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July 31, 2013


Richard Coulson

4,000 people, or some fraction thereof, living in sub-standard conditions, is certainly deplorable, but is it a national catastrophe? Is
there any real evidence that the Haitian population is growing at rate to make Bahamians a minority? What statistics about free social/medical services for Haitians? Do they in fact create more crime than Bahamians? Any figures on what they actually earn, part of which is spent in our economy? Of course, clean-up steps must be taken, but long-range solution must be to enforce minimum wage, grant residence status to those who are employed, and force repatriation of those who are not employed - a time consuming but not impossible task.

larry smith

I covered those questions in 2008...


larry smith

The 2013 report by the Department of Environmental Health is inadequate. There are no plans (preferably GIS based) detailing:
- the area of the of the shanty towns
- the surrounding subdivisions, developments, or businesses impacted by them
- the location of utilities available in the areas
- any other relevant information particularly environmental features, for
example freshwater resources, wetlands, flood prone areas, sink holes, and
of course dumping areas and recreational areas
- the list of shanty towns on all islands is not exhaustive.

larry smith

The key point to remember is that shanty towns are illegal Bahamian businesses that can be effectively dealt with.

leandra esfakis

Transparency. Planning sensibly. Carrying out the plan. Accountability.

The Holy Grails of Bahamian Politics?

jamaine coakley

I found this article very interesting. In fact, the entire situation is one that demands a serious examination.

I categorically do not support the views proposed by Arinthia Komolafe and others regarding citizenship as it relates to children born in the Bahamas to non Bahamian parents. I support citizenship by blood - as is the rule in most countries in the world and in all G8 countries, save for the United States.

While I think it is clear that there is fear among many persons as it relates to this group of persons, I maintain that it is an even more dangerous policy to undertake to move out of that fear to change who we tell the world a Bahamian is. I suggest to you that this would be an open invitatioin to the law of unintended negative consequences that this country could never recover from.

It is clear that we are unable to adequately protect our borders. One only has to look at the influx of immigrants who boldly roam the streets. It would be a welcomed change if one of your articles would examine the local and international repercussions of policies that in effect give a Bahamian passport to persons who we know the rest of the world seeks to keep out.

With in-laws from other Caribbean countries, I am acutely aware of the unique position Bahamians enjoy in their travel to the United States. It would be grossly naïve to think that our ability to continue to travel on a police certificate would be allowed to continue if we are not very guarded in how we give out citizenship.

Finally, most countries have a quota on how many persons from a particular country they will consider for regularization. I submit that we have long surpassed any reasonable number that should be considered for certain countries including Haiti and Jamaica. I submit that the threat to peace, harmony and unity in this nation rests wholly on our ability to respond to this dilemma, not from a position of fear but from a position of strength.

In my humble opinion, the very fact that there is an element of fear and distrust of this group of persons confirms what many Bahamians believe - that they may be among us but they are not of us.

I think the frustration and anger of the Bahamian populace is not being honestly discussed and it is that frustration that I expect and fear will erupt in a way that none of us want, for, you see, they are becoming conscious that this is the only country they have.

larry smith

Thanks for your comment, although it did not address the subject of my article, which was illegal shanty towns operated by Bahamians.

The question of citizenship is a complex and difficult one - as Sean McWeeney recently acknowledged.

However, I do not think the scale of the problem is as you suggest. For example, from 2002 to 2007 the Christie administration granted 2,083 citizenship requests while the Ingraham administration gave out some 3200 citizenships during their last term.

Not all of these were to Haitian nationals. Many were to children who had lived here all their lives, spouses of Bahamians, and children under 18. Relatively large numbers of Jamaicans and Americans were also included in these figures.

We should also consider the fact that, according to the US government, there are some 12,000 documented and 70,000 undocumented Bahamians living in the United States, not to mention other countries.

I don't know what policies "that in effect give a Bahamian passport to persons who we know the rest of the world seeks to keep out" you are referring to.

And I do not think that being able to make shopping trips to Florida on a police certificate is a birthright worth fighting for.

I would also point out that Sidney Poitier, Arthur Foulkes, Lynden Pindling, Clement Maynard and many others are the offspring of regional immigrants.

I do agree with you that the issues are being swept under the carpet. We should indeed be having an evidence-based discussion of these matters but the political class appears to be afraid of the reaction.

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