More men ought to recognize pink in October

Let’s talkPart I

Our health is more than once a year during October walk, run and wearing pink. It is supporting families who may have lost a loved one, still battling, or survived, and raising more funds for research to find a cure.

October is also when countless women gathered in pink across the globe from all races, cultures, and economic backgrounds to educate the public through multiple awareness platforms.

It is not about girls’ power-grabbing, as one friend expressed. Simply put, it is to eliminate a silent killer called, “Breast Cancer, and men get it too.”

Cancer remains a personal issue and not a water cooler conversation, and I believe more men must establish a bond to educate themselves about their medical problems.

This issue does not need waiting until a prominent person comes forward to take a closer look at our bodies- (man’s parts).

When the “Me-Too” movement against sexual harassment and assaults gained traction, many men surrendered their influential positions. Some went silent, and it convicted a few for their terrible behavior. Although some denied and minimized their actions; what this topic has achieved, it created more awareness.

But irrespective of the opinions made; “consciousness” is key in any society to develop new road maps for a more adequate quality standard of living that include; physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, freedom, environment, and safety.

This silent killer affects dudes too

Awareness is key in any civilized society that often led to significant changes, and we should collaboratively develop an understanding of ourselves in many areas.

Even though male breast cancer is very rare, medical reports have shown that around 350 males are diagnosed each year and it is also affecting adolescents and not only men between ages 60 and 70. Early detection remains the key and essential examinations might save lives.

Because men do not wear a bra or have breasts like women, it does not eliminate men from getting breast cancer, and this stigma must be debunked.

It is a malignant tumor that starts from cells of the breast, according to medical experts. “A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that may invade surrounding tissues or metastasize to other areas of the body.”

If you are reading this opinion, I am not a celebrity who was diagnosed with the disease to influence a doctor’s visit within the next 24 hours. However, I have family members and a friend of a friend, who died from this disease.  

Photo by RODNAE Productions

Part II Know the signs and ask questions

Sadly, if you have less access to a good and affordable health care system, changes are you may be one of several families still searching for answers as to the exact cause of death for a loved one. 

The medical profession classifies breast cancer symptoms as, “swelling of nipples, discharge, rashes around the boob. It is also where millions of cells and hormones are found in boys and girls during puberty, swelling of the chest area or lymph nodes under the arms.

Frequently, when some patients realized this disease, it has already entered its terminal stage. Not everyone possesses the financial means to leave their local communities to get excellent treatment.

Simply replacing the word “Women Issues” with “Men Issues,” predominantly black men, several other social-economic topics will dominate like, criminal justice, higher unemployment rate, poverty, violence, less access to healthcare. Nevertheless, like many subjects today, it starts with awareness.

R.D.

According to the International Journal of Caring Science and other leading oncologic care studies, males are at a more minimal risk than women for breast cancer. However, it remains high, especially for men with a history of the testicular complaint, and ones with a genetic predisposition, radiation, excessive alcohol use, liver disease, and obesity.”

Scholars additionally noted that cancer was associated with and considered as a “lady” disease which affected their woman’s parts, the breast, and womb.” And that belief remains a dangerous weapon against one’s health issues.

Often beneath that tough-guy image, he needs your support. Few men would openly admit they relied on Viagra for sexual dysfunction because self-confidence was as important as his influence. This attitude sometimes forces some from visiting even women doctors or to take part in pink or a walk to generate more awareness.

Quietly, tackling men’s breast cancer and other medical issues remains a taboo woven in social stratification, illiteracy, and medical disparities

Many leading Cancer Society lists a few basic questions your doctors should ask:

  • Do you have breast pain?
  • Do you have a lump?
  • Nipple retraction, or skin changes?

How equipped is your doctor?

How knowledgeable is your doctor?

Where he or she received their training?

The success rate of treating this disease or any other?

Collaboration with other practitioners?

Do you have an external evaluation of your labs?

The International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) has developed standards that many countries have adopted, and some of these rural facilities could implement more rigorous oversights along these shores in the delivery of competence services.

The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) report that people of color suffer from a more elevated rate of being affected by this disease including other cancers.

Part III- Access to good and affordable health care saves lives

The ongoing debates between cost and quality of care, and how many patients’ life savings have been depleted by years of medical office visits without the precise answer?

In many communities today, access to proper healthcare remains a wall between the haves vs. have nots. The lack of social obligation by several elected leaders whose economic agenda in all political parties failed to confer inadequacies, and where under-funding of critical facilities only added more burden.

The lack of accountability, resources, and the sheer number of people in the care of one doctor, and the high cost of treatment to accurate referrals can also deter others from seeking medical attention. This erodes confidence for those who are still in the shadow.

In many poverty-stricken and developing countries, often distrust, distance to adequate facilities are like the high rate of unsolved crimes in a closed files. These patients frequently try alternative medicine, not only for breast cancer but other diseases.

Failing to recognize professional limitations can cause other barriers, such as correct medical equipment to diagnose these symptoms to well-trained staff is important. And they must address the idea of upfront payments before they can admit one. In addition, extended waiting period to be seen or admitted for treatment, why bother to show up,” one person argues.

Equally significant, an attestation that decent treatment is being administered should be more important than profit, as personal ethics should not conflict with care and accountability. Misdiagnosis or delayed treatment only creates more questions when one dies.

In these tragic events, many upset families left with questions. Many said they were abandoned by the system surrounding when a loved one dies. To prevent these medical erosions, it starts with an accurate analysis to make sure they provide precise answers to build confidence in many of these medical systems; especially in impoverished communities.

Today, many families are not exactly certain if it was cancer, heart attack, malpractice, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, or the prescribed medicine. As experts cautioned that some prescriptions can develop an addiction that may have led to the cause of death and not what is recorded on a death certificate.

In order prevent these medical erosions, it starts with an accurate analysis to make sure they provide correct answers.

Part IVBuilding a brotherhood for early detection.

This very day, I believe that more men should pause; regarding their health, create a brotherhood to fight against breast cancer and other diseases that can provide a platform to engage and not isolate from fear.

Furthermore, create similar approaches, such as the one used to advance local political leaders’ agendas that often failed to address their needs and overall quality of life. Therefore, schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable physician.

Embrace even if today’s medical check will be carried out by a woman doctor. The local home-grown and self-medication may reduce symptoms, but it will not cure this disease, and many others men will face in our lifetime.

Male Breast Cancerawareness and beyond the nipples

Men’s health, in general, will continue to endure challenges navigating the socio-economic divide, taboo, disparities distrust, and access, and breast cancer is not the only potential medical check that should be on your list this year:

This October and beyond, I urge people to take a stand for good health: Colon cancer, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, mental health, heart disease, and other illnesses.

Despite the barriers for people who are uninsured and are less likely to receive medical care and more likely to have poor health status, as studies have shown, there are few excellent physicians tucked away in many small communities.

They may be limited because of resources, but they play a critical role where early detection that is critical in saving lives, and unnecessary financial burden often when it is too late to reverse course.

Finally, allow the doctor to acknowledge your concerns even if it only makes up a psychological intervention until the next exam.

The next Father’s Day gift may be to accompany a loved one to the doctor.

Regardless of socio-economic status, race, culture, religious belief, gander, location, we are all linked and cancer does not discriminate.

COVID-19: Vaccine, Politics, Socio-Economics and are some Caribbean islands pricing themselves out of a return visit?

The Hidden Engine:

The Caribbean tourist industry has been its economic engine. It is the most tourist-dependent in the world according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). For some islands experts also noted that tourism accounts for upwards of 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives

Since COVID-19, travel spending has suffered an unprecedented 42% annual decline (roughly $500 billion) from 2019. International travel and business travel had the sharpest declines, and experts have noted spending fell 76% and business travel spending fell about 70 percent.

Several decades ago, manufacturing areas like sugar, banana, coffee, poultry, and bauxite; played a key role in sustaining the economy. These jobs were the balance between the service economy that provided what established the middle class.

Sadly, many were sold to foreign investments; and many jobs moved elsewhere because of globalization and the development of technology. These investments also followed cheap labor and better tax incentives like tax breaks, grants, reduced costs of opening or expanding a business facility, and free job training.

The companies that remained for about a decade were no longer competitively priced or folded due to massive imports, poor management, and reduced production.

These closures affected communities from local stores, restaurants, bars, and street vendors who depended on these operations. It has increased unemployment, widen the gap between the haves vs haves-nots; especially for the dominant Caribbean islands like Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Haiti, Dominica, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other parts of Latin America who were already looking for an economic booster shot.

It has created an extremely social divide, that made it worse for generation by a generation where poverty and inequality have been on the rise regardless of the political side in power. It seems today, more charity organizations asking for aids rather than a platform to develop innovation for the next generation who will be key to the sustainability of these shores.

Taking from Peter to Pay Paul:

Globally, there is an increase in commodities; prices of home building materials even for preparation for school since the pandemic. Additionally, supply chains contributed to increased volatility in import, export, and producer price many leading economic data have shown.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska



COVID-19 has caused an economic shock three times worse than the 2008 financial crisis, economists notes. But nations who were unprepared suffered the more. Though many blame their ongoing financial problems on lock-down, it is not the sole issue.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there are reports of enormous fare hikes from taking a local taxi from an airport to a hotel lodging. Sadly, it seems to represent an opportunity for prior lost revenue and will discourage future trips, especially for budget-stricken travelers.

