Sunday, May 29, 2011

RNG Week- St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Today will mark the beginning of something we'll call RNG Week. It's pretty simple: the Random News Generator is run once a day for the next week. We're doing this mainly so I can do a little bit of assignment training for when and if I make it into the pros. The idea is, the Random News Generator gives me a country and I then have to work within that. But then, up to this point, I've picked the days I want to go to the RNG. The training I have in mind is to see how I do when I have a solid week of limited control over the choice of topic. Odds are, in the event I'm taken on by someone, that will end up being a regular thing.

In addition, normally, if I determine there truly is nothing going on in the place that's been selected, I can just spin again. Not here. I'm taking that privilege away from myself for the week, because we're going to make the schedule right now, in front of everyone, and stick with it. Be kind to me, RNG...

TODAY: St. Vincent and the Grenadines
MONDAY: Canada
TUESDAY: St. Helena
THURSDAY: Gibraltar
FRIDAY: Turkey
SATURDAY: Congo-Brazzaville

That was not being kind. I gave you life, I hope you know.

Fine then. Today, it's St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Back on Tuesday, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard picked up three nationals of Trinidad and Tobago in a boat five miles off the coast of Ottley Hall Marina & Shipyard in Kingstown. The three were carrying 11 bags filled with 472 pounds of marijuana. The street value is over $4 million, though that's given a piece written in Trinidad and Tobago, which uses the Trinidad and Tobago dollar. That works out to about $630,000 American. Authorities believe the three, traveling in a boat with two Yamaha outboard motors running 200 horsepower apiece, had acquired the marijuana in St. Vincent and were headed for Trinidad. The ages and hometowns of the three were released, but names are unavailable. They are at last report being held at St. Vincent.

St. Vincent is, according to the US State Department, St. Vincent is the largest producer of marijuana in the Eastern Caribbean, partially a result of the country trying to diversify away from bananas, which currently make up half the economy and employ 60% of the workforce. The rise of marijuana, and its subsequent distribution throughout the Caribbean, has in turn given rise to a conflict in the region. On one hand, the Rastafarian community is thrilled, seeing as they need marijuana for religious purposes. On the other, marijuana is not legal in the Caribbean, and on top of that, the Rastafarians have over the years felt discriminated against. That includes Jamaica. Junior Spirit Cottle of Agencia Prensa Rural tells of underestimating the marijuana community playing a factor in the 2001 defeat of the ruling New Democratic Party, though most other sources tell more of a party that had become complacent and corrupt. The NDP, however, has since returned to power.

They return in the wake of the opposition ULP instituting a two-week eradication program in the spring of 2009 called "Vincy Pac". Vincy Pac resulted in the destruction of 51 marijuana fields, 42,683 pounds of dried and compressed marijuana, and 8.5 million plants and seedlings. 12 firearms were seized, and 30 people were arrested.

Over the past decade, the marijuana community, until then largely a nonvoting group, has attempted to flex some political muscle, in St. Vincent and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

As it stands, they still have a long way to go.

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