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Volume 11 © BahamasUncensored.com 2013
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13th April , 2014
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A DEFINITIVE FOREIGN POLICY

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PM IN TRINIDAD: the speech was a defining one for The Bahamas in foreign affairs and for the region.  In a time when Caricom, the aggregation of 15 countries that have joined in a single market and economy but for The Bahamas, seems to be without a mission, the Prime Minister of The Bahamas Perry Christie appeared in Trinidad at the St. Augustine’s open lecture to reaffirm and buttress the support of The Bahamas for Caricom.  While in Trinidad he paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona at his office just off the Savannah on Monday 7th April.  The Prime Minister was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell and the Minister for Investments Khaalis Rolle.  The photo was taken with the President by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.  That is our photo of the week.  You may click here for the full speech of Mr. Christie and seek more pictures below from the visit to Trinidad.

 

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

A DEFINITIVE FOREIGN POLICY


What is the foreign policy of The Bahamas? It is often asked.  This is not an easy question for the people of a small nation to answer.  For many in the domestic theatre believe that foreign affairs policy is an irrelevancy to the real lives of Bahamians. The only time they think about it at all is when they have a problem getting a passport or God forbid, they lose an opportunity to go to the United States when denied a visa.

The time of the Prime Minister has not been allocated to it either what with a whole range of domestic political issues, not the least of which is the economy and jobs and getting the budget in some kind of shape after being wrecked by his predecessors.  Kudos then to two defining statements made about foreign affairs within the last two months, brought on by two invitations engineered by the Honorary Consul for The Bahamas in Trinidad Dr. Monica Davis.  The first was delivered by the Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell on 6th February called “Saving Caricom”. The second was delivered by the Prime Minister Perry Christie on the Role of The Bahamas In Caricom on 7th April.   Both addresses were well received.

The first was asymmetrically accepted in The Bahamas because of the distortions of the reporting process that concentrated on the fact that Mr. Mitchell explained and touted the rights of gays and lesbians.  This led to a brouhaha about nothing but which created a lot of noise and distracted from the wider notions and importance of the address.  

Then the Prime Minister came and for him he got a better reception and a wider range of the issues was reported.  He spoke up for Caricom as an institution.  He said The Bahamas a part of it notwithstanding that it was not a part of the single market and economy.  He spoke up for functional cooperation.  He spoke to the need to leverage the numbers in Caricom to assist in development and in the hunt for capital.  All of this was sound stuff, defining stuff.  It was the most defining statement on foreign affairs in a generation and since the late Sir Lynden Pindling and his colleagues determined that The Bahamas would be a part of Caricom.

It has been said in another context that if Caricom did not exist it would have had to be invented.  The world simply does not deal with small countries individually and it is only the pooling of the sovereignty that makes each country actually valuable to the world as a whole.

The most recent example of the trouble is the divide between where the United States is on the situation in Venezuela at the Organization of American States (OAS) and where Caricom is.  Caricom voted as a bloc with one abstention Barbados not to allow an opposition member from Venezuela to sit in the seat of Panama and speak in an open meeting while the sitting government of Venezuela was in the meeting and in their chair.
This has reportedly upset the Americans.

The rationale for the vote and the disconnect between the US and Caricom, the US put down to the fact that the Venezuelans supply oil to Caricom countries and so we are all afraid to act against Venezuela.  That is farfetched since neither The Bahamas, Barbados nor Trinidad get oil from Petro Caribe and Venezuela.  That is wrong on the facts but also insulting because it views Caricom as a set of political prostitutes instead of recognizing the principle of the inviolability of the territorial integrity of the states of the OAS and the noninterference in the internal affairs of another state.

The Prime Minister mentioned Canada where the region is unable to settle  a trade pact with Canada but when the Canadians thought they were going to lose Montreal as the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation (ICAO), they came running to the region saying that traditional friends should not vote for the removal of the body from Montreal. He added that this traditional friendship however has not so far gotten us a trade pact.

The speech was well received.  It was a courageous speech, perhaps the most courageous in his career for man who rarely throws caution to the wind.  This is no time for the faint of heart however.

The speech will not convert the skeptics about the value of foreign affairs but then again, these folk who trash the ideas were defeated in the last election by a sensible electorate and there is little doubt that the popular imagination will again support the reasonable and sensible ideas of the Progressive Liberal Party.

 

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 12th April, 2014: 151,114;
Number of hits for the month of April ending Saturday 12th!April: 239,309;
Number of hits for the year 2014 ending Saturday 12th April: 2,656,790.

 

A N R ROBINSON DIES

 

Fred Mitchell MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas, is shown signing the book of condolences in the embassy of Trinidad and Tobago in Washington D C marking the death of the former President and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago A.N. R. Robinson.  Mr. Robinson died on 9th April.  The photo shows the Ambassador for Trinidad in Washington looking on 11th April.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9th April 2014

On the passing of ANR Robinson
Hon. Fred Mitchell
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration

The Bahamas has learned with sadness and regret of the passing of a great Caribbean statesman in A N R Robinson. The former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and former President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago takes with him a history of a fight for democracy and for international justice and peace.

Mr. Robinson led his country though an interesting period, putting together a coalition which ruled the country. During his time as Prime Minister he was held at gunpoint by those dedicated to threatening the government and the state. He survived and later he served as President.

He was a leader and pioneer in the formation of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He has passed away, he lived a full life and the Caricom region is all the better for his life of service.

