Haitians in The Bahamas must help with smuggling problem
Based on eyewitness testimony it appears that Haitians died in the journey that ended near Mangrove Cay, Andros on Saturday. A man who identified himself as the captain of a Haitian sloop that ran aground in the area told authorities that four passengers jumped ship at the start of the voyage and 12 others drowned at some point during their seven-day journey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said Monday. No bodies were recovered and search and rescue efforts were suspended.
There is no proof to support the claim by the captain, but it is common for Haitians to die in these smuggling operations. Eleven Haitians drowned in June in Abaco in a smuggling operation.
Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. It was also devastated by an earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 200,000 people. Many of its people live in desperate circumstances and want to leave.
Many Haitians have historically thought of The Bahamas as a relative land of opportunity to escape to. They assumed more jobs existed here compared to Haiti. The Bahamas was thought of as less violent.
The Bahamas of today, though, is not as it was 15 years ago. The unemployment rate was last measured here at just under 16 percent. We have had four murder records in five years.
Despite Haiti’s historical problems, a turnaround is underway. Many Bahamians are not aware of this. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Haiti’s economy grew by 5.6 percent in 2011 and it is projected to grow by 7.8 percent in 2012 and 6.9 percent in 2013.
This is good news for Haiti. This is good news for The Bahamas. Haitians who live here should inform their brothers and sisters at home that The Bahamas is struggling with its own economic problems since the financial crisis of 2008. Jobs are not plentiful as they were in the boom days of the late 1990s. Coming here is no guarantee of a peaceful or prosperous life.
Bahamian inner cities have become increasingly violent in recent years. Successive governments have fought to reduce the high crime rate in New Providence, but no permanent solutions have been arrived at thus far.
Haitians should be excited at the turnaround in their country. Rather than risking their lives on a dangerous passage for an uncertain future in a country with its own problems, Haitians should look to be part of what appears to be a sustained period of growth in a country we are all cheering for.
Countries become great when their citizens make them great. Haitians can make Haiti great again.
August 29, 2012