All that Jazz!!!

   Last week I alluded to the fact that we are experiencing great moments, great opportunities!!! This week I hold firmer to the Murphy Law, if it can happen, it will. For the first time in thirteen years a day of Jazz on the main stage was rained out. The number thirteen (13) has always been looked upon with superstition. When it falls on a Friday, it is referred to as Black Friday.

   In spite of the rained out Sunday show on Pigeon Island, Jazz 2004 was great, the shows in the countryside were great. The people turned out in large numbers. Those who were fortunate to see Kenny G at Pigeon Island got their money’s worth. He started his segment of the show in the center of the crowd, and worked his way unto the stage, I was told he found his way back in the crowds towards the end of his performance. I was so musically satisfied that after experiencing his triumphant entry unto the stage, I savoured a few more tunes and moved away from the crowd to quench my thirst.

   I am confident that there were many lessons to be learnt from Jazz 2004. Everybody will now have a solution, however that is after the fact. I would like to suggest that it is time for the Tourist Board to organize two national consultations on the future of St. Lucia Jazz as we seek to involve the people in the project that has done us well and make St. Lucia a well known country around the world. Let all those who have a contribution to make, make it and I am certain this can only enhance the goodwill of the Tourist Board as they seek to take Jazz to the people. Maybe after the initial town hall meetings, there should be annual get together for postmortem and current input after each St. Lucia Jazz programme. The debate will definitely continue for a long time and it is against that background that I am recommending at least 2 town hall meetings, one in Castries and one in Vieux Fort. Enough said for Jazz.

A Political Development Worthy of Note:

   As we were in high gear celebrating St. Lucia Jazz 2004, the world’s largest democracy – India was holding general elections where the incumbent BJP Party lost to the Congress Party. The most important development in the elections to me was that the Italian born Mrs. Sonia Gandhi led the Congress Party to victory. However when she attempted to assume office as Prime Minister, it was a different story. I was watching with interest to see if the situation that existed in Guyana when an American born white female who was married to a national by birth became President of Guyana, and by extension if that occurred in India then the world would have been awakened to a new reality that persons who did not acquire nationality by birth had an equal opportunity to lead the country when they acquired citizenship.

   It didn’t happen as Mrs. Gandhi gave in to pressures and a male member of the party emerged. The complex religious and cultural implications made it difficult if not impossible for such a development to be fully accepted. The new Prime of India is Dr. Manmohan Singh who is an economist by profession and is promoting a market led economy. He began the country’s economic reform in his previous term in the Congress Party as Finance Minister and is now given the opportunity and authority to finish the job. He seems to understand that economic progress is not enough. The BJP Party did have an impressive growth of 8 percent but the effect did not trickle down. The Technology Industry gains did not get to the rural communities.

   The new Prime Minister is calling for market reform with a human face. I get the feeling that the nation’s wealth in spite of a market led economy will be equitably distributed to the people.  It will be interesting to see how the new strategy of reaching the poor will be implemented.

Politics USA Style:

   For the first time Senator John Kerry the Democratic Presidential Candidate designate is clearly ahead of President Bush. I have a feeling that this is temporary.  On the flip side if Sen. Kerry was managing his campaign better and not making statements and have to explain them, many times providing an opposite position, he would have been ahead a long time ago.

   The battle for the White House will be a tough one. I can’t wait for the Democratic Convention when at the latest a running mate for Sen. Kerry will be named. He needs a strong person to stand by his side. However, he seems to be getting over his double talk and now coming across Presidential. I am still not ruling out Sen. Hilary Clinton as the running mate. She has all the qualities that can make the difference to the ticket.

   Iraq is not helping President Bush and then as if he hasn’t enough on his plate, he is heading for Cuba. President Castro is very pro active and has responded with a show of people’s power along with harsh words for President Bush. Ambassador Victor Ramirez is mobilizing all the support he can get and is keeping the people of St. Lucia informed. I feel that he tightening of sanctions on Cuba is a vote catching ploy by President Bush as he seeks to position himself to capture Florida with a large majority in the upcoming elections but this can backfire. President Bush seems to be in much more trouble than Sen. Kerry as the campaign heats up.

   The world is a very confused place as it has been revealed that religion when effectively exploited can be the most powerful weapon. Terrorism is a system that creates anxiety, uncertainty and confusion. The big question is - what can America do to bring peace to a troubled world? 

   Keep the Faith, God is in charge!