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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Obama and the death of Honduras' beauty queen



US President Barak Obama's immigration plan announced Thursday is to be commended for allowing undocumented yet otherwise law-abiding immigrants to "come out of the shadows and get right with the law."

However, it overlooks one important aspect – the reason why Latinos risk their lives to illegally enter the US in the first place. If their living situation back home were decent enough, they would have little reason to want to leave.

But the situation back home for many Latinos is hardly worth sticking around for. Take, for example, the most recent case of the 19-year old Honduran beauty queen María José Alvarado, murdered alongside her 23-year old sister Sofía just days before she was due to compete in the Miss World pageant in London.

The case has helped to shed light on Honduras' plight as the country with the highest homicide rate in the world. The killings highlight the fragility of the security situation and expose the weak institutions in the Central American country.

Homicide rateHomicide rate per 100,000 population2012HondurasVenezuelaEl SalvadorColombiaMexico20120100255075Source: with data from UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Sadly, this is not the first time the death of a beauty queen has brought attention to violence in some Latin American countries. The region rang in the new year with the untimely demise of former Miss Venezuela, Mónica Spear, and her British ex-husband, murdered by roadside burglars.

Not to mention the nationwide protests gripping Mexico over the apprehension, disappearance and suspected murder of 43 students from Iguala, which has spun into public outcry over the entrenched collusion between state and organized crime, which gives way to human rights violations.

Regarding crime, Obama's policy proposes to deport "felons, not families" and "criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who's working hard to provide for her kids."

While this would seem to make sense for those living in the US, the policy could actually be 'exporting' the gang culture cultivated within US borders to its southern neighbors, who are much weaker and unprepared to confront the influx of violent criminals, thereby exacerbating the problem in Latin America.

So what can the US do to make the situation better south of the border? Given the geophysical proximity, one would think that boosting trade, and thereby increasing business and making more money go around, would behoove both sides.

However, as we previously noted, Obama showed scant interest in Latin America during his first term in office, with a foreign policy focus on Asia and the Middle East. That has largely continued to this day, with the likes of the Islamic State and related issues getting the lion's share of his attention.

In LatAm, according to the World Bank's Doing Business report, countries such as Colombia and Mexico shot up in the 2015 ranking while other more solid economies like Chile and Peru remained relatively stable. The pieces are starting to fall into place, and Obama ought to jump at the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with Latin America as a way to preemptively address the immigration puzzle.

November 21, 2014

BN Americas

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Illegal Migrants are Not Welcome in The Bahamas


Honourable Fred Mitchell, MP - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, The Bahamas
I wish Mr. Speaker to repeat to the House the policy of the government on Immigration announced on 30th October of this year. This concretized months of work announcing that these changes were coming. This announcement should therefore not have been a surprise to anyone.

The public is reminded that as of 1st November 2014 the following will apply:

No applications will be accepted in The Bahamas for first-time work permit applicants who have no legal status in The Bahamas. All first-time applicants for work permits without legal status in The Bahamas will have to be certified as having been seen by The Bahamas Embassy in their home country or the nearest Consular Office of The Bahamas. There are no exceptions to this rule.

This does not apply to renewals once those are made before the current permit expires.

As of 1st November, 2014 the Passport Office will no longer issue Certificates of Identity to those persons born of non-nationals in The Bahamas. Those individuals who have valid Certificates of Identity must now obtain the passport of their nationality and apply for a residency permit which will show that they have a right to live and work in The Bahamas. There are no exceptions to this except in accordance with our international treaty obligations.

A Special Residency Permit will be available for those individuals who have the right to apply for Bahamian citizenship at the age of 18 and before their 19th birthday. The processing fee is 100 dollars and the annual permit is 25 dollars. These permits will only be issued to those persons whose parents are lawfully in The Bahamas. This will allow the holder to live, work and go to school in The Bahamas until such time as their citizenship status is determined. These are obtained upon application at the Department of Immigration. Applications can be obtained for the special permit beginning on Monday 3rd November.

All people who live and work in The Bahamas are reminded that it is prudent to have a document on your person, at all times, which shows that you have a right to live and work in The Bahamas.

The public is asked to be patient as the new policies unfold.

Any comments on the policy may be addressed to the Director of Immigration.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration thanks the public for their support and cooperation.
Since that time there have been unfortunate reports mainly by way of social media which have the effect of poisoning the well with regard to these policies. Let me repeat: The policies are generic. They are not targeted at any particular national group.

The policies are a logical consequence of the constitution which we have which does not confer citizenship by birth on children born in this country whose parents are not Bahamian. That is what we inherited and that is what we work with.

The policies have been described in various ways by people who seem not to wish The Bahamas any good. The names do not bear repeating. The Prime Minister has described one critics' statements as nonsense so I will go no further than that. That characterizes in my view so much of the ill-informed commentary about this.

If you will permit me a personal observation however while one must be cognizant of the international dimension, these policies are for The Bahamas and the only question Bahamians need to ask is whether it is in the best interest of the country.

My surmise of the reaction to the chord which this has struck in The Bahamas is that this strikes at the very identity of the country and many feel that the country’s future is threatened if actions are not taken to stem the tide of illegal and I stress illegal migration.

I do not speak in those apocalyptic terms but what I know is that law and order requires us to act to stem the tide of boat after boat after boat coming to this country seemingly unimpeded with hundreds of people on those boats with no visa, no means of taking care of themselves and no jobs. That becomes a national security problem. No government can stand still in the face of that. We faced that situation in at least two months during this past year.

We have repatriated over 3000 people to their home countries this year. The cost is unsustainable.

The Detention Centre is again at capacity, just two weeks after a repatriation exercise.

There are two flights scheduled to depart next week.

So mathematics dictates this course of action.

I repeat: immigration is a blunt instrument. It is not social work. It is a policing action and requires difficult and hard decisions. Decision making goes in this cycle: the policy, its implementation, the reaction. The first reaction is resistance in some quarters. This test of the officials by those who oppose it is to see if it will shake your resolve by creating alarm in the society, the press and the world community. If we do not flinch, then that is the first indication to them that the psychological climate in which the law enforcement is operating has changed. It sends out a signal that this is a place that illegal migrants should not come. It is that psychological mindset that we are seeking to break.

While many have concentrated on the campaign of misinformation, I would rather share with you what has been said about the policy that is positive:

I quote: “It concerned us greatly when we heard the vicious and unfair comments fielded against The Bahamas by Mrs. Daphne Campbell. Neither Mrs. Campbell or Mrs. Jetta Baptiste reside in The Bahamas, and therefore, we do not feel that they have the authority to speak on behalf of Haitians and people of Haitian descent in this country in the tone and manner in which they have spoken. While they are free to express their opinions, we wish to make our position clear that we oppose their suggestions that the Bahamas should be boycotted by Americans and other nationalities via its tourism product." – United Association of Haitians and Bahamians.

I wish to share the results of the poll published by Umwale Rahming of Public Domain and reported by Candia Dames of the Nassau Guardian on Monday 17th November 2014:

The sample size is 520; this is scientifically an accurate predictor of general public opinion I am advised for our population size:

Do you approve of the policy?