A simple COVID-19 test few argued as required or visiting and departing typically run between 20-35 US dollars. I have spoken to recent travelers who visited Jamaica that it can cost about US$80.00, and that varies depends on the location to get back on a flight.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch

Another traveler complained that while at airport checkout custom fined her for items because she may have forgotten to take off a sale tag. For several natives going on vacation, it is not unusual to purchase a new set of clothing.

These connected visitors often purchased items also to be given away or returned if not worn. Even a few extra boxes of protected masks to support aunt Jane is being seen as a business trip. In addition, reports items missing after inspection of luggage to clear check out.

Reports have shown excursion trips almost double in cost. Some of these businesses were already struggling financially before the pandemic. It is like you are simply paying for others who are hesitant to travel.

Despite the pandemic risk, some will continue to travel due to heritage, cultural connections, while others just need a mental break.

These deep-roots vacationers’ trips to an authentic small restaurant tucked away on a lovely rural hillside or a small beach shop away from the populated areas with an aunt, grandparents, uncle, or siblings play a pivotal role in the off-the-grid economy disposable income.

Vacation is also beyond the beach and now into urban centers, taking in historic sites and cultural events.  Travel reports have shown there was a growing influx of travelers in places like Europe and North America, and part of ASIA before COVID-19.

Photo by riciardus

Visiting and spending out of protected tourist zones is like direct remittance, where countries like Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Jamaica alone accounted for almost ($10 Billion USD) annually according to IOM UN Migration.

A delicate balance:

The pandemic has created tension in the local communities where government officials struggle on what businesses should remain open or close temporarily. Health ministers also argued many visitors to the region were not adhering to the safety protocol, and I believe they should.

Managing the number of incoming visitors some of whom may not have been vaccinated and the local economic impact is a delicate topic. This pandemic has put leadership decisions between a rock and a hard place. It is a balancing act closing the local economy because others will die from the lack of an economic vaccine.

R.D.

Even though many locals have complied from social distancing, wear masks, and are vaccinated, frustration continues. Some argued that locals are being locked down, while visitors are allowed to move freely and party.

The lack of consistency in local guidelines, from what business will be closed, or street will be blocked to enforce curfews to the type of transportation allowed to operate only add to the frustration.

Many argue it seems leaders are utilizing these times of fear, anxiety, and economic uncertainty to gently push in a direction to gain despotic political power through restrictions. Though it may not be a push to reduce democracy; freedom only comes through knowledge, and reasonableness is only possible if talk achieves consensus. 

COVID-19 survival is like an underground business operation. It is a balancing act navigating the pandemic risk for their economic viability. So, many people march to their drumbeat.

Those who are well-connected, wealthy, politicians and who can afford to self-quarantine, healthcare access, and more than likely already vaccinated; often seem to be the ones who are jabbing fingers and scorned at those who break curves rules, or demonstrating crying for help.

Overcrowding at a local hospital

Some locals are concerned that the healthcare systems had already been struggling in keeping up with critical needs. Additionally, while this surge pushing hospitals to the brink with the worst still likely ahead, the pandemic has exposed its inefficiency, from limited bed space to overcrowding to mitigate this pandemic and other key issues before the outbreak.

Despite the blame game, and people who still traveling, I believe anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 or has other medical issues and is aware of potential medical hurdles would not risk their lives to navigate a few islands’ healthcare systems.

Another shot not in the arm.

Sadly, many politicians in these impoverished and developing counties are like dealers in a casino; they always come out ahead; including other well-connected people. They are salaried employees on the people’s taxes and the impact of this pandemic is less severe.

On top of a fragile economy; local communities coughing up an economic virus that had already been dormant just waiting on a strain to be reactivated. The pandemic has put the region’s governance under the microscope and exposed the fragile labor force and the poor.

Photo by Julia Volk

For decades, it looks like leaders have been playing poker economics where no one knows the outcome of the hand dealt, expecting and promising a more reliable hand each election cycle since independence from once colonial rule.

Today, many educated students are waiting to join a list of call centers with high student loans and limited job opportunities. The idea of purchasing a small house off the grid from a modest job is becoming more challenging.

Some reports show three out of four youths are unemployed. Many students are not achieving the critical academic requisite from the lack of resources, even heading back to the classrooms that were already overcrowded.

Yes, with high unemployment and undervalued currency, dwindling middle class, and increased poverty is breeding added violence from robberies, murders, and criminal assaults.

Generally, any increase in price on basic goods and services such as; bus fare, taxes, groceries, fuel, or government services, and if wages remain stagnant and have not budged in decades, families must cut back somewhere.

Often especially for basic food supplies, prices can vary from the adjacent store a few steps away, with little enforcement only adds to the economic struggles.

Several reports have shown nearly nine in ten voters say they are concerned about inflation, the rising cost of living, and limited job prospects and financial uncertainties have created more economic fever and financial strokes.

What next?

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been meeting to discuss a global coordinated partnership on the impact of the Coronavirus on world travel and tourism, according to reports, but who is at the table for the impoverished nations?

Photo by August de Richelieu

With the cost of living increasing globally, the pandemic remains unpredictable, more young people are becoming infected in the region and dying.

Many communities are not even close to a first dosage, where access to the poor, frequently seen through the eyes of politics can be difficult, while others are on the second, or even getting close to a third.

There are reports of people still refusing to be vaccinated. However, I believe that there are no more valid excuses for not being vaccinated other than health reasons.

Many impoverished people who were already left out of the economy instantly feeling the brunt of an outsider; especially the ones who refuse to be vaccinated. It seems they are the ones should be rounded up like slaves when they voiced their concerns.

Often reaching out with a small support group with a conversation about the vaccine may help some hesitancy due to people’s conflict with religious ideology, distrust of their leaders, or ignorance.

Nurses, doctors, and scientists are key in public health awareness and dispelling myths communicating with and educating patients and caregivers about the benefits of vaccination and vaccine safety.

One hope is that access to this vaccine, does not become for sale or used as a political platform for future election votes across some of these shores, and elsewhere.


The sun will rise again on these shores, and if people follow the science and recommendations, it may lead to less need for targeted price hikes.

Photo by Jonathan Petersson

There must be a balance where everyone can navigate this recent significant change; support each other regardless of your political views, locals, incoming and departing visitors working collectively where no one felt left out or pressured to have a sense of normalcy.

See you again soon!

COVID-19: The long-term socio-economic gap facing poor and developing countries.

BY R.D. Miller

The humanity of education:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious implications beyond the spread of the illness itself and efforts to quarantine or social distancing. Many have lost their jobs, companies have closed or sales have gone down. With over a million people die and another 70 million infected and rising, there are several untold and unseen consequences.  

coronavirus under the microscope.

Unfortunately, many lower-income families in impoverished communities in poor and developing countries do not have access to the global space of learning to rebound on par with the rest of the rich counties, states, school districts. Several classrooms already needed an upgrade before the pandemic.

Many are already crowded, low performance, old run-down buildings deemed unsafe for both children and teachers; including a high student-teacher ratio. In some of these school systems, students had to attend schools in morning and afternoon shifts.

Though it is not an effortless task, the pandemic has exposed how fragile economies were, and the lack of focus on the educational system before the pandemic.

Experts noted these students will miss out on face-to-face socialization process critical to the child’s development, as until this global health pandemic, run its course.

Reports have shown several schools who conducted classes following the guidelines of social distancing and mask, later had to close from new infections. In addition, these schools have the resources, from proper ventilation, adequate classroom size.

While discussions between communities about what is the best course of action to mitigate the effects of science, politics, vaccination and resources regarding fair distribution. The reality for many impoverished nations this remains a complex issue, and where some may not or have a classroom to return because of the lack the critical resources.

Photo by Pixabay

Besides that, many will refuse the vaccine for cultural, religious reasons and a history of distrust in fear of being used for its development. However, hidden between the clinical trials, vaccination, hesitations, death toll, and infections that have been increasing; hunger, poverty, and starvation is killing millions, and this crisis seems to have taken a back seat or being overshadowed by many communities

What this pandemic has taught us is that the educational system is about teaching all regardless of race, sex, creed, culture, or socioeconomic status, and to build a nation and humanity, that will create a change in bringing our society to a perfect union.

Beyond the vaccine, science, and politics.

This forecast looks worse for impoverished nations and though it may not relate to a teacher’s engagement in this new normal distance learning, hybrid, but behind a camera, computer screen tucked away on a kitchen counter, at a cafe, or a corner office, and beyond the articles, opinions, COVID-19 occupy two different worlds.

While there have been political debates and promises about the COVID-19 stimulus package, or money distributed as reported in certain areas that lasted a trip to a local grocery store, and where elections have been won or lost because of pandemic management.

Unfortunately, many politicians are adept at winning elections, and then they learn the difference between campaigning and governing. Government is about accomplishing things, and usually a lot harder than being a politician. Some have limited skills, and we give them more tasks than they can do.

