THE DAY WAR WAS DECLARED. The Cabinet then present and assembled in Nassau gathered at the Office of the Prime Minister in the late afternoon with a grave task. The Prime Minister had been stabbed in the back by the developer of Bahamar. For weeks, the developer had been pleading with the Prime Minister Perry Christie to intervene to save his skin because the project had run out of money and the contractor had said that it would go no further. The developer blamed the contractor but it’s hard to see how since the developer’s responsibility was to monitor the project and he never raised the alarm before. The contractor said that Bahamar owed them money and without it, they would go no further. The Prime Minister intervened and cobbled together a workable deal with the bank which was reluctant to go any further with money without the Prime Minister’s intervention. The developer sat at the table one morning then returned that afternoon Monday 29th June with the startling news that it was going another way and filing for bankruptcy under the laws of the United States. The developer released the news simultaneously to the press and to its employees. The Cabinet at first treated it as a friendly act then it occurred to them after reviewing what had actually been done that this was enemy fire. Thus the press conference of Tuesday 30th June at the office of the Prime Minister. Our photo of the week then is that of the Prime Minister with his Cabinet briefing the country on the grave news about the perfidy of Bahamar's developers on Tuesday 430th June. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
Photo of the week caption: the Prime Minister Perry Christie was in Antigua on 26 June to commission the oncology clinic of Bahamian Dr. Conville Brown. The clinic is a replica of the facility in Nassau owned by Dr. Brown. The clinic was built after former Prime Minister of Antigua Baldwin Spencer heard of Dr Brown's work in The Bahamas. Later he invited Dr. Brown to build a similar facility in Antigua. The project was endorsed by now Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Brown. The photo of the week then is the commissioning of the cancer clinic of Dr. Conville Brown in St John's, Antigua on 26 June. Prime Minister Perry Christie did the honours and is seen talking to Prime Minister Brown of Antigua. Dr. Brown is at the far left of the photo by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS WITH BAHAMIAN KLAY THOMPSON WINS THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP: young PLPs posted this photo on their sites when the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the final game of the 2014/215 season of the National Basketball Association of the United States, the premier league for Basketball in the world. One of the players is Klay Thompson, who is the son of former two time NBA Los Anglers Laker champion Mychael Thompson. So that makes them the fourth father and son team of NBA champions. Mr. Thompson said he was proud of his son’s accomplishments. We do not know whether the younger Thompson acknowledges that he has Bahamian roots but The Bahamas certainly knows how to embrace a winner. The Bahamas had split loyalties in the series between LeBron James, who they befriended when he played in Miami and Mr. Thompson. Mr. Thompson won out. Here’s our take, Mr. Thomson may not have known his granddad Dewitt, a Bahamian businessman of some clout in The Bahamas. He raised his son Mychael in Central Gospel Hall Sunday school with a real old fashioned work ethic and morality. That took Mychael Thomson to the heights of basketball and enabled him to compete at the highest levels in American society. That is now passed on to the son, that same old fashioned gospel hall morality and ethics. The PLPs thought that the yellow was like the night the PLP won the election and so we thought as well. PLP’s colour is gold or yellow. That’s our photo of the week, the site of yellow as Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors won the NBA title in America on Tuesday 16th June.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS tThe photo of the week is that of the Prime Minister as he cut the ribbon to officially open the Permanent Mission of The Commonwealth Of The Bahamas to the World Trade Organization on Friday 12th June in Geneva, Switzerland. From the left Fred Mitchell MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Michael Moller, the Acting Director General of the World Trade Organization; the Prime Minister; Hope Strachan, the Minister for Trade; Ambassador Rhoda Jackson, the Permanent Representative to the WTO and Director General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and development (UNCTAD). The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
PRIME MINISTER MARCHES IN GBI: for the first time in the history of his Prime Ministership, the Prime Minister Perry Christie joined the parade for Labour in Grand Bahama. The parade usually takes place in the city of Freeport but this year Chef Kirk Russell who was charged with organizing he parade caught upon the idea to hold the march in Eight Mile Rock, reportedly the largest settlement in The Bahamas. The main street in Eight Mile Rock resembles Robinson Road in Nassau with residences and shops at every inch. Mr. Russell makes the point that the city of Freeport was built and maintained by the workers in Eight Miles Rock. So our photo of the week is that of Labour Day in Grand Bahama with the Prime Minister and his Ministers at the Sea Grape settlement starting point of the 3 mile march to Lover’s Beach in Eight Mile Rock.
This is now the tradition, that of walking on Budget Day, this year on 27th May, with the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Perry Christie as he goes to present the Nation’s National Budget. The Budget laid out a spending plan on the recurrent side of just over 2 billion dollars; on the capital side 242 million; 2.3 billion dollars in revenue. And a deficit of 293 million dollars. Despite the implementation of VAT and the unhappiness of that in some quarters, and because of the introduction of VAT, this makes a much happier national fiscal picture in 2015/2016. The monetary situation has also improved as well with the reserves standing at around 900 million dollars at the Central Bank. So the smiles on the faces of the ministers are somewhat deserved. However, the Prime Minister continued to express concern for what is the elephant in the room of the national economy that of youth unemployment which remains stubbornly high. Our photo the week is that of the traditional walk of the Prime Minister Perry Christie with his Cabinet as they marched to the House of Assembly in anticipation of the national budget presentation. The photos appeared in The Tribune. ;
This is the 18th annual version of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Caricom. Their council is called the Council for Foreign And Community Relations (COFCOR). The meeting is chaired this year by Alva Baptiste, the Minister for External Affairs of St. Lucia. The Ministers or their representatives gathered in Runway Bay in St Lucia for the annual event. During the time they discussed how the coordination of foreign policy can be better improved and they got to interact with outside countries who wish to come and make various presentations to the group. Foreign Minister of The Bahamas Fred Mitchell joined the annual meeting. That is our photo of the week, the so called family photo taken on Friday 22nd May in Runway Bay , St Lucia.