85.4 per cent said yes

With 69.4 strongly approving and 16 per cent somewhat approving and 11.8 per cent disapproving.

Do you think the new policy should be applied to both parents and children or just parents?

71 per cent said to both parents and children.

Do you think the government is doing the right thing despite the criticism in some quarters of it being too harsh?
63.2 per cent said yes, 27.9 per cent agree with the policy but wishes it were executed in a another way.

Does this new policy make you feel that the government is showing leadership?
59.5 per cent said yes

33.9 per cent said no

6.6 per cent didn’t know

The writer is Candia Dames, not known to support the work of this government, and she wrote: “National Review has no doubt that local support for the immigration policy will continue to hold strong. We hope that it is sustained and intensified. On the immigration issue the Government seems to be getting it right.”

The Leader of the Opposition made the following statement yesterday:

“We are one when it comes to the protection of our sovereignty. The FNM believes that in the main, the actions being taken by the administration are right and will redound to the benefit of The Bahamas in the long term.”

Mr. Speaker, this suggests that this policy has as close to a universal approval that you can have in this country. I believe that is an historic first and I believe that this House and this generation ought to salute itself for this unique accomplishment in our history.

It is a consensus that we should not misuse or abuse but we should seek to keep the consensus and to act in a humane but dispassionate way to ensure that the sovereignty of our country is protected.

I undertake to protect that consensus and to work with my opposite number, the Shadow Minister, in that regard.

I have been authorized by the Cabinet to speak with the Bahamian community in Miami on Saturday at a meeting at St Agnes Church Hall at 6 p.m. and to meet with the Secretary General at the Organization of American States and the CARICOM Caucus in Washington at the earliest opportunity.

I have already met with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) here in Nassau. I asked them whether they can play a role in supporting the capacity of our neighbours to the south to produce their national passports. We have been advised by the press that some difficulties may arise with that. For the record, we had earlier received assurances as early as the 28th July that the production of passports would not have been a problem.

The Prime Minister has met with the leaders of certain national groups in this country and they have made various suggestions that are being examined. However, it is important to say that The Bahamas should do nothing which signals to the world that our resolve on this issue is slackening or weakening. That would be a grave error and sabotage our future best interests.

I spoke to the 32 men and women of the Enforcement Unit of the Department of Immigration this morning who are headed by Kirk at the Department of Immigration in the presence of the Director William Pratt. They are concerned about whether their work is supported. I assured them that it is. The Leader of the Opposition in his statement has gone out of his way to make the point of their professionalism in carrying of their jobs. They have the support of the government.

I thanked them for their work and asked them once again to be safe, to be respectful to be humane but be disciplined and apply the law without fear or favour.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.


CrossFire - Facebook

Human rights in Haiti

By Clément Doleac
Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs


Dictatorship and human rights violations in Haiti

In the past five decades, Haitian people have suffered systematic human rights violations that were rarely condemned, thus preventing any state from having real democratic institutions and impeding any democratic political regime to exist.

From 1957 to 1986, the Duvalier family exerted a harsh dictatorship in Haiti without respect for fundamental human rights, such as rights of association, social rights, of economic rights and cultural rights. These dictatorships received millions in US government aid under various security and humanitarian reasons because of their role as a bulwark against communism (such as the Trujillo dictatorship in Dominican Republic).[1]

After being elected in 1957 and having served in office for seven years, Francois Duvalier proclaimed himself president for life in 1964. When he died in 1971, his son Jean-Claude dynastically took office, who was strongly supported by the US as part of an anti-communist shield in the country.[2] Jean-Claude fled the country due to mass protests and political opposition against the authoritarian rule.[3] He departed on February 7, 1986, flying to France in a US Air Force aircraft, illustrating how he consistently benefited from the intrusive behavior of neo-colonial powers.[4]

During the Duvalier dictatorship, thousands of recalcitrant opponents of Duvalier were murdered, directly or indirectly by the military and the Tonton Macoute, while abductions, extra-judiciary execution, rape, and torture were also common practices as well. The state and its agents were responsible for humiliating treatment, thefts, extortions, and expropriations.[5] Around 100,000 Haitians sought asylum in foreign countries, such as the Dominican Republic, the US base of Guantanamo, and Florida, as well as Europe and other Latin American countries. Nearly 300,000 persons sought refuge from Port-au-Prince to more remote parts of Haiti.

After a transition period, the democratically elected popular priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide came to office. In a constitutionalist action, his ascension happened against a background of right-wing death squads and the threat of military coups. As Haiti expert Paul Farmer once stated, “Aristide was seen as a threat in the US.” The New York Times wrote, in one of is more pathetic moments, pictured Aristide as “a cross between the Ayatollah and Fidel”.[6] The Haitian economic elite shared this dislike. As one Haitian businessman put it: “If it comes to a choice between the ultra-left and the ultra-right, I’m ready to form an alliance with the ultra-right”.[7] Nonetheless, Aristide was elected on December 16, 1990, by an overwhelming 67 percent of the vote in a field of 12 candidates.[8] No run-off was required.

In fact, the Haitian elite allied with high-ranking members of the Haitian army and Haitian National Intelligence Service (SIN) to conspire against the elected president. They were able to successfully overthrow Aristide in a military coup the following year.[9]

Return to Democracy and Interference in the Hopeful Elected Presidency of Haiti

After three years of terror, Mr Jean Bertrand Aristide came back into office in 1994 for a short amount of time in order to finish his term as elected president. During his two years in office, Aristide abolished the Haitian army, and in 1996 became the first elected civilian to see another elected civilian, René Préval, succeed him as president. Préval himself had the distinction of becoming Haiti’s first president ever to serve out his term, neither a day more nor less than was his due.[10] In November 2000, Aristide was reelected again for a four-year term.

Aristide’s second term, however, was undermined by the governments of the US and France. US government hostility had been no secret since 1991, and the historical support that Washington had for the Haitian military was clearly evident. Rebel leader Guy Philippe, for example, had received training during the last coup at a US military facility in Ecuador. Philippe was known to have executed several pro-democracy activists, including Louis-Jodel Chamblain. Philippe had fled Haiti in October 2000, when the authorities discovered him plotting a coup with a group of security forces officials.[11]

For its part, the French government was insulted by Aristide due to his ongoing claims about a debt France owed to Haiti. Aristide stated that France “extorted this money from Haiti by force and should give it back to us so that we can build primary schools, primary healthcare, water systems and roads”.[12] He had done calculations, adding in interest and adjusting for inflation, “to calculate that France owes Haiti US$21,685,135,571.48 and counting”.[13]

In 2002 and 2003, several incidents occurred in the countryside during by the US-backed right-wing militia. These included the killing of a number of Aristide’s supporters and members of the far left-wing militia (the so-called chimeres, “chimeras”). A raging civil war was soon underway. In 2003, the Canadian government hosted the Ottawa Initiative for Haiti in Montreal in order to determine the future of Haiti’s government. Officials from Canada, France, the US and various Latin American countries were present, yet no Haitian officials attended. The conference resulted in an expressed preference for regime change in Haiti in less than a year.[14]

The right-wing militia took over control of several cities in 2003 and Cap-Haitien, the second most important city in the country, in February 2004.[15] The militia received support from sectors of Haiti’s elite as well as from sectors of the Dominican military and government cohorts at the time. It is also believed that they had contact with U.S. and French intelligence.[16]

Despite massive protests supporting Aristide in Port-au-Prince and the acceptance of an international peace plan by President Aristide on February 21, the US and French governments, “invited” Aristide to leave the country in order to bring peace and security again to the country. In fact, the US military “accompanied for his own security” the constitutionally elected president on a US Air Force flight.

