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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bolivia's Energy Takeover: Populism Rules the Andes
Published: May 3, 2006
[Excerpt from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/03/world/americas/03bolivia.html]

Bolivia's nationalization of its energy industry, announced Monday by President Evo Morales, was a vivid illustration that the populist policies, championed most prominently by Venezuela, were spreading.

The impact on international energy markets is expected to be minimal because Bolivia produces mostly natural gas and exports it to just two countries, Brazil and Argentina.

Symbolically, however, the dispatch of troops to refineries and oilfields threatens to inject more nationalistic fervor into the policies of Bolivia and other energy exporters, in Latin America and abroad.

"We're experiencing the supremacy of emotional politics at this time," Gonzalo Chávez, an economist at the Catholic University of La Paz in Bolivia, said in a telephone interview. "The nationalization was received with great enthusiasm, but we'll have to wait and see how the economic impact of all this plays out."

Many countries have already taken steps to assert greater control over their natural resources, spurred by nationalist politics and lofty energy prices.

Major oil suppliers like Saudi Arabia and Iran nationalized their oil interests decades ago. Russia recently reorganized its domestic energy industries as well. But it is in the Andean region where momentum is quickly building for a greater government role.

Venezuela, a top supplier of oil to the United States, is at the forefront of this trend, recently forcing foreign energy companies to accept state control of important ventures.

Ecuador imposed rules in April that increase the state's share of windfall oil profits, while in Peru, Ollanta Humala, a presidential candidate, has called for a more aggressive government role in natural gas and mining operations.

On Tuesday, Bolivia's vice president, Álvaro García, said major mining companies would also have to pay higher taxes. "There are not going to be company expropriations, of course," he told a local radio station, according to Reuters, "but we're going to assume a greater level of state control."

The government said it expected the nationalization of its energy sector, which includes the second-largest natural gas reserves in Latin America, behind Venezuela's, to raise its annual revenues by more than $300 million, to $780 million.

"I don't think the game is over," said Lawrence J. Goldstein, president of the PIRA Energy Group, which is based in New York and is supported by the petroleum industry. "It's going to move from the Americas to the Africans. This is a very dangerous precedent."

Bolivia's step highlighted the region's changing political landscape, pointing first to the weakening influence of the United States, and to the rising profile of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, who has been empowered by soaring oil revenues.

But it also threatened to open a schism among the region's new wave of left-leaning leaders. Brazil's president, Luis Ignácio da Silva, while nominally left-leaning, has drifted more toward the center since his election in 2002. Now he will have to negotiate a way out of the current crisis for his country, which is one of the biggest investors in Bolivia's energy industry and the main buyer of Bolivia's natural gas.

Brazil announced late Tuesday that Mr. da Silva would meet Thursday in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, with Mr. Morales and with Argentina's president, Néstor Kirchner, to press for stability in energy supplies and prices. Mr. Chávez may also attend.

The Brazilian state oil company, Petrobras, the nation's largest company, is among the small number of foreign energy companies that will feel the brunt of Bolivia's decision.

At a news conference on Tuesday, André Singer, a Brazilian government spokesman, said Petrobras would maintain its Bolivian operations for the time being, though it remained wary of future investments.

Other energy companies affected include the BG Group in Britain, Repsol-YPF S.A. of Spain and Total of France. The only Bolivian investment of Exxon Mobil, the largest American oil company, is a minority stake in a nonproducing gas field controlled by Total.

The president of Repsol, Antonio Brufau, said the Bolivian decree fell "outside the norms and logic of business that should be the guides for relations between companies and governments."

Companies said they were waiting for more details to emerge and for negotiations or legal arbitration to begin with the Bolivian government, which has given them six months to agree to the new conditions or leave.

For the largest natural gas fields, the decree would give the government 82 percent control, including royalties, taxes and direct stakes, while that level would be lower for smaller fields.

But specifics remain to be clarified, in particular whether infrastructure or assets will be seized without compensation. The decree described earlier policies giving foreign companies a foothold as "treason."

Edward E. Miller, president of Gas TransBoliviano S.A., a company that operates part of the pipeline to Brazil, said people in the energy industry were still trying to make sense of the changes.

"We have military in front of our offices, but they're not doing anything but making sure people don't take anything out of the offices," Mr. Miller said in a telephone interview from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia. "They're not abrasive, they just don't want anyone to leave with laptops or documents."