THE PLP SEEKS TO DELIVER IN SOUTH ELEUTHERA: - Damien Gomez, the MP for South and Central Eleuthera and the Minister of State in the Attorney General’s office has not been a happy camper. He has openly lamented in a letter to the Prime Minister that there was little to no economic activity in his constituency and too many people were on welfare. He then publicly offered his resignation when it appeared that files related to a former client and now constituent went south from the AG’s office. He offered when the resignation was refused to be transferred to another Ministry. This should put a smile on his face. The Prime Minister Perry Christie has been looking around for a deal that would bring some economic activity to that area. He thinks he has found it and went to Rock Sound to participate in the ground breaking of the project long in coming of Dr. Luis Samiento, reportedly Columbia’s richest man to put a hotel development there. Smiles all around we hope. Our photo of the week then is the Prime Minister at the groundbreaking in South Eleuthera on Thursday 14th May.
THE CARNIVAL CAME TO NASSAU; so after all the naysaying and all the back and forth about whether it should be or not, the FNM’s opposition to the first Junkanoo Carnival collapsed when people voted with their feet to join the fete on Nassau’s Clifford Park. People were there in their thousands to see the performers and to engage in the revelry. Even the religious do-gooders could not stop the carnival. So congratulations to the PLP for pulling this one off. That is our photo of the week, the scene of people enjoying themselves at the Junkanoo Carnival at opening night in Nassau on Thursday 7th May.
MORTIMER PRESENTS CREDENTIALS TO PRESIDENT OF INDIA – our Photo of The Week. It shows-newly appointed non-resident High Commissioner of The Bahamas to India, H.E. Mr. Lowell J. Mortimer, O.B.E. presented his Credentials to the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 30th 2015. Mr. Mortimer, an attorney, is currently the president of Campbell Shipping Company and was a veteran educator. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the President of India). The two countries signed a bilateral cooperation agreement on 23 January2006. An honorary consul as appointed in 2007 to represent Bahamian interests in India. Now one step up the appointment of a High Commissioner. Congratulations to Mr. Mortimer.
MICHAEL JORDAN: was the centre of attraction as the Prime Minister visited Baker’s Bay in Abaco. The rich enclave located off the Abaco mainland on Guana Cay has lots of land going for 10 millioin dollars a piece with not one building on it. The head honcho at Baker’s Bay Micahel Meldman told the press on Thursday 23rd April that there are 80 homes built and 80 homes in the que. He said that he can increase the number of jobs from the 800 they have now up to 1500 and well what he needs from the government is the work permits to bring foreign labour to make that happen. It was a happy gathering from all accounts. Mr. Jordan is the famous former basketball player and now one of the owners of an American professional basketball team is either an owner or frequent vistor. He prounouced himself happy with The Bahamas. He said that he has been coming to The Bahamas for 15 years. He says the people are nice to him. He says he likes to be low key and let his hair down. There was no evidence of any hair on his head since he is the one who started the bald head craze for black men losing their hair to male pattern baldness, but we get the point. The photo of the week then is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services on Thursday 23rd April at Baker’s Bay with the leaders of the country Prime Minister Perr Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis, Minister of Transport Glenys Hanna Martin and Environment Minister Ken Dorsett all present and accounted for.
THE JUNKANOO CARNIVAL TAKES OFF: after all the naysaying and negative press about the Junkanoo Carnival and whether it would come off, there is nothing that succeeds like success. On Friday 17th April, the Junkanoo Carnival blew its critics and their naysaying out of the water with a spectacular and thrilling precursor of what is to come in Nassau up in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The young song writers, producers, directors, deejays, all turned up in droves and their fans the people of Grand Bahama were there in the thousands. BTC the phone company sponsored the event and their CEO Leon Williams was beaming with pride. The youngsters voted with their feet. KB and his all Bahamian talk did not deter them. Ziah from Bahamen with his all Bahamian talk did not deter them. They turned up and supported the Junkanoo Carnival. The irony of the Bahamen objection was the song Who Let The Dogs Out was a Trinidadian song, yet they were objecting to a Trinidadian artist coming to perform in The Bahamas. The photo of the week then is that of the Prime Minister Perry Christie at the microphone with his Tourism Minister Obie Wilchombe, Culture Minister Danny Johnson, BTC CEO Leon Williams, Grand Bahama Minister Mike Darville and Junkanoo Saxon Leader Percy “Vola” Francis behind him at the opening of the Junkanoo Carnival in Freeport, Grand Bahama 17th April. Nassau is next. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
PRIME MINISTER CHRISTIE CHAIRs OBAMA MEETING:  there was a debate amongst PLPs and we suppose others about why the meeting did not take place in Nassau, after all the tradition is that whoever is the Chair gets to host the meeting. However, it appears that the U S President had promised Portia Simpson Miller, the Prime Minister of Jamaica that he would come. Never mind. The meeting in Kingston was flawlessly organized, and as Prime Minister Perry Christie, Chair of Caricom, said in his opening statement “the optics are good”. The naysayers of course were saying that the US simply fobs us off as a photo shoot. That is not quite correct but the photo shoot is important too because it sends a signal to those at home that there are no public differences between the US leadership and our leadership. There were substantive matters to discuss as well like the assault of the banking system of the region, the continued violence, crime and poverty and what the major trading partner in the region can do to assist in alleviating that problem. For now though our photo of the week is that of Prime Minister Perry Christie in Jamaica serving as Head of Caricom shortly after he arrived in the meeting room with his guest U S President Barak Obama in Kingston, Jamaica on 9th April at the University of the West Indies Headquarters. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
A RARE SCENE IN THE BAHAMAS: a white person, a white woman no less, being taken to court and being charged with murder. Her name is Donna Vasyli. She is Australian and at 54 years of age she is charged with the murder of her husband Philip. The murder is alleged to have taken place on 24th March. Her lawyers applied for bail. It was refused. The first picture is the day of her arraignment on 30th March. The charge was filed under Section 291 (1B) of The Penal Code, Chapter 84, which does not attract the discretionary death penalty if a conviction is reached at trial in Supreme Court. The press said when she appeared in court she blew a kiss at her family members and said she would see them soon. Not so on bail said Jon Isaacs, the Justice before whom she appeared for bail on 2nd April. Our photos of the week then are the before and after of the appearance of Donna Vasyli at her arraignment and at her bail hearing. The photos are by The Tribune.
