Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nassau besieged?

The dignity and equality of gays and lesbians
Front Porch

Recall the hysteria and hate-drenched anti-gay demonstrations of the previous two decades protesting gay and lesbian visitors cruising to the country to experience our Bahamian hospitality.

Some of the gay-bashers invoked the narrative of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.  Genesis, like other books of the Hebrew Scriptures, consists of numerous literary genres and devices.

Genesis contains not one, but two, creation accounts, literary renderings crafted by ancient scribes to convey theological meaning.  Today, literalists still believe these to be factual accounts, though the science of evolution demonstrates otherwise. Sodom and Gomorrah recalls an ancient Jewish prohibition against sodomy and homosexuality.  Today, modern science offers compelling facts and hypotheses on the nature, complexity and range of human sexuality.

Still, literalists have the right to entertain fact-free opinions on the genesis of life and the genesis of homosexuality much as racists of old utilized Christian Scripture, pseudo-science and bigotry to justify slavery and white supremacy.

Eventually, the homophobes will be written into history as intellectual cave dwellers whose primitive world views were exorcised by the evolution of human ethical consciousness and moral progress.


Those who marched fervently in support of segregation, even in living memory for Jim Crow in America and apartheid in South Africa, have seen the judgement of contemporaries and of history on their antediluvian theologies and philosophies.

Which brings us back to the anti-gay demonstrations at the City of Nassau, and to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

While reflections on sodomy and homosexuality as referenced in Genesis 19 dominate the exegesis of the story in various quarters, there is another theological interpretation.

For various theologians and preachers, inhospitality is the great or greater moral failing at Sodom and Gomorrah.  This insight seemed lost on the unwelcoming protestors who gathered downtown, targeting a select group of visitors in a demonstration of inhospitality, and incivility by some.

It is revealing that the clerical clique and their claque of crusaders were more moved to demonstrate against gays in port for a few hours, than they have been to protest the sometimes orgy of nubile and half-naked, stoned and drunk, fornicating and gambling, straight spring breakers in town for several weeks.

Apparently, certain favorite “sins” give some moralists goose bumps, titillating and inflaming their moral loins more than other sins.  But back to our story.  It is April 14, 1998.  Here is’s read of the day’s events: “Besieged by gay cruise ships, Bahama residents held a protest Tuesday at the arrival of yet another gay ‘Love Boat’ on its shores. About 300 demonstrators from a group called Save the Bahamas crowded Prince George Wharf where the cruise ship SeaBreeze [sic] had docked with its 800 lesbian passengers.”

Nassau besieged?  One might have imagined from this report, that the pleasant sounding SeaBreeze, populated mostly by lesbian passengers armed with sun tan lotion, greenbacks and piƱa coladas, was another battleship in a gay armada intent on laying siege to “Bahama residents”.


Thankfully, the cruise did not prove even as threatening as the exaggerated story of Colonel Andrew Deveaux Jr.’s brief siege of Nassau in 1783.  Still, there was a scuffle of sorts as reported by, revealing who was actually besieged and by whom: “When eight of the SeaBreeze passengers decided to brave the demonstration and headed toward the straw market, the crowd turned and headed toward them, yelling ‘Go back. Go back.’  Five of the women turned and headed back toward the ship; three charged ahead, and were followed for several blocks by a group of six protesters.”

Some years later, in 2004, following another gay cruise, and in response to Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, then President of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) Rev. Dr. William Thompson offered a sermonette from the Mount of Ridiculousness.

Wilchcombe was quoted in The Tribune: “We live in a democracy, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and expression thereof.”  Reacting in a statement carried by this journal, the cleric attacked long-established democratic principles and the Constitution.

“Rev. Thompson said while The Bahamas is a democratic nation, ‘It is not true that everyone is entitled to express their opinion in any way they wish, this would result in anarchy...’”

Yes, there are limits to freedom of speech.  Yet he continued: “‘A democracy, while safeguarding the concerns of the minority, is committed to carrying out the will of the majority of its citizens.’”

He got it partially right.  But the part he got wrong, both on ethical and constitutional grounds, is appalling, the mindset of a theocrat, and not a democrat living in a pluralistic society.

Slavery was the will of the majority in the United States for centuries.  This did not make it moral that the majority approved of the denial of rights to a minority.

The tyranny of the majority has led to the persecution of minorities throughout history, including Christians, as testified to by St. Paul and the early church.  Religious freedom is dependent on the protection of minority rights, rights denied still in countries where Christians are being killed today.

If the world subscribed to Thompson’s views, the suppression of the views and expressions of religious freedom by Christian minorities would be acceptable in countries where there are non-Christian majorities.

Thompson, seemingly happily ignorant of the Constitution, thundered: “More importantly, we are not dealing with an opinion, we are instead dealing with a deviant lifestyle that is offensive to the majority of Bahamians.”

Whatever Thompson may think of the manner in which gays and lesbians live, they have as much right to voice their opinions, express their love, form associations and enjoy the freedoms that he enjoys.  While many find his opinions and actions idiotic and offensive, he has a right to appear foolish and uninformed.


Notice Thompson’s cleverly ignorant conflation of “opinion” and “lifestyle”.  What he seems to be saying to gays and lesbians is that their freedom of speech should be limited, that they should shut the hell up, because the majority doesn’t like their lifestyle.

Disturbingly, Thompson is now executive chairman of ZNS, overseeing a state broadcast media supposedly committed to a free exchange of viewpoints.

Bishop Sam Greene, another former BCC president, notoriously intimated that if the government sanctioned gay and lesbian marriages, he would follow the example of Guy Fawkes, who, in 1605, attempted to blow up Parliament.

While Thompson appeared unhappy with gays and lesbians expressing themselves, this writer does not recall his publicly rebuking Greene for comments that may have constituted an incitement to violence and anarchy.

Much of today’s rabidly anti-gay agenda is led by those whose world views are pre-modern and pre-Enlightenment, when gays and lesbians were persecuted and demonized, before the protection of minorities was codified in the rule of law and when the likes of Guy Fawkes were stoking verbal and literal fireworks.

