Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bahamians are now engaged in a journey towards economic empowerment and freedom ...the final struggle in the centuries-long voyage from enslavement full freedom for generations to come

The march to Majority Rule, pt. 4

Consider This...


phil galanis 1-27“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.” - Senator Edward M. Kennedy

As we noted in the first three parts of this series, the march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas can be characterized by two words: Sustained struggle.

Earlier this month, we celebrated the first public holiday to commemorate the day that Majority Rule came to The Bahamas on January 10, 1967.  It was a life-changing event that catapulted the lives of many thousands to unimaginable heights.  We began the march to Majority Rule with the discovery of these islands by the Europeans in 1492 and the subsequent accelerated population growth, aided as much by the American Loyalists who sought sanctuary here following the American Revolution, as by the trans-Atlantic slave trade which engendered numerous attempts by those slaves for freedom from their masters.

We also reviewed how the Burma Road Riot, Bahamians who were “on the Contract” and participants in the General Strike helped to create the framework for the attainment of Majority Rule.

In the final installment of this series, we will continue to Consider This… what were some of the major final milestones that contributed to the centuries-long march to Majority Rule?

The Women’s Suffrage Movement

The 1950s was a decade of tremendous activism by Bahamian women who were deprived of many of the benefits of citizenship.  Women could not vote, could not be elected to Parliament, and could not serve on juries, on public boards, as justices of the peace or in many of the established institutions in the colony.  Much has been documented about the women who led the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and the leading “Suffragettes” included Mary Ingraham, Eugenia Lockhart, Georgiana Symonette, Mabel Walker and Althea Mortimer. The Suffragettes petitioned Parliament for the right to vote and were largely supported in their efforts by the Progressive Liberal Party.

Through Doris Johnson, the Suffragettes asked permission to address members of the House of Assembly in 1959, which was refused. However, Magistrate Maxwell Thompson allowed them to use the Magistrate’s Court for their presentation. The Suffragettes’ activism also included a petition to the governor of the colony to change the law for universal suffrage, which, having failed, resulted in them (along with Henry Taylor, then chairman of the PLP) travelling to London to seek assistance from the British government.

The movement sent another petition to the government of the Bahama Islands in 1960 which was also rejected. The PLP took up the cause and held rallies in Nassau and the Out Islands.  Following a relentless, focused and sustained struggle, on February 23, 1961 Parliament passed a bill, which came into effect on June 30, 1962, to allow women to vote and to serve in Parliament.  Registration of women immediately followed and on Monday, November 27, 1962, women voted in The Bahamas for the first time. That election marked a tectonic shift in the body politic.

The general election of 1962

The general elections of 1962 were historic because it was the first general election in which women voted, the first time that the property and company votes were not allowed to vote and an election in which the PLP actually polled a majority of votes cast although it won significantly fewer seats than the incumbent United Bahamian Party (UBP).  In that election, the PLP polled 32,261 votes or approximately 44 percent, winning only eight seats, compared to the UBP which polled 26,500 votes or 36 percent, but winning 18 seats. The Labour Party polled 3,049 votes which represented four percent, winning only one seat.

Several reasons were given for the PLP’s defeat, notwithstanding its decisive plurality.  Clearly there was considerable gerrymandering of seats, allocating a larger number to the Out Islands where it was much easier for the governing party to influence voting behavior by economic threats and political intimidation. In addition, many voters were still out of the colony “on the contract” and, finally, there was a level of trepidation and concern about the ability of black government to govern and maintain the level of political and economic stability to which the colony had become accustomed.  The victory by the UBP resulted in deep-seated racial polarization for the next five years.

Black Tuesday

The next five years would witness considerably greater political activism in anticipation of the general elections in 1967.  The PLP organized and orchestrated its activities with pin-point precision to maximize its political agenda.  On February 4, 1965, during the debate on the report of the Constituencies Commission to which the PLP objected, Milo Butler and Arthur D. Hanna, both PLP members of the House of Assembly, were named and ejected from the House when they refused to take their seats after having exhausted their 15 minute time limit.

Several months later, on April 27, 1965, Lynden Pindling, then leader of the opposition, stated that Premier Symonette and his government appeared to be intransigent on the issue of boundary changes and, given the gerrymandering experience of the 1962 general elections, determined that more radical recourse was required.   Regarding the government’s intransigence, Pindling stated that he could have “no part in it” and picking up the mace (the symbol of the authority of the House), said that “the mace is supposed to belong to the people of the country and the people are outside”. He then threw the mace through the second-floor window to the people below. Milo Butler followed Pindling’s lead by tossing the hour glass, which was used to time speeches, out of the window.

That event, which came to be known as Black Tuesday, stirred the emotions of the people, so much so that the police had to be called to quell the fervor that had been excited by Pindling who left the House to join the people outside.

Over the next two years, the PLP accelerated its political activity including the appeal to the United Nations Committee on colonialism, a boycott of the House of Assembly and the enlistment of support from noted American freedom fighters and celebrities, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. The PLP also galvanized the support of the unions, churches, and lodges.  The stage was set for the general elections of 1967.

General election of 1967

In addition to the domestic political activism that preceded the elections of 1967, the PLP was successful in exploiting the specter of corruption and conflicts of interest by the UBP government which arose out of several Wall St. Journal articles late in 1966 which alleged the involvement of underworld figures in the casinos in Freeport. Lynden Pindling and Paul Adderley called for a Royal Commission to investigate these allegations and Sir Roland Symonette, the premier, responded by calling a snap general election for January 10, 1967, over 10 months before an election was due.

When the votes were counted, there was a tie: 18 seats for the incumbent UBP and 18 for the PLP with two additional seats: one for an independent, Alvin Braynen, and one for the Labour Party’s Randol Fawkes.  The stage was set for both parties to invite the two individuals to break the tie.  Randol Fawkes, who was more closely aligned with the PLP, threw his support behind the PLP. The story is told that Mr. Braynen had wanted to be the speaker of the House of Assembly but was snubbed by the UBP in 1962, just five years earlier. So when Pindling called Braynen to offer him the speakership, Pindling began the conversation with “Hello, Mr. Speaker,” to which Braynen responded: “Hello, Mr. Premier”.  And the rest is history.  The PLP, now with 20 seats in its voting block, formed the first majority rule government, with Pindling as the nation’s premier, going on to be prime minister for the next 25 years. Fawkes became the minister of labour and Braynen served his remaining years in Parliament as speaker of the House of Assembly.


