« On the Milk Stand | Main | The 9/11 Conspiracy »

September 05, 2006



Dear Sir Arthur:
You seem to give the Cubans a pass on these things?

Etienne Christen

Dear Sir Arthur:

I have always enjoyed your columns as well balanced and appropriate, and I completely agree with the first half of your column, but I strongly disagree with the second.

I believe that the Bahamas suffers greatly from this misperception that outsiders don't have a 'right' to speak on Bahamian affairs. It is merely a product of our own national insecurity that we respond in such a strongly reactive measure to 'outsiders' commenting on our affairs. Granted, you can say that the former Ambassador speaks with too much bravado or what have you, but the truth is - he has no authority in our country anymore. His position, while bombastic, carries no legal weight. The Bahamas should thrive on open and free discourse and not trouble itself with silencing voices it doesn't like. Let all the voices speak, the truth usually comes to light that way. If the former Ambassador thinks that the Attorney General would make a better Deputy, then that is his opinion. Bahamians should be adroit enough to hear his opinion and agree, disagree or dismiss it as they see fit. His opinion contributes to the national debate and the more debating about issues concerning the halls of power - the better.

Secondly, ex-pats who have lived here or visited here should be listened to, as they offer the invaluable view of outsiders. I say invaluable because our entire economy is dependant on outsiders - their opinions matter. I must emphasise that this is not to say that they should be listened to and obeyed. My point is simply that we must leave all avenues open for outsiders to express their views. We can agree or disagree as we see fit - again, they have no authority, they cannot determine government policy and they cannot vote as citizens. By letting them speak though, we are well informed of the opinions of foreign nations and governments without whom the Bahamian economy would be in dire straits. It is much better that concerns are voiced in an open forum where Bahamians can hear them long before our failure to address them leads to other governments and/or corporate entities adopting hostile policies. We can only be proactive with our policies if we are informed about all the issues, otherwise we are condemned to the reactive mindset that has dominated our history thus far. Let the press be open to all voices that are concerned with the Bahamas.

The United States, in its current incarnation, might not be the greatest beacon of democracy in the world, but the principles enshrined in its constitution are still the noblest that man has conceived to date. In particular, the principle of Freedom of Speech: the Bahamas would do well to adopt and protect this principle.

I thank you for your many insightful articles and I look forward to many more.

Arthur Foulkes

Dear Mr. Christen
Sorry I've just got around to this. I have no problem with what you say. I only reserve the right to respond to what Mr. Blankenship says and to say what I think about how he says it. I never suggested that he should not be allowed to speak.

Arthur Foulkes

Give the Cubans a pass on what things? What do they have to do with Ninety Knowles' extradition? I don't recall "the Cubans" saying anything about it.

Etienne Christen

Dear Sir Arthur:

Thanks for responding. I am glad that is your view. My comment wasn't so much a direct response to your article only, but a response to a trend I hear often in the Bahamas. A trend I thought I detected echoes of which in your article - I stand corrected. There is a serious problem in the country in respect to the view of 'outsiders' versus 'insiders'. It is 'outsiders' who bring in tourist dollars, it is 'outsiders' who bring in foreign capital which fuels the growth of the Bahamian economy and it is 'outsiders' who utilise our financial services and sustain the professional class of bankers and lawyers in the country. The views of these people matter greatly, because ultimately, if the Bahamas is a corporation, then they are our customers. That is an understanding that doesn't seem to exist for many Bahamians. The Bahamian experience is a product that we offer to the world - the world's people (but in particular Americans) are our customers and we need to know what they think of our product.

The airport is a good example. It would be excellent if someone who had access to investigative means would do a cross study on the airport in Panama (Tocumen), which was privatised about 2 years ago and the one in Nassau. The case study would be most instructive as to why Nassau has achieved one thing: renaming the airport for political ends and Panama has achieved something else: improving the service of the main airport of its country to such an extent that it is difficult to recognise the airport only 2 years later. Panama has a goal: to make itself the commercial hub of central and south America. In order to do that, it listened to all the 'outsiders' who knew a thing or two about running airports and pursued that goal. In the Bahamas, fat cats with selfish aims continue to hamper any major reform projects - whether it is BTC's privatisation or the airports. I point out though, in both these cases they have been very good at renaming these institutions. Its all smoke and hot air and we really need to get cooking if this country is going to go from underdeveloped to truly developing nation and beyond.

Linda Braun

Hi Etienne.
You said a mouth full and more.Good for you. Its time the young people of this Country stand up and say what they feel. Keep it up.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Become a Fan


  • Bahama Pundit is a group weblog that publishes the work of top Bahamian commentators. We welcome your feedback. You may link to this site but no material may be reproduced without permission.

Email this blog

Global Village

  • Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

Site Meter

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 09/2005

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner