Photo of the week

Comment of the week

DOES CARICOM MEAN ANYTHING TO BAHAMIANS?

03/01/15 2:01 PM

The Heads of Government of the Caricom region met in Nassau for two days. The question that must be asked and is often asked: what did it accomplish?

 Most people would say nothing but we think that is not quite correct.

 The leaders of Caricom themselves sometimes get upset because there is not a consensus on ideas and decisions  Caricom is painfully slow.  It creeks in its decision making and the people on the ground don’t really think it has anything to do with their daily lives.

The reality is that it does.  The main reason it exists is because of the history of the countries.  Haiti is a member because P J Patterson insisted that Haiti could not stay out there by itself with any allies in the region.  Someone had to speak up for Haitians and stand with Haiti that understood its problems.

 In The Bahamas though, we tend to think that we are a bit better off than the rest even though  the evidence is that the level of development in our countries is about the same.  In 2005 when the Government decided to join the single market, there was nearly a revolt in the population and the discussion was stopped because the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that it was harming relations with the region.  The discussion was inexplicable but we now know that it was opposed by an assortment of Opposition leaders and racists that simply thought The Bahamas was a cut above and can go it alone.

What contradicts all of that is the fact the  outside world refuses to deal with The Bahamas alone or Jamaica alone or Trinidad alone. They think we are simply too small to be worth the bother.  Nothing is more infuriating for example for Caricom leaders than the fact that after almost six years in office Barak Obama, a Black president of the United States and a Democrat, cannot find the time to sit down with the Leaders of the region for half an hour.  It is simply disgraceful but there is no moving from that point.

That shows you how important the area is to the U S  and how much the  Caricom region is taken for granted.

The Bahamas needs others to stand with it when the time comes.  When the lousy Cuban Americans were attacking our country over the migrant issues, it was Caricom who stood up for us.   They are our friends when the rubber meets the road.

We agree that it all sounds rather esoteric this Caricom thing but there is a value in us meeting each other and talking and agreeing to work together to make this grand experiment work .  The Bahamas Prime Minister  made a great mark for himself by  bringing the leaders together to talk about the  young people and their plight and making a  commitment to invest in human capital through sports and through culture.

We think that  Caricom is important to The Bahamas and we think we ought to stay in for the long haul.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 28th February 2015 up to midnight:532,569;

Number of hits for the month of February up to Saturday February 28th 2015 up to midnight: 2,139,164

Number of hits for the year 2015 up to Saturday 28th February up to midnight:4,077,916.

 

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Editorial

THE PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES CARICOM

03/01/15 2:02 PM

Prime Minister Perry Christie has taken over the Chairmanship of the Caricom group of nations at a difficult time. All countries including even now Trinidad and Tobago are suffering from a tiresome economic downturn.  The societies are marked by high unemployment, bad governance and high crime rates.  The tensions are palpable everywhere.  The Americans are pressing for the region to conform to their orthodoxy. Venezuela which has been a stalwart ally in helping with the economic crisis through oil payment supports seems on the verge of imploding.  Perry Christie has to help keep this fractious moment together and stop it from breaking apart.  It may almost be as bad as the time no meetings of heads were held because the heads back in the 1970s simply did not like each other.  There are elections coming up in several of the countries: Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad are the main ones.  Both societies have reached an almost even impasse between themselves and the opposition parties.  The recent election in St Kitts and Nevis proved to be a cliffhanger as well especially after it appears that the outgoing Prime Minister was refusing to go by stopping the election count.  Mr. Christie ever the optimist said in his opening address that the real future was the young people of the region and that is where our focus should be.

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You may click here for the full statement of the Prime Minister.

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PHOTO SPREAD OF THE CARICOM MEETING

03/01/15 2:02 PM

(Photos by Elcott Coleby)

The Caricom Heads of Government held their semiannual get together in Nassau at the Melia Cable Beach Hotel on February 26 and 27th in Nassau.  The meeting produced a number of decisions for the forward movement of the region: the constitution of a Reparations Commission to look into the question of compensation on slavery; the Marijuana Commission to look into the uses and legal issues surrounding marijuana and statements on relations with the Dominican Republic  all of which you can see on Caricom.org.  

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Ambassador Elwood Donaldson with Ambassador Gary McDonald of the Caribbean Development Fund at a dinner held by Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell at Sapodillas on Wednesday 25th February.

 

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Former Prime Minister of Jamaica P. J. Patterson (standing) with Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington of Belize and on the right of Mr. Patterson, former Caricom Assistant Secretary General Byron Blake at Sapodillas at the Bahamas Foreign Minister’s dinner on 25th February.

 

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Fred Mitchell M, Minister of Foreign Affairs, hosting Barbados’ Foreign Minister Maxine McLean on the left and Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodriquez Burkett on the right at dinner on 25th February at Sapodillas

 

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The National Youth Choir performs at the opening of the Caricom heads of Government meeting in Nassau on 26th February at Melia Cable Beach Hotel.

 

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This youngster from the Grand Bahama Youth Choir stole the opening show at the Caricom Heads of Government meeting in Nassau on 26th February.

 

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The Grand Bahama Youth Choir under the direction of Kevin Tomlinson poses after their performance at the opening of the Caricom Heads of Government meeting in Nassau on 26th February.