The long march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas was a sustained struggle that started with Pompey and culminated with Pindling.  Six years later, the Colony of the Bahama Islands joined the community of nations and became the independent Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  The sustained struggle that marked the way to a majority-ruled, independent nation still continues as Bahamians now engage in a journey towards the economic empowerment and freedom that Pindling identified as the final struggle in the centuries-long voyage from enslavement to full freedom for generations to come.


• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to

January 27, 2014


- The march to Majority Rule, Part 3

- The march to Majority Rule, Part 2

- The march to Majority Rule, Part 1

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The modern Quiet Revolution in The Bahamas must find root in the development of a cosmopolitan society ...that has no boundaries, no barricades, no social or economic discrimination or segregation ...and no lofty height that could not be attained by the hard work, sustained commitment and discipline of the masses ...It must be a pedestal for the souls of the liberators of the 1967 revolution

A reset of the Quiet Revolution: Towards a new path


raynard rigbyWe have just marked (and for some, celebrated) the first national Majority Rule Day. Due to the lackluster treatment of the holiday, the significance of the journey to 1967 and the bravery of the faces of the Quiet Revolution must be understood and shared so as to gain a national understanding of why we should pause and reflect on that path in our nation’s struggle.

Much can be said about the successes and failures of our nation in the post-Majority Rule era. There is no denying  that we have made tremendous progress. Since then, the majority has maintained control and has dominated the national political landscape.

This is a singular success of 1967. However, for many, 1967 was (correctly) more than just about the darts and arrows of party politics, or about Pindling for that matter. It marked the culmination of a revolution. Like most revolutions which generally focus on the overhaul of a system or the removal of dictatorial regimes or practices, the Quiet Revolution was grounded in a movement towards the upliftment of a people; of the institutionalization of equal rights and the charting of a national course for the collective advancement of a people, without boundaries, borders, fear or favor.

The truth too is that 1967 was not a struggle to attain black-power-like dominance. This may be startling in light of the fact that there was a prevalent culture of class and race inequality.

The Bay Street oligarchy — the minority — was the reservoir of both economic and political power. They “ran things” and in so doing they held the keys to the future of the majority. However, one glaring and compelling evidence of the cross-race movement that gripped the march to 1967 is the fact that the founders of the Progressive Liberal Party — Henry Taylor, William Cartwright and Cyril Stevenson — were not men of the negro race (arguably they were mulattoes). However, given the class-race culture in the islands at that time they would have enjoyed a pass to enter the socio-economic sub-middle-class.

Understanding 1967 and the magic of the revolution perhaps requires us to be in the bodies and minds of the Exumians and their heroic leader, Pompey. It is to be on the Burma Road revolt at the height of the fight for social justice. It is to join the marches with the suffragists. It is to stand with Clifford Darling and the taxi union in their push for fair standards and practices. It is to hear the voice of Milo Butler as he bellowed out the unfair and discriminatory treatment of working Bahamians. It perhaps is also to stand with Etienne Dupuch and Gerald Cash in their fight in the legislature for the passage of an anti-discrimination resolution. And it requires us to think of what led young minds like Lynden Pindling, Arthur Hanna, Orville Turnquest, Paul Adderley, Arthur Foulkes, Spurgeon Bethell, Oscar Johnson and Warren Levarity, and many others, to organize and join the “people’s struggle” to take on a system that held political power for decades by standing as candidates in the 1962 general election.

The fight of the “majority” was not simply a mission for the further “emancipation” of the former slaves. It was a movement deeply embedded in the spirit of the uniqueness, talent, industriousness and sheer discipline of our history, culture and people. Its central focus was the “final” liberation of the Bahamian soul.

The truth therefore is that 1967 and the ushering in of the first black Bahamian government was a victory for the creation of a more fair and just society.  The myth that must be dispelled is the simplistic notion that the revolution was for the majority, being limited to the blacks.

The revolution was larger than that. It did not have a singular or non-representational agenda or concentration. It was a fight to usher in a sacred sanctity for the natural evolution of the Bahamian spirit. Its embodiment of a communal vision was expressed in the early days of the Citizens Committee which recognized that those blessed to live on these shores were not ordinary but were destined to be a great people, no matter one’s color, creed, religious and political persuasions, abilities and gender.

Simply put, it was a broad social “movement” that saw its constituents as all Bahamians, blacks and whites. It was not discriminatory (whether direct or reverse), but rather progressive and inclusive. It was not class or race conscious. It was liberal and forward thinking.

In today’s analysis of the events that lead to 1967, we must broaden our appreciation for its purpose and value to the development of The Bahamas. It freed a once dormant spirit and it ushered in a push towards a new socio-economic platform that saw the advancement of many Bahamians of the post-1967 generation. It is therefore undeniable that it has its singularly success in the many thousands of faces of Bahamians who advanced far beyond the boundaries of poverty.

The revolution was also transformative, yet in some areas of national life, we have lost our way. We appear (now) to place less emphasis on ensuring the creation of a nation that trends towards common goals and aspirations. We sometimes give the “air” of being a people without direction and focus, and with little national priorities. In areas of our national lives mediocrity is the order of the day. We are devoid of the old values that cemented our “village”. There is an absence of a “collective” national vision. The nation appears to be stagnant and there is a growing sense of hopelessness. Our national leadership seem to enjoy a deficiency of nationalism and we appear to be lost, lacking an agenda towards the further modernization of this nation state. We have lost our progressive edge.

We need to press the reset button to recreate that sense of national purpose, unity and singular call to arms. Our nation’s detour of that purist path must cease and we must restore that once compelling national psyche housed within us.

We must also abandon that elitist attitude that we have achieved all that abounds. We must embrace a new political dispensation that restores us to the paths trod by the revolution. This begs for a recognition that the revolution’s message is relevant and necessary in today’s “modern” Bahamas.

