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Press Release – Oscar O’Brien Forbes

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Providenciales, TCI, September 5th, 2016 – When the power is restored the glory will come!

Despite of their economic struggles, our forefathers held to the hope that they would one day change their condition through determination and hard work, earning for themselves, notable achievements and high honour. We are the continuation of our ancestors, their hopes and their dreams, which naturally obligates to improve on their efforts to obtain the Glory they pursued! We are uniquely skilled to the mission given our human capacity to reflect on our past and dream of a future that is informed by the mistakes and setbacks of that past.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands our climb is steep and our struggle fierce and hard because our democracy remains under siege by the heavy handed and resentful British government who have imposed on us a ‘Constitution’ that is lacking key elements of good governance which restricts our full enjoyment of our Divine Right to freedom and the power for self-determination. This document in effect misappropriates the power of the people into the hands of technocrats – a select few – who, while they may possess some competence, they lack accountability, because they have not been elected. Therefore the document is useless!

On one hand she’s The Mother of Democracy and the other the Architect of Slavery and at every turn she denies us this Glory that we seek. This contradiction in her historical positions speaks to the schizophrenic nature of Great Britain’s approach to oversight of the Colony and the wickedness our state of dependency. But if the power is restored, the Glory will come!

We have an escalating crime rate, which has adversely impacted the quality of life of The Turks and Caicos Islander and created a climate of fear and dread. Our homes are under the constant threat of invading bandits who target our Nissan Fugas, Sankey Televisions and Acer tablets, our personal symbols of achievement in our march toward Glory. This speaker is convinced that crime is a contributing factor to our country’s plummeting travel-ratings because even our tourists are not exempt from the tyranny of lawless men whom we seem unable to deter. But if the power is restored then the Glory will come!

Flaws in our border control attract Illegal migration, a prolonged and vexing plague on our society. And while there have been some successes with interceptions and repatriations, the general feeling is that Turks and Caicos has a leaky border that allows in all sorts of other contrabands like guns, drugs, gangsters and infectious diseases, forever changing the Turks and Caicos experience.  National Security is key to maintaining law and order and guaranteeing the continuance of our way of life. Government is responsible to protect the country and its citizens against all national threats. But if the power is restored, the Glory will come!

Our Public Service is challenged to meet the fundamentals of its Core Values because it is afflicted with redundancies and inefficiencies with no demonstrated ability to be proactive reactive to the growing and changing demands of the public. The Service is under resourced in technology, human assets, cogent policies, supplies and equipment all of which are required to create a public service that is professionally respected and able to serve the people with efficiency and effectiveness. The Public Service is not setup for the success of the Civil Servant, and this breeds antagonism and hatred between them and the general public. But if the power is restored, the Glory will come!

The current tax model for Turks and Caicos matches no best practice plan known to man. The haphazard nature tax hikes have proven to be, a heavy burden to existing businesses, it has endangered the middle-class and it hangs about the necks of the poor like a milestone on the head of a drowning man. The continuous indiscriminate tax hikes are and in the words of my Uncle Boogie “nothing but a down-drivement” to foreign investments! The surpluses that resulted from the fleecing of the Turks and Caicos Islands are being misrepresented, by this government, as fiscal prudence without taking into consideration the dwindling numbers of players in the economy or the threat of significant shortfalls next year – But if the power is restored, the Glory will come!

The Glory, we are toiling for, is not impossible to obtain, it is within our reach; we have had a glimpse of it before. While the gross missteps of the current regime have been a hindrance to our march to Glory, they are not alone in the struggle against us for there are fearsome giants on the landscape that also seek to undermine us:

There are Giants of special interests, who seek their selfish desires at the expense of everyone. Some come bearing treats to satisfy our immediate personal needs then work to deny us, not only the long-term gains that would result from a growing economy but also the power of self-sufficiency that makes us lords of our own destiny.

Consider the Giants of irrational emotionalism; they are the defenders of business-as-usual. They try to dull the sound of your conscience by getting loud and combative over petty issues. These behaviours corrupt good manners and expose their own fears of the very change in governance they also crave and deserve.

Then there are the Giants of political dynasties that cast long, ugly shadows of intimidation over the citizen statesmen, like me, who would dare to challenge the status quo and work with you, to usher in a new era of equal opportunity and fair play.  But Giants, they die! The bigger they come the harder they fall… I am willing and ready to sling rocks at Giants…

I am aligned with that silent majority who share the belief that, when the power is restored the Glory will come! We  are well able to obtain Glory without compromise while maintaining the highest moral standing. We have the strength of our conviction that Turks and Caicos is destined for greatness and we are worthy of it and we are the people to achieve it. We are driven by the fortitude and resilience of our fore parents who through sheer will and despite the British abandonment, overcame and reserved for us an inheritance, the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, a lender and not a borrower; This Glory, ladies and gentlemen, is our inheritance.

