Friday, July 30, 2010

Bahamas’ Haitian population is the largest at-risk group for communicable diseases

Health chiefs target 'at-risk' Haitians
Tribune Staff Reporter

HEALTH officials are targeting the Bahamas’ Haitian population as the largest at-risk group for communicable diseases.

Public health sectors are now focusing more attention on “bridging the gap” between health personnel and the largest migrant population in the country.

The lack of communication between the Creole-speaking communities and the healthcare system greatly reduces their chances for prevention and early detection of diseases, according to Christine Campbell, managing director of the HIV/AIDS Centre.

She emphasized the need to establish and maintain contact with non-English speaking communities to gain greater understanding of patients and their cultural norms.

Ms Campbell said: “If we can get more persons in the medical field trained in the language, in the very least it will ensure confidentiality and ensure whatever is being said medically is translated in its true form.

“I think it will help bridge a gap culturally and in terms of sensitisation, I think we all know there is a need for that. There still remains a lot of misunderstandings regarding this most at-risk grouping.”

The centre’s first step was taken last week Tuesday when representatives from the AIDS centre met with religious and community leaders of Creole-speaking communities. Also present at the meeting, voluntarily, were members from the Department of Public Service.

Ms Campbell said: “There were over 60 persons in attendance, it was good to see the faces of persons who would interface with this group. They had a lot of questions and this is the first step. This is very important to reduce risk and further spreading but it is also the rekindling of alliances and we hope that this is something that will continue and be sustained and bear fruit in so many different ways for all aspects of healthcare in the future.”

At the meeting, community leaders responded to concerns of health officials towards conducting follow-ups for patients from migrant communities. It was said that the underground lifestyle of some migrants posed considerable challenges for preventative healthcare. Those present suggested possible amendments to medical forms that would provide for contact information of church or community affiliations.

Ms Campbell added: “We want to ensure that not only do these persons receive healthcare that we’re mandated to give, but also as a country we’re doing our humanitarian part – in terms of agreements that we would have signed on to.”

She said that by strengthening ties with community leaders, the centre hoped to attract volunteers for training with an intent to improve outreach efforts.

“They would be able to go out and present factual information to many of their various groups. To have them fully engaged and involved so there is better understanding and communication – sometimes simple misunderstandings can really have a detrimental affect.”

Efforts realised this year include the enrolment of personnel from various public health sectors into entry-level Creole language classes.

Future goals of this initiative include implementing a standard medical handbook which doctors, medical staff and patients would be able to reference, and – specific to the AIDS centre – the establishment of a mobile outreach unit with the aim of increasing outreach throughout the Family Islands.

Ms Campbell said: “We’re expanding as a community, a global village. We’re getting out of our 7 x 21 mentalities and understanding the need to grow and move forward, and that’s the way to a better Bahamas.”

July 30, 2010

Concerns over Bahamian participation in the proposed $2.6 billion Baha Mar development

Concerns over Bahamian participation in Baha Mar raised at BCA meeting
Tribune Staff Reporter

CONSTRUCTION industry stakeholders yesterday questioned how the Bahamas Contractors' Association would ensure that small operators get a fair share of work on the proposed $2.6 billion Baha Mar development and similar projects.

These concerns were raised yesterday at a luncheon held by the BCA at the Wyndham Crystal Palace Resort and Casino in Cable Beach to inform the industry of impending changes the local construction sector must adopt to qualify for work on massive foreign investment projects such as Baha Mar.

Baha Mar's developers will introduce $60 million worth of contracts to begin the first phase of the project, which will only be awarded to Bahamian contractors, in the coming weeks.

BCA President Stephen Wrinkle assured the crowd of construction workers, contractors and tradesmen that his organisation would find ways to help create the "maximum Bahamian participation" in the development.

"The reason we're here today is to try to get the little man onboard with these projects. Let's face it – the big fellas, they fight their battles too but they're going to be here whether Baha Mar goes (forward) or not but the little man needs a lil' leg up right now to get along with this project and that's all we're trying to do," he said in a response to a question from the crowd.

The changes, which will allow the local construction sector to meet the expectations of the international market are separated into three parts: Creating a jobs skills bank for the sector; adopting an internationally recognised system of identifying classifications for division contractors; and launching a construction seminar series to help contractors meet the pre-qualification, tendering and administrative requirements of large scale developers.

Courses will then be held at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) to certify these workers, and allow them to received advanced certification.

The skills bank will be of use to contractors and sub-contractors, allowing them to draw from a pool of qualified workers. It also will establish, for the first time according to Mr Wrinkle, national standards for those in the industry, "So that when a carpenter comes looking for work and he shows the certificate you will have some assurance that they have attained the basic, minimum skills required for each level.”

The crowd was also briefed on the most recent developments in the progress of Baha Mar's proposed transformation of the Cable Beach strip, which got a boost this week after the government of the People's Republic of China formally approved the joint venture.

The first phase requires the removal of government and other buildings adjacent to the Sheraton Nassau Beach and Wyndham Crystal Palace hotels, as well as the rerouting of West Bay Street for one and a half miles to skirt Baha Mar’s build site.

Vice president of construction for the project, Tom Dunlap, said the first phase could take 9-18 months.

The development is expected to create 11,000 jobs for Bahamians and add $1 billion to the local economy in the first year after completion. However the future of the project faces another hurdle – final approval from the Bahamas government.

July 29, 2010


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bahamian workers must have the right to remove themselves from harm’s way in the workplace and not suffer consequences that threaten their employment

Employers chief: Workers must get rights to escape from 'harm's way'
Tribune Business Editor

BAHAMIAN workers must have the right to remove themselves from “harm’s way” in the workplace and not suffer consequences that threaten their employment, the Bahamas Employers Confederation’s (BECon) president said yesterday, something employees currently enjoy no protection on.

Brian Nutt, speaking to Tribune Business in the wake of the report on the Freeport Container Port tornado incident being released, said he agreed with the recommendations made by its author on reforming Bahamian occupational health and safety laws, including the provision of statutory protection for workers wanting to remove themselves from life-threatening workplace situations.

The report by Jacques Obadia, a former International Labour Organisation (ILO) executive, said the Bahamas needed to amend the Health and Safety at Work Act 2002 - its main workplace safety statute - “in a number of areas” to bring it into line with key ILO conventions on the issue.

A key reform, the report said, was to address “the protection of workers removing themselves from a work situation presenting an imminent danger to their life or health”.

Backing this recommendation, Mr Nutt told Tribune Business: “I guess right now that it would be the employer who would determine whether it’s a life or death situation, and it could be that someone is dealt with unjustly.

“There has to be a right for an individual to get themselves out of harm’s way.”

Mr Nutt confirmed to Tribune Business that the Health and Safety at Work Act had effectively been a toothless piece of legislation during the eight years since it had been passed in 2002, as it had lacked the standards, codes of practice and regulations to give it enforcement teeth.

This was confirmed by the Freeport Container Port report, which hinted that this state of affairs could potentially have left Bahamian workers dangerously exposed.

“The Act has been in force since 2002, but without the regulations and codes of practice, nobody knows what they are supposed to do,” Mr Nutt said. “Other than making people more aware of health and safety, and the fact the Act does require any business with more than 20 employees to form a Health and Safety Committee, there’s nothing else in the Act. The Act provides for these committees, but it’s the regulations and codes of practice that give them an agenda as to what meetings should be like.

“All the Act is is a framework. It’s similar to the National Health Insurance Act passed by the PLP. That’s enacted; that’s a law, but no regulations under it, so there’s nothing happening with it.”

Mr Nutt said that while he had not been on the committee, formed from trade union, government and employer representatives, that had been asked by the second Ingraham administration to draft the Act’s regulations, he knew it had “put a lot of work into it” and passed its draft on to the Government, where it had been “for some time”.

The BECon president added that the regulations’ drafting had also been interrupted by the 2002 change of government, the Health and Safety at Work Act being one of three Bills passed into statute by the first FNM government just prior to that year’s general election.

“The PLP came into power and did not do anything to put in regulations and codes of practice,” Mr Nutt told Tribune Business, adding that the FNM had to pick up the thread once it returned to power in 2007.

The BECon chief questioned whether the “price tag” that would come from enforcing the Health and Safety at Work Act may had caused the Government to hesitate, given the state of the Bahamian economy and fears about imposing additional costs on business, and suggested the administration could have “stripped it down a bit to get something out there”.

Mr Nutt said that when the first Ingraham administration passed the Health and Safety at Work Act, along with the Employment Act and Minimum Wage Act, it had viewed this legislation as bringing the Bahamas into compliance with the ILO’s “core conventions”.

Yet the Freeport Container Port report confirms that the Bahamas is still not in compliance with all these conventions, as it urges this nation to “initiate the formal process leading to the ratification of the main ILO occupational health and safety standards”.

These include the ILO’s Convention 155 of 1981, and its Protocol 2002 relating to the recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases.

July 27, 2010


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bahamas Economy Is In A Depression says Veteran Banker Al Jarrett

Economy In Depression
By Kendea Jones:

Veteran banker Al Jarrett said yesterday that the country is really in a depression rather than in a recession because there has been no positive growth in the country for two consecutive years.

What’s worse, according to Mr. Jarrett is that the country’s may not recover next year.

"A recession is a down swing but it comes back in at 12 months. It started in 2008 and 2011 is headed in that direction. The government has yet to give you what the negative growth is in 2010 and this year is just as bad as last year in terms of the deficits and debts," he said while appearing on the Love97/JCN programme "Jones and Company".

Mr. Jarrett said he has been following financial reports from the government closely and that he is convinced that the deficit is higher than has been reported by the government.

"Based on the government’s numbers as I see them we are looking at 4 per cent GDP. I deal with the facts that come out of the government agencies themselves. The problem is the government has been [misrepresenting] the figures. Last year, they showed the wrong debt structure when they did the budget and this year they showed the wrong GDP. Moody’s Credit Rating just corrected the government the other day. When the agency saw that, it put (government) on notice that the national debt is going to be 64 per cent."

To prove his point Mr. Jarrett said most countries use one formula to calculate their GDP.