It appeals for a national recommitment to the core and sacred principles of that glorious era so that the new and growing “minority” can be freed from the chains that enslave them. These are the “new” chains of institutionalized poverty, rampant social dislocation and disorder, a glass ceiling that deprives them of social promotion, a system that appears to be ignorant of their plight, struggles and way of life and a society which is shrinking in intellectualism and dynamism.

There is no denying the reality that the tenets of the 1967 revolution can find much space in the modern Bahamas. We have not outgrown her core principles. We should still cry out for bold and progressive leadership which is glued to the idealism of social justice, equality and economic liberation.

We must fill the vacuum for an agenda and plan that is holistic and nationalistic and that has at its core the creation of a society grounded on the foundational pillars of shared prosperity and community. That sense of community though is not restricted to an egotistical definition of national heritage and identity. It is an all-embracing journey that ties together the virtues of productivity, industry, integrity, knowledge, love and peace transcending a narrow interpretation of who is Bahamian.

The modern revolution must find root in the development of a cosmopolitan society that has no boundaries, no barricades, no social or economic discrimination or segregation, and no lofty height that could not be attained by the hard work, sustained commitment and discipline of the masses. It must be a pedestal for the souls of the liberators of the 1967 revolution.

Our work is not yet complete. We must find our voices and courage to stand firm to secure the dreams of the future generations of Bahamians. Our country must be restored to that nobler path of prosperity, peace and love.


• Raynard Rigby is an attorney-at-law and former chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party.

January 22, 2014


Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) on the Christie administration's deal with Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTC) and Cable and Wireless

Bahamians are NO Fools!

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is incredulouslydisappointed in the Christie administration, which, as failed negotiations withCable and Wireless further proves, continues to show no real plan forgovernance.

Many Bahamians voted for the Progressive Liberal Party onthe premise that Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) ownership would bereturned to them. They deserve an apology—one from the former Prime Ministerfor selling the corporation in the first place and one from the current PrimeMinister for selling such a far-fetched dream.

“Bahamians are no fools. They are no longer comforted bypromises that lack projection or feasible solutions. We deserve better. Wedeserve more. We deserve a government that can close the deal,” said Mr.McCartney.

Since the deal with BTC and Cable and Wireless took effect,Prime Minister Perry Christie blindly assured Bahamians that his Party could returnto them majority stake. However, according to a recent announcement, that didnot happen. “This is not surprising news” says DNA party leader BranvilleMcCartney “as, like many of their other initiatives, ending in complete andutter failure. Whether it’s the promiseof 10,000 jobs; the mortgage relief plan that provided no relief to anyone; thegaming referendum debacle or the proposed economy destroying VAT plan, thisgovernment string of failures in less than two years is the only recordbreaking thing they’ve done, unmatched by any government in our past.”

The past government sold BTC under such clauses that wereindefinitely irreversible. However, theChristie government has proved that they and the former Ingraham Administrationare two sides of the same coin. Theyboth seem to believe that government ownership of 49% equates to majorityownership.

“While we appreciate that BTC has pledged to give a littlemore in charitable donations, 2% is not a huge break considering that BTC isalready a major sponsor of most national events and initiatives,” said Mr.McCartney.

The DNA is demanding that the government, or BTC, share withthe public the value of what has been given to charitable organizations in 2013and the value of the 2% promised.

The Government is searching for answers in the darkness,wasting time and taxpayer dollars on schemes that result in no wins for theBahamian people. Crime worsens, unemployment rises and regrets soar, asadmitted by Mr. Christie, himself.

Perhaps now Mr. Christie can use his time and resources toplot rational plans to combat crime, create jobs, relieve homeowners andbusiness owners, and explore reasonable tax alternatives. He owes taxpayersthat much. As of this day, the Christie administration is known as the governmentthat makes promises that they can not keep.

January 23, 2014

Democratic National Alliance (DNA)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What were some of the major milestones that contributed to the centuries-long march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas?

The march to Majority Rule, Part III

Consider This...


galanis 1-20History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future. - Robert Penn Warren

As we noted in parts I and II of this series, the march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas can be characterized by two words: sustained struggle.

On January 10, we quietly celebrated the first public holiday to commemorate the day that Majority Rule came to The Bahamas in 1967.  It was a life-changing event that catapulted the lives of many thousands to unimaginable heights.  Last week we reviewed three important milestones in the march to Majority Rule that helped to create the framework for the attainment of that achievement: the by-election of 1938, the Burma Road Riot of 1942, and the Contract beginning in 1943.  This week and in the final week in January, we will continue to Consider This…what were some of the major milestones that contributed to the centuries-long march to Majority Rule?

The 1950s were decisively transformative on the march to Majority Rule. It was a decade that witnessed the formation of the PLP in 1953, the 1956 Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the House of Assembly and the 1958 General Strike.

The formation of the PLP

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was established in 1953, following an attempt by the Citizens’ Committee to actively address some of the rampant discriminatory practices by the white Nassau elite.  The Citizens’ Committee, formed in December 1950 initially protested the government’s refusal to let Bahamians view three films: “No Way Out” (starring Bahamian actor Sidney Poitier), “Lost Boundaries” and “Pinky” all of which addressed societal injustices. Many of the members of the Citizens’ Committee, which was led by Maxwell Thompson, Cleveland Eneas, and A. E. Hutchinson and whose members included Jackson Burnside, Randol Fawkes, Gerald Cash, Kendal Isaacs, Marcus Bethel and other prominent personalities, suffered brutal discrimination and many of its members were deprived of the ability to earn a living by the Bay Street oligarchy as a result of their social activism.

In October, 1953 the PLP was formed by Henry Taylor (who would become the third Bahamian governor general in an Independent Bahamas from June 26, 1988 to January 1, 1992), William Cartwright and Cyril Stevenson with a platform that responded to the challenge by Rev. H. H. Brown that: “The Progressive Liberal Party hopes to show that your big man and your little man, your black, brown and white man of all classes, creed and religions in this country can combine and work together in supplying sound and successful political leadership which has been lacking in The Bahamas.”

The PLP made bold progressive promises for a more equitable social structure including equal opportunities for all Bahamians, better education, universal suffrage, stronger immigration policies, lower-cost housing and the development of agriculture and the Out Islands.