MEETING THE STUDENT PRESS: it seemed to have been a hell of a meeting. The Prime Minister Perry Christie agreed to speak to the journalism class of the College of The Bahamas. He had a hell of a time. The report said that he said of the press: “to hell with them”. The Tribune, competitor now to the down-market Punch, ran the headline in red. In reality the expression to hell with them was in its context understandable. It was a rough day the day before. The Speaker of the House, a PLP, claiming his integrity was being challenged, took a position contrary to the rules and apposite what his party had asserted in the House was the correct position, allowing slanderous statements to be made about his minister whom he had just asked to step aside from his duties as Local Government minister. If you read the headlines, it seemed that things were not going his way, even in the face of his logic and rationality. Tough time. The students then got what they paid for, the Prime Minister in full form and in full flight for two hours. So that is why we think the photo of the week then is the interface with the students of the College of The Bahamas at their journalism class on Thursday 26th March. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
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.
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.
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 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 PLP SEEKS TO DELIVER IN SOUTH ELEUTHERA: Damien Gomez, the MP for South and Central Eleuthera and the Minister of State in the Attorney General’s office has not been a happy camper. He has openly lamented in a letter to the Prime Minister that there was little to no economic activity in his constituency and too many people were on welfare. He then publicly offered his resignation when it appeared that files related to a former client and now constituent went south from the AG’s office. He offered when the resignation was refused to be transferred to another Ministry. This should put a smile on his face. The Prime Minister Perry Christie has been looking around for a deal that would bring some economic activity to that area. He thinks he has found it and went to Rock Sound to participate in the ground breaking of the project long in coming of Dr. Samiento, reportedly Columbia’s richest man to put a hotel development there. Smiles all around we hope. Our photo of the week then is the Prime Minister at the groundbreaking in South Eleuthera on Thursday 14th May.
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.
Sarkis Izmirlian comes off as neither a friend of The Bahamas, nor of the employees whose lives that he put in jeopardy at Bahamar last week when he foolishly and stupidly led his companies to declare bankruptcy under the laws of Delaware in the United States, bringing the Bahamar project to a screeching halt and sending the company belly up. Mr. Izmirlian is in a word acting like an ass, a jerk of the first order. The Prime Minister’s words were too polite for his matter. The government was blinded sided by this, but this was a dirty trick of the first order. It was a stab in the back. It was an act of shameful cowardice. The question must arise whether this man is a fit and proper person to continue living in The Bahamas as a permanent resident of The Bahamas. That is how serious we view this matter.
The employees of Bahamar, some 2000, strong, are being used as pawns in a high stakes game of who knows what. Foolishly they are being manipulated into marching in the streets for a man who they are praising but who is not in our opinion praiseworthy at all.
The facts appeared in the garbage tin and piece together an interesting narrative which does not comport with the developer’s narrative that it’s all the contractor’s fault. You choose which version you believe:
Bahamar said to its lenders when the contractor said enough is enough, that they needed 300 million dollars to finish the project.
They blamed China Construction for the delays in the opening. That is patently false.
What happened is because of change orders there were cost overruns and the project ran over budget. The developers did not have the money to finish the project. In default of payments, they made an arrangement with China Construction to pay over time what was owed. By March, they had defaulted on the 50 million dollar a month payment plan and the contractor thought that it had enough and simply sent its workers home.
The dispute about cost overruns and breaches is now in the London courts.
The developer then appealed to the government to step-in because the China Export Import Bank did not want to provide the developer with any additional capital because they did not believe that the developer was being full and frank with them. With the intervention of the Prime Minister and after pleading by Sarkis Izmirlian himself, the China Export Import Bank agreed to advance the sums to finish the project.
It required the following:
Certification from a Quantity Surveyor that 300 million dollars would indeed finish the project.
Once certified, the bank would extend a further loan of 150 million dollars but the developer would have to put 75 million and the contractor 75 million. The bank also wanted the developer’s personal guarantee. This was all agreed up to Monday morning when the final meetings were to be held and the personal guarantee was to be delivered. Then in the afternoon of Monday 29th June without notice, Sarkis Izmirlian showed up at the office of the Prime Minister with a press release in hand saying that the company was declaring bankruptcy in the American courts. Bear in mind that an action in bankruptcy for a project this size cannot be done overnight, so it is not farfetched to think that he must have known and must have contemplated this action all the while he was speaking to the Prime Minister to find additional monies.
The developer tried to use the employees as blackmail with the government. Saying that if the government did not agree to the bankruptcy being adjudicated in Delaware, they would fire the employees and tell them that the government was stopping them from being paid. The government said to the Courts in Nassau on Thursday 2nd July that it was the responsibility of the developer to pay the employees but if he did not pay because of the government’s objections the government would pay.
The money from the government was in any case already earmarked at 21 million dollars to pay for the road works and would be set off against what Bahamar owed the government entities.
The developer wants the bankruptcy in the States so it can simply walk away from its contractual obligations in The Bahamas. One hundred million dollars is owed to small contractors in debt. Those small contractors should know that they have a right to petition the courts to wind up the companies that owe them their debts.
What this all brings to mind is the case of Allan Stanford in Antigua who set up this wonderful bank in Antigua, hired people, built cricket fields, started an airline. He would lecture politicians in the Caribbean like school children. In the end it turned out he was a crook and he ended up in an American jail. There needs in our view to be a criminal investigation opened into the conduct of what happened in the construction of Bahamar. This is deadly serious.
Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 4th July 2015 up to midnight: 380,567; Number of hits for the month of June up to Tuesday 30th June 2015 up to midnight: 2,038,064; Number of hits for the month of July up to Saturday 4th July 2015 up midnight: 120,678; Number of hits for the year 2015 up to Saturday 4th July 2015 up to midnight: 12,510,866.
Despite all that is going on, we believe this is a great nation. We believe that we are a blessed people. May you all enjoy the 42nd year celebrations of our independence which began last week with National Flag Day. 10th July is our independence day.
On Friday 3rd July, there was the ridiculous spectacle of workers from Bahamar who were fired by the developer but whose jobs were saved by the Government, marching in the road to praise Sarkis Izmirlian, who to quote Damien Gomez QC was the author of his own destruction. Here is a fellow, he without notice to the government, or to the Bank who lent the development 2.6 billion dollars, goes and files for bankruptcy of his companies in US courts. He then gives notice to his employees that he is sending them home but he will continue to pay them for three weeks. Three weeks just happens to be the statutory period of notice for workers in The Bahamas who have been workers for one year or less. In the filing in Delaware where he wants the matter to be settled, he asked for 2.9 million dollars for severance pay. Translation, he intended to terminate the employees, not keep them on as the employees in the road were suggesting. The developer was using the employees as a form of blackmail by saying if the Government did not agree to his course of action, the workers would not be paid. At that point, the Government said take the workers out of the equation, we will pay them. There were delays in getting the information from the developer about the worker’s bank accounts. The developer misled the public and the workers when they told the employees that they turned over all the information on the workers to the government. It is hoped that the government will get the monies into people’s accounts by Monday tomorrow. So workers of Bahamar don’t make fools of yourselves being out in the road for a person who gives not hoot about you or The Bahamas. You are praising the wrong person.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Fred Mitchell was interviewed by NB12 News with reference to comments made by him concerning the future of Baha Mar 29 June. The reporter is Kyle Walkine.
The bankruptcy filing by the Baha Mar group of companies in a Delaware court on Monday, 29th June 2015 and the subsequent law suits, court applications and proceedings that followed dominated news this week in The Bahamas. Even as Prime Minister executed is final official duty in Bridgetown, Barbados as the outgoing
CARICOM Chairman, he spoke fairly extensively about the impact of Baha Mar on The Bahamas and the broader picture of the vulnerability of SIDS that rely on sizable Foreign Direct Investment for economic growth, development and stability.
WE HAD A DEAL
“Yet despite the good faith efforts of the government and its best endeavours, the developer chose instead to file for bankruptcy of the project in the American courts where the companies who own the project are registered. This was done without notice and with the developer sitting at the table on the face of it seeking a settlement.”
This sentiment expressed by Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Fred Mitchell at a CARICOM roundtable dialogue summed up the feeling of the Bahamas government in the wake of the bankruptcy filing by Baha Mar without notice. He delivered these remarks on behalf of the Bahamas Prime Minister who had pressing matters at home and could not participate in the dialogue on Vibrant Societies on 2nd July. Court documents revealed that the chapter 11 protection filing was in progress for a number of months leading up to the 29th June 2015 filing event.
Readers would recall that Prime Minister Christie notified the House on the final day of the 2015/2016 budget debate of some encouraging news he received from the China Export Import Bank (EXIM Bank) on a settlement between the three principals that would pave the way forward for the stalled Baha Mar project. The Prime Minister indicated repeatedly that the priority of his government was the completion and opening of the resort.
But what was the deal in principle The Bahamas government thought they had secured through their “good faith efforts” and “best endeavours?” to move the project to completion? Sources claim that the cost to complete the project was pegged at $300 million. The financier, EXIM Bank, agreed to contribute half, or $150 million; the developer Sarkis Izmirlian would contribute $75 million and the China Construction Company would contribute $75 million. The EXIM Bank also required the project completion figure of $300 million to be certified by a reputed Quantity Surveyor in addition to a personal guarantee from the developer.
On the morning of 29th June 2015, the developer assured the government that a settlement was imminent and on course.
BAHA MAR FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
On Monday, the 29th June 2015, the fifteen companies that make up Baha Mar filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware court to protect Baha Mar from its creditors including the financier, the EXIM Bank and the general contractor, China Construction of America (CCA); there were numerous Bahamian and foreign creditors. Fourteen of the fifteen companies that make up Baha Mar are listed in The Bahamas. In its press release on the court filing, Baha Mar said that it remained committed to the pursuit of an early and definitive settlement of outstanding differences with their creditors and thanked the Bahamas government for their work during this settlement process.
Yesterday, without notice, Baha Mar filed a bankruptcy Chapter 11 petition in Delaware USA. This action was taken at a point when my personal intervention over several months with all three parties involved, led to substantial agreement on a packaged solution for additional funding by China Export Import Bank, the resumption of construction work by the general contractor, and the project completion. This is supported by exchange of correspondence as recently as June 26.
The Government wants to reiterate that the number one priority of all stakeholders involved with the Baha Mar project should be its swift completion and opening. It is of great importance to the nation and to all Bahamians that Baha Mar opens successfully. We must all work towards this goal as a matter of national priority. This is not the time to play politics, but rather, we must unite to ensure the best interest of The Bahamas and all Bahamians is met. In the interest of promoting transparency and national unity on an issue that clearly transcends partisan politics, I invite the Leader of the Opposition to attend a briefing on the matter.
The Government remains committed to being open and transparent with the Bahamian people, as it has since the beginning of this project. Any claim that the Government or I have been misleading the public as it relates to the status of Baha Mar is completely false. The Government has been working with all parties and negotiating in good faith, and with an end goal of a successful opening of Baha Mar. The decision by Baha Mar to file for Chapter 11 under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code does not change our end goal.