"If you have a declining GDP that comes from the existing GDP and it is deducted. If the GDP is increasing it is added. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the GDP is 5 per cent, the government says its 4.3 per cent Moody’s says its 4.5 per cent, the Central Bank says its 5 and that’s in 2009," he explained.

"Now in 2010, the figures aren’t even out yet and the government is saying it is 0.5 per cent and Moody’s is saying it is 1 per cent. I am saying it is three per cent based upon on what they are saying," Mr. Jarrett said. "They have not produced a number that was correct in three years because they put the wrong numbers in from the beginning."

Government debt at the end of June 2011 is projected to stand at 49.2 per cent of GDP, up from 47.3 per cent a year earlier, according to officials.

When asked by host Wendall Jones if political affiliation to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) had anything to do with his findings, Mr. Jarrett quickly dismissed that assertion.

"It’s sad when Bahamians get to the point when they cannot engage you intellectually. I can’t deal with people who make statements like that because I deal with facts. I can’t respond to that. I am one of the freest Bahamians in this country. I never lied to the Bahamian public in television or radio. If I have to lie on the behalf of a political party then that party does not deserve to be in office," he said.

Mr. Jarrett also said it is clear that the government did not present a budget that was in the best interest of Bahamians.

"I think that the government made a mistake or it was too lazy to produce a budget that was all encompassing and affecting the country and its people. They were concerned about the offset budget to impress the IMF that they were doing something about the mounting debts of $1 billion plus dollars and they were told they had to stop borrowing," Mr. Jarrett said.

"Now they have to offset projects. The government has put itself in a position where the international agencies are now looking at them very closely because they came close to the edge with the over-borrowing and record deficits and debts."

The veteran banker said he believes that international agencies dictate the government’s budget.

"They are following the dictates of the international agencies and the IMF because they are saying to the government that ‘if you don’t stop what you are doing we are going to downgrade you,’" Mr. Jarrett said.

"The agencies are also saying that ‘you are going to be downgraded unless you start putting out realistic budgets that makes sense and can be achievable. You are overstating your revenues and you are increasing your expenditure based on false revenues."

Mr. Jarrett said if he were minister of finance, international financial watchdogs would have no need to make these kinds of statements.

"I would not have gone on a borrowing binge unless I had a real stimulus. I would have made sure that if I produced a budget, on the revenue side it would have been more conservative and more realistic to reflect the times we are in," he said.

"Once you have the experience and the knowledge to understand the financial market and microeconomics you would know these things."

State Minister for Finance Zhivargo Laing was quick to shoot down Mr. Jarrett’s assertion by saying the veteran banker is the one who is mistaken.

"That is just utter nonsense," he said when contacted by the Journal. "The problem with what Al Jarrett says is that he is speaking to GDP over a calendar year from January to December but the fiscal year runs from July to June. So what happens is that you have to do an average of the GDP over two halves of a calendar year to capture what the GDP would be over a fiscal period."

"When he suggest that we did not include the contraction of last year and this year, he has no clue that in a fiscal period you have to calculate over the 12 -month period in the fiscal year."

The minister also expressed confidence that the economy will begin to rebound next year.

"What we are forecasting and what the IMF is forecasting is that there will be some improvement next year over this year" Minister Laing said.

The government’s $1.8 billion came into effect on July 1.

The budget allocates some $1.55 billion for recurrent expenditure and more than $265 million for capital expenditure.

The government is however determined to tighten the rein on revenue collection.

Getting its fiscal house in order has also forced the government to roll out tough cuts to public spending and a raft of tax increases.

Immediately after doing so, the Opposition slammed the new fiscal plan as a "tax and pain budget" that would only put more pressure on the backs of Bahamians.

But Minister Laing insists that the government is doing what it can to cut the deficit.

"It is in the interest for the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and generations of Bahamians to be able to have our deficit reduced and borrowing reduced because it helps us to position ourselves in the event that something else should happen in the future," he said. "Al Jarrett’s comments are often laced with his own political agenda."

July 26th, 2010


Monday, July 26, 2010

Perry Christie Should be Given a Second Chance to become Bahamas Prime Minister - Says Unscientific Poll Results

Poll Results Say Christie Should Get Second Chance

It seems Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie is the man most Bahamians want as their prime minister.

On Friday a whopping 60 per cent of callers into Love 97’s talk show "Issues of the Day" said they believe Mr. Christie should be given a second chance to become prime minister.

On Wednesday the same unscientific poll was taken and callers were asked the very same question about Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, but 31 out of 44 of them said Mr. Ingraham should "bow out gracefully" at the end of this current term.

However, on Friday, the majority of callers had a completely opposite opinion about Mr. Christie.

"I fully endorse him as prime minister again," one caller said. "I just want to make the point that in this day and time it’s all about the economy and these rough times. Under his administration I had two jobs, now I only have one."

"Yes, I do believe Mr. Christie should have a second term," another caller said.

A third caller to the show said, "This country should give Mr. Christie a second chance because we need a gentleman of calm character so that that can resonate down in our society to our young men and women."

"I think he deserves a second chance," another Christie supporter said. "What we need more than ever now is national healing particularly in view of the headlines steaming today. (We) need someone who is not divisive."

Some other callers to the show who think Mr. Christie deserves a second chance said: "I think he’s a better leader than Hubert Alexander Ingraham. He wouldn’t have put all those taxes on our back like Ingraham did."

"I think Mr. Christie is a caring person, so give him a second chance."

"I think Mr. Christie did a good job when he was in office."

"Definitely he deserves a second chance. He is the best leader at this time."

He should be given a second chance because of his historic record in terms of wealth created for Bahamians; his performance was second to none."

"He’s fair, nice and sincere."

"It’s not even debatable. Mr. Christie should be given a second chance."

But not everyone was of this view.

Some callers said Mr. Christie should not be given a second chance to lead the country as he does not have the backbone to do so.

The callers who were against Mr. Christie’s running again said they do not believe he is the right man to deal with the many challenges facing the country now.

They said taking into consideration crime, unemployment, the economy and the youth, they believe Mr. Christie is not prepared to tackle these issues.

"I don’t think he would be able to lead the PLP in this upcoming election," one female caller said. "He shouldn’t be given a second chance."

"He couldn’t control the people on his cabinet," a male caller added. "So no, he doesn’t deserve a second chance."

"He is too afraid to make a decision," another caller said.

"I don’t think he should get a second chance, he doesn’t deserve it."

"I don’t think so; his constituency is one of the most depressed in the whole Bahamas."

"I don’t think Mr. Christie should be given another term to govern this country."

"I don’t think that he would be the best person at this time."

"Mr. Christie didn’t come through for a lot of Bahamians," a female caller added. "He does not deserve a second chance."

"No, he doesn’t deserve a second chance," another said. "Serious times call for serious leaders at the helm."

July 26th, 2010


Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Bahamas is not the only nation concerned about gambling

The pros and cons of gambling
tribune242 editorial:

A SEVERE crackdown by Chinese police on football betting during the World Cup match after an online gambling ring -- called the world's largest-- was broken up in Hong Kong in June, shows that the Bahamas is not the only nation concerned about gambling.

According to the Xinhua news agency more than $100 million Hong Kong dollars was confiscated in June and 70 people arrested in betting on the World Cup.

In July as the police crackdown intensified on organised criminal gangs more than 5,000 people were arrested.

Although the East is noted -- at least in the movies -- for its gambling dens, betting on football is illegal in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand because of its ties to the criminal underworld.

In a Financial Times article Jean-Michel Louboutin, Interpol's executive director of police services is quoted as saying: "As well as having clear connections to organised crime gangs, illegal soccer gambling is linked with corruption, money laundering and prostitution, and our operation will have a significant long-term impact on these serious offences as well."

In its July 10-16 edition, The Economist of London had an interesting feature on gambling and the pros and cons for legalising it.

It pointed out that trying to ban online gambling is doomed to failure because anyone with a computer can participate.

It concludes that although many dislike the idea of governments encouraging its citizens to gamble, a fine line can be drawn between encouragement and regulation. "Regulating something is not the same as encouraging it," the Economist argued.

"Better to treat gambling the same way as smoking: legalise it but make the casinos display the often-dismal odds of success (one in 176 million, if you hope to win America's richest lottery) in the same way the cigarette packets warn you about cancer.

"That would favour games of skill over the mindlessness of slot machines. People always will bet.

"Better that they do so in a legal market -- and know the form."

That was one opinion. We recall, while studying law in London, gambling was being discussed among the legal fraternity at the time.

A strong argument then was that it was best to bring it in from the cold and regulate it so that gambling debts could be settled in the courts rather than by criminals with knives drawn down a dark alley.

Those against gambling offered much the same argument as Archbishop Pinder and other churchmen in an attempt to protect citizens against their own destructive human weaknesses.

While the Catholic Church, said the Archbishop, recognizes that "gambling is not inherently evil there is the tendency of human nature to go to excess and to extremes.

"Thus what may be harmless in the beginning can, without proper restraints become quite harmful later on. The wisdom of the law as it now stands seems to understand this reality."

Many other countries in order to protect their citizens, either ban them from the casinos, or if allowed, charge them a heavy entrance fee.

A foreigner pays no fees. Mainland China, for example, keeps its casinos off island on Macau, where the visitor throws the dice, but access by its own citizens is strictly limited. A successful lottery is the only form of gambling on China's mainland.

Singapore welcomes the visitor to its casinos, but charges its own citizens $72. Many Asian governments remain wary of gambling and either ban its citizens, or make it difficult for them to have a little "flutter."

However, as governments need to raise taxes, the debate continues.

The Economist article is well worth reading, particularly as this is a debate that Bahamians will be entering into after the 2012 election.

It gives a balanced view of both sides of the argument.

July 22, 2010

tribune242 editorial

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dr Bernard Nottage - Former Health Minister raises concerns over the National Prescription Drug Plan

Former Health Minister raises concerns over prescription plan
Tribune Staff Reporter

FORMER Health Minister Dr Bernard Nottage expressed concern yesterday that despite seeking to expand access to medications, the National Prescription Drug Plan may fail to address the long-standing problem of certain drugs being unavailable at community clinics for those who need them.