In the early days of the PLP, its members were subjected to abject ostracism and victimization by the white elite, including the loss of jobs and bank credit, as well as canceled contracts.  In 1955, Lynden Pindling and Milo Butler emerged as the leaders of the party, appealing to the black masses to mobilize in advance of the general elections of 1956.  The party also attracted Randol Fawkes, the founder of the Bahamas Federation of Labour in May 1955.

The general election of May 1956 was the first to be fought by an organized political party.  The PLP won six seats in the House of Assembly, four in Nassau and two in Andros. That election significantly accelerated the march to Majority Rule.  In March 1958 the white oligarchy formed themselves into the second organized political unit, the United Bahamian Party (UBP). The UBP would later disband and its members would join forces with the Free National Movement (FNM) in 1972.

The 1956 Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the House of Assembly

In the wake of rampant racial discrimination that prevented access for black people to hotels, movie theatres, restaurants, and other public places, H. M. Taylor, the chairman of the PLP, whose platform vowed to eliminate racial discrimination in the colony, tabled a number of questions to the leader of the government.

Moved by this and in light of his own disgust with racially motivated practices, in January 1956, Etienne Dupuch, the editor of the Nassau Tribune and a member of the House of Assembly for the eastern district, tabled an Anti-Discrimination Resolution in the House of Assembly. During his passionately eloquent speech on the resolution, the speaker of the House of Assembly ordered Dupuch to take his seat, threatening, if he refused to do so, that he would be removed from the chamber by the police.  Dupuch responded: “You may call the whole Police Force, you may call the whole British Army…I will go to [jail] tonight, but I refuse to sit down, and I am ready to resign and go back to the people.”  The speaker abruptly suspended the House proceedings.

Although the resolution was supported by H. M. Taylor, Bert Cambridge, Eugene Dupuch, C.R. Walker, Marcus Bethel, and Gerald Cash, it was referred to a select committee, effectively killing it.  However, the following day, most of the Nassau hotels informed the public that they would open their doors to all, regardless of their race.

The 1958 General Strike

The General Strike began in January 1958 after several months of tension that arose because of the government’s plans to allow hotels and tour buses that were owned by the established white tour operators to provide transport for visitors to and from the airport, at the expense of predominantly black taxi drivers who made a large portion of their living transporting tourists between the new Windsor Field (Nassau International) Airport and downtown hotels.  To allow the hotels and tour companies to supplant the taxi drivers would severely curtail the ability of black taxi drivers to earn a decent living.

The government learned that the taxi drivers would vehemently protest this arrangement when they blockaded the new airport on the day it opened.  On that day, nearly 200 union taxi drivers stopped all business at the airport for 36 hours, showing their determination to protest the government’s plans. Negotiations on 20 points ensued between the union, represented by Lynden Pindling and Clifford Darling, the union’s president, and the government for the following eight weeks, but broke off after they could not agree on one final point.

On January 11, 1958 the taxi union voted for a general strike and the next day the General Strike commenced with the cessation of work at hotels, which was supported by hotel and construction workers, garbage collectors, bakers, airport porters and employees of the electricity corporation.  The strike lasted until January 31 and prompted a visit to the colony by the secretary of state for the colonies who recommended constitutional and political and electoral reforms which were incorporated into the General Election Act of 1959. Following the General Strike, male suffrage was introduced for all males over 21 years of age and the company vote was abolished.

Undoubtedly, the General Strike accentuated the ability of effective reform that could be achieved by the peaceful mobilization of the black majority.


Next week, we will review the decade of the 1960s and discuss how the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the 1962 general elections and Black Tuesday culminated in the eventual attainment of Majority Rule with the general elections of 1967.


• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to

January 20, 2014


- The march to majority rule, pt. 1

- The march to majority rule, pt. 2

- The march to majority rule, pt. 4

Monday, January 20, 2014

Prime Minister Perry Christie says that he should have taken the bold step of regulating web shops ...after coming to office in 2012 ...instead of taking the referendum route

PM regrets referendum

Christie says he should have regulated web shops

Guardian News Editor

Prime Minister Perry Christie has admitted regret over going to referendum on the gambling issue nearly a year ago and said he should have taken the bold step of regulating web shops after coming to office instead of putting it to a vote.

“I ought to have moved immediately to regulate the industry without going to a referendum and to articulate to the people of the country that we were going to have enormous problems in trying to have an environment where it is not regulated, said Christie when asked by The Nassau Guardian if he regrets not ‘having a horse in the race’.

The government refused to take a position ahead of the referendum, and some observers have opined that this contributed to the referendum failing.

Christie said the government will eventually have to do something about the web shops and noted concerns connected to money laundering and unregulated ‘banking’.

“Today, the governor of the Central Bank is demonstrating concern for this because what has happened is there has now been the evolution of a new economy that is underground, a new banking order that is taking place where mortgages are being given and where huge sums of money are moving,” he said in an interview on Friday.

“You always have money laundering concerns when you don’t regulate, but I’m thinking now of when the banks say you can’t bank your money, the Central Bank says you can’t invest in treasury bills, the Central Bank says you can’t export your money, you can’t put it in another country, then you ask the question if that is the case, what is supposed to be happening to the money?

“And so that is a very trying set of circumstances for me now.”

Christie hinted that the government might still regulate web shops.

“As I said in a meeting with the church [on Thursday], I said anyone coming out of the referendum of the kind that we had would require a new level of moral authority to address this issue in the face of the referendum result,” he said.

“That moral authority has to come in a different way. And by that I mean this, if the country was faced with a situation where we were collapsing and things were really very difficult then I have to look at the facts, that I have no alternative but to go to the country and explain to them, I can find $50 million or $60 million or $100 million in an area that can be legitimately acquired and say to them this is what I have to do and live with the results of such a decision.

“I am not at that point yet, but I’m at the point where discussions are being held, as they should be, over this really significant development in our country that has to be addressed.  The good news is it’s not being ignored.”

But Christie said he does not see the failed referendum as a low moment in his public life.

“I think it has been a low result for the country,” he said.

