Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sir Arthur Foulkes Pays Tribute to Warren Levarity

Tribute to Warren J. Levarity


• The following is a tribute given by Sir Arthur Foulkes at the state funeral for Warren Levarity on November 20 at Christ Church Cathedral.

On behalf of my wife, Joan, and on behalf of all the Foulkes family, and for myself, I extend to Warren’s wife, Vera, their children and all his other relatives my deepest sympathy on his passing. We share in your loss. I share in your loss.

My dear friends, it was a day or two after the 1962 general election in which the Progressive Liberal Party got more votes than the ruling United Bahamian Party but won far less seats. I was sitting at the head of the News Desk at The Tribune office on Shirley Street when Warren Levarity came up the stairs and entered the newsroom. I stood up to greet him.

There was no conversation. We embraced and said two words to each other: “My brother!” Then he turned, walked down the stairs and left the building. There were quizzical looks on the faces of those who witnessed this scene. Warren and I were both defeated candidates in that election, which many expected the PLP to win.

The significance of that brief encounter was that we were part of a group of men who knew the minds of each other. We understood what had happened and, more importantly, we knew what we had to do next.

It was an era of unrest, confrontation, and intense political activity in The Bahamas. Party politics had come to the colony; there was agitation for electoral reform; the trade unions were restive; Bahamian women were agitating for the vote; there was growing impatience with racism, and the ruling group was as intransigent as ever.

There were five bye-elections in 1960. Four in New Providence were mandated by British Secretary of State for the Colonies Alan Lennox-Boyd. He visited The Bahamas after the 1958 General Strike and ordered the creation of four new seats in New Providence as a concession to demands for electoral reform.

As expected, the PLP won all four of those seats. But the bye-election in Grand Bahama was another matter. It was the result of the elevation of the constituency’s representative to the Legislative Council, and nobody expected the PLP to win in a Family Island stronghold of the ruling party against a candidate supported by them.

So the party’s leaders gladly accepted the offer by Warren Levarity to show the colors in Grand Bahama. He was from a highly respected family having been born in West End. He had graduated from the Government High School and he had professional training abroad.

They also knew that he was a member of the National Committee for Positive Action, a radical group that was beginning to play an increasingly important role in the progressive movement. What few people knew was that this unassuming, soft-spoken gentleman was possessed of high intelligence, a keen analytical mind and an extraordinary aptitude for politics.

With only his limited personal resources and little or no help on the ground, Warren confronted the awesome election machinery of the oligarchy and campaigned across the length of the island. He won the bye-election, even though he had to petition the courts before he could take his seat as the representative for Grand Bahama.

Warren’s surprising victory sent shock waves through the political camps on all sides and was a major turning point in the fortunes of the progressive movement. A number of educated and highly qualified Bahamians who had hitherto looked askance at the PLP, and had kept their distance, now realized that if the UBP could be defeated in Grand Bahama then perhaps they could be defeated in the country. They joined the party.

After the defeat in 1962 the NCPA decided that the party’s image had to be burnished and its message more effectively tailored. It was time now for greater effort, and for personal sacrifice. Along with his colleagues, Warren did not believe in the kind of politics that was driven by the prevailing winds.

He shared an intense commitment to conviction politics, going against the prevailing winds if that was necessary. He shared the belief that leaders should work to change negative opinions, however popular, not pander to them.

He believed that leaders should communicate grand ideas and articulate noble aspirations, not mislead people with sound bites and empty slogans.

He also believed that leaders should be prepared to pay the price of their convictions, and not to seek the side on which the bread is buttered.

So in 1963, after months of garnering support, assembling resources and securing equipment, Bahamian Times started to publish from a little house on Wulff Road that had been converted into offices and a print shop. This effort was spearheaded by Loftus Roker, Jeffrey Thompson, Warren and others. Warren was manager and I was honored to be editor. This is what we knew we had to do.

There was little bread – and no butter at all – but the little house on Wulff Road became not just a newspaper office but a magnet for others who wanted to help, to talk about the challenges, to contribute ideas for the future, or just to share in the excitement.

One of those who came regularly to help in the day and stayed for many late nights of discourse was my good friend George Smith who became a successful candidate in 1968.

The response to Bahamian Times was quite astonishing. We could not print enough. People lined up outside the Wulff Road office to get copies as they came off the press. At long last, we were saying what they needed to hear, telling them what they deserved to know, and pointing in the direction they desired to go.

Calvin Neeley picked up newspaper boys Brendan and Dion in his taxi and took them as far as the airport to sell the paper. Each copy was handed from hand to hand and some were kept as mementos up to this day. But despite Warren’s best efforts, only a few small business houses were willing to advertise in the paper and so our bread was in short supply and sans butter.

Bahamian Times contributed significantly to the historic victory in 1967. Warren was appointed minister of out island affairs and demonstrated that he was not only good at politics but was also an excellent administrator. The work he accomplished in one year, with the cooperation of his colleague Minister of Works Cecil Wallace Whitfield, contributed significantly to the PLP’s overwhelming victory in the Out Islands in April of 1968.

Now it is difficult to find in history a good revolution that went entirely according to plan, one that fulfilled all of its noblest ideals, one that was not undermined by hubris, cupidity, egomania and other negative influences. The Quiet Revolution was not immune to some of these negative influences, and one of the early casualties of power was the collegiality that had made success possible in the first place.