In taking such a bold step, Mr. Morales appeared to have taken a cue from President Chávez, who has used his oil money to buttress alliances. In Bolivia's case, Venezuela has agreed to supply about 200,000 barrels a month of subsidized diesel, donated about $30 million for social programs and sent literacy volunteers into the Bolivian countryside.

Just a day before his nationalization speech, Mr. Morales entered into a trade agreement with Venezuela and Cuba called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.

"Chávez is forcing Bolivia into a radical shift," said Roger Tissot, director of markets and countries for PFC Energy, a consulting firm in Washington. "That is the major headache for the U.S."

The Bush administration has quietly tried to engage the new Bolivian government, though that overture and Brazil's efforts to moderate Mr. Morales appear to have had little effect.

A perception that foreign oil and mining concerns have exploited landlocked Bolivia has been a driving force in the country's politics for decades. But it gained new currency after Bolivia and other nations in the region reopened the energy industry in the 1990's.

Since then, there have been boisterous protests and a tide of electoral revolts by voters who felt that the economic benefits had not spread to the poor.

Bolivians have also chafed somewhat at their dependence on Brazil. Petrobras controls 45 percent of Bolivia's natural gas fields, and part of a pipeline that supplies 51 percent of Brazil's need for natural gas.

At the same time, Brazilian companies, eager to expand into neighboring countries, have been struggling to do so without offending their hosts.

"Brazilian companies still do not have a nuanced approach, a diplomatic culture, particularly in relation to smaller countries," Luís Nassif, one of Brazil's leading economic commentators, recently wrote in the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. "They are arrogant, like the British before World War II."

Yet while Brazil might feel tremors from Bolivia's decision, it is Bolivia that may be risking its potential as a major natural gas exporter.

Companies had been holding off on investments in Bolivia for some time, unnerved by growing talk of precisely the kind of step that Mr. Morales took this week. Foreign direct investment, much of which goes to energy and mining, fell to $103 million in 2005, from $1 billion in 1999.

What is more, unlike oil, natural gas is not easily exportable, with costly liquefaction facilities, customized tankers or pipelines needed to take the fuel to markets. Chile, a potential market for Bolivian gas, may choose instead a project to import the fuel from as far away as Africa.

Even Brazil, while now reliant on Bolivian gas, has recently discovered large offshore gas reserves of its own. Thus the window of opportunity for Bolivia to become a leading gas exporter may be closing, even as it grows more courageous in its dealings with foreigners.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Benefactor of Caribbean Immigrants Is Accused of Defrauding Them
Published: May 1, 2006
[Execerpt of article found at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/01/nyregion/01garifuna.html?_r=1&oref=slogin]

For years, the Garifuna people came to Southern Boulevard to mourn their past. Then they started going there for another reason, not out of grief but pride. They came to see Maria Elena Maximo.

On March 25, 1990, a fire at the Happy Land Social Club killed 87 people, at least half of whom were Garifuna, a small Central American ethnic group that has struggled to maintain its identity and traditions in this city of immigrants. The building, at 1959 Southern Boulevard, remains standing today, a reminder of one of the deadliest arson cases and mass murders in New York City history, and hallowed ground for the Garifuna.

Ms. Maximo, 53, is one of them, and a few years ago she set up a small storefront about a block away. She established herself as an advocate for the Garifuna and other immigrants, helping them prepare and file their immigration papers and offering English, computer and other classes as president of a nonprofit group.

When she discovered that the Garifuna were having trouble attracting grants without an accurate count of their numbers, Ms. Maximo made plans to conduct a census. She offered to help clean the granite monument erected on a traffic island in honor of Happy Land victims and was given a key to its gate by the City Parks and Recreation Department. In March, she paid tribute to the victims at an event recognizing the 16th anniversary of the fire.

Nine days later, she was under arrest, accused of defrauding the immigrants who looked up to her as a leader.

On Southern Boulevard and in other parts of the Bronx, there is now confusion and anger. "It hurts a lot as a Garifuna to hear this," said Elena Gutierrez, 28, a Honduran immigrant who took G.E.D. classes at Ms. Maximo's storefront. "It's very hard when something like this happens. Now no one will believe in anyone anymore."

Ms. Maximo was arrested in connection with a scheme to charge illegal immigrants $500 to $2,500 each to apply for work permits and green cards for which they were not eligible. State and federal prosecutors said she submitted more than 1,300 fraudulent applications in 2004 and 2005, receiving an estimated $1 million from her customers.