 

 

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THE WORK OF THE MISSIONS ABROAD

03/01/15 2:02 PM

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NEW YORK – Veteran Bahamian journalist Fred Sturrup, Editor and General Manager of the Freeport News, paid a courtesy call on the Hon. Forrester Carroll, Bahamas Consul General to New York, on Thursday, February 26, 2015, at Bahamas House, 231 East 46th Street. Mr. Sturrup, who is also a sports administrator and National Sports Hall of Fame Member, is visiting New York for a series of meetings in New Jersey and New York primarily about sports events and youth development in The Bahamas. He was accompanied on the courtesy call by Mr. Russell Shuler of Russell Shuler and Associates, and Mr. Kermit Romer, a Bahamian basketball icon who heads KRO Sports based in New York. The trio reached an agreement to collaborate on sporting events in Grand Bahama and youth development there. Pictured from left to right are: Mr. Shuler, Mr. Sturrup, Consul General Carroll and Mr. Romer.

 

LONDON

 

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Remarks by HE Eldred Bethel, High Commissioner, at the Commonwealth Briefing for High Commissioners on the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (19CCEM) at Marlborough House on Wednesday 25 March 2015.

Excellences’, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Can I start by acknowledging you Mr. DSG and thank you for your kind invitation to address this gathering on the forthcoming Commonwealth Conference for Education Ministers.

The Bahamas is proud to host the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Nassau, The Bahamas and we are keen to show you the beauty of our homeland and the hospitality of our people.

It gives me great pleasure to speak to you this morning and to formally invite you most cordially to attend the 19th CCEM in The Bahamas in June of this year. This conference will be the culmination of an enormous collective effort which began in 2012 in Mauritius when our country was selected to be the site for this year’s meeting. From that moment, many institutions and individuals contributed in one form or another towards the planning of this meeting. I should like to take this opportunity to express our thanks, firstly to the Commonwealth Secretariat for kindly permitting The Bahamas to host this Meeting and, secondly for its leadership in the process. Because of the splendid cooperation of the Secretariat, the outlook for the 19th CCEM in Nassau is most favourable.

I also wish to show my appreciation to Dr. Marcellus Taylor, Deputy Director of Education in the Bahamas Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, for the enthusiasm and assistance he is giving to the original initiative; to the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Perry Christie for his firm support; to the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Honourable Jerome Fitzgerald and officers of his Ministry along with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and many others.

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The CCEM is a very exciting opportunity for The Bahamas and will be the most significant meeting of Commonwealth Ministers in The Bahamas in quite a while with Nassau effectively being the capital city of the Commonwealth for those five days, June 22nd to June 26th.

I am also very excited by the fact that the 19th CCEM will be held at one of the most prestigious hotel properties in the Caribbean, The Atlantis on Paradise Island. With 800 plus delegates and members of Commonwealth media anticipated to attend, the Conference will bring Commonwealth exposure to The Bahamas in a way not experienced since the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in1985.

I look forward to working with you on promoting greater engagement on the 19th CCEM. This year’s CCEM program will afford delegates increased interaction between delegates and Ministers. Twenty First Century governance requires robust and free dialogue by as many stake holders as possible. The Theme of the conference is “Quality education for equitable development: Performance, Paths and Productivity”.

This Nassau CCEM also wishes to invite High Commissioners as participating delegates and would like to propose holding a one-day meeting for High Commissioners in Nassau during the CCEM so as to ensure that High Commissioners are aware of the direction the Commonwealth is taking in the area of education. We sincerely hope that you will be able to participate in this program and take advantage of the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with the Ministers of Education. I trust you will do your utmost to attend.

This we believe is in keeping with The Commonwealth’s Theme for 2015…”A Young Commonwealth…New Generation, new ideas”. I also want to use this time to update you on Visa requirements for The Bahamas. Delegates travelling from seven Commonwealth countries will require a visa prior to travel to The Bahamas. The countries are:

Cameroon
Ghana
India
Mozambique
Nigeria
Pakistan
Rwanda

Delegates requiring an entry visa should meet the immigration requirements and pay the requisite fees as set out in the 19th CCEM Aide Memoire and listed on the High Commission’s website. Visa may be obtained in two ways:

1. A personal submission by individual delegates, or a delegate on behalf of a whole delegation, at the Bahamas High Commission in London. A 24 hour service will be offered to delegates in London.

2. Delegates who are not in London may courier their application directly to Bahamas House via FedEx, DHL or TNT for the visa issuance.

During the conference I do not expect any of you will have the opportunity to get any sand between your toes so at the end of the meeting I would like to encourage you to spend an extra couple of days in The Bahamas to enjoy ”Earth’s Paradise” and to see for yourselves the swimming pigs.

Friends, there is a Bahamian folk song that asks the question…”If the good Lord never goes on holiday…tell me why…please tell me why? He made the Bahamas….? The Islands of The Bahamas consist of more than one hundred thousand square miles of the world’s clearest waters, which is often referred to by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism as a one hundred thousand square mile SPA.

In my capacity High Commissioner, Excellences, it will be my great honour to welcome you all to the 19th CCEM. See you in Nassau in June.