The storm clouds gathered and, for Warren, euphoria quickly turned into disappointment. Once again his courage and willingness to sacrifice for what he believed were to be put to the test and once again he did not fail that test.

So on the floor of the House of Assembly one night in 1970, with an angry, hostile crowd outside, Warren, with seven others, voted the truth of his conscience, and precipitated a chain of events that was to result in the formation of a new political party, the Free National Movement.

It was effectively the end of his political career. He was never re-elected to the House again. But in later years he was secure in the knowledge that he had made yet another significant contribution to his country. He had helped to provide for the Bahamian people an effective check on the power of the day and a viable political alternative for the future.

If heroism is to be measured by service to noble ideals, by the performance of great deeds, by the exercise of extraordinary courage, and by the willingness to make great sacrifices, then Warren James Levarity fully qualified as a national hero of the first order.

Permit me to borrow from the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to say that the star of the unconquered will rose in Warren’s breast, serene, and resolute, and still, and calm and self-possessed.

May his noble soul rest in peace.


Sir Arthur Foulkes is a former member of Parliament, Cabinet minister and governor general.

November 26, 2014


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fred Mitchell responds to Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) - Jose Miguel Insulza ...about his remarks on "round ups" in The Bahamas of Haitians ...and the immigration policies of The Bahamas

Immigration Minister Responds to Comments of OAS Secretary General

By Robyn Adderley - BIS:

Frederick Mitchell responds to Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Fred Mitchell during a press conference at the Ministry for Grand Bahama on Friday responded to a report emanating from the press of Jamaica that during a visit to Jamaica, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza made comments about the immigration policies of The Bahamas Government. The report in indirect speech said that the Secretary General had referred to "round ups" in The Bahamas of Haitians.

Minister Mitchell said no reports of “round ups” of Haitians should have been made by the office of the Organization of American States as the organization had been briefed on the Immigration policies of the Bahamas Government.

Minister Mitchell continued, “last evening, I instructed the Ambassador to the OAS Dr. Elliston Rahming to make an immediate call to the Secretary General for an urgent clarification of this report.” The Minister said he will meet with the Secretary General in Washington shortly.

Also present during the press conference were Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville and Mr. Hubert Ferguson of the Department of Immigration.

Minister Mitchell said he had not intended to comment publically about the content of the proposed meeting as the concerns raised by the Secretary General had been raised earlier with Bahamian officials. Minister Mitchell further stated that he has been advised that the Assistant Secretary General has been fully briefed on the policies and by extension, the organization. “Therefore any suggestion of the round up of people should not have been expressed from that office.

“The record will also show that I have repeatedly said: we do not round up people, you round up cattle.”

Minister Mitchell continued, “On 1st November, The Bahamas government put in place a simple administrative measure to stop fraudulent practices in applying for work permits and to ensure that all people who have the right to live and work in The Bahamas are fully documented.

“Immigration checks have been ongoing since we took office in 2012. Nothing new in that direction has occurred.  We have repatriated over 3000 people since the start of the year to their home countries. Another two repatriation flights will follow next week.  The Detention Centre is now at capacity.

 “This report is yet another example of the unfortunate and ill informed commentary about these simple measures,” said Minister Mitchell.

Having spoken with Human Rights Activist and attorney Fred Smith yesterday in public, said the Minister, he said he told Mr. Smith “his comments where the policies were described as ‘ethnic cleansing’ were entirely unhelpful and extreme, particularly since there is nothing on which to base any such an assertion. The words are inflammatory and can lead to incitement. He needs to withdraw those comments and the defamatory statements made about immigration officers that are Gestapo like and involved in institutional terrorism.

“The intentionally inaccurate commentary often arises because of people in this country making wild and unfounded claims. There has not been a single report of abuse of any kind by any immigration officer reported to us since 1st November.”

Minister Mitchell said the other major political parties, the Free National Movement and the Democratic National Alliance, have indicated they have not heard of any either.

“I will be speaking to all countries in our immediate neighborhood in a few days to ensure that these false assertions do not make their way uncritically into some human rights report and then becomes a way of describing what goes on in The Bahamas.”

He further stated, “This is a completely open and transparent exercise. There has to be oversight by NGOs and there is oversight by them and by the Department of Social Services. The Department has a formal role. The NGOs have access to information and review upon request. Nothing is hidden. No particular group is the target of this exercise and people should stop spreading that falsehood. They should also stop using the term round up because no such exercises have taken place.”

With some speaking about the authority of Immigration officers on a constitutional basis, Minister Mitchell had this to say, “The power of arrest is contained in the Immigration Act. The constitution says that in the exercise of that discretion such an officer can do so only when there is a reasonable suspicion of an offence having been committed, in the process of being committed or about to be committed. The Immigration Department is aware of the constitutional standard and does not violate that standard.”

November 21, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fred Mitchell citizenship warning in order

By Dennis Dames

I have read the Nassau Guardian’s editorial of Monday, November 17, 2014, entitled: Mitchell’s citizenship warning was unhelpful. Firstly, the words of Ms Daphne Campbell, a Florida state representative were nationally offensive and troublesome to most Bahamians when she called for tourists and businesses to boycott The Bahamas over our country’s immigration policies. Secondly, to add insult to injury, Ms Jetta Baptiste, a naturalized Bahamian of Haitian descent, who presently lives in the USA, agreed publically with Ms Campbell. This further inflamed Bahamians; and it was a devastating mistake on Ms Batiste’s part -- in my opinion.