The Dissident Voice reports that since then “a quasi UN trusteeship had begun. Since that time the Haitian National Police has been heavily militarized and steps have been taken towards recreating the military”.[17] With the end of Aristide’s second presidential term, human rights violations have begun to rise again. [18]

Impunity in Haiti under United Nations’ MINUSTAH presence

In 2005, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations stated that the human rights violations that were being found in Haiti still exist but did not derive from the state or government but the system. More specifically they emanated from two antagonistic and elderly armed sectors of the population. The first consisted mostly of paramilitaries and ex-militaries (the Army had been disbanded in 2005) with the objective of destabilizing the leftist government. The second was composed of Aristides’s supporters rebelling against him through the creation of the Front de Resistance Nationale (FRN, “National Liberation Front”). The resulting insurrection had led to the interposition of a United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, also known as MINUSTAH, over the last nine years.

Twenty-two lawsuits dealing with crimes against humanity were filed against Jean-Claude Duvalier regarding the crimes perpetrated during his dictatorship when he returned to Haiti in 2011. Nonetheless, Judge Jean Carves waived every lawsuit against him within a short time. In 2014, an appellate court declared that the lawsuits for crimes against humanity were valid, but Duvalier died in October 2014, which was before the statement was made. As for the violations committed by private groups and Aristide’s supporters and opponents, most cases still go unpunished but his estate of many millions remains an irresistible lure.

From “Yes, We Can” to “No, You Can’t”: U.S. Military Occupation after the 2010 Earthquake

The election of President Obama led to high hopes for a dramatic change in US foreign policy in Haiti, but these were crushed by the harsh reality of the continuity of American foreign policy, which has proven not to roam from their grim past.

In January 2010, just after a major earthquake shook the country, President Obama sent the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to Haiti in order to “secure” Port-au-Prince’s airport. After three days, SOUTHCOM’s deployed around 22,000 members of the US military throughout the country and a US Navy and Coast Guard flotilla surrounded the island as if perhaps Haiti had decided to declare war on the United States, an unsheathed memory of a troubled past.[19] The United States took full command of Haiti’s airport and airspace without any regards to questions of national sovereignty, and the US government restricted all entry and exit from the country. The actions did little to improve the country’s recovery efforts.[20]

The heavy US military presence in Haiti after the earthquake turned out to be but a part of Obama’s larger strategy of containment of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were chosen to lead the US civilian response, and the US government established an Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission with Clinton as co-chair in order to effectively control every aspect of Haiti’s economics and politics.[21]

The Violation of Democracy in the Name of Stability: The 2011 Elections in Haiti

Additionally, one of the priorities of the Obama administration was to effectively hijack the Haitian electoral process in 2011. The Center for Economic and Policy research (CEPR) released a report after the 2011 elections displaying many of the problems that had occurred with the election.[22] The Organization of American States (OAS) concluded that the elections represented a political decision rather than an electoral one. Many citizens displaced by the earthquake were not allowed to vote, and fewer than 23 percent of registered voters had their vote counted.[23] In addition, numerous electoral violations were reported including ballot stuffing, destroyed ballots, and intimidation.

Former First Lady Mirlande Manigat won the first round of the election and had to run off against a second opponent. OAS election observers chose to “examine the results”, which led to the removal of the governing party’s candidate Jude Celestin of the Inite (“Unity”) party in favor of a pop musician candidate Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly who, in the end, was elected president.[24]

Ricardo Seitenfus, a special representative for the OAS in Haiti, states that a secret ‘core group’ of foreign dignitaries sought to force the president of Haiti out of office in a clean-cut coup. He stressed that this core group also “engineered an intervention in Haiti’s presidential elections that year that ensured that the governing party’s candidate would not proceed to a runoff.”[25] It appears then that this disruption was backed by illegal foreign intervention against the Haitian government as well as by a series of human rights violation in which the US government, the United Nations Secretary, and the OAS all shared responsibility.

When Aristide tried to return to his country in 2013 after nearly ten years in exile in South Africa, President Obama personally called South African President Jacob Zuma twice in order to block Aristide’s return.[26]. President Obama also effectively persuaded the French government and UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon to join efforts in order to prevent further “threats.” Even after the return of former Haitian President Aristide (thanks to South Africa’s resistance to American imperialism), the US government all but installed the neo-Duvalierist Michel Martelly as president as a mere puppet to defend US interests. Bill Clinton’s former aide, Mr Garry Conille, was later named Haiti’s prime minister.[27]

After Ten Years of Military Occupation, Human Rights in Haiti are in a Much More Deteriorated State

These political intrigues and this spoliation of democracy by the US government has not served the best interests of the Haitian people. One of the most emblematic cases is the cholera epidemic in the country. Even despite the fact that the United Nations constantly negated its responsibilities, many families of victims have launched lawsuits against the UN, stating that the epidemic were prompted mainly by some UN soldiers from Nepal. The result of cholera epidemic was the killing of around 10,000 Haitians in the past four years.[28]

Furthermore, several natural disasters such as the earthquake in January 2010, Storm Isaac in August 2012, and Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, have led to the displacement of two million people who have since been installed in refugee camps.[29] More than one year later, in December 2013, there were still nearly 150,000 persons housed in these camps. Only 72 of these camps were built on public spaces while 229 were built on private property.

Around 18 percent of these camps were eventually closed because of governmental orders and 10 percent were closed due to evictions. The evictions, carried out by police or military force without secured alternative housing options, were a human rights violation. Most of those evicted still have yet to find new accommodations and are still living in the street or in miserable camps.

The institutional fragility of the Haitian state has clearly led to unstable an undermining of economic, social, and cultural rights of the Haitian people. The authorities are not able to provide the deserved rights in respect the availability of fields such as alimentation, housing, education, health or and access to jobs which are all but ignored.

An extreme example is that child exploitation continues to remain a reality in Haiti. Since the earthquake, some poor families have “given” their children to rich families. The children receive education, food, and housing in exchange for domestic tasks. In full daylight, these children, called the “restaveks,” are exploited, deprived of their rights, exposed to physical and verbal abuses, and are obligated to engage in forceful and painful work under conditions slightly better than slavery. UNICEF reported in January of 2012 that there are around 225,000 “restaveks” in Haiti.[30] Sexual violence is also a big issue in Haiti, with around fifty cases each year, many likely to go unreported[31].

