professor Robert Farris Thompson and after graduation spent time living and working in the Ivory Coast, West Africa.  Among Leon’s various honors and accolades, in 2005 he was awarded the prestigious commission for design and construction of the African Burial Ground Memorial in New York City, which is the only National Monument in the United States dedicated to the contributions of people of African descent.

As a first generation Haitian-American, Leon is also an active supporter of philanthropic causes benefiting Haiti. He is a founding Board Director of The Haitian Roundtable and serves as a lecturer, media expert and presenter on the subject of Haiti’s reconstruction since the January 2010 earthquake.

For more information regarding the Permanent Memorial at the United Nations to honor victims of slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, please visit www.unslaverymemorial.org.  For more information regarding the award-winning work of Rodney Leon Architects, please visit www.rodneyleon.com

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Dominica Hotelier Issues Third Letter To Four Prime Ministers On LIAT Crisis

CaribPR Wire, PORSTMOUTH, Dominica, Fri. Sept. 13, 2013: Dominica hotelier, Gregor Nassief, has issued a third letter to LIAT, this time to the shareholders of LIAT, the Hon. Prime Ministers Dr. Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Freundel Stuart of Barbados, Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines calling for them to “take ownership” of the airline and the crisis. The letter calls for them to “act in the interest of your citizens, your visitors and your economies” and to “break the cycle of perpetual unaccountability.”  The public complaint is enclosed for publication.

September 13, 2013

Honourable Dr. Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda

Honourable Freundel Stuart of Barbados

Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica

Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

LIAT (1974) LTD

V.C. Bird International Airport

P O Box 819

Coolidge

Antigua

Dear Shareholder Prime Ministers:

Re:  Take Ownership

My letters of August 11th and August 19th to the LIAT Board and Chairman respectively were written after LIAT’s worse crisis in its 56-year history had stretched into its third month with no clear explanation of the crisis and with no one accepting responsibility despite clear indications of management and planning errors.  It was on that basis that I called for “heads to roll.”   As the crisis now stretches into its fourth month (see latest list of incidents attached) the calls for transparency and accountability have grown louder but remain unanswered.

As the effective “owners” of LIAT, the final decision lies with you.  You can follow the path of LIAT’s leadership and ignore the calls for transparency and accountability or you can take ownership and act in the interest of your citizens, your visitors and your economies.

Perpetual unaccountability

Your CEO’s explanations of the crisis have included a long list of issues (unscheduled maintenance, crew shortages, bad weather, airport limitations, delays in obtaining licenses for operating the new ATR aircraft in some territories, and a dire financial situation due to failure by your governments to deliver on committed finance, difficulty in selling Dash-8 aircraft and a 10 per cent decline in revenue).  He has taken no direct responsibility for the crisis and admitted to no errors, laying the blame on God and You.

In a brazen act of self-preservation and back scratching, your CEO has rejected a call from many, including the Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), for an independent investigation into the crisis, choosing instead a “full post-mortem on what went wrong,” the objective of which would also be to reward staff for their “heroic duties and human service.”  And those who “dropped the ball” would be identified “for counseling or better training.”

If after a crisis as deep and wide as this, your CEO is allowed to get away with blocking an independent investigation (in which he would surely be the primary target) and throwing some niceties at staff (in order to calm a revolt), then it surely explains the culture of unaccountability that has led to EC$344m in accumulated deficits at the end of 2012 (sure to grow larger in 2013 as a result of the current mess).  Now add to that the gamble of EC$250m+ on the re-fleeting exercise and you end up with a half billion-dollar burden gift-wrapped in perpetual unaccountability that is now your responsibility.

Break the cycle

If no one is ever held accountable, then no matter how bad it is, it doesn’t matter, and so it just keeps getting worst.

As owners, I appeal to you to hold LIAT’s Board and Executive Team to a much higher standard of performance, one that delivers a great customer experience and a solid financial performance.

As owners, I appeal to you to reorganize and restructure the Board of Directors and Executive team and to hold them accountable to achieve the necessary objectives, giving them the autonomy and authority, free from political interference.

As owners, I appeal to you to be owners, to step up and to act in the interest of your citizens, your visitors and your economies and to break the cycle of perpetual unaccountability.

In Closing

As Victor Hugo said, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  The idea that LIAT can be and must be an airline that is well managed and delivers a great customer experience and a solid financial performance has come.  Constant disappointment, dismay and disruption must become a thing of the past.  Half billion-dollar burdens on our treasuries must end.

A culture of perpetual accountability and competent leadership must begin.  Take ownership, usher it in.

It is time to care.  It is time for change.  Heads must roll.