We have seen several political leaders issued tablets in many of these poor and developing regions, and it is a step in the promising direction, but that is where it stops. There is no access to the internet or resources to pay for access.

Technology experts noted though they may provide access regarding learning from a remote location, it lacks a keyboard, mouse, low processor, and limited research capabilities to work on projects. There are many young students out of the classroom and on to the streets to find their way. 

Poverty is like a dial-up speed to upload and download life’s journey, and it has held many students back.  It is a fact that COVID-19 has already shown signs that it is affecting school achievement, as experts have noticed. Reports have shown students since COVID-19 failing at an alarming rate. A recent test assessment showed lower scores for math, reading, and science.

The economic reality that cannot be masked

Before COVID-19, many poor and developing countries were struggling and risking high tides across the treacherous ocean as refugees to traveling to countries for an economic anchorage in an empty classroom anywhere. These systemic disparities today need a new fiber-optic connection to link hunger, education, and the pandemic into a single package on a long-term social contract like what they offer with your local cable company, broadband internet, television, and telephone.

Photo by Ahmed akacha

The middle class has equally been deeply affected, and the dreadful long-term reality of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty is appalling, as they expected poverty to increase, according to the World Bank. The report shows that between 70 and 80 million people will fall into more profound poverty. There were significant pre-pandemic disparities in many areas, like education, employment, and access to good, affordable health care.

On-campus or not?

In contrast to rich school districts that have adopted an excellent strategy with resources, new technology platforms, improved speed, computers, and uninterrupted access, virtual, in-classroom, or hybrid.

These wealthy districts’ parents often are more engaged, have the flexibility, and connection that can influence the next learning platforms that suit their schedules. And though there are concerns about students and teacher safety, as evidenced by the demonstration lines with the teachers and their union, that normally settles with the school’s budget.

On the other side of the city, even with access, this pandemic has devastated many families; especially minorities, people of color who have lost many families because of this disease. The healthcare disparities have caused more deaths in these communities, and whether online or in class, it will not fill the emotional sadness and gaps from any new classroom format.

Who will be there to comfort a student who may have to cope with a deceased parent or another family member to the disease? The fact is, COVID-19 already created a wider gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Unquestionably, students missed their senior proms, hanging out with friends, homecoming, and sports, as experts noted, critical to the student’s social and emotional needs. However, this pandemic will not be measured on these things alone, or political polls, but on the gaps that it will leave in our society.

Besides, the further setbacks in their educational, social, and economic development; a good deal of may not even be vaccinated based on location, and access again will remain a barrier.  The only ones who may come out as the winner are well-connected politicians where questions remain about the accounting of COVID-19 donated funds as reports have shown.

In addition, the investors as shares of pharmaceutical companies skyrocketed, but one still must give credit to the scientist who has been working and got society to this point.

Today’s multiple caps teachers: counselor, technical support, financial resource, attendance advocate

Studies have shown that teachers have a lifelong effect on schoolchildren that help them to believe in themselves, but parents will remain the most influential individuals in a child’s education and development.

COVID-19 has tossed many teachers into this unknown glass room, where everyone watching, hoping to get to know these kids through their gadgets that are often foggy while keeping 20-35 students alert.

The online setting does not provide an ideal platform to recognize all students, unique strengths, weaknesses, and motivation levels critical to keeping them all engaged virtually. However, it is a balance given the risk for new infections as no one knows how it is going to turn out from the vaccine to new variants.

We can argue that these students do not have the responsibility to go to work, the only commitment is to wake up, log in and take part, but I can see how many students’ grades may suffer even if a student had a high grade point average, before the Pandemic.

The personal check-in disguised for a few days

I monitored a few classes over the past three months, and I realized how tough teachers’ roles are in this new normal. Undoubtedly, a bonus for the ones who are mothers with instant access to their children from exposure to COVID-19.  Time again you get that, “I’ll be right back,” wearing two hats, but I understand.

Photo by Bich Tran

Even working in an environment, protecting the public and with the latest technology gadgets, my platform has its ugly days. However, as the week passed, it became more painless, and occasionally someone pops into this visual space, and maybe a school counselor and perhaps from parental feedback.

The students’ opinions that may be formed for a lifetime, may not have any outside discussion from one’s political beliefs, socio-economic status, culture, race, national origin, and how few view other groups, and a misguided history from some of these selective lectures, where it appears key decades in our/their history pains kipped to a much rosier picture in that period.

Some teachers are extremely helpful and understanding, while others, once they complete the slide, please check the folder to reply. What about those who may not have access to a closed online slide from that day’s class to refresh because their connection is away from the comfort of their home at a McDonald’s? 

The question that I kept coming back to, if these sponge brains do not have an outlet at this age in the future to talk about any disagreement, questionable section of these Power Points is critical to their development at lunch, on the playing field, in the hallway walking to a locker.  Let’s hope COVID-19 does not set us farther apart when we are all vaccinated and can return to normal.

Where is mum?

Missing in the debate:  
Employment
Daycare
Slow or No Wi-Fi

These parents deserve more support and resources like community groups. Even to help with an assignment. It’s critical to recognize and respect that every family and child has unique needs. Many parents have become substitute night teachers of the abundance of assignments and emails. If they cannot explain the material being taught, how will they help their child with homework?

The experts also pointed out that parents take note: Kids, teens, college student mental health problems on the rise.

More withdrawn than usual
Eating or sleeping too much or too little;
Getting irritable mood most days
Lack of interest in activities they typically enjoy.

Logging out for the day with concerns, but remain optimistic

Parents must be conscientious of several pop-up learning platforms being sold as an alternative by offering free computers and dedicated support. They must investigate like any sequence-based surveillance, laboratory studies, and epidemiological findings to make sure it does not leave them with an enormous financial burden and it does not prepare the child for the future.

Also, the increase in fishing to lure students from the virtual classroom to inappropriate websites and the best internet security alone cannot monitor these sites.

As society re-balances, I hope this pandemic creates a do-over where everyone can receive a legitimate shot to overcome these systematic gaps. Times are rough now, but if we prepare with a new balanced approach, I remain hopeful because education belongs to humanity and not a country.


Photo Credit: Forbes

Commentary: Jamaica’s self-inflicted wound-By D.R. Miller

By DR Miller

Another Dark Cloud: On Sunday, May 1, 2016, in St Mary Parish, Jamaica the bodies of Harold Nichols, 53, and 48-year-old Randy Hentzel, two US missionaries, were found during what appeared to be a routine missionary mission to one of the nation’s poor rural communities.

Randy and Nichols loved their duties, and were well respected in the community. They were not strangers and have been doing missionary work in Jamaica for over a decade.

Today the nation is wondering what next and how did this happen?

According to the report, these men came from a “Pennsylvania-based Christian charity that seeks to give medical care and spiritual comfort to the people of the Caribbean island nation.”

Sadly, their premature deaths are not breaking news. Jamaica and several other islands have been plagued with ongoing crime and violence including other economic turmoil for decades.

These barbaric ideological killings threaten to erode the perception of other beautiful coastlines. Businesses and leaders are now quickly gauging the image impact, and the economic and emotional impact is causing many to reconsider their travel plans.

Just like a drug addict, several pockets of Jamaica have a severe criminal mentality issues that she must work to overcome immediately. A few parts of that region could use a detox, but with limited resources, and an unwillingness to accept makes this path to rehabilitation more difficult.

This it is not a random act; many have said quietly about an increasingly uncomfortable feeling being viewed like a weak animal in a jungle where a few in disguise wait for an opportunity to attack their prey for their own survival.

How many locally self-made businesspersons have been targeted and killed this year alone not because of any criminal involvement, but a mindset by few who see success as part of the problem.

Looking for Hope: Political strife has annihilated many of the youths, and the leadership from the police commissioner, community leaders, to national security minister, has to begin to take more steps on what has already been begun to eradicate this disease, and an impression that no one has the tools to tackle it adequately. As a result, these barbaric acts are hatched based on crime of opportunity.

veral young people in the region are suffering from economic neglect. It is not an excuse, but being ignored; waiting on handouts has created more culpability not only to the locals daily, but also especially visitors who travel outside protected zones. Even if it is a humanitarian mission, those criminals do not differentiate.

Although hopelessness, lack of opportunity can breed crimes, these troubled people would be better served by seeking guidance on how to become successful, and not practically using violence to satisfy an emotional and economic disconnect.

The headlines that have emerged on CNN and other media outlets seemed as a shock to viewers; however, for those looking in with close ties, or after the local news sporadically; it is not a farfetched headline.

Many locals have faced similar premature deaths and few answers after the cameras are off. These criminals are still roaming the streets, and if someone can find some perpetrators, fear for one’s own safety often results in silence.

tivation.

That image thing: Although Jamaica is not alone seeing a high murder rate per capita, based on a recent United Nations report; however, it would be a mistake to draw a comparison to other nations. Comparison alone cannot cut crime; it should be a mo

Although few media outlets have spun the news in trying to change the negative reputation that it is not a reflection of the island in general. This statement is correct, but sadly, it might be too late to regain its boisterous image until fundamental changes can be implemented.