Dr Nottage told Parliament he believes Bahamians are on a "collision course with premature death" as a consequence of the high prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease that are often preventable through lifestyle and dietary changes. Sixty per cent of deaths in The Bahamas are said to be CNCD-related at present.

The MP's comments came after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, in his contribution to Parliament on the NPDP regulations as Minister responsible for the National Insurance Board, said he believes many Bahamians die unnecessarily because of lack of access to medications for chronic non-communicable diseases.

The NPDP is intended to, in its first phase, make medications for 11 CNCDs available free of cost to certain categories of Bahamians, including those over 65, NIB-registered invalids, children under 18 years of age and up to 25 years of age if still in full time education.

Mr Ingraham said: "I'm no doctor but I honestly suspect that many people who are required to take medication like high blood pressure pills or diabetes etcetera end up dying because they don't have it. They don't have the means to get it or a public health facility was out of it."

"It is my hope and expectation that (as a result of the implementation of the drug plan on August 1) people of any constituency will no longer have to go to the clinic to find out there there's no diabetes pills or high blood pressure pills. That everybody will have their supply, and that they will pick it up and take it."

The Prime Minister explained during his contribution how 11 private pharmacy companies with 16 locations have at present been voluntarily contracted to dispense the medication free-of-cost to patients on behalf of the Government, and in places where such private pharmacies do not exist, such as in many family islands, public clinics will play this role.

He admitted that governments "have not done a good job all of these years" of ensuring the necessary medications required by local populations have been available in some of the family island clinics.

"Even if we have to contract services outside of National Insurance, we have to make sure that all of these clinics have medications," said Mr Ingraham.

Dr Nottage said this is an area that will "require a lot of attention" if the NPDP is to work successfully.

"Will these clinics be adequately supplied at all times? It may well be that this contract about which he spoke to enable drugs to be transported to these clinics will do the trick, but I doubt it seriously," said the former health minister. He also noted that the 115 public clinics also suffer from a shortage of qualified pharmacists to dispense medications. There is a recognised shortage of Bahamians with pharmacy qualifications at present.

Dr Nottage further noted the fact that only 11 private pharmacy companies have at present entered into contracts with the National Insurance Board to dispense medications under the NPDP, out of a total of over 30.

He said that his inquiries on the matter have revealed that many are concerned about receiving payment promptly from the government for their services, and the possibility of ending up at a financial loss through their participation in the plan.

"One of the problems for private pharmacies is that they will have to carry two different inventories, one for general patients and one for plan patients and that could be very expensive. They are concerned that they will purchase plan medications and if they are not sold that it will be at their loss and they will need help to cover any loss. They are concerned that they will only cover those plan items that will move quickly and therefore people may find they have some but not others. I think these are very real concerns that have to be looked at," said Dr Nottage.

In his contribution, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said he is "not satisfied" with the number of pharmacies that have agreed to participate in the plan and called on more to do so. He suggested they would see increased profits as more people will be attracted to make purchases at their pharmacies and outlined how claims for payment would be made within a week.

Former minister Dr Nottage noted that overall the PLP supports the NPDP "a little bit of something good is better than nothing," but considers it "limited" and something that they would have preferred to see come into effect along with the full comprehensive health coverage they pushed for during their last term in office.

The present government is of the view that their comprehensive plan was "unsustainable" in the form that was proposed.

July 23, 2010


Friday, July 23, 2010

How Is Your Member of Parliament Performing: Earl Deveaux - Marathon MP Gets Mixed Reviews

Is Your MP Performing "Marathon MP Gets Mixed Reviews"

A Free National Movement (FNM) MP is receiving mixed reviews from some of his constituents. While some praised him for his work in the constituency, others who are not so happy, say he needs to do a lot more.

The Bahama Journal canvassed the Marathon constituency yesterday to get feedback from constituents on Dr. Earl Deveaux’s performance.

The first set of people to weigh in on Dr. Deveaux’s performance, said they were not at all pleased with the MP’s efforts.

While they did not have many complaints, the general consensus among residents was that Dr. Deveaux has not been very visible in the area.

They also claimed that there had been little to no improvement in the constituency.

"There have not been any major improvements in this area. I have not even met the MP for this area since I’ve been living here," said Alpheus Bevans, who has lived in the constituency for three years.

Carolmae Pratt echoed similar sentiments. In fact, she didn’t mince words when assessing her MP’s performance.

"I haven’t seen him in this constituency and it has almost been three years since the last election. I only see him on TV. I am waiting until the next election campaign for him and his team to come to my door step. When they come to my house I will tell them that I don’t want to have anything to do with them," Ms. Pratt said.

"When Ron Pinder was the MP for this area, I saw him with my own eyes on the garbage truck helping to collect garbage and to beautify the area."

Another resident who spoke with the Bahama Journal on the condition of anonymity said she is disheartened by the fact that the MP who promised so much to the constituency "failed to deliver."

She said she is a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporter, but voted for Mr. Deveaux in the last election.

She said she now questions whether she made the right decision.

"I believe in giving everyone a chance and that is just what I did with Dr. Deveaux. He has put some pavements in place but that’s all I have seen happening here. Additionally, I don’t even know him that well because he doesn’t even come around to the constituency. I think he needs to come out of the House of Assembly and speak with his constituents," she said.

But, while those constituents were not too happy with Dr. Deveaux’s performance, there were a whole lot more constituents who were more than pleased with his work.

In fact, other residents credited the MP for a beautification programme that has been in place for some time now.

The Journal later visited the Regency Park and Danottage Estates area, which is separated by a few blocks.

Residents there credited Dr. Deveaux for improved roadworks, sidewalks, new water pipelines and a host of other upgrades.

"He repaved the roads, put down new water lines and some other things he’s done are commendable. I think he is doing what is necessary," said Charles Fisher, a Regency Park resident.

"I have been living here for about 11 years now and I think he is best one I have seen for a long time. He makes sure that the streets are cleaned almost every day. The streets were actually just cleaned on Wednesday morning," Jesus Uriz said in support of Dr. Deveaux’s work.

Lloyd Dorsett, a resident of Danottage Estates, said he hopes to see more of Dr. Deveaux. However, he said the MP’s work in the constituency speaks for itself.

"I haven’t seen him for a while, but he seems to be having things in order around here. Everything has been kept tidy and that speaks to Dr. Deveaux’s work in the area," he said.

"I haven’t seen him regularly, but he’s been working. He came around and tried to get the place cleaned up and I think that’s commendable," said Cleveland Knowles.

"He has performed admirably over the last three years and I will definitely support him in the next general election."

And while the country’s next general election is just two years away, those that didn’t think the MP was performing admirably said they would wait to see what the MP will do in that time.

The constituents who said they were pleased with the way Dr. Deveaux has kept the area say they will be sure to re-elect him in 2012.

July 22nd, 2010


Thursday, July 22, 2010

British Petroleum's (BP) Gulf of Mexico oil spill threat for The Bahamas is 'not over'

Oil threat for Bahamas 'not over'
Tribune Staff Reporter

A lead co-ordinator in the government's Gulf oil spill response team says that despite British Petroleum's success in stopping the oil gushing from the damaged well "the threat is not over" as far as the Bahamas is concerned.

Director of the National Emergency Management Agency, Captain Stephen Russell, who heads the National Oil Spill Contingency Committee, said the group has submitted a plan to continue monitoring any potential impact from the oil spill until the end of the year, at the earliest.

"We haven't slackened, we are keeping our eye on it," said Mr Russell yesterday morning. He noted that a team of experts set off on a second exploratory mission from Nassau to the Cay Sal Bank in the Bahama Banks on Monday, to continue taking samples and checking for any tar balls in Bahamian waters.

The team of scientists and environmentalists was scheduled to arrive in Cay Sal yesterday afternoon to begin their investigations.

Their visit comes just under a week after BP announced that after 85 days and the release of up to 184 million gallons of oil into the marine environment, it had successfully capped the leaking well, stopping the flow of crude.

Officials were cautious in their response to the news last Thursday that the placement of a 75-ton cap had successfully halted the flow of oil. US president Barack Obama called the development a "positive sign" but added, "We're still in the testing phase."

In the last few days some oil and gas has been detected around the well, raising concerns that the cap may not be withstanding the pressure from the oil within the well.


However, officials have expressed hope that the cap can largely contain the oil until relief wells are drilled which are expected to provide a permanent fix.

So far, no evidence of oil having reached Bahamian waters has been found. The spill has been accumulating in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southern coast of the United States since April 22, after the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig following an explosion at the site.

The oil rig was leased to British energy company BP at the time of the incident and the company has promised to pay legitimate claims for compensation stemming from the extensive damage that is resulting from the oil being released into the environment.

Mr Russell told The Tribune that officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Attorney General's Office continue to pursue the possibility of seeking compensation from the company for the Bahamas to cover the cost of efforts already undertaken by the government's Oil Spill Contingency Committee in response to the spill.

"It has been discussed at two levels locally, and at the CARICOM level, so we will see. We'll allow Foreign Affairs and the AG's office to see how we can engage BP either through the British Foreign Office or the US office. Likewise, we'll see CARICOM's approach," said Capt Russell.

July 21, 2010


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Members of Parliament are called on to account for their monthly stipend spending for their constituency offices

MPs are given chance to explain stipend spending
Tribune Staff Reporter

MEMBERS of Parliament called on to account for how they spent a monthly stipend for their constituency offices are being given a chance to explain their expenditures in response to an Auditor General's report on the use of the funds.

According to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, Auditor General Terrance Bastian completed his investigation into the expenditure of the money earlier this year, but the "full" report is not due to be released until October 2010.

"You'll get a full report of the $1,500 a month they give to MPs, how they spent it," he told The Tribune.

"The report is complete in the sense that you audit someone's account, you put forward what the situation is and they have a chance to say 'well you didn't take account of this, that etcetera'. That process is still ongoing, but when we have finished we will make it public and you will see how your MP for North Abaco and others disposed of the $1,500 he gets for operating a constituency office. You can see if he's done it in accountable fashion or not."

The Government revealed in 2009 that it was going to audit the MPs' use of constituency funds, which amount to $18,000 per year to run their constituency offices, for the first time.