Respectfully Yours,

Gregor Nassief

Owner/Director – Secret Bay

Executive Chairman – Fort Young Hotel

LIST OF INCDENTS

On August 19th, LIAT announced its service would be “boosted” by the return to service of one of its two newly acquired ATR aircraft which was grounded in Barbados for about a week due to a technical issue.  On August 27th, LIAT announced that its operations would be “back to normal.”  While the explanations from the CEO vary on the cause of the crisis, it continues unabated.  Here is a list of incidents from August 19th onward, after the service was supposed to be significantly improved:

Date Flight Number First name Incident
Aug 25th LI 565, SJU to DOM Elise 3 hours & 20 minutes late; most bags did not arrive
Aug 18th LI 560, DOM to SJU Sondra 2 hours late
Aug 23rd LI 509, SXM to DOM Michelle Flight cancelled, arrived following day
Aug 30th LI 560, DOM to SJU Michelle 3 hours late, missed connecting flight
Sep 2nd LI 565, SJU to DOM George Flight cancelled 2 successive days, arrived September 4th – luggage arrived 5th
Sep 3rd LI 565, SJU to DOM Taki Flight cancelled, arrived following day, luggage arrived day after
Aug 19th LI 565, SJU to DOM Sue Cancelled, re-routed to Tortola, had to charter a flight to Dominica
Aug 25th LI 565, SJU to DOM Gail 5 hours and 45 minutes late
Aug 29th LI 565, SJU to DOM James Flight cancelled, arrived following day
Aug 23rd LI 509, SXM to DOM Jeff & Elena Flight cancelled, returned to the US as LIAT could not tell them when they could get to Dominica
Aug 24th LI 565, SJU to DOM Group of 6 5 hours late
Aug 29th LI 509, DOM to POS Gregor Cancelled, rerouted via Tortola, arrived 3 hours and 45 minutes late at 2:50 AM
Aug 28th LI 364, BGI to DOM Robert Flight rerouted and arrived 9 hours late
Aug 28th LI 524, BGI to DOM Jeremy 4 hours and 30 minutes late
Sep 2nd LI 565, SJU to DOM Phillip Flight cancelled 2 successive days, arrived September 4th
Aug 31st LI 560, DOM to SJU Mark, Kurt, Linsday, Adrian, Jennifer, Libby Flight left 7 hours late; they all missed their connection in SJU
Aug 28th LI 509, SXM to DOM Brittany 2 Hour Delay
Sep 2nd LIS 565, SJU to DOM Richard & Sarah Flight cancelled, returned to the US as LIAT could not tell them when they could get to Dominica

18 incidents in less than 3 weeks related to one island and connected to one person (the affected passengers include me and those known to me).

Regarding LIAT 565 on September 2nd mentioned above, please read the incredible story on the following page as told to me by a passenger who witnessed it all.

September 2nd.  LIAT 565.  Eye Witness Account.

Monday September 2nd I was to leave San Juan at 3:00 PM on LIAT 565 to Dominica to arrive at 4:30 PM.  After a series of incredible incidents including the physical assault by a LIAT supervisor of a 15-year-old Dominican boy, we finally arrived to Dominica on September 4th at 2:30 AM in the morning.

Here is what I experienced.

Our flight on the 2nd was cancelled, but the other flight from San Juan to Antigua, LIAT 563, left as scheduled at 3:25 PM.  Several passengers on that flight were actually going to Dominica, but via Antigua, and several passengers on our cancelled flight were going to other destinations, but via Dominica.  We were told to return the following day at 11AM in order to travel to Dominica.

The following day, September 3rd, all passengers arrived as they were requested to, and waited and waited and waited.  Only to see again the LIAT 563 leave to Antigua.  We were told that our flight would come in a couple of hours.  An unbelievable incident occurred on the flight to Antigua.   We witnessed a LIAT supervisor force a paying passenger off LIAT 563 in order to give a seat to a LIAT Pilot who was simply desperate to get home.  The woman was distraught.  September 4th in Dominica is the day schools re-open and her three children were waiting on her back in Dominica.  She explained all of this to the supervisor who simply said “Ma’m, we are taking you off this flight.”  The rest of the passengers were aghast – how could LIAT pull off a passenger that had paid for her ticket in order to give a LIAT employee a free ride back home?

The awaiting passengers, now there for over 24 hours and having seen two planes destined for Antigua leave, became very upset and frustrated.  A young boy from Dominica approached the LIAT supervisor, hit his hand down on the desk and began to demand answers.  He had been cool for the last 24 hours, but he was now frustrated.  After a verbal exchange, the LIAT supervisor slapped him.  None of us could believe it.  He tried to keep his cool and asked her how she could hit him.  She replied that he disrespected her.  The police came, and the Boy’s cousin who was present wanted to press charges (hitting a minor is illegal).  Eventually, she agreed not to but demanded that the police make a report of the incident to protect her cousin in the event that LIAT challenged their version of the story.

It was now stretching into our second night, and we all feared no plane was coming.  Then, apparently, the Puerto Rico authorities, viewing us as a security risk, arranged for a LIAT plane to come to get us.  We boarded at 12:45AM and arrived in Dominica at 2:15 AM in the morning, 30+ hours late.  The many passengers who were traveling via Dominica onto other destinations were now stuck at Melville Hall airport at 2:30 AM with nowhere to go.

I later found out the name of the LIAT supervisor was Ivette Santiago Torres.  I hear heads will be rolling.  Include hers, please.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gregor Nassief is involved in the tourism business in Dominica and the technology business in Latin America.  He is the Owner and Director of Secret Bay, the Executive Chairman of the Fort Young Hotel and the CEO of Tecsys Latin America.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/167821082/Letter-to-LIAT-Shareholders-September-13-2013