Prime Minister Perry Christie's condolences have been communicated by diplomatic note to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

May he rest in peace.

 

 

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PRIME MINISTER IN TRINIDAD

Prime Minister Perry Christie spoke on Monday 7th April in Trinidad at the campus of St. Augustine of the University of the West Indies about the role of The Bahamas in Caricom. The photos from the occasion were taken by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.

 


 

 

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NATIONAL PLP CHAIR PUTS LORETTA BUTLER IN HER PLACE



8TH APRIL
BTC Jobs outsourcing was FNM policy
Bradley Roberts
National Chairman
Progressive Liberal Party

Loretta Butler-Turner is possessed with and enslaved by an unclean spirit of untruth, but the truth shall set her free.

It is not enough that Butler-Turner and the FNM cabinet that served in sold BTC at a fire sale price; it is not enough that the government received significantly less than the reported price, but Loretta Butler-Turner had the unmitigated gall to go running to the media, crocodile tears and all, complaining and lying about an agreement that she and the FNM agreed to as early as February 2011.

For the benefit of both Loretta Butler-Turner and Dr. Hubert-Minnis who apparently suffer from short memory, in a presentation before the FNM cabinet of the first business plan for a privatized BTC, (the 95 page power point presentation presented to Cabinet at or around the 1st February 2011), former Prime Minister and the entire FNM crew agreed that Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) could decimate BTC after the first year of privatization AND outsource all its main functions to CWC operations abroad. This is what Butler-Turner agreed to so I found it very strange that she would show up on the front page of one of the dailies complaining about a deal that received the full sanction and blessing of the entire FNM Cabinet prior to the sale of BTC. The record so reflects.

The record clearly shows that over 500 high paying BTC jobs were lost following the sale of the majority of shares to Cable and Wireless. The exclusive right by CWC to appoint the CEO of BTC was enshrined in the FNM sales agreement so only a devious mind could suggest that a deal was done by the PLP government to outsource jobs – a deal to which the FNM Government had agreed in writing.

For the record, there is no proposal before the board to appoint Leon Williams to the post of President BTC. Further, there is no proposal before the board to outsource Bahamian jobs and I am advised that the BTC board chairman communicated that to the president of the BTC union.

 

Bold and shameless lies of this nature from those who know better only underscore the need for the appointment of a select committee to investigate the circumstances and the terms and conditions of the majority share sale of BTC under the FNM and I call on the government to cause such a committee to be appointed.

 

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THE NATIONAL CARNIVAL PAYS A CALL ON LEADER MINNIS

Courtesy Call with FNM Leader, Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis and his team the National Festival Secretariat Chairman Paul Major.

Hubert A. Minnis's photo.

Hubert A. Minnis's photo.

Hubert A. Minnis's photo.

Hubert A. Minnis's photo.

Hubert A. Minnis's photo.

 

 

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BTC TELLS ITS SIDE OF THE STORY

 

NASSAU, N.P...( 9th April 2014)...The Board of BTC notes the recent speculation regarding possible job losses within BTC and wishes to confirm that there are no such plans to restructure the business. This message has been shared with our Union partners.


Moreover, the Board is committed to increasing our level of investment across The Bahamas to improve network reliability and customer service.
Finally the Board wishes to make it clear that this sort of unfounded speculation is most unwelcome, undermining, as it does, the confidence of the hard-working BTC employees who support our customers every day.


We call for an end to these irresponsible accusations.

 

CV Hope Strachan Seabreeze's photo.
CV Hope Strachan Seabreeze's photo.


Phil Bentley Rowena Bethel
BTC Chairman Deputy Chairman

 

 

 

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KEITH BELL ADDRESSES TRAINING SEMINAR

Bell Remarks at Drug and Alcohol Data Collection Training Seminar‏

Implementing a Standardized Data Collection System for Drug and Alcoholic Treatment Agencies in the Caribbean
Place: The Public Treasury Building
East and North Streets
Nassau, The Bahamas
Date: Wednesday 9th April, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
Salutations:
· OAS Representatives
· Programme Manager, OAS-CICAD , Mr. Pernell Clarke
· Participants from both Public and Private Sectors
· Distinguished Guests
· Members of the Media

· Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning:
I am pleased to join you this morning at the opening of this training seminar on drug and alcohol data collection as we seek to implement a Standardized Data Collection System for Drug and Alcohol Treatment Agencies in the Caribbean. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an important and significant initiative as we continue our efforts in addressing drug and alcohol use and abuse in our individual countries and in the region collectively.
As partners and stakeholders with OAS and CICAD, we share the responsibility to gather better data. The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the 2011 the World Drug Report noted that a lack of comprehensive data continues to obstruct our full understanding of the markets for illicit drugs.


He points out that more comprehensive data collection allows for more and better analysis, which in turn enriches our responses to the world drug challenge. He went on to urge countries to strengthen their efforts to collect data on illicit drugs in order to strengthen our research and analysis, better understand the drug phenomenon and pinpoint areas where interventions are most likely to achieve positive results.


Last year The Bahamas was privileged to host the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) Sixth Round in workshop sessions which was designed to share our resources, expertise and best practices.


A lack of comparable alcohol and other drug treatment data undermines the overall effectiveness of the services we are able to provide our citizenry. I am advised that the standardised data collection system that is to be shared during this training seminar is designed to collect data and generate information from all facilities, both public and private sectors, in our various territories, that provide substance abuse treatment. The data captured can assist in assessing the nature and extent of services provided, analyze general treatment services trends, and assist in forecasting treatment resource requirements.