“I don’t have low moments in politics.  This is my 40th year in public life and that’s a lifetime, and so I have been able to introduce in my own life a hardening where I’m able to resist the temptation to feel sorry for myself and to move on.”

On January 28, 2012, voters were asked whether they support the regularization and taxation of web shops, and whether they support the establishment of a national lottery.

The total number of votes cast against the web shop question was 51,146 or 62 percent of the votes cast versus 31,657 or 38 percent of the votes cast in favor of taxing web shops.

Less than 50 percent of registered voters voted.

However, the Christian Council has demanded that the government respect the results of the referendum.

Last week, The Nassau Guardian reported on a Public Domain survey that showed strong support for web shops.

Respondents were asked whether they support the legalization of web shops.

Thirty-seven percent said they “strongly support” and 18 percent said they “somewhat support”.

Thirty-two percent said they “strongly oppose” and another eight percent said they “somewhat oppose”.

Five percent of respondents did not know or did not answer.

“The fact is that although the majority of Bahamians voted against such legalization in last year’s referendum is neither persuasive nor conclusive,” said Philip Galanis, who coordinated the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign.

“We maintain that the referendum results do not represent the national sentiment on this issue, particularly in light of the low voter turnout.”

A legal challenge brought by web shop operators after the referendum remains tied up in courts as their businesses continue to operate in the open.


January 20, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

...the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) along with The Bahamas’ accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will greatly improve the country’s market and trade access

VAT Will Increase Market Access, Says Pinder

by Korvell Pyfrom
Jones Bahamas

Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder said yesterday Bahamians will have greater market access and trade when Value Added Tax (VAT) is implemented later this year.

The government is preparing to table VAT legislation which is expected to be implemented on July 1.

The government has indicated that VAT will be at a rate of 15 per cent.

Mr. Pinder said that the implementation of VAT along with The Bahamas’ accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will greatly improve the country’s market and trade access.

“The VAT legislation will help us stimulate greater market access and greater trade,” he said. “Duty rates on goods are going to proportionally decrease so the cost of goods shouldn’t be an inflationary aspect. Value Added Tax is intended to reach services rather than have a measurable effect on goods.”

Mr. Pinder also assured that the implementation of VAT will bring about transparency as he noted that it would be in the best interest of companies to comply and file claims accurately.

“Every company will have to file a return with the government in order to claim that credit and if that company doesn’t file the claim they will end it up paying too much VAT which will be harmful to their business. So it’s almost a self enforcing mechanism to keep the integrity within the companies that have to report. It’s a small segment of the commercial base – those over $100,000 in turnover.”

Prime Minister Perry Christie said on Monday that the objective of VAT is to have a system that provides adequate revenue for modern governance while providing economic growth, transparency and efficiency.

The prime minister also noted that the government has commissioned a final study on the issue.

Mr. Christie has also indicated that economists from both New Zealand and the United States will be coming to The Bahamas to advise the government.

The government expects to raise an additional $200 million in revenue through VAT.

15 January, 2014

The Bahama Journal

Monday, January 13, 2014

Significant milestones in the struggle for Majority Rule in The Bahamas

The March to Majority Rule, Part II

Consider This...


phil galanisHistory is for human self-knowledge... the only clue to what man can do is what man has done.  The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is. - R.G. Collingwood

As we noted last week in Part I of this series, the march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas is a story of a sustained struggle.

On Friday past, we observed the first public holiday to commemorate the day that Majority Rule came to The Bahamas on January 10, 1967.  It was a life-changing event that catapulted the lives of many thousands to unimaginable heights.  Last week, we highlight two important events that helped to create the framework for the achievement of Majority Rule.  This week and for the remaining weeks in January, we would like to continue to Consider This…what were some of the milestones along the centuries-long march to Majority Rule?

This week we will consider three important milestones, namely the by-election of 1938, the Burma Road Riot of 1942, and the Contract beginning in 1943.

The by-election of 1938

In July 1938, shopkeeper Milo Butler decided to contest a by-election that was called for the Western New Providence seat, facing multi-millionaire, Harry Oakes who was not even in The Bahamas for the election, allowing Kenneth Solomon to manage his campaign.

The Bay Street Boys worked hard to derail Butler’s campaign, even getting his credit stopped at the Royal Bank of Canada.  At the polls, in front of police who were stationed there, Oakes’ representatives flagrantly distributed money and liquor to buy votes.

When Butler realized he was going to lose his deposit, he announced he would lodge a protest against the bribery and, the day after the election, he and his supporters went to the Colonial Secretary’s Office to voice his grievances.  Butler drafted a petition to the governor calling for the enactment of the secret ballot, the creation of an election court of appeal and a fairer representation of the black population on all public boards and in the civil service.

Although rumors about a major riot proved to be false, Governor Dundas took the threat very seriously and became convinced that the secret ballot was the very least that should be done to defuse the situation.  Taking the governor at his word when he announced that he would dissolve the House of Assembly and call a general election where the secret ballot would be the central issue, the House immediately addressed the issue.

In June 1939 an act was passed for a five-year trial period for the secret ballot in New Providence.  However, the ‘Out Islands’, where one-third of the voters resided, returned two-thirds of the members of the House and the Bay Street Boys didn’t want to tamper with that winning situation, so the secret ballot did not come to the Islands until 1949.

The Burma Road Riot

By 1942, the majority of Bahamians, most of whom were black, suffered under tremendous social, economic and political conditions.  A miniscule minority of white Bahamians were engaged in the retail and wholesale trade, the real estate industry and the professions.  The sponge industry had recently collapsed and tourism in the islands, albeit in its infancy, and the construction industry were adversely affected by the beginning of World War II. These combined factors significantly contributed to the abject poverty in which the vast majority of Bahamians lived.

When the United States entered the war in 1941, the British and American governments decided, in order to aid in the war effort, to enhance the existing Oakes Field Airport in New Providence and also to build a new one in the western Pine Barrens of New Providence, later called Windsor Field that would evolve into today’s Lynden Pindling International Airport.  Both airports were worked on by the American firm, Pleasantville Incorporated, providing jobs for Bahamians, who worked alongside American workers.