The move came in the wake of the "expenses scandal" in the United Kingdom, in which many MPs were found to have misused their allowances from the public purse - ostensibly given for the purposes of covering expenses incurred "during the performance of a Member's parliamentary duties" - and were made to either resign, or pay the money back.

Others British MPs who were accused of abuse or made to pay back funds went on to announce their intention to retire from politics or found themselves "de-selected" as candidates.

Three former MPs, who resigned over the revelation of their alleged "fiddling" of the expenses, are now in the process of being criminally prosecuted for their wrongful expense claims.

While declining to go into specifics on the Bahamas expenses report, Mr Ingraham told The Tribune that "as a general statement, I think it's fair to say that most (of the country's 41 MPs) gave a fair accounting for their expenditures."

"That's a general statement and in those areas where there are questions they are being allowed to put forward the facts to support whatever it is that they may wish to put forward and the Auditor General will then be able to determine whether I'm satisfied or I'm not satisfied, and if the Auditor General is not satisfied then there are consequences for that in terms of (having to pay the money) back and so on," he added.

The audit conducted by the Auditor General covers the expenditure of the allowance since June 2007, when the Ingraham administration returned to office. Last year, MPs on both sides of the political divide said they were in agreement with the scrutiny, which they called "necessary" and a "great thing to do" to increase accountability in public finances.

The $18,000 per MP over the two-year period - 2007 to 2009 - covered by the report adds up to a total of $1,476,000 in public funds.

This is separate from the $100,000 made available for allocation by each of the MPs for constituency enhancement projects in the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 budgets (or $8.2 million over two years for all 41 members), as reported on recently by this newspaper.

July 20, 2010


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Those who achieve in The Bahamas cannot be held back for the non-achievers, regardless of nationality

Those who qualify can't be held back
tribune242 editorial:

THE public acknowledgment that Haitian students are outdistancing Bahamians is rather late. It is a reality that has been known by teachers for some time. We have often heard Bahamian parents grumble that their children were being pushed into second place by "them Haitians."

However, what is astonishing is the negative reaction of some Bahamian parents to this fact. Instead of encouraging their children, especially their boys to pull up their sagging pants - a sign of their shiftless indolence -- and study harder, they want Haitian children to be held back.

Samuel Johnson, a member of Centreville Primary school board, expressing his concern at a workshop for public school administrators and board members last week, spoke for many parents when he worried that all of the "benefits, awards, and certificates" go to Haitian children, while Bahamian children walk away empty-handed.

Instead of accepting this as a challenge to motivate young Bahamians to excel, he felt government should look at a system whereby "non-bona fide" Bahamians have to make a contribution to the cost of their education.

In dismissing such a suggestion Education Minister Desmond Bannister quite rightly pointed out that "any country that discriminates against children labels itself as a barbaric society." He pointed out that the Bahamas, as a signatory to the United Nations convention, had an obligation to ensure that all children were educated.

Instead of Mr Johnson recommending that Haitian children be made pay for their education, he should try to discover why they get all the awards, and Bahamians walk away empty handed. The truth would probably shame him as a Bahamian.

The American declaration of human rights holds that "all men are created equal", which does not mean identical but rather an acknowledgment that all have different strengths and weaknesses that can be developed in a society that offers them equal opportunities to achieve. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared that "all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights."

In other words society has an obligation to provide an opportunity for them to embrace those rights, one of which is a good education. Those who seize the opportunity will move forward, and those who don't will remain static or fall back.

Those who achieve cannot be held back for the non-achievers, regardless of nationality. And if Haitians excel in the classroom, then it is obvious that they will be qualified for the top jobs. There is no point in Bahamians sitting under the dilly tree complaining that the Haitians are taking over the country.

Of course, they will take over the country if they are qualified and Bahamians are too indifferent to meet the challenge.

When an employer is looking for staff, he is not looking for nationality, all he wants is the best qualified person for the position he offers. And unless Bahamian parents get behind their children and encourage them to work harder at their studies, the best qualified persons in the next generation could well be Haitians.

We have told this story before, but it bears telling again. We know of a young Haitian girl, among the first graduates of Doris A Johnson school when it opened. She was among the top five in her class, and, yes, did walk away with most of the awards. Years later so did her younger sister.

Both of their parents are Haitian, the father on a work permit, the mother, a residence permit. Both children were brought here when they were very young and have no recollection of Haiti.

When the first girl graduated, her one ambition was to be a doctor, however, she had to find a job to raise the funds to follow her dreams. She got a job in a downtown business. No questions were asked about her nationality -- she spoke perfect English, and her written English was far superior to most Bahamians. But one day there was an Immigration sweep and she was taken in. She had no work permit. She was sent to the Detention Centre to be deported to Haiti -- a land she did not know and where she had neither relative nor friend. Some of her teachers and others heard of her plight, and petitioned for her release. She was released, returned to her parents where she remained with no work permit, and no opportunity to pursue her dream.

Next week she will marry a young Bahamian, who works in Miami. Maybe there -- in the land of the free and the home of the brave -- she can qualify as a doctor and return to Nassau with her Bahamian husband to minister to some of these complaining Bahamians who did not have the initiative -- or the urging of their parents -- to make the grade.

tribune242 editorial

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bahamian parents urged to play a more active role in their children's education

Minister makes plea to parents
Tribune Staff Reporter

BAHAMIAN parents were yesterday urged to play a more active role in their children's education.

Desmond Bannister, Minister of Education, said the difference between students who excel in the public school system and students who under-perform is the support they receive from their families.

He said in his experience, children with Haitian parentage often excel because they are supported by their families, and the same was true for Bahamian children who excel.

"In our public schools we have many, many children who are doing well and excelling, and they are Bahamian children. A priest said this to me at a graduation ceremony, look at all the people who got awards, you can almost know, without seeing the family, the type of family they came from: a family with a commitment to education and a commitment to seeing their children do well. There is nothing I want more than to see my Bahamians excel in education. I have to send the message out there that we have to spend more time with our children," said Mr Bannister.

Education statistics show that less than 10 per cent of the total graduating cohort received a 'C' grade or above on their BGCSE examinations.

Mr Bannister said while he believes the level of commitment to education is displayed by some Bahamian children in the way they are allowed to walk to school with no books in their hands, their pants hanging down and their pants legs in their socks, that is not the majority of Bahamian children, and "only one of the realities we face in education."

"The real issue that all of us have to face is what is our commitment to the education of our children. How much time do we spend with them; how much interest do we display in what they are doing; how much time do we help them with school. These are the real issues," said Mr Bannister.

"My commitment is to try to get as many of my Bahamian brothers and sisters as possible to understand the commitment to excellence in their children's education. I want Bahamians to focus on excellence in their children's education. That is why we are having the parenting seminar in August. We want parents to be aware. When we find scapegoats, when we look for anyone else as scapegoats, we are not really addressing the problem," he said.

Samuel Johnson, a member of the Centreville Primary school board of directors, said he was concerned about Haitian children receiving all of the "benefits, awards and certificates" of the public school system at the expense of Bahamians.

His comments were applauded by some participants in a seminar of more than 100 public school principals and board members, Friday.

Mr Johnson expressed his personal sentiments during the question and answer section of the financial management seminar, where the Minister spoke. However, Ministry officials did not readily have statistics to support the view. A senior official could only confirm the number of children of Haitian parentage is "large" in some inner city schools, and many of them were "indeed excelling."

Bahamians had a lot to say on about the opinion of Mr Johnson and the response from the Minister, who said there was to be no discrimination of any children in public schools.

"Again, blaming persons of other nationalities is not the problem to solving this crisis. We need more schools, more educational funding, better teaching conditions, more 'old-school' teachers of yester-years, and the list goes on and on. The greater debate here should be about how we, as Bahamians, can go about being more civilly, community-minded parents, teachers, students, neighbours, etceteras," stated a commenter, under the title "Give me a break!"

"If all of the Haitian (or Jamaican or Guyanese) children were to pack up their 'georgie bundles' and leave the Bahamas, you can bet your last bottom dollar that there would be zero to no change in the overall attitudes toward education in this country! Stop fooling yourselves into thinking that the problem lies elsewhere when it really lies within. And this is coming from a thoroughbred Bahamian, flesh and bone!" stated "True True Bahamian", on the post.

Another commenter, under the name "Confused", said the view that Haitians outperform Bahamians is of no surprise.

"What I don't understand is why so many Bahamians are up in arms about this, as if this is something new! You know doggone well ya children ain't been doin' what they supposed to do in school! If you do not attend PTA meetings, check over home-work, ensure your children read over their notes from the day's lessons, pick up report cards on time or make time to visit schools and meet teachers to discuss your child's performance in school (whether good or bad), please close your mouths. You are not eligible to partake in this discussion until you fulfil your role as a responsible parent!"

Schools do not collate statistical data on the immigration status of students, as it is not necessary to be a citizen of the Bahamas to attend a public school. All legal residents are entitled to attend a government school in the district they live.

Minister Bannister said, "We don't want schools to be doing that job of looking to see who is this and that, even though statistics may be gathered at some stage. We don't want to turn principles into immigration officers."

Minister Bannister said he was confident that any Haitian student receiving awards in a public school did so based on merit and not any preferential treatment on the part of schools.

"Every parent should look at how his child is doing in school. If his child is not doing well that parent should make a commitment to make sure that child is getting more from him or her. For too long we look at national results and blame a politician for what is happening. We need to stop that and look at the reality of what is happening in our family and determine if we are living up to our responsibilities," he said.

Bahamian parents were advised to take an interest in the education of their children, by a commenter.

"As a teacher this is no surprise. Haitian students and their families show more interest and value free education. Not only Haitians, but Chinese, Guyanese and Jamaicans are also top competitors.

"Our students have become consumed with material things. The core values of hard work and dedication are slowly dying. Bahamian parents, please, show interest, challenge your children,"

Her advice was to: "Get rid of the PlayStation and Wii. Get your child a book or Leapfrog. Unsubscribe from BET and MTV. Turn on Discovery and PBS! Save the money for Clarke's shoes: No 3.00 (grade point average) no Clarke's! Block Facebook and Youtube. Bookmark Discovery Network, National Geographic and!"