Furthermore, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN has reported that human rights defenders have been prosecuted throughout the country.

Civil and political rights remain fragile due to weakness of governing state and institutions. The poor access to the judiciary system and high crime rates in Haiti are evidence of this. The murder rate has risen from 5.6 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009 to more than 14.3 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012. Cases of public lynching have become more prevalent with more than 100 a year occurring between 2010 and 2012, illustrating the low confidence in the judicial system.

Moreover, the local and legislative elections initially scheduled for 2012 have yet to occur and there is still no date for these elections to be staged.

The Haitian president has sought to appear as to be the one fulfilling his duty by purposing a new draft electoral law, which members of the Senate refuse to ratify citing the unconstitutionality of the process leading to this draft.

In addition, the situation of the Haitian people living abroad is also of concern because they represent a very high level risk of dangerous statelessness. In fact, many Haitian people abroad are victims of the denial of their rights to identity, nationality, and personal dignity.

For example, in September 2013, the Dominican Republic Supreme Court declared that the people born from illegal immigrants in the Dominican Republic would be subject to nationality “degradation”. This Supreme Court statement was made retroactive, since 1929, meaning Haitian descendants born in Dominican Republic since then were being deprived of their nationality, being neither Haitian nor Dominican.[32],[33]


As stated by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Haiti, the situation of human rights in the country is very serious. The Independent Expert presented five ways for improving the situation: “a strong political will, civil society active participation, a consensus on prioritized problems to solve, a congruent coordination and concentration of efforts, and a strong perseverance of these efforts in order to achieve these goals.”[34] The statement may be a bit naive considering the unremitting history of a plague of sadness, which now haunts Haiti.

The current situation in Haiti is a result of the foreign policies of the French, Canadian, and American governments and their allies’ (UN, OAS, etc.) with the ongoing illegal military intervention in the country. These interventions have brought about human rights violations, state destabilization and massive suffering. With the current illegitimate president inducted by the US government with the support from the OAS, how can the situation be any different?

Military invasion, occupation, and foreign intervention has not helped to return the country to democracy or to uphold human rights. In fact, it has been a disaster. Today those responsible don’t want to accept accountability for this situation and choose instead to criticize Haitian political actors for the current condition without no regard for these crimes. True solutions lie in respect for fair elections, popular will, democratic life, and putting an end to military occupation.

[1] “François Duvalier, 1957–1971″, The Library of Congress, Country Studies, December 1989.
[2] ABBOTH, Elizabeth. Haiti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1988,
[3] Report of the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, E/CN.4/1987/61, August 5th 1987, par. 1 to 3, 18 and 87.
[4] MOODY John “Haiti Bad Times for Baby Doc, ss violent protests grow, a besieged dictator imposes martial law” in Time Magazine, Feb. 10, 1986
[5] Report of the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, E/CN.4/1996/94, January 24th 1996, par. 8.
[6] FRENCH Howard W. “
Front-Running Priest a Shock to Haiti” in The New York Times, December 13, 1990
[7] FARMER Paul “
Who removed Aristide” in the London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 8 • 15 April 2004 pages 28-31
[8] FARMER Paul “
Who removed Aristide” in the London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 8 • 15 April 2004 pages 28-31
[9] FRENCH, Howard W.; Time Weiner (14 November 1993). “C.I.A. Formed Haitian Unit Later Tied to Narcotics Trade”. New York Times. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
[10] FARMER Paul “
Who removed Aristide” in the London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 8 • 15 April 2004 pages 28-31
[11] FARMER Paul “
Who removed Aristide” in the London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 8 • 15 April 2004 pages 28-31
[12] MACDONALD Isabel “France’s debt of dishonour to Haiti” in The Guardian, Monday 16 August 2010
[13] FARMER Paul “
Who removed Aristide” in the London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 8 • 15 April 2004 pages 28-31
[14] The details of the meeting were reported by Michel Vastel in “Haiti put into trusteeship by the United Nations?” L’Actualité, 15 March, 2003 or in ENGLER Yves, “
Media Cover-up of Canada’s Role in the Overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide”, Part 1 of a 4 Part Series, Dissident Voice, January 30th, 2014
[15] SDA-ATS News Service, 29 février 2004 “
La Maison blanche appelle Jean-Bertrand Aristide à quitter le pouvoir” in Interet General, on February 29, 2004
[16] SPRAGUE Jeb, Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, Monthly Review Press, 2012.
[17] ENGLER Yves, "
Media Cover-up of Canada’s Role in the Overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide", Part 1 of a 4 Part Series, Dissident Voice, January 30th, 2014
[18] [18] For more information regarding the role of US and French government in Aristide destitution, see Paul Farmer, “
Who removed Aristide” in the London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 8• 15 April 2004 pages 28-31:
[19] As stated by the
US Secretary of Defense
[20] BAR editor and columnist JEMIMA Pierre “
Don’t Blame Republicans for Obama’s Actions in Haiti” in Black Agenda Report (Information Blog)
[21] BAR editor and columnist Jemima Pierre “
Don’t Blame Republicans for Obama’s Actions in Haiti” in Black Agenda Report (Information Blog)
[22] JOHNSTON Jake and WEISBROT Mark “
Haiti’s Fatally Flawed Election” in CEPR, January 2011
[23] As stretched by a
US Secretary of State report “Although turnout was higher than in 2009, it was only about 22 percent in the first round of the current election process.
[24] JOHNSTON Jake and WEISBROT Mark “
Haiti’s Fatally Flawed Election” in CEPR, January 2011
[25] In an interview with Dissent Magazine, with information cited again by CEPR
here and here
[26] WEIBSROT Mark, “
Haiti must decide Haiti’s future “ in the Guardian, on March 17, 2011
[27] ENGLER Yves, “
Media Cover-up of Canada’s Role in the Overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide”, Part 1 of a 4 Part Series, Dissident Voice, January 30th, 2014
[28] PILKINGTON Ed “Haitians launch new lawsuit against UN over thousands of cholera deaths” The Guardian, March 11 2014
[29] GALLON Gustavo, Independent UN expert report on the situation of Human Rights in Haiti, A/HRC/25/71, February 2014, Human Rights Council.
[30] GRUMIAU Samuel, «
UNICEF aids restavek victims of abuse and exploitation in Haiti», Port-au-Prince, Haïti, 31 janvier 2012
[31] GALLON Gustavo, Independent UN expert report on the situation of Human Rights in Haiti, A/HRC/25/71, February 2014, Human Rights Council.
[32] According to his data, the number of Haitians living abroad would be about 4.5 million people. In 2007, the International Crisis Group estimated that a population of more than 3.71 million Haitians and descendants of Haitians residing abroad. The reference is International Crisis Group, “Construire la paix en Haïti: inclure les Haïtiens de l’extérieur”, Rapport Amérique latine/Caraïbes no°24, Port-au-Prince/Bruxelles, December 14 2007.
[33] GALLON Gustavo, Independent UN expert report on the situation of Human Rights in Haiti, A/HRC/25/71, February 2014, Human Rights Council.
[34] GALLON Gustavo, Independent UN expert report on the situation of Human Rights in Haiti, A/HRC/25/71, February 2014, Human Rights Council.