The British Governor of The Bahamas, the Duke of Windsor, and the American government had secretly agreed that Bahamian workers would be paid at local rates, four shillings per day, while their American counterparts earned more than twice as much.  Although Pleasantville Incorporated was willing to pay higher wages to Bahamians, this was done because the Duke was concerned that Bahamian workers should not get used to such high wages since local employers would not be able to match that kind of salary once this job ended. Bahamian workers resented this untenable situation but did not have a formal vehicle to redress the wages and working conditions disparities.

The Bahamian laborers complained to Charles Rodriguez who headed the Labour Union and the Federation of Labour.  Notwithstanding his efforts to address the disparities, because they were not resolved in a timely manner, Bahamian laborers assembled on May 31, 1942, demanding equal treatment. On June 1, they congregated at the main Oakes Field office of Pleasantville and, armed with cutlasses and clubs, marched to the Colonial Secretary’s Office.  Failing to obtain satisfaction, they rioted up and down on Bay Street, damaging and looting stores there. A curfew was established but the riot continued the following day. By the time the riot ended, five persons were killed and many more were wounded.

In the aftermath of the riot, the Duke of Windsor appointed the Russell Commission, which, along with a committee appointed by the House of Assembly, determined that the riots resulted from the inequitable disparity of wages between the Bahamian and American workers. The Russell Commission also determined that the riots were sparked by the absence of social legislation as well as economic difficulties and political inequities.

Burma Road is not a street in The Bahamas. The Burma Road Riot was named after a place Bahamians knew from the newsreels of the day: the 717-mile mountainous Burma Road that linked Burma (now called Myanmar) with the southwest of China.  Built by 200,000 Burmese and Chinese laborers and completed by 1938, during World War II, the British used Burma Road to transport materiel to China before Japan was at war with the British. In 1940, the British government yielded to Japanese diplomatic pressure to close down the Burma Road for a short period. After the Japanese overran Burma in 1942, the Allies were forced to supply Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalist Chinese by air.

The Contract

Following the Burma Road riot and the layoffs after the completion of the airbases, the Duke of Windsor, worried about further unrest, negotiated with the American government for Bahamian laborers to work in Florida to alleviate the rampant unemployment here and to fill the United States’ manpower shortage that resulted from the war.  The 1943 agreement became  known as “the Contract” or “the Project”.

Individual contracts were executed for each worker, and stipulated the terms of employment, including a deduction for amounts to be sent back to their families in The Bahamas and an agreement not to be discriminated against on the basis of their color, race, religious persuasion or national origin.

While the 5,000 Bahamian laborers, mostly unskilled males, initially worked on farms and plantations in Florida, given the severe manpower shortages in other states, many Bahamians were transferred as far north as New York and as far west as Indiana.  Generally, workers spent six to nine months in the United States and then returned The Bahamas.  Some abandoned their contracts and others never returned to The Bahamas, sending for their families to join them in the United States, thereby accounting for the presence of many Bahamians who still live in the United States.

The Contract was transformative in many ways, primarily exposing Bahamians to overt, institutionalized racism in America.  The workers returned with an unwavering determination that racism and discrimination like that would have no place in their Bahamas.


Next week, we will review the roles played by the formation of the PLP in 1953, the 1956 Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the House of Assembly and the 1958 General Strike, all of which fuelled the march to Majority Rule.


• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to

January 13, 2013


- The march to majority rule, pt. 1>>>

- The march to majority rule, pt. 3>>>

- The march to majority rule, pt. 4>>>

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

From Urban Renewal 1.0 to 2.0 the war against crime in The Bahamas

Urban Renewal Revamp 'An Error'

Tribune Staff Reporter

REVAMPING the original Urban Renewal was a “fatal error” in the fight against crime, Social Anthropologist and College of the Bahamas professor Dr Nicolette Bethel told The Tribune.

Her analysis of the country’s crime problem comes as tensions over the issue have escalated, with police officers this week expressing alarm at the murder rate.

Speaking with the Tribune, Dr Bethel said: “Urban Renewal 1.0 was an integrated, multifaceted programme that attempted to take a fundamentally different approach to solving the problems of the inner cities.

“That approach involved bringing government services to a single point in a community, to make it easier for the people who have the fewest resources to have access to the governmental services that they needed.

“The idea was that they could pay light bills and phone bills in the Urban Renewal centres, thus shifting the question of inconvenience on to the people providing the services rather than the people who are supposed to be receiving them.

“The idea was to rethink our approach to the inner cities — rather than seeing those areas and the people who live in them as ‘the ghetto’ and dismissing them, by recognising that not all people who live there are criminals and the law-abiding residents of those areas are on the front line of crime and are menaced by violent criminals long before anybody else is.

“Urban Renewal 1.0 was designed to give the law-abiding citizens real opportunities to gain access to social services and community policing worked on the premise that if you can gain the trust of the law-abiding citizens in a troubled area it becomes far easier to solve, deal with and ultimately prevent crime.

“And the programme was accompanied by some real efforts by psychological professionals to help to heal people who had suffered long-term abuse, brutalisation and so on.

“This core is what I considered revolutionary at the time, and which was removed when Urban Renewal was reformed because it was considered a waste of time and money, and a waste of policemen’s training too, as apparently police are supposed to fight crime, not prevent it.”

“By focusing so much on the criminals, we lose sight of the law-abiding citizens in the same communities, and it is a long time since we have really sought to serve them or meet their real needs.”

Dr Bethel added that the policing of inner city communities that arose after Urban Renewal 1.0 ended helped inspire distrust in inner city communities for authorities.

“Imagine if you were,” she said, “a 12 year old living in inner city Nassau in 2002 and in 2003 all of a sudden police are put into your community and they’re not violent or menacing, they are friendly, father figures who are teaching you music. They are walking around, learning your names and so on and for five years you get to know them.

“Then, when you are 17, they are taken away, and the only replacement are police with guns. How are you ever going to trust your country again? That’s what I think part of the root of this particular kind of violence is.”

What replaced Urban Renewal 1.0 was an idea that urban communities are war zones which are entered by policemen, sometimes in riot gear, brandishing guns and threatening residents, she said.

