THE FOUR JACKASSES OF THE PHONY HAITIAN APOCALYPSE: these four people embarrassed themselves, sought to embarrass and defame The Bahamas by going to Washington to purvey their suite of lies, distortions and untruths. They portray themselves as the champions of victims: supposedly poor migrants from Haiti escaping poverty. But the victims they are talking about are said to pay anywhere from 1500 dollars to 5000 dollars per head to be smuggled into The Bahamas and then to the United States. That makes these four people and their exaggerated, lying advocacy unwitting accomplices to stopping the government from interrupting a sophisticated criminal enterprise. The question is why? No one can accept that Fred Smith has one altruistic bone in his body. His game is always money, money and more money. It is interesting the confluence of his now four-man, one woman Grand Bahama Human Rights Association with the RFK Centre. These are all part of another well-funded campaign to stop development in The Bahamas by a rich billionaire who lives at Lyford Cay. The question is whether or not this is being funded from that same source, and then you ask yourselves since that source was said to be funding the FNM whether this advocacy for migrant victims is not manufactured to destabilize the PLP in favour of the FNM. Inquiring minds want to know. The picture show Louby Georges, recently fired from Guardian Radio, Paco Nunez, recently fired from The Tribune, Fred Smith, the Jackass In Chief, and Joseph Darville, the former headmaster, taking a break from Island Luck. They said in the release of this photo that they briefed U S Senators about the plight of the victims, only no one could find any Senator that they briefed. The photo of the week then is the four Jackasses of the Phony Haitian Apocalypse pretending that they were briefing U S senators on 18th March.
This photo taken by Peter Ramsay is our photo of the week. It was taken at the farewell party for George Markantonis, the CEO of Atlantis, who resigned to leave for a new job as Head of the Venetion in Las Vegas in the United States. There was farewell party for him at Atlantis on Thursday 12th March. The picture speaks a thousand words. There to say farewell to Mr. Markantonis who is at the left of the picture in the gray jacket was the Prime Minister Perry Christie, the former owner of Atlantis Sol Kerzner and the former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
THE BAHAMAS DEFENDS ITSELF: when Fred Smith QC and his allies began an all-out campaign to discredit The Bahamas on the human rights front, they did not consider that the times had changed since he last time they derailed the effort by Loftus Roker, a Minister of Home Affairs to deal with the problem of illegal migration in 1986. The irony of their position is that today they have trotted out Mr. Roker, now in memory deficient old age, on to public platforms with them. Even though he is defending his position and trotting out the old bromides, the public opinion has changed and they firmly support the government on the issue of illegal migration. They want something done about it, quickly and in an humane manner. Fred Smith, a victim of self-loathing of his Haitian ancestry, not known for his balanced rhetoric, keeps going on in public both at home and abroad scorching the earth. What it has required is expenditure that the government does not have to try to beat back all of trash and nonsense that he spins about the policy. One such effort to defend and explain was Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration at the Human Right Council’s high level dialogue in Geneva on 4th March. Our photo of the week then is that of Mr. Mitchell appearing before the council to defend The Bahamas from its mainly internal enemies on the question of human rights. You may click here for the full address..
THE PM AT THE HELM IN NASSAU: the Captains of the Caribbean are shown here in this group photo as they appeared in Nassau on 26th February for the Heads of Government meeting of Caricom . The Prime Minister Perry Christie with the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling posed for the traditional family photo on 26th February. The photo is by Elcott Coleby of the Bahamas Information Services. That is our photo of the week.
MITCHELL IN ABACO: he visited with the four major Abaco communities on 2nd and 3rd of January to speak with them about the problem of the incursion of illegal migrants in The Bahamas. The communities of Cooper’s Town, Hope Town, Marsh Harbour and Sandy Point all agreed that some action needed to be taken. The Minister promised a staging meeting with all the government agencies on 20th February. The meeting took place hosted by the Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and MP for the area Renardo Curry. The Police, Defence Force, the Depts. of Education, Local Government, Environment and Social Services were all there to present their views. Targets and approaches were discussed and a plan of action suggested. The meeting adjourned for the law enforcement agencies to start planning logistics. The Minister said key to the success of the operations will be the public affairs which seek to shape public opinion, keep the public informed and to ensure that there is community support. He said that the operations must be carried out strictly but humanely. The photo of the week is the staging meeting hosted at the OPM Marsh Harbour to plan the action to stop illegal migration in Abaco.
DANCING IN SPANISH WELLS: well of all places to see it. The Prime Minister Perry Christie was dancing the Junkanoo in what is supposed to be lily white Spanish Wells. Things have changed since the late Edwin Taylor, the Methodist Minister, who was black was chased from Spanish Wells and could not spend the night there. Now you are in an era when the Spanish Wells School actually participates and win the Junior Junkanoo. Junkanoo is the essence of African culture in The Bahamas, embraced by Spanish Wells. Wonders never cease. The occasion was the name of the all age school in Spanish Wells, a fishing community off the coast of North Eleuthera on Thursday 12th February as the Samuel Guy Pinder All Age School. The Prime Minister was accompanied by his Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald. The photo of the week is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
THE BAHAMIANS AT CAVE HILL. They spent the week exposing the people of the University of the West Indies about Bahamian food and culture. People were lined up in front of their food tent to taste conch, peas and rice and well all the Bahamian goodies. It was interesting to see the leadership of the next generation at work. The Bahamian Students Association invited Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs to come and speak to them for their inaugural lecture. He spoke on the topic: The Future Is You, a tour de force of his own life and how the experiences in their early lives will determine the choices they later make. He urged them to be confident about themselves. The photo of the week then is Fred Mitchell the Minister of Foreign Affairs with the Bahamian students in Barbados at the University of the West Indies on Tuesday 3rd February.
FREE EJ: He is now the star of the Bahamian porn world. His name is Edmund Lewis Jr. He was up until two weeks ago an unknown, obscure ordinary policeman, but now E.J. as he is called by his friends is famous or infamous as the case might be. He was charged last week with child pornography because he took videos of women with whom he was having sex and someone put the videos on the web and it appears that they were done without the consent of his partners in sex and also one of the women may have been a minor. That did not stop the video from being circulated widely across the country, and the conversations about EJ, his equipment and his prowess, the positions that rival the Karma Sutra and on and on. The Magistrate Joy Ann Pratt at first refused him bail but on reflection having made an error in his first arraignment gave him bail. His girlfriend blew him a kiss as he was being led away to jail and it appears that when he was released on Thursday 29th January, she was there to greet him in his arms. So for all the titillation that he has given the tired lives of the sex starved in The Bahamas, the opportunity to give those righteously indignant a chance to get on their high horses, our photo of the week is the picture of EJ from the front page of The Tribune Friday 30th January of EJ just after being freed.
PRIME MINISTER COMMISSIONS 100 MILLION DOLLAR FACILITY: on Thursday 22nd January the Prime Minister Perry Christie officially commissioned the new 100 million dollar critical care bloc of the Princess Margaret Hospital. To the consternation of some, the Prime Minister paid tribute to his predecessor Hubert Ingraham, repeating a line which Mr. Ingraham used to say when he defeated the now Prime Minister in 2007: “ Some sow and others reap”. It would probably be best to ignore Hubert Ingraham. Mr. Ingraham would have and still does savage Mr. Christie at every turn and in this atmosphere there should be a “take no prisoners attitude”. But then Mr. Christie is the Prime Minister, schooled in the political art and it has worked. That is why he is where he is and Mr. Ingraham is in the audience watching from the sidelines. It was a proud moment for the Government. The Government had to find an additional 40 million dollars to staff and equip the hospital. That is why long after the physical building was finished it took so long to get it going. With this there should be some relief for the hospital that has an acute shortage of operating theatres and intensive care beds. Elective surgeries are often cancelled because of this shortage. Mr. Christie renewed his promise that National Health Insurance is coming. Not a moment too soon. So congratulations to Mr. Christie, the Government, the Minsiter of Health Perry Gomez, Hubert Brown it’s much maligned but worthy Managing Director, Chairman Senator Frank Smith and all the staff for the work done in making this possible. Our photo of the week then is the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling as she cut the ribbon marking the formal commissioning of the new critical care bloc at the Princes Margaret Hospital Nassau on 22nd January. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
BAMSI BURNS: For Perry Christie, the Prime Minister, the Bahamas Agriculture Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), is his baby. We are talking legacy politics now. He was an agriculture and fisheries minister once and didn’t get a chance or so he thought to really get agriculture going. So he is determined that this time he will do it. Thus BAMSI was born. He put Godfrey Eneas, a former Director of Agriculture, there to get it done. He sent Ronnie Thompson, a former PS at Agriculture to Andros to shepherd and look after the project. All the old agriculture crew. He promised the Principal at the UWI campus in Trinidad that he was going to do it. The Principal proclaims that he thought it was just another Caribbean politician talking to hear himself. He was surprised that it’s done. The buildings are up. The crops are in the field. There are problems to be sure but North Andros has a shining light. One issue was one contractor got into a dispute with the workers over pay. It left some people broke and angry. People nursed their wounds. Then on Thursday evening 15th January, the pictures started surfacing on social media. BAMSI on fire. Some people, mainly FNMs were jubilant. The PLPs were depressed. Mortified. Miffed. Rumours of arson, by disgruntled workers. The building, a male dormitory, burned. By morning's light and with no firefighting equipment, the fire cold have done worse. The Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis was there to inspect the buildings to find that the roof was gone but the structure seemed sound. So we start again. Our photo of the week then is that of the BAMSI building burning in the night in North Andros.