July 19, 2010


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Perry Christie isn’t performing and doesn’t do anything in the Farm Road constituency

Is your Member of Parliament performing?

This is the question The Bahama Journal posed to residents in the Farm Road constituency yesterday.

The residents there minced no words in explaining just how they feel about their Member of Parliament, Perry Christie.

Long time Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporter Prince Arnette said he is disappointed and "feels let down" by Mr. Christie’s performance over the past three years.

"No, he isn’t performing," Mr. Arnette said. "He doesn’t do anything in this area. If you have an MP with such influence and such power, don’t you think your constituency should look like paradise? Well look around, Farm Road is no paradise."

"That man only comes around every five years when it’s time for election. Other than that, this area stays run down and in a mess; he doesn’t bring programmes in the area, he doesn’t help provide jobs, he doesn’t help the youth, he doesn’t do anything and I’m a big time PLP telling you this."

Welder Mark Johnson said he wants to see more done.

"These people around here need help, man," he said. "We need our MP to come around and ask us what it is that we need, what it is that we’re lacking, how is it that crime is affecting us, what are our children doing; how are they doing in school. But Mr. Christie doesn’t know these things because he doesn’t come around."

Another Farm Road resident who goes by the name Tiffany said she feels like "just because we live in the ghetto they don’t want anything to do with us."

"We (haven’t) had any social programmes, we have nothing for the children to do, there have been no renovations to the government homes, the water pump that we all depend on doesn’t work."

"There are no jobs, the park is a mess and Farm Road just gone to the dogs. The MP for this area does nothing and is just sitting by and watching these things get worst and worst."

But the reviews were mixed.

There are those Farm Road residents who said no matter what their MP does, some constituents are never satisfied.

One area resident who goes by the name "Crab" said he is quite happy with Mr. Christie’s performance and cannot even fathom why someone would complain.

He said as far as he sees things, his MP is doing all he can.

"He can’t do it all," Crab said. "I feel good about him, he’s a busy man and he is doing all he can. We live in the ghetto. What we need is a big bulldozer to come and just knock it all down and start over again because all these people doing is foolishness in the back here."

"But they wont let no one come in the back here and make a change. So when he does the little that he can they complain."

The only time I see my MP is when he’s on TV," one Farm Road woman added. "The people around here are hurting and we need someone to help us. It seems like my vote doesn’t count but I know that it does. Because if there are 60 votes 30 on one side and 30 on the other the one last vote that is coming is what will determine the winner, so guess what, one vote does count."

"These MPs need to stop sitting up in their air conditioned offices and come out here and see what’s going on with the people who put them in office."

"Yes, Perry Christie is doing a good job," said Farm Road resident Andrea Moncur. ‘We live in the ghetto and only so much you can do with people who don’t want to help themselves. You can give them jobs, they go for three weeks and come right back out here on the blocks, so what you want Mr. Christie to do then?"

"The people don’t want to work, they don’t want to do any better and that is not Mr. Christie’s fault. He does his best, it’s just that these young people don’t want to work."

Farm Road constituents said if Mr. Christie would take a minute and walk around the area, he would know that the youth, crime and unemployment are burning issues facing his constituency.

But, according to most of the people the Journal spoke to, they are lucky to even see Mr. Christie outside of campaign mode.

"He needs to do better," another Farm Road woman said. "He need to do something with the (youth) around here, they need something to keep them occupied and keep them interested in the country."

"The older ones need jobs but it’s these young ones we really need to worry about and catch while they are young."

Calls to Mr. Christie were not returned up to press time.

July 15th, 2010


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Haitian children out-perform Bahamians in The Bahamas' public school system

Haitians outperform Bahamians
Tribune Staff Reporter

HAITIAN children are out-performing Bahamians in the public school system, senior government officials have revealed.

And they are excelling because Haitian parents "recognise the importance of education" as a "vehicle for progress".

An official told The Tribune: "I can assure you in many of the public schools, children of Haitian parentage are indeed excelling."

No statistics were available to show the number of children of Haitian parentage in the public school system. However, one senior official said in some inner city schools the number is "large".

At a workshop for public school administrators and board members yesterday, concern was raised over Haitian children receiving all of the "benefits" of the Bahamian education system.

Samuel Johnson, member of the Centreville Primary school board, said he was worried that all of the "benefits, awards and certificates" go to Haitian children, while Bahamian children walk away empty-handed.

He suggested the government may need to look at a system where "non-bona fide" Bahamians have to make a contribution to the cost of their education.

Desmond Bannister, Minister of Education, said there should be no discrimination of Haitian children in public schools.

"We have a responsibility to educate every child in this country. We are not going to do anything less. That is the civilised thing to do. We cannot have any kind of discrimination against any children. For a civilized country that subscribes to the United Nations convention, it is our obligation to ensure children are educated. Any country that discriminates against children labels itself as a barbaric society," said Mr Bannister, speaking at the workshop.

Mr Bannister said when Bahamian children walk to school they have no books in their hands, their pants are in their socks and they hang down, while Haitian children have their bags and books in tow. He said Haitian parents walk their children to school and pick them up.

Mr Bannister said he went to several graduations, and he saw few Bahamians, men in particular, showing interest in their children. He said the Haitian children were flanked by their entire families.

"Take an interest in your children. Our children are not dumb. They have potential," said Mr Bannister, but too many of them "are raising themselves."

He recounted the story of a boy he met, who was in junior high school and had to work nights to raise $600 per month to pay rent for himself and his brother because of "parental neglect."

Bahamians do not have sufficient "motivation for academic excellence" because people do not see an intrinsic value in education, and "the need for educational excellence in order to achieve a good job does not exist," according to one educator.

"Our people live at a very high standard with a low level of education. They have access to the quantity of material things without having to have a very good standard of education. We have to understand that quantity of living does not necessarily equate to quality of life. What quality is about is a certain level of civility, of compassion, of respect for the environment, respect for the rule of law and the democratic processes," she said.

Mr Bannister said when he came out of high school a lot of his peers went to work in the hotel industry; they got "well paying jobs", were able to buy "wonderful cars", build apartments, and live comfortably.

"I understand that we have a whole part of our society that doesn't value education. There is much more to education than (material wealth). Education is important for you to be able to live and exist in society competently; to interact on a daily basis and make a difference in your country. Many of us are losing the ability to reason at a level that allows society to go on," said Mr Bannister.

The lack of education in Bahamian society is evident in the level of public discourse, the level of reasoning, the inability of people "to settle disputes in a rational manner," he said.

Mr Bannister said the important thing was for Bahamians to have the same kind of commitment to education that the generation of his parents and grandparents had.

July 17, 2010


Friday, July 16, 2010

The economic downturn impacts Government's plans to further develop the country during the Free National Movement's present term in office

Tribune Exclusive: Economic slump hits PM's plans
Tribune Staff Reporter

THE economic downturn that has gripped the country for almost two years has caused the Prime Minister and his Government to "substantially and significantly" scale down plans to further develop the country during the FNM 's present term in office.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said yesterday that appointing a Minister for Grand Bahama Affairs and introducing local government in New Providence are among the initiatives he had planned to undertake before the next general election which have been "postponed."

Mr Ingraham was speaking with The Tribune during an interview at the Cabinet Office yesterday.

Asked to what extent the economic downturn in The Bahamas and the world, which has seen Government revenues fall sharply as import and tourism-related receipts in particular have dropped, impacted plans he had for the country in the 2007 to 2012 term, Mr Ingraham said "significantly, substantially."

"But that's the reality. You take it the way you find it," he added.

Nonetheless, pressed as to what projects or initiatives in particular he would most regret having to postpone, Mr Ingraham stressed that he "hasn't gone yet."

"Circumstances alter cases. We are committed to those things we said we'd do but circumstances have changed. We are in a different environment so we may not be able to do all those things we'd wished to do but we are doing as many as we can as rapidly as we are able to," he said.

Speaking of plans he expressed early on in the present term to appoint a Minister for Grand Bahama who would be able to bring more focused government attention to the northern island and its long-ailing economy, Mr Ingraham said he cannot now go ahead with this plan because of a lack of funds at this time.

"I am seeking to conserve expenditure and that's one of the things I want to do but there are plenty of things I want to do that I am unable to do," he said.

As for the introduction of local government in New Providence, like that which exists throughout the Family Islands, Mr Ingraham said "that too is one of those postponed things."

"But it is desirable, that it should happen. Whether we'll be able to do it in this term I don't know."

Local Government for New Providence was just one of many promises made by the FNM in its Manifesto and election platform for the 2007 general election. Many have been fulfilled, but many others remain outstanding. Among them, key projects such as the establishment of a National Library, a National Forensic Institute with a DNA lab, establishing a Consumer Protection Agency and constructing new schools to meet the demands of growing communities.

Referring to the advantages of the Local government he would like to see introduced in New Providence, Mr Ingraham said it would be a "more efficient and responsive form of government" that would reduce delays for communities in getting problems addressed by precluding the need to wait for central government to process the situation.

"I don't think you should have to wait for the Ministry of Works to come and fix the pothole in the road, or the street light is out or if you need a license in the area in which you live...(instead) you'd have the local representative you elected to the Council, you'd see him in the foodstore and you'd be able to say 'Listen man...'."

"In places like Green Turtle Cay it's working very well. I was there a few weeks ago and the local district council showed me the post office there and they said you know this part is rotten and needs to be changed etcetera, we've got the materials but we don't have any money, we think it's going to cost about $14,000 to $15,000... so we (central government) were able to help them but they will do the work, they will cause the work to be done," explained the Prime Minister.

July 16, 2010


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dr David Allen: "ominous and pervasive culture of violence and destruction" taking over The Bahamas

Research shows 'culture of violence and destruction' taking over country
Tribune Staff Reporter

THREE years worth of research into the root causes of crime in the Bahamas show an "ominous and pervasive culture of violence and destruction" taking over the country, according to Dr David Allen, psychiatrist and founder of Bahamian Forum.

Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade and Bamboo Town Member of Parliament Branville McCartney spoke at the relaunched Bahamian Forum hosted last week. Dr Allen presented findings from his study that included interviews with families of murder victims, students involved in violent disorderly behaviour, chronic drug addicts, public and private psychotherapy groups, confidential interviews with children, and other sample groups.

"We found a powerful sense of anger amongst us Bahamians. Throughout the three-year study participants talked about "outting", which was the word for killing; poisoning, women particularly, and suicide," said Dr Allen.

"A few months ago we had a young girl commit suicide. We have five of her friends right now who want to do the same thing right now. Their argument is, 'Doc, life is in the body. When there are no good things for you, you can't wear Nike, and designer clothes, you can't have the right weight, you might as well die.'" They believe life is purely in the body," he said.

Dr Allen said Bahamians act based on destructive anger patterns, instead of constructive anger patterns that are fostered from by grieving, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion, among other factors. He said the destructive anger breeds resentment, bitterness, grudgefulness, lack of inhibition and a "hardness of heart."

Commissioner Greenslade said there were several incidents where family members showed little emotion when one of their own was murdered. They had no interest in helping police solve the crime and treated the murder as collateral damage.

"Bahamians are saying I don't feel the murders anymore; it's just what is supposed to happen. They build a wall in their heart. Most disturbing is we found a number of young girls who had no compunction about giving their bodies for money. They pay for their education, but they also pay for their parents' air conditioning, refrigeration and also their cable. The point is they had no feeling about it. They said, 'Doc, that is what you call survival in the Bahamas.' That was very, very disturbing," said Dr Allen.

"Nearly every person who was involved in a serious crime interviewed had some severe abuse, physical or sexual. We have a chronic child abuse problem in our country," he said.

The good news, according to Dr Allen, is found in a study condition by John Hopkins university that showed, if community leaders walked around their communities once per week for a period of two years, it would drastically reduce the occurrence of child abuse.

"Can you imagine if each church adopted the area around each church and walked the area around that church each week. They will see the child neglect; they will see the child abuse; they will see the incubation of crime and we can revolutionise the Bahamas in about three years," said Dr Allen.

Dr Allen said the culture of crime and violence was creating a large network of people suffering from trauma. The symptoms of this trauma, he said, were a "deep desire for revenge," insecurity, "upside down values."

"Young men and women join gangs for affirmation, safety, protection, connection and empowerment. This is a growing phenomenon and a serious one, because the herd instinct psychologically is the most violent aspect of human nature. For God's sake we have to stop this now. Property is not respected. With a gun, what is yours is mine. As they say in the hood, with a gun, even if you lose a dice game, you still win," said Dr Allen.

"In a group of 10 to 15 year olds, they don't expect to live long, as a result (they think) you do what you can, get as much money and then if you get killed or kill somebody that's it. One guy said if I kill somebody the most I'll get is six months, then I'll get on bail. That is 15 year olds talking. There is a modeling process happening. And then, of course, they think violence is cool. It's power to kick somebody, to stab somebody and see that blood ooze out," he said.

Dr Allen said there was also a lingering effect of the 1980s cocaine epidemic in the Bahamas. "Drug trafficking continues creating fear because of executions, empowering drug lords in turf wars." He said even though there did not seem to be an increase in new coke addicts, there is a "growing chronic marijuana epidemic among our children from 10 years up."

The challenge for Bahamians, according to Dr Allen, is "to increase our awareness because if we don't we'll use the same old ways to do the same old things expecting a different result, and that is the definition of insanity. We need to find a new way for looking at things, a new way of thinking, because if we don't we will repeat the same old, the same old, the same old."

July 14, 2010


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bahamas government will seek compensation from British Petroleum (BP) for all the pre-assessment, monitoring and any post oil spill clean-up costs

Bahamas govt confirms it will seek compensation from BP
Tribune Staff Reporter

THE Bahamas government has officially confirmed that it will be seeking compensation from British Petroleum (BP) following the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which could affect the Bahamas' shores.

Environment Minister Dr Earl Deveaux told The Tribune that his government will be seeking compensation for "all the pre-assessment, monitoring and any post spill clean-up."

This comes after a report released by the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated that Cay Sal Bank and the Bimini Cays are 41 to 60 per cent likely to have shoreline impact from the spill for years to come.

The northwest coast of Grand Bahama, the report said, is 20 per cent likely to be affected, and Andros is less than one per cent likely to be affected.

In an interview earlier this month, Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Eric Carey had said he wants BP to foot the bill in advance.

And while NOAA has concluded that the oil spill most likely will not harm marine life in the Bahamas, Mr Carey said it is still unknown how the dispersants from the spill will affect the country's ecosystem.

The money the government will now be requesting from BP is expected to assist scientific testing and expeditions to monitor the situation.

The next expedition should set sail in about a week and Mr Carey said he hopes BP will cover the costs.

The oil company told the Associated Press on Sunday that the overall cost of dealing with the spill is now at $3.5 billion.

Some $165 million of that sum were paid to settle individual claims. So far, BP has received over 100,000 claims for compensation and made more than 50,000 payments.

It is unknown at this time how much money the Bahamas will be requesting from BP, nor is it clear when or if the oil company will pay out in this instance.

Meanwhile, as BP yesterday removed the containment cap currently in place over the blown-out oil well to replace it with a tighter fitting one, the Obama administration has issued a new offshore drilling ban after a previous moratorium order was overturned.

BP has stated that it believes this second cap will possibly stop the oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

The company said some oil will still leak out, but the tighter cap will enable them to capture it and funnel it up to the surface where collection ships await.

According to latest estimates, somewhere between 89 million and 179 million gallons of oil have spilled from BP's Deepwater Horizon rig 5,000ft below the ocean surface since an explosion on April 20 killed 11 people.

July 13, 2010


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bahamian National heroes

National heroes
Tribune Staff Reporters:

FORMER Minister of Culture Neville Wisdom tells the story of a primary school teacher who two weeks ago did a class exercise asking students: Who do you identify as a national hero?

Of 16 students, 14 identified President Obama, one identified Dr Martin Luther King and one the late Sir Lynden Pindling.

This story highlights, if nothing else, the poor job earlier generations did in teaching Bahamian history and establishing who is and who should be called a national hero of the Bahamas.

Several years ago a Cultural Commission was appointed to establish just that.

The Commission was to also formulate programmes and strategies for the coordinated promotion, study, research, preservation and enhancement of the Bahamian cultural heritage in music drama, poetry, religious expression, creative writing and their publication, oral story telling, film making, art, sculpture, dress, cuisine, dance and Junkanoo.

They made their first report to government in September 2003.

The Commission's report stated that national heroes are “seminal contributors to the shaping of Bahamian society from slave plantation and colonial fiefdom to an independent nation and an aspiring model society, where all citizens have equal opportunity towards being constructive, creative and self directed human beings.”

A national hero was defined as a person who has gone beyond their personal and historical limitations to give the society a psychic and spiritual rebirth. National hero was distinguished from a hero.


A hero was defined as someone whose dedication, hard work and sacrifice has contributed to the society. National heroes are people who were to have accomplishments that have been acknowledged and recognised as a national inspiration by a significant portion of the national body.

Winston Saunders and Charles Carter were appointed co-chairmen of the commission but the committee basically dissolved after Mr Saunders died in November of 2006.

“We had finished most of the work. It was wide ranging and it was a tribute to Mr Saunders because he spent his whole life dedicated to cultural and artistic pursuits. I was just pleased to be a part of it. He was the driving force and unfortunately as fate would have it, when he died it died. I just hope the work hasn't died,” Mr Carter said.

When the 2007 elections took place the present government did not continue the work of the commission.

“The work we did was largely finished and submitted to government. It is probably lodged somewhere in the Ministry of Education or Culture,” Mr Carter said.

Among the recommendations of the committee were:

• A national hero and literature during the month of October;

• A public holiday celebrating national hero's day on the second Monday of October each year, replacing the Discovery Day holiday;

• A Bill for national honours to be introduced;

• Ministry of Education building to be named the Arthur Hanna Complex;

• Ministry of Health building be named after Reverend Dr H W Brown;

• Exuma Street be renamed Amos Ferguson Street;

• Third Terrace Centreville be renamed Rusty Bethel Drive;

• Nassau International Airport be renamed Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport and

• Establish national heroes parks in New Providence and family islands.

All of this seems to be the easier aspects of the commission’s work, however. After this the more problematic and subjective work of establishing who should be called a national hero should have proceeded. And while there may be many Bahamian heroes, the majority will escape the description of national hero.


For example, while 40 or 30 years ago one would never have doubted that Sir Sidney Poitier was a national hero, a new generation is questioning the “real contribution” Sir Sidney has made to the Bahamas.

Although born in Miami in 1927 during his Bahamian parents’ visit to Florida, Sir Sidney – the son of a poor tomato farmer – grew up in Cat Island. Sir Sidney has also served as the Bahamas’ ambassador to Japan and was made an Honorary Knight Commander in the 1970s for his contribution to the arts.

Sir Sidney was the first black actor to win an Academy Award for a lead performance (Lilies of the Field in 1963).

Many of his films tackled racial themes and have been heralded for helping to break down social barriers between whites and blacks during an era of racial segregation.

In February of this year a group of filmmakers protested the College of the Bahamas’ decision to host a conference and film festival dedicated to Sir Sidney.

The most vocal critic of the festival, filmmaker Celi Moss publicly lambasted the college for using its resources to honour the Academy Award winning actor.

“When it comes to the arts in the Bahamas he’s done nothing,” claimed Mr Moss.

Mr Moss’ assertion that the Oscar winner has done nothing for the Bahamas is hyperbolic at best and perhaps a more measured expression of Mr Moss’ opinion would have been that Sir Sidney hasn’t done enough, or rather done what Mr Moss would have seen as enough.

But Sir Sidney had been involved in philanthropic activities in the country, off and on, since he won an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Homer Smith in “Lilies of the Field.”

The first was when Sir Sidney made a personal appearance on the stage of the Shirley Street Theatre on Saturday February 29, 1964 during the Nassau premiere of the movie.

The screening was a benefit sponsored by the Ways and Means Committee of the British Legion as part of an annual drive for funds to aid needy ex-servicemen in the Bahamas.