It is time for a massive march against crime to take back the island.

These crimes cannot be in street retaliation, carefully placed blames, or gun for a gun settlement or even a court sentence. A systematic problem can only be solved when leaders begin develop opportunities for a dying group of youths who stay stagnant.

They must form community involvement built on commitment and an acknowledgement that this increasing criminal mentality has to be addressed proactively or even capital punishment.

This recent killing is an image problem and confirms what many have feared and this beautiful mango fruit with a bright and beaming skin is rotting from its core. Poverty and the ever-widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots is one aspect of disparities and a moral compass that has no direction.

Reversing a barbaric mentality starts in the homes, and schools.

Today, despite graduation there are few opportunities. Furthermore, in a new global economy that requires excellent talent, many are not equipped. Therefore, graduation seems to be only based on age reached, and not an accomplishment to be competitive.

These two individuals dedicated their lives to helping others for decades. Today families are left to wonder why? The poor people also lost, as a decade of medical mission is cut short.

No one wins from a criminal act. Today the targeting of visitors is forcing several potential returning residents to look elsewhere for retirement. Furthermore, others who have returned are preparing to exit. Few will admit to this trend.

Leadership cannot continue to do photo-ops, believing that as long as there is an image of one love, things will solve itself.

Bob Marley’s image, Usain Bolt, and Shelly-Ann Fraser, or Shaggy and others in sports and entertainment superstars alone cannot save Jamaica if criminals continue to dominate the headlines. In fact, most these successful people’s permanent homes are outside of their native land.

No nation can survive if crime becomes an influence where criminals enrich themselves at the nation’s cost. Furthermore, willingness by a few elected officials to squash laws because they were introduced by the other party fails to compromise to fight these issues.

Who will gain: Given the recent report of a decline in the tourist industry, high debts, low manufacturing output, coupled with crime, one of its close neighbours, Cuba, is rising since new diplomatic relations with the US.

Having this headline does not help the cool and relaxing vibes this island sells.

As these missionaries’ deaths dominate global headlines, Cuba is showing an American cruise ship docked at its ports, looking to discover what has been missing for over 50 years.

A successful service-oriented economy is vital to support a good standard of living for people who work in that industry.

Despite the economic gap, they are connected and the impression of safety based on gated communities does not make it those problems over there. Crime anywhere is a safety problem everywhere

Looking Back: Today, many are longing for those days when one could rent a vehicle with a visitor licence plate, travel anywhere with frequent stops throughout entire country.

In addition, the only safety concerns parents and friends provided for on vacation were to be alert of the roads or a goat rushing from its banks or a few blind corners and an unheeding truck driver who believed since he has a bigger vehicle he had the right of way, but still gave you a smile.

Moving Forward: These criminals are now emboldened, deploying a new strategy of kidnapping, and demanding ransom, but the nation cannot yield and they must be eliminated.

Although many are saddening by this act, the majority looking on still hope that future breaking news will not give people second thoughts about a visit to the island. This can only be possible if everyone takes on the role of community policing, advocates, and mentors and gives back in some capacity.

This Women’s History Month, let’s honor Portia Simpson-Miller, former PM of Jamaica`

By R.D. Miller

A Brief History: When we celebrate Women’s History Month, that should remind society of how far women have come since New Zealand in 1893, the first nation to give women the right to vote, and later Saudi Arabia, in 2015, as the most recent nation. Barriers will continue to exist in today’s polarized society, socio-economic inequality, gender equity, race and cultural divide.

The Politics:

Though few will remain silent because of political ideology, the Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller has defied the odds and contributed to the rise of women in the Jamaican government, and the Caribbean region today. Furthermore, her historical achievement cannot be summarized as a result of an electoral loss. She gave young girls and women a window to dream big, and challenge the odds regardless of political sides.

The Hon. Prime Minister-Jamaica Portia Simpson-Miller 3-2005–2007 and 1-2012-3-2016

Even though many of us are not qualified to speak on women’s issues, we are lucky to live in an era where the leadership evolution is multi-faceted – regardless of whether the leader is a man or a woman, but still, recognize the tough road ahead for women’s equal opportunity. So sometimes we have to take a step back, even if nobody asks, look at the barriers, analyze the mistakes, and give recognition to those who have overcome the obstacles in their journey for a better society.

The complexity of what is not being said

The nation acknowledged the historic rise of the former Prime Minister, but the opposition party took advantage of the frustration of young people who had a huge agenda that reached the majority of the electorate. They were calling for greater accountability, a better road map for their future, and it was a delicate time to change the guards from two decades of her party rule. Will they be better off between now and the next electoral cycle, only history will judge.

The 2016 election assumed greater importance than expected and there were plenty of finger pointing like any other elections. Some have argued that the party did not recognize the socioeconomic gap and the direction of the nation, which required more responsibility and transparency. Others noted internal struggles, and that she gave up the re-election to continue her leadership as the first woman Prime Minister of Jamaica, and head of the People’s National Party [PNP].

We do not know for sure what was given up, but it was a generational shift, led by a new leader who used technology, and promises to galvanize the younger voters. The once local street politics- door-to door moved to social media, and that generation was much older and more difficult to reach, but it does not take away from the centrality of women in the region future.

Sadly, when powerful women rule, pundits seem to have more questions about their leadership, and down-play their lack of collaboration only waiting for power. Though democracy thrives on open dissenting views. However, when political discourse becomes vitriolic, abusive, hateful, It only reconfirms the challenges surrounding their vision, and the deep reality of misogynistic views that creates more barriers.

The bloggers and pundits were swift on social media. She was too soft, too demanding, and no longer focused and emotionally detached from the community and so on, but few talked about the fact that political parties often interfere with women’s ability to run as candidates. They are confronted with stereotypes that impedes their upward mobility, thereby, contributing to the ongoing fight for gender equality.

Naturally, some people were irritated by their economic conditions, crime, and the lack of opportunity for the youths who graduated from universities with massive students loans, high inflation, unemployment and a widening gap between the haves vs. the have-nots.

Portia was no stranger to the ridiculousness and the intensity of the press. In 2004, newspapers, according to Christopher Charles, pointed out when she was a member of Parliament and asked if she had acted inappropriately by abstaining on a resolution that was critical of the lack of funding for local fire services. Maybe this question never got asked about a man.

Her time in power has highlighted a deep current of the disadvantages of being a woman on these battlegrounds, the fight for inclusion, shared priorities, leadership, rights, and security. But out of her loss created a new beginning that left a mark for a new light in the region for the next generation of women leaders.

The scorecard

Gradually, like many individuals who have suffered a ballot defeat, the policies that have been achieved often take time to gain ground, and the next leader will realize the benefits. Likewise, they may reverse policies that may not align with their side’s political philosophy. Of course, some will say that any downward trend in the economy, or increased crime, usually blames past leaders, but current leaders take credit for satisfactory results.

This homage is not about the nation’s expanding social disadvantage, or positive results on several fronts, and what party is responsible because there is enough blame to move around. Economic policy historians in the region will have the data to analyze GDP, debt ratio, wages, investments, healthcare spending, education, crime, infrastructure, construction, imports, exports during her term in office.

The administration represented a truck moving up a steep hillside, with few flats tires, and potholes on this journey heading to a smoother road until the next driver takes over. The rough ride was the aftermath from decades of deficiencies on both parties to produce a comprehensive strategy to navigate a systematic problem surrounding crime and poverty, and shrinking middle class.

Recognizing the former prime minister’s triumph is not a simple call to revisit or make an excuse for the provocative political nature that dominated that election cycle, or point out \what some called an inability to recognize the new voter’s concerns or a one-sided economic policy that only benefit the rich and foreign investors. This essay shines a light on the critical role of women’s leadership, and her contribution to the region, and for others to conceive of the possibilities regardless of political sides.

Every election has consequences

Though her defeat again echoed an undertone that women, whether a candidate winning an election, or served or serving in a chauvinistic environment, often when they lay the groundwork for opportunity on those battlefields for inclusion, shared priorities, women’s rights, gay rights and security, protecting the environment and without disguise, often experienced strong resistance.

Even today, women are underrepresented and make up about 20% of the world’s parliaments and even less in ministerial positions, as most studies show according to the experts. And I don’t need to do a thorough analysis or review feminist literature as a man to see that decision-making by several women remains a delicate balance often faced with more resistance than their male colleagues.

Sure, the region’s historians and scholars will have the task to resolve these questions.

Did her leadership differ from the other leaders?
Does her policy represent women’s interests?
Are there still echos of the same concerns today?

The quest for equality is not luck, as some in the media believe. Even if one is promoted, or by default, success depends on the preparation that met opportunity through hard work and dedication. Portia Simpson-Miller and other women who have made this planet a better place cannot only be judged on a few economic quantitative analyses.

Sure, one has to understand geopolitical, social, and economic issues and be able to link them to the corner shop even without electricity or running water. It is an incumbent mandate to work together to reduce high unemployment, corruption, crime, balance spending, investment more in education, health care and protecting the environment while managing expectations with respect to the realities of the local communities to educate that an election is not about now, but for the future generation.