The virulent anti-gay crusaders were historic throwbacks even when they were demonstrating their inhospitality to gay cruise ship passengers.  Today, as gays and lesbians are increasingly seen first and foremost as fellow human beings, and not as objects of derision, the homophobes appear even more dated.

Gays and lesbians are neighbors and co-workers; politicians, police officers and pastors; volunteers and role models; heroes and heroines, friends and family; parents and life-partners, who are owed mutual respect and basic equality by right of their citizenship as children of God and as fellow Bahamians.

The considerable shift in global consciousness continues to move in the direction of upholding the value and dignity of human beings based on the content of one’s character, and not the happenstance of race, gender or sexual orientation. , bahamapundit

February 28, 2013


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Bahamas needs to determine its position on the death penalty ...says Bahamas Bar Council President, Ruth Bowe-Darville

'Time To Decide On Death Penalty'

Tribune Staff Reporter

BAHAMAS Bar Council President, Ruth Bowe-Darville, is calling on the Bahamas to take a firm legislative position on the death penalty.

Her remarks came during a meeting of the Bahamas Constitutional Commission yesterday where she represented the Council’s position on several areas of constitutional reform.

“The country needs to determine its position on the death penalty,” Mrs. Bowe-Darville said, “We are being urged on by several international agencies that firmly pronounce against the death penalty and then there is the legal precedent of Pratt and Morgan vs The Attorney General of Jamaica that has reduced many sentences to life imprisonment due to the inordinate and excessive delay in carrying out a lawful sentence.”

She also warned against the haste of implementing the Caribbean Court of Justice to replace the Privy Council as the most influential body to advise the head of state of the nation.

“Regrettably, there is no firm resolve by Bar members for replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice. However, whether we sign on to the CCJ or retain the Privy Council, the decisions of our final court must be observed by the Executive as well as the judicial and legislative branches of our country, so that respect for the Rule of Law is entrenched in our culture. Perhaps, now is not the time for the CCJ,” she said.

Mrs. Bowe-Darville also called for the establishment of several new appointments with the Judicial system, including an Office of an Independent Director of Public Prosecutions, an Office of Public Defender, and the establishment of an Ombudsman.

“In re-assessing the needs of our country and being forever cognizant of the prevailing social and economic ills in our society, the introduction of an Office of an Independent Director of Public Prosecutions as an entrenched provision of our Constitution is welcomed. Such an office should in principle alleviate the burden on the Office of the Attorney General in the area of criminal prosecution. However, such an office must be given the autonomy to perform the task, sans political interference,” she said.

“Further the proposition should also extend to the establishment of an Office of Public Defender. Such a department could ultimately be a boost to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, it will complement it. It is proposed there be a recommendation for the establishment of an Ombudsman. This office, like that of the independent Director of Public Prosecutor, will require the appointment of a person with a significant degree of independence who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing the complaints of maladministration or violation of rights. The Ombudsman generally seeks to promote and protect human rights,” she said.

February 26, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Flip-floppers and double talk in Bahamian Politics

Double talk

An up close look at duplicity and hypocrisy in nat’l politics

Guardian News Editor

The political landscape is forever changing and with it comes shifting political positions.

For some politicians, their views on issues of national import evolve due to certain developments that cast new light on these matters.  In some circumstances, this is quite understandable.

But for others, their positions shift based on political expediency and opportunity.

These are the flip-floppers, the hypocrites, the duplicitous bunch who may be stunned perhaps if confronted with past statements lined up against current views.

Very rarely do their words come back to haunt them; not because the evidence of their duplicity is not there, but because it often remains buried on the dusty pages of newspapers that are clipped and stored away.

These politicians depend on the short memories of the electorate, perhaps, or the failure of media to do a better job at making them accountable for their utterances and actions.

The examples of double talk stretch back years, and really take little digging to be exposed, especially in the technological age.

In opposition, some politicians latch on to pet issues — crime, the environment, education and others.  But in government, they sometimes lose whatever ‘passion’ they might have had for these issues.

To be clear, the flip-floppers are not unique to any one party or philosophical grouping. They are on every side.  They use words to score points, assuage fears and grab headlines.

Often, they change positions based on what side of the political aisle they may be on at the time.  In opposition, a politician’s view on a subject may differ entirely from the view he or she might express in government.

The archives of The Nassau Guardian reveal more than enough flip-flopping, duplicity and hypocrisy to write many weeks of articles.

Consider these few examples:

Dr. Bernard Nottage on the Coroner’s Court

In opposition, Dr. Nottage was a passionate advocate for crime victims and strong in his concerns about alleged police abuse.

He seemed to have little trust in the Corner’s Court or in the police to investigate themselves.

But as national security minister, his tone is different.

After two men died in police custody just over a week ago, Dr. Nottage cautioned the public against making assumptions until all the facts are known.

“I can’t rush to judgment,” he told reporters.  “I hold the commissioner of police directly responsible for the conduct of his officers.  He knows that, he reports to me regularly and my experience thus far has been where justifiable complaints have been made against police officers, the commissioner has been resolute in pursuing the matter to its lawful conviction.”

Further expressing confidence in the police and the coroner to do their job, Dr. Nottage said, “It is my view that even without the coroner’s involvement if the matter could be investigated by police that a thorough job would be done.

“But I don’t think that would satisfy the public and so that is why the coroner, who is an independent institution, is very important in this matter.”

In September 2012, after The Nassau Guardian reported on several fatal police shootings, Nottage said criminals cannot expect to brandish weapons at police without facing consequences.

In December 2010, he was not a minister.  Back then he expressed little faith in the police and in the Coroner’s Court.

On December 1, 2010, he called for an independent public inquiry into the death of Shamarco Newbold, a 19-year-old who was killed by police.

“It is not good enough to refer it to the Coroner’s Court, Mr. Speaker,” Nottage said in the House of Assembly.

“Neither is it good enough for there to be an internal inquiry on the part of the police.”