“I have heard first-hand of the experiences of people who, having the misfortune to live in an area where a crime has been committed and the police are in pursuit of a criminal, have themselves been threatened by those police. One family had their dog shot in front of them, simply because the dog barked at police who were running through the yard in pursuit of a perpetrator.

“I cannot see that as something that would have been likely to happen under Urban Renewal 1.0, and I cannot really blame people who have had that happen to them from mistrusting the police and seeking to fend for themselves.”

She added: “The Urban Renewal programme and community policing programme of the early 2000s are things that could have made a difference. It reached into the communities using tactics not being employed under Urban Renewal 2.0, tactics that were important because there is a huge part of the community that does not feel it is a part of the Bahamian society, a part that does not feel there is a place for them so they make a place for themselves.

“Urban Renewal 1.0 also helped deal with the problem of guns by gaining the trust of people which eventually led police to the guns. That trust is now gone.

“With Urban Renewal 2.0, you have no one dealing with people in an intimate way, just people dealing with houses and the like. I have not found anything reasonable for why people thought Urban Renewal 1.0 wouldn’t work in the long run.

“With 2.0, they took the healing part out of it and they can’t put it back in. You’re not going to get those people back because you have to rebuild trust in the inner city community and that will take time. In 2002 there was hope; in 2014 there is no hope.”

As for criticism of Urban Renewal 1.0, which she said was considered a “waste of time” by many, Dr Bethel said the perceptions that the programme failed could “at least be challenged” since the country’s crime spikes began in 2007, after Urban Renewal 1.0 ended.

Tracing the origins of the country’s crime problems, Dr Bethel said a failure to deal with the then burgeoning gang and drug culture of the 1980s is partly responsible.

She said: “I think this upswing in crime is linked to the gang and drug culture that started in the late 80s; but we knew it was an issue back then, it’s just something we never dealt with. Concepts, issues and ideas were put in place to deal with it but they were resisted.

“At the end of the 80s, one of the responses to the rise in gang culture was a mandatory National Service system for young people. It was vigorously resisted from the then opposition and those who supported them, so for the whole of the 90s we did not deal with the youth gang issue, possibly because the change in government brought about better times; Atlantis came, the economy grew, things were great – but the prosperity did not solve structural issues.

“They just gave people opportunity to do something other than rely on the gangs.

“Now, today, I’m not even sure a National Service programme would work if reintroduced. They missed the opportunity.”

“While there was resistance to the proposed National Service in the 1980s when it was set up as a military programme, the resistance continued even after it was reformulated to be a programme of real service. Perhaps the sticking point was that it was to be mandatory, and many of the more privileged members of the society did not think that their children needed to be included in the programme.

“However, once again, I think the idea was a radical one which might have brought about a little more social cohesion. But who knows?

“Another thing we have done,” she added, “we sent a message that our young people are not worth protecting when we took police out of the schools.

“Too many things are done in our society without understanding the consequences of them or what perception they will create. I don’t think police need to be in the school all the time, but I do think students need to feel safe.

“When we took the police out of the schools we put them on Bay Street to protect the tourists. People are not blind and they got the message loud and clear. The safety of our children is less important than the safety of our visitors. Message received.”

Finally, Dr Bethel said the recent crime problems are unlikely to keep on escalating and called for a reform of the justice system,.

“Crime and violent crime rarely escalate and escalate,” she said. “I think this is a spike. In terms of the response in the short run, I think there needs to be a show of law and an imposition of consequences in a very judicious kind of way.

“Opening the courts will be great, putting police on 12 hour shifts will help clamp down on criminal activity yes, but those are not long term solutions.

“We have a group of men that have learned to fend for themselves because they don’t trust anyone else. They have learned to respond brutally.

“Let’s say you arrest them, rush them through the 10 new courts, then what? Fox Hill Prison cannot accommodate the needs that we have.

“Secondly, I’m not sure the justice system is at all just, not in terms of corruption, but that the people who tend to have the most access to all the options our justice system allows, like bail and appeal, tend to be the people that have committed the most serious crimes.

“The people that have committed the least crimes tend to wait the longest because we a trying to rush the hard criminals through.

“The justice system is not fair to the hapless kid arrested for having marijuana or for stealing somebody’s bicycle. They are the ones waiting on remand for their trial to come up for years in the same prison we put the hard criminals in.

“We need to deal with this. We need to be making the system work and the system just, make it serve the perpetrators, the victims and those that are in between.

“That’s something we need to think about, how we tweak, adjust and reform our justice system.

“In addition, we fall in the habit of de-humanising the perpetrators of these crimes. We need to make it a point to say we are all human and all citizens deserve the same attention.

“And we can’t be changing our minds whenever our government changes; we have to come to some consensus as a society on how to deal with crime,” she said.

January 08, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

The centuries-long march to majority rule in The Bahamas

The march to majority rule, pt. 1

Consider This...


philip galanisThe journey was very long and fraught with many dangers, trials, abuses, separations, rebellions, revolts, violence, frustrations, successes and, yes, even deaths. – George A Smith

The march to majority rule in The Bahamas can be characterized by two words: sustained struggle.

On Friday, January 10, we will celebrate the first public holiday to commemorate the day that majority rule came to The Bahamas on that date in 1967.  It was a life-changing event that catapulted the lives of many thousands to unimaginable heights.  Therefore this week and during the month of January, we would like to Consider This… what were some of the milestones along the way on the centuries-long march to majority rule?

Although it is difficult to capture all the important landmarks on the march to majority rule in a single column, and while we acknowledge that there are many unsung heroes of the movement, we want to highlight several important events that should be remembered as creating the framework for the achievement of majority rule as we approach this public holiday.

Early days and accelerated population

When Christopher Columbus and other European explorers first discovered these islands beginning in 1492, they met Lucayans, Arawak-speaking Amerindians who arrived in The Bahamas between 500 AD and 600 AD, originating in the South American mainland, having first settled in Cuba and Hispaniola.