Ladies and gentlemen, illegal drug use and abuse has increased in countries across the Caribbean since the 1990s. Statistical indicators such as admission rates to treatment facilities and drug arrests have provided evidence for the increased rates of illegal drug use and abuse.

Preventive measures in schools and various forms of media programmes have raised awareness. However, drug use and abuse and other drug related activities still persists at a significant rate. Programmes that target improvement of treatment facilities and increased inter-agency collaboration may be successful in enhancing drug arrests and treatments.

We gather statistical data daily from our law enforcement agencies and other governmental sectors on drug seizures, monies confiscated from proceed of drug trafficking and other crimes. Information on persons who are convicted is documented to give us a view on who, where and how drugs is filtered in and through our society. We have come to realize that having this information alone will not suffice. It is also essential for the care, treatment and rehabilitation of each person who is in a drug treatment programme to be properly documented.

I trust that this training seminar will be the catalyst for us to move towards better record keeping of those who struggle with the abuses of drugs and alcohol. There must be better cohesion in our drug control efforts to reduce the supply, to curb the demand, to disrupt the trafficking of drugs and ultimately promote healthy drug free life-styles. Here in The Bahamas, there is a need for improved networking between and among agencies engaged in drug treatment.
In conclusion, I want to reaffirm the commitment of Government of The Bahamas to the ongoing process of creating a Bahamas that is free of illicit drugs and drug abuse. Workshops such as this one will sharpen our tools as we seek to achieve this goal.

I take this opportunity on behalf of The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and all Countries participating at this seminar to express heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the Government of Canada for providing the necessary funding for this initiative.Thanks is also extended to OAS/ CICAD for organizing and facilitating this training.

I also extend on behalf of the Government and people of The Bahamas, a warm welcome to our participants who are visiting from abroad. I trust that you will find some time to during your stay in The Bahamas to participate in bolstering our economy and embracing the hospitality of our people.

Thank you once again for your attendance at this seminar. I wish you all a good day and a most enlightening and productive experience.

 

 

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BRADLEY LASHES HUBERT MINNIS CLAIMS AS BOGUS

 

10th April 2014
Minnis dodges bogus FNM claims
Bradley B Roberts
Chairman, Progressive Liberal Party

 

Having had his chance to clear the air on the unfounded and bogus claims made by his deputy leader and chairman, Dr. Minnis instead chose to further mislead the Bahamian people in an interview with NB-12 that aired on Wednesday night, 9 April 2014.

In the interview, Minnis denies that his government approved the business plan that called for massive displacement of Bahamian workers, but instead claimed that a clause in the sales agreement with Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) gave the government veto power to prevent employee redundancies at BTC.

It is clear that Minnis either approved a Shareholders’ agreement he did not read; he has a very short and very poor memory or he is a bold faced liar and a bad one at that. In either case, he is losing credibility by the day and is not fit for public office because nobody can trust anything he, Butler-Turner or Cash has to say.

Section 8.6 of the Shareholders Agreement (between CWC and the Bahamas Government) reads as follow:
 
“Matters not requiring the consent or approval of the Government.
 
For the purpose of this agreement, the consent or approval of the Government will not be necessary in respect of matters specifically and expressly set out in, permitted by, required under or agreed pursuant to:”

Clause 8.3.18 under Section 8.6 “Voluntary Workforce Restructuring Plan” provides that Government of The Bahamas (GoTB) may veto any redundancies in the 2 year period following the effective date i.e. between 6 April 2011 and 6 April 2013.

Further, Clause 8.3.9 speaks to GoTB's veto in relation to relocation overseas of the principal place of business or material part of BTC's undertaking.

These clauses mean two things: Firstly, the FNM government did not lift a finger to veto the loss of more than 500 jobs at BTC that were directly due to the sales agreement Dr. Minnis and the FNM agreed to in 2011. Secondly, the FNM signed away the government’s power to prevent the “relocation overseas of the principal place of business or material part of BTC’s undertaking” which includes outsourcing large chunks of BTC’s business.


As much as Minnis tries to convince the Bahamian people that he and the FNM are committed to protecting Bahamian jobs, nothing could be further from the truth according to what is in black and white in the shareholders’ agreement. The facts are clear that Minnis and Butler-Turner gave away the shop and sold out the Bahamian people for bowl of porridge and now seek to rewrite history to save their political hides.

 

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THE TRANSPORT MINISTER DECRIES PILOTS TACTICS

The Bahamas Marine Pilots are in a dispute with their employers in Freeport.  They want the Freeport marine pilotage to be like it is in Nassau where the pilots are independent operators and are able to sell their services as such and not as employees.  They all resigned en masse at the end of March to force the result.  The resignations did not go as planned.  The employers have taken a hard line and have asked the government to allow them to bring in foreign pilots.  So far the government has held the line by putting in place an interim solution which allows the pilots to return to work while prosecuting their aims and protecting the safety of the port.  The pilots have taken a real slash and burn attitude however which does not sit well with the Minister of Transport.  They have taken to the international arena bad mouthing the port and suggesting that the port is unsafe.  The Minister issued the following statement in response to those statements:

 

PRESS RELEASE
 
RESPONSE TO RECENT COMMENTS ON PILOTAGE IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

 
From Glenys Hanna Martin
Minister of Transport
 
We have taken careful note of the tone and the content of recent comments regarding the safety of pilotage in The Commonwealth of The
Bahamas. The words have been intemperate and the allegations inaccurate.
 