These days, it is good enough as far as Nottage is concerned.

As an aside, Nottage has yet to use his position of power to push for ‘Marco’s Law’ or the establishment of a sex offenders’ register, things he called for while in opposition, after the murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer in September 2011.

“I believe that out of this sad event will come new policies and perhaps even new legislation... possibly a Marco's Law.  I shall push for that," he vowed back then.

The legislation would seek to strengthen the penalties associated with child molestation, he said.

Perhaps Dr. Nottage will use his weight before the end of this term to push for the things he called for in opposition.

Darron Cash and BTC

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash has more than one example of being a flip-flopper, but for the purpose of this piece, I will focus on just one.

After Prime Minister Perry Christie told reporters last week that the government is considering appointing a select committee to examine the controversial 2011 sale of 51 percent of the shares of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC), Cash lashed out in a statement.

He said, “The suggestion that [Christie] wants a probe of the BTC sale to Cable and Wireless first evokes disbelief, then laughter and pity”.

Cash then urged the government to “bring it on”.

He said probing BTC would be a “meaningless journey” that would waste taxpayer dollars.

Cash also accused Christie of trying to deflect attention away from his “nine months of colossal failure and ineptitude”.

And he said the prime minister was attempting to tarnish the legacy of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

Stunning words from a man who was so critical of the BTC deal back in 2011 that he wrote a lengthy article on why the deal was a bad one.

In fact, Cash himself urged then Prime Minister Ingraham to “take the Cable and Wireless/LIME deal back to the drawing board and design a better deal”.

Cash wrote, “I disagree with the government’s proposed action.  I believe it is wrong for the country, this decision to sell the country short.

“It is a betrayal of future generations, and like a bad stock on BISX — in which you have little confidence — the government is selling the next generation (my generation) short.”

In that piece, Cash seemed to have suggested that the deal would have reflected poorly on Ingraham’s legacy.  His tone has changed.

How could Darron Cash expect anyone to take him seriously?

If it is the FNM’s position that Christie’s contemplation of a probe is laughable or evokes pity, Cash should have been the last person to say so.

His position on the BTC deal was clear at the time he stated it.

Defending himself yesterday, Cash said, “As to my personal position regarding the sale of BTC, let me make one thing abundantly clear to the chairman of the PLP; my position on the sale of BTC has absolutely nothing to do with whether the present government should waste public money on a meaningless inquiry into that sale.”

The mid-year budget statement

This week, the Christie administration will present its mid-year budget statement, revealing adjustments in spending and providing a progress report on the state of public finances and the economy.

The practice of presenting the statement was instituted by the Ingraham administration, and every year during the debate that followed, the PLP’s position was that it was a waste of time.

In a statement on February 23, 2011, the PLP said the mid-year budget was “a waste of time, a public relations sham like so much of what this government does by sleight of hand”.

It was the message of the PLP during each debate of the mid-year budget under Ingraham.

For example, during debate in the Senate on March 16, 2009, then Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson repeated what her colleagues had to say in the House.

“The mid-year budget review is a waste of time, staff resources and money,” she opined. “The information in this mid-year budget could have been given in a one man press conference.”

A few days earlier, then Minister of State for Immigration Branville McCartney defended the Ingraham administration for bringing the mid-year budget.

“Our country should be forever grateful to our visionary prime minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham, for having the fore thought to introduce this concept of a mid-year budget report to Parliament,” McCartney said.

“…This exercise is critical towards our government’s effort to encourage and promote accountability, transparency, best financial practices and proper budget planning”.

This year, the mid-year budget statement will apparently not be a waste of time because the PLP is bringing it.

Such is politics I suppose.

Unemployment numbers

The Department of Statistics recently released new unemployment numbers that show the unemployment rate in The Bahamas decreased slightly from 14.7 percent to 14 percent.

The latest survey was conducted from October 29 to November 4, 2012. It showed that 165,255 were listed as employed and 26,950 were listed as unemployed.

The governing party welcomed the news, saying it is evidence that Christie and his team are moving the economy in the right direction.

While it was only a slight decrease, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said it was good news nonetheless.

But unlike August 2011, the PLP had no concerns that the Department of Statistics did not count discouraged workers — that group of people who are willing to work but who have become so discouraged they have given up looking for work.

Back then when the department released numbers showing that the rate had dropped from 14.2 percent to 13.7 percent, the PLP criticized statisticians who had conducted the survey.

In fact, the party staged a demonstration. That’s right, a demonstration, placards and all.

During that protest, Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder said unless discouraged workers are added to the unemployment figure, the overall statistics are “misleading”.

At the same protest, Halkitis said the Ingraham administration was excluding those numbers in an effort to show that the economy is turning around.

Why is no one in the PLP demanding that discouraged workers be included in the latest calculation of the unemployment rate?  Could it be because they are now in power?

At the time of that 2011 protest, Director of the Department of Statistics Kelsie Dorsett fired back, saying both the PLP and the FNM too often use the statistics to gain political points.

“Both the Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party have short-term memories when it comes to how the process works,” Dorsett told The Guardian.

With politicians flip-flopping on so many issues like unemployment numbers, it is likely that the electorate will become even more suspicious, jaded, skeptical and untrusting of politicians.

After all, nobody loves a hypocrite.

February 18, 2013


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A prophetic Joe Darville warns:- “…If we continue on the present course, poverty, in its deepest and most abject state ...will be the heritage of our future generation ...unless we as adults in this nation assure every one of our young men and women meaningful occupation they exit the halls of our high schools

Rank Hypocrisy

Jones Bahamas Editorial:

When it comes to hypocrisy-exposed, some of this nation’s religious and other so-called holy ones rank high. Sadly, when it comes to caring for the needs of the captive or bringing succor to those who are being exploited and distressed, these types are nowhere to be found.

By omission they refuse to love their neighbor as they clearly love and adore themselves; thus that river of pain that courses through the lives of so very many Bahamians.

Today, we find distress on the hoof; poverty on the march and any number of men, women and children obliged to live and die under conditions clearly not fit for creatures said to have been made in the image and after the likeness of God Almighty.