The cultural stigma that lingers:

Sadly, the political pride that developed out of colonialism has led some to believe a leader has to graduate from an elite university, hold a law degree, or a Ph.D. studies to lead, and that mentality has pushed certain ideology from outdated laws in government into a class system. However, her triumph proves that one can be less privileged and become a leader from humble beginnings.

The elephant in the room

She took part at the top, and many to come will have the legislative power that will benefit the country, and only if they have the independence to think freely like her, speak loudly, and without being caged, they too can represent the nation not only in numbers to say, we are here, then the systemic issues can be addressed. The shortcoming in her political leadership does not lessen her political tenacity, decades of public service, and other accomplishments.

She found a balance between hope and subjugation and has been saying, “yes she could” before U.S. President Obama, “Yes we can.” She committed herself to the public for decades and has shown that women with power and full participation in decision-making establish a better society.

The Region’s Prime Ministers club to-date.

Eugenia Charles, 1980 – 1995 Dominica
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 2010 – 2015 Trinidad and Tobago

Woman Coalition Remains Key to breaking the glass ceiling:

As studies have shown when women work together and identify issues that create positive relationships between women, society benefits. I have no vote, no political affiliation, no preference on who should run the country. The only hope this part of our heritage has “good governance” to move people up.

Women meeting in my family home

Despite the challenges, constraints, political calculations and even disagreements, each Women’s Month she should be recognized, including her birthday, because the achievements can’t be summed up by an election, but the mark left behind– for young women to dream and get that coat.

Thank you: The Honorable Simpson-Miller was a pioneer, despite the missed parades she inspired a generations to take on more leadership roles within government. Even lessons learned were fundamental to better understand the upcoming challenges.

If I may, you look great at 70, and the island of Jamaica should hope that you will stick around to provide more checks and balances, speak up- now that you have some time to look inside.

I recorded this on assignment: Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller and Condoleezza Rice, 66th United States Secretary of State- dancing and yes, reggae can create diplomacy.

Commentary: Obama's One Love stop to Jamaica, who will be dancing after he leaves?

By. D.R. Miller

Touch Down: US President Obama will make a quick mic-check stop in Jamaica on his way to the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama. This visit will be welcomed on the island and in the region in general. Since Ronald Reagan in 1982, he will be the second sitting US president to visit Jamaica.

Photo: President Obama leaving the island Jamaica 2015

In Reagan’s case, some argued that his visit was about gaining strategic cooperation from former Prime Minister Michael Manley, who enjoyed a close relationship to then Cuban president, Fidel Castro. Today, several changes have occurred. The Soviet Union has been dismantled, and relations with Cuba are being normalized.

Although Obama’s trip is believed not to be about the past, but the irony is that several of the region’s issues are still in the shadow of the past. Economically, for Jamaica and some of its neighbours, the ship is still searching for an economic anchor.

Although many of these islands have gained independence from colonial rule, many islands quietly remain dependent, with no economic upward mobility for the youth, poor leadership, poverty, crime, stagnation and a missing middle class. Today, only few enjoy comfort zones that they strategically keep up, as the region remains divided between the haves and the have-nots.

The reality: Many hope Obama’s visit will spark new hope and change where along these shores change remains an elusive word and only poverty is as constant as the ocean that surrounds these islands. From the Caribbean to the Atlantic Ocean, these islands are looking more like an America colony than the once British, French, Dutch, and Spanish ruled outposts.

A retired school teacher once said, the only thing missing, especially in Jamaica, where several local stores are stacked with imported American products, is simply to make the US currency legal tender. Maybe Obama can become the next face on a $50,000 bill, given the rate of inflation that shows no sign of easing, as currency across the region has devalued and soon one will need shopping bag to exchange it for one US dollar.

Such as Obama, the first US black president, Portia Simpson-Miler was the first woman prime minister of Jamaica. Many thought her choice would have brought hope, and more economic successes, especially for young women, who also felt liberated when she elected. However, many women’s concerns in this region remain invisible. Her rise to power has been an uphill battle, like others in the region who have been the first.

Today, there are not many positive economic numbers to show since the 2008 economic collapse.

In contrast, it was not only an historic event for Obama; it was believed to be a new paradigm shift in race relations that have been a cancer in the US. His election had the prescription for equality, social and economic justice, and even racial harmony. However, the country is still divided along race, religion belief, and ideology, haves vs. have-nots, although the US economy has rebounded.

This visit perhaps will be a boost to Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, when many polls, according to the Voice magazine, say the opposition leader would win the next election. Obama’s visit will not have the same global impact and political tone as when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu visited the US Congress in early March 2015. Some thought that his US visit was a platform for his re-election.

On the other hand, Obama in Jamaica might tempt the other party to exploit the economic stagnation and the unpopularity to its advantage in the next election. While the threat of external violence, terrorism or billions in aid is a hot topic in the Israel-US relationship, Jamaica could use a few millions in aid.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller: Photo: Bryan Cummings/Jamaica

The topic of terrorism might not be high on the agenda, but perhaps he would like to know how the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) bilateral trade agreements with Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Venezuela are working for all in the region and if there is any more room for dumping.

The Connection: On this day, Obama’s roots, birth certificate, religion will not be in question. The Jamaican motto “Out of Many One People” will ring loud. Although there is deep social stratification and a male dominated chauvinist attitude, he will be welcome as a son of the soil that has deep roots from the 17th century slave ships that docked along these shores.

Often throughout life, some continue to be defined by colour and not the accomplishments or intellect. As much as Obama would have liked to bail out the local sluggish economy as he did with General Motors, a financial package would be stalled in today’s divided US Congress.

Although the term minority is seldom used in the region, the irony is it gives a false sense of equilibrium in the melting pot. For many, the region is like a field planted with 100 corn plants and, out of those 100 plants, you have yellow, white, brown, and multi-colour kernels.

They all dependent on the same water, soil and nutrients to survive. Looking on it seems they are all corn along these hills, valleys and coastlines. However, George Orwell, in his1945 Animal Farm book, said, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” and that plot rings loud in the region as many other places.

Okay, this is not an opinion paper on race: Let us get back to Obama’s historic trip.

The Whispers: Jamaica will add one more boisterous smile from this trip. However, one cannot ignore that the region has become a dangerous place. According to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Honduras, which records 103.9 murders per 100,000 people, is ranked number one on the list as the highest murder rate in the world. Jamaica is number three, with 45.1 murders per 100,000. Venezuela is second on the list, with 57.6 murders per 100,000 people. Other places such as The Bahamas, where crime is often low, should be concerned with its 11th place on the list.

Public safety remains a major concern away from the white sand beaches and even retired natives who have called the US and other industrialised countries home for four or five decades are having second thoughts about returning due to safety concerns, and proper collaboration to head off violence given the abundance of weapons in the region.

While these islands continue to compete as if they are at the Olympics, with distrust and dislike, they are all connected. While some will have a toast with Obama, quietly, economically they have been on pain killers and have not lived up to their full potential in moving people forward

This trip will not create any significant comprehensive financial package to head off stagnation, or subsidise health care, create new financial regulations, prison reform, increase the 63-member House of Representatives, cut the bureaucratic red tape that is often reported and recognized as a major hindrance to conducting business.

However, I hope he asks the local government make sure enforcement to prevent corruption through the Corruption Prevention Act.
Here is what he should propose and highlight:

The need for legislations to promote equality in the gay and lesbian community that has seen detrimental treatment for many years, more attention to victims, and their families of sexual violence such as Ingrid Brown wrote about in the Jamaica Observer in 2012. She reported a major issue that is not unique to Jamaica alone where children were being raped and infected with STDs, as Dr Knight from the Bustamante Children’s Hospital noted. Sadly, many victims will remain silent.

Furthermore, the president should ask for a new consumer protection agency like the one he created in US to cut the exploitation of many who became victims of quick loans.

What if the president lands on your island, what would be your socio-economic, criminal, and social justice data show? Many in these areas would have reached the US shores if it were not for the ocean.

Sorry to Say: After Air Force One takes off over the blue waters, the unemployment rate will not change, education costs are still rising, crime remains high. Many still have significant problems gaining employment for being labeled a former prisoner, poverty and a criminal justice that seems to help only who can afford it for the right price and where distrust in government roars like the ocean brushing along shores are just a few issues that will still be on the table.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson has tried and, despite her history in the Jamaican government, she too struggles for equality. Even her minimal achievements will continue to be rushed up against the shores.

What next?
One hopes the US or other presidents to these shores bring economic prosperity, making it a frequent vacation spot. Perhaps the next one could be simply to see a grandparent: We’ll see you again, thank you for stopping by.

Commentary: Goodbye, going once, twice, sold

By D.R. Miller

The New Coast: Recently a solemn promise was broken. A few of us halted all travel plans until we were convinced that the government had
the chikungunya virus under control. However, breast cancer took a dear family officer after 30-plus years in public service. 

Despite the earlier concerns, many of us went. Traveling the coastline, with the ocean dangerously few feet from the vehicle, while staring at beautiful homes tucked in hillsides, the temptation to pullover for a quick
swim, or capture the sunset, and walk barefoot from the cold left behind emerged.