THE PM COMES A CALLIN ON CHINA: the Chinese have a philosophy. They treat every country and its leaders the same. So whether you are small like The Bahamas or large like the United States, you receive equal treatment. They do not apply conditionalities with the assistance to countries. It appears that they have accepted the Biblical principle: to whom much is given much is expected. They have risen to the occasion. The question looms large: what of our friend the United States, who simply seems to have such a myopic view of life, that all they are concerned about is national security and limit their assistance to that. The Caricom leaders are unable to get even half an hour with the US President, a remarkable fact given all the hype in the Caribbean populations about Obama and his African heritage. He does not give the Caribbean the time of day. In the meantime, the Chinese are winning friends and influencing people, while the US seems to be dying on the vine. We are in the American orbit but only they seem not to know it. Prime Minister Perry Christie has paid his second official visit to China in a decade. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham before him also paid two visits to China. On each occasion, they met the leaders of China at the top levels. Not so with the United States or Canada or Britain. Interesting how we are taken for granted. Such is life. The photo of the week is Prime Minster Christie meeting President Xi Jinping of China at the Great Hall of The People on Tuesday 6th January. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
The Prime Minister gave a national address in which he spoke to the themes for the year 2015. These included immigration, crime and the economy. He deepened his views on the subject with an interview with Steve McKinney, the talk show host. The interview appears tomorrow on the Broadcasting Corporation’s TV ZNS Channel 13. Our photo of the week is the Prime Minister being interviewed by Steve McKinney who spent the whole of last year bashing the Prime Minister and his government. The interview was recorded on Friday 2nd January.
THE HAITIAN BOATS HAVE ARRIVED. This was the scene off Barracuda Rock, six miles off Barre Terre in Exuma on the afternoon of Christmas Day at about 3:30 p.m. When they were landed and the count was in, as incredible as it seems there were 119 people on board this vessel: 93 males and 19 females. They were landed at Barre Terre and taken to a holding facility at the E C McKenzie auditorium in Ramsay, Exuma and then the next morning were taken by boat to the Detention Centre in Nassau. The centre already had too many illegal migrants in the facility. Fred Mitchell, the Foreign Minister, advised the Haitian Government both privately and publicly that the Miami Herald had written a story by Jacqueline Charles on 22 November that people were going to set out for The Bahamas from La Tortue in Haiti in December. In their public response at the Organization of American States, the Haitian government said they could find no evidence of it. The boats are now here. Twenty three were caught in the days just before Christmas in Exuma. The 119 caught on Christmas Day told the authorities that they came from La Tortue. Our photo of the week then is that of a Haitian sloop breaching the borders of The Bahamas off Barre Terre in Exuma on Christmas Day. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY.
OUR MAN AT THE VATICAN: life is full of wonders and ironies and of course sadness. Last week was one of the wonders that makes you glad you are alive to see it. Imagine you are 18 years old and you have taken a stand against a wishy washy headmaster at the school where you are taking your A levels, preparing for a career in college and the law. Because you are outspoken, the school’s headmaster decides that out you go. The world must have seemed to come crashing down around you but there was a greater inner self that propelled you to move forward and you did. So much was the propelling forward that you ended up being the voice of radical youth in The Bahamas, the voice of the PLP’s future in the 1970s, an Attorney, the Attorney General, the Party Chairman, the voice and rescuer of Pindling’s regime in its last days; the counselor for Pindling and Ingraham and Christie ( the last names of the three Prime Ministers of The Bahamas), the go to man for crisis on an official level to clean up the messes, the voice of solid reason behind the scenes. Then to cap all of that off you become, being a Roman Catholic, your father was a monk and a devout follower of the faith, the country makes you one generation and some years later its man at the Vatican, Ambassador to the Pope in Rome. Sidney Poitier’s story is perhaps the only one that succeeds this amazing story. Yet it is the truth and not fiction. From an expelled high school student through to all of those posts and now Ambassador to the Pope. That is the Sean Mcweeney story. He presented his credentials in the presence of Bahamian public officials and his wife and children on Thursday 18th December. The photo of the week therefore is that of the Pope Francis in Vatican City accepting the credentials of Ambassador Sean McWeeney. Those youngsters who despair today that their time will never come: read and inwardly digest.
PRIME MINISTER PERRY CHRISTIE MET WITH RAUL CASTRO, the President of Cuba on Tuesday 9th December. Mr. Christie was a guest of the Cuban Government for the Cuba/Caricom Summit which takes place every three years. This is his second summit. Mr. Christie when he was last Prime Minister became the first Bahamian Prime Minister to visit Cuba. The Cubans pulled out all the stops, with a full military guard, a one hour and five minute meeting with the President and a spontaneous and unrehearsed apology by the President for the sinking of HMBS Flamingo in 1980 by Cuban Migs in which four Bahamian sailors died. Mr. Castro said that he was deeply embarrassed about it and he wished to apologise personally for what he said was a tragic mistake. Our photo of the week then was that of Prime Minister Perry Christie in Havana inspecting the official military honour guard drawn up for him in the Palace of the Revolution on Tuesday 9th December just before his meeting with President Raul Castro. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
THE FUNERAL TO END ALL FUNERALSthe state recognised funeral for the late Rev. Myles Mu roe and his wife Ruth who died two weeks ago in a plane crash 9th November in Grand Bahama took place at the Diplomat Centre on Thursday 4th December in Nassau. It was a spectacle. It lasted from 10 a.m. until they left the church building sometime around 4:30 p.m. They reached the graveyard at 5:30 p.m. The family and mourners had to use the light of their cell phones in order to see as the coffins were lowered in the graves. The thing ran so long that by the time they reached the graveyard, many of the ceremonial parts of the service had to be truncated because they could not be performed in the dark. Nevertheless, thousands turned out and thousands stayed to see the spectacle and to witness history one supposes. The governmental authorities were there. The celebrity pastors and just plain celebrities were there. So there was quite a lot of hype. Myles and Ruth Munroe are now in the ground. All that can be said about them has been said. The question is what now, with his church family rumoured to be in substantial debt and his two children having to pick up the ashes of an empire that must now survive off intellectual property rights and of course if the children have the talent of their father for preaching and talking. Our photo of the week then is the caskets of the Rev. Myles and Ruth Munroe on Thursday 4th December at the Bahamas Faith Mission church the day the Cabinet came to pay their respects. This was a first for a private citizen. The Prime Minister bowed to the caskets. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information services.
THE EYES SHOW IT: Well the dust has sort of settled since the election of the once and now leader again of the Free National Movement Dr. Hubert Minnis on 21st November. The pundits are now having their say and the words within the FNM from the losing team are bitter and vituperative about the new leader, despite all the public words of reconciliation and support. The PLPs got into the debate and Hope Strachan, the Minister of State for Transport, wondered aloud whether or not the result would have been different if Loretta Butler Turner had been a man. Melanie Griffin, the Minister of Social Services, paid tribute to Mrs. Butler Turner for raising the bar for women and stepping forward. There is of course always a reason for a loss and we do not think that it had to do in this case with gender. Elections are won by delegates to the convention. There is no point running a great national campaign when the electorate is not the nation but the convention delegates. Dr. Hubert Minnis won because he captured most of the delegates. He went from island to island delivered the voters to the booths and onto the ballot papers. Some of Mrs. Butler Turner's supporters are bitter, with one young FNM supporter telling the Minister of Foreign Affairs that the PLP now has a safe and assured victory for 2017. Well nothing is over until it’s over. Our photo of the week though is Loretta Butler Turner standing in the hall, the defeated insurgent candidate for leader of the FNM. The story is told in her eyes as she learned she had lost and was beaten badly on the evening of 21st November 2014.