Thank you

The 19CCEM will be hosted at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau from 22 to 26 June 20

 

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NEW YORK – The Hon. Forrester Carroll, Bahamas Consul General to New York, delivered brief remarks at the funeral service for Sandra Marie Elliott Coleman at St. Philip’s Church, 134th Street at Adam Powell Jr. Boulevard, New York, on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Mrs. Coleman was a Bahamian-American and the oldest daughter of the late Clarence Elliott, who was born and grew up at Stanyard Creek, Andros, before moving to New York in the late 1940s. Although she was born in New York, Mrs. Coleman received her early childhood education in Nassau, Bahamas, and subsequently attended high school in Miami, graduating from Miami Northwestern Senior High School in 1965. She subsequently spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy, and as a retired Naval Officer, another funeral service will be held in a chapel at a Quantico Base in Virginia on Friday, February 27, and she will be buried in Quantico National Cemetery. Pictured from left to right following the funeral service in New York are: Mr. William R. Dames, Past-President of the Bahamian American Association; Mrs. Sandra McLaughlin, Consul, Bahamas Consulate in New York; Oswald T. Brown, Press, Cultural Affairs and Information Manager with the Bahamas Embassy in Washington, D.C., and a first cousin of Mrs. Coleman; Miss Norma Elliott, a sister of Mrs. Coleman; Mr. Joseph Taylor, a Bahamian living in New York; Ms. Dorea Rolle, President of the Bahamian American Association; Dr. Valencia Carroll, wife of the Consul General; and Consul General Carroll.

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WELCOMING THE LEADERS OF CARICOM TO NASSAU

03/01/15 2:02 PM

High Commissioner to Caricom Picewell Forbes was busy last week welcoming the leaders to Nassau on 25th February for their meetings in Nassau as Caricom Heads of Government

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High Commissioner Picewell Forbes on 25 February at the Lynden Pindling Airport Nassau with Portia Simpson Miller , Prime Minister of Jamaica and Patrick Hanlon Honorary Consul for Jamaica.

 

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Prime Ministers Keith Mitchell Grenada, Gaston Browne Antigua, High Commissioner Forbes, Ralph Gonsalves St Vincent and the Grenadines and Roosevelt Skerritt Dominica at Lynden Pinding International on 25th February.

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With Dean Barrow at the Lynden Pindling Airport Nassau.  Mr. Barrow is the Prime Minister of Belize.

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ALLYSON ON SWIFT JUSTICE

03/01/15 2:02 PM

The Attorney General was able to show by statistics how Swift Justice is working.  Have a look at the slides below:

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OAS STORY

03/01/15 2:02 PM
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Bahamas Member of Parliament Loretta Butler-Turner Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner (right) and Otilia de Coti, former Deputy and Leader of Movimiento Winaq Party of Guatemala, participating in a roundtable discussion organized by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Monday, February 23, 2015.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner, Bahamas Member of Parliament for Long Island, was among the participants in a roundtable discussion organized by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in the OAS Hall of the Americas, 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., on Monday, February 23, 2015.

Titled “Political Violence Against Women: A Hemispheric Challenge,” the roundtable discussion was part of the activities commemorating Women’s Day of the Americas, held on February 18, and International Women’s Day, on March 8.

The event was inaugurated by the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza; the Minister of Women of Costa Rica and Chair of the Inter-American Commission of Women, Alejandra Mora; the OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security (SMS), Adam Blackwell; and the Alternate Representative of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the OAS, Brett Alexander Maitland. At the conclusion of the event, the Executive Secretary of the CIM, Carmen Moreno, described the meeting as “a way to rethink and deepen the quality of democracies.”

The CIM official recalled that, in the present and in the future, the debate should begin with the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women the Convention of Belém do Pará, the key document in the region in terms of gender equality. Ambassador Moreno added that “we must start from the conviction that we have heard throughout the day important approaches to the rights of women, the rights of each and every one of us, and how this is linked to discrimination, democracy, inclusion and participation,” which in her opinion is a contribution to the subject of the event.”

The first panel of the day, entitled “Political Violence Against Women: From Impunity to Law, from Law to Implementation,” was moderated by the technical secretary of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI) Luz Patricia Mejía. The discussion focused on reviewing the regional reality regarding different legislative initiatives to ensure the participation of women in politics, including the prevention and punishment of actions that restrict such participation.

In this context, the president of the Chamber of Deputies of Bolivia, Gabriela Montaño, recalled that the South American country became in 2012 the first to have a specific law against political violence against women. This law, she said, along with other public policies, such as the law on the electoral regime, created conditions of parity at all levels of government.

On the experience of her country, Deputy Montaño said “it is not possible to generate these legislative initiatives without political will,” and said she herself is a result of this will, which has also ensured the political participation of representatives of indigenous peoples. Finally, she said it is not possible “to advance toward this type of legislation when there are no women committed to the rights agenda in decision making positions.”

In the view of Mexican Senator Lucero Saldaña, member of the Commission for Gender Equality of her country, the issue of political violence against women includes actions and omissions and also a security aspect. “Women seek peace, we want to be in the process of reconciliation, we want to be in public affairs, we do not exclude ourselves by nature or because we are biologically domestic,” she said.

In her presentation, she recalled that the Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, commemorates the murder of the Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were murdered in 1960 for their opposition to the regime of Rafael Trujillo. “If this results in an international day, I think one of the challenges we have is to make awareness campaigns in the media so that this year we raise awareness that this is a real issue and to work for its prevention, with the commitment of institutions and governments,” she said.

Susana Villarán, former Mayor of Lima, Peru, and President of the National Network of Women Authorities (RENAMA), recounted her personal experience as the first woman to hold the municipal seat of the Peruvian capital, saying that from the first moment she began to be harassed politically. As an example, she mentioned that her predecessor, during his eight years as Mayor of Lima, was called eight times to Congress, accountable to different committees. She, however, was cited 88 times in four years to comply with the same duty.