The Bahamas as a major Maritime Administration has consistently advocated safety, security, quality and the protection of the marine
environment, a fact that is borne out by the exemplary safety record of The Bahamas Flag fleet – one of the largest and most modern in the
world.
 
Many of the best known shipping names in the world choose to fly The Bahamas Flag on some of the most modern ships in the world. The
largest passenger fleet in the world, the largest fast ferry fleet in the world, and ship owners of quality from nations around the world flag
their vessels with us, because we are known as an administration that advocates and delivers quality in maritime safety and quality in service.
 
The Bahamas has played an active, proactive and productive leadership role at the International Maritime Organization (the IMO – the United
Nations agency responsible for the formulation of maritime safety regulation worldwide). The Bahamas has proposed and championed
major initiatives at the IMO that have benefited maritime safety in The Bahamas and around the world.
 
The Bahamas has consistently and diligently promoted, implemented and adhered to conventions and regulations promulgated at the IMO, of
which The Bahamas has been a Member since 1976, and a Council Member for many years.
 
The Port Authorities Act is the principle legislation governing marine piloting in The Bahamas and Nassau in particular. The Freeport Harbour
Rules and the Hawksbill Creek Agreement are the statutes which govern the operation of pilots in Freeport. The requirements and guidelines for
piloting in The Bahamas are specified within these statutes. 3 of 4 It is not correct, nor is it fair, to impugn The Bahamas’ remarkable overall
record of safety in the maritime field. We are respected as a nation for the fact we have expended and continue to expend tremendous effort in
support of maritime safety.

 
Specifically as regards pilotage in The Bahamas, our ports – whether in Freeport or Nassau - are major international destinations. Our pilots have
assisted in thousands of vessels movements a year. Port calls in The Bahamas include giant tankers, container ships, and the world’s largest
cruise vessels. Overwhelmingly, these port movements have been carried out safely and successfully. The Bahamas takes its obligations very seriously
and is an advocate for international shipping standards.

While The Bahamas recognizes that any incident is one too many, necessary steps have been and continue to be taken to continue the promotion
of maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment.
 
The Bahamas does not rest on the fact that our maritime record has been a very good one. The Government of The Bahamas is in constant
communication with all of the stakeholders in The Bahamas maritime sector, including the parties to the current dispute between Freeport
Harbour interests and their former employees, a private dispute to which the Government is not a party. We consistently promote maritime safety
and safe maritime practices, and we will not rest in our insistence that proper standards be maintained, and that wherever essential
improvements should be effected, this will be done.
 
We find it disappointing that the aforementioned dispute has fostered claims that have the effect of tarnishing the reputation of our country
internationally. This is done much to the detriment of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people, and cannot be a productive strategy. We would
urge a moderation of the dialogue, a more balanced approach, so that substantive issues can be constructively discussed and addressed.

 

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TRINIDAD PM PAYS TRIBUTE TO HER PREDCESSOR

This photo shows the now Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago signing the book of condolences marking the death of her predecessor A.N.R. Robinson.  She described him as living a life of tremendous purpose and achievement. 
· 

