Prime Minister likes to pretend that his party is monolith of ideology and
attitudes when it faces its political enemy the PLP, but the votes tell the
tale. When the vote on this matter came
to the House of Assembly, the Members voted with their feet. They did not have the courage to vote
against the proposal but instead chose to stay away. This included Ministers of the Government. So by a simple majority of one, the House of
Assembly led by Hubert Ingraham agreed to give away the equivalent of the
pyramids of Egypt. This is nothing
short of a national disgrace.
each and every one who votes for the give away of this land shall forever bear
the park across their history: “ I voted to give away the birthright of the
Bahamian people ”. We urge the other
side not to ruin their political careers, not to follow a pied piper, to wake
up and vote their consciences on this matter.
Bahamian people ought to know who those 21 are who voted to give away Bahamian
land in the House and we shall ensure that they know the names of those who
vote tonight to give away Bahamian land by asking after this vote for a
division. The record must be clear. No
one on this side will vote for this resolution.
voting in the House of Assembly to give away Bahamian land were: Algernon
Allen, William Allen, Ronald Bosfield; Carl Bethel; Earl Deveaux, Juanianne
Dorsett; Theresa Moxey Ingraham; Hubert Ingraham; James Knowles; Zhivargo
Laing; Sylvia Scriven; Alvin Smith; Mike Smith; C.A. Smith; Robert Sweeting;
Vernon Symonette; David Thompson; Tommy Turnquest; David Wallace; Frank Watson;
we are sure to add others to that list but they ought to be forewarned, their
names will live in infamy.
Government should know better, because the objective evidence is clear about
Clifton Cay. This is simply political bloody mindedness at its
worst. I want it done, so it is
done. The reports by the Government’s
own experts have clearly told them that this project should not go ahead in its
present form. An international
environmental lawyer with a famous name came to the country and advised the
Government that this site was so precious that it deserved to e a world
heritage sight. But still the
Government does not relent.
have been out in the streets, the Bahamian people have made their voices known
throughout the land. The silent ones are watching how the FNM is dealing with
the national patrimony and silently making up their minds that it was a mistake
to support such a reckless political
group and it would be a mistake to support them again.
the Free National Movement whenever there is choice between Bahamians on the
one hand and foreigners on the other hand the foreigner always wins. And that is clearly why we are here
today. We are dancing to the tune of
the Chaffin Group, the brain trust behind this project. In order for this deal to go through, the
Government of The Bahamas committed in advance that the deal will be done. This
is a deal that will allow the Chaffin group to get 208 acres of prime land in
which to dig finger canals that are illegal in the United Sates of America.
the disastrous experience in this country of the desert of the Grand Lucaya
Waterway; the desert of Coral Harbour; the desert in and around Sea Breeze in
New Providence, we are still going to allow more canals to be built in this
country to satisfy the hungry lust for water front property: faux water
front. The canals are an environmental
disaster, a blight on the landscape and yet in spite of all the scientific
advice to the contrary, for a few dollars, the Government proposes to go full
try to compare this project to the Lyford Cay project and the jobs which Lyford
Cay provides. It is strange argument
because those in the Cay are in the main opposed to this project. But secondly they conveniently forget to
tell you that it took Lyford Cay 40 years to get off the ground.
all around there are subdivisions in this country that are as dead as a
doornail after their developers came here singing a sweet music into the ears
of successive Government from the UBP through to the PLP, about jobs and
building and now the developments are covered in forests. Nature has recaptured her own.
me give you some names Mister President:
I have already mentioned Coral Harbour in New Providence. I have add to that Great Harbour Cay in the
Berry Islands; San Andros on Andros; Columbus Landings in San Salvador; Cape
Eleuthera in South Eleuthera; the Grand Lucayan Waterway in Grand Bahama; Whale
Point in Eleuthera; Bahama Sound in Exuma;
Cape Santa Maria and Stella
Maris in Long Island. The things they
have in common Mister President is that they all had these developers singing
sweet music. And Bahamians saw dollar
signs in their eyes. And for what. They have all come to naught or at least
come to much less than the potential that their developers predicted.
today as we speak three other developments are moribund: one in South Bimini;
the other in North Bimini the infamous Bimini Bay project and the other is the
Emerald Bay project in Exuma.
do all of these developments share in common: their developers came to The
Bahamas with a minimum of funds. They
had seed ,money to get the land. Then
they developed elaborate plans to show the natives; a marina, an airstrip, some
fancy buildings and of yes let’s not forget the ubiquitous golf course. Some even added plans for a casino. They draw plans that show idyllic living in
the islands under a palm tree.
they did not have was money to carry the project any further. So they come to the Government with a plan
and asked them to approve it in principle.
This allows them to go and shop the plan around in the developed
world. Every one wants a piece of the
sea and the ocean. They then raise
money on the speculative prospect of land sales. They add the infrastructure as they go along.
it can be compared to a pyramid scheme.
One such scheme went belly up in Eleuthera, the so called Eleuthera
Island Shores development. There are no
paved roads, the residents have to supply themselves with running water and
power and telephone. Nothing provided
by the developers but some rudimentary roads pushed through by tractors. The developers sell, collect money ,collect
fees and do nothing but pocket the money.