She said that she did not tell her story to portray herself as a victim: “this is telling the truth. When women enter into the male preserve of the exercise of political power, whether by election or designation, in that moment comes a process of ‘disciplining’ of us women, we arrive to a party to which we were not invited.” For this reason, the former Mayor felt that having a law to punish political violence against women is important, but not sufficient to guarantee the rights of participation.

Mexican Senator Angelica de la Peña, Secretary of the Commission for Gender Equality, highlighted the progress that has been made in her country with the constitutional provision requiring political parties to nominate at least fifty percent female candidates for the Chamber of Deputies and state legislatures.

“The law is not everything, but it is an essential step for us to be recognized as full subjects of all our rights, on equal terms with men. We are disputing not only the political power, but the power to be fully included in decision making,” she said. “We are building a human equivalence that does not exist, therefore we should not be amazed by all the obstacles we are facing,” she added.

For her part, Morena Herrera, an expert on women’s rights in El Salvador, said that a law to eliminate political violence against women should include cultural and structural fields, which deals with the people and instances that apply the law. For this reason, she considered it essential to strengthen alliances between women in public office and women’s movements and feminists.

“The party system has been legitimized on the basis of blackmail and the silence of women. While the problem is experienced individually, it is a structural problem, and in that sense an act of denunciation does not victimize those who make a complaint, but is an act of individual and collective empowerment,” she concluded.

The second panel of the round table was titled “The role of political parties in addressing political violence against women,” and was moderated by the Deputy Minister of Human Rights of the Interior Ministry of Mexico, Lía Limón.

The Magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary of Mexico, Maria del Carmen Alanis, said that to achieve the full exercise of political rights of women there must be synergies between the three branches of government, the executive, legislative and judicial. In this regard, she said the authorities have to function democratically and with the recognition of the political rights of women, because “a judicial system is useless if there is no access to justice,” and “it is useless to discuss the issue of women if the judges are not prepared to judge the facts with a gender perspective.”

Magistrate Alanis urged those present to participate in the internal affairs of political parties, “because that’s the big change that we need.” According to the Mexican magistrate, women must fight to ensure that different social groups are represented in the party structures, and for women, she also said it is important not only ensure they are elected, but also that that they permanently occupy the positions for which they were elected.

Member of Parliament and Former Deputy Political Leader of the Free National Movement Party (FMN) of Bahamas, Loretta Butler-Turner, said in her country “women are vastly underrepresented” and that in political life, when women are not physically attacked to be marginalized, they are often intimidated. “We need more participation of women in the political life of The Bahamas, both nationally and locally,” she said.

Mrs.  Butler-Turner said that the roundtable organized by the CIM is an enriching experience, but she wondered how to convey everything learned in the debate to the local communities where gender violence is an issue. In this sense, the Caribbean congresswoman said it is essential that women participate directly in politics so they can understand what is happening and will be able to put an end to political violence against women.

 

 For her part, the former Senator and former Colombian Minister Cecilia López said that “the big brake” for the growth of women are political parties, and said the phenomenon “is more severe at the sub-national level.” The former legislator said the low participation of women in politics is due to the crisis of the parties, and that in the region there are many populist regimes in which, when quotas are established to increase the participation of women, “men put their family or their loved ones.”

 

 Lopez said it is “regrettable” that after the breakthrough that women achieved in the twentieth Century, in the twenty-first century they “are stuck.” The underlying theme regarding the political participation of women, she added, is that “it is a fight for power, economic power and political power.”

 

 The former Deputy and Leader of “Movimiento Winaq” Party of Guatemala, Otilia Lux de Cotí, said women are making their way to seek justice and equity. “When you talk about political violence, it should be clear that use it is illegitimate, counterproductive, undemocratic and a crime,” she said.

 

 Lux de Cotí said the problems affecting Latin America are structural because they are the product of patriarchal models, and said it is imperative to give more visibility to “all the problems and the situation of women’s lives.” She also urged political parties to internally apply the same rules that govern democracy in general. “We want to see in the democratization of the parties the commitment to equality,” she added.

 

 The Member of Ecuadorian Parliament, Paola Pabón, said that in her country women have conquered important spaces in the struggle to assert their rights, and by way of example she said that more than 46 percent seats in Congress are occupied by women. However, when analyzing the regional situation, she said that political parties have become purely electoral machines, and “therefore need to be renewed.”

Deputy Pabón said it is important that women occupy the leadership of political parties, noting that at present “the structures of political parties at the national and local level are still completely masculinized.”

The Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Political Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) of Saint Lucia, Gale Rigobert, said there is a semantic problem in denouncing political violence against women, because it is very difficult to analyze the issue without seeming concerned about victimization. The opposite effect, she said, is that there is violence imposed by silence that ignores the problems faced by women.

The UWP leader said through political dialogue must be used to motivate political parties to “do the right thing,” and “that is to have more women candidates.” She also called for maintaining the fight for women’s rights, adding “I pray for the day we will not have to organize such round tables,” saying that when that day is reached, there will be equality in the political systems of the region.

In the closing of the event, Susana Chiarotti, from the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (CEVI/MESECVI) said the Convention “has an appropriate framework to advance the identification of the different forms of violence, including all manifestations that occur in political violence.”

She also recognized that “there was never, neither in the era of slavery, nor during the fight for labor rights, a revolutionary movement that had representatives in all countries” where “we find women and men who want equality between the sexes.”