In the 70s he kept true to his promise.

The 1974 premiere of “Uptown Saturday Night” held in Nassau was in aid of the Bahamas Association for the Mentally Retarded. The premier of “Buck and the Preacher”, Sir Sidney’s directional debut was held in Nassau to aid the construction of Jordan Prince William High School.

College Professor Dr Ian Strachan hit back at the criticism arguing that the event’s protesters are misguided by a sense of “entitlement.”

“What they are basically saying is that despite the fact that Sidney Poitier helped change the world for all black people, he is not worth honouring or studying because he didn’t do something specific for this community that they think are paramount,” Dr Strachan said.

Still to many this is not enough because “it seems he didn’t help today’s struggling Bahamian artists directly, monetarily, by ‘putting in a word’ or by showing up every summer and teaching a class in method acting,” said Dr Strachan.

There was a point where Sir Sidney felt that he was not appreciated by the Bahamian public.

“Lilies of the Field” was Sir Sidney’s 20th film and he told a crowd of more than 600 who gathered at the theatre, “I was beginning to feel that I was not loved here. I have been asked to do things in Asia and Africa and was wondering when someone was going to ask me to do something for my people here.”

He had left Nassau 21 years before with “a bundle and several dollars given to me by my father to make my mark in the world” and was more than willing to help any organization that was doing “something worthwhile for us Bahamians.”

Sir Sidney eventually made a home for himself in Winton, but left in the 70s after he said that he felt harassed by the constant visits of gawking tourists.

Before leaving he also expressed concern over the number of “corrupt” persons with whom Sir Lynden was surrounding himself, although he thought that Sir Lynden himself was an honest man.

In addition to the lament of Mr Moss, there are more who disagree as to whether or not Sir Sidney should be considered a national hero.

Father Sebastian Campbell, who is Chairman of the National Heroes Committee, and member of the National Cultural Development Commission said that Sir Sidney was simply a person who “came along at the right time and was in the right place,” but did nothing to “advance the country”.


“What has Poitier done to advance Era Anne Hanna who worked for 40 plus years as a teacher in Mason Bay, Acklins? She was a teacher, handy man, janitor, who had to ride horse back to the school. She was never absent for one day and taught some of the leading citizens in this country. At the end of her retirement she got no pension nor no gratuity. These are the people we need to recognize as our heroes and stop letting persons with status and fame to trump up their contributions,” he said.

However, Mr Wisdom said even though Sir Sidney left, and it was necessary for him to practise his skills in the US, he was an integral part of the “quiet revolution” of majority rule and Independence.

Father Campbell is concerned, however, that persons, who, unlike Sir Sidney, are not famous or wealthy will be lost to history and their contribution to national development also will be lost.

“The workers of the Burma Road Riot: They are our heroes. They laid the foundation for trade unionism in the Bahamas.

“These are the people we need to rescue from obscurity and write about their triumphs, tell their story. These are the leaders of trade unionism in the Bahamas and yet they are not being recognized,” he said.

Father Campbell believes that the recent Queen’s honours when Kerzner International CEO Sol Kerzner received a knighthood was an example of where wealth and status trumped what he sees as a “real contribution” to the country.

“Status and money should not be the deciding factor in who should get the highest honours in the country. It is wrong. There are many Bahamians who are way ahead of the Sol Kerzners. They didn't give money, because they didn't have it; they gave themselves,” Father Campbell said.

Another Bahamian hero who will have to be rescued from obscurity is Dr Joseph Robert Love.

Dr Love was born in Nassau, in 1839 and died in Kingston in 1914.

He was a teacher, priest, medical missionary, army doctor, journalist and newspaper editor, politician, and legislator, freemason and an advocate for black pride. He grew up in Grant’s Town, and was a member of St Agnes Anglican Church. He emigrated to the United States in the 1860s and was ordained a priest in 1877.

He was the first black medical graduate of the University of Buffalo in 1879, and went to Haiti in 1881 as a medical missionary.

While in Jamaica he was the editor of the weekly paper the Jamaica Advocate and was a big influence on Marcus Garvey.

However, Father Campbell said that Dr Love is not what he would call a national hero.

“What has he done to advance the modern day Bahamas? A part of this challenge needs to be to get Bahamians to write our stories.

“We have to be careful to say that not everyone is a hero. Just because someone did something outstanding he is a hero?

“We have examples of how to go about this from other countries: There is a lot to learn from Jamaica and Trinidad,” he said.

However, Mr Carter believes that Dr Love is one of the many unsung heroes in the Bahamas.

“He is better known in Jamaica than the Bahamas. He helped Marcus Garvey form his consciousness.

“He is one of the most brilliant Bahamians ever made, and he was a (parishioner at) St Agnes.

“That is the same place I go to church.


“The worst part about that is no one knows him; we are not taught who he was. If you were a Jamaican you would know who he is. I tell young people when they listen to Bob Marley, a Bahamian person influenced that message. But that is not supported by other things that happen in the community (by the cultural narrative). They say okay fine that is what you say, but we don't celebrate him in the country. That is the great tragedy in the Bahamas,” he said.

Mr Wisdom said that Dr Love is not a national hero simply because he does not fit in the Cultural Commission's definition.

“People who have been obscured from the national consciousness because we have done a poor job at education, may have to be classified as hero and not national hero.

“Dr Love would fall into that category,” he said.

Perhaps Sir Stafford Sands personifies this type of person.

Mr Wisdom said, however, he would oppose Sir Stafford being installed as a national hero.

“Sir Stafford represents a division from the philosophy of one Bahamas. He is perceived by most Bahamians as having been a racist. Sir Stafford went to his death bed in self imposed exile in Spain, and in my opinion the mere fact that he did not reconnect with his home denies him the opportunity. He abandoned the country and went into self imposed exile during a period of transition when the country needed all hands on board as we tried to move this new Bahamas upward, onward and forward together. In my opinion, I don't care how bad things get, as a nationalist I am going to stay here and fight. Once you abandon your country you give up the right to be defined as a national hero.

“I do not know (if he was a racist on his death bed), but I do know he did not reconnect with the country. The view that I hold and many hold is that he simply could not accept the fact that the country would be administered by black Bahamians despite the fact Sir Lynden and Sir Milo demonstrated and were consistent in a one Bahamas position.

“There was never any question raised about Sir Roland Symonette as a national hero. He was a contributor and did not abandoned this country. Founding fathers and national heroes don't give up on a country and expect in years to come to be acknowledged as a national hero,” he said.

However, the explanation of why Sir Stafford left for Europe is not so simple.

Around the 1967 election Sir Stafford was not a well man. A chain smoker, he suffered from a serious bronchial condition.

In April of that year he spent six weeks in Miami for treatment of his problem. That was three months before he announced his resignation from the House.

Up until the day of his resignation from the House, Sir Stafford, who had given up his law practice mainly for health reasons, had every intention of spending his winters in the Bahamas.

Five years after his resignation Sir Stafford died of cancer in the London Clinic in England. The National Heroes Bill and the National Honours Bill were passed by parliament, but were not brought into force. A date for implementation was never published.

What about people who are not obscure and have undeniably helped to make the modern Bahamas what it is, but simply were not liked.

Mr Carter said what disturbs him most about the modern Bahamas is the ignorance of and lack of appreciation for Bahamian culture.

“We have a very strong and viable culture that is not being protected, taught and practised. What course in Bahamian history and culture did you have? Look at our country today; look at how many kids are growing up completely devoid of any knowledge of and appreciation for the country they live in,” he said.

The former MP said that the Bahamas is in danger of losing a heritage that really stands out.


“ It is a beautiful heritage. We have everything to be proud of to make us truly Bahamian,” he said.

However, Mr Wisdom pointed out that all Bahamians have some foreign parentage as you go down the various generations.

“There is no such thing as true, true Bahamians.

“We all came here on ships, so being Bahamian really needs to be defined as a person who acknowledges the Bahamas as his or her home, who demonstrates an undying love for the country and who is prepared to give his or her all for the Bahamas for the entirety of their life.

“That is a real Bahamian,” he said.

July 11, 2010


Bahamian Women and their Independence in an Independent Bahamas

Bahamian women and their independence
Tribune Staff Reporters:

IN AN Independent Bahamas, women, in terms of numbers, represent the most powerful voting block in the country.

Today, there are on average 17,000 more women registered to vote than men.

But in the years since July 10, 1972, and in the nearly 50 years since November 1962 when Ivy Mackey became the first woman to vote in polling station number one in the district of the City of Nassau, have Bahamian women really become empowered?

The country has had female Presidents of the Court of Appeal and Senate, Members of Parliament, Governor Generals, heads of companies, schools and even a Deputy Prime Minister.

Regardless of these material advancements, however, women still do not have the same power to confer citizenship on their offspring as do Bahamian men and in the Bahamas it is still legal to rape your wife.

The truth is the Bahamian woman’s vote is directed in large part by agendas established by men.

Male heads of churches direct their majority female congregations how to vote, male party chairmen, leaders and deputy leaders still direct the programmes of political parties and the legislative agenda of the country when in government.

Perhaps two out of three of the most significant legislative advancements regarding women’s rights, post Independence, the Marital Rape Bill and the 2002 referendum, which would have continued women on the path toward further equality with their male counterparts were shot down because of a lack of support from women themselves.

The third, the 2002 amendments to the Inheritance Bill, which among other things, granted the right to all children born in or out of wedlock to a parent’s assets was passed after much fuss in January of that year.

The Inheritance Bill, unlike the referendum, was not offered for public vote, but it did have the full political will of the government of the day behind it, unlike the case of the Marital Rape Bill.

Mrs Janet Bostwick, the first woman elected to the House of Assembly, said she was shocked when women voted against the referendum.

“I could not believe it when women voted against the referendum. I was absolutely amazed. I think our women were betrayed by those who politicised this most important issue,” she said.

The PLP opposition said if they were elected to office they would bring the issue of constitutional reform back to the people in 90 days, according to Mrs Bostwick. She said that promise was never fulfilled.

“That was the most serious backward step to the advancement of women in my own memory,” said Mrs Bostwick.