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." For more information, visit or email

November 19, 2014


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The modern socialist is an evolution of the communist man from the past ...and the current master of implementing capital market initiatives

The modern socialist

One of the legacies of the Grenada Revolution is a strong residue of anti-communist, anti-socialist rhetoric. For the most part, persons who were hurt by, or otherwise disagreed with Grenada’s 1979 to 1983 experiment, continue to dislike or hate those who were involved with the revolution; and, even more, to hate and dislike the ideology itself.

This attitude of hatred remains, even though the Grenada Revolution ended over 30 years ago, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and there is no longer a Soviet Union. The haters have either failed or refused to acknowledge the sociopolitical changes around them, and/or the ideological evolution that has occurred since.

I do not agree fully with the philosophy of Francis Fukuyama in his seminal work, “The End of History and the Last Man’’, but, I find this following quotation instructive: “What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy as the final form of human government’’.

In the modern world only China and Cuba can be said to be “communist’’ states. In fact, that may not be a fair characterization of China. Indeed, what we are certain about China is that it is a one-party state and it has mastered the capital economic system. It has recorded historic economic growth and private enterprise flourishes, although the state continues to have control over major economic sectors. There is no doubt that the Chinese have found a model that works and they are now one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations on earth.

Cuba, for its part, is a one-party state as well. In recent times under President Raúl Castro they have tried to make some reforms. However, their hands are largely tied by the wicked, unjust and archaic United States embargo, the same United States that maintains Most Favorable Trade status with China.

Now, for all the leaders in recent times who have practiced socialism, they have maintained western democratic principles. The late great Hugo Chavez, who led the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela during his time, held and won elections fair and square at every turn. His successor won the last election.

Lula de Silva, the former president of Brazil, won elections by the ballot and was able to deliver unprecedented economic growth to Brazil. Moreover, when his constitutional two terms expired there was a groundswell of support to change the constitution for him to continue and contest a third term. He politely declined.

Eva Morales of Bolivia just won a landslide victory for a third term. His economic programs have being lauded by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The two financial institutions were initially worried about his elevation as president.

Morales has stood firm against the U.S. attempt to eradicate the coca plant, which is an important economic and traditional plant for the Andean people of Bolivia. He famously once said, “I am not a drug trafficker, I am a coca farmer’’. Despite his disagreement with the U.S. he has continued to deliver for the Bolivian people.

The fact is the modern socialist has become a master of implementing capital market initiatives. I will proffer that where they differ from the Friedman approach to capitalism is that they do not subscribe to the philosophy that market forces will take care of the poor and needy in society. And, thus, they have embarked on serious social programs as safety nets to ensure that the poor and downtrodden in our societies are cared for. They have embarked on, and they have invested a large percentage of their national budgets on education, healthcare, housing and so on.

They have implemented policies where basic needs such as water, electricity and sanitation are addressed by the state directly, thereby ensuring that those who need the services the most are indeed the beneficiaries.

One can recall the Republicans in the U.S. branding President Barack Obama as a socialist for implementing the healthcare initiative commonly referred to as “Obamacare”. Persons seem to forget that the president of France is a socialist; that the British Labour Party is founded on socialist principles; and several countries in Western Europe have implemented – for years – serious socialist policies.

So, I honestly do not understand why persons do not appreciate that the modern socialist is an evolution of the communist man from the past and the current master of implementing capital market initiatives.

The modern socialist, moreover, functions within the world financial systems and, in some cases, also seeks to find alternatives like ALBA. He is not an enemy of the United States either. He may disagree with U.S. policies but he has learned a great deal from the United States and in many instances is jealous of the wealth generated in the United States and the quality of life enjoyed by some its citizens.

Being a socialist no longer means being anti-American or anti-European. It is just a conviction that the capitalist economy can be used to improve the wellbeing of the poor.


• Arley Gill is a magistrate and a former Grenada minister of culture.

November 14, 2014


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Illegal Immigrant Sympathisers and Bahamas Immigration Law

Ms. Nicole Burrows

 Politicole: Illegal Immigrant Sympathisers Who Attack Bahamas Immigration Law

Nassau, The Bahamas:

IT comes as no surprise that the people with the loudest voices, with the most brazen of accusations about The Bahamas’ approach to the management of illegal immigrants and our level of “inhumanity” and “unChristianness” in the country are, in fact, not Bahamian, and/or are not living/have not lived in or near to the end results of illegal immigration in a small country of islands like ours.

Rarely are these big-mouthed voices the voices of Bahamians, particularly the kind of Bahamians who are still struggling in The Bahamas to make decent lives for themselves, so that they don’t also feel the need to illegally inundate someone else’s country.

Illegal immigration sympathisers hit below the belt with insults about our lack of compassion, or lack of Christianity, and it is bewildering.

What is “unChristian” about enforcing our laws – finally? Christians shouldn’t obey laws or follow regulations? What kind of Christianity is that? Even Christianity has its own laws and I don’t think they condone the besieging of a country whose people have welcomed you or at least been tolerant of your needs since you first sought refuge inside its borders.

What is Christian about Haitians threatening Bahamians (on any level), illegally populating their country in droves, and then telling them it’s not enough? How can it be that anyone could expect this to be done to Bahamians and they not feel some type of way about it?

Moreover, how is the welfare of illegal immigrants and their offspring a more humanitarian cause than the welfare of legal citizens of a country and their offspring? Shouldn’t a country get to decide priority for itself? Who is protecting the interest of the legal Bahamian living legally in the Bahamas?

Are we as a country, as a world, so accustomed to being slack and passive that to do what is obedient, to follow the laws of a land actually seems unfair? When did right become wrong?

What if me and 49,999 of my fellow Bahamians, natural-born or naturalised, rolled up into any country in the world, undocumented, and said “let us in”, demanded a right to stay, and to receive medical care, food, education, jobs, economic opportunity, immunity from deportation, all because, you know, immigration is normal and that country should just accept it?

Should we not expect the people born of or patriotic to that country we just illegally bombarded to retaliate?

When you threaten someone’s livelihood and existence, when they’ve fought and worked so hard for the little they have, and easy access is given to others who come through the back door, you should expect to meet the greatest amount of resistance. I know I would expect it; but, then again, I am law-abiding.

And maybe that’s the missing link in the sympathisers’ argument – respect for the rule of law. After all, if you sympathise with what is illegal, it does beg the question of what else you might condone or be involved in that is illegal.

The challenge the Bahamas faces now with illegal immigration is the same one America is facing. I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but it’s hard to miss that members of the GOP, in the persons of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are vehemently opposed to Barack Obama’s soft stance on illegal immigrants, as many Bahamians have been for a long time with respect to their own leaders.