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

 

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PLP CHAIR SLAMS MINNIS FOR FLIP FLOPPING

03/01/15 2:02 PM

bradleyrobertsMinnis flip flops on NHI
Bradley B. Roberts National Chairman Progressive Liberal Party

Dr. Hubert Minnis has no credibility, his words cannot be trusted and his latest stage act of flip flopping on National Health Insurance (NHI) is tangible proof of this.
Dr. Minnis’ batting average on important policy matters remains perfect as he managed to flip flop and land on the wrong side of history on VAT, Gaming and now NHI – arguably three of the most transformational and consequential public policy initiatives of the past decade.
Just in case Dr. Minnis has a short or selective memory, I wish to remind him that the FNM is on record as supporting both NHI and a levy to finance same; they said so during the 2007 general election campaign. Minnis sat around the FNM cabinet table and approved a levy to finance the prescription drug plan as the first phase of NHI implementation. He agreed with a phased approach to NHI right up to May 7th2012 only to now oppose NHI.
minisAs much as he tries to convince Bahamians that he cares about their health and general wellbeing and will put them first, it is only a matter of time before he shows his true colours. The fact is Minnis does not care about Bahamians and will not put Bahamians first. He believes that in a free, modern, democratic Bahamas – if Bahamians are sick and cannot afford proper healthcare, they should and deserve to die. This is the consequence of Minnis’ new position; this is terrible leadership and not the Bahamian way. Dr. Minnis must learn how to be a Bahamian.
I again remind all and sundry that according to St. James, a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways. A word to the wise is sufficient.
The PLP in stark contrast believes that access to affordable and quality healthcare is a human right; it is not a privilege and a government has to duty to protect the health and welfare of its most precious resource – its people. We believe this obligation to be part of the sacred social contract with the Bahamian people and this PLP government under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie will honour that sacred obligation.
This government is focused on transforming The Bahamas and no amount of posturing, political bluster or public antics of distraction by the opposition will deter this government from fulfilling this sacred social obligation to our people.

 

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LORETTA BUTLER TURNER AT THE OAS

03/01/15 2:01 PM
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Bahamas Member of Parliament Loretta Butler-Turner Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner (right) and Otilia de Coti, former Deputy and Leader of Movimiento Winaq Party of Guatemala, participating in a roundtable discussion organized by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Monday, February 23, 2015.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner, Bahamas Member of Parliament for Long Island, was among the participants in a roundtable discussion organized by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in the OAS Hall of the Americas, 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., on Monday, February 23, 2015.

Titled “Political Violence Against Women: A Hemispheric Challenge,” the roundtable discussion was part of the activities commemorating Women’s Day of the Americas, held on February 18, and International Women’s Day, on March 8.

The event was inaugurated by the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza; the Minister of Women of Costa Rica and Chair of the Inter-American Commission of Women, Alejandra Mora; the OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security (SMS), Adam Blackwell; and the Alternate Representative of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the OAS, Brett Alexander Maitland. At the conclusion of the event, the Executive Secretary of the CIM, Carmen Moreno, described the meeting as “a way to rethink and deepen the quality of democracies.”

The CIM official recalled that, in the present and in the future, the debate should begin with the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women the Convention of Belém do Pará, the key document in the region in terms of gender equality. Ambassador Moreno added that “we must start from the conviction that we have heard throughout the day important approaches to the rights of women, the rights of each and every one of us, and how this is linked to discrimination, democracy, inclusion and participation,” which in her opinion is a contribution to the subject of the event.”

The first panel of the day, entitled “Political Violence Against Women: From Impunity to Law, from Law to Implementation,” was moderated by the technical secretary of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI) Luz Patricia Mejía. The discussion focused on reviewing the regional reality regarding different legislative initiatives to ensure the participation of women in politics, including the prevention and punishment of actions that restrict such participation.

 

READ MORE.

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GOVERNMENT MOVES IMMIGRATION BILL

03/01/15 2:01 PM

Fred Mitchell MP for Fox Hill and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration moved the first reading of the Bill to Amend the Immigration Act.  In moving the bill Mr. Mitchell said that the bill will bring about the reforms that some people have been asking for.  In particular the bill will allow for the grant of a belonger’s permit to people who were born in The Bahamas to non-national parents but have no immigration status.  The bill was widely anticipated and should have been before in the House since last year. 

 

You may click here for the bill.

 

Click below for other related bills regarding immigration  :

Immigration Fees

Immigration Regulations

 

 

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THE IMMIGRATION MINISTER RESPONDS TO THE OAS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

03/01/15 2:01 PM

mitchell_response23 February 2015

Nassau, The Bahamas

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Fred A Mitchell issued the following statement at the House of Assembly on the precautionary measures of the Organization of American States’ autonomous organ, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)
Mr. Speaker,

I wish to report again to this House the most recent developments with regard to the fight against illegal migration in The Bahamas.

You will know that there was a staging meeting which took pace with all government agencies in Marsh Harbour, Abaco on Friday 20th February as a precursor to the execution of special measures to be executed in Abaco to combat illegal migration in the coming weeks.

The meeting was successful. The agencies of the government are in the process of mapping out a schematic which will provide a set of options and choices from which the political directorate can decide.

There will be a meeting with the heads of law enforcement agencies in The Bahamas to discuss the way forward including timing and logistics tomorrow Tuesday 24th February.

We wish to conduct this in an open and transparent way so that there can be no misunderstanding of what we intend and how we intend to execute our immigration policies.

