Friday, January 26, 2007

Pelerin for President: Setting An Agenda

Greetings to all my Caribbeanists and I want to wish everyone a blessed Carnival season. The picture on the left was taken of me in Port au Prince prior to Karnaval in 1981. Twenty-six years later I'm still walking around with my little satchel, which I guess it goes to show the more things change the more they stay the same.

It has been a hectic two weeks since I announced candidacy for President of the Caribbean. That post left this blog teeming with comments, which led to my computer crashing. Unfortunately I was only able to salvage two of these millions of comments, and they are listed below the previous post.

Many of the emails were from readers asking how could I run for President of the Caribbean if I were no longer living in the Caribbean? As I said to these queries, Brooklyn is the epicenter of the Caribbean. Enclaves of migrants from every island are only a short train-or-bus ride away. If I were to try initiating this much direct contact with my constituents by any other means of travel, I would drain the public finance funds with which you have so earnestly entrusted me. I refuse to take the lead of my United States Presidential counterparts and run a campaign financed by big businesses while claiming to represent the people. This is a Presidential race that I am involved in and not a NASCAR race, therefore corporate sponsorship does not have the same allure.

My Metrocard Campaign Tour is an integral part of my Caribbean agenda. Noticing the rising tide of car traffic on our islands and the effect that this is having on commerce, traveling to work and further inciting wealth disparities, I plan to charter a committee to develop a public transportation system in the caribbean. The goals of the committee will be several-fold: (1) make bike transportation more palatable by creating measures to ensure cyclist safety, (2) provide a tax-incentive for companies to provide group transportation for employees, and (3) this is the most ambitious of all, create a Federal Tap-Tap Commission, which will nationalize our beloved Caribbean Taxis. The goal of this last measure will be to increase the ability of these drivers to service citizens and in return give them better health and personal security support so that they can better do their jobs.

The next two Agenda items are in direct response to the two rescued comments. I have included commenter Georgia's appeal to include the America's Site Feed on this blog and non-blogger members can now post comments.

The other concern brought up in these comments is the issue of "balkanization," and I could not agree with this commenter more. If by "balkanization" she means "colderation" as in worries about environmental and ecological damage that will make the Caribbean cold like the Balkans, I recognize that this is a serious problem for our islands. Along with "balkanization" and "colderation," I would also like to add "flooderation," "wastration" and "tourismserviceration" as primary environmental concerns.

Continued logging in Caribbean mountainsides increases the risk of major flooding in our countries. The initial signs of this are evident in our streets whenever there are large rainstorms, but if something is not done, the risks will only heighten. While it remains to be seen whether the global warming trends in other parts of the world will lead to "balkanization" or "colderation" on our islands, it is important to monitor whether our countries continue reporting milder springs and summers as they did this past year. "Wastration" is tied to "tourismserviceration" but is not part and parcel of our region's reliance on tourism. Tourists cart in a lot of waste, but dispensing of theirs is only problematic because we do not have a sensible plan of discarding of our own waste. If we want to retain our loveliness, then we must address this issue before it leads to any serious public health outbursts. To that end, I will not only have a cabinet level officer in environment manageration, I will make it clear that whoever I select as my vice-presidential candidate will be an expert in this area. Please, no race-horse breeders need to apply to my presidential cabinet, I will not be asleep at the wheel like G. W. Bush.

It will be the top priority of my vice president to set forth an environmental manageration agenda that will enable the Caribbean to thrive in the 21st century. Nothing less will be accepted and this will be the litmus test for whether you will want to choose my VP as the President of the Caribbean after me.

Til next time,


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pelerin for President

United States senator Barack Obama’s recent announcement that he has developed a “exploratory committee” to investigate his chances at a presidential campaign was another major step in what has already proving to be an audacious political career. Obama’s announcement coupled with the recent elevation of singer Wyclef Jean to honorary-international Ambassador for Haiti has prompted me to reconsider my own political aspirations.

In light of these recent announcements, and after careful deliberation with family, friends and advisors, as well as, reading the litany of inspirational comments I receive everyday from the readers of this blog, I am honored to announce that I have decided to run for President of the Caribbean.

You are probably reading this and saying that there is no such office as President of the Caribbean. If not, you are undoubtedly googling said office. Let me spare you the hassle, there is not currently a President of the Caribbean and it is for this very reason that I must pursue this title.

The hundreds of islands making up the Caribbean have survived for far too long without an elected official to oversee the administration of this vast and vital region of the world.

Think about it, we have Caribbean Literature, Caribbean cuisine, and Caribbean cruises, but no Caribbean President. Imagine how confused many tourists must be when they are trying to make up their minds on whether to visit the Caribbean and for the life of them they cannot name the President of the Caribbean. This lack of a Presidential identity undoubtedly instills a sense of uneasiness in many politically conscious would be travelers who when trying to decide whether to visit the Caribbean look up its president in order to discern his political leanings or the political-climate in the country as a whole.