All over the internet, in online news and their respective message boards, are countless comments of the American public expressing the same sentiments that a majority of Bahamians do about illegal immigration to our country. “Why do we (America) have to have our borders spreadeagle for all to enter?” “Why is our leader not paying attention to the will of the people?”

If the will of the people is to be ignored, why even have borders and border enforcement? Why have laws? Why have government? Why have national sovereignty, if people from other countries should just flow freely in and out as they like, for whatever reason they feel is important?

What if every country opened its borders to citizens from every other country? You could choose wherever in the world you wanted to live at any given time, for any length of time, never need a passport, and just - bam - go there.

What a world that would be. I wonder if the sympathisers would like that.

And once there, the incoming immigrants could just set up house on any tract of land, including land already owned by others ... maybe even land owned by the sympathisers. Then what?

And what if the immigrants refused to speak to you in your language and used any means necessary to gain ownership of what you’ve worked for? Then what?

Is that what we’re aiming for? If so, what are we waiting on? Just open all borders now, one time, everywhere, and let us have a free-for-all.

No? Because it might be too disorderly?

Well maybe now you’re starting to get the point.

The difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration is that the former is done in an orderly fashion to prevent the chaos that occurs if done in the disorderly, illegal way.

When will the sympathisers get that?

No one is saying there should be no immigration; any person with half a brain can examine the foundations of the developed world and see how the work done by immigrants has helped to create world powers. Everyone has a skill that is useful somewhere, and a purpose to match it.

No one is saying a human being has no right to want to try for a better life in a place where they weren’t born. But there is usually an existing process to accomplish this. And it must be respected. Illegally entering a country, knowing you’re illegal, is blatant disrespect to that country, and it earns no compassion amongst that country’s law-abiding when illegality is your chosen route.

If my Bahamian mother entered and lived illegally in the United States, gave birth to me there, miraculously under the radar, even though I would have been a citizen at birth according to US law (as is not the law of the Bahamas), my mother would not have got a free pass; she wouldn’t have inherited the right to stay in America because I was born a US citizen.

She would have still been illegal, could have still been deported, and, as my primary caretaker, I would have had to go with her until I was old enough to survive on my own in the place where I had citizenship, a choice I would most likely make by the time I was ready for college, at or near the age of 18.

In contrast, with respect to the laws of the Bahamas and its illegal Haitian immigrants, Bahamian citizenship at birth is not an option. And Haitian citizenship/nationality at birth is not elective for Haitian children illegal in the Bahamas ... they’re Haitian children. They take their parents’ nationality. And they should take it with pride. They have a motherland. Why is this confusing?

Why are others – sympathisers and abusers of our Bahamian law – trying to superimpose a law on us that does not exist? Because it suits their own needs/benefits.

If you are illegal in the Bahamas, and you give birth to one child or 14 children in the Bahamas, you and your children are still illegal in the Bahamas. If you find yourself in a quandary at any point in time because of this fact, it’s because of your own choice to drop your babies on Bahamian soil.

You created this problem for yourself, because we have a law which has always been clear: you only have a right to apply for Bahamian citizenship (whether you reside legally or illegally) if you are born in the Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents, and only at the age of 18. That does not mean you stay here until you are 18. And the life you live if you choose to remain is a result of your own doing. You should apply for your children’s passports from your birth country, from the time they are born.

For that matter, there is no one born in the Bahamas without the right to claim any citizenship status at all, ie rendering them “stateless”; they have other citizenship status whether they want it or not. They always have, and they always will, until such time that they renounce it and, legally, take another.

In the latest (November 1) enforcement of new Bahamian immigration law, Haitians especially (some Bahamians and others, additionally) claim the required time frame is too short notice for those illegally in the Bahamas to get the documents required of them to lawfully remain in the Bahamas.

But how can any illegal immigrant fix their mouth to say the new law doesn’t provide enough time for them to get legal citizenship documents? They’ve had 40 years to do it!

And each time they pushed out another baby, they should have gone to their country’s embassy to apply for a passport for the child – that is, of course, if they intended for that child to be a citizen of their own birth country, which is most often not the case.

Regarding Bahamian citizenship rights, the law has always been (since 1973) what it is today and if you did anything counter to it, and still do, you’ve always been illegal. Either you chose not to concern yourself with the law and what it might have required of you, or you knew the law and deliberately chose to go against it. And ignorance nor belligerence are excuses for breaking the law.

With specific regard to illegal Haitian immigration to the Bahamas, and where we find ourselves today, there is much blame to throw around: from the Bahamian government’s historic timidity towards immigration law enforcement/creation, to the Bahamian employers and boat captains who open the gateway for illegal immigrants, to the Haitian government that doesn’t direct the Haitian people to stay at home and build up their country.

But, beyond this blame-throwing, there is one inescapable fact that anyone pleading on behalf of illegal Haitian immigrants cannot deny: there is one place where the problem can be entirely resolved.

If Haiti cared about the problem the Bahamas has endured for decades with nonstop illegal Haitian immigrants, Haiti would have stemmed the problem from within its own borders before it ever became a problem for the Bahamas. Haiti has enough manpower to do that. And if they did this at the root of the illegal immigrants’ departure from Haiti, the Bahamas wouldn’t have the enormous problem with illegal Haitian immigration that it does today.

Considering this reality, that the Haitian government is well-positioned to prevent its own people’s illegal migration to the Bahamas, is it any wonder, then, why Bahamians take issue with their Haitian sisters and brothers who flock here by the hundreds? It’s an awful abuse of a friendly relationship.

In the Bahamas, we have a couple of sayings which describe when a person takes advantage of another, or a situation: “You get too use”, or “you too familiar”, or “you wear out your welcome”.

In the end, no one likes a user or an abuser – especially the abused – even if they do still love them.

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November 11, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Centre) slams The Bahamas' immigration policies ... and accuses the government of discrimination

Int’l Group Slams New Immigration Laws

By Jones Bahamas:

A U.S. based human rights group over the weekend slammed the country’s recently implemented immigration policies and accused The Bahamas government of discrimination and claimed that the recent raids on immigrants in the country were strictly aimed at those of Haitian descent.

However, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were quick to respond and shut down these comments from the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Centre) calling them “nonsense.”

On Friday the RFK Centre issued a statement on its website regarding the controversial and closely watched immigration exercises and noted that their leaders “express alarm at the discriminatory use of new immigration policies in The Bahamas.”

On Saturday November 1 new immigration policies came into effect that seek to clamp down on all foreigners living and working in the country.

All non-nationals residing in The Bahamas must show evidence that they have permission to live or work in the country.

“According to reports from Bahamian civil society, children born in The Bahamas to migrant parents were given 30 days notice to apply for and secure a passport from the country of origin of their parents or face expulsion, despite the significant financial burdens this new policy imposes and with no consideration for an ordinary processing time of over two months to secure a passport in some cases,” the human rights watchdog said.

“While the government of The Bahamas insists that the measures are not aimed at any national group, Bahamian civil society organisations have related that officials are targeting immigration raids at neighborhoods where the population is predominantly of Haitian descent. The RFK Centre received a report of at least one government-run school that, as of Monday, started to require students to bring their identification with them in order to access the classroom.”