The citizenship warning was in order, in my view, as no one really knows how far persons are prepared to go in order to be heard on the issue of illegal immigration in The Bahamas. Ms Baptiste is in her rights to express her perspective; but she needs to understand that we Bahamians have feelings and she has hurt so many with her concurrence with Ms Campbell – a foreigner. Ms Baptiste has created many lifelong enemies in The Bahamas. So, it might be in her best interest to consider citizenship in another country.

The Guardian’s editorial focused on the rights of an individual to express oneself under the law. It did not talk about a loose and ungrateful tongue, and the damage which is instigated by it. Ms Baptiste has unwittingly revoked her own Bahamian citizenship by supporting evil and disgusting foreign elements against the Bahamian people and nation -- in a very damning fashion.

Let’s face it, we are not fighting a war against government immigration policy detractors as The Nassau Guardian might feel. Our fight has more to do with the internal chronic disunity among us Bahamians, and our political gangster mentality that affects our progress as one people.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Attorney Fred Smith, QC says: Recent immigration raids carried out as a part of the government’s newly implemented immigration policies is institutional terrorism

Attorney Calls Immigration Raids “Terroism”

The Bahama Journal

Attorney Fred Smith, QC yesterday defended his comments calling recent immigration raids carried out as a part of the government’s newly implemented immigration policies institutional terrorism and called on all those living in The Bahamas to stand up and defend their constitutional rights.

Mr. Smith, who serves as president of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association said in an interview with the Journal Sunday that his comments were neither inflammatory nor meant to create an emotional uproar, but he charged that the government’s new policies and subsequent tactics are in breach of the constitution.

“The abuse that people are being subjected to in this country whether they are of Haitian extract or people who have entitlement to status – everybody in The Bahamas is entitled to all the protections of the constitution,” he said. They don’t become outlaws because they are of Haitian heritage.”

Mr. Smith, who contends that for 40-years he has challenged the government’s immigration policies, said there is a process the government must follow and he maintained that raids are illegal.

The attorney charged that the government’s new policies are only breeding “Haitian hatred and discrimination.

“I’m concerned with the government respecting peoples’ rights,” Mr. Smith said.”My language is not inappropriate for the circumstances when you see children being forcefully separated from their parents – people being dragged out their homes – people being hunted down like dogs in the bush my language is soft.

“I urge people in The Bahamas be they Haitian or Haitian extraction or Bahamians or foreigners whites, blacks or browns like me to stand up for their rights or else The Bahamas is going to go the same way as the dictatorship in Haiti under [Francois Duvalier] Papa Doc or many of the other dictatorial nations in the world.

“Abuse of human rights, inhuman and degrading treatment will not be tolerated.”

In an earlier press release, Mr. Smith said: “There is no legal requirement for a Haitian or anyone else living in The Bahamas to travel with their work permit or other form of identification. No officer of the law has the right to detain anyone for failure to produce the same, and any policy that includes such provisions is an outright violation of our laws.

“The Bahamas is not Guantánamo Bay. We do not simply detain people without due process and the legal authority to do so. The GBHRA calls on the government to cease and desist from this inhumane policy immediately, and replace it with one that is in accordance with constitutionally-mandated due process and the rule of law.”

November 17, 2014

The Bahama Journal

The Bahamas has a shantytown problem and illegal immigration problem ...due to the lack of political will and interest to remedy the same

The failure of the state and the illegal immigration issue

The Nassau Guardian Editorial

Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell held a news conference recently. He was responding to the comments of a man of Haitian ancestry that were aired on ZNS. The man made threats against Bahamians in an interview during a demolition at the Joe Farrington Road shantytown.

“Where [do] they want the people them to go?” the man asked.

“They want them to be homeless? They want them to go on the streets? You see what [I’m] saying. People like them force people to do bad things on the streets.

“…They have to understand that there are more Haitian-Bahamians in this country than Bahamians. And we [are] not scared. They don’t want to start something that they can’t finish.”

His statements were widely circulated via social media.

During the interview, the man added: “Like how I feel [I’m] ready to put the Colombian necktie on these [people].”

While that part of his statement was not aired, it was circulated on social media. The Colombian necktie refers to a method of killing that involves the victim’s throat being cut horizontally.

The matter was referred to the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Mitchell called for calm.

“All patriotic Bahamians and law-abiding non-nationals in this country should refrain from responding in this matter in a way which would approximate taking matters into your own hands. This is time for a reasoned response,” he said.

“There are agencies of the government that are responsible for protecting the integrity of The Bahamas, and they should be allowed to do this work. Suffice it to say that this matter is being taken seriously.”

Mitchell is right that the remarks caused outrage. Many are concerned about our illegal immigration problem when it comes to Haiti. Years of inadequate action by our state have led to shantytown proliferation across The Bahamas.

We have always known where these communities were. We drove past them. We commented on them. Yet nothing was done to permanently remove these illegal communities. Hence, they grew, and more and more Haitians came here because we are permissive of open illegality. We are the same way with numbers houses. Gambling remains illegal for Bahamians and yet the web shops were allowed to expand.

Despite the problem, Bahamians should not be unduly angry with Haitians. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. We want all people who come to our country to come here legally. All peoples who are in desperate situations in their homelands, however, attempt to flee to a safer, more prosperous place in order to save their lives. Many Bahamians are in the United States, legally and illegally, for example, in search of better lives. It is ultimately up to states to ensure their borders are secured and that their laws are enforced. Our state has done a poor job doing these things.