Clearly, then, we live in a day, in a time and in a world when things seem to be falling apart is a proposition that is self-evident. Indeed, any reference to the latest breaking news would find story piled upon story as to how this man or that woman has been murdered. On other occasions, the report coming in from the whirlwind speaks to how rage-turned inwards has led this or that troubled person to that dark place where suicide presents itself as the preferred way out of a life suffused with dread, hopelessness and despair.

This is intolerable. We can also tell you that there are occasions when we wake to find ourselves pushed to that place in mind where we feel constrained to note how much certain religious figures have to say about matters such as gay marriage; lesbianism; homosexuality and other such contentiously debated issues. And as the attentive public knows so very well, many of these Church men and others can and do routinely cherry-pick their favorite ‘issues’ for debate, concern and public action. Here the recent brouhaha concerning gambling, gaming and Web-shops comes to mind.

Indeed, we can and do remember the zeal with which they responded to this congeries of issues.
Sadly, similar demonstrated zeal is hardly ever focused on the state of this nation’s youth, the brutal conditions under which they are held when in the so-called protective custody of the state; or for that matter when – perchance – some of them die when in the precincts of this or that police lock-up.

These reverend gentlemen and their bevy of first ladies are hardly ever to be found or seen near any court house as this or that youth man or woman is frog-marched through a justice system which – on occasion – can be unbearably harsh on the poor.

As one of our fellow Bahamians [Joseph Darville] so sagely reminds:-“…Vatican II reminds us that God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice tempered by charity…” As Darville explains: – “… In our use of things we are to regard the external goods we legitimately own not merely as exclusive to ourselves but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as ourselves.

There is then the universal destination of earthly goods and every man has the right to possess sufficient amount for himself and his family…” Much of this seems to have been lost on some of the holier-than-thou folks who would essay designing Bahamian society after their own cramped interpretation of the Word of the Most High King as witnessed in the life and witness of Jesus Christ in that time when the Word became Flesh and dwelled among us.

A prophetic Joe Darville warns:- “…If we continue on the present course, poverty, in its deepest and most abject state, will be the heritage of our future generation unless we as adults in this nation assure every one of our young men and women meaningful occupation as they exit the halls of our high schools.

Without this assurance, we have failed them miserably and have set the stage for future, certain and guaranteed criminal activity… Devoid of financial opportunities for further education and with the scarcity of jobs, they can so quickly lose that pristine grace of youthful enthusiasm and motivation as they tread the beat of the unemployed and the dispossessed…” For some among us this is the reality they now live; thus the murder and thus the rapine and thus that ocean of misery into which so very many men, women and children have been thrown.

The wasteland beckons; thereafter the dread news in the wind and therefore and thereafter the insistent call for each and every Bahamian professing Christ to come on over and help. In the absence of action, nothing remains but the stench of a most rank species of hypocrisy.

February 19, 2013

Bahama Journal

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Poaching is a major problem in The Bahamas ...which must be attacked from every angle... ...$70 million in stolen fishery resources is the annual estimate