There is a pall that still hangs over The Bahamas and possibly will continue to hang over The Bahamas until Myles Munroe, the Reverend killed in a plane crash two Sundays ago, is buried. It is like a big shadow over the whole country. It is so inexplicable that a man at 61, so vibrant and full of the collective memory of The Bahamas was taken away in what appears to have been a totally avoidable accident. A plane hits a crane at 116 feet at 4:52 on a blinding rainy afternoon in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The country is still picking up the pieces but the whole country is picking over the pieces of it and trying to figure out why. The newspapers have been fulsome in their coverage of the events from that day to this. The latest installment was the return to he bodies of the pastor and the eight others on the plane on Thursday 20th November to New Providence for burial. Our photo of the week then is that of the five hearses and the minders at the airport with the hearses as they stood in a line awaiting the moment for departure. There was a brief service at the airport in Nassau with Glenys Hanna Martin, the Minister of Transport in attendance. Our photo of the week.
A NEW FACE FOR BFM: : the Brits have a saying when their monarch passes: “The King is dead! Long live the king!”. That is how life is. In the midst of life there is death, inevitable, inexorable. The Bible says, that you do not know the day or the hour. It also says in the moment in the twinkling of an eye. Rev. Myles Munroe Sr. died in a plane crash shortly after our upload last Sunday. It changed the dynamic of the news day. But after the shock and in the midst of the grief, life had to go on and by mid-week out of the mist of depression came a new fresh face, Myles Munroe Jr. They say he doesn’t have the gift of his father for public speaking but then neither did Aaron when he succeeded Moses. They say he is not interested. But then neither was Rajiv Gandhi, the son of the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In each case though, the successors stepped up to the plate. This young man who presented to the nation his thanks to the country has the name Myles Munroe. He is a junior but Myles Munroe all the same. So the possibilities seem endless. We say again like the Brits say the King is dead! Long live the King. Our photo of the week is that of Myles Munroe Jr. expressing his thanks to the country on the outpouring of grief for the death of his father on Wednesday 12th November.
INSPECTING THE GUARD: the Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis inspected the honour guard drawn up by Squad A of the Department of Immigration on Wednesday 5th November. The occasion was the graduation of the first immigration class since 2009. The class graduated 54 people: ten in Freeport and 44 in Nassau. Another class will start soon. This is in line with the minister’s view that the Department of Immigration should increase threefold over the next three years. It was a proud day for the recruits as they presented their military style drill in front of friends, family and the public officials. The Minister for Immigration Fred Mitchell spoke on the occasion and reminded them that there is in his words “a lot of idle propaganda” going around about the Department but that they should ignore it and do their work. The photo of the week then is that of the Deputy Prime Minister inspecting the guard of immigration officers at their graduation on Wednesday 5th November. The photo is by Christopher Rahming of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
APPLES AND ORANGES; CHEEZE AND CHALK- by whatever words you want to use to express the contrasts, they would be apt. The picture shows two happy people. On the left is Cyril “ Boxer” Minnis. On the right is Loretta Butler Turner MP, the insurgent candidate for the leadership of the Free National Movement and now its outgoing Deputy Leader. Mr. Minnis is the brother of the Leader of the Opposition. He is a take no prisoners kind of guy but he does it with an infectious good humour and a hearty laugh. Don’t mind that though, he goes for the jugular when it comes to politics and particularly if it involves fooling with his brother. Now to Loretta Butler Turner. She has been trying to soften her image of late, the woman thing you know. Pretty brown eyes and plenty of good moderated language. But don’t mind that either. That’s a biggity gal and if you cross her she will slash and burn. Just ask Andre Rollins about the slap heard across the islands. But the two people for the purposes of this photograph portrayed themselves as a happy couple, although everyone knows that they are playing for keeps. The Minnis faction says that she doesn’t have a hope in hell of winning. She with artful messaging and pretty graphics is selling a message oriented campaign. Boxer and his bother the doctor are counting votes on the ground. Whatever the outcome on 21st November, we think that by any measure this mugging for the cameras is the photo of the week. It was posted on Facebook.
The Prime Minister attended a Diplomatic Week Heads of Mission Luncheon, October 22, at Melia Nassau Beach Resort. Diplomatic Week of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the first of its kind and features a number of events with participation from Bahamas Heads of Missions who are in Nassau for the landmark occasion, and members of the diplomatic community residing in The Bahamas. Pictured at Melia are Bahamas Heads of Mission at the luncheon, and gathered for photo, from left: HE Eldred Bethel, Bahamas High Commissioner, United Kingdom; HE Calsey Johnson, Bahamas High Commissioner, Canada; HE Alma Adams, Ambassador to Cuba; HE Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Permanent Representative to the UN in New York; Mr. Ricardo Treco, Consul General, Miami, Florida; HE Captain Godfrey Rolle, Ambassador to Haiti; Ms. Sheila Carey, Charge d’Affaires, Beijing, China; HE Rhoda Jackson, Permanent Representative, Bahamas Permanent Mission to the UN and other International Organizations, in Geneva; Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Perry G. Christie; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Fred Mitchell; Mrs. Cleola Hamilton, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Mr. Forrester Carroll, Consul General, New York; Ms. Paulette Adderley-Zonicle, Consul General, Washington, DC; Mr. Randy Rolle, Consul General, Atlanta; HE Dr. Eugene Newry, Ambassador, Washington, DC; Mr. Philip Miller, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; and HE Picewell Forbes, Bahamas High Commissioner to CARICOM. (BIS Photos/Peter L. Ramsay). That is our photo of the week.
THE GOVERNOR GENERAL WITH THE QUEEN:Well it was quite an event, Our Dame Marguerite Pindling was there in London to meet the Queen. Queen Elizabeth II held an audience with Dame Marguerite Pindling upon her appointment as Governor-General of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and invested her with the Insignia of a Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George at Buckingham Palace on 14th October in London, England. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool /Getty Images). It’s our photo of the week. Interesting commentary by way of the British Daily Mail about the audience. The sequined Bahamas straw bag of Dame Marguerite made the news. That is our photo of the week, Dame Marguerite with the Queen.
THE GOVERNOR GENERAL LEAVES FOR LONDON:Dame Marguerite Pindling left Nassau for London on Friday 10th October. She returns to the country on 17th October. The tradition of the appointment of the Governor General is that it comes with the award of an additional knighthood of the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Dame Marguerite is to receive that further award from the Queen. She is already knighted. The tradition also is that upon the appointment of a Governor General, that individual pays a call on the Queen. That will take place on 14th October at Buckingham Palace. Thus the ritual of the appointment to office will be complete. Our photo of the week then is that of the Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade at the Lynden Pindling International Airport saying a fond adieu to the Governor General as she leaves to see the Queen. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
FRED MITCHELL, THE FOREIGN MINISTER, spoke at the United Nations as Foreign Minister for the 7th time in his career on Tuesday 30th September. The annual statement given at the General Debate of the United Nations is a chance for countries large and small to say what their positions and policies are on various subjects. This year The Bahamas focused on the environment, crime and illegal migration. The photo of the week then is that shot taken on 30th September as the statement was delivered at the traditional iconic green marble podium of the United Nations.
TWO LEAD COUPLES OF THE BAHAMAS AND THE UNITED STATES: it certainly looked like a good time was had by all. The Prime Minister’s wife Bernadette and the President of the United States’ wife Michelle were all smiles as were the two men. This was a happy photograph. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell pronounced himself pleased; after all it’s his job to get these things done. First Pope Francis, now the President of the United States. What more could you ask for? The photo of the week then was this photo with the President of the United States at his annual reception at the Waldorf Astoria in New York city for the delegates attending the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday 23rd Sepetmber.