We have all the laws and all the security personnel needed to clear all shantytowns in The Bahamas. The problem has been political will and interest. During this term in office, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has made some moves to clear some shantytowns. This progress has been slow, however.

The Bahamas has a shantytown problem and illegal immigration problem because we have not cared to enforce our laws. If we did not allow people to build sprawling illegal communities, they likely would never have come here. As a people, we need to be angry with ourselves and with our governments for allowing lawlessness to prevail.

The shantytown called The Mudd, for example, is in the middle of Marsh Harbour. Despite the tough words of the immigration minister, it is likely to still be there when he comes up for re-election. We talk. We get angry. But we have failed to act decisively in this country when it counts.

November 15, 2014


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who is Jetta Baptiste?

By Monte A. Pratt:

Traitor, Jetta Baptiste
The Ungrateful Traitor, Jetta Baptiste
[WHO IS THIS WOMAN THAT IS ATTACKING THE BAHAMAS?] – NB: This is Facebook Post I made a week ago in response to one of Ms. Jetta Baptiste Haitian supporters:

Well, let me deal with your first question. Yes, for your information, as a former business owner in Freeport, I do know a LOT of Jetta Baptiste's activities and her Haitian Bahamian Society in Grand Bahama.

Firstly, Jetta Baptiste grew up in Grand Bahama, where she got her education and learn her profession, as a News Reporter / Writer with The Tribune and The Freeport News. She and her family were well accepted in the Grand Bahama Community, where they eventually received Bahamian status and passports.

Yes, I know quite a bit about Ms. Jetta Baptiste, as President of the Haitian Bahamian Society, and of her charitable works through her Jetta's Multi-Service Centre, 37 Hearne Lane, Freeport. Ms Baptiste did an EXCELLENT job in helping HER PEOPLE in getting the Bahamian people.

You see, my businesses and many other businesses in Grand Bahama, then made donations to many charities and organization. This included Ms Baptiste's organization, The Haitian Bahamian Society that collected food, clothing and donations to send to Haiti during disasters.

Ms Baptiste was a driving force behind this, as she met with church and business leaders in Grand Bahama on sending relief to Haiti. As a result, Grand Bahamians, individuals, charities, businesses and churches, ALL give food, clothing and donations to relief the Haitian people displaced by hurricanes that hit Haiti.

This is the very same, Ms Baptiste that is now posting all these MEAN and NASTY statements about the very same Bahamians that helped her PERSONALLY and her Haitian people collectively. Ms Baptiste, how soon she can forget how the Bahamian people helped her and her Haitian People during the many disasters that hit HER country.

I note here, the TRUTH is, Ms Baptiste once applied to Government for Creole Language / Radio Station. This application was REFUSED, and it is alleged, PM HAI, responded to her this is The Bahamas, and not Haiti.

I now believe, this radio license refusal is the ROOT of the HATE Ms Baptiste now hold in for The Bahamas. She now only proves to be an OPPORURTUNIST, by the agenda she is now promoting all this FOOLISHNESS in the media. She and Mrs. Daphne Campbell are two of a kind, opportunist.

For this reason, I am VERY ANGRY with Ms Baptiste and her efforts to damage The Bahamas, as it is because of The Bahamas, Ms Baptiste is who she is today. She is now in America working, because of the knowledge she gained from Bahamians, who trained her in profession works.

YOU HAITIAN PEOPLE ARE TOO UNGRATEFUL... It is no wonder, you get one disaster after the other. Our God does not sleep. The TRUTH is, you people need to turn from your WICKED WAYS!!

 Monte A. Pratt - Facebook CrossFire

Friday, November 14, 2014

Naturalized citizens of The Bahamas, take serious note of the Bahamian Constitution ...which speaks in Article 11 of the circumstances that can lead to the Governor General depriving a Bahamian of citizenship

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has taken note of complaints to the Ministry from Bahamian citizens about the comments made in the press by a purported citizen of The Bahamas who now lives in the United States and the adverse comments about The Bahamas from a state legislator in Florida. The Ministry is investigating the complaints to determine what are the appropriate administrative measures if any that are necessary to protect the sovereign integrity of The Bahamas.

The Ministry reminds the public that the constitution requires all citizens to act in manner which does not prejudice the sovereignty of the state or jeopardizes their citizenship. Any visitor to our country must comport themselves in accordance with the law.

The Constitution speaks in Article 11of the circumstances that can lead to the Governor General depriving a Bahamian of citizenship.

11. (1) If the Governor-General is satisfied that any citizen of The Bahamas has at any time after 9th July 1973 acquired by registration, naturalization or other voluntary and formal act (other than marriage) the citizenship of any other country any rights available to him under the law of that country, being rights accorded exclusively to its citizens, the Governor-General may by order deprive that person of his citizenship.

(2) If the Governor-General is satisfied that any citizen of The Bahamas has at any time after 9th July 1973 voluntarily claimed and exercised in any other country any rights available to him under the law of that country, being rights accorded exclusively to its citizens, the Governor-General may by order deprive that person of his citizenship.

These are very limited circumstances in which the Governor General can act.

The Bahamas Nationality Act says in Section 11 ( 2) (a) (iii) that the Minister for Nationality may by order deprive someone who is a naturalized citizen of his or her citizenship if that person has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards The Bahamas.

The point here is that citizenship of The Bahamas is precious and important and worthy. It is not to be enterprised or treated lightly.