Most of these immigrants were seeking documents through a federal amnesty and legalization program. The authorities said Ms. Maximo misrepresented the program, telling her clients that to qualify, they had to have been in the country for just a few years — 4, 5, or 10 years. But the program was closed to anyone who entered the United States after 1981.

Many of Ms. Maximo's clients never got a green card. Many never got their money back. In a cruel twist, faulty applications filed by Ms. Maximo led to deportation proceedings for a few clients.

After her arrest, someone scrawled "ladrón," Spanish for "thief," on the door of her Harrison Avenue apartment.

"I thought it was good stuff, but she was just faking it," said Scarly Joseph, a 26-year-old day care provider from Haiti, who said she paid Ms. Maximo $2,000 to file a green card application for her after she overstayed her tourist visa. Ms. Joseph earns $250 a week and used all her savings and borrowed from a friend to pay the $2,000. She is still waiting to hear about the status of her application. "I worked so hard for that money," she said, "and I don't know how I'm going to get that money back."

Ms. Maximo was charged with two counts of mail fraud and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count. Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan, announced the arrest on April 4, the same day State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed a lawsuit against her alleging fraud. Ms. Maximo, who was released on bond after her arrest, declined to comment, saying her lawyer advised her to do so. "Believe me, I would like to spill my guts," she said. "We have nothing to hide."

Of the more than 1,300 applications Ms. Maximo filed, some have been denied and others are in the process of being denied, the authorities said. But some immigrants said in interviews that they did receive green cards after Ms. Maximo filed their paperwork.

Court documents identify at least three cases in which faulty claims for asylum and legalization filed by Ms. Maximo led to deportation hearings. Details about the outcome of those proceedings were not available.

In one of those cases, a man from Trinidad said he paid Ms. Maximo nearly $1,400 for work permits for him and his wife. Ms. Maximo had applied for political asylum on their behalf without their knowledge, he said. As a result, his wife was ordered to leave the country in January. "I just wanted my money's worth, as they say," he said. "Nothing came out of it. Only bad, no good," said the man, who was granted anonymity because of his illegal status.

allegations have shocked many Caribbean and Central American immigrants, from whom Ms. Maximo drew many of her clients. They say the charges amount to a kind of breach of trust, as illegal immigrants, often suspicious of outsiders and the government, turned to Ms. Maximo, herself an immigrant from Honduras, for help in becoming citizens. "It's difficult to believe," said Evelin Milla, 19, a Honduran immigrant who studied at the storefront on Southern Boulevard and considered Ms. Maximo a friend. "But with experience comes betrayal."

Still, among the Garifuna, descendants of West African slaves and Arawak Indians from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent who were forcibly relocated to Central America by the British, there are those who believe she is innocent.

"If you asked me if Ms. Maximo would cheat people out of a million dollars, I would say no," said Mark Ford, a Garifuna who lives in the Bronx and has known Ms. Maximo for four years. "I would trust her with my relatives. Not just friends, but my relatives."

A spokesman for the Parks Department said Ms. Maximo volunteered to spruce up the Happy Land monument, which is ringed by buckets of drooping yellow flowers and silk lilies. After being given a key to the memorial's red-painted gate, she changed the locks without the department's permission, the spokesman said. Those locks have since been replaced.

The Happy Land fire was started by a Cuban refugee who was thrown out of the club after arguing with his ex-girlfriend. He returned with a plastic jug filled with a dollar's worth of gasoline and set fire to the door. Most of the victims were trapped and asphyxiated on the crowded second floor.

A cousin of Ms. Maximo lost his son in the fire. Another cousin, Antonieta Maximo, the former consul general of Honduras in New York, helped get the Happy Land monument built.

Maria Gale, who lost her daughter and five other relatives in the fire, and Isabel Nunez, who lost her two younger brothers, said they were outraged that Ms. Maximo had received the key to the memorial gate. They said a relative of one of the victims should have been given the key, and were skeptical of Ms. Maximo's eagerness to help them.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

COPYRIGHT - Time To Understand
By Joseph Guerrero

[Excerpt from April 2006 Amandala News article by Joe Guerrero, President of the Belize Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers]

“You mean to tell me that in addition to paying them to perform I now must pay a
licensing fee?” asked the quintessential Belizean attorney indignantly.