TRIBUTE TO FORMER PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER, MR ARTHUR NR ROBINSON   Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I thank you for this opportunity to reflect on the life of one of our nation’s most celebrated and honoured sons, the late Prime Minister and President, Arthur NR Robinson.  At the age of 87, Mr Robinson passed away quietly and peacefully, bringing to a close a life that was lived with tremendous purpose and achievement.  He was the nation’s first post-independence Minister of Finance.  He was the first Chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly.  He was our third Prime Minister.  And he was our third President.  All of this we know, and to some extent, became accustomed and maybe even took for granted.  But behind the legendary life, was a man who lived as we do, fought as we do, and triumphed and lost as we have.  He was a beloved husband, son, father and friend.  EARLY LIFE  Mr Robinson was born to Isabella and James Robinson, in Calder Hall, Tobago in 1926.  He attended the Castara Methodist School, where his father was the Head Master.  From an early age, Mr Robinson’s academic strengths had already set him apart – as the first Bowles Scholar taking him into Bishop's High School in 1939.  Later he became the first House Scholarship winner from Bishop's High School in 1942.  Mr Robinson was also in line for an Island scholarship from Bishop's High School in 1944 and 1945, achieving the Higher School Certificate in both years with distinction in Latin.  He then set his sights on St John’s College, Oxford, where he pursued a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.  Having also obtained his LLB as an External Student of the University of London, he later entered the chambers of Sir Courtenay Hannays in Trinidad in 1957, after being called to the Bar, Inner Temple, London, in 1954.  By this time, it was clear that an achieving boy was destined to become an accomplished graduate and already, he had set himself apart from his peers.  As an academic, Mr Robinson vigorously pursued publication of his thoughts and ideas on how development at that time should take place.  Mr Robinson authored The New Frontier and the New African (1961); Fiscal Reform in Trinidad and Tobago (1966); The Path to Progress (1967), and The Teacher and Nationalism (1967).  But he distinguished himself even further, by pursuing a life in politics, and in so doing set out to apply his thinking to practice.  ENTRY INTO POLITICS  As an achiever and proud son of the soil, Mr Robinson entered the political arena when he was elected to the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament as a representative for Tobago in 1961.  Serving as our first post-Independence Minister of Finance, Mr Robinson led the restructuring of the country's financial institutions and the reform of financial and monetary policy when we became an independent nation in 1962.  But even with his first foray into politics appearing to tie him to one political philosophy and party, he did something that, for many, might have been unthinkable in those times.  In 1970, his differences with the PNM would lead to his resignation from the Cabinet. He had opposed the introduction of the Public Order Bill which the PNM had introduced following the 1970 Black Power uprising.  Some months earlier he had forewarned the country:  “Our country cries out for men and women who cannot be bought and sold,  “Men and women who are prepared to put principle before personality,  “Country before self,  “Morality before power”.  He broke with the PNM, and formed his own political party – the Action Committee of Democratic Citizens (ACDC).  He was a man driven by intellect and passion.  He had his own thoughts and beliefs on what was right for Trinidad & Tobago and when he found that the party to which he attached himself diverged from his thinking, he set out in search of a new political platform.  Standing together with the Democratic Labour Party, Mr Robinson led the 'no-vote' campaign of 1971 in protest over voting machines which the Opposition DLP considered to be used for election fraud in the 1961 and 1966 elections.  Following that election, Robinson founded the Democratic Action Congress (DAC) which won the two Tobago seats in the 1976 and 1981 elections.  And Mr Speaker, what came next is perhaps evidence that Mr Robinson was one of the first few to understand partnership politics was indeed the best formula for better representation and governance.  THE RISE OF THE NAR  In 1981 Mr Robinson and another former Prime Minister, Mr Basdeo Panday who at that time was the Leader of the United Labour Front (ULF) worked out an arrangement to stand together in the electoral fight.  Both leaders also joined forces with the Tapia House Movement which was led by late Economist, Lloyd Best.  This gave birth to the National Alliance.  Soon after, an accommodation agreement was struck with the Organisation for National Reconstruction under the leadership of Karl Hudson-Phillips.  The united approach proved successful in the Local Government elections of 1983.  Taking this as the first clear signal that a new Government was possible, the four parties combined to form the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) which won the 1986 elections by a margin of 33-3.  Mr Robinson was appointed Prime Minister and the lead figure in one of our nation’s most tumultuous periods of economic reform, political change and social upheavals.  As Prime Minister, Mr Robinson faced some of the most intense challenges in our nation’s history, but he bravely took the tough decisions required at that time.  We all remember those years. The NAR Government inherited an economy that was in an advanced stage of decline.  A deep recession was setting in.  Revenue was falling.  The nation’s finances were depleted.  The times were hard and called for hard decisions.   And it was Mr Robinson, supported by people like Selby Wilson and our own Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran, who dug their heels in and did what they had to do.  Even when our darkest hours came when his Government came under attack by armed insurgents, Mr Robinson was clear that he would lay down his life if it meant that democracy would emerge the victor.  We all remember and now, reminisce about his courageous command to the armed forces to “attack with full force”.  Here it is a Prime Minister of our proud and free Republic, was being held hostage.  Our people and our way of life were under siege.  Insurgents took aim at his head, and yet, he defied orders to tell the armed forces to stand down.  To Mr Robinson, the members of his Government and the Members of Parliament who endured this horrific experience, the lives and freedoms of the people of Trinidad & Tobago were far too important, and if it meant surrendering their lives to save our country, they were willing to do it.  And Mr Speaker, let us never forget the Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, Mr Leo Des Vignes, who died from injuries sustained during the insurrection.  We all remember the images of that period, Mr Speaker.  Port of Spain was littered with rubble and smoke.  Mr Robinson was being led out of the Parliament building in a wheelchair, having been shot in the knee.  The acting Prime Minister at the time, Mr Dookeran, was busily trying to maintain contact with the outside world, while at the same time working to restore law and order here at home.  And though majestic the personality, Mr Robinson was only human!  