I urge all citizens therefore to be mindful that we have in all things to be sure of our conduct. The world marks the manner of our bearing.

The policies are not complicated. They are not targeted at any particular national group.
I am hoping that we have a good discussion this morning.

Elcott Coleby
Deputy Director
Bahamas Information Services

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Go to Haiti instead of The Bahamas Ms. Daphne Campbell

By Dennis Dames:

I have been following the illegal immigration debate in our beloved country with great interest.  I was moved to provide my views on it in writing after hearing Ms. Daphne Campbell, Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives give her take on the matter.

Like so many Haitians and those of Haitian descent, Ms. Campbell wants to dictate immigration policies to the Bahamian Government.  She sounded crazy when she said: The Bahamian government officials have one week to apologise and reverse the new policies, or she will travel here with a delegation to address them face-to-face.

Ms. Campbell needs to travel to Haiti instead of The Bahamas to insist to the Haitian Government and people there that they need to plug the illegal migration of Haitians from Haiti.  There is where the outrage should be Ms. Campbell.

For too long the government of Haiti and the elite Haitians have turned a blind eye to the pressing and vexing matter of illegal migration from its shores.  The Bahamas has been delinquent in dealing vigorously and effectively with illegal immigrants for too long.  It’s about time that we restore law and order in our land, and addressing the illegal immigration issue is a major component in our crime fight.

It’s illegal and immoral Ms. Campbell, for illegal Haitians in particular – to feel that they and their children have rights to be citizens in a country where they have entered illegally and have babies galore.  It’s utter madness.

So, instead of advocating the boycott of The Bahamas by all and sundry Ms. Campbell, you should let Haitians leaving Haiti illegally know that they should boycott The Bahamas on their way north and join you in Florida.  That’s a better proposition.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Daphne Campbell, Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives ...vowed to stop at nothing until tourists and international businesses boycott The Bahamas ...because of controversial immigration policies

Florida Politician Calls For Boycott Of Bahamas

Tribune Staff Reporter

A FLORIDA lawmaker of Haitian descent vowed yesterday to stop at nothing until tourists and international businesses boycott this country because of controversial immigration policies that came into effect on November 1.

Daphne Campbell, Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, spoke in Florida about the matter during a press conference broadcast on Channel 7 news yesterday.

At one point during the conference, she exclaimed: “Boycott Bahamas! Boycott Bahamas to end discrimination against Haitian children!”  

Proclaiming to be a “voice for the voiceless,” Mrs Campbell later told this newspaper that she took her position after seeing a video showing Haitian children facing deportation to Haiti being led away during recent immigration arrests.

Distressed Haitian parents in Florida showed her the video, along with other “alarming” photos, she said.

She said Bahamian government officials have one week to apologise and reverse the new policies, or she will travel here with a delegation to address them face-to-face.

She also pledged to be persistent in raising awareness around the world about the “injustices” performed in this country as long as the immigration policies remain unchanged.

She said she will hold another press conference in a week if officials here do not reverse the policies.

Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell dismissed her threats yesterday.

“She’s a fool,” he said when contacted for comment. “Anyone who talks about boycotting the Bahamas, I can’t have any time for them. That’s absolute rot. It’s amazing the stupidity that’s circulating around this. It’s just astounding.”

He later noted in a statement that her claims about Haitian children being mistreated here are false.

Mrs Campbell said Haitian parents in Florida, expressing their distress over recent immigration apprehensions in this country, have been overcome with emotion as they seek her help even while she campaigns for re-election. 

“I got the information from a group of Haitian parents who came to my office in alarming and overwhelming distress,” she said. “I was preparing my campaign for my re-election. Even though I have a very nasty opponent, I put everything on the side to make sure my office wrote a letter to the Bahamian government, the prime minister of the Bahamas and we even reached out to the consulate in Miami. Plenty people came to my office to complain with videos and pictures.”

“I call on President Obama, Governor (Rick) Scott and the people who are supposed to make sure the voice of the voiceless are heard; we must boycott Bahamas.”

Asked how she planned to succeed in her efforts, she said: “We will do as much we can. I am a lawmaker. I could slap Bahamas with a law in Florida.”

“I will get all my colleagues with me,” she added. “I will get elected officials. We have Cuban elected officials with us supporting that initiative because it involves every culture, everybody who understands the meaning of children.”

She said children born in the Bahamas should never be deported.

“To me it is very unfair (to deport them),” she said. “It’s an injustice. . .for them to be deported to a country they don’t know, a country they can’t speak the language of, with no one to take care of them, to be deported – that’s terrible.”

“Bahamian culture has been doing this for years,” she continued. “I think they have no heart of God of all.”

November 11, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Talk about Immigration Roundups

No Such Creature as ‘Immigration Round-ups,’ Mitchell Says

By Simon Lewis:

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE – Devaughn Anderson accepts the Award of Excellence honour from the Hon. Frederick Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration during Graduation Ceremony for Class of 2014 – Squad A at Freeport, Grand Bahama on Thursday.  Left is Mr. Hubert E. Ferguson, Assistant Director of Immigration.
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE – Devaughn Anderson accepts the Award of Excellence honour from the Hon. Frederick Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration during Graduation Ceremony for Class of 2014 – Squad A at Freeport, Grand Bahama on Thursday.  Left is Mr. Hubert E. Ferguson, Assistant Director of Immigration.

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Frederick Mitchell said Thursday that he was deeply concerned about the talk of immigration roundups.