For the next few centuries after Columbus’ arrival, Europeans, Americans and those who lived in our islands developed significant trading relationships.  When the Loyalists, those individuals who remained loyal to the English Crown during the American Revolution and became refugees in search of a home when the Crown lost to the rebels, fled the new United States, upwards of 5,000 people, including Loyalists and their many slaves, settled in the Bahama Islands, bringing their ideals with them.  It was with their arrival that the infamous trade in human cargo – the trans-Atlantic slave trade – reached its zenith here.  As was the case in North America and the Caribbean, African slaves were brought to market at Vendue House in downtown Nassau and were subjected to the same inhumane abuses that were experienced wherever the trade flourished.

In these islands, slavery came to be recognized as a perversion, and consequently, there were many instances, both recorded and not, that demonstrated the sustained struggle against this perversion and inculcated a determination to achieve equality in Bahamians.  This week, we will review a few instances of different kinds of early rebellion against conditions of servitude that marked the struggle and shaped the Bahamian psyche as it continued to yearn for total freedom.

Uprising at Farquharson’s Plantation

Charles Farquharson owned a prosperous plantation on San Salvador, growing a variety of crops including cotton.  He is particularly remarkable in Bahamian history as his journal was preserved and, through it, we have perhaps the only look at the everyday life of a Bahamian plantation owner and his slaves.  The journal also affords us the bare outlines of an incident on the Farquharson plantation in early 1832 that amounted to an uprising against the brutality of James, a mulatto son of the owner, who was left in charge while Farquharson was in Nassau.

It was when James decided to resort to physical punishment yet again over a minor incident that Farquharson’s chief driver, Alick, took exception to this habitual brutality and struck back, hitting young Farquharson with a heavy cudgel before he was dragged off by the other slaves who immediately gathered around the fray in a threatening manner.

Although no more violence is reported, Charles Farquharson faced great opposition as he tried to reason with his slaves the following morning.  Unfortunately, when three of the ringleaders were sent to Nassau for trial the following March, more violence was threatened by the Farquharson slaves.  Finally, after time spent at hard labor in the Nassau workhouse, all except Alick were returned to San Salvador.  Alick, for his crime of not tolerating abuse, was ordered sold and never saw San Salvador again.


A few years before the Farquharson plantation unrest, there was the legendary slave revolt in Exuma led by Pompey.  It was early 1830 and, with only three days notice, a group of 77 of Lord Rolle’s slaves were told they were to be sent to Cat Island.  No husbands or wives or any children under 14 were to be separated but they were only given one weekend to pick their pea and bean crops, thrash their corn and dispose of their livestock.  Moreover, they would have to abandon fields of Indian corn that had just been planted.

With 32-year-old slave Pompey leading them, most of the slaves involved hid in the bush for five weeks until their provisions ran out.  It was at that point that 44 of them, representing nine families and three single slaves, stole Lord Rolle’s salt boat and sailed it to Nassau in an effort to personally put their case in front of the governor, Sir James Carmichael Smyth.

Sadly, the slaves were taken into custody and thrown into the workhouse before seeing the governor.  The adult slaves were tried immediately as runaways and most of them, including five women – two of whom were nursing babies – were sentenced to be flogged.

Although he had not been kept apprised of the events surrounding this case, when the governor, known for his sympathy towards slaves, found out, he was furious, immediately firing the police magistrate and the two justices of the peace involved in the case.  He also ordered Pompey and his group of rebels to be taken back to Exuma.

When they arrived back at Steventon, they were joyously hailed as heroes and subsequently all the other slaves refused to work.  This behavior alarmed those in authority over them so they called for military reinforcements from Nassau, telling the governor that an armed slave insurrection was imminent.  Fifty soldiers and the chief constable of The Bahamas landed in Exuma during the night of June 20, 1830.  The slaves were quiet but not prepared to go to work, saying that they had understood they were to be made free.  After a thorough search of the slave houses, the soldiers only found 25 old muskets and very small amounts of powder and shot, putting the idea of an armed insurrection to rest.

However, the soldiers were still worried and decided to march to Rolleville, another slave village, to search there.  Pompey knew a short-cut and reached Rolleville before the soldiers, warning the slaves there who hid in the bush.  Although only three muskets were found in Rolleville, Pompey was captured and taken back to Steventon where his public punishment of 39 lashes persuaded the slaves to go back to work.

Most of the soldiers returned to Nassau and Lord Rolle’s slaves were reportedly left “quiet and industrious” by the chief constable.  But Pompey’s rebellion was really the first time that Bahamian slaves had resisted a transfer and succeeded, establishing that Bahamian slaves could not be moved without their consent, a major achievement in beginning to establish that slaves were people who had civil rights.  The protest that arose when the flogging of the women became known throughout abolitionist circles gave great impetus to legislation, including the bill that granted full emancipation that would finally occur four years later.

Next week in part two of this series, we will look at how some 20th century events continued the march to majority rule, preparing even more Bahamians for the struggle that was begun by Alick and Pompey as they bravely stood up for their rights so long ago.


• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services.  He served 15 years in Parliament.  Please send your comments to

January 06, 2014


- The March to Majority Rule, Part 2>>>

- The March to Majority Rule, Part 3>>>

- The March to Majority Rule, Part 4>>>

Thursday, January 2, 2014

From Ignorance and Want to Wisdom and Means

By Dennis Dames:

The Ghost of Christmas Present opened his robe to reveal two haggard, ashen, corpse-like children to Ebenezer Scrooge; and he said, “Look upon these”.  Ebenezer Scrooge, stupefied with horror - asked, “What are these?”    The Ghost of Christmas Present replied, “They are your children! They are the children of all who walk the earth unseen! Their names are Ignorance and Want! Beware of them! For upon their brow is written the word "doom!" They spell the downfall of you and all who deny their existence!”

I was moved by the aforementioned exchange after watching A Christmas Carol recently.  “Ignorance and Want” are our children, of whose existence we are denying; that’s why we are in the doomful position today in our nation – in my view.  As we continue to walk the earth unseen, our downfall draws nearer.

The Bahamas has been a factory for “Ignorance and Want” for a few decades now, and the harvest is beginning to manifest itself.  Our collapse is imminent if we do not turn things around quickly.

Let us all therefore, be seen in 2014 and beyond; doing meaningful and productive things for our children and country.  It’s the only way that we could transform “Ignorance and Want” into “Wisdom and Means”.  Our children will honor and cherish us for it.

Caribbean Blog International