CARIBBEAN Jamaica The Gleaner Company was ordered in July 1996 to pay approximately $2.3 million plus costs to a former minister of tourism, Eric Anthony Abrahams. This libel case arose out of an Associated Press story which alleged that Abrahams had received kickbacks from a U.S. advertising agency. The Gleaner Company has appealed. The other major libel suit against the Gleaner Company arose out of a report it carried in 1992 that businessman Leymon Strachan had imported a Mercedes Benz and not paid the required customs duty. The court awarded the plaintiff $650,000. The Gleaner Company appealed this judgment and sought leave to introduce new evidence in support of its case which the court has upheld. Antigua and Barbuda In Antigua, the Daily Observer, one of the few media outlets which is independent of government control, published a letter critical of a ruling by a judge in a case involving the death of a young student. The driver of the car which hit the student when he was on the sidewalk was freed on payment of $7,500. The judge threatened the writer of the letter with a jail term for criticizing his judgment. The letter writer, apparently out of fear, apologized in the newspaper to the judge, and. the threat of jail was then withdrawn. Guyana The state still has a monopoly of radio broadcasting. A draft Broadcasting Bill was introduced some time ago which could lead to changes in this situation, but the government has so far resisted pressure to issue licenses for private radio stations. Trinidad aud Tobago From the very inception of his administration, Prime Minister Basdeo Pan day was on a collision course with the media. He started by singling out the Guardian newspaper and its editor-in-chief in early 1996. This was followed in 1997 by a clash with the publisher of Caribbean Communications Network over a proposal to curtail press freedom. He called publisher Ken Gordon a pseudo-racist. Gordon has sued him for defamation. Now Prime Minister Panday is attacking the entire Caribbean media. This most recent clash between the prime minister and the press was fueled by questions on an agreement between the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T & TEC) and a company called Inncogen over the purchase of a new electrical plant. The deal was brokered by a close associate of Panday, Narine Singh, who runs an automotive business in New York and who has no history of involvement in power generation. Singh is a major fund raiser in New York for the United National Congress (Panday's party). Opposition Leader Patrick Manning, who first brought the issue out into the open in his budget presentation in October, had charged that the deal was a "sweetheart arrangement," which was detrimental to the state-owned T&TEC and its subsidiary Powergen, and that it was "loaded with corruption and the arrows were ail pointing upwards." The media continued the investigation into the Inncogen matter during the course of October. On November 2, the prime minister attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Inncogen Power plant in Couva and was questioned by journalists about his relationship with Singh, his (Panday's) involvement, if any, in the negotiations and the terms of the deal and the status of the companies involved. An irritated Panday admitted that Singh had been his friend for 20 years. His anger escalated when asked if he assisted Singh in the negotiations for the lands of the state-owned sugar company, Caroni Ltd., which has been leased for the construction of an industrial estate (which is part of the whole arrangement.) Probed by TV 6 reporter Natalie Williams on whether he "pulled strings" in the Inncogen deal, the prime minister said, "That's insulting. That's insulting .... Do not ask me such stupidness." On November 7, Panday, speaking at Princes Town, launched an attack on the media charging it with promoting racism and telling his audience that they (the media) must not get away with it. The following day, Panday continued his onslaught against the media, declaring that his government was in "a state of war" with the media. Panday said his government must target "racist" reporters and "do them before they do us." He spoke about the "exhilarating activity" known as war and outlined some of the fine points of his government's attack on "half-baked journalists." This strategy included an advertising boycott and a ban on government ministers and members of Parliament speaking to the press. Journalists covering the event were physically and verbally attacked. The names of reporters sitting at the press table were shouted out by two prominent activists, who asked reporters whether they were Patrick Manning's boys and girls and whether they were reporters or "faggots." Journalists, their notebooks and equipment, were doused with a liqUid from cups being held by UNC supporters surrounding the table. In Trinidad newspaper, raclio and television reporters organized a "march to democracy" to protest the physical attacks they claim were incited by Prime Minister Panday. Other proposals are a boycott of reporting on government matters, an open letter to Panday, a joint lawsuit and the picketing of Parliament. Many persons have condemned the attacks, including the Caribbean meclia, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the opposition PNM, editorials of all the daily newspapers and the Publishers' and Broadcasters' Association.