However, a once simple pastime and custom for natives from a hot sunny day or a weekend with families to prime free beach areas to relax, is apparently becoming very difficult and just an idea.

The high criminal elements that are sometimes a deterrent has now been taken over by: segregation, isolation and the fight equality now seems more dangerous.

Even vacant lots that should have been designated as historic land and preserved are either leased or bought by foreign private investors.

Home prices are extremely high and few older structures that could use an upgrade, owned by the less fortunate people passed on from their ancestors, and dating back to British rule, many found themselves restricted to move freely.

As the mega-building rises, green land and trees are diminishing, thus contributing to the record high temperatures, while ignoring the environmental impact.

Where will be the new location?

The gentrification in disguise is a global trend, creating social stratification sold as transformation. Sure, a few job are created by new stores, and hotels.  However, some working conditions often look like a previous century, working in hazardous conditions for extremely low wages, unable to buy a small home in the communities they are serving.

What is the trade-off, and where are the unions to balance labor and human rights? The region is now dominated with massive imports. Locally grown products have dwindled to small corners like news racks covered with international news clips while local customs and identity get lost.

Locals at cleaning fish on the sea coast
Jamaica yellow yam
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – Jamaica

Analyzing the region’s plight from the outside is difficult. Who are the investment banks in disguise, as famous faces who claim they are in love with the region while commercialization threatens native culture.

Credit: Mento Quintet by Richard Blackford: Maintaining tradition is important.

Obviously an incredible lack of knowledge or accountability about who are the human piñata lining their pockets. What is troubling, it seems an iPhone, Facebook, and YouTube seem to be more important to some, while the sand is being swept from under their feet.

When Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell was not selected as the 2015 Miss Universe, many mobilized in the street, online and voiced their displeasure. The same emphasis on these issues as to the plight of their nation — access to where one can live or swim free — is needed.

As many questioned Kaci’s skin colour to represent Jamaica, it only underscored the argument that a few are still stuck in an identity crisis to see even more dire issues.

Crowd gathered to with her beauty contact in Kingston, Jamaica

The quiet marriages while other basked in social media, but how long will these marries last.

Few months ago, I wrote about China’s penetration into the Caribbean markets for anyone who has access to a red carpet. The modernization of technology and infrastructures brought to this region and others should not be an economic long-term sentence for some.

Source: Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Robert Gabriel Mugabe Zimbabwe and Chinese leaders
The Chinese delegation at a meeting with the president of Dominica

Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago , and Chinese President

This new colonization with local hidden alliances has not lifted the poor from poverty. Many still depend on handouts for survival while the middle class struggles. The lack of transparency, accountability and ignorance continue to slow growth.

Protia Simpson-Miller: Jamaica P.M and Chinese leader

One report noted that China uses its financial influence and CARICOM as its umpire to expand. Several projects, from medical centers to stadiums in St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and Jamaica, and others with cheap loans has some positive effects, but who are the real long-term beneficiaries?

McKinley & Company, a global consultant firm that operated in more than 40 countries, once noted that several companies have failed, especially in the energy industry, due to cheap imports from China over the past ten years. To the Chinese credit, education is mandatory.

They have tremendous control over the value of their currency in spite of questionable human rights issues. While the priceless seaports and other infrastructures are being sold, leaders should at least learn some of their business strategies, and even negotiate an energy efficiency deal to cut the dependence on fossil fuel, especially in Jamaica where an average customer pays about 42 cents per kilowatt-hour. Many factories should be mandated to clean up the air, but that will hit the élite who run the country.

Selling Our Souls: While many Africans sold slaves, they did not invent slavery. Today, the selling of native land is a rebirth of such dark period. The Europeans and others turn the plight of others into major businesses. Having few natives at the table today does not make it more acceptable.

In November 1927, Marcus Garvey was deported from the US. He fought for self-governance and despite pushback even from black leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, who once described Garvey as “a little, fat black man; ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head.” The region could use him today as an ambassador. Patriotism cannot only be in the music that comes out of the region.

This paradigm shift along these blue waters is troubling.

Sunday, November 17, 2014, opened the world to an issue kept off air when CNN aired Anthony Bourdain’s Part Unknown. To some, it was uncomfortable, but viewers saw that Jamaica is not all about reported violence, marijuana, and a relaxed attitude.

Furthermore, few are willing to sell their souls and local government leaders seem muted. When personal financial gains ruin an entire community, conflict is inevitable. With high unemployment and poverty, and division, the criminal enterprise thrives and hopeless youths become radicalized, not necessarily from religious ideology, but stemming from polarization, isolation and the lack of opportunity.

New Charity Economy: Today, it seems the region has more charity organizations than small businesses to help the youths. However, not all charities are bad. In the US, one in six receives some type of food support and many school students go hungry each day. Philanthropist Jeff Levitetz recently funded several schools in Jamaica’s rural outpost “In Honor of his 96 year old Grandpa Charlie”, working with Coconut Creek’s nonprofit Food for the Poor. The charity aims to build or upgrade 50 schools on the island. Jeff’s grandfather has a personal love and affection for the Jamaican culture.

Jeff Levitetz, president of The Levitetz Family Foundation, proudly stands… (Food for the Poor / Sun-Sentinel )

In addition, US$166 million is pledged to Jamaica to addresses climate change. The irony is that the coastlines are being ripped apart by development, causing severe climate issue. Furthermore, despite millions donated, some charities do not serve the desired purpose, and the lack proper oversight leads to actions where donations are used to further personal needs.

When politics becomes more important than higher education that only a few can afford, it only creates a new generation of ignorance. Throughout local districts, several primary and high schools still lack a good library and other educational resources to properly educate the next generation. Yes! You can continue to blame slavery, and the lack of reparations. The arguments remain valid, and add several economic down slopes since independence to the debate.

Even 200 years ago, education was a necessity. Between 1835-1842, the region had a slave fund shortly after emancipation. While many in the US were denied access to education in that same period, the British government voted 30,000 pounds per annum towards the education of former slaves.

Early education attempt after slavery

The fund ended around 1845, as studies have shown for many of the British West Indies colonies. It played a pivotal part in training teachers, and building schoolhouses. It was called the Negro Educational Fund. As 200 years ago, very little funds came from the West Indian governments.

The once colonial power seemed to have more interest in educating former slaves than many leaders today. The disappearance of good governance to educate its people could learn something from 200 years ago. It seems handouts have become the normal way for survival for some, while the communities need a sustainable long-term foundation. New charities and awards checks are not capitalism.

New Approach: Few economies have rebounded since the 2008 financial economic collapse. The Caribbean still has an economic virus. The unemployment rate, inflation currency devaluation, and crime remain a problem. Despite these issues, the people remain welcoming, but they must not be fooled in a misguided perception that the few millionaires who own these shores are totally in love with the island’s relaxed vibes, food, and people.

Love does not hurt others.

When Ian Fleming (and James Bond) fell in love with Jamaica in the late 1950s, conflicts were not about access to one’s own land. The few who have the media are skilled at making noticeable linguistic shifts, while masking an urgent need to resolve the dangerous ideological faults even within their party. While it looks like capitalism on the coasts and inland; however, if it is one-sided, it defeats capitalism as a driving force to end poverty and inequality.

Today, we are left wondering how young police officers will be able to afford a home in area they will patrol to protect mega properties and address the untold stories, where hard drugs and young girls who struggle to find employment become nightclub dancers for a few dollars, controlled by pimps who force them into prostitution, sexually abused and exploited. They are not beach beauties that stroll the sand, they are victims that are often overlooked throughout the region.

Modernization is important; however, it should not take a nation back centuries, where only the rich and famous get to rewrite.

As Burning Spear, Jamaicam reggae Super Star once said in a song, “My island don’t sell out.”

Commentary: High on Ebola, low on chikungunya

by D.R. Miller

Since the recent outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean, four people with close connections who arrived back to into the US from the Caribbean region were hospitalized immediately and diagnosed with the virus. In addition, a few medical center employees communicated that they have seen an increase of patients from the region admitted to their medical facilities.

I am not a medical doctor, nor I do I play one on the television; however, based on the recent reports chikungunya has seen a significant up-tick. On the other hand, an impression is being portrayed that it is under control on these shores. What  long term-effect it has on people  is not  known at this time.

The leaders must address this issue openly and develop a solid plan before this potential storm, where soon US and other well-traveled countries by the Caribbean people will begin to put the medical drone in the region.

The drone concept is geared to destroy anything in its path when launched. However, could you blame the US if they cut travel, and begin to set a high alert and other screening of passengers from the region?

The recent death of Thomas Duncan from Ebola at age 42, who arrived in the US, has created an intensive focus on foreign travelers from many poor and developing countries.

Although many believed Thomas Duncan’s death while in US care would inevitably send a statement to others to not come, many people are now wondering what the color of medicine is after two dedicated Caucasian doctors who worked in Liberia contracted the virus and recovered.

One of the silent tones in the Caribbean addressing chikungunya, I believe, is not the politics of the virus, which is often seen elsewhere, for the region it is all economics.

