Headlines      Issue Released July 2 2003

The memorable week that was

Caribbean literary artists take Toronto by storm

By Ramabai Espinet

Toronto — The past week in this Canadian city has been a charged and memorable one for Caribbean people. No matter how settled we seem to be here, the presence of our Caribbean selves within our Can-adian selves always provides an im-mense comfort.

And that comfort has been present in extravagant quantities in the last little while, unusual in these pre-Caribana days when all the excitement is held at bay in anticipation of the midsummer festivities during the August long weekend.


 I’m talking about the book fair, the Caribbean Can-adian Literary Expo (CCLE) which began on June 18, 2003 with a gala at the Metropolitan hotel and ended on June 21, the day of the summer solstice, with a magnificent reading called “The Colour of Language” on the Mainstage of the Design Centre in the heart of Toronto’s financial district.

The two-day event was packed with readings by Caribbean artists drawn from around the world - indeed, on Saturday the Mainstage witnessed one series of readings after another, always packed with listeners, while the booths were equally packed with browsers and chatterers to the extent that emcees had to call repeatedly for voices to be lowered. A seamless event: for the book people, performers, booksellers, the consulates that initiated and managed the event and the scores of volunteers who made it possible. The event is planned as a biennial book fair but word of mouth has it that there is enough juice in this city to do it annually.

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Govt releases funds to BWIA

Port-of-Spain - Cash-strapped national carrier BWIA can now draw down up to (TT) $30 million to stay financially afloat even as the government has promised the airline over $85 million more.

Cabinet agreed to provide BWIA the money, giving the airline access to the $116.8 million it was promised by the government. But while BWIA can immediately draw down as much as $30 million to pay its debts and stay in the air, it will have to make a request to get the remainder of the financial assistance, Trade Minister Kenneth Valley said Monday.
Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who is also the Minister of Finance, will have to make the decision to give BWIA the $85 million more.

"This is to protect the government since the government has given BWIA's lessor (International Lease Finance Corporation) the assurance that BWIA will make its lease payments," Valley said.
Valley was speaking from Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where he is attending the Caricom Heads of Government Summit.

BWIA's access to new funding comes as it is set to declare a loss of approximately US $30 million for the financial year ended December 31, 2002.
After getting two extensions to file its results, BWIA has submitted its 2002 figures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Results are expected to be released this week.

BWIA posted similar losses of just under US $30 million in 2001.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonzalves will outline a plan of action for the possible merger of BWIA and Liat on Friday.
Valley confirmed that by July 15, a new holding company would be established to oversee the operations of both airlines.

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Search on in Brazil for kidnapped Guyanese hotel owner

Three Federal police officers among four men charged

Georgetown — Today will be day 11 since Guyanese businessman Mohamed Khan was abducted at the small town of Mucajae, about 80-100 km south of Boa Vista, Brazil. While the search continues to locate the whereabouts of Khan, four Brazilians, among them three Federal police officers, have been arrested and charged in connection with the man’s disappearance.

Khan, 49, owner of the Savannah Inn Guest House in the Central Rupununi and President of the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), was taken off a minibus while travelling in the Portuguese-speaking territory. His three abductors reportedly identified themselves as Brazilian law enforcers.
Last Saturday, Khan’s family was invited by the Brazilian police to inspect a body which was found about twenty kilometres from Boa Vista to determine if it was that of Khan. It turned out not to be that of the missing man.

Khan’s wife, Linda, is optimistic that her husband is still alive saying that for some reason or the other his captors are not releasing him. She is however very frustrated that although the captured men have admitted to the Brazilian authorities that they did abduct her husband, the police there are unable to “squeeze out information from the men as to where he is.”

The RCCI stated that Khan was going on a business trip and simultaneously representing the RCCI at a business venture in Manaus, Brazil, which (if accepted) would have created business opportunities for the Rupununi and for Guyana.


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