Negotiations must continue to progress immediately to ensure the successful opening as soon as possible. As previously stated, the Government will not take sides, but rather continue to support all stakeholders in coming to a resolution. As the Government of The Bahamas, we take the side of the Bahamian people, and we are acting to ensure the needs and interests of the people are first and foremost.
This project will provide great economic opportunities for our country. Collectively, our sole focus should be on Baha Mar opening so that the jobs of current and potential employees are protected. This goal should not be and will not be, distorted by politics.
CHICAGO, Illinois – Bahamas Honorary Consul to Chicago Michael C. Fountain was invited to attend a performance of April Yvette Thompson’s Liberty City at the eta Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago’s oldest African-American Theatre Production Company, on Sunday, June 28, 2015. Liberty City is the study of a child growing up in the inner-city ghetto of Miami during the 1970s. Specifically, it is about the special relationship between a daughter and the father, who taught her to understand and appreciate her African history through her Bahamian roots in Eleuthera. Pictured from left to right are Professor Jonathan Wilson, Director, Liberty City; Anna Dauzvardis, Actress; Dorothy Odell Foster, eta Board Member; Honorary Consul Fountain.
NEW YORK – H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations and Bahamas Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Hon. Forrester J. Carroll, Bahamas Consul General to New York, attended The Society of Marine Port Engineers (SMPE) Sixty-Seventh Annual Dinner and Dance honoring the Grand Bahama Shipyard on Saturday, June 27, 2015, a the New York Marriott Downtown Hotel. GB Shipyard, being one of the largest commercial shipyards in the world, was celebrated for its success and innovation in the industry. Grand Bahama Shipyard executives traveled to New York City for the event. Picture from left to right are Mr. Reuben Byrd, Chief Operating Officer, Grand Bahama Shipyard; Ambassador Rahming; Consul General Carroll; and Mr. Richard Norris, President of SMPE.
NEW YORK – H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the United Nations and the Organisation of American States (OAS) and Chairman of the Save Our Sharks Coalition, participated in the High-Level Symposium entitled “One Ocean – Regenerating Fish Stocks, Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14″ at the United Nations Headquarters on Wednesday, July 1, 2015.
The event was held under the auspices of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance and co-organised by The Bahamas in conjunction with a cross-regional group of several other UN Member States.
In his remarks, Dr. Rahming underscored the need for urgent action in the area of ocean responsibility, which involves safeguarding the ocean through the creation, preservation and expansion of marine sanctuaries in order to regenerate fish stocks and achieve sustainable development.
The Ambassador reminded participants of the compelling fact that the ocean covers 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and comprises 90 per cent of the planet’s living space.
Unfortunately, however, the ocean is “threatened now, more than ever before,” he said, adding that there is a need for a paradigm shift in how Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been traditionally viewed and understood. He proposed that they should instead be seen as “Large Ocean Developing States” (LODS) in view of their vast marine territories which, for countries such as The Bahamas, account for a larger surface area than the total land mass.
“We are more than the piece of rock we live on,” Ambassador Rahming asserted. “We are, more importantly, that vast body of water that we rely on.”
He concluded that The Bahamas, which established a shark sanctuary in 2011, was most pleased to co-sponsor the event.
Mr. Eric Carey, Executive Director of The Bahamas National Trust, was also in attendance and participated in one of the event’s panel discussions, entitled “Regenerating Fish Stocks – the Science of Zoning”.
Mr. Carey gave a comprehensive presentation on The Bahamas’ Ocean Legacy and underscored both the challenges and the opportunities faced by The Bahamas in sustainably managing the country’s vast marine resources while also highlighting the need for both science and effective public information in effectively meeting these.
While the preachers and right wing and some misdirected MPs were busy pooh poohing and revolting against the ruling in the US Supreme court that people of the same sex had the right to marry, Bahamians were voting with their feet. Many have been married before the ruling but this time a Bahamian, an immigration officer reportedly, decided to make his wedding public and spoke about it to both the international foreign press. So our advice to these people who have a problem, get a life and move on. Here is what the man Kenneth Kerr who has a Facebook page and who was a Mr. Bahamas Model for 2014, following his marriage to Dale Hudson In Georgia: ““As for our laws back home, I don’t see it changing any time soon,” he said. “We still have so many other hurdles to deal with and get over before same sex unions are legalized. One of them of course is gender equality.” “Am I advocating for same sex unions home?” he repeats a question asked to him. “Absolutely not! But what I am advocating for is awareness and tolerance. Bahamians must realize that times are changing, and while I don’t expect most to agree, I would encourage them to be tolerant.” Amen.
A letter writer to this column pointed out the following adjustments have to be made in The Bahamas to accommodate the lawfulness of same sex unions when tourists come from Europe, Canada and the United States which are the main tourist markets for The Bahamas. The right wing in The Bahamas and various clergymen have been stirring the pot to suggest that the earth and sky will fall in because two adults of full age and capacity and of the same sex decide that they want to live their lives together. Nonsense of course but many people let their personal moral beliefs mixed up in the civic rights of others. The fact is also many Bahamian men and women and simply going to another jurisdiction and getting married and various matters will ensue from that. The letter writer suggests that if only for the sake of tourism though there are various protocols that have to be established to deal with same sex unions. They are listed below:
Is The Cabinet considering the implications of the legalization of Same Sex Marriages in the USA/Canada/Europe with particular reference to Immigration and Tourism? Some protocols needs to be implemented so that the conflicts do not adversely affect our tourism product:
Accidents or death – The hospitals recognizing the rights of the spouse.
Arrival – Immigration and Customs being sensitive to people who say that they are married.
Work Permits – Residence for the spouse
Death of a Bahamian property owner – Inheritance and the right to apply for Probate or re-sealing by the foreign spouse.