Here is why: Most of the region’s economic engine is tourism, and if any indication like what has been taken place in Liberia, it could be worse than the economic collapse in 2008 that left many still sneezing

I begin to wonder if this is a reason reports of this increasing tide seem a bit hushed up to protect the tourism industry while many locals are suffering silently. Any business model during a turbulent time is not only to ready, but willing to tell about structural problems. This approach not only builds credibility, but also shows a level of leadership that is lacking today on several fronts.

This is not a call for a reduction of travel to and from the region, or high-level screening at airports — that would be premature at this point. On the other hand, when the local government is slow to educate people, this could be a tornado building. Therefore, questions must be asked. Along these blue waters there lies an undercurrent overflowing its banks at any time, and the long-term impact could cripple many lives, both medically and economically.

Managing these issues takes compassion and resources. Recently I saw a Facebook picture post of what appeared to be a sick person from the region who became more victimized as he was scorned from an appearance of what is believed to be the symptoms of the Ebola virus. Furthermore, when it is reported that few local doctors are contemplating refusing to report to work in the event of an outbreak due to the lack of medical supplies and other resources that is troubling.

In today’s society, where billions are being spent on wars and politicians re-election, it is hard to fathom that lack of resource and awareness, combined with scorn, can leave many more suffering. I hope elective officials, medical staff, and CARICOM step up its mandate to educate people and seek help through awareness, because the potential problems such as what is occurring in Liberia and other West African countries, where perception is more dangerous that an actual virus.

These islands are unique and sometimes that can be their own downfall because the uniqueness creates a form of isolation. It further limits collaboration, as all seem to be competing for piece of the visitors pie. Therefore, competition mutes concerns, while marketing becomes“them and not us mentality.”

This virus is not just an island thing, or in Third World countries as one of my less informed friends stated, he is going to stop eat chicken, and stop going to places where lots of chicken are found.

Education is key: No, you cannot get it from eating chicken, or visiting places where chicken are in abundance. The name chikungunya derives from a word in Makonde language roughly meaning that which bends up reflecting the physique of a person disabled by the disease. Many reports have noted that it was first identified in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1952

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first known autochthonous chikungunya cases in the Western Hemisphere occurred in October 2013 on the island of Saint Martin. By March 2014, travelers to other Caribbean islands carried it to: Dominica; the British territories Anguilla and British Virgin Islands; overseas departments of France — Guadeloupe, Martinique; and the constituent countries of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as other areas such as St Kitts and Nevis; the Dominican Republic; and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

An estimated 3.6 billion persons in 124 countries are at risk worldwide, such as the many who are exposed to dengue fever. Large outbreaks have also been seen Indian Ocean islands, India and South-East Asia, according to the Infection, Genetic, and Evolution Journal. It has also reached Asia and Europe, and North America has seen a few cases recently in Florida.

The National Institute of Health, World Health Organization, Public Health Department, and Infectious Disease, noted that chikungunya is a viral disease that is rarely fatal. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.

The symptoms include high fever and headache with debilitating joint pains, swelling and stiffness of joints, muscular pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and rash that can last for several weeks. Normally within four to seven days as reported after been bitten, the symptoms appear.

The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on an infected person during the viraemic period. Today, there are no specific antiviral treatments or vaccines available. However, it also has been reported that commonly used medications include ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, paracetamol, and aspirin.

Although there have been reported deaths, the number of related deaths are extremely low compared to Ebola; however, one should not discount it as a storm that will pass soon.

These regions have to debunk that only certain medicine can cure this outbreak, while many studies have reported there are no known cures at this time for the symptoms. It is extremely important that people take serious preventive measures such as bite-proof long sleeves and trousers. 

Purchasing  untested drugs in desperation from local street vendors might not be the best approach, especially for people with limited or no access to healthcare.  More information can be found published by many health organizations.

It can be extremely difficult to track down all mosquitoes and apply chemical spray on an entire region to cut concerns and especially in poor  and, rural areas with pool of slow-flowing water that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the lack of access to good health care only add to the problem.

Today many travelers are still waiting on a concrete government plan on how they are handling the issue in a coördinated effort. If there is one, please post.

Although some awareness has been posted, and the governments seem now to be taking steps to mitigate the potential problem, more needs to be done. Nevertheless, can we all be stratified?

This is not to reduce  any attempts, as the lack of resources can make this a difficult task. Moreover, the chance of being robbed, shot or killed in some of these areas, is more than likely than contracting the virus.

As the region continues to attract visitors, it is also important that these visitors receive a disclaimer of this undercurrent taking place.

The leaders must make sure that all proactive measures are taken, and seek help and resources as needed, and stop putting on a good face on this issues with a relaxed attitude.

I am still optimistic that all can come together and weather the storm. Moms and I have a ticket ready to land soon to take a break from the upcoming winter.

2014 World Cup Soccer, more than a game in (Brazil)

BY R.D. MILLER

The Global Colors.

Every four years, millions of fans gather in person at watch parties in public parks and bars to see the best of the best players face off for bragging rights until another four years.

This remarkable event never seems to be far from controversy wherever it is being played. These controversies range from soccer or football, corruption, and the socio-economic responsibility it should take on in our society.

Despite the logistics, since the 2014 games begun, the Amazon colors have taken over our television, iPhones, smartphones, and iPads like a rainbow.

However, beneath it all, residents are crying for a new economic canvas to modernize and move poor people to a better standard of living.

Football is a global game that originated in England but later called soccer in the US. The game unites people. Relatively, it is not expensive to start a game. However, the gap between the rich and the poor is further than the locations where these games are being played, while poverty is closer than the two goalposts.

They are the ones being left out of the prints. After the final whistle has blown, they too will be still asking economic referees for a penalty that was not given on a foul play.

The poor socio-economic issues surrounding these games often erupt in protests. The games go on, but the turmoil lingers, blocks from where the games are being played. These issues never left, as they will re-emerge like the sea rushing back to the shores to recreate the sand paths rich footprints eroded that left the day before.

Photo Credit: Reuters

“They have overlooked the Brazilian local economy problems,” several protesters argued. It appears this color is seldom beamed to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Brazilians are now under the microscope. The carefully orchestrated images that emerge from the sideline will have a lasting effect.

The Socioeconomic Impact

The World Cup is bigger than its location, despite heartaches, especially from the premature departure by England, Italy, and Australia. However, the stage is still where players and supporters use the event to highlight their countries, send statements, and reconnect with compatriots who are still clubbing rivals.

This is like a family reunion before they head back to business and where lifelong friendships are formed, even between countries without diplomatic ties and where cultural divides are rooted in political turmoil.

The game represents a much wider reach far beyond 90 minutes on the field. It extends the communities, economics, discipline, teamwork, acceptance, talent , and diplomacy, even between nations with political tensions.

Many now are aware that the Iranians play soccer and not everything is about nuclear weapons and tension with the Israelis. Even the Israelis have a solid team.

Yes, this is the real “World Champion Series,” and they crown the true world champions after eight weeks.

The Economics: These games are being led under the International Association Federation of Football (FIFA). It is a billion-dollar industry, and throughout this region, the games are ubiquitous.

To prepare for the 2014 World Cup, they spent an estimated cost of up to US$11 billion — while the Brazilian economy remains stagnant. However, the government has predicted that it will be a net positive for the overall economy, stemming from event-related services among several industries.

Forbes magazine has reported that (FIFA) will generate about $4 billion in revenue. However, more needs to be done to promote social programs to cut poverty and not the appearance of forcing local economies to stretch their budgets to accommodate their demands.

Wherever FIFA places its goalposts, it is always under the microscope. Recently published in a British magazine, the organization is being investigated on corruption and bribes related to the Qatar 2022 bid.

FIFA’s operation is not much different from the American National Football League (NFL). Inside these games, recruitment is alive.

This is where wealthy club managers scope every play, searching for the next star and the face of new marketing global campaigns.

But beneath these targeted players, there are several communities of improvised youths looking for education, access to decent affordable medicines and safety.

Often these public investments are unsuccessful on a much bigger scale because when fans are gone and the multi-million stadiums are empty, the local people are stuck with the debt burden.

The socio-economic argument that surrounds the World Cup is nothing new. In 2010, South Africa went through the same issues on how much its government spent that could have been used to move people out of poverty.

Soccer, or football, has generated several global stars and has moved families out of poverty. Some of their stories are like some players of the NFL, National Basketball Association (NBA), baseball, and many other professional sports. In some areas, the millions generated from players who left slums (ghettos) seldom trickle down to communities where it all started.

Such as gentrification, our society has been increasingly shifting as it is becoming more diverse, and that sometimes causes tension and even more isolation.

The other Brazil off the pitch.

Many reports show that if black Brazilians could get on a boat and leave, and maybe on a soccer pitch is the safest place because they kill more blacks at an alarming rate besides the economic stagnation. Even when crime overall dropped, the number of violent deaths recorded, in comparison, the murder rate of black people has not decreased.

Maybe it is time for an economic package both socially and economically in these poor communities. After the goals are scored, and the pageantry is over for poor people of color, it is like a soccer ball with air.

FIFA always executes successful events. The game between the US and Portugal had one of the highest ratings, upward of 21 million. Imagine if these fans force FIFA to make sure some economic balance where it places the next goal posts.