NEVER GET A LICKING TIL YOU GO DOWN TO BIMINI: well in this case we hope not. We wish only success. The Prime Minister Perry Christie is shown cutting the ribbon to mark the start of the cruise port at Bimini where a cruise ship actually can come straight up to the new dock built on the ocean side of the island for the purpose of Bimini’s tourism resort and casino. Bimini has had a dramatic rise in tourism over the past year. There is full employment on the island as a result of the new investment by Malaysia’s Genting Group of companies. It appears that the arguments with the native Biminites is over, with the investment finally trickling down to the local people. The arguments over the environment seem to have gone nowhere. So there is progress with some 500 people now employed and another 400 to come. There will be a brand new airport and new housing developments. That is what we call progress and the PLP has done it. Our photo of the week then is the Prime Minister with the CEO of Genting Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay as they cut the ribbon on Thursday 18th September. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
Death be not proud – John Donne
O death, where is your sting ?--- Corinthians 15:56
Oh death look what you’ve done – From a folk song sung at graveside in Fox Hill
Our photo of the week by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services
Rest In Peace Latore Mackey, until we meet again
THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE CHARGE: it has been almost three years since the United States has had an Ambassador to the Bahamas in place. That means that there has been no political representation in this country from the closest country to us for almost three years. The job has been done by a Charge D’affaires ad interim. That means the number two person in the embassy heads the mission until the political head can come. Cassandra Butts is the person nominated by the President Barrak Obama to do the job but the politics of Washington D C does not allow her to come and take the post. This is really outrageous for a developed country not to be able to put an ambassador in place in a country so close to it. Anyway that’s life and the critics in The Bahamas were having a field day at the expense of the government when they thought we in The Bahamas did not have someone in Washington. Nothing said about the opposite. Our photo of the week then is the first formal call by the present head of Mission for the United States Lisa Johnson as she met the Prime Minister on Thursday 4th September. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
GATHERING FOR RONNIE: Ronnie Butler is a poet and he knows it. He is simply brilliant. Nothing surpasses in our minds than the song Burma Road. Mr. Butler recorded that song in 1968 and it is still being sung by children today. In it he did a medley of Bahamian tunes, starting from Fox Hill with the ditty “ Don’t mind Livingstone, Josiah the JP”. The song then turns into Going Down Burma Rd, don’t lick nobody.” What the real apotheosis of the song is though was the improv, that of in giving in commentary to music about the contrasts between modern Bahamian life and the old days. He says for example “I remember when we used to go to high mass on Sunday morning with high top tennis with no socks on and God help you if it rain because toe jam will kill you.” That is our Ronnie Butler, the same who decades later said age was nothing but a number . On Thursday 28th August his friend Craig Flowers, of the FML Group, led a tribute to Ronnie Butler. He had unveiled in the presence of the Prime Minister and Members of the Cabinet a larger than life statue of Ronnie Butler. In our view this man should have been knighted and we should know him as Sir Ronnie. Ah well. In the meantime, our photo of the week is that of the larger than life statue of Ronnie Butler: going down Burma Rd, indeed. The statue is located on Bay Street west of the Hilton British Colonial in front to the east of the FML Headquarters. The photo is posted on Facebook. For more photos of the opening by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services. See below.
WELL THE CONSTITUTIONAL BILLS ARE IN COMMITTEE: if all goes well and the government thinks it has the 29 votes that it needs, the constitutional bills will pass the House of Assembly tomorrow by this time. They are now in Committee, various amendments have been agreed: principally to make the questions easier to understand and to define what sex means, as if we didn’t know already. If the bills pass it will be because of the work of these two men Perry Christie, Leader of the PLP and Hubert Minnis, leader of the FNM, who were able to overcome their mutual loathing of each other to agree on a package of bills to grant women equality in the law. Our photo of the week is a picture by Peter Ramsay of the two men as they left the House on Wednesday 20th August following the vote to send the bills to the Committee stage.
THE HOUSE UNITED: Leslie Miller not so long ago was not on the proper list of Loretta Butler Turner. He is the PLP MP for Tall Pines, and outspoken to a fault. He will slash and burn and if you get in his way. He was not the champion of women because of some things which he said which in our view were taken not in the proper context. Nevertheless, he was not on their proper list either. The last thing he said was that he did not believe that a man should come from another country and be able to get citizenship in The Bahamas after marrying a Bahamian woman. Uh oh! Mrs. Butler Turner, the Deputy leader of the FNM and an advocate for women's rights said that was from the caveman era. Mr. Miller didn’t like it and threatened to deal with her. But all were smiles and a handshake in the House when Mr. Miller spoke and said he was supporting the four bills to amend the constitution without dissent. Loretta Butler Turner got up and turned around in her seat shook his hand and bowed. All then is forgiven? The photo of the week then is that of Loretta Butler Turner MP for Long Island FNM shaking the hand of Leslie Miller for Tall Pines PLP on Wednesday 13th August in the House of Assembly. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER: after a rousing but sober talk by the Rev. Hugh Roach, the Chaplain of the House of Assembly to the group there gathered on Freedom Park on Wednesday 6th August, they held hands and sung. This was a sign of the unity which has been exhibited from the Fox Hill Community since the death of the four people shot down on the park on 27th December 2013 as they were awaiting the Junkanoo results for the Original Conges. The park was awash with tears and emotion still raw after the events more than six months ago as the people remembered Claudzino Davis, Shanique Sands, Eric Morrison and Shaquille Demeritte. We hope that the service helps to soothe and that the object of the service to break ground for the construction of the monument to the four people will help also to heal. As the Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis said: “to do the things that make for peace and build up the common good”. Our photo of the week then is Fox Hill during the hour of prayer on Wednesday 6th August 2014. The photo is by Raymond Bethel of the Bahamas Information Services from left to right Catholic Father Reggie Demeritte, Monsignor Preston Moss, Rev. Hugh Roach, Fred Mitchell MP, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis.
MARTELLY COMES CALLING FROM HAITI: it was all smiles, the Prime Minister Perry Christie, the Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell and their supporting cast of officials.
This photo was taken as the Prime Minister Perry Christie was escorting President Michel Martelly back to his car and then to the airport for departure to Haiti. It was quite a successful visit.
None of the acrimony over interfering in the internal affairs of the country like the previous visit under the FNM.
Even the FNM seemed to embrace the general themes of migration and business as issues that The Bahamas has to sensibly manage.
The countries signed three agreements: one on general technical cooperation including migration; another on agriculture and how to import agricultural goods into the country; the third on investment promotion and protection.
You can see the facsimiles of the three agreements by clicking here.
The photo of the week is the joyous farewell to Haitian President Martelly as he concluded his official visit to The Bahamas by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
THE QUESTION IS WHAT WERE THEY SAYING AND THINKING. Peter Ramsay captured this interesting photo at the House of Assembly on Wednesday 23rd July. The setting: the House had just adjourned and members Fred Mitchell and Bernard Nottage are discussing something that obviously elicited great laughter. Not so for the Prime Minister Perry Christie who can be seen in the background in quite a ponderous mood. What were they saying? What was he thinking? Renward Wells to resign? VAT to be passed? Will the “vimin” vote yes for the referendum questions? A lot to think about. But the song says. Don’t worry! Be happy! Our photo of the week that of Bernard Nottage, Fred Mitchell and Prime Minister Christie in the House of Assembly on 23rd July by Peter Ramsay.
A FAR COUNTRY: the Foreign Ministers of Caricom have held their first meeting as part of the consultative process between Caricom and Turkey which was agreed by Memorandum of Understanding in 2011. Foreign Ministers of the region met in Istanbul from Thursday 17th July to Monday 21st July to discuss an ambitious agenda of support for Turkey’s bid to become a Member of the Security Council of the United Nations and the outreach of Turkey to the region in development assistance. Fred Mitchell MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas represented the country at the meetings. Our photo of the week then is the usual class photo of the Foreign Ministers of Caricom with their Turkish counterpart (at the centre) Ahmet Davutoglu. Mr. Mitchell is second from the right.
Damien Gomez put on a stout defence of The Bahamas and its reputation in the face of the lies told by Fred Smith and the Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association about The Bahamas. Fred Smith, funded by only who knows, was in Washington D C with a full head of hair and full beard, looking like Attila the Hun, and portraying himself at various sites as the champion of the down trodden immigrant in The Bahamas. Bahamians know only too well what people in the United States do not know and that is the only thing Fred Smith cares about is himself and money. The only thing in which he is expert is shameless self-promotion
It is interesting how delusional this fellow is. At the after party for Jack Hayward in Freeport Mr. Smith was boasting to friends that he had the government frightened and on the run with regard to its immigration policy. Only in his own mind. He thinks that much of himself. In the day to day running of immigration policy, Fred Smith does not even feature one minute of the time of the Department of Immigration, we would venture to guess.
He has his little minions running with him. Joseph Darville, the former school teacher, and Paco Nunez, the former Tribune editor and now Louby Georges the former Guardian radio talk show host. That should tell you a lot. A collection of formers: has beens, human detritus, all searching for a role and for relevance. When we examined the pictures at the hearing in Washington, trumped up and contrived by Mr. Smith, he had in the background Noelle Nicolls the one who in a flagrant ethical violation, used access at the Women’s Crisis Centre to put the business of a Jamaican woman into the streets. It’s a real collection of misfits.
The Bahamas has to use its scarce resources to fight off this internal enemy, when it could be using its scarce resources to stop these illegal migrants from coming to The Bahamas and get rid of those who are in The Bahamas. Instead we have to fight phony charges and excessive rhetoric by the consummate egoist in the name of Fred Smith.
Well madness comes in all forms. This is surely the madness of Fred Smith.
Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 21st March 2015 up to midnight: 377,141;
Number of hits for the month of February up to Saturday 21st March 2015 up to midnight: 1,321,306
Number of hits for the year 2015 up to Saturday 21st March 2015 up to midnight:5,399,223.
Sir Lynden Pindling, the father of our nation, would have been 85 today had he still be with us. On the occasion of the anniversary of his 85th birthday, the Prime Minister Perry Christie joined the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling at the mausoleum of Sir Lynden, where was laid to rest in St Agnes cemetery in 2000. Also present were Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and Senator Keith Bell, the Minister of State in the National Security Ministry. The photo shows the group at the mausoleum this morning.
President and CEO of Pineyard Technical Centre, specializing in training young people in welding for the industrial sector in Grand Bahama, Edney Anderson is shown at the luncheon held in Freeport at Ruby Swiss on Friday 20th March to raise funds for the technical education of young people at the Centre. Fred Mitchell, Minister for Immigration, was the keynote speaker for the occasion. He is shown being presented with a gift following his address from left to right: Mr. Anderson, Mr. Mitchell, students Feron Campbell and Hicuonia Cash.
Fred Mitchell MP, Minister for Immigration, is shown, fifth from the right, with Edney Anderson (fourth from left), President and CEO of Pineyard Technical Centre, on Thursday 19th March on a tour of the centre with some of the students. Also in the photo is Dr. Valencia Carroll, Vice President of the Board of the Centre, who is also the wife of the Consul General of The Bahamas in New York Forrester Carroll.
Dr. Eric Brown Medical Advisor to Pineyard Technical Centre at far left and an advisor to the Board of the Pineyard Technical centre shown on 19th March with Fred Mitchell, the Minister for Immigration, centre of the photo and Edney Anderson, President and CEO of the Centre at the right.
His Excellency Georgios Chacalli, Non-Resident Commissioner-Designate of the Republic of Cyprus paid a courtesy call on the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Philip Miller and other senior staff at the Ministry on Wednesday 18th March..
NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Ambassador of Israel Her Excellency Rodica Radian-Gordon paid a courtesy call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, March 18, and met with Permanent Secretary Philip Miller at the Ministry. (BIS Photo/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)
Prime Minister Christie declares “Forestry Awareness Week”
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie signed a Proclamation declaring the week of March 16 – 21, 2015‘Forestry Awareness Week’ in The Bahamas and officially opened a Forestry Awareness Symposium at the College of The Bahamas on Wednesday, March 18. A highlight of the symposium was the planting of the national tree of The Bahamas, the lignum vitae on the college campus in front of the Harry C. Moore Library.
Also commemorating the event was the Environment Minister, Hon. Kenred Dorsett. In an address to students at the Anatol Rodgers High School on Monday, Minister Dorsett highlighted the importance of the forest and trees in particular to our very existence and the need to protect them.
“Trees are the lungs of the earth” said Minister Dorsett and “they help us to balance the amount of oxygen and harmful carbon dioxide in the air. Trees regulate humidity in the air. Trees provide us with food, shelter, shade and jobs to help support us and our families.”
Forestry Awareness Week is being celebrated in The Bahamas this week from 16th – 21st MARCH 2015. This event is celebrated globally every year on the 21st March and is designed to educate the public and raise awareness of the significant benefits provided by trees. Civil society is encouraged to plant a tree in commemoration of this global event.
DPM Davis reports on BEC fire
Most of New Providence was plunged into darkness late Friday and the power was not fully restored until Sunday evening. There were reports of a fire at the BEC Blue Hills Power Plant with photos emerging on social media. Speculations about why the blackout occurred were fast and furious, but Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Philip Brave Davis issued a statement on Tuesday about the facts surrounding the island wide blackout.
“I am advised that this (the island wide blackout) happened as a result of a series of events at the Blue Hills Power Station. In the first instance, a 33,000 volt generator cable faulted, resulting in damages to a number of cables and a fire in a cable trench.”
The Deputy Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to BEC line staff who worked around the clock to fully restore power to all of BEC’s customers within forty-eight hours.
“Supplies to 40% of the customer base were restored by Friday Night/Saturday morning, and the restoration efforts continued until all supplies were restored by Sunday afternoon. It was a team effort involving both management and line staff and for this I am truly grateful.”
Of course the root cause of the fire is under investigation but the Minister was clear in pointing out that on the day of the fire that resulted in the blackout, there was no evidence of staff negligence. Usually in these type incidents, the assignment of blame and culpability is reserved for the conclusion of a taproot investigation in the circumstances surrounding this incident.
Compendium of Cooperatives Bills passed in the House this week
The compendium of bills to expand the regulatory framework of Credit Unions under the Central Bank was unanimously passed in the House late Wednesday afternoon with Parliamentarians pledging their full support for the new regulatory regime.
NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MOYS&C) with Lyn Terez Davis-Nixon “Miss Daisy” and her team members paid a courtesy call on Her Excellency Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling at Government House, March 17. Pictured seated from left: Calvin Balfour, Permanent Secretary (MOYS&C); the Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture; Dame Marguerite Pindling; Lyn Terez Davis-Nixon “Miss Daisy”; and Layette McFall. Standing from left: Bishop Ross Davis; Althea Davis; Adrian Whyms; Trent Davis; Daren Seymour; Mavis Collie; Dr. Linda Moxey-Brown; Darren Turnquest, Director of Youth; Sandra Fountain; Deloris Johnson; Nicole Watson; Kendia Simmons and Tina Lynch. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)
Hubert Minnis was busy as a bee last week trying to look Prime Ministerial. He was issuing press releases fast and furious and staging them if he could. One such staging ground was just in front of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation. He denounced the government’s lack of a plan for BEC, said it was poor leadership and leadership in crisis. He was referring to the fact that it appeared that Leslie Miller, the Chairman of the power company, accused the staff of neglecting the maintenance of the plant and causing the massive power failure on Friday 13th March. The Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis who has responsibility for the corporation, said it just wasn’t so. Mr. Miller later retracted his remarks. The Union President Paul Maynard at BEC called Mr. Miller a jackass and told the government that if they didn’t fire Mr. Miller, they (the union) would refuse to work along with the government on the necessary reform of the corporation. Problem for Mr. Minnis is this: every time we think he looks like he could possibly be our Prime Minister, he goes and puts his foot in it. The Nassau Guardian burst his bubble by pointing out that Mr. Minnis while attacking the government on BEC had no plan for BEC himself. Uh oh. Meanwhile the Prime Minister promises that BEC reform is coming. He said he had to do some additional due diligence and now the decision is near.
Brent Symonette, the former Deputy Prime Minister, who was forced out of his position as head of the Airport Authority, for presiding over the awarding of a contract to a firm in which he had an interest, is now back every week pontificating about one fact or the other. Last week he even ventured to say that the Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis should resign over the BAMSI fire issue. As Pindling would have said: “ Resign my foot”. Here is the son of a bootlegger preaching morality at us. Lord help us! Then he let the cat out of the bag. In speaking to The Tribune on 17th March, he said that he was thinking of running for office again. There is a big effen surprise. The word is he has his eyes on St. Ann’s. He thinks that Hubert Chipman, the incumbent who replaced Mr. Symonette after the last election, is just warming the seat for him so he can get it back any time he wants. He also said he is thinking of Fox Hill and running against Fred Mitchell. Well poor Shonel Ferguson who has her eyes set on the FNM nomination for Fox Hill. Whatever is she going to do. Any way before the week was out Bradley Roberts, PLP Chair, was in a position to solidly fix Mr. Symonette’s business for him with the following statement:
Brent Symonette is confused and intellectually dishonestBradley B. Roberts National Chair Progressive Liberal Party Brent Symonette is apparently confused, intellectually dishonest, clearly lives in an echo chamber and has zero credibility when it comes to handling the people’s money. The FNM’s stewardship of the Bahamian economy and its management of public finances leaves much to be desired as the ill effects are still being felt today. The record will show that during our last term in office, the PLP government was able to overcome the reckless spending, borrowing and mismanagement by the FNM and grew public revenue by 51%, added more than $1 billion to the economy and recorded a budget surplus in just five short years. Those are the facts. In our current term, the PLP government is projected to add some $600 million to the Bahamian economy after inheriting an economy that the FNM admitted was sick and “in a wheel chair” as a result of their excessive borrowing, spending and general incompetence. In thirty short months the PLP has successfully cut the deficit in half and by some $160 million in the current fiscal year. This government’s fiscal prudence has attracted praise from credit ratings agencies and the World Bank. As a matter of fact, the last time The Bahamas enjoyed an upgrade to its sovereign credit ratings was in 2006 under the PLP. Those are the facts. This performance is in stark contrast to the FNM who presided over multiple downgrades during its last term in office. The record will show that the economy contracted under the FNM; the national debt ballooned by 40% in five years, the largest on record and government revenue deteriorated year after year despite huge tax hikes and unsustainable borrowing. To add insult to injury, the FNM collected some $500 million in one-offs during that period and it was all squandered. They collected well over $100 million in dividends from BTC before its sale; they collected over $200 million from the BTC sale; they collected some $40 million in stamp taxes from the sale of BORCO; tens of millions more were collected from the sale of South Riding Point Holdings Limited (former Burma Oil) and countless millions more in stamp taxes and fees when the government of China took an equity interest in the Baha Mar project. Additionally, the FNM government managed to exhaust its overdraft facility to the tune of another $200 million. In the end, the Bahamian people were left with huge debts to pay off, high unemployment and an economy teetering on the brink of collapse. I dare say that had it not been for the waste of the FNM, the urgent implementation of VAT to save this economy would not have been necessary. For his part, Brent Symonette was fired as chairman of the Airport Authority over a contract administration that was in serious conflict. Apparently he did not learn from the error of his malfeasant ways because as a sitting minister of the cabinet and Deputy Prime Minister no less, he chaired a committee to oversee the relocation of container port companies while he owned property on which some of the ports were located. He was also found to be in violation of the constitution regarding his financial interests in Bahamas Hot Mix and its contractual relationship with Jose Cartillone over the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP). In each case Brent Symonette found himself in a fundamental conflict between his public duty to service and protect the public interest and advancing his personal business interests. So the last party to talk about trust with the people’s money is the FNM and of all people, Brent Symonette. This disgraced character has proven over and over again that he has one interest and that is Brent Symonette and how he could exploit public service to expand his personal wealth. There is absolutely no nexus between the drivel of Brent Symonette and reality, the facts and the empirical data surrounding the fiscal stewardship of the PLP government. Brent suffers from diarrhea of the mouth and should keep quiet if he knows what is good for him. He had to know that if he made such a silly statement as the one attributed to him in the Tribune’s Business Section, I was coming after him aggressively and biting hard.
Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez addressing members of the Infer-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) during a hearing at the Organization of American States (OAS) administrative building in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 20. At left is His Excellency Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations and Permanent Representative to the OAS, and at right is His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States. Seated behind them are Deputy Chief of Mission Chet Neymour and Second Secretary Krissy Hanna.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Denouncing allegations made against The Bahamas by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) as ”false, baseless and malicious,” Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez told members of the Infer-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on
Friday, March 20, 2015 that The Bahamas has a history of respecting human rights that “predates our independence.”
“Indeed, our support of Haiti and its people in the attainment of economic, political and social stability emanates from an abiding and unflinching belief in the dignity of our shared human condition,” Minister Gomez told the IACHR commissioners, who convened the hearing based on specific allegations made by the GBHRA President about the mistreatment of illegal Haitian immigrants in The Bahamas.
GBHRA President Fred Smith also addressed the hearing, held in Ruben Dario Room of the Organization of American States (OAS) administrative building at 1889 F Street, N.W.
Underscoring his harsh criticism of the false allegations made by Mr. Smith, verbally and in written documents, Minister Gomez specifically highlighted the outrageous claim made by the GBHRA President that “the Government of The Bahamas has embraced Fascism and Nazism in a targeted campaign to commit genocide against Haitian nationals.”
“They even maintained that there are concentration camps in The Bahamas and compared the Detention Center to Auschwitz,” Minister Gomez said. “These lies cannot be left unanswered. It is my solemn duty to protect the name and reputation of our people. That is the sole purpose of my attendance here today. Let not my good manners detract from the depth of outrage collectively felt by the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas at the defamation of our country.”
Minister Gomez noted that in 1648 “the original English settlers of The Bahamas arrived to establish a free society in which they might practice their religion without let or hindrance of the English Crown or the Church of England.”
“They settled on the island of Eleuthera, the Greek word for freedom,” Minister Gomez said. “Shortly after settlement, a large number a black slaves were deported from Bermuda to Eleuthera where they were immediately freed. Without a Royal permit the settlers pursued the establishment of their new Jerusalem. They held democratically elected assemblies well before The Bahamas became recognized by the English Crown as a colony to be kept, where upon Letters Patent were issued and our democracy institutionalized. The Common Law protected human rights. Much later in 1963 a Bill of Rights was enshrined in the second written constitution affecting The Bahamas. In the 1969 and 1973 to further constitutions sought further to explicitly protect human rights by repeating the 1963 Bill of Rights. In colonial and post-colonial times human rights has been an essential feature of Bahamian Law and Bahamian Culture.”
He added: “It is in this context that the public utterances of the petitioners have evoked outrage and contempt as openly expressed by ordinary members of public. We join the public in condemning the outlandish and bizarre allegations made by the petitioners about the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Click to play video
“Notwithstanding the failure of the Petitioners to identify a victim of human rights abuses in The Bahamas or of a single failing in our domestic juridical institutions to provide adequate redress we appear as Portia to demonstrate the purity of our response to the demands of upholding human rights in good and bad times when even our neighbours fail to respond.”
Providing further support for his denunciation of the “baseless and malicious” allegations, Minister Gomez had displayed on a projected screen photographs of the detention center for illegal migrants and of the safe house used to keep infants and young persons under the age of 18 with their respective mothers.
“The new dormitories were built at a cost of over $1 million,” Minister Gomez told the Commissioners. “Note the bunk beds and the state of the art bathroom and toilet facilities. Hardly a concentration camp, much less Auschwitz. Note also the furniture and facilities at the safe house rented from the Catholic Archdiocese of Nassau and The Bahamas. Would the Catholic Church not qualify as a part of civil society? Here they participate in a private public partnership to protect young people. Would the Catholic Church partner with purveyors of genocide? Yet this is what the Petitioners would have you believe.”
Referring to the allegation that Haitians are singled out, Minister Gomez said public records show otherwise, adding that the Government of The Bahamas “acts even handedly in respect of the enforcement of our laws” and further pointing out that “there is no racial or ethnic preference or bias.”
Declaring that The Bahamas’ National Security agencies have collected intelligence about the smugglers of illegal migrants from Haiti, Minister Gomez noted that it has been reported that the fee charged each migrant ranges from $1500 to $5000.
Pictured from left to right following Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) hearing held at the Organization of American States (OAS) administrative building in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 20, are: Jose de Jesus Orozco Henriquez, IACHR Commissioner; Tracy Robinson, IACHR Commissioner; His Excellency Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations and Permanent Representative to the OAS; the Hon. Damian Gomez, Minister of State for Legal Affairs; Rose Marie Antoine, IACHR Commissioner; and His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States.
“The criminal enterprise of human trafficking and smuggling is a new scourge to our people,” Minister Gomez said. “It poses new risks to The Bahamas. These risks require a measured response to ensure that our laws are enforced and obeyed by all. The witting or unwitting comfort given by the Petitioners to these criminal enterprises is noted with deprecation.”
Minister Gomez added, “Our duty to govern is paramount. We cooperate with the international community in the fight against both human trafficking and terrorism. Law enforcement requires that we know and account for all aliens in our jurisdiction as far as is humanly possible. This is consistent with existing law and the amendments to the Immigration Act now being debated in our Parliament.
“Our duty to govern also embraces our responsibility to give substance to constitutional rights enjoyed or to be enjoyed by subjects of our Commonwealth. Hitherto the passage of the amendments, children who are natives of The Bahamas but born to foreign parents enjoy no right to remain in The Bahamas during their infancy or minority. At 18 and until their 19th birthday they have a right to apply for Bahamian citizenship. The amendments improve upon the situation of such persons. The amendments confer a status of “belonger” upon such natives, enabling these children to enjoy a legal right to remain in The Bahamas, to attend school, college or university as if they were full citizens of The Bahamas. Additionally, such persons may work without obtaining a work permit. The only right not enjoyed by them is the right to vote. These salutary changes to the law of immigration will benefit literally thousands of Haitian nationals enabling them to open bank accounts and to participate in the formal economy of The Bahamas. For this laudatory achievement the Petitioners defame us, the magnanimous Bahamian people.”
Continuing, Minister Gomez noted, “Far from fascism or Nazism, we seek the embrace of our brothers and sisters born in our midst to foreigners who made varying degrees of contributions to our development. Many of these people are of Haitian descent but many also are of other nationalities and ethnicity. Many of these people are poor but some of these people are well to do or rich. We seek the inclusion of all of their talents recognizing that The Bahamas benefits by that inclusiveness more than it loses.