Mr. Mitchell made it clear that “there is no such creature” and that the Department of Immigration has as it always has done, immigration checks on a daily basis.

“There was nothing unusual about Saturday’s events save for the fact that someone decided to spin propaganda to discredit what is being done on a daily basis.

“All of us must be careful not to be hornswoggled and psychologically manipulated by video images that do not tell the truth,” the Minister stated.

His comments came as he addressed a graduating ceremony for Class of 2014, Squad A at the Gerald A. Bartlett Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Thursday evening.

Ten new Recruits, who underwent some four months of training in Grand Bahama joined the ranks of the Bahamas Immigration Department.  Only one day prior, a similar ceremony was conducted in New Providence where some forty young Bahamians were welcomed into the Department. The graduation ceremony in Freeport is believed to be a first for that island and the first outside of New Providence.

Focusing on the latest Immigration exercise as it related to children, the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister said that the truth is those children were abandoned by their parents and paroled to a responsible adult within two hours of their being secured by Immigration Officers.

“That is the truth.  But there is an axiom: never let the truth interfere with a good story.  Or don’t bore me with the facts; I have made up mind,” the Minister suggested.

Further, he informed that there are five children who still await the return of a responsible adult, but in the meantime their care is superintended by the Department of Social Services.

Additionally, he pointed out that the third set of children who were in fact housed at the Detention Centre, some 35 of them, came with their parents from Haiti on boats stopped on the seas over the past weeks.

“They had no previous known connection to The Bahamas.  They were repatriated to Haiti on Tuesday,” he advised.

Continuing in his remarks to a large gathering attending the colourful ceremony, serenaded by the the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, Mr. Mitchell added that the practical fact is that parents who enter the country illegally and are detained may protest their children being kept in separate facilities from them.

“So some accommodation may have to be made for the children in the Detention Centre to stay with their parents, given the sensitivities some have about children in the Detention Centre,” he said.

Mr. Mitchell also admitted speaking with his friend Mr. Joe Darville of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association.

“I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page.  This is not 1986 and the Department of Immigration carried out no raid or roundup.

“In any event, I am hoping that that nomenclature is banned forever from our lexicon.  I said in another context that we round up animals not human beings,” he said.

He also pointed out that from the time he became Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, he said that enforcement of Immigration rules would be consistent and continuous.

“I did not need to be involved in the Department’s operation matters.  My role is a policy one. I have stuck to that. Each day since I have been Minister, Immigration across the country, has been enforcing the law. So what happened on Saturday last was no extraordinary event.

“Those who seek to make it that are perpetrating a falsehood. The checks will continue. That is what Immigration does,” the Minister stated.

Mr. Mitchell also expressed some concerned about the pace of immigration processing at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

“This is becoming a vexing problem for the tourism product and we have attempted over the past year to fix this problem but it remains stubbornly persistent.  I am examining again methodologies to deal with this in the short term.

“In the long term we are asking the Government to invest in new border management control systems which will make processing faster at the border and introduce biometrics and Interpol checks.  However, we as always are cognizant of the shortage of resources,” he stated.

The Member of Parliament for the Fox Hill Constituency, Mr. Mitchell also made it clear that the Immigration Policies are simple, clear and in the best interest of every citizen of The Bahamas and every resident who lives here.

“There are for the peace and good order of The Bahamas.  So I urge everyone, friend and foe alike to take a deep breath, slow down, be calm and simply comply with the rules.  Life is good believe me.

“1st November was not an end but a beginning.  If there are issues that arise you all know that you have the most accessible government in the world. We are as democratic as a drawbridge, accessible and consultative to a fault,” he stated.

Mr. Mitchell also took the opportunity to remind the public that they have also indicated that they would wish to introduce a national identity card. 

The Minister also expressed that in the new realities, immigration is no longer a simple Bahamianization proposition but it is still Bahamians first.

“It is our job to monitor compliance with our immigration regulations.  We will be vigilant. In today’s environment, security is paramount for the state and our international partners need to know that we have best practices in security arrangements. Part of this is who belongs to The Bahamas and who has the right to live here,” he said.

Further, he advised that Grand Bahama has peculiar problems and that it has become a staging area for people from South America and the Far East and Africa to enter the United States using safe houses on the island.

He said special operations are conducted by the Department in this city to put a stop to this, and there will be operations of a covert nature to catch these criminals.

“The laws are going to be toughened and the regulations are going to be stricter.  If you want a safer Bahamas that is part of the larger price that we have to pay.  We all pledge to work together with civil society so that we understand the processes and our thinking,” he stated.

He also reminded the new recruits that Immigration will be called upon by our citizens to ameliorate the ill effects of so many things, one of which are the issues of the world economy.

“There is a limited amount that we can do but we have an obligation to act within our sphere of competency.

“That means that where people from the north of us come masquerading as visitors but being gainfully employed as property managers, as bankers and as salesmen, we must ensure that the rules apply to them as they do to gardeners, maids and handymen.