My beloved Turks and Caicos I have heard your calls for leadership that embodies our highest ideals and commands a deep respect for our rich cultural heritage. I have heard your cries for representation of your passions for a national identity that would produce a unifying national vision, because we have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. A response to your call however, will require that we all work together as a force for change to chart our course to Glory.

For all the challenges we have to our democracy, one of our greatest institutions still obtains, free and democratic elections. This is our opportunity to return the power to the people and lead the march to Glory!

I am the proud legacy of ESTHER VALERIA HALL-FORBES and FRANKLYN CYRENIUS FORBES natives of Bambarra, Middle Caicos. My parents provided a good life for their seven children, replete with religion in the Jumper tradition; a healthy appreciation for family and our cultural heritage; a sound education, good manners and the ethics of hard work. Throughout my life, these values have served me well in social and professional dealings and they showed up most notably in moments of challenge and conflict. It is these virtues I draw upon as I envision us working toward a Turks and Caicos that is United, Just and Free. Don’t change the guard now? If not now, when? For when the power is restored, the Glory will come! Wop Kon gorge!

My name is Oscar O’Brien Forbes, an All-Island Candidate in the upcoming General Elections

My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders; We are blessed to live on the jewel of the Atlantic, which sits on the most fertile turquoise waters that continue to declare us as the envy of the world. We have also inherited, from our God fearing ancestors, brotherly love and neighbourliness, which are pillars of civilization and characteristics our Creator proclaims, are beautiful by nature. Give me an x and receive an Oscar!

 

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PNP Government not prepared for this work!

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#TurksandCaicos, September 16, 2021 – This is exactly what the PDM was warning the new PNP Administration about, hoping that this did not occur; COVID-19 being spread in our schools amongst our babies. My fears are from the positions of a Parent, a citizen, a Member of Parliament, a former Minister of Health, and a Scientist.

In my press release from a week ago I stated “And we know how critical it is to get our children back to school. It is especially critical for their mental health and their development. In achieving this, the Government must ensure that schools can open with confidence, both in capacity and in the broader public health indicators that exist. Safety of our children and our families should be driving the decisions of the Government every step of the way.”

I then went on to say “Our first job must be to care for our children, and provide a safe learning environment. However, the PNP Administration’s readiness for the reopening of Schools this week was frightening to observe. All occurrences showed that this PNP Administration was not adequately prepared, and did not provide the schools, through the Department of Education, the much-needed budgetary support in human resources, adequate safety materials, supplies and early provision of book-list. In addition, they did not provide the schools with any enhanced and improved health and safety guidelines.  They should not put your child and your family at risk.”

And now our worse fears are coming through. This new Government should immediately adjust protocols, execute their contingency plans, if any, and take all mitigating actions to prevent further spread. Immediate action is needed.

I had also stated that; “The Government had every opportunity to be more than ready to mitigate against all the known challenges that the Pandemic presents. It would have been in everyone’s best interest if the Government had budgeted for the hiring of more teachers, and more staff for the schools, which would enable decreasing class sizes, hence providing our students and teachers with a safer environment.”

It is not a bad thing to admit that you got something wrong, and then immediately correct the mistakes, especially when the lives at risk are our children.  It is bad when no immediate action or adjustments are made to correct the mistakes.  The Government has fell down in many areas while executing the re-opening of schools under a covid-19 environment.

The new PNP administration must take urgent actions, and after, immediately address the issues of overcrowding, class sizes, number of teachers, Cohort groups/school hours, and school health and surveillance systems.

Do not fail our children, our future, our parents, our families, and our country.

 

Hon. Edwin A. Astwood

Leader of the Opposition

 

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Caribbean News

CARICOM African Leaders Identify Areas of Co-Operation at Historic First Summit

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CARICOM, September 13, 2021 – Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Africa have committed to strengthen collaboration and unity and to foster increased trade, investment and people-to-people engagement between the two regions.

The commitment was given during the historic First CARICOM-Africa Summit hosted by Kenya and held virtually on 7 September 2021.  His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, Chair of the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) presided over the Summit which was attended by Heads of State and Government as well as Heads of Regional Integration Secretariats and Institutions of CARICOM and Africa.

Speakers at the Summit noted its historic nature and that African and Caribbean cultural and political ties run deep based on a shared history, culture, as well as a sense of a common identity.  They cited common historical experiences which inspired the Pan-African Movement championed by the Africans and the diaspora and which established the foundations of a rich and vibrant African-Caribbean relationship. The Leaders expressed the view that they were obligated to build on that vision. It was also noted that this First Summit was being held during the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent.

Key areas of possible co-operation and collaboration were identified by both parties. In his statement during the opening session, Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Chair of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM proposed that September 7th be celebrated as “Africa-CARICOM Day” with a Summit held annually on that date. He also proposed the creation of a Forum of African and Caribbean Territories and States (FACTS), the codifying of a Founding Charter and a Memorandum of Operation of the Forum, a multi-lateral air services agreement, and an investment protection and a double taxation agreement between African and CARICOM states.