Dame Marguerite and Acting Prime Minister Hon. Philip Brave Davis at the 239th Anniversary of the American Independence Celebrations on 2nd July at Liberty Overlook, Official residence of the U Ambassador in The Bahamas
Henry Bostwick QC, Dame Marguerite Governor General, Janet Bostwick, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and A Lisa Johnson, US Charge for the United States in The Bahamas.
Our congratulations to the United States of America on the occasion of its 239th anniversary of independence. The occasion was marked by the attendance of the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling attending a part at the official residence of the Ambassador to the United States, although there isn’t one on Thursday 2nd July. The Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis as acting Minister of Foreign Affairs attended the ceremony.
The following statement was delivered at the symposium just before the Caricom Heads of Government meeting on Thursday 2nd July by Fred Mitchell MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
I am to apologise for the absence of the Right Honourable Prime Minister from this dialogue. He had every intention of being here but as he will say himself this afternoon once he arrives, the best laid plans of mice and men are often delayed by matters of state.
He expects to be here for the formal opening this afternoon.
In a sense the reason for his delay in arriving is a case in point to the vulnerabilities of our region and the lessons in resilience.
Many of you when you visited Nassau in February for the opening of the Heads of Government conference in that month may have seen the giant hotel project going up next door to that venue. We had plans to open that facility within months of the conference. Instead the developer was unable to deliver on the promise of the opening and a bitter set of recriminations began in the public domain about who was at fault.
The government felt compelled in the national interest to step into the middle of the dispute, given the fact that some 2000 young people had been taken on in anticipation of its opening and the fact that some 3 billion dollars had been invested: 2.6 billion in Chinese Ex Port Import bank capital and 700 million of the developers money and another 100 million from the China Construction Company. In the language of the Americans that is too big to fail.
Yet despite the good faith efforts of the government and its best endeavours, the developer chose instead to file for bankruptcy of the project in the American courts where the companies who own the project are registered. This was done without notice and with the developer sitting at the table on the face of it seeking a settlement.
As often happens, everyone has now become an expert on what should have been done and what should not have been done but suffice it to say that the the Prime Minister believes that this project has to succeed and is working to ensure that it does. What it raises however is the more general in the vulnerability of our societies not only to the shocks of weather and climate but to the size and singularity of economic projects driven by foreign direct investment and sometimes our own internal investments.
When there is a crisis, we have no reserve currencies to be able to have quantitative easing, another expressing for printing money to ensure liquidity of the system. These kinds of shocks have resulted in many cases in the high indebtedness that we face today.
Think of the various crises, the banker who had plenty to say to our region and who lectured our leaders like they were in school, who was thought by many to be a model investor, a good guy, only to end up in an American jail and leaving the Caricom country and its citizen holding the bag. Or the housing and mortgage bubble in one our countries where because of speculation by private investors the market collapsed and the Caricom country had to absorb all its reserve currency to protect the savings of the citizens of that country. Or the giant insurance company that stretched its tentacles from The Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago, paying super excellent returns on investments only to collapse in a heap, leaving governments again to hold the bag, while the investor walked away into the sunset.
This in our view shows that notwithstanding all that is said and whatever the fashion, at the end of the day governments still have major role to play in the resilience of our societies and their abilities to adapt to the shocks of and vagaries of the world economy and our natural conditions. It is imperative then for our public administrations and our political directorates to be trained and up to the mark, adequately prepared for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
I was a much younger man when I heard a speech in Miami by the late Errol Barrow and he reacting to the election fashions of his time, following the defeat of the democratic socialists in the region, excoriated the trend by describing those who looked north for solace and rescue rather than to self-reliance as “groveling mendicants with their caps in their hands”. We are too polite in this time to make those kinds of statements but I think that we get the point that when failure takes place it is to the governments of the region that our people look to for help, assistance and rescue. No other entity. It is to the leaders and to the politicians.
Our task today is to reassure the region that come what may, our governments, their elected officials have the intellectual acuity, the intestinal fortitude to help rescue our nations.
Prime Minister Perry Christie gave a sobering address to his colleagues as he demitted office in Bridgetown, Barbados from the office of Chair of the Conference of the Heads of Government of Caricom. Mr. Christie said that his six months in office had been breathless and he listed a number of ideas that he thought ought to be pursued.
He came to Bridgetown against the backdrop of the collapse of the multibillion dollar investment in Nassau known as Bahamar and the perfidy of the developer in its relations with the Government. Nevertheless he stuck to the themes of education for the young, solving the problem of their sense of hopelessness and joblessness, he spoke up for tourism and its ability to solve the unemployment problem.
More controversially he argued that the passenger tax which countries imposed on airplane travel amounting to some 65 per cent of the cost of travel was now a disincentive to people travelling to the region and over time was causing unemployment. You can click here for the full statement of the Prime Minister. The photo by Peter Ramsay shows the Prime Minister marching into the hall for his final address with the Prime Minister of Antigua Gaston Brown before him, Foreign Minister of Belize Wilfred Elrington and Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skeriitt.
On Saturday 27th June, the trade union movement led by former trade union leader and now Minister of Labour paid tribute to former head of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union Keith Archer at a banquet at the BCPOU hall Left Paul Maynard, BEC Union President, Keith Archer honouree, Bernard Evans, President BTC Union and Samuel Bookie Glover, former Vice President of the BEC Union. Banquet on Saturday 27th June in honour of Keith Archer former President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officer Union (BCPOU), the BTC Union. Fred Mitchell MP was not present at the banquet but sent his own tribute which was published in the booklet for the event.You can click here for the full statement
It is said that self-preservation is nature’s first law. On Monday, June 29th, 2015, without warning came the news that Baha Mar, the 3.4 billion dollar resort development had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the state of Delaware, U.S.A., and the English high court. In tourism and gaming business trust is everything.
To some it was a surprise, to other Bahamians, it was the continuation of arrogance and insulting behavior displayed earlier this year by Baha Mar’s CEO and Principal, Sarkis Izmirilian. You would recall earlier in April that Izmirilian at a Chamber of Commerce conference attacked his general contractor and the Government of the Bahamas. At the time, it was not clear what the outburst was all about. It now becomes clear that this was part of an exit strategy of the developer.