Tackling Illegal Fishing


AN official delegation returns to the Dominican Republic next week for more talks on a bilateral agreement to address illegal fishing in Bahamian waters. And the government will soon approve a $200 million investment in patrol boats and port facilities for the Defence Force.
These were the two big take-aways from a meeting with fishermen held at the Defence Force base at Coral Harbour last Friday.
Besides fishermen, wholesalers and marines, the attendees included National Security Minister Bernard Nottage, Marine Resources Director Michael Braynan, and Chet Neymour of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ministers Fred Mitchell and Alfred Gray failed to show up.
The meeting was the result of a consensus among fishermen that poaching is out of control, with Bahamians risking violent confrontation with Dominican fishermen whenever they go to sea.
“Our traps are stolen or destroyed every trip,” said fisherman Keith Carroll, “and if we don’t bring back fish we don’t make any money – we can’t count on a salary like you guys. We are scared to fish in some places because they will attack us. If you don’t do something fast, fishermen will start coming back in body bags.”
According to Minister Nottage, the Defence Force will recruit another 300 marines (bringing total manpower to 1600), activate the $10 million Gun Point base at Ragged Island, improve intelligence and communications capabilities, engage in regional cooperation, and acquire more ships and aircraft.
This is the same $200 million plan drawn up by the previous administration and discussed publicly several times last year. However, in December the prime minister back-pedalled, saying the plan might have to be put on hold due to financial constraints. But on Friday Nottage acknowledged the BDF’s “serious issues with resources” and said the government was now “close to signing off” on the acquisition plan.
Purchased over four years, the vessels would include four inshore patrol craft; four coastal patrol vessels; two offshore patrol vessels; and one landing craft, as well as infrastructural works, logistics and training. Currently, the BDF has six interceptors, three inshore patrol craft, three offshore patrol vessels, several ancillary vessels, and three surveillance aircraft – sometimes used for “executive travel.”
The Bahamian fishing industry has one of the highest values in the region, and the “rape and pillage” of Bahamian fish stocks is considered by many to be one of our greatest national security threats. Michael Braynan, of the Department of Marine Resources, said illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing caused significant damage to the economies of many nations in terms of lost jobs, revenue, and resources.
He pointed to the killing and wounding of several Honduran poachers by the Jamaican Defence Force in 2011, which touched off a diplomatic row between the two countries and led to CARICOM’s issuance of the Castries Declaration. The declaration recognised the important role of fisheries in the region, and agreed on a number of steps to combat illegal fishing, including market-related measures, improved conservation management, and enhanced regional cooperation.
“Poaching is a major problem that must be attacked from every angle,” Braynan said at the meeting, while at the same time noting that foreigners are able to work on Bahamian fishing boats with a work permit or a spousal resident permit.
That is a burning issue for many. Commercial Fishers Alliance President Adrian LaRoda said all fishermen working in the Bahamas should have a photo id including permit numbers if they are foreign. “This should be the first order of business,” he said. “It could be done tomorrow.”
According to Senior Immigration Officer Rudolph Ferguson, the government receives numerous applications for boat mechanics, engineers and even captains, but was no longer issuing work permits – only spousal permits, which allow employment in any sector.
This led to an angry discussion about marriages of convenience, which Nottage acknowledged were difficult to prove. “We need to develop a workable policy on permits,” he said. “There are thousands of permit holders here doing jobs Bahamians can do. We need to create a special unit to look into this, and I promise a sustained effort to implement any useful recommendations.”
Commander Nedly Martinborough, a 28-year BDF veteran, said poaching was a grave national concern, but the BDF had multiple responsibilities, including harbour security, firearms smuggling, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, stolen vessels, and search and rescue operations. He added that 250 poachers had been arrested and deported in 2010, when some $400,000 in fines were collected – “not much return for the resources expended and the damage done,” he admitted.
“We know when and where grouper schools and the Dominican fishermen will always be there so the BDF should patrol those areas at that time. Why aren’t you doing that?” Caroll asked angrily. “Trying to communicate with the Defence Force is like calling Jesus. The southern banks are fished out by the Dominicans year-round. it’s a waste of money to buy new patrol boats if permit holders are talking to poachers. Sometimes the Defence Force says it’s too rough for them to respond while we and the foreign boats are out there working.”
Commodore Roderick Bowe responded by saying the Defence Force had to juggle its limited resources depending on what was happening throughout the archipelago. “We know of the problems and are in dialogue to develop better plans. We have to provide assets all over the Bahamas so there is no way we can just sit in one spot. Don’t give up on us. We hope to have a new communications system installed later this year. We are working on the challenges.”
According to Chet Neymour of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “poaching is at the forefront of our diplomatic efforts. We made several attempts to talk to the Dominicans after ties were established in 1991, but there was no significant movement until 2010 when they wanted our help with trade issues in CARIFORUM. We are also talking to Cuba and the US on ways to improve enforcement, but it takes time.”
He estimated annual losses of some $70 million in stolen fishery resources, but expected this to start trending down once a framework agreement is signed with the Dominican Republic. “We have momentum and a counterproposal on this agreement will be discussed next week. There will also be subsidiary agreements on bilateral fishing issues and military enforcement. The framework agreement will set up a joint commission and work plan with benchmarks and a timeline, which we will be able to review and amend. We have a grand opportunity to make this a watershed moment.”
Mia Isaacs, of the Marine Exporters Association, said the Bahamas had to adapt to changing international standards. “We have no choice. Poaching may cause certification to fail, putting us at disadvantage and hurting the economy. We do not want our fisheries to be depleted and our territorial waters should be sacred. We must work together to agree on solutions to our fishing challenges.”
Isaacs was referring to an initiative is sponsored by local seafood processors in a bid to win endorsement for crawfish exports under the European Union’s new Catch Certification programme. Without this endorsement, which is aimed at reducing the over-exploitation of global fishery resources, Bahamian lobsters will be banned from the EU. And that lucrative market takes about 40 per cent of the 12.5 million lobsters we legally export every year (based on a four-year average), a catch valued at more than $87 million.
EU certification requires that lobsters are received only from licensed vessels using legal methods – meaning that only crawfish of legal size and condition are harvested. All fishery products must be properly documented upon landing, with guarantees that exports are not derived from illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing.
But LaRoda said he did not understand why the Bahamas was making such an effort to go to the Dominican Republic to talk. “The way to get action is to arrest and jail them – then the DR will come to talk to us. We have been talking for years but the DR has never arrested any of their boats. We don’t even have a boundary with them, so why are we talking to them?”
He called for the existing fisheries advisory council to be converted into a statutory body to ensure proper resource management. “The fishing industry supports some 9,000 people here and we are tired of being harassed at sea by the BDF. Whenever we complain about something our ships are boarded multiple times per trip. We don’t fish illegally and we don’t use illegal equipment like hookahs yet the BDF sees hookahs out there all the time and does nothing. We feel like second class citizens in our own country.”
But according to Nottage the government takes poaching very seriously. “We met with people in the DR at all levels from the president down and they are all aware of the problem and had themselves mapped out plans to deal with it. We are satisfied that their response was genuine.”
He also issued a warning. “In recent years most drugs have been reaching the US through Mexico. But since the recent border crackdown we expect that some of this traffic will be redirected through the Bahamas. As a result we may soon have to deploy drones (pilotless observer aircraft) for better detection of illegal activities throughout the archipelago.”
February 13, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Constitutional Referendum Deadline Extended Until November 2013

Authored by:Gena Gibbs
Source:Bahamas Information Services
Date:February 13, 2013

Nassau, The Bahamas -- After taking into account the conservative nature of Bahamians in the face of change, the Constitutional Commission requested that Parliament honour their request for a deadline extension regarding the Commission's report, which must be provided for Bahamians to consume and fully comprehend before the referendum is delivered to them publicly for a national decision. PM Christie puts Bahamians first by allowing the country more time to understand what they are voting to change for their benefit.

"I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that I have acceded to the request of Constitutional Commission," said Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie. He said further that the deadline for the Commission's report has been extended to June 30, 2013 and that the Constitutional referendum planned for this 40th Anniversary of Independence, has been provisionally re-scheduled for late November, 2013.

"These extensions will both encourage and facilitate the widest possible dialogue - and public education - on constitutional reform well in advance of any voting in a referendum. It should be noted, Mr. Speaker, that this weekend past, the Commission launched its own hall-style public consultations with four separate meetings in Grand Bahama. These consultations will extend throughout the Family Islands and New Providence in the coming months. Concurrently with that, the Commission will be continuing to interview persons representing a broad cross-section of interests in our country."

The Prime Minister said it should be noted that the Commission's website is now fully operational and that as a result, members of the public can communicate directly with the Commission by email, in addition to being able to access copies of the Constitution and a wide range of relevant constitutional materials that have been uploaded to the Commission's website.