President of the RFK Centre Kerry Kennedy said statehood is a fundamental human right, but added these reports “indicate that the Bahamian government regards it as a tool for discrimination.”

“These new policies mean that thousands of children in The Bahamas now live in fear of arbitrary arrest or deportation,” Mr. Kennedy said. “The Bahamas must immediately fulfill its obligation to protect children-no matter their status, and no matter their ethnicity.”

On November 1, 77 people, including Haitians, Filipinos, Chinese and Jamaicans, were all arrested during that sting operation.

A second operation over the weekend saw nearly 50 more immigrants arrested.

The RFK Centre said based on information it has received, many of those detained in the first operation were forced to remain in custody until the immigration office reopened the following Monday and they could prove their valid status and that many were not provided the opportunity to seek legal counsel, apply for asylum, or appeal their deportation orders.

“The reports coming out of The Bahamas indicate that the government is endangering the human rights of people in immigration detention, including the right to due process and the rights to humane treatment and health,” according to Executive Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights Santiago A. Canton.

“The government must immediately bring its immigration policies and practices in line with its binding international human rights obligations.”

These comments did not sit well with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials who shot back with a statement of their own on Saturday.

In fact, ministry officials said representatives from the RFK Centre never contacted them for comment on the matter.

“The statement by the RFK Centre over the new immigration policies is replete with errors,” the government statement read. “It is deplorable that a reputable body would repeat such nonsense.

The policy is not discriminatory either in its execution or its effects and there were no massive raids. No raids were conducted by the Department of Immigration at all.

“It is not true that those released had to await the opening of the Immigration Office on Monday. Those are just some examples of a statement that is loose with the truth and defames The Bahamas. The statement is terribly disappointing. There is a rule in Bahamian folk tradition: if you don’t know shut your mouth. If you want to know, just check. This is a completely open and transparent society, with nothing to hide.”

Foreign Affairs officials also responded to claims made in an article that appeared in the Miami Herald on Friday and noted that despite what was published; the Haitian Ambassador to The Bahamas Antonio Rodrigue has not been recalled to Haiti and he has been summoned to the Haitian Foreign Office.

“The Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs has spoken to the Haitian ambassador and the truth is that he traveled to Haiti for consultations with the Haitian government, not withdrawn as ambassador to The Bahamas as the Herald’s story suggested,” officials said.

“The Haitian foreign minister and the Bahamian foreign minister are to speak (today) by telephone and may meet in Tokyo next week. The Bahamian ambassador to Haiti attended a meeting with the minister of foreign affairs of Haiti on November 6 and assured him that there was no abuse or inhumane treatment of Haitian nationals in The Bahamas in connection with the enforcement of the new immigration policies.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also noted that when Haitian President Michel Martelly visited The Bahamas on July 28, the prime minister of The Bahamas advised the president of the steps that The Bahamas government would take with regard to immigration matters.

The matters, they said, were similarly discussed between the two foreign ministers of The Bahamas and Haiti at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

November 10, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Resolving Bolivia's claim to the Pacific

David Roberts

Bolivia's demand that Chile provide it with sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean – a case the International Court of Justice in The Hague is soon to consider – offers the opportunity for the two countries to resolve their over 130-year dispute once and for all.

Bolivia lost its access to the ocean, along with a large chunk of its territory, to Chile in the Pacific War in the 1880s. Chile's argument is that it's an open and shut case – the 1904 peace treaty decided on the definitive and current border between the two and that is internationally recognized as valid. In fact, Santiago has decided to argue that the UN court does not even have jurisdiction to hear the case at all, because recognition of the court by both countries dates back to the 1948 Bogotá Pact, and so the tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear cases that concern matters prior to then.

Bolivia's case, however, does not depend on arguing for the need to change the 1904 treaty. Instead, it is expected to claim that Chile has on several occasions pledged to resolve Bolivia's demand, most notably during a 1975 meeting between Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and his Bolivian counterpart Hugo Banzer. On that occasion the two agreed in principle to swap two pieces of territory, granting Bolivia a strip of land in the far north of Chile from the coast and along the border with Peru, which also lost a lot of land to its southern neighbor following the Pacific War. The idea never prospered, not least because of objections from Lima.

Bolivia's case is interesting, but as it doesn't actually seem to involve disputing legal documents but amounts more to what appears to be a moral argument – that Chile has some sort of obligation (a legal one?) to negotiate a solution to the issue – it is difficult to see how The Hague court can side with La Paz.

The above, however, begs the question as to whether Chile does indeed have a moral obligation to provide Bolivia with access to the sea. It is certainly easy to be sympathetic to the Bolivians. Losing the ocean drastically changed Bolivia's history, with serious detrimental effects for its economy and development. Not only did it lose access to ports, but the land ceded to Chile turned out to contain some of the largest copper deposits in the world, which have had a major beneficial impact on Chile's economy. Landlocked Bolivia, meanwhile, remains one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.

But whatever the outcome of the court case – and it may take years before we have a decision – it is in both countries' interest to resolve the issue. It may be politically unfeasible for Chile to offer a sovereign piece of land to Bolivia, but one possibility – which has also been suggested as a potential solution in parts of the Ukraine and even the Falklands/Malvinas – would be for Bolivia to have technical sovereignty of a small plot with a port, while Chile remains the de facto administrator of the area in terms of legal jurisdiction, political control etc. Another option, which Chile has refused to consider, is to get Peru involved, as that country has made a port area available to Bolivia in the past, although without sovereignty.

As for Chile, there would be obvious advantages for the country if Bolivia were wealthier, with all the trade and investment opportunities that would represent. Ending the dispute would also open the way for Bolivia to export some of its vast reserves of natural gas to Chile, thereby helping alleviate the country's energy shortage and avoiding the need to import liquefied natural gas from as far afield as Trinidad, Qatar and Yemen, among other places, which is patently absurd given the proximity of Bolivia's reserves.

November 03, 2014

BN Americas

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Climate change an "existential threat" for the Caribbean

Desmond Brown
(Text & photos)

When it comes to climate change, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines doesn’t mince words. He will tell you that it is a matter of life and death for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

For St. Vincent’s Prime Minister
Ralph Gonsalves, climate change is a
matter of life and death.

"The threat is not abstract, it is not very distant, it is immediate and it is real," Gonsalves told IPS.

"The country which I have the honor of leading is a disaster-prone country. We need to adapt, strengthen our resilience, to mitigate, we need to reduce risks to human and natural assets resulting from climate change.

"This is an issue however, which we alone cannot address. The world is a small place and we contribute very little to global warming but yet we are on the frontlines of continuing disasters," Gonsalves added.

Since 2001, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has had 14 major weather events, five of which have occurred since 2010. These five weather events have caused losses and damage amounting to more than 600 million dollars, or just about a third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"Three rain-related events, and in the case of Hurricane Tomas, wind, occurred in 2010; in April 2011 there were landslides and flooding of almost biblical proportions in the northeast of our country; and in December we had on Christmas Eve, a calamitous event," Gonsalves said.