President Kenyatta, in his statement at the Opening cited the blue economy, climate change, health and Covid-19, debt sustainability and technology as areas on which the Regions could work together.

In the discussions, the Leaders stressed the importance of exploiting the Blue Economy to boost growth and development. They also committed to foster increased trade and investment through specific agreements and the enhancement of transportation links between the two regions. This could include the removal of the requirement for visas by nationals of CARICOM and African nations.

The Leaders indicated support for the establishment of a CARICOM/Africa public-private partnership dedicated to mobilizing resources and deploying them in critical cutting-edge projects including renewable energy, the creative industries and digital technology. They called for the establishment of a joint CARICOM/AU electronic mass media platform or mechanism to facilitate the flow of news, information and artistic programming between CARICOM and Africa. On the institutional front, they proposed the establishment of an African-Caribbean Forum and the drafting of an Africa-Caribbean Charter and memorandum of understanding to underpin the relationship.

The Heads of State and Government expressed concern about the mutation and spread of the Covid-19 Virus and its effects on the health of the people as well as on the health infrastructure. In that regard, they called for increased access to vaccines and for the building of manufacturing capacity to produce vaccines in Africa and CARICOM enabled by a waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines. The contribution of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) in making vaccines available to CARICOM was lauded.

The existential threat posed by climate change was acknowledged and there was agreement on the need for the global community to act towards curtailing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. They supported a joint approach to the negotiations at COP26 to be held in the United Kingdom in November.

There was strong support for multilateralism and the strengthening and reform of multilateral institutions to become more inclusive to reflect the post-colonial world. The Leaders reiterated their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. While welcoming the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, they emphasised the need for debt relief.

They also called for an end to the illegal and unjust economic embargo against Cuba and to the sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The Heads of State and Government agreed to participate fully in the High Level meeting of the UN General Assembly later this month to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, and to jointly use that event to advance the claim for reparations within the processes of the United Nations.

The Summit ended with a mandate for the institutionalisation of co-operation between the CARICOM Secretariat and the African Union Commission.

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Bahamas News

Commander Defence Force attends UK-Second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Conference, Antigua

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#Bahamas, September 13, 2021 – In keeping with the Global Security Collaborative Framework and Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King’s strategic intent in strengthening joint relationships with its regional and international partnerships, Commodore King attended the UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua from 1- 3 September, 2021 to share best practices and to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Accompanied by his Aide, Sub Lieutenant Delroy Dennis, the sessions also included General Sir Nick Carter; Gen Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant Colonel Simon Westlake Royal Marines United Kingdom’s Defence Attaché to the Caribbean; and Commander Brian Trim MBE RN Commander task Group.

Also in attendance were countries with various Chiefs of Defence Staff, in particular; Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and defence and security partners across the region, who took part virtually, and shared their views on global security and joint partnerships. They all agreed on several initiatives with training and education designed to improve collective capacity to deal with the diverse security challenges that confront the region.

The inaugural conference convened virtually in November 2020, with each of the regional Chiefs of Defence. This second conference focused on building on the success of the virtual event in strengthening the UK-Caribbean relationships, and developing concepts for UK engagement with its Caribbean partners on issues of mutual interest.

The three-day conference commenced with an ice-breaker reception and concert at Blizzard Camp, hosted by Antigua and Barbuda (ATG) – Chief of Defence Staff Colonel Telbert Benjamin, and joined by the Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams. The core conference which took place on September 2nd, began with an opening ceremony, supported by the Prime Minister of ATG, Sir Gaston Browne.

In the first core session, UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland General Sir Nick Carter set out the UK perspective on the strategic context, informed by the recently concluded Integrated Review (IR) and Defence Command Plan (DCP). The three individual sessions covered issues of serious organized crime threats; regional initiatives and the implications for UK Defence engagement; and natural threats.

The UK- CDS expressed his ambition to use the conference as a vehicle for institutional capacity building, military capability development, training and education, doctrine, and concepts. These are ways to maximize collective security development with focused UK engagement while better constructing an approach that matches the region’s aspirations and requirements.

The final session of the three-day conference was held aboard HMS MEDWAY, River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel built on the Clyde. This permanent Caribbean patrol ship was deployed to the Caribbean to support disaster relief and conduct counter-trafficking operations as an alternative setting for a maritime security focused discussion. It served as a setting to discuss regional maritime security, which included talks around preparedness for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response (HADR), and UK involvement in regional partnerships.

Photo Captions: 

Header: Participants at the UK- second Caribbean Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua, 1- 3 September, 2021. 

1st insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Defence Force, presenting his country’s brief on board HMS MEDWAY, during the second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Staff conference in Antigua. 

2nd insert: Commodore Raymond King, Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces: In the front row; Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and General Sir Nick Carter, General Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland.

3rd insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; General de Brigada Angel A Camacho Ubiera Inspector General of the Dominican Republic Army; Antigua and Barbuda – Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces Trinidad and Tobago; and Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces.

(Photos courtesy Mr. Wayne Mariette)

 

 (For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 

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