“The criticism that you will receive will not always be logical but you must hold your head and work in a directed and focused manner. You will hear all sorts of drivel.  Your integrity will be attacked but hold your head,” he stated.  (BIS Photos/Vandyke Hepburn)

NEW RECRUITS – Ten young Bahamians in Freeport, Grand Bahama joined the ranks of the Department of Immigration on Thursday.  They were welcomed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Frederick Mitchell and the Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville (seated center).  The new officers are pictured standing. Left to right seated are: Mrs. Fausteen Major Smith, Assistant Director; Dwight Beneby, Assistant Director; Hubert E. Ferguson, Assistant Director in-charge of Grand Bahama; Dr. William Pratt, Acting Director of Immigration; Hon. Frederick Mitchell; Hon. Michael Darville; Ms Cleola Hamilton, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Senator Tenisha Tynes; and Miss Sophia Ferguson, Senior Immigration Officer.
NEW RECRUITS – Ten young Bahamians in Freeport, Grand Bahama joined the ranks of the Department of Immigration on Thursday.  They were welcomed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Frederick Mitchell and the Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville (seated center).  The new officers are pictured standing. Left to right seated are: Mrs. Fausteen Major Smith, Assistant Director; Dwight Beneby, Assistant Director; Hubert E. Ferguson, Assistant Director in-charge of Grand Bahama; Dr. William Pratt, Acting Director of Immigration; Hon. Frederick Mitchell; Hon. Michael Darville; Ms Cleola Hamilton, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Senator Tenisha Tynes; and Miss Sophia Ferguson, Senior Immigration Officer.

November 07, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bahamas Resolve Ltd (“Resolve”) takes over $100 million in troubled commercial loans from Bank of The Bahamas Limited

Government Establishes Company to Take Control of Commercial Loans in Default at Bank of The Bahamas

Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie announces the establishment of Resolve, a new Bahamian company, which will take control of commercial loans in default at the Bank of The Bahamas. The announcement was made during a press conference held at the Office of The Prime Minister on Friday, October 31. Also pictured, L-R: Mr. Paul McWeeney, Managing Director, Bank of The Bahamas; the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of State for Finance; and Mrs. Wendy Craigg, Governor, Central Bank.  (BIS Photo/Peter L. Ramsay).

NASSAU, The Bahamas – A new Bahamian company has been established to take over $100 million in troubled commercial loans from Bank of The Bahamas Limited. The new company, named ‘Resolve’, will focus on recouping the outstanding loan balances owed to the government.  The announcement was made during a press conference held at the Office of The Prime Minister on Friday, October 31. Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, said that the government made this move in an attempt to ‘return the Bank to its former glory’ as a profitable entity.

“Resolve has taken over B$100M in troubled commercial loans from Bank of The Bahamas, thereby removing this risk from BOB’s books. In so doing, the Bank’s revenue prospects will be immediately and significantly improved.  At the same time, shareholder value and the Bank’s overall financial condition will be enhanced as well.  It will also allow Bank of The Bahamas to return to profitability in the near future and will restore full compliance with Central Bank and international regulatory standards for capital adequacy,” said Prime Minister Christie.

Mr. Christie emphasized that no public funds or National Insurance funds have been disbursed in connection with the assignment of these loans from BOB to Resolve.  Instead, he said that liability for these debts has been transferred to Resolve along with the benefit of the loans and the underlying security.   He explained that as the new owner of the transferred loans, Resolve would be implementing special mechanisms to assist in the collection of the overdue loans.

Secondly, this move, under which $100 million in commercial loan debt has been transferred from BOB to Resolve, was developed in close consultation with BOB’s legal advisors in this matter, Higgs & Johnson, and BOB’s external auditors, Ernst & Young, both of whom have provided affirmative opinions on the transaction. 

And thirdly, Mr. Christie said that this type of transaction is ‘not fundamentally dissimilar to state-led re-structuring’ exercises that have been undertaken in more developed economies of the world, including the U.S in the wake of the 2008 recession.

Mr. Christie said that the Government has plans to take other measures as well.

“In addition to what I have just outlined, I wish to make it known that the Bahamas Government, consistently with its 65% stake in BOB, will be pursuing new initiatives designed to steer more public sector business and public employee credit demand towards the Bank of The Bahamas,” he said. “ In doing so, however, the Government will, of course, be mindful of its obligation to maintain a fair and competitive commercial environment for all banks in The Bahamas.  I have therefore instructed the Ministry of Finance to determine the best course of action for achieving these objectives on a correctly balanced basis.”

There are also plans for BOB to undertake re-structuring action of its own to re-align and re-balance the bank’s business model towards more retail banking, consumer lending and e-banking products.  To this end, Mr. Christie said that BOB’s Board of Directors has been given several directives.

“BOB’s Board of Directors has also been directed to assess its management and cost structure, and to submit recommendations to the Government, as the majority shareholder, for management and administrative re-organization, before the end of 2014,” said Mr. Christie.

BOB is 100% Bahamian-owned: 65% by the Government of The Bahamas, with the remaining 35% being widely held by some 3,500 Bahamian shareholders. The bank has total assets of $771 million dollars, in comparison to only $93 million when the Government acquired ownership of the bank from the Bank of Montreal 25 years ago in 1988. The Bank has approximately 40,000 depositors today with deposits totaling $679 million dollars. It has total loan assets of approximately $650 million dollars and operates through 14 branches in The Bahamas. Currently, the bank employs over 350 Bahamians.

Bahamas Resolve Ltd (“Resolve”) is wholly owned and wholly controlled by the Government of The Bahamas.

November 03, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Better Bahamian-Haitian Relations for Success and Wealth in The Bahamas and Haiti

Selling Haiti as a place to invest in

The Nassau Guardian Editorial:

The Bahamas government recently signed three agreements with the Haitian government intended to further trade development between the countries and lead to a decrease in illegal migration from Haiti to The Bahamas. The signings took place during the last visit of Haitian President Michel Martelly to The Bahamas.