“Madam President and distinguished Commissioners, we in The Bahamas have faced illegal migration for longer than we have enjoyed independence. Throughout this experience, we have extended Christian charity to the weakest amongst us: infants, children, young persons, the aged, the sick and the infirm. We have provided schools and education even granting it as a legal right irrespective of the immigration status of the child. We have provided health care irrespective of persons’ immigration status and we have done so for among other things to promote public health and to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Our history of inclusion is now being questioned in spite of consistent public statements from the Ministers of Immigration, Education, Health and Social Services. This Bahamian tradition is questioned in the face of publicly disclosed expenditure and budgetary data which demonstrates the commitment of The Bahamas to the creation of a democratic, great and socially fair society.”
He added, “There is no threat to any child in the school system that he or she will be deprived of an education while within The Bahamas. Nor is there any threat to any immigrant that he or she will be denied medical care. Simply there is no basis for the defamatory Petition brought by the Petitioners.”
Philip Brave Davis PRESS RELEASE MINISTRY OF WORKS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Statement on Weekend Blackouts
On the afternoon of Friday, 13th March 2015, New Providence experienced island wide power outages. I am advised that this happened as a result of a series of events at the Blue Hills Power Station. In the first instance, a 33,000 volt generator cable faulted, resulting in damages to a number of cables and a fire in a cable trench.
I first take this opportunity to thank customers across New Providence for their patience during this most difficult time. I am fully aware of the inconveniences homes and businesses wrought as a result of the outages that this past weekend. I also assure the public that Government is doing its part in fulfilling its commitment to not only reduce the cost of electricity but to also improve the delivery of services by BEC.
I would be remiss, though, if I do not express profound thanks to the employees of BEC whose efforts diligent efforts immediately began the restoration process. I commend them for their dedication and hard work. When I visited the facility on Saturday, I noted that, in some instances, employees worked straight through the night and into the following day so as to carry out the necessary repairs and to bring customers back on line. Supplies to 40% of the customer base was restored by Friday Night/Saturday morning, and the restoration efforts continued until all supplies were restored by Sunday afternoon. It was a team effort involving both management and line staff and for this I am truly grateful.
I note commentary by various media houses relative to this most unfortunate incident. Having personally visited the site and having discussed the matter with BEC’s management and technical staff, I am satisfied that the fault did not occur as a result of negligence by employees, and it is regrettable that any intimation to that effect was ever issued.
Hon. Philip E. Davis, Q.C., M.P.
Deputy Prime Minister/Minister
17th March 2015
Following on a report that 60 people believed to be from Haiti slipped in undetected into Abaco and without visas in the early hours of 12thMarch, a period of more intensive checks has been mounted in Abaco by the Department of Immigration beginning today.
Immigration officers were transported by HMBS Nassau this morning to Marsh Harbour and began immigration checks assisting the local immigration force. The Department of Immigration is supported by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is also on standby for support.
The operations will unfold over several days.
Wednesday 18 March The Department of Immigration continues its interdiction exercise in Abaco in search of the 60 or so migrants believed to have entered The Bahamas illegally on 12 March form Haiti,
Forty seven people have been detained thus far are to be brought back to Nassau.
There was on incident in which a Bahamian citizen has been charged with attempting to assault immigration officers with a knife. he was charged in the magistrate’s court in March Harbour with an offence.
The Officers on the scene report that the cooperation of the people of Abaco has been excellent notwithstanding the incident and the checks will continue.
The operations are expected to continue throughout the month.
An officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been tasked with responding to the allegations made in a letter delivered to the Ministry by Amnesty International. The queries in the letter have now turned up in a press release by that organization.
We say generally that the allegations contained in the letter and in the press release are a rehash of the same allegations from other human rights organizations. They are not well grounded in the facts.
There are material errors in their press statement.
There is in the ministry’s view no need to clarify any aspects of the policy to them. Everything about the policy is in the public domain and is pellucidly clear.
55 illegal migrants were detained in Abaco on 19th March and are now in Nassau awaiting repatriation to their home country. The numbers including three women with their children who are detained at a safe house in Nassau separate from the others who are at the Detention Centre.
HE Eldred Bethel, Ambassador of The Bahamas to France, participated in the inaugural evening of “La Maison des Bahamas” The Bahamas Pop Up Store in Paris on Tuesday 17 March 2015. Commenting on the event, Ambassador Bethel stated that, “…the Pop Up Store was transformed into a beautiful Bahamian island setting and made one feel as if they were on a Bahamian island!”
In attendance on the inaugural evening were members of the French trade and public press alongside Mr. Anthony Stuart, Director – Europe, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
“La Maison des Bahamas” is the first of its kind in Europe and the innovative marketing event designed by Karin Mallet Gautier, Area Manager of The Bahamas Tourist Office and their communications agency in France.
Visitors are invited to this characteristically Bahamian space where they can discover all of the aspects of tourism in The Bahamas through film, photography, arts and crafts exhibitions and Bahamian specialties. Guests will also enjoy a nail bar and discover the Paris-Bahamas cosmetic products, enjoy a Goombay Smash at the bar and have access to special offers from travel partners for a future trip to The Bahamas.
The Bahamas Pop Up Store will be open in heart of Paris, 14/16 rue Jean Jacques Rousseau – 75001, from 17 to 22 March 2015.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following his address to a committee of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, during which he emphasized TheBahamas Government’s commitment to values such as morality, trust and ethics in Government, Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez is pictured in the foyer of the OAS main building on 17th Street, N.W., with His Excellency Wilfred Elrington (left), Belize Minister for Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Nestor Mendez (second from right), Belize Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the OAS. At right is Miss Krissy Hanna, Second Secretary, Embassy of The Bahamas. Ambassador Mendez was elected as the next Assistant Secretary-General of the OAS during a Special General Session of the 34-member hemispheric organization on Wednesday, March 18. He will assume office on July 12.
HAVANA – On The Case of Jamaric Greene
Communication to the House of Assembly
By Fred Mitchell MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
On The Case of Jamaric Greene
18th March 2015
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Mr. Speaker on 13 March 2015 there was a report in The Tribune by Rashad Rolle which addressed the complaints of the wife of Jamaric Green who is incarcerated in Cuba. He is a Bahamian citizen. Mrs. Antonia Green is quoted as saying the following: that letters were written to the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Foreign Affairs seeking their help.
The story then quotes her as saying: “I can’t believe your spouse could have been arrested and convicted of a crime in another country and no one from the government would make the effort to at least sit down with you and address your questions.”
Mr. Speaker, this is the second time that this matter has been addressed by me following on inquiries from the press. Earlier I indicated to them that the narrative that was being told was not correct. The narrative persists however and so I am now going to provide the House with the full report of this matter from our Ambassador in Havana.
It reads as follows:
The Embassy of The Bahamas in Havana, Cuba is fully aware of the case of Mr. Jamaric Charmon Green, as well as familiar with Mr. Green, as an Inmate.
During my tenure as Ambassador, over the past two years, our Embassy has paid Consular Visits to Mr. Green and all Bahamian inmates practically every month, which includes some visits by the Ambassador.
As recently as 3 March 2015, Mr. Green along with other Bahamian Inmates received a Consular visit at the La Condesa Penitentiary, in Guiness, Mayabeque Province, when he was visited by Consul Saunders, Attache Carey and Dr. Armenteros.
During the aforementioned Visit, Mr. Green appeared to be in good spirits and good health. He made no complaints during said visit.
His wife, Mrs. Antonia Ferguson Green paid a visit to the Embassy, two days later on 5 March 2015. Ambassador Adams met with Mrs. Green for at least an hour, discussing all matters of her husband’s incarceration since the time he was here in Cuba. Additionally, she took the time to meet with their daughter, (name redacted) and to counsel about how to deal with her father’s absence, to study her Spanish at the (name redacted) School in Stapledon Gardens and to prepare to be able to speak Spanish with
her father when he returns to the Bahamas.
One of Mrs. Green’s primary concerns, was that her husband felt that when he along with the others were initially detained in Camaguey, that they were not visited by the Embassy personnel.
Dr. Armenteros (an attaché at the embassy) informed me that he accompanied Consul Eugene Newry, on a Consular Visit to Camaguey to meet with Mr. Green and the three other detainees on Thursday, April 12, 2012. At that time, they met with them personally as well as with the prosecutor of the case and the Lt. Col. Director of
the Penitentiary, who informed them about the facts and the ongoing investigations of their case.
Subsequently, Mr. Green and the other inmates were brought into the room, where they had an opportunity to explain to everybody the facts surrounding the circumstances of how they arrived in the inland waters of Camaguey.
Consul Newry and Dr. Armenteros arrived at the Prison for the meeting at 9:00 a.m. and departed at 2:00 p.m.