"I am pleased to further advise that the public can also communicate with the Commission at its office in the Fort Nassau Centre, which is in the British Colonial Hilton's commercial complex, or by calling the Commission's office at 356-7050 or 356-7051; or by writing the Commission at P.O. Box N-7050," said PM Christie.

"Finally, Mr. Speaker, allow me to take this opportunity to publicly recognise the great work that has been performed to date by the Constitutional Commission, all of whose members, are giving generously of their time without any remuneration. They are nonetheless doing so gladly, at great personal sacrifice, in a spirit of patriotic volunteerism that is worthy of emulation."

PM Christie said that this is an extremely important undertaking, one that is vital to the orderly growth and development of our constitutional democracy, and the rights and freedoms we hold so dear. he also said that he would go further and suggest that the process of constitutional reform is vital to the growth and development of our civilisation as a sovereign people.

"I take great heart and encouragement from the excellent work that has been done already, and I have every confidence - as I am sure all honourable members do - that we are definitely on the right track with the process of constitutional reform that is now vigorously underway," said Mr. Christie.

Prior to the announcement of the extension, the Prime Minister read the letter Chairman Mc Sweeney wrote to request the extension that would benefit the Bahamian people with the constitutional education they deserve to understand.

White Paper On Tax Reform To Secure Adequate Revenues For The Future

Authored by: Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie
Source: Ministry of Finance
Date: February 14, 2013

A Value Added Tax Within A Reformed Tax System

In the 2012/13 Budget Communication, the Government announced that it would address the issue of tax reform as a means of broadening the tax base to include both goods and services.  To that end, a White Paper would be prepared and issued to serve as the basis for extensive public discussions and consultations.

The overarching objectives of the tax reform proposals in this White Paper are threefold, namely:
  1. to secure an adequate revenue base in support of modern governance;
  2. to establish a tax structure that promotes economic efficiency and stronger economic growth; and
  3. to make the tax system more equitable.
As a means of achieving these objectives, it is proposed that a Value Added Tax (VAT) be introduced as of July 1, 2014 as part of a fundamental reform of the tax system.  In tandem, we also propose to:
  • effect the eventual reductions in import duty rates that will accompany The Bahamas’ accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO);
  • reduce excise tax rates to compensate for the VAT;
  • eliminate Business Licence Tax as currently structured; and
  • eliminate the Hotel Occupancy Tax.

Comments can be directed to

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Perry Christie - like Hubert Ingraham ...has the chance to write his last chapter... ...Time will pass quickly ...and Christie will soon have to make his choices known

Changing political fates

A restless Bahamian electorate is becoming harder to read

Guardian Associate Editor

After the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) victory in May 2002, Bahamians were in love with their new leader.

Perry Christie could do no wrong.

When he mounted rally podia to the sound of R. Kelly’s “The Storm is Over Now” in that campaign, he was like a loved prophet coming to bring new times to a tired but hopeful people.  He won that general election by a landslide margin.

Five years later Christie and his PLP were defeated.

The man who defeated him was his friend and the prime minister from 1992 to 2002.  Hubert Ingraham came back as the anti-Christie.

While Christie, he argued, was lazy and inadequate, another Ingraham-led government would restore order to The Bahamas.  Ingraham won the 2007 general election.

Five years later, the man who was not good enough to lead was good enough again.  Christie was reinstated as prime minister.

The mood of the electorate in the modern Bahamas is very different than in the Pindling years.  Then, one well-loved leader was able to govern for 25 consecutive years.  Now we have had two consecutive one-term governments, and this latest crew of leaders has run into headwind.

The referendum loss for the PLP, despite the party officially saying it was not on a side, came after it won the 2010 Elizabeth by-election, the 2012 general election and the 2012 North Abaco by-election.  A declaration of upset came so soon after many expressions of support.

Politics and electorate of today

With an electorate now willing to change its mind so quickly, politicians should not take anything for granted.  They should also not misread their mandates.

The 2007 Free National Movement (FNM) government and the current PLP government each won just under 50 percent of the vote in the respective elections that brought them to office.  Both had comfortable margins, but not the overwhelming support that is needed to move controversial policies or legislation alone.

This may have been the fundamental problem with the gambling referendum.  A party with less than 50 percent of the support of the people moved forward with a vote on a divisive issue to a volatile electorate against established stakeholders such as the church.  Considering the modern Bahamian electorate as the same as the Pindling voters would cause miscalculation.

Fewer and fewer Bahamians love the PLP or the FNM.  Fewer and fewer Bahamians believe that our political class has the best interest of the people at heart.  There is suspicion and anger.  There is a belief that many simply want to lead in order to dispense the assets of the state to friends, lovers and associates.

The people are not innocent victims in this, however.  Assuming politicians to be modern pirates seeking loot, many Bahamians align themselves with whomever just for the time in order to get their contacts or their jobs.  Cynicism has set in.

When enough people feel they have not gotten theirs from the crew they voted for, they send for the others only to facilitate self-interest.

Navigating treacherous waters

The current mood of voters presents an interesting set of problems for the people who run the ‘Gold Rush’ administration.

For Christie, if he intends to retire before the end of this term it is easy and simple.  Wait for his full pension and then ride off into the sunset an even richer man – one who will always be taken care of by the state.  Politically speaking, he needs to do nothing but sit and wait.

But for the group including Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis and Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, men who want to be prime minister, it is crucial that the method is found to satisfy enough members of a cynical electorate to ensure the PLP wins again.

If Christie does go before the end of this term – and I don’t just assume he will – he may find the wannabe prime ministers in his Cabinet increasingly at odds with him.  A departing Machiavellian leader has no real interest in the future of the crew he leaves behind when all of his interests are already taken care of.  He can do as he pleases in his final days, making moves that are not necessarily in the best interest of them.

The would-be heirs will increasingly want to have a more direct hand in policymaking and governance if Christie is leaving because they want to ensure the party can win again, extending their time on the throne.

As the months go by, these men will want to know if the chief is going or staying.  They know that it cannot be assumed that the PLP will just win again, even though the FNM is without money and elements of the Ingraham fan club are tearing down the current party leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis.