In all of the pain and suffering that he and the members of his Cabinet endured, it was a simple note, with a simple message that gave him the will to fight on.  In his account of the ordeal, Mr Robinson recalled one of the insurgents passing him an envelope, saying it was a message from his wife.  He said when he opened the envelope and read the note, the three words gave him the strength to carry on.  Those three words were written on a piece of paper by his wife – “I love you”.  THE FALL OF THE NAR  But Mr Speaker, politics and democratic traditions means that ultimately, whatever one’s service, loyalty and dedication, it is the citizen who decides who runs the Government.  By 1991, Mr Robinson faced an electorate that was angry over his decisions.  Citizens at that time were not in a charitable mood and did not want explanations for why the harsh measures were necessary.  He was voted out and in the new Parliament, sat on the back bench, with the NAR winning only two seats.  But Mr Robinson was by no means about to fade into the landscape.  It was in 1989, during a Session of the UN General Assembly, he proposed the creation of a permanent international court to deal with the transnational drug trade.  And just over 12 years later came the inauguration of the International Criminal Court in 2002, commissioned to hear cases of crimes against humanity.  Mr Robinson was recognised as one of the chief proponents and a driving force behind the ICC.  In fact, he is now called the “grandfather” of the ICC.  THE HEAD OF STATE  By the time of the formation of the ICC, Mr Robinson had already returned to the political mainstream.  In 1995, when the general elections were called, some of us will remember Mr Robinson’s primary campaign message – “We will make the difference”.  As fate would have it, the election result came in at 17 seats for the UNC, 17 seats for the PNM and 2 seats for the NAR.  It was with these two seats that Mr Robinson did in fact make the difference and was instrumental again in forming a new Government this time led by Mr Basdeo Panday.  Mr Robinson became our nation’s first Minister Extraordinaire, in recognition of his status as an Elder Statesman, with the experience to advise on all levels of Government.  By 1997, Mr Robinson stood down from his Tobago seat and was chosen by then Prime Minister Panday as the Government’s choice for President.  Again, he created history as the only former Prime Minister to also ascend to the position of Head of State.  FROM HONOURABLE TO EXCELLENCY  As President, he stood as an exemplary Head of State, even when faced with declining health, and served with distinction.  And it was in his time as President that Trinidad & Tobago would face another defining moment in its social and political history.  In 2001, just one year after the UNC was elected to a second term, a general election was forced and the result delivered a deadlock – both the major parties won 18 seats.  It was left to then President Robinson to decide who would assume the Prime Ministership and the choice made was for Patrick Manning to assume leadership of Government.  Mr Speaker, this electoral tie and unprecedented constitutional crisis and the decision made by the then President caused intense debate, a great part of which was bitterly played out in the public.  We all know what the arguments were at that time; we all know how we felt at that time and how we were prepared to fight his decision.  Many were hurting – one side did not lose, but the other side did not win.  But today, almost 14 years later, that decision has written itself into history as a moment when our nation was forced to re-examine its supreme law and reconsider the arrangements by which we govern ourselves.  Mr Speaker, all throughout human history, where nations around the world came to turning points where the future was to be transformed and a new path was to be chosen, there was never a time when everyone agreed.  Yes, there was pain, there was anguish…there was even bitterness.  But Mr Speaker, if we as a nation are to truly continuing walking forward, we are the ones who will hurt ourselves if we remain locked in the past.  And for anyone who still holds to the pain of the past, I ask that we allow old wounds to heal, consider what we have been able to learn, and then allow ourselves to grow.  Mr Speaker, history is there to teach us.  Each of us in this Honourable House, and those members like Mr Robinson who came before us, hold a rare and privileged place, where we not only become part of history, but also become the authors of it.  When we realize that our actions today will inevitably create the future, it becomes our duty to rise above that which pains us personally, and do what is best for our country.  In all of the things that I have been able to learn in my own long career in politics, Mr Speaker, it is this that guides me.  Our every action, our every word, our every conviction will all come together to create the future. Acting responsibly is therefore not just a requirement, it is our duty.     REST IN PEACE  And this is why Mr Speaker, notwithstanding our arguments in the past and our conviction that something wrong was done…the past is best honoured by learning and letting go.  Was Mr Robinson the perfect human being?  No he wasn’t.   He was as imperfect as any one of us here in this House.  But what set him apart was that in just his one lifetime, he set out on a journey to change the life he found, and he succeeded.  This is why His Excellency President Carmona described him as a colossus, because he fought based on a vision for something better, achieved and did his best to fulfill that vision, and used the influence he gained to change the course of our nation’s history.  Indeed, through his years of advocacy, championing the ICC, Mr Robinson can easily be described as having used his life and work to make a change in the world, a fact forever immortalized by him being remembered as the grandfather of the ICC.  CONCLUSION  Mr Speaker, it is for these reason that I have described him as one of our nation’s outstanding sons, who brought honour to his family and his country.  And I am very happy that Mr Robinson was able to see for himself the admiration that he earned.  We have all seen honours for great men and women in history only after their passing.  But this time around, Mr Robinson was able to see his name honoured with the Tobago Airport.  Today, though it is a sad moment in our history, I find comfort in knowing that he will now be reunited with his life-time partner and best friend, his wife, the late Patricia Robinson.  In honour of the man he was, the life he lived, the dignity with which he served his country and the proud legacy he has left for us to emulate, I have instructed the Minister of National Security to fly the national flag at half-mast during a period of national mourning.  His body will lie in state in the Rotunda of the Red House and I know thousands of our citizens would want to take the opportunity to pay their respects.   Later his body will be flown to the island of his birth, Tobago, where it will also lie in state, followed by a private internment.  Mr Speaker, to his family, his children David and Ann-Margaret, and his granddaughter Anushka, I send my most heartfelt condolences.  Mr Speaker, Mr Robinson’s passing is a deep and tragic loss for our country, but I am sure he will always stand as an inspiration to today’s and tomorrow’s people.  And that inspiration can very well be a tribute to our nation’s motto – Together we aspire, together we achieve.  May his soul now find peace.  I thank you!