The bible describes in the book of Luke, chapter 14 vs. 28, poses the question, “what man sets out to build a tower without sitting down and counting the cost, and see if he has sufficient to finish it so he is not mocked.” In trying to do a project of that size clearly was not practical or workable.
Brent Symonette, the former Deputy Prime Minister in the Ingraham administration summed it up this way. You just don’t wake up one morning and make filings in the United States and England, and it would be an incredible thing and a mark of great disrespect and not give the Prime Minister a heads up on what was about to take place. In Bahamian terms, Izmirilian was saying to the Bahamian people game come; in other words, every man for himself.
The government of the Bahamas had at its disposal only one option that of an adversary to protect to the fullest extent of the law the interest of the Bahamas; and by extension, the reputation of our country.
The goodwill, trust, dignity and respect, and spirit of cooperation were all cast aside by Baha Mar. These are the foundation and cornerstone principles that are the requirements for an investor if he is to be successful. These are the same principles that other properties used who are successful. When problems arise they are handled at the highest level without fanfare outside the public view. From the beginning of tourism in the modern Bahamas commencing with Sir Stafford Sands down through the years to now the Christie government this has been the foundation that we stand on. We work out our difficulties quietly. This approach has made us leaders in the tourism industry.
In his filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Izmirillian pulled a trap door on the viability of the project under his leadership and has done serious damage to his company’s brand that had been built and developed. Put in Bahamian’s perspective, he was saying game come, and every man for himself.
Game come means for the twenty-five hundred plus employees that if you have not been given your pink slip yet, you are on a thirty-day, sixty-day, or ninety-day treadmill; thereafter, you are out of work: these are the unvarnished facts. The tragedy of this whole experience among these twenty-five hundred plus employees are the best and the brightest, the cream of the crop in the tourism industry.
Game come for the staff of the Melia hotel means that you should immediately demand your 15% gratuity that was wickedly being held in a supposed escrow account. If not, on Tuesday morning show up in the Supreme Court with the best Lawyers money can buy.
Game come for the tenants who would have rented space at the resort your investment is on hold indefinitely. Make no mistake all the shops in the West Bay Street area will feel the effects of this Chapter 11 filing.
Game come should mean for Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner to consider who you are and for the time being, you are no longer and FNM ambitious politician trying to upstage your leader at every opportunity; but instead, the granddaughter of that great patriot of the quiet revolution, Sir Milo Butler and a patriotic Bahamian first standing side by side with your political arch rival, Perry Christie and the government of the Bahamas against this assault of our national interest.
The government of the Bahamas has thus far been polite in its dealings with Izmirilian who clearly has seen this as a sign of weakness. He must now be made to understand being polite is not weakness.
Finally, we have an example in Freeport of what happens when investors say game come. We have an example of the Driftwood properties in the heart of the city abandoned by a rogue investor. This should never be allowed to happen in our country again. As for the Chinese Import Export Bank, we need not look out for their interest; we only need to sit, watch, learn, and listen for their experience is great and vast in these matters.
Minister Mitchell speaking at service for independence for the Bahamas at St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Delray, Florida Home to thousands of Bahamian descendants.
Photo with the priest and attendees after church. Rev Marcia Beam presided. She is a Bahamian descendant.
Remarks by Fred Mitchell MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs St Matthew’s Church
5th July 2015
It is a pleasure to be back here. I say that because this was a place I visited very often as a child. I am a cousin of our rector and as a child I spent many a summer holiday here.
I remember with fondness my Aunts Roslyn Ivy and Marge McKay.
My younger brother and sister Matthew and Marva were born here in 1960 and are citizens of the United States as well as The Bahamas.
Delray is steeped in Bahamianism and I have heard from the Consul General that for a long time it has been the plan to have a service here in Delray. I am glad that we are able to get this one organized.
I am happy that you still remember with fondness the old country. We are equally as proud of the success of many of you here in the new country.
In so many respects we are joined at the hip and the two countries have a symbiotic relationship.
In the great span of history forty two years is not a long time but in the life of our nation that is a long time.
What it means is that almost all of the founders of the modern country are gone. The few who remain have fading memories. Increasingly it is left to the next generation to tell the story.
As usual when you are so far from the source and when there are not many around who remember the original times, the story gets a little twisted. You remember that after Moses was gone and Joshua was about to take the children into the promised land, some wanted to go back to Egypt. It seemed like that was the place to go and looking back it seemed that all had been well in Egypt.
Perhaps that is the way it looks to many young Bahamians today who did not have to grow up under the scourge of racial discrimination and lack of opportunity. Perhaps they see no difference between the trouble which they face today with an economy that does not provide the jobs they need or want.
There is a difference, however, and that difference is that we are the masters of our own fate.
The Bahamas was built from scratch by the men and women who delivered the country from racial oppression and deprivation in 1967. That does not mean that they invented everything anew but what is clear was that up until 1967 universal education was not considered a right of every child. That changed dramatically.
The 1967 administration, the men and women of that generation knew that without education we could go nowhere and determined that the resources of the state would be used to help to create an educated generation. We accomplished that.
They also built a social safety net with the coming of national insurance. Today, people complain that national insurance does not provide enough. There is a need to do more to be sure but just think where we would be without it today. So many people would be unable to take care of even their most basic needs.
When the British handed over the instruments of independence in 1973, the impression was created that there was a neat little package that they handed us and said “go for yourself”.
I remind people that what the British gave us as they left was the Police College which they built at the princely sum of 800,000 dollars and then they jumped on their ships and left.
All that you see in The Bahamas today was constructed, designed and maintained by the generation which succeeded to the country in 1973.
We were able to keep ourselves alive and to maintain one of the highest standards in the world.