“Yes sir” the visitor to his office answered simply, continuing on and not surprised by the response, “that is exactly what I’m telling you.”. “This is inconceivable to me that I should have to pay a licensing fee after they have already been paid to perform” replied the attorney. He added in a devils advocate manner “ then I simply won’t use them”

This response was also expected it had been heard so many times before that by now the visitor to this prominent Belizean attorney’s office did not even react at the thought of possibly losing one his clients a paying job. The visitor then went on to explain that yes even though the band was being paid to perform a licensing fee for the venue of the event was due from the promoters. This licensing fee it was explained to the apparently stunned attorney is for permission to use the songs at the event. Paying performers at an event it was further explained does not automatically give permission to use the songs.

To use these particular songs at the event the promoter needed to be licensed by Belizean Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (BSCAP). BSCAP is a collective management organization. A collective management organization is an organization which represents many songwriters and intellectual property owners. It makes an agreement with those intellectual property holders to represent them all. They then license the use of these works to interested parties. In this particular case we are talking about songwriters. The significance of the conversation with the attorney will become clearer as this article continues.

Songwriters in Belize have rights under the Belizean Law of Copyright. Belizean law
provides for songwriters and other intellectual property holders, various rights by which they can earn a living from their creations. We should, as a society, not take this lightly. We cannot be dismissive of the rights of Belizean song-writers to earn a living from their creations. In fact we need to encourage this as they are the foremost expressionists of our culture. BSCAP was created to exercise the rights of the songwriters. These rights include the right to reproduce the work in various forms such as printed publication ora sound recording. Secondly, the public performance right. This important right is the focus of this article. Third is the right of broadcasting the work by radio, cable or satellite. Fifth is the right of adaptation of the work such as adapting a novel into a movie. Sixth is the right of distribution. Then there are other rights such as paternal rights or the right to claim ownership of his work. Also among his rights is the right tooppose changes to the work that could negatively effect the authors reputation. This is commonly known as “artistic integrity”.

BSCAP is geared to collecting licensing fees for all Belizean musicians claiming
copyrights of original works. It is currently accepting members and already has among its members the likes of Bredda David, composer Jason Guerrero, Chico Ramos, Supa-G Lloyd and Reckless, arranger Harry “chagu” Thompson, South Blaze, and many others. In short BSCAP has among its repertoire about 90% of original Belizean music. BSCAP will begin licensing users of these works this year. As the attorney said upon learning that licensing fees are appropriate “we simply won’t use them”. This I’m sure will be the very unpatriotic reaction of the users of Belizean music. Namely radio stations and television stations at this time but soon to include hotels, the tourism industry, bars, clubs etc. Are we cutting off our noses to spite our faces? Lets look at the ramification of this type of reaction. Firstly we as a society will appear to have no originality of our own. Secondly, we will continue to show our children that outside culture is more valuable than our own. Thirdly what are the repercussions on our own dignity as an independent nation should we decide not to pay a licensing fee and only use works of foreign artists? I’m sure it will be immeasureable. Soon Belize will have permission to license the works of all foreign artists anyway. This will happen before the year 2006
has passed. When works are performed on the radio stations of Belize without a
licensing fee being paid for their use it is an infringement of copyright. Belize, as a law abiding nation cannot tolerate this any longer. Belize must begin to treat its own creative force with some dignity. Songwriters can make a decent living in Belize despite belief to the contrary. To do this they must be allowed to negotiate with users of their works through BSCAP for a fair settlement for use of their works. An annual licensing fee paid by all users of such works will help to sustain this creativity and the families of these talented people. This is not a new concept. In fact lets look at Belizean artist Chico Ramos, through radio stations world wide paying licensing fees he has made a significant amount of money through the licensing of his songs world wide. China a communist nation seems to have more respect for Chico than Belize does. China pays Chico for the use of his songs on their radio. Mexico is a big market for Belizean music as well. Mexico pays Chico for use of his music on their radio. Why shouldn’t Belize’s radio stations? Why should he risk having his music banned in Belize if he or any other songwriter asks for fair compensation from our radio stations? Lets look at another scenario. Last year while in Belize a commercial on the radio could be heard. It was a commercial for a jewelry store in Belize City. On the commercial it used a song written
and performed by Chico as background music. It was a song called “Married to Ah!” and the radio commercial encouraged buyers to shop at this store for that special engagement ring. “Married to Ah!” was a big hit in Belize. It makes people pay attention to the commercial. The store probably saw an increase in sales. They did not get permission to use that song from the songwriter. They infringed on his copyright as well. They also used the original recording of “Married to Ah!” they also needed permission from the owner of that recording to use it. If Chico does not own the recording they cannot just use it at will. If Chico’s music publisher gave them permission to use the song they would have had to make their own version or also get permission from the owner of the original recording to use that recording.