To the potential PLP PMs the governing party needs successes.  The governing party does not need debacles such as the failed referendum.

Ingraham’s end may scare the future leaders of the PLP.  He publicly confirmed late in his term that he would run again and seek to be prime minister a fourth time.  Misreading his mandate from 2007 and full of belief that he was loved, Ingraham ran again in tough times and was rejected.  That rejection also swept out many senior FNMs.  Carl Bethel, Tommy Turnquest, Dion Foulkes, Desmond Bannister, just to name a few, may too have been retired for good with Ingraham.

When the boss just does what he wants, he can destroy you too.


It feels like the general election was just a few weeks ago.  It actually is nearing a year since that clash.

These years of the PLP mandate will pass quickly.  And with each passing month, for those who seek to lead the PLP and The Bahamas, it will become increasingly urgent for them to know what Christie intends to do and when he intends to do it.

Our prime ministers are politically all-powerful in their parties.  They can’t be voted out internally.

I wonder what goes on in the mind of the prime minister.  I wonder whether he is tired and wants no more, or if he likes it so much that he just can’t give it up.  I wonder if he supports Brave Davis, his law and business partner, or if he seeks to hand the throne to another.  I even wonder if he has come to conclusions on these matters yet.  Only Christie can answer.

Christie is a wise politician who has seen it all.  He has witnessed up close how in recent years the fates of politicians have changed so dramatically so soon.

He, like Ingraham, has the chance to write his last chapter.  Time will pass quickly and Christie will soon have to make his choices known.

February 11, 2013


Saturday, February 9, 2013

In reality, the Vote Yes lobby lost the gambling referendum because it had a number of powerful forces ranged against it: certain churches ...the official opposition party ...the most successful third party in Bahamian history ...and a former prime minister who commands an enormous personal following

A Victory For The Pharisees

Tribune News Editor
IN botching the gambling referendum, Perry Christie and his Progressive Liberal Party dealt a serious blow to the prospects for liberalism and progress in the Bahamas.
The overwhelming “no” vote did more than ensure gambling remains illegal for Bahamians; it empowered a religious movement that is on a mission to suppress certain personal freedoms and insinuate itself into everything we do – from what we watch on TV, to what happens in our bedrooms.
Forget all the talk of preserving the country’s Christian roots. Those at the forefront of the Vote No movement represent a fundamentalism which harks back to a past that never existed, which seeks to establish something entirely new – a moral police state.
And now, even more than before, the “Save our Bahamas” pastors, the Christian Council, and their followers will believe they have a mandate to push their views on the rest of society.
In reality, the Vote Yes lobby lost the referendum because it had a number of powerful forces ranged against it: certain churches, the official opposition party, the most successful third party in Bahamian history, and a former prime minister who commands an enormous personal following.
And, those who either voted “no” or stayed home, did so for a variety of reasons. Church loyalty was certainly one of them, but there was also party loyalty, resentment that the promised gambling education campaign never materialised, and suspicion the referendum was really a reward for certain web shop bosses who donated to the PLP’s election campaign.
Also, a certain degree of apathy was in hindsight probably inevitable. Many Bahamians who might support legal gambling didn’t see the point of going to the trouble of voting for an activity they already engage in on a daily basis with no hindrance whatsoever.
But the pastors won’t see it that way. To them this will have been a victory for forces of conservatism and coerced conformity – proof that Bahamians overwhelmingly want to live under a religious regime.
Now that gambling is defeated, we can be sure that other pet peeves of the Christian Council will be next in the crosshairs; issues such as homosexuality, the showcasing of “immoral” films, performances by “unchristian” musicians.
We may even have another campaign defending the right of a man to rape his wife.
A few years ago, when the Bill to make marital rape illegal was introduced by the FNM administration, only to be denounced as immoral by the Christian Council, INSIGHT noted that “The public statements of Council members over the past several years have made it clear they feel social progress – defined by most of the western world as having to do with rights and democracy – threatens much of what they hold dear. After all many of them have become exceedingly comfortable in their roles as the self-appointed moral arbiters of the nation.”
Back in 2006, when the Play and Films Control Board banned the film Brokeback Mountain at the request of a group of pastors, local theatre director Philip Burrows said: “You have a group of people who are telling grown men and women what they can and cannot watch. I cannot understand denying people the right to make their own choices.”
Neither could the rest of the world. An Associated Press story about the ban was reprinted by hundreds of newspapers around the world, and brought widespread condemnation down on a country that has nothing to rely on for survival but its international reputation.
Then, as now, it was the government – the very entity charged with safeguarding our reputation – which opened the door to this kind of nearsighted and dangerous fundamentalism.
The fact that the abetment was unintentional this time around is no excuse.
Had there been a proper education campaign as promised, had the arguments for and against casino gambling at least been discussed, or had Mr Christie committed to banning anyone who broke the old gambling laws from ownership in the new industry, things might have been different.
Certainly, he would have neutralised the strongest arguments for voting “no” put forward by his political opponents, thereby making it a real liberals-vs-pastors referendum.
As it was, those of us who support the expansion of rights and personal freedoms were left with an impossible choice: vote “no” and support continued discrimination against Bahamians in their own country, or vote “yes” and run the risk of allowing the government to form a gambling cartel of campaign donors, to the exclusion of all other citizens.
Either way, you were voting against equal rights.
In making it so, Mr Christie and his colleagues are guilty of squandering a priceless opportunity and retarding the cause of progress for who knows how many years to come.
Gambling is in many ways, the last frontier in overcoming our colonial past.
Gambling is in many ways, the last frontier in overcoming our colonial past. It is the modern theatre of our civil rights struggle.
Amid all the moral, economic and other arguments, one fact is undisputed: a foreigner can come to this country and do something a Bahamian cannot.
That is no different from any other form of discrimination, be it assigned bus seats, separate schools, restaurants reserved for a specific group of people.
The Save Our Bahamas crew do have a point in this regard - if we really believe gambling is morally wrong, we should ban it outright, for foreigners as well as locals, and have the courage to suffer the economic consequences of taking a stand against hypocrisy.
The pastors, it should also be said, make no apologies for what they believe and do not hide what they stand for.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Liberal Party, by virtue of its very name, is supposed to be a force for progress and liberalism.
They have a lot of explaining to do.
What do you think?
Email your questions or comments to, or join the conversation at
February 04, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Prime Minister Perry Christie says that he was surprised by the results of the January 28, 2013 gambling referendum

Christie Surprised By Gambling Referendum Results

By Sasha Lightbourne
The Bahama Journal

Prime Minister Perry Christie admitted he was surprised by the results of the gambling referendum last week.