Today what do we face. I think we face a future which has challenges but which will great greater successes, if only we believe.
There is 30 per cent unemployment amongst the youth. We have to solve that and there is an aggressive programme to do so.
We had hoped that he Bahamar resort would be open by now. This is a project which was to employ some 5000 people. It would have been and still will be the largest investment in the Caribbean of a hotel nature. It can still be done. People must not lose faith. Neither must they be hornswoggled by the blandishments and disguises of those who say they are doing something for your own good while in reality, it is for their own good.
The Bahamas government is the place where people look to solve the larger issues. With this Bahamar issue, which involves Bahamian land, Bahamian employees there could be no turning back in the face of an attempt to effect an act of unfairness on the Bahamian people while trying to fool us that they were looking out for our best interests.
There is a great deal of patience that will be required on the part of us all as the scenario unfolds but please be assured that the project as to succeed and at all times the government will look out for the best interests of the Bahamian people.
When the dust has settled, the truth will out and the project will succeed.
We remember our history and what drove thousands of people to leave our small country and come to this country. We are pledged to ensure that our economy remains successful so that our children can have future at home.
So I want to thank you all for what you do to defend our country abroad. You help our Consul General and his staff. I hope that the Consul General is ready and available to help.
This is a wonderful opportunity today and so on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, our Governor General Dame Marguerite and the Prime Minister Perry Christie, I wish you happy independence day.
These men were part of the Prime Minister’s delegation to the Heads of Government conference in Barbados for Caricom from 2nd to 4th July. From left: Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister for Education; Fred Mitchell, Foreign Minister; and Ken Dorsett, Minister for the Environment. The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis has a real problem, a terrible flaw in his political leadership. He cannot make a decision unless he checks with a Committee of 20 people. This is the laughable comment one has to make in response to the report in the press that after having accused the Prime Minister of lying and misleading the country on the question of what he knew about Bahamar; and being invited to see the files; the Leader of the Opposition could not agree to a meeting until he had checked with his Parliamentarians. This is quite sad. So you know that the answer here is don’t go to war with him , because he will have to check with the fellows first to find out if he can strike back while the Barbarians are at the gate. Hopeless!
CARICOM HEADS OF GOVERNMENT IN BARBADOS: The official photograph of Heads of Government at the 36th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM now underway (July 2 – 4) in Bridgetown, Barbados. The outgoing Chairman of CARICOM, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, is pictured second from left in the front row. The incoming Chairman is Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados.
When I was a little boy, Keith Archer was big boy to me ( we are talking early to mid-1960s). He was a server around the altar at Holy Spirit Church in Chippingham where my mother was the organist, so I got to see him in action every Sunday. He was a good thurifer, he swung a mean smoke pot. He was good.
The next scene though and this is the one that is the enduring one for me, that of the man of action. I can’t use the word I really want to use in this piece, after all we are writing to polite society. Keith Archer simply didn’t “mess” around. Let me put it that way, but you know what I want to say. He was a union leader and they were leading an action in the yard of the Batelco premises in Poinciana Drive. The powers that be called in the Strike Force and they had to lift him and his compatriots bodily out of the yard at Batelco. I was a reporter on the other side but man that was my kind of action. I wished something like could have happened to me in my political career.
When he meets me, I say “ Muggins”. He says “ Dread”. So you know that dates us.
I got to work with him when I was the Public Service Minister from 2002 to 2007 and I saw him work his magic at crafting comprises and settling disputes. He did a great job for the government and saved the country a lot of money, heartache and grief.
‘I got to stand with him when he was struggling with the issue with his son. I got to see a softer side.
But bottom line is: this is my friend. He is a great man. We are joined together by church and family and work and friendship and love of country. He is a great patriot, a good family man and a wonderful contributor the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. I am happy that Brother Shane Gibson is able to do this for him together with so many of his former trade unionists, fellow workers and friends.
I’m only sorry I can’t be there for the event itself but he knows that I am there in spirit. Congratulations brother from Fred the Dread.
Life can throw some real curve balls at you. That’s all you can say to the strange and sad fate of Dr. Arthur Porter. He climbed the heights in his adopted home Canada to where he emigrated from his native Sierra Leone. Then after becoming a huge success, later a Permanent Resident of The Bahamas and an advisor on stem cell research and other medical issues for successive Bahamian governments, he fell afoul of the Canadian government that said he bilked them of millions. He ended up being arrested near the end of his life with his wife in panama. The Canadians pressured the Panamanians to extradite, he resisted but his wife gave into the pressure and copped a plea in the Canadian courts. She was sentenced to jail. Alas no trial for Dr. Porter. To the end he protested his innocence, some said he faked his illness of lung cancer but the proved them right and died of the disease in a Panamanian hospital without a trial and with a cloud hanging over his head. A sad end to a brilliant man and career. He died on 30th June in a Panama jail.
The head of the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) Belinda Wilson is in trouble again. This time it appears that she has been suspended indefinitely. The Tribune said it has something to do with an audit which showed that on the face of it she expended monies of the Union without proper authority. Uh oh! We suppose the jury is still out. In the meantime, there is an interim head Zane Lightbourne.
The former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette speaking on Thursday 2nd July had this to say on the Bahamar matter:
“ . . .This shows a degree of disrespect and contempt for the government of the Bahamas,” Mr Symonette said.
“I would have hoped that the developers would have at least let the government and, especially Mr Christie, know since they claim to want a good working relationship.”
“What hasn’t come out yet is what China (Construction America) owes Bahamian businesses. We haven’t heard of those numbers yet and those people would have had to gone to the bank and stretched their lines of credit.
“I can tell you there are a lot of local companies that have not been paid. There is one businessman that I know who is owed $180,000. This is a one-man operation that we are talking about so imagine his plight. I doubt Bahamians in this situation will be able to recoup 100 pennies on the dollar.
“So this is a real domino effect and it will ricochet down the line.”