Hopefully we all have a better idea of the dynamics of copyright ownership and the
ramifications thereof. As long as music is performed in public whether there is a fee involved to the public or not, the venue needs to have a license from BSCAP. BSCAP is a not for profit organization made up of songwriters and music publishers from Belize.

BSCAP represents virtually the entire local repertoire of Belizean songwriters. BSCAP expects to represent the international repertoire including American and Jamaican music and Mexican music within Belize’s borders this year. BSCAP seeks to negotiate a fair agreement with all parties involved.

Of particular interest to radio stations and television stations will be the amount of licensing fee charged. As our website at www.bscap.org will tell you, it depends on how the music is being used. Obviously if the music is used to bring in business as in the case of radios, television and clubs etc, then that is one type of fee. Other types of fees are based on use in background as in restaurants or casual bars. Another type of fee would be for associations, political parties, private clubs. Airlines in Belize also need to be licensed as music is used while the airplanes are in Belizean territory. The tourism industry too needs to pay some licensing fees as music is used in many of these businesses. There will be many more applications of licensing fees within Belize. This gives our songwriters an opportunity to earn something from their work. BSCAP should not be feared. Licensing fees will be appropriate and very fair across the board. In some
cases licensing fees will be based on percentage in others it will be a straight fee. In all cases it will be fair. BSCAPs activities will bring legitimacy to Belize and help to decrease copyright infringement and by extension piracy or the unauthorized copying of recorded material.

Application forms to BSCAP may be attained at #8 Ramos Road in Dangriga or at #23m Farbers Road in Belize City. Again our website is located at www.bscap.org. Our website contains information useful to artists and the users of theirworks. Intellectual property is protected under the current laws of Belize. Its time to understand its applications and use which will only at long last benefit Belizean songwriters.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Free Market Reggae

It is eleven pm at the two-story headquarters of Headline Entertainment in Kingston, Jamaica. But the only person sleeping is a haggard security guard at the bottom of the stairwell. The hills overlooking Kingston have long grown dim, yet Jerome Hamilton is on speaker-phone making last-minute bookings for a tour featuring Shaggy – the barrel-voiced, Gulf War and dance hall music veteran.

Hamilton lounges in an oversized jersey and jeans, gathering strength for his Friday night appearance at a nearby club. Hamilton runs a prominent talent relations agency, promoting artists whose faces grace the covers of glossy magazines – like Sean Paul and Damian Marley. He also represents lesser-known talents who scramble for overseas gigs to make a meager income.

Hamilton’s experience paints a schizophrenic picture of the global music industry. “With 8…artists on major U.S. labels, you’d hope to get a good deal for everyone,” says Hamilton. “Things still have to change.”

In Jamaica, reggae is ubiquitous, rising above the din of traffic as it blasts from boom boxes and car speakers at Mobil gas stations, fast food joints and storefronts. Almost any night of the week, you can sit in an open air café or club and witness the lyrical and musical prowess of young MC’s at an open mic’ event.

But as for recorded reggae and dance hall, Jamaica has not fully reaped the rewards of its thriving musical tradition. In 2000, estimates of overall worldwide earnings from exports of reggae music were as high as $2.5 billion. But Jamaican earnings from recorded reggae music were estimated at only $300 million. The numbers translate into poverty for many popular dance hall artists, despite the commercial success of a few.

However, recent legal and business developments in the music industry could help to plant the seeds of economic growth for Jamaican artists and producers hungry to cash in on their own culture.

Changes in the industry have been long-awaited – since the 1950’s and 1960’s, when ska and early reggae pioneers recorded their music on a work-for-hire basis for coveted Kingston producers like Coxscone Dodds of Studio One. When the home-grown music sprouted a following in Britain, savvy producers began selling the songs (part and parcel with their intellectual property rights) to overseas distributors and producers, and eventually, to labels like Island Records, Greensleeves, Atlantic and Virgin.