The policies have widespread public support. We are cognizant of the fact that without that support the policies cannot be successful.

The aim of the policy is several fold: to ensure the integrity of the work force and its “Bahamianness”; to ensure the national security of our state and protect its cultural integrity; to regularize those who find themselves in a legal Catch 22 where appropriate; to exclude from the country those who have no right to live and work here.

This policy is not targeted at any national group. It is a generic policy.

You will also note Mr. Speaker that on 19th February the government received notice of a finding of precautionary measures by the Inter American Human Rights Commission. Please note that we are not signatories to the convention which establishes the Commission. However, we are cognizant of the public importance these findings have and how they can influence public opinion and therefore should not be ignored.

In this connection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement last week which I shall read into the record which gives the first response to the findings by the Commission.

In doing so, I wish to remind the public that they should remain calm in the face of the many provocations about our country that now seem to be piling on. When one examines the facts, the public will find that the sources of the information are the same. I repeat what I said earlier that there will be push back to any new policy initiatives. We have to steel ourselves to fight the pushback because it is meant to sully the reputation of our country and stop the policies.

We do not deny that there may be issues surrounding the policies that are open to debate or that can be challenged but we deny that there is any official policy of targeting any national group, nor is there any official sponsoring of abuse of any kind against migrants in this country. The Bahamas remains a welcoming, lawful country.

There is an attempt by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association in particular to paint The Bahamas in an unflattering light. Their motivations are unknown but they lack credibility and are disreputable in the process. We will fight any smear of our country with every resource that we have.

I repeat. The idea of portraying the illegal migrants as poor people escaping from poverty should be juxtaposed against the fact of reports that these trips of illegal migrants cost from 1,500 dollars to 5,000 dollars a head. This means that we are dealing with something which approximates a sophisticated criminal enterprise. Our new policies are disrupting that criminal enterprise. The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association should be careful that they are not unwittingly running interference for that enterprise.

I now read the statement issued earlier:
The following statement was issued on Friday 20th February by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration of The Bahamas in answer to the Inter American Human Rights Commission’s ruling on the Carmichael Road Detention Centre:

The public is advised that the government of The Bahamas is in receipt of a report from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States regarding an assessment of the conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Center and issuing precautionary measures. The measures were issued it said because a number of human rights groups claimed that the life and physical integrity of various migrants at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre were at risk. We believe that the concerns are overstated and inaccurate.

The report is being more fully reviewed and a diplomatic note will be dispatched shortly giving the considered response of the Bahamas Government to these allegations.

At first blush, it is unfortunate that the report appears to have adopted the narrative of the various human rights groups and press- based advocates that are not based in fact. Many of its assertions are based on untested tendentious, anecdotal material. In the face of these inaccuracies, it is difficult to accept any conclusions which flow from this decision of the Commission. It simply strains credibility. The decision is not helpful in resolving the issues which are confronted by illegal migrants to The Bahamas and comes off as prejudicial.

The Government has in its possession, a report commissioned by a panel headed by a former Justice of Appeal of the Court of the Bahamas about the conditions at the Detention Centre and within its resources is addressing its recommendations about the Detention Centre.

The assertions in the decision also appear to be related to facts which do not exist now and some them did not exist at the time the allegations were made.

The government again states that it is committed to maintaining the highest standards in any of its detention facilities in The Bahamas and works continuously at achieving those standards within the level of resources that are available.

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ELCOTT COLEBY REVIEWS THE WEEK’S ACTIVITIES (23 – 27 FEBRUARY 2015)

03/01/15 2:01 PM

elcottThe conclusion of the midyear budget debate; the tabling of the much anticipated “Belonger’s Permit” Regulations and the meeting of CARICOM government heads dominated the news this week in The Bahamas.

 

Midyear budget debate concludes

As debate on the midyear budget statement continued in the House on Monday (23rd Feb), Labour Minister Hon. D. Shane Gibson informed House members that the National Insurance Board is discontinuing the practice of accepting contributions from illegal immigrants. This new policy is part of the overall and far reaching immigration policy reforms designed to set out the terms and conditions under which non-Bahamians live and work in The Bahamas.

 

Health Minister the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez revealed that National Health Insurance (NHI) is still on schedule for implementation in 2016, but told House members that the exact cost to each taxpayer has not been determined.

 

Education, Science and Technology Minister Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald reaffirmed the government’s commitment to establish the University of The Bahamas by 2016. He further reported on the five areas of intervention to improve scholastic performance in the public school system: School Leadership, Teacher Training, a new achievement unit, Special Education and the expansion of pre-schools.

 

 

Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis touted BEC’s readiness for Baha Mar’s increased demand upon its March opening as “a major achievement.” BEC is currently installing a permanent power supply to Baha Mar’s core project site. He further stated that the overhauled engines are part of BEC’s preparations for the increased summer demands for power so that load shedding will be avoided. The reduction in oil prices have driven down BEC’s surcharge to its customers by 20.6 percent, 27.7 cents/KwH in October 2014 to 22 cents in February 2015 said the Deputy Prime Minister.

 

In his wrap up of the resolution to approve the midyear budget statement pursuant to the Financial Administration and Audit Act, Prime Minister Christie predict between 7,500 to 8,000 additional jobs to be added to the Bahamian economy in 2015 and he delivered a detailed account of investment projects by island – from Abaco in the north to Mayaguana in the south.