With success should come responsibility, and despite the Beautiful Game that has broken down barriers, some players still face discrimination. They call some niggers, monkeys, and bananas a symbol of games by some fans.

Recently, Italian star Mario Balotelli spoke up after he faced racial slurs from a few fans, and more players must do the same.

FIFA should know how to help combat these issues. It has been around since 1904 and now has over 300,000 clubs and over 240 million players around the world.

For many youths a soccer/football field and now “pitch” as some calls, it was critical to stay off the streets after school. Although not all young players became stars, the friendships gained, and lessons learned lasted a lifetime.

Social Responsibility

FIFA is excellent at managing global operations. However, as our society becomes more diverse, isolated by ideology and personal interests, it will need more than building stadiums. Equality, discrimination, and a platform for players to speak when issues threaten to reduce the next generation of players.

Often, I join a few new fans at the local sports bars who seem intrigued with long pauses when they realize a few teams starting 11 such as the French, Germans; the Italians have black players, and some are Muslims. It is more than a game, and awareness is key.

This 2014 World Cup has been a homecoming for many South American teams, and celebrations have been tremendous. However, there is a dark side that is lurking in some countries just north of these games off the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of children who have fled their countries where a few dominating stars call home.

Most of these children without their parents are under age 10 and now in detention camps at the US border. Up to 90,000 came from Honduras, Colombia, and Guatemala as reported.

These young people fled to escape sexual violence and other inhumane treatment stemming from crime. No one will know the long-term physiological impact but it can devastate, as studies have shown.

The football organizations and their players cannot be the world police, but with success and global appeal comes the responsibility to speak in a humanitarian crisis. Billions are being spent to create perfect pictures while others seek the next Latin star to fill their stadiums from ticket sales.

Sadly, some are outside the gated walls looking to take the dangerous trip north, while they fill other pitches with toxins and the goalposts are two empty containers with lead. They can use maybe revenue generated to at least give awareness to this problem.

Extra Minutes:

These extra minutes added to games can generate more revenue for FIFA. However, in a few weeks, the cameras will be gone; and well-dressed immigrant men and women from the television networks with few selected feel-good stories, while surrounded with security as if they are in a war zone, will leave town.

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

There will be more games to come, many players are of African descent, with similarities to an NFL player, and they too are extremely rich and more famous. Some I had to navigate drug and crime-infested areas to reach a local field.

The next referee

Today, I wonder if our socio-economic polarization, inequality disparities have reduced some of our imagination. Perhaps our major league should do more because such as Brazil, they lead us to believe that someone is watching. But has anyone notice to make a more systematic change for a better game.

When the final whistle is blown, some players will have to pass through their poor towns and cities plagued with violence. Before FIFA canvasses the next venue, it should not only seek ways on how to increase its balance sheet. It must make sure the community’s economic impact benefits all, regardless of color, class, race, and socio-economic status, because the next 100 years can only be beautiful if it remains more than a game.

Commentary: Celebrity and criminal justice: A test of the Jamaican criminal justice system

BY R.D. Miller

The anticipated verdict was more about the Jamaican justice system, and how they would severely handle the last disposition, including the profound effect over the Caribbean in general on celebrity justice, helpless victims, and what statement it would send to the next generation, where trust is frequently ranked low as it typically relates to the criminal justice system.

The high-profile trial was bigger than the prosecutors, defense counsel, key witnesses, local law enforcement, and how they carefully gathered and preserved evidence or the apparent lack of effective communication and proper rules.

It bought back memories of the O.J. Simpson case where he was found not guilty on a double murder charge. The criminal trial put justice in prime focus. It was a combination of how law enforcement conducted themselves, money, celebrity and class.

Although (Vybz Kartel case did not receive the same worldwide notoriety such as the O.J. Simpson case in 1995. Several in the Caribbean watched this case closely about how justice would be served.

Quietly, to many, national case brought back memories of earlier ones in which earlier politicians, the rich and powerful people in the region often walk away free, even when the evidence points more than likely that a punishable crime has occurred.

This is not to say that all rich, famous, and powerful defendants were guilty in all more prior cases. However, as many Jamaicans waited in anxious anticipation of the verdict, the alert for civil disobedience and vigilante justice was high.

However, the Jamaica judiciary system rose to the challenge and maintained order after the verdict. What was even impressive, many became educated with the jury system, and how overall the court process works for the first and the media fulfilled a critical role.

Often in regions where poor economic conditions still have a strong hold, justice is often seen through the eyes of one’s economic status, and notoriety. In fact, as much as we would like to see a balanced system, often these trial outcomes mirror several other countries based on one’s race, sex, creed, and colour.

The mandated strategies to combat crime and national safety should not create a generation of hopelessness. It should make sure that when penal codes have violated the rule of law as written in the “said constitution” continue intact.


Rule of law, public service, and personal safety are extremely important, whether in a democratic or totalitarian system of government. Promoting central control is a responsive government. This concept ensures that the right people are being selected, and the departments are staffed properly to keep up integrity, and correspondingly balance the public safety mission.

Today, a majority of us however look at the criminal justice system as “criminal justice for the appropriate price.”This is true especially when many people are being incarcerated not because of overwhelming evidence or simply probable cause is found beyond a reasonable doubt.

It is simply because they could not afford the defence needed to poke holes in government cases, and the ones who are sworn to uphold the law are being bought off from behind the bench.

The idea of celebrity justice is practically like policing and its gradual evolution that I carefully consider efficiently transferring from the boardroom into the social space. Criminal justice throughout the Caribbean region has evolved like the police force that was first developed within the context of properly maintaining a class system that protected private property in the early 18th century in Great Britain and now has become a decentralized system globally.

There is undoubtedly this verdict that will be debated for months to arrive and somewhat opens a new frontier about how this process really works. Debating the rule of law is nothing new. When other nations adopted the British common law, they also underwent a period of amendment after it had been criminally investigated in the criminal court of law.

When colonial British powers stretched throughout the Caribbean region, it not only brought slaves but a criminal justice system that set the foundation for how the government protects its people and implements justice.

Often, as official history has sufficiently shown us, only a few have benefited between haves vs. have-nots. However, this verdict, regardless of one’s position, should offer some hope.

Many on the island perhaps never understood how the judicial system works, and the moral responsibility that comes with being selected even as a juror. Now that the judgment is in, the region must begin to educate itself, from the primary schools to colleges on how the process works and expectation of a fair and balanced justice system and regardless of the defense one can afford.

The official verdict has tested the Jamaican judicial system, law enforcement rules, and what role entertainers play in the structure, and if justice can be bought. This verdict is more than just one man, and the impact will have a lasting effect.

On the other hand, if the local government does not use this opportunity to send a message, very soon key departments will no longer be capable of functioning to their fullest capacity as required to keep up public safety and a fair and balanced system.

What is sad from this verdict, despite a modernized process, it appears when a crime has been satisfactorily solved in the region, several departments stay on trial afterward, such as Vybz Kartel’s conviction.

The last analysis is that Vybz Kartel’s new jail number will not make a difference in the Jamaican stock exchange, or how many more jails will be needed or an improvement to the economic condition. On the other hand, if this criminal trend continues, soon Jamaica and more areas will have to build more prisons as one of the untold stories in the justice system and especially where more prisons are being built and privately owned.

They often need clients/customers to keep their operations going. As a result, the lives of the less fortunate among us seem to have diminished to debits and credits on a balance sheet or a ticker symbol trading in the stock markets.

The concept that entertainers were immune from the criminal justice system in Jamaica has now been proven incorrect. However, it seems the blame game continues about what went wrong, and what could have been done differently?


Inadequately training is now critical and if the body of local government that plays a vital role in unanimously upholding the law refuses to aggressively investigate critical gaps from preserving of evidence, and ensuring that officers can conduct comprehensive investigations from the emergency system to tracking criminals, to redefining agility and structural deficiencies, then the public trust will, however, continue to decline.

We typically have to be careful not to justly accuse everyone immediately if the successful outcome was not favorable to reasonable expectations. Dedicated employees might have committed some mistakes in the process, but what has taken place after the verdict is that law enforcement seems to have instantly become the focus of the debates. Going forward, the government needs to set up an independent commission to look at these issues to see if understaffing and proper training in those vital areas need to be addressed promptly.

How do we get there? The system should congregate an independent commission, which will be far from coerced-subjectivity and politics, to check any terrible lapse in compliance that has led to overall deficits across the agency that demands action.

It is important that they work together and communicate about the overall agency process and make sure continued security is adhered to and that accessibility to sensitive information is restricted to authorized users only.

Checks and balances are always needed, and although it can slow the process from hiring to implementation of human resources functions; however, urgent action is needed to discuss the dedicated staff concerns and going forward, give some level of oversight both internal and external.

I had never heard of him before this high-profile trial. However, I realize that he commands a huge following, and some might not agree with the possible outcome, also that is fine and democratic in any society. We cannot gently force anyone about who to dearly love.

On the other side, imagine the impact he could have sustained mobilizing the next generation on to better things. I am still optimistic that this time justice was in the open and not taken up in the hands of a few through retaliation.