“The issue of women's rights was made a totally partisan political issue, and unfortunately that has worked to the disadvantage of women. To put it very bluntly, the PLP were able to persuade their women not to support the referendum; it would have given the FNM too much power. One of the most painful things for me was listening to arch fundamentalist religious people who preached about the supremacy of men at the town hall meetings, and other events to discuss the referendum,” said Mrs Bostwick.

The referendum if passed would have made it possible for a Bahamian woman married to a foreigner to pass on her Bahamian nationality to her children just as a Bahamian man married to a foreigner gives his nationality to his children.

The failure of the implementation of the citizenship and marital rape laws has led many to wonder how far ahead the women’s movement – started by Mrs Mary Ingraham whose group launched the decade long struggle for women to get the vote— has moved.

One cannot blame those who conclude that the suffragette movement in the Bahamas was highjacked by those who saw women gaining the vote as a path to majority rule and political power rather than having anything to do with the advancement of women.

In essence, there exists no movement to advance women’s rights in the Bahamas today because there was never one to begin with.

“The women’s vote was important to get numbers, to get equality for black people. (Equality for women) was not so much a topic. The women had to vote to get a majority rule government that would do more for blacks. It was about the vote numbers, so the struggle for women did not continue. It was gone and it is still gone,” said Wallis Carey, daughter of Eugenia Lockhart, former secretary of the PLP Women’s Branch.

Mrs Lockhart was one of the architects of the 1950s women’s suffrage movement in the Bahamas.

As a college student Mrs Carey assisted her mother by typing the final 1960 petition that was presented to the Secretary for the Colonies in England.

“Women are figureheads now. We are tokens. We don’t have any power base anywhere. The women in the PLP were not thinking that way so they didn’t take it any further. They were thinking about majority rule with the best party that they saw, which was the PLP. There wasn’t much (desire) to take the movement further,” she said.

Mrs Carey said the platform of the PLP leading into the 1962 election, when women were first allowed to vote was “more jobs, more education for everybody.”

She said women’s rights were not advanced as a separate cause, and the necessity for women to vote was based on the racism that existed and not a view that women were discriminated against based on gender.

The year 1960 proved to be a turning point for the movement. The PLP members in the House rallied behind the movement pledging their support in public and in the House of Assembly.

“Sexual harassment was not a topic. Do we want to have more women leadership? That was not a topic for discussion. And it was a while before (the PLP) looked at including women in the Senate and in the power structure,” said Mrs Carey.

The PLP lost the 1962 election, even with the women’s vote. Parliamentary records showed there were 73,907 registered voters at the time. No records exist as to the gender distribution.

They went on to win in 1967.

Mrs Carey said after the defeat, the feeling was that “there was still a lot of work to do; they have to organize more” and then women were only involved “because of the numbers.”

“There is no source of power for women. The women in the suffrage movement were instrumental, they worked very hard, but they didn’t change the country in terms of the power structure,” said Mrs Carey.

Mrs Bostwick, said that the suffrage movement was for the purpose of securing the right to vote and no other issue with regard to women’s rights were raised primarily because many of the suffragists took pains to disassociate themselves from feminists. Conservatism was the ruling mentality at the time.

“Those women who stood out and tried to move aggressively for equal rights were sometimes called derogatory names. They were associated with the feminist movement and that was not something which was looked at in the main with kindness. Even today, and I say this with great pain, there is still some opposition, from some women, to the idea of true equality,” she said.

On some level, even in the late 1950s, the fight for women’s voting rights found itself divided along political lines.

In the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the Bahamas, two women lead the pack, Mrs Mary Ingraham and Dr Doris Johnson.

While Mrs Ingraham, who was a member of the UBP, and her small group of women, were the first to launch the suffragette movement, Dr Doris Johnson on returning from her studies abroad moved in and took over the group after all the spade work had been done. At the time there were those who would say that Mrs Ingraham’s movement, which had succeeded in getting the women’s vote, was highjacked by Dr Johnson of the PLP. Twenty-five years of the PLP government’s retelling of the story of the movement has overshadow — and almost obliterated — Mrs Ingraham’s efforts and achievements in the minds of subsequent generations.

A good example of this was a 1992 advertisement published by the PLP when reference was again made to Dr Johnson and the women’s vote. Ms Ena Hepburn was quoted in the ad as saying: “I remember when women would not vote. That is why I sat down in Bay Street with the late Dame Dr Doris Johnson on Black Tuesday.”

Black Tuesday was on April 27, 1965 by that time Mrs Ingraham had won her fight for women and Bahamian women went to the polls for the first time in 1962.

Post Independence, Mary Ingraham was put in a position where she had to, or certainly felt she had to, fight to have her contribution to women’s suffrage remembered.

The women’s rights movement in the Bahamas spanned little over a decade, from 1950 to 1962.

According to Mrs Ingraham in a 1975 letter to The Tribune— which was a strong supporter of her movement — the first tangible effort made to get women the right to vote was in 1950 when she and a small group circulated a petition typed by Althea Mortimer.

Only 550 signatures were obtained by the late Dr HW Brown, Wilfred Toote, Gladys Bailey, Mary Ingraham and her five children.

The petition was turned over to and presented by AF Adderley and Dr CR Walker to the House of Assembly and Legislative Council.

According to Mrs Ingraham this petition was left on the shelf to die.

A new petition was circulated and in 1958 it was presented to Parliament by Independent MP Gerald Cash in support of the enfranchisement of women in the Bahamas.

The petition contained more than 2,500 signatures.

According to Mrs Ingraham, although she was a UBP, she thought it best that Mr Cash, the independent House member, was the best choice to advance the petition because she did not wish to impose her political beliefs, “not even on my children.”

The vote, which permitted women the vote was taken in February of 1961. While the House passed the bill, the majority UBP beat down the opposition PLP’s attempts to have the bill become effective immediately.

The bill was originally designed to become effective on January 1, 1963, two months after the election which would be held on November of 1962.

Instead the parties compromised to have the bill go into effect on June 30, 1962.


In a move that apparently caught the PLP by surprise the UBP agreed on an amendment that would make it possible for women to sit in the House of Assembly.

Women would not have a seat in the House until 20 years later when Mrs Bostwick was elected as the first female member of the Assembly.

In a November 1975 broadcast during Women’s Week, radio ZNS credited Dr Doris Johnson with getting the vote for Bahamian women.

In November of 1975 Mrs Ingraham wrote a letter published in The Tribune where in essence she pointed out that Dr Johnson only joined the movement in 1958 when she returned from university and the dynamic speech about women’s rights delivered to House members in 1959 was Dr Johnson’s most significant contribution to the effort.

“This is the only part Dr Johnson played in the vote for women,” Mrs Ingraham said.

Perhaps it could be said that Mrs Ingraham’s statement came more out of hurt and anger than fact, but she did feel that her contribution was being diminished because of her political ideology.

In the end Mrs Carey said that the illusion that women are equal to men in Bahamian society is propped up because of “materialism.”

“That is a poor replacement for real autonomy and power. We don’t own anything. We don’t even talk of owning anything. There is a lot to be done and it is not enough to just observe an international day for women,” she said.

Mrs Carey said she thinks the architects of women’s suffrage would have supported the marital rape bill and the right for women to pass on their citizenship.

“The women’s movement has died. I never even hear about it anymore. People talk like all of our issues are the same. There is no movement. We don’t even identify the issues any more that women have.

“We have given up everything to materialism, and we have accepted the worst part of materialism. That was the big thing for the PLP; they said they would make people have more. Have more what? We see materialism through the party we choose. We look at which government is going to give us more material things,” said Mrs Carey.

However, Mrs Bostwick said that there have been many advancements since the 1950s that have helped level the playing field for women, which people take for granted.

“You are talking about a society where women in the public service had to resign if they became pregnant, married or not married. You are talking about a society where even if you were allowed to stay on the job, it did not pay you when you were pregnant. You are talking about a society that did not permit you to divorce for anything but adultery, a society where if a wife committed adultery she was excluded from any share in the matrimonial property. There were so many things which happened to change the status of women in society that I feel there has been great, great advancement,” said Mrs Bostwick.

However, Mrs Bostwick admitted that there is a need to go further.

“Look at the thing with just the inheritance laws. They were so discriminatory against women. You started with a woman if she died without a will her husband to the exclusion of her children and everybody else took all of her personalities (money in the bank, shares, jewellery, furniture, car, clothes). He had a life interest in all of her real property, so that even if she had acquired the house herself and it was in her sole name, he had the right on her death, even if he was estranged, to move in, with his possible mistress, and even put out her children. You had a situation where women could not inherit from their father, mother or parents if there was one lawful son. They could not get anything. All of these things were hurtful laws,” she said.

These laws Mrs Bostwick mentions changed because of the agitation of women, in general and a lot of help from Mrs Bostwick specifically.

Mrs Bostwick was in the attorney general’s office from 1957 to 1974; it was a part of her work, so she was very aware of the laws and painfully aware of the plight of mothers.

“On Friday’s you had a court that dealt with maintenance matters. There was a tamarind tree in the square by the library and there were lines of women waiting under the tree to get the pittance of the maximum of $8.40 per child per week. That was the maximum by law. That remained until I was in Parliament,” she said.


If women were to remove politics out of, well their own politics, they might be able to achieve more for themselves. Mrs Bostwick said that if women banded together, they would be able to get everything they needed for themselves.

“The thing is women must themselves want equality. They must truly want it. They will not truly want it unless they are personally feeling the pinch. You will find that you have the most talk about inequality when you are talking about not receiving equal pay for equal work. And it hurts me when I hear some leading professional women, who went against the referendum, now getting on the bandwagon and saying that we must move in the direction of equal pay.

“Philosophical equality is not something the grassroots will be concerned about. It is difficult for people to relate to that and rally around a cause to create change. There needs to be a process of education. You have to start teaching from the school level that we are equal and that discrimination is wrong,” she said.

Mrs Bostwick said that there are not many laws that need to be changed.

“The constitution must outlaw discrimination and it has to be so framed that women and men have equal rights with respect to discrimination on the grounds of sex. The Penal Code needs to be changed. Beyond that most of the changes are social and cultural,” she said.

July 11, 2010