On 12 October 2012 at 9:00 a.m. the four inmates were scheduled to appear for trial at the Provincial Court in Camaguey. Unfortunately, officials from the Embassy were not able to be present at that time. However, it must be noted that even if they were present, they would not have been allowed to make any intervention, nor assist them in any way, as their Public Defender assumed the role of full representation, before the court, on their behalf
Finally, please be advised of Mr. Green’s status, as recorded by the Ministry of the Interior of Cuba, as at January 2013, is as follows:
Name: Jamaric Charmon Green
Parents: Wellington and Annie Green
Age: 28 years
Address: Dorsett Alley, # 6A off West Street,
Location: La Condensa Penitentiary
Case No: 151/2012
Crime: Drug Trafficking
Sentence: 18 years
Date In: 22 February 2012
Date Out: 27 November 2029
Entitled to Conditional
Release: 30 November 2020
Reduction in Sentence: 60 days (as at January 2013)
Time In: 2 years 1 month (as January 2013)
Brief on Crime: With three other Bahamian citizens organized the transshipment of large volumes of marijuana from Jamaica to the Bahamas. The boat was damaged during the navigation at east of Cuba and they made the decision to launch the drugs into the ocean and wait for some time to ask for help.
On the following day 68 packages of marijuana, with the net weight of 423.05 kilograms, arrived in the Cuban coast at Sabinal Cay, Camaguey.
Behaviour: Good behaviour and participates in educational activities
Health condition: Good
Ministry of Interior:
Sir, I am satisfied that the Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in Havana, Cuba is doing all that it possible can, in the circumstances to assist not only inmate, Jamaric Chamon Green, but all of the other Bahamian Inmates under our charge.
That was the report of the Ambassador. I think it speaks for itself. The embassy and the wider government stands available to assist if there is anything further that the family believes can be done. However, we are unable to neither ameliorate the sentence of the inmate nor interfere with the legal procedures of Cuba.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis is shown leaving the Zion Baptist Church on Friday 20th March following the funeral service for his mother Doris Davis. Mr. Davis is shown with his wife Ann. The Prime Minister Perry Christie attended the service as did the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling. The photos inside the church are by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
Managing Director of the Public Hospitals Authority Herbert Brown points as Chairman of the Authority frank Smith, Permanent Secretary Marco Rolle, Minister for Grand Bahama Michael Darville and Minister for Health Perry Gomez look on.
Managing Director of the Public Hospitals Authority Herbert Brown points as Chairman of the Authority frank Smith, Permanent Secretary Marco Rolle, Minister for Grand Bahama Michael Darville and Minister for Health Perry Gomez look on.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The country’s healthcare system is again being transformed as major renovations to the Rand Memorial Hospital were announced on Monday during a press conference by Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez.
With the government making National Health Insurance a priority, the Minister said those in authority must put in context infrastructural improvements at the public hospitals and community clinics.
“One key mandatory precursor to the implementation of National Health Insurance demands the achievement of a consistent standard of care across all of our public hospitals and clinics. It is against this backdrop that the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority is forging ahead with when completed, will be the most aggressive renovation and enhancement project for the Rand Memorial Hospital in history.”
The announcement of the upgrades for the Rand, he said, is proof of the government’s commitment to improving the quality of health care in the country.
When completed, it is expected the Rand Memorial Hospital will have:
- increased its capacity by 19,
- relocated and enhanced physiotherapy and occupational therapy departments;
- for the first time since the Rand became a public health facility, a new private suite will be a reality;
- there will be a state-of-the-art new infectious diseases department; and
- improved facilities for the kitchen and cafeteria in their new location at the former Island Palm Resort.
The Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Darville added that all the outlying clinics from Sweeting’s Cay to West End have been renovated, and the PHA has hired some twenty eight (28) new physicians and additional support staff to address the manpower challenges that existed in the public healthcare system on Grand Bahama for many years. Additionally, Minister Darville noted that the PHA has updated the fleet of vehicles for doctors and nurses in order to meet the increasing demand for home and domiciliary care services, infectious disease control and surveillance.
Furthermore, through a new Family Practice Clinic, with extended hours is now up and running at the Rand Memorial Hospital, which will shift the burden from the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital, so that patients with more serious illnesses can get the critical care services they need without long waits.
This week the ubiquitous and voluble United States government released another set of intrusive, overbearing and inaccurate reports about the state of The Bahamas. This time it was the report on money laundering. The country with the largest money laundering issue is the United States. But no we won’t talk about that. They instead attacked The Bahamas saying that although we have these money laundering laws, we don’t prosecute anyone. The lie was put to that when the Attorney General Allyson Gibson asked them to produce the proof. Wayne Munroe, the Queen’s Counsel, piped up that he is defending three clients now on money laundering charges Uh oh. Caught the U S lying on The Bahamas? Never!
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ON CARICOM SUMMIT WITH THE U.S. PRESIDENT
18 March 2014
I wish to announce to the House that the Caricom Heads of Government will meet with the United States President Barak Obama in Kingston, Jamaica on 9thApril.
I am to travel to Kingston on 8thApril for the meeting, starting with preliminary talks with thePrimeMinister Portia Simpson Miller of Jamaica who will be the host PrimeMinister. I will chair the summit on behalf of Caricom Heads.
The subjects for the meeting proposed by the U S side are competiveness, national security and energy. Our Ambassadors in Washington are working on a detailed agenda.
Following the meeting in Kingston, I will depart for the Summit of the Americas of the Organization of American States from 10thto 11thApril in Panama City, Panama.
Economic opportunities of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival for Grand Bahama
Freeport, The Bahamas – The Bahamas Weekly’s news team attended a press conference on March 20th at the Grand Bahama Cultural Carnival Committee headquarters in Freeport, where with Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville and Minster of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell provided information on the progress being made building up to the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival launch to be held on the island April 17th and 18th.
Also present at the conference was the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Bahamas National Festival Commission consultant Ginger Moxey had days earlier discussed the economic opportunities and benefits of the event for Grand Bahama Island.
Changes At Port Lucaya: does this mean he really has the money he says he had?
The new owner of Port Lucaya, recently sold by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, to a company headed by an Englishman named Peter Hunt is being transformed. Interesting always how these folk come to The Bahamas saying that they have all this money and expansion plans for the facility but it appears that they may not have what they said they have. Instead of announcing expansion plans, the first thing that has been done is to cut back. Parking has been eliminated. Signs have been put up banning children from coming there. The musicians are no longer on the payroll. Notices have gone out to tenants to pay up or be evicted. That ought to inspire confidence in the operation and the future of a vibrant Grad Bahama.
We congratulate the Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade and his superiors for having the courage to prosecute under disciplinary regulations those officers who joined a political march with the DNA on 13th March. Last week, we understand they were all served summonses for their bad behavior. The group tried to be clever by calling it a march for hope but it was really a political march with the DNA. The officers were all dressed in the signature green shirts of the DNA and posed for pictures with the DNA leaders (see photo above). The Association’s chairman Dwight Smith is presently interdicted on half pay for an alleged indecent assault of a female officer.
All around the town there is talk that the Hutchison group has had it with the losses at the Grand Lucaya Hotel in Freeport, the island’s signature property. The talk is that if things don’t turn around by December, they plan to shut it. Problem ispeoplewish they would sell it to an operator who has a better sense ofhow to run ahotel and a greater feel for the people of Grand Bahama. But the talk is the asking price is too high.
Andre Rollins, the rogue PLP MP, was in the House on Wednesday 18th March to speak on the Cooperatives Bill. He immediately got into problem when he violated the rule on relevance and was told to sit down if he persisted. Later on in the day, he spoke on Members’ Statements to say that his constituents had complained that the government was changing the name of the Oakes Field Primary School to the Eva Hilton School after a former headmistress without consulting with the parents, himself as MP and the wider community. Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald denied it and the opening went ahead as planned. Mr. Rollins did not show up to the function.
“They even maintained that there are concentration camps in The Bahamas and compared the Detention Center to Auschwitz. These lies cannot be left unanswered. It is my solemn duty to protect the name and reputation of our people. That is the sole purpose of my attendance here today. Let not my good manners detract from the depth of outrage collectively felt by the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas at the defamation of our country.” Minister of State for Legal Affairs Honourable Damian Gomez QC on 20th March at eh Inter American Human Rights Commission’s hearing brought by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association against The Bahamas.
The people at Bahamar, the mega resort on Cable Beach in New Providence, have finally come out and admitted it. Even though they said the date would not slip for the start 27th March, they were speaking with forked tongue or using sleight of hand. They are only opening one hotel and it will take a full year before the entire property is open. That’s was what they told the press last week.