Most importantly, imagine the plight of all the little boys and girls growing up in the Caribbean who grow up listening about the antics of British Prime-Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac or US President George Bush, but who are left without their own Caribbean President.

Well today is the day that I tell all the little Barringtons, Marie-Lourdes and Yesenias throughout the Caribbean that they will soon have a President in whom they can trust.

I cannot be President without my fellow Caribbeanists, so I ask that you please continue sharing your thoughts with me on what will make the Caribbean a better place to live and raise your families.

As we prepare to make history together, and we are doing this together, because I do not simply want to become the first President of the Caribbean, but I want you to want me to become your first Caribbean President, I will need your financial help. Please make your campaign contributions via this link.

Thank you,

This message was sponsored by the Pelerin89 for Caribbean President Election Exploratory Committtee.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wyclef Named Haitian Ambassador

It was bound to happen; Wyclef Jean has been named by Haitian President Rene Preval as a roving Ambassador. Jean's job will be to help promote a positive image of the country abroad.

Here's the BBC article on the announcement:

Wyclef becomes Haiti 'ambassador'
Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean travelled to Haiti last month to give a free concert
Rap star Wyclef Jean has been made a roving ambassador for Haiti to improve its image abroad.

He was appointed to the role by Haitian President Rene Preval as "our best asset to promote the country's image around the world".

Jean was born in Haiti but moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York, when he was nine years old.

He already runs his own foundation, Yele Haiti, to aid what is the poorest country in the Americas.

"We wish we could have several Wyclefs because the country could have gained so much," Foreign Affairs Minister Renald Clerisme told Reuters.

Mr Preval has been joined by Jean on a three-day visit to the island of Jamaica.

Jean, 34, gained fame as a member of the hip hop trio The Fugees, who won Grammys in 1996 for their album The Score and single Killing Me Softly.

This year he has been nominated for a best pop collaboration Grammy for his performance with Shakira on the hit Hips Don't Lie.

Haiti's government credits Jean with successfully lobbying the US Congress for a "passage of a trade" bill expected to help create textile manufacturing jobs in Haiti.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Haitian Kidnappings Part Deux

On December 27th The Miami Herald provided another account of the upsurge in kidnappings afflicting Haiti at the moment. Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles's article reiterates the mounting concern that children have become the primary targets of the kidnappers on the island. This development is particularly alarming as school's are gradually re-opening after the holidays. By January 8th all schools in Haiti should have returned from winter recess, but it remains to be seen whether families will feel safe sending their children back to school admidst this harrowing climate.

Charles's article interrogates the idea that these kidnappings are an attempt at destabilizing Rene Preval's government. The synchronization required to conduct this spate of child abductions is one of the reasons that some believe that these kidnappings are a deliberate effort at undermining any possibility for stability in the country.

It remains to be seen exactly how calculated these kidnappings really are. To the outside observer they still ring like copycat crimes, a perverted approach to acquiring quick cash for many. Indeed these crimes do undermine Haiti's political stability, but no more than the poverty and limited economic opportunities for young people that has arguably allowed kidnapping to fester as a viable money-making option.

Whatever the cause, nothing can relieve families like that of the recently murdered Natacha Farah Kerbie Dessources, the central figure in Charles's article, of the pain and suffering that they are enduring. Dessources, a 20 year old student who was murdered in spite of the fact that her family paid the kidnapper's ransom, reveals the unpredictability of these kidnappings. Many Haitians have always reserved a modicum of hope of saving their loved ones if they paid the ransom, but Dessources's murder provides evidence that this unspoken agreement is not as tenable as it at first seemed. Her mother's pain also iterates that while for the country and politicians these kidnappings may be a black eye, for family members of these kidnapping victims these random acts of violence are gruesomely painful reminders of what has yet to be settled.

The Nightshift Chronicler

Michele Montas Named Spokeswoman for Ban Ki-moon

The New York Times reported today Ban Ki-moon, the United Nation's newly elected Secretary General replacing Kofi Annan has hired Haitian Journalist Michele Montas as his spokeswoman. Montas who has prior experience working in the UN, serving as the spokeswoman for the President of the General Assembly, is better known for her active role as a journalist and radio broadcaster in Haiti. Working alongside her husband, fellow Haitian journalist Jean Dominique who was assassinated in April 2000, Montas was one of the most strident dissident voices in Haiti during the 1980s and 90s.

Montas was also one of the producers of Jonathan Demme's documentary, The Agronomist, which depicted the life of Jean Dominique and his career at Radio Haiti-Inter, the radio station that he founded.

In addition working as a journalist, Montas has been a human rights activist and consistent international lecturer on Haiti.