The agreements include a framework for bilateral cooperation, an agreement on trade and technical cooperation in agriculture and fisheries, and an agreement on the promotion and protection of investments. More specifically, the agricultural agreement allows Haiti to export fresh fruit to The Bahamas.

Talking up his country, Martelly said one way to curtail illegal migration would be for Bahamians to invest in Haiti.

“The people that come here, they don’t come here because they don’t love their country,” he said. “They come here because they want a better life.

“So if we can bring the better life to them by getting investors to go to Haiti to invest in bananas, in mango, in corn, in rice and in vegetables... that would be good enough.”

Many Bahamians are stuck in a bigoted view of Haiti and Haitians. That country is the poorest in the hemisphere and its people have long been fleeing to other nations in search of better lives.

The discussion here when it comes Haiti is too often just about the illegal migration of Haitians to The Bahamas. There is money to be made in Haiti by Bahamians.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Haiti’s real GDP to grow by four percent this year and the same amount in 2015. The World Bank notes that the positive trends in Haiti’s economy can primarily be attributed to a pick-up in agricultural production and the construction and industrial sectors – particularly the textile and garment industries.

In his opening remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) at the British Colonial Hilton during his visit, Martelly challenged the international perception of Haiti as a country dependent on donations and international aid, stating that the country is “distancing [itself] from aid and inviting trade”.

Members of Martelly’s delegation stressed the opportunities in the power, construction and agricultural sectors that Haiti offers Bahamian businesses, also calling for Bahamian assistance in strengthening Haitian financial services.

While some Bahamians remain stuck in the view of Haiti as an eternal basket case from which our immigration problems originate, BCCEC CEO Edison Sumner is wise to the gradual transformation down south, describing the growing market in northern Haiti as a “new hot spot for the incubation and expansion of business” between the two countries.

Bahamians and Haitians now need to shift the myopic discourse that has evolved between us. We need to focus on the wealth that can be created by doing business together, rather than being paranoid about the number of Haitians living in The Bahamas.

November 01, 2014


Sunday, November 2, 2014

International conservationists, Biminites and other Bahamians want Bimini’s ecological heritage preserved

International Experts Call For Protection Of Bimini’S Environment


INTERNATIONAL conservation experts are urging the government to fulfil its promise and protect Bimini’s unique ecological heritage and the local industries that have depended upon it for generations.

The experts, hosted on a tour of Bimini by environmental advocacy group Save The Bays (STB), this week called for the official establishment of the North Bimini Marine Reserve. Among other important natural resources, the reserve would protect mangrove forests that serve as a nursery for the abundant sea life that has attracted visitors to the island over the years.

“From an ecological perspective, it’s incredibly important to maintain these mangroves in order to maintain the whole marine ecosystem,” said Rachael Silverstein, the Waterkeeper for Biscayne Bay, Florida.

“This is one of the only mangrove locations in this area and all of the important species that come from the Gulf Stream that people like to fish have habitats here and live in the nurseries here,” she said. “If we destroy that we also destroy our fishing industry and our diving industry and the repercussions can be felt across the Caribbean, across the Bahamas and certainly in Miami – we won’t be able to come here anymore to fish, to dive or snorkel.”

The global Waterkeeper Alliance is a leading non-governmental organisation that co-ordinates more than 200 stewards of the marine environment, or Waterkeepers, who are assigned to rivers, bays, lakes and coastal areas.

Sharon Khan, international director of the Waterkeeper Alliance, said the North Bimini reserve is one of several key protected areas for which the organisation is advocating around the world.

“I believe there is nothing more important than establishing marine reserves in ecosystems throughout this world that sustain our global life,” she said.


Alex Matthiessen, former Hudson Bay Waterkeeper and now CEO of the Blue Marble Project, said: “The (Bahamas) government has already established that they want to create this reserve, but they need to formalise it. They need to make it a legal reserve. The wetlands at the north end of the lagoon are incredibly important and are therefore vital to the local businesses and industries here.”

International conservationists have added strength to the concerned Biminites and other Bahamians who want to see the island’s ecological heritage preserved.

Prime Minister Perry Christie has yet to respond to these entreaties, including a letter from Bimini’s local council requesting that the reserve become reality as soon as possible.

The council asked that the Christie administration commit to the protected area swiftly, in an effort to ensure that developers do not construct a golf course on the island and to prevent further development on its northern tip.

The letter said: “It has become commonplace that major developments occur on our island without notice to its residents or to this elected council. We, therefore, respectfully ask that you respond to these requests as quickly as possible.”

The golf course was among the plans for Resorts World Bimini’s resort and casino development, which environmentalists claim has already caused extensive damage to the island’s renowned reef system, including many of the top dive sites.

Local advocacy group the Bimini Blue Coalition has issued a petition calling on the government to establish the reserve as repeatedly promised.

It has more than 600 signatures to date.

Despite Resorts World’s insistence that the golf course is now off the table, STB director Romi Ferreira said the pattern of frequently changing plans has left many sceptical and in need of official assurance.

As for the claim by Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V Alfred Gray that the government is only waiting for conservationists to decide on the boundaries of the reserve, Ferreira pointed out that its proposed parameters have long been established.

In 2012, the Bimini Marine Protected Area Campaign submitted detailed images and descriptions of the proposed boundaries to government, including precise map co-ordinates.

October 30, 2014