Mr. Christie was speaking to reporters before he headed into his weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.
“Yes I probably was surprised by the outcome in the sense that I thought it would be a much closer election,” he said.

“I was prepared for any outcome and I tried to evidence that. The matter is before the courts now so I won’t speak to that issue but we are prepared for whatever decision is made by the courts.”

Bahamians were asked to vote on two questions – “Do you support the regulation and taxation of web shop gaming” and “Do you support the establishment of a national lottery?”

Prime Minister Christie also refuted the fact that many felt he made a mistake by having the referendum when he did.

“You never make mistakes when you are deepening democracy,” he told reporters.

“I promised before the elections that I would have a referendum. I indicated I had no horse in the race. This thing swirled with controversy and it was what it was. The people voted and I acted upon the vote. It is now a matter for the minister of national security and the attorney general.”

The majority of constituencies across the country voted ‘no’ in both questions.

Up to press time last night 43,393 voted ‘no’ and 28,787 voted ‘yes’.

Bains Town and Grants Town and Centreville were the only constituencies that voted ‘yes’.

According to Acting Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall, ballots from some of the constituencies took up to three hours to recount and added that as the figures rolled in it grew increasingly clear that based on the votes the Bahamians are giving two thumbs down to regulating any form of gambling in the country.

“For question number one the total number of votes, unofficial figures, were 30,767 who voted yes and for the same question those who voted no were 48,012,” he said last week.

“For question number two the yes total is 32,170 and the no votes were 46,961.”
The acting parliamentary commissioner added that the recount is a mandatory requirement set out in the Parliamentary Act.

It did not take very long for the results from last week’s Monday’s gambling vote to be known, coming out just 40 minutes after the polls closed.

February 06, 2013

Jones Bahamas

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Autopsy Report on the January 28, 2013 Gambling Referendum

By Dennis Dames

The so called gambling referendum is history, and a resounding no - is the order of the day.  Punch drunk and shell shocked is the yes crew - as they ridicule the opponents of web shop gaming, and a national lottery.

Who called the game in the first instance, and why were they so persuaded that yes to their questions of legitimizing web shop gaming, and instituting a national lottery would have prevailed at the end of the day?

The intelligence of the Bahamian electorate has been underestimated once more.  It is a known reality that gambling is not a productive enterprise for the masses; especially the poor and financially struggling brothers and sisters.

The number bosses and their millions were no match for a people who are demanding a productive economy where vision, industriousness, hard work,  dedication and the work ethic are the status quo.

The proponents of the gambling referendum questions are now blaming the church and opposition politicians for their scandalous defeat at the polls on January 28, 2013.  They are simply sore losers who believe that democracy is a one way street.

The number kingpins made a dreadful error by proving a partying electorate with food, liquor and good music from start to finish.  They had also tried to use their dirty cash to buy yes votes – to no avail.
The lesson of the gambling referendum is found in the following Aesop quote: Beware that you do not lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.

Caribbean Blog International

Kenred Dorsett, the minister of the environment and housing - said that he could not confirm a date for the oil drilling referendum Prime Minister Perry Christie has yet to make a formal decision on the matter

Dorsett: No timetable for oil referendum

Minister committed, however, to building political consensus prior to vote

Guardian Business Editor

The government has no specific timeline for an oil drilling referendum, according to the Ministry of the Environment.

With the country still buzzing from this week's gambling referendum, many Bahamians are wondering when oil exploration will once again be placed on the radar.

Kenred Dorsett, the minister of the environment and housing, said he could not confirm a date for the referendum, as Prime Minister Perry Christie has yet to make a formal decision on the matter.  However, he did note that the government is seeking to develop a more formal consensus on oil exploration before a vote goes to the people.

"I'm not sure if it will be a summer referendum.  I don't know when it will take place," he told Guardian Business yesterday.  "But I do hope there will be a consensus on the issue.  There are members on the other side that who tell me we should be drilling now.  I think, as a minister responsible, I am mandated to ensue there is a current balance, particularly as we look at those efforts."

He added that the government is "getting to the point" where some of the proposed regulations on how to remodel the industry may come to fruition.  After that, he told Guardian Business there would be a "broad discussion" on the issue of drilling in The Bahamas.

The minister's comments come shortly after business leaders expressed hope that the government would approach the oil drilling referendum "differently" than gambling.

While the "Vote No" campaign was victorious last Monday, observers noted that low turnout and general apathy impacted the democratic process.  The government was frequently criticized for being unclear in the referendum questions and failing to introduce specific legislation to back up the possible legalization of gaming.  The vote also became highly politicized, promoting rival parties to endorse opposing views.

"Oil drilling is not a moral or religious issue, it will be a matter of whether you can explain the economic advantages and technical reasons why the environment can be protected," said Richard Coulson, a well-known financial consultant.  "If those points can be explained, there should be no problem."

Peter Turnquest, the minister for East Grand Bahama, urged the government to bring forth legislation in the event of a yes or no vote for oil drilling to build a consensus in the House of Assembly.

After that, the government can embark a "period of education" for the general public.

In regards to public confusion and politicizing of oil drilling, Dorsett told Guardian Business: "I don't want that to happen."

But he stopped short in saying the government would bring forth specific legislation in the House of Assembly.

Guardian Business understands that the issue must be revisited by the prime minister before any decisions can be made on the future of oil drilling in The Bahamas.

February 01, 2013