 

 

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REV. EARLE FRANCIS BURIED


The father of the Saxon's superstar's leader Percy "Vola" Francis, Rev. Earle Francis was buried following a funeral service at the Joe Farrington Rd. auditorium of the Church of God on Saturday 12th April.  Leaders of the country attended the funeral including the Prime Minister Perry Christie, Leader of the Opposition Dr. Hubert Minnis, the Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin, Attorney General Alyson Gibson, former Governor General Arthur Hanna and Danny Johnson , the Minister of Sports.


 The photos are by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services,.

 

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MITCHELL PARTICIPATES IN MEETINGS IN D.C.



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and  Immigration, spent a hectic two days in Washington, D.C, this week participating in meetings at the U.S. State Department and with Members of Congress who serve on committees with oversight on matters of special interest to The Bahamas and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Mr. Mitchell, who arrived in Washington on Tuesday, April 8, on Wednesday morning met with William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the State Department to discuss security related matters affecting The Bahamas, and by extension, the wider Western Hemisphere Region.

Underscored during the meeting was the long standing relationship between the United States and The Bahamas, marked by years of cooperation and engagement. The ongoing challenges of narcotics trafficking in the Region, emerging trends of drug abuse and threats posed by the drug trade were also discussed.

The United States Government is looking to further engage The Bahamas and other Caribbean countries in the area of security, through structural and continued dialogue.
The meeting followed the recent signing of an Amendment to the Letter of Agreement on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (ALOA) between The Bahamas and United States Governments, which provides $1,850,000 in United States assistance under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

Following discussions with Assistant Secretary Brownfield, a meeting was held between Minister Mitchell and Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP)

The Bahamas Government is currently in the process of drafting a National Plan against trafficking in persons.

Later that day, the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister met on Capitol Hill with Congressman Eliot Engel, representative for New York's 16th Congressional District, the Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and who also serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Congressman reiterated support for ongoing and enhanced security cooperation between the United States and The Bahamas and commented on the particular success of the OPBAT programme.

On Thursday morning, at 9:45, Mr. Mitchell met with Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Representative for New York’s Fifth Congressional District, Senior Member of the House Financial Series Committee and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Meeks also is a former chairman of the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade.

Discussions during the meeting focused on greater United States engagement with the Caribbean Region. Mr. Meeks, who sits on the Western Hemisphere Sub-Committee, noted the close geographic proximity between the United States and The Bahamas, alluding to the economic impact of the United States on Caribbean countries.

Both Congressional meetings resulted in a commitment to dialogue on a more consistent basis and a conveyance of support for assisting the interests of The Bahamas.

Later that morning, Mr. Mitchell was back at the State Department for an 11 o’clock meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta S. Jacobson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America and the Caribbean Francisco Palmieri, Director of Caribbean Affairs Juan Alsace, and Bahamas Desk Officer Gianni Paz.
In an effort to maintain open and consistent dialogue, Minister Mitchell has ensured that on each of his visits into or transitting the United States, he has interfaced with the Senior Authorities in the U.S. State Department.

Minister Mitchell took the opportunity to signal that relationship with the United States was generally very positive; however, there were several areas where cooperation between both countries could be enhanced for mutual benefit and that ongoing dialogue was fundamental to ensuring the relationship with The Bahamas, and CARICOM in general, continued to progress from strength to strength.

Minister Mitchell further underscored the recent progress made by The Bahamas regarding the prosecution of an offence for Trafficking in Persons..
Before leaving for New York Thursday afternoon, Mr. Mitchell visited the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, where he signed the Book of Condolences to Arthur Robinson, the former President of Trinidad and Tobago, who died recently at the age of 87.

At his meetings, Minister Mitchell was accompanied by His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States; Mr. Chet Neymour, Deputy Chief of Mission; Ms. Krissy Hanna, Second Secretary; and Mr. Mikhail Bullard, Third Secretary.



Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States, are pictured following a meeting held at the State Department Thursday morning with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta S. Jacobson (second from left), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America and the Caribbean Francisco Palmieri (left) and Director of Caribbean Affairs Juan Alsace (right).




On Wednesday morning, Fred Mitchell (right), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, met with Mr. William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, at the State Department to discuss security related matters affecting The Bahamas, and by extension, the wider Western Hemisphere Region.




Fred Mitchell (left), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, is pictured with Congressman Eliot Engel, representative for New York's 16th Congressional District, Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, following discussions held with the Congressman on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

 


Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, is pictured during his meeting with Congressman Eliot Engel, representative for New York’s 16th Congressional District, Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Also pictured are His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry (second from right), Bahamas Ambassador to the United States, and Deputy Chief of Mission Chet Neymour (right).




Fred Mitchell (left), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, is pictured with Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Representative for New York’s Fifth Congressional District, Senior Member of the House Financial Series Committee and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, during their meeting Thursday morning on Capitol Hill.

 



Fred Mitchell (left), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry (right), Bahamas Ambassador to the United States, are pictured with Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Representative for New York’s Fifth Congressional District, Senior Member of the House Financial Services Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, during a meeting with the Congressman on Capitol Hill Thursday morning.

 

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GILBERT MORRIS ON FINANCIAL SERVICES CENTRES

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) produced a study (see: Lettre below) that
rejects the longstanding argument by the OECD and the G-20 nations, that International Financial
Centres (IFC) – by their activities – erode the tax bases of G-20 nations.

This development is significant because it is a final rejection of the ‘impossible proposition” that
IFCs are a net negative in the global financial system.

Nations – that by failure of regulation, and continued corruption – such as the Libor scandal
(http://www.ft.com/intl/indepth/libor-scandal ) has shown, that initiated
the series of crisis that lead to the near collapse of the global financial system, have spent much of
their time since the obvious effects of the crisis have abated, not restoring the global financial
system to health, but rather blaming small nations, (former colonies), largely in the Caribbean, for
the instabilities in the international financial system.

Click here for more info.

 

 

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PALM SUNDAY AT ST AGNES

Today is Palm Sunday in The Bahamas and throughout the Christian world. St. Agnes in Grants Town celebrated with the traditional march through the streets of Grants Town in New Providence.  Peter Ramsay was there and captured some of the moments.