"My Christmas Eve flood was 17.5 percent of GDP and I don’t have the base out of which I can climb easily. More than 10,000 people were directly affected, that is to say more than one tenth of our population.

"In the first half of 2010 and the first half of this year we had drought. Tomas caused loss and damage amounting to 150 million dollars; the April floods of 2011 caused damage and loss amounting to 100 million dollars; and the Christmas Eve weather event caused loss and damage amounting to just over 330 million. If you add those up you get 580 million, you throw in 20 million for the drought and you see a number 600 million dollars and climbing," Gonsalves said.

Over the past several years, and in particular since the 2009 summit of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, the United States and other large countries have made a commitment to help small island states deal with the adverse impacts of climate change, and pledged millions of dollars to support adaptation and disaster risk-reduction efforts.

On a recent visit to several Pacific islands, Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated the importance of deepening partnerships with small island nations and others to meet the immediate threats and long-term development challenges posed by climate change.

But Gonsalves noted that despite the generosity of the United States, there is a scarcity of funds for mitigation and adaptation promised by the global community.

Opposition legislator Arnhim Eustace is concerned that people still "do not attach a lot of importance" to climate change.

"When a fellow is struggling because he has no job and can’t get his children to school, don’t try to tell him about climate change, he is not interested in that. His interest is where is my next meal coming from, where my child’s next meal is coming from, and that is why you have to be so careful with how you deal with your fiscal operations," he stated.

Eustace, who is the leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, said people must first be made able to meet their basic needs to that they can open their minds to serious issues like climate change. (Excerpts from IPS)

October 30, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Immigration Policy debate in The Bahamas

Crafting a Firm and Fair Immigration Policy

Former US President Ronald Regan once said that “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation”. For years, successive governments in this country have failed to adequately control our borders and have failed to effectively address the long standing socio-economic problems stemming from the movement of illegal migrants across our borders. The absence of firm and fair immigration policy has given rise to resentment, anger, hatred, frustration and fear that has, particularly in recent weeks, spilled over in the public domain.

On November 1, this Christie led administration took the first of what will undoubtedly be a series of difficult steps to securing sustainability for future generations of Bahamians.

As a former Minister of Immigration, I understand all too well the challenges associated with this process. Regardless of those challenges however, THE LAWS OF THE BAHAMAS MUST BE CARRIED OUT!

While the Democratic National Alliance commends the government for finally taking seriously its responsibility to protect our borders, this issue cannot – as has been the case with other matters – be allowed to become overly politicized or emotionalized. Instead, a sound and humane approach which does not destroy the dignities of our fellow brothers and sisters –particularly children – should be taken to facilitate immigration reform in this country.

As Bahamians, we can no longer abdicate responsibility for the role successive administrations have played in allowing this matter to grow and intensify. We must not pretend that systemic corruption within the Department of Immigration which has manifested in the sale of passports and travel documents, the bribery of immigration officers, the over-charging of applicants and the general exploitation of the current system, has not also contributed to the critical situation which now exists.

It must be noted that while Haitian migrants continue to make up a large segment of the country’s illegal immigrant population, Haitians should not be the sole target of such efforts. With that in mind the DNA calls for balance on the part of officials as they work to weed out persons of ALL nationalities living and working in the Bahamas illegally. As these efforts continue, the DNA calls for calm from Bahamian citizens and legal residents as immigration officials work to carry out their duties as mandated by law. We should all refrain from making derogatory and/or negative comments about any group of people on social media or any other forum but must work along with the government to ensure the success of these new initiatives.

As part of its push this government must also focus on a bi-partisan approach to formulating a clear and concise immigration policy. A policy which targets not only illegals but those who harbor, aid and abet them as well. As an addition to the current policy changes, the DNA recommends that the government go a step further by enacting legislation which would bring about the swift prosecution to those Bahamians found harboring those here illegally. The law must also hold repercussions for legal residents who also harbor illegals including the possible revocation of their legal status.

During a press conference to be held on Thursday November 6, 2014, The DNA will present its full position on the current immigration policies and future changes to the law as well.

Certainly the failures of former governments are now wreaking havoc on our modern day Bahamas. The many issues resulting from illegal immigration did not occur overnight and will not be solved overnight. It will take a sustained effort on the part of all the relevant authorities and Bahamians across the country. Decisive and Balanced Action must be taken as we work to protect our country for generations of Bahamians to come.

November 03, 2014

Branville McCartney
DNA Leader

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The 2010 Bahamas Census records a dramatic increase of the immigrant population in The Islands

Migration report: Immigrants represent 18 percent of population

Guardian Staff Reporter
Nassau, The Bahamas

The total immigrant population in The Bahamas stood at 64,793, representing 18.4 percent of the population up to 2010, according to the Migration Report which was released this month.

The report relies on data contained in the latest census.

“The 2010 Census recorded a total immigrant population of 64,793 persons, of which 29,157 were recent immigrants who migrated to The Bahamas during the intercensal period 2000 to 2010,” the report said.

Of that group, 51,170 people (79 percent) were not born in The Bahamas.

And of the foreign born migrants, 47 percent (24,049) were born in Haiti, 16 percent in the United States, 13 percent in Jamaica and three percent each in Canada and the United Kingdom, the report notes.

Collectively, those countries accounted for 82 percent of the immigrant population.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) previously estimated that there are between 20,000 and 50,000 Haitians living in The Bahamas. Although the IOM notes the challenges in presenting accurate figures of the number of Haitians who have migrated to The Bahamas as it is difficult to determine those who are “flow through” residents and those who intend to remain in the country.

Multiple officials, including those from the IOM, have identified the country’s close proximity to the United States as a key factor contributing to irregular migration. Migrants often use the country as a transit point.

According to the Migration Report, as it relates to population distribution, of the total immigrant population, 70 percent resided on the island of New Providence, 16 percent on Grand Bahama, seven percent on Abaco; Eleuthera and Exuma shared equal distributions of two percent of the immigrants. The other Family islands accounted for four percent.

As it relates to employment, 55 percent of the immigrants age 15 and over were employed with slightly more than three quarters were employed in the private sector. An additional 12 percent were government employees while 10 percent operated their own business.

“Of the total immigrants 15 years and over, 45 percent of them had completed high school and 31.8 percent had completed college or university, while four percent had no schooling,” the report said.

The 2010 Census recorded a total of 29,157, persons who migrated to The Bahamas during the period 2000 to 2010. Of this number 52.7 percent were females and 43.3 percent were males for a sex ratio of 89.9 males per 100 females, the report said.

Recent immigrants have an average household size of 3.1 persons. Additionally 46.2 percent of the households occupied by these immigrants were one-person households.

The report said 62.5 percent of the immigrants were paying rent, 15.1 percent owned their homes fully, 10.6 percent were paying a mortgage, 10.1 percent were living rent-free and one percent was leasing their homes.

October 31, 2014