 

“Mr. speaker, the side opposite continues to suggest, despite evidence to the contrary, that promised jobs are not being realized” said the Prime Minister as he said that more than 8,800 jobs have confirmed created to date. Touting hundreds of jobs created and forecasted in Abaco, Grand Bahama, Exuma, San Salvador and Andros, the Prime Minister confidently predicted that more than 20,000 jobs will be added to the economy over the next two years.

 

 

Much anticipated “Belongers Permit” Bill tabled

The much anticipated Immigration Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday of this week. The bill would provide a status for persons born stateless in The Bahamas by circumstance and for a person otherwise constitutionally entitled to apply for registration as a Bahamian citizen between the ages of eighteen and nineteen.

 

“Many people have been asking about this category of persons between zero and eighteen” said Immigration Minister Mitchell.

 

Under the new regulations, the permit will be valid for three years at a cost of $25 and a $100 processing fee. Permit holders will be able to legally live and work in The Bahamas.

 

The bill will also provide for the establishment of Immigration Reservists who would undergo the training and possess the same arrest powers as substantive Immigration Officers. They are to assist Immigration Officers in the execution of their duties.   

 

 CARICOM Agriculture Ministers tour BAMSI

Ministers of Agriculture of the Caribbean Community toured the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BASMI) just prior to CARICOM’s opening of the 26th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean in Nassau, February 26-27.

The Bahamas Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. V. Alfred Gray thanked the agriculture representatives for taking the tour of the North Andros agricultural institute with him.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Labour and Social Security in Jamaica the Hon. Luther Buchanan spoke on behalf of his fellow Caribbean Ministers and praised the Bahamas Government on the project, stating: “It is indeed impressive and I commend the Government on this initiative and I implore the people of this land to support wholeheartedly this programme of sustained agriculture, sustained because agricultural education is important; it is the nerve centre of appreciating the eat what you grow concept. It is the nerve centre of the development of any country.”

The group to North Andros was accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Rene Glinton; President, BAMSI and the Bahamas Ambassador to FAO Dr. Godfrey Eneas; Executive Director, BAMSI, Dr. Rovenia Roberts Hanna; Mr. Benjamin Rahming, General Manager, the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation and Omar Thomas and Project Director and Consultant for the Tutorial Commercial Farm at BAMSI.  

 

 

26th CARICOM conference of heads opens in Nassau

In his first official address to “colleague heads” as CARICOM Chairman, Bahamas Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie called for the development of human capital and natural resources to spur regional growth; a greater thrust in youth development; gender equality and greater regional food security.

 READ MORE.

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Letters to the editor

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In passing

URCA Acknowledges Complaint By Minister Of Foreign Affairs

03/01/15 2:01 PM

As promised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs a complaint has been lodged at the Utilities Regulatory Competition Authority, the broadcast regulator on a programme which appeared on Guardian radio called the Kreyol Connection.  Nico Scavella of The Tribune wrote the following:

THE Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has received a letter from the government requesting an investigation of comments made on a radio talk show last week by lawyer Fred Smith.

URCA Corporate and Consumer Relations Manager Mavis Johnson-Collie said yesterday that the letter was received by URCA officials on Wednesday evening 25th February.

The letter – sent to URCA by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration – requests that URCA investigate recent statements made by Mr. Smith that allegedly encouraged people to revolt against the Christie administration.

We did get a communication in the pm yesterday from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Mrs. Collie-Johnson told The Tribune. “We are going through the process of reviewing it in conjunction with the content code which regulates broadcast content.”

 

Mr. Smith had appeared as a guest on Kreyol Connection with Louby Georges on Guardian Talk Radio on February 17, and it was then that he reportedly made his controversial statements. A recording of the show is no longer available on Guardian Talk Radio’s website.

 

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Cheryl Grant A New Judge

03/01/15 2:01 PM

Congratulations to now Acting Justice Cheryl Grant.  After a long struggle and being trashed by the former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and denied the job she should have had as promised by him.  Mrs. Grant Bethel, the widow of former Deputy Leader of the PLP Peter Bethel was sworn in as a Judge on 27th February.  Her appointment was welcomed by Attorney general Allyson Maynard Gibson

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Ingraham Still Politically Plotting And Scheming

03/01/15 2:01 PM

The news is going around that Frank Watson, the former Deputy Prime Minister and advance man for former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has given up on Hubert Minnis, the now Leader for the FNM.  He says the man just doesn’t get it and doesn’t have it.  So the alternative, you guessed it, Hubert Ingraham is to return. The problem is how do you plot that return? Mr. Ingraham’s playing coy but just keeping his hand in.  He has said he will return if he can be persuaded.  The FNM is saying that Dr. Minnis while well-intentioned does not have the ability to raise money.  Anyway, Mr. Ingraham was summoned to the home of Geoffrey Johnstone last weekend for a tet a tet.  Sir Geoffrey, the last of the UBP Leaders, the party of the white oligarchy, convened a group of white knights who tried to persuade Mr. Ingraham to come back and reportedly he has given a conditional acceptance.  He has also been fielding calls from the lady at The Tribune Eileen Carron that he needs to come back.  So the ducks are lining up for a rematch of Christie and Ingraham once more it seems.

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Mr. Bahamas Shares His Good Fortune With The North Andros Kids

03/01/15 2:01 PM

Kenneth Kerr who lives in Grand Bahama is a young man who has done well.  He recently participated in the Mr. International contest in Seoul, South Korea.  He represented his country well and from those experiences on the international stage went to speak to the students at the North Andros High School.  Here is what he posted on his Facebook page:

I absolutely enjoyed my time at North Andros High School today. The students were well-behaved and I enjoyed speaking at both sessions. I want to thank my long- time friend from college Annika Bain for organizing this seminar and inviting me to be a guest speaker. I see public/motivational speaking in my future. 

kkerr

 

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Fred Smith’s Nutty Response

03/01/15 2:01 PM

fredsmith

We have quoted that expression before that those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.  What else can say about Fred Smith who has got to have such a shameless ego that he will go  to any lengths for publicity.  Mr. Smith who has been accused of running interference for a criminal enterprise through his Grand Bahama Human Rights Association was in the press the day after the government tabled its bill on immigration. He was claiming credit for the bill. The fact that he had not one fucking thing to do with it, only shows the extent to which this man is delusional.  He never understood the policy in the first place.  Misinterprets the law and then uses bombast to try and bludgeon government officials to do his will. He has besmirched the country and its reputation and now comes giving gratuitous praise to himself for doing  something that he never did.  What can you say about this fellow but that he is an absolute and total fool, a jackass of the first order? 

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Adrian Gibson’s Fool’s Errand

03/01/15 2:01 PM

Well Adrian Gibson, the writer at The Tribune, was at it again last week.  He has been going about this for three weeks, “grading” ministers and their performance.  Last week, we gave him a failing grade for all the nonsense which he has written and for arrogating unto himself the role of judge and jury.  Only one judge and jury that counts and that will be the voters in 2017.  Until then Mr. Gibson is on a fool’s errand.

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Pilots In Myles’ Plane Have Their Reputation’s Trashed

03/01/15 2:01 PM

plane_mylesStanley Thurston and Frankan Cooper, pilot and co-pilot of Myles Munroe’s ill-fated jet

The summary of the report on the crash of the late Rev. Myles’s Munroe’s plane on 9th November appeared in the Bahamian press on 23rd February. It reads like a novel and a piece of fiction, except that it’s very real and nine people including Rev. Munroe are dead.  The pilots cannot speak for themselves.  The record is now speaking or so it appears.  The report says that one of the pilots shut off the alarm that warned them that they were too low and they were too low and flying in conditions that  they should not have , ending up killing all on board.  It was a terrible accident.  So Stanley “Doc” Thurston, the captain and the co-pilot have had their professional reputations trashed for it appears making a series of tragic mistakes. Here is what The Tribune said the report said: “The Civil Aviation Aircraft Accident Investigation and Prevention Unit (AAIPU) has determined that the probable cause of the incident was … the poor decision-making of the crew in initiating and continuing a descent in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) below the authorised altitude, without visual contact with the runway environment.” Law suits have been filed against the Estate of Rev. Myles Munroe over the crash and an earlier report said that the plane’s insurance had lapsed.

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William Saunders Dies

03/01/15 2:01 PM

He was 85 when he was discovered dead in his home.  He built up the largest and by all accounts an excellent tour service in The Bahamas.  A poor boy made good.  At the end of his life he was getting along with the PLP but he was in a former self a bitter opponent of the PLP and of Black people.  He once paid an employee who won a sizeable award from his company in pennies.  Nevertheless in death as we do in The Bahamas he was lauded for his successes and contribution and his imperfections forgotten.   The Prime Minister Perry Christie issued a statement mourning his passing. He died on 24th February.

william

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Doom And Gloom From Canada About The Caribbean

03/01/15 2:01 PM

The Toronto Globe and Mail joined those who are simply piling it on the Caribbean.  While Caribbean Heads of Government were meeting in Nassau discussing the latest assault on their banking nd commercial sector, that of the threat of banks in the developed world to stop the correspondent relationships with their banks, the Globe and Mail (27th February) was pronouncing the death of the banking sector in the Caribbean because Canadian banks are losing too much money.  Canadian morality is interesting.  These are folks who just a few years ago were celebrating how much money they made in the region and how long they had been there.  Today following the financial crash, they have no appetite for staying.  They are blaming the Caribbean people for pushing credit which was unsafe and they think the cost of cleaning the books is too high so they are thinking of bailing out.  At least that is what the Globe and Mail said.  All the Canadian Banks: RBC, CIBC (First Caribbean) and Scotiabank are in deep do do because of the credit provisioning that occurred after the 2008 crash.  The jewel in the crown Trinidad and Tobago said to be suffering because of the crash in oil prices that have affected  government revenues and income.  One thing we know though is if the Canadians go, then farewell .  nature abhors a vacuum. There will be pain but the region will survive.  Click here to read about the doom and gloom yourself but don’t believe it:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/perils-of-the-caribbean/article23199267/

 

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St Augustine’s Loses Track Meet After 26 years Straight Wins

03/01/15 2:00 PM

sac_rip

The Students at St Augustine’s College, the Roman Catholic High School, known as the big red machine were said to be in shock after the track and field team’s first loss at the national independent schools meet held on Friday 27th February.  Queen’s College, a proverbial also ran, won the day, with a convincing defeat of the seemingly unbeatable SAC.  Q. C.  was ecstatic and men like Fred Mitchell, Michael Halkitis and the female Minister Melanie Griffin had to take plenty friendly chafing on line because their alma mater was defeated.  The ever sanguine Mr. Halkitis responded that after taking a cut behind for 26 years, they deserve to celebrate.  The poster R I P SAC is but one example of the teasing on line.

The Queen’s College Comets celebrate their victory over St Augustine’s College

qc_won

 

 

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