Some islanders are concerned that Venezuelan oil-related projects could harm the local ecology
In January 2008, the small Caribbean English-speaking island of Dominica joined the revolutionary Latin American alliance headed by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president. The event was largely overlooked by major media.

In the last couple of years the progressive Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA in Spanish) has widened to include Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and now the island of Dominica.

Dominica is a former British colony and Commonwealth nation of 70,000 inhabitants with an economy largely reliant on banana exports.

The joining of Dominica constitutes a mayor victory for Chavez, as it is the first English-speaking country to form part of his alliance and every country that joins ALBA is a country that rejects the FTAA (US-led Free Trade Agreement for the Americas).

But Dominica's aligning with ALBA has been a process far from smooth and rather plagued with controversy.

Last December, Venezuela built a new fuel storage tank on the island, one of five the oil-rich nation has pledged to construct there. And Roosevelt Skerritt, Dominica's 35-year-old prime minister, recently announced his government's acceptance of a Venezuelan offer to build an oil refinery that would process 10,000 barrels a day.

The oil-related projects have been criticised by conservationists who claim that these are "incompatible with the image of the country as a nature island".

But Chavez has assured Dominicans that they would not harm the ecology of the island, which promotes itself as an ecotourism destination. "We did not come to pollute your country," Chavez said in a visit to the island.

Still, for many Dominicans the expected financial progress cannot be justified at the expense of damaging what they see as the very essence of their country, their unpolluted landscape.


There is a long history of clashes between gangs from Les Banlieues and the French police
The police are not welcome in the Parisian suburbs known as Les Banlieues, where there is a long history of violent clashes with the police. Such clashes led to many deaths in the riots of 2005.

Respect Security was originally an association founded to work with local authorities in these troubled suburbs. It was so successful that two years ago it turned into a business employing around 40 people.  

Respect is the only thriving local business operating between two worlds, two perspectives and two living standards – a strange hybrid between social welfare, a protection racket and privatised police. 

This film follows Respect as it prepares to look after a music festival, annual fetes, concerts and a film set. 

How do Respect's mediators deal with the residents, the influential members of the communities, the gang leaders, the police and local authorities?

Beyond all the political talk the language these mediators use, the deals they strike, and the way they treat people means they deliver what they are paid for – security.

Watch Hugo and the Island:

Watch Respect:

This episode of People & Power airs from Saturday, October 18, 2008 at the following times GMT:
Saturday: 0130, 1230, 1930
Sunday: 0330, 1030, 2330
Monday: 0730

Source: Al Jazeera