 

 

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SIDNEY POITIER ON THIS DAY

Today is Palm Sunday in The Bahamas and throughout the Christian world. St. Agnes in Grants Town celebrated with the traditional march through the streets of Grants Town in New Providence.  Peter Ramsay was there and captured some of the moments.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY  On April 13, 1964 Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Academy Award, for 'Lilies of the Field.'  TAG and SHARE to remember this day in history! >>http://on.thegrio.com/XKTpEZ

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
On April 13, 1964 Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Academy Award, for "Lilies of the Field."

 

 

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IN PASSING


Prime Minister In The Turks And Caicos Islands

Prime Minister Perry Christie pictured with the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Rufus Ewing in Provodenciales on Thursday 10th April for the official opening of the Graham Thompson law firm in the Turks. Joining the Prime Minister were Shane Gibson, the Minister of Labour and Michael Halkitis, the Minister of State for Finance.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie is in the Turks and Caicos. More details on SUNtv later.

 

Mitchell In The States And In Hong Kong

Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, left Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday 8th April for Washington DC where he met with US officials.  While there he called on the U S State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson and officials of the Caribbean division in the Department to discuss amongst other things the latest Trafficking In person designation by the U. S., visa issues, the appointment of a U S Ambassador and support for the security initiatives in the region he left Washington for Hong Kong and the south south high level dialogue taking place there for 13 and 14th April.  The photos show the Minister with Congressman Gregory Meeks, the ranking member of the U S House of Representatives International Committee Western Hemisphere’s Sub Committee and a part of the black caucus; the Minister with Congressman Eliot Engelmann, ranking member of the Committee of the House’s International Relations Committee and with Roberta Jacobson.  He was accompanied by the Ambassador to Washington for The Bahamas Dr. Eugene Newry.


Michael Halkitis In Abaco

The Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis used to be a Key clubber and was advised as a youngster by a man named Willie Davis who runs a liquor shop in Abaco and is also a leader in the cultural community in Marsh Harbour and in the Roman Catholic Church in Abaco.  He is still a Key Club advisor today and he asked the Minister to come to visit his club in Abaco and speak to children about life.  There they are with the minister posing for the cameras.  Now they know what to do and see what to do.  It was a proud moment for Mr. Davis and for many more on Thursday 10th April.

With Abaco Key Club.

 

Maria Makes It To 100

Hope Strachan MP posted this happy birthday greeting to Maria McSweeney on her Facebook page.  We think it deserves she’s a jolly good fellow.  Congratulations Ms. McSweeney. · 
Nassau church celebrates 104-year-old missionary Maria McSweeney

Nassau church celebrates 104-year-old missionary Maria McSweeney

 

Myron Rolle, Rhodes Scholar Visits The Minister For Social Services

Rhodes scholar, former NFL player, medical student Myron Rolle is shown visiting with the Minister of Social Services & Community Development, Melanie Griffin after a productive meeting on      . The Ministry will identify 25 children in foster care and those who will benefit from The Myron L Rolle Wellness Leadership Academy 3th-17th July (Bahamas launch).

@myronrolle Rhodes scholar, former NFL player...medical student...the Minister of Social Services & Community Development, The Honourable Melanie Griffin @msgriffin56 after an extremely productive meeting! The Ministry will identify 25 children in foster care and those who will benefit from The Myron L Rolle Wellness Leadership Academy July 13th-17th (Bahamas launch) It's going to be amazing! #Dream #GandhiPinder&Associates

 

Moxey's Farewell


It’s hard to believe that Moses Moxey has completed his one  year term as the first international and man of African descent to head the student body at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.  Well done. Brother. A farewell photo as he spoke to the students.  He now moves to his senior year and graduates in December with his  Bachelor’s Degree.  Mr. Moxey is the grandson of  Bonefish Folley of West End. 

Moses Moxey's photo.

 

Commissioner And Son

The Commissioner of Police and his son shown with the son coming into the Force for the first time at the Police College.  Nice.

Father and Son Moment..... photo courtesy of  Christopher Rahming


Fox Hill Tea Party

The Fox Hill Branch of the PLP will host the wife of the Prime Minister Bernadette Christie at its annual Lenten Tea Party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Higgs in Monastery Park.  MP Fred Mitchell is travelling and sends his regrets.  The tea party will be hosted by Picewell Forbes MP for South Andros. 

 

Dwight Marries

The well know ZNS radio voice and the voice of the PLP's rallies in the 2012 elections and the entrepreneur  at Arawak Cay has tied the knot.  He is pictured with the bride the former Enid Smith and bridal party at the British Colonial Hilton on Saturday 12th April.  Congratulations to the couple.

 

 

Former Trinidad PM Not Going To ANR Robinson’s Funeral

Old wounds are rising to the fore again. Basdeo Panday who was once an ally of A. N. R. Robinson and who appointed Mr. Robinson President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago says he will not go to the funeral.  He is peeved because when there was an 18 18 tie after a general election in 2001, Mr. Robinson chose Patrick Manning instead of him to be Prime Minister.

 

Prime Minister's Delegation Visits British Governor 

Prime Minister Perry Christie who visited the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday 10th April paid a courtesy call on British Governor Peter Beckingham.  The PM was joined by colleagues Shane Gibson, Minister of Labour and Michael Halkitis, the Minister of State.

 The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.

 

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