Early Jamaican artists faced a quandary like blues artists such as Leadbelly or Muddy Waters, stripped of the publishing rights to many of their songs. But Jamaica’s small island status magnified the problem. Without access to major-league capital or markets, Jamaica’s recording industry and its artists made little progress while the United States and Europe advanced.

Today, the main demand for reggae lies outside of the Caribbean, so the industry remains underdeveloped on the island. “We don’t have the populous or the liquidity to support the superstar lifestyle,” says Steve Golding, Chair of JACAP, Jamaica’s equivalent to the United States’ Association of Songwriters, Composers and Publishers (ASCAP). As proof, Jamaica has only one major record label, VP Records, which functions as a New York based production and distribution house, and does not formally represent artists.

Golding believes that building up the industry’s legal and business infrastructure could foster its development. Success “is all about positioning the product,” he says, sounding like a marketing executive for Pepsi rather than a one-time guitarist for Peter Tosh.

Like ASCAP in the United States, Golding’s JACAP serves as an intermediary between composers and publishers and the listening public. Acting as a middleman, JACAP documents the ownership of its members’ songs, collects statutory royalties from radio airplay and license fees from live performance venues, and administers payments to songwriters and publishers for their intellectual property rights. Unlike ASCAP, JACAP does not yet handle mechanical, i.e., reproduction rights.

In 2003, following a trend towards regional integration taking place in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa, JACAP pooled its resources with Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago to establish the Caribbean Copyright Link (CCL). CCL has created a music clearinghouse that is a snapshot of what the future could look like for artists in the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), a proposed market space along the lines of the European Union that would remove trade barriers among 14 nations in the region.

CCL’s database, launched with the help of the international community, holds close to 2.4 million registered musical works from the Caribbean and around the world.

With better documentation, royalty collections, and thus distributions to artists, should increase. CCL projects that distributions to Caribbean artists have already increased by 30 percent since its inception. JACAP’s execution of agreements with ASCAP, BMI and London’s Performing Rights Society (PRS) – which will allow for reciprocal payments for songs played across international borders – should also increase collections.

Not only could increased collections put an estimated $60 million in Jamaica’s coffers; it could create incentives for Jamaican artists to sign on to JACAP instead of foreign publishing societies such as ASCAP, says Carol Simpson Robinson, Senior Program Officer for the Jamaican Intellectual Property Organization (JIPO).

“Unless you are selling millions of [record] copies like a Sean Paul or a Shaggy, there is not much you can make initially,” she admits. On the other hand, “JACAP has signed licensing agreements with all of Jamaica’s radio and television stations” as well as its major music venues, says Robinson. “So if you’re joined to your national society and you have just about made it, chances are it will be possible for you to earn [royalties]…at home.”

Still, the transition to JACAP feels risky for many artists. Yogie, a self-producing, Rastafarian chef cum reggae performer and producer, is currently a member of England’s PRS, which handled most local royalty collections prior to JACAP’s formation. Yogie hesitates. “Royalties are the only thing that I have that no-one can take away,” he says. “You need to give me a good track record…in order for me to turn that over to you.”

Artists’ concerns about their intellectual property rights reflect the uncertainties of the digital music arena. Like the Internet – which has propelled dance hall into unchartered territory while leading to piracy – the growth of digital recording and listening technologies represents both a boon and a barrier to industry growth.

Oswald James, a Jamaican born, Canadian-raised attorney who has represented artists like Beenie Man and Elephant Man, believes that the legal and business changes in Jamaica’s industry show signs of hope despite the growth of a fast-paced, competitive global industry. With “proper contracting” and “sound marketing,” artists can be successful in the international market, says James.

To do so, artists and advocates like JACAP may need to obtain greater support from their government – a gargantuan task, according to James. “This is a music that emanates from the ghetto,” he says. “So the government must go down to the ghetto, to Trenchtown and Tivoli, and talk to the people on a level they can understand.”

Jerome Hamilton agrees that the government should create more initiatives to support the industry’s growth. But many public officials perceive dance hall as “uncontrollable and risqué,” he says. “They appreciate its value; however, their current association with it is limited.”

For James, the fate of reggae, dance hall and the island hold in the balance. “There is a fundamental change occurring” he says. “Our future lies in entertainment.” But, he says, “it depends on which direction the government is prepared to go.”

For Hamilton, “regional integration is ultimately the way to go.” But, first, he says, “we must …build a more viable industry at home.”

© Nyasha Laing 2004