Then they disappear and leave the land owners holding the bag and they
have no redress.
people in Eleuthera Island shores are so desperate, some of them American
retirees and they simply do not know what to do, some of them having sunk their
life savings into these fancy schemes that come to no good.
yet the Bahamas Government has apparently not learned its lesson. It proposes and has approved another such
scheme. This time by two developers who
are said to come with sterling references amongst them from a Senator of the
United States of America. And yet they come here with these sterling references
and yet what they plan to do will ruin
the national patrimony of the Bahamas.
It is a new form of colonialism which only this Government could be
unwise enough to have itself duped by.
experts told a public meeting that the environmental impact study provided by
these sterling developers was not worth the paper it was written on. They plan to build a golf course on the
ruins of the Whylly Plantation. We are
told this is a valuable site indeed.
President, I have in my possession an Evaluation of the Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) for the Proposed Clifton Cay Development. This was presented to the Permanent
Secretary of the Office of the Prime
Minister and dated 23 September 1998/
It is signed by Thomas E. Lodge Ph D and Robert Helton. These are the Governments own consultants,
it appears. They say in their report
that the purpose of the review is to determine
whether the document( the EIA of the developers) adequately addresses
and compensates for environmental impacts associated with the development
me summarize the position Mister President.
In colloquial terms, the EIA of the developers is trashed by these
scientists. The study reviewed the following categories: Vegetation and
wildlife; Wetlands; Water; Wastewater
management; Storm water management; Solid/Hazardous/Medical Waste; Transportation;
Recreation and Open Space; Historical and Archeological Sites; Port and Marina
the report, the use of the phrase wholly inadequate is repeated. This report
then seems to confirm the view that the Government does not have from the
developers a proper environmental impact study and yet they have approved this
project which could ruin this historical site.
example Mister President, the existing south West Bay Road is to be closed by
the developers and a new road routed
around the project. This study says: “ We question the basis for, and the
social impact to the public of the closing of the existing paved road through
the project property. No justification is provided in the EIA. ”
the question of cultural resources, the history and archeology, the report has
this to say: “ we found the property to be incompletely surveyed and assurances
for protection and development of resources to be inadequate. ” In this
connection, they were provided with and
did review the work of Dr. L Wilkie and Dr. P. Farnsworth, a husband and wife scientific
team that had been given he mandate by eh Government to examine the archeology
and history at the site.
These two persons have now been separated from the project because of
their expressing certain concerns about this project to the Bechtel group. It
ahs been widely speculated in the press that they have been put on the stop
list, although our sources in the Department of Immigration have assured us that
this is not so.
Dr. Wilkie and Dr. Farnsworth are reportedly banned form visiting the Clifton
site to continue their work, and even to finish the work that they have begun
severe restrictions have been imposed upon their work at the Archives by the
Bahamas Government. The Minister of
Education in this place last week indicated that they are hiring a new
archeological survey team. Our
information is that they are salvage archeologists and my take them up to 18
months to complete their work.
latter wrinkle is said to present new problems for the developers who are unsettled that their findings might
prevent the project from going ahead.
The developers are said to be seeking assurances in advance that the
Minister will not exercise her power under the Museum and Antiquities Act to so
zone the property that they cannot develop it.”
despite all of this the Government ahs not paused for one minute. It is clear that the natural heritage is at
risk, but natural heritage be damned apparently. Money is a passing hands here and that is apparently all that
counts. We on this side have question
the role of these developers and the apparent ease with which they intervene in
the internal domestic and political affairs of the Bahamian people. It is clear that they speak with authority
and that they have the political assurances of the FNM to interfere in our
internal political and domestic affairs.
wish Mister President at this point to talk about the historical and cultural
aspects of this project, and to make some general observations about the
culture of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as we see it today, tracing back
from the pre- Columbian time. This will also be an appropriate time to address
a vexing question that has rage in the country over the last week, based on
remarks made in this place about the creolization of The Bahamas last week.
has been rather interesting to see the national debate which has kicked off
over those remarks as the country seeks to find some answer to why we have the
level of crime in the country. Having reviewed the remarks extensively with
colleagues, friend and advisors, the problem seems to be the juxtaposition in
the written text of the intervention last week of the statements about a
creolized culture next to information about the death of Archdeacon
Thompson. But if you examine the text
and review the text in its entirety and its property context, you will see that
the remarks made about the general state of the underclass in this country is
disjunctive not conjunctive. There is the
use of the semi-colon not the comma. But nevertheless, we are we are and what
has been perceived has been perceived.
the debate about the question of the creolization of The Bahamas shows is that
underneath it all is a fear of any
citizens of The Bahamas that the traditional culture and way of life is being
swamped. I have no such fear. What I fear is the lack of attention to
these matters, the lack of leadership on these matters by the FNM Government
with its head in the sand approach. Without proper study and analysis, no
sensible public policy can be developed. That is what I arguing for, and proper
public policy on immigration and on integration will I am certain lead to a
more stable society.
Clifton has the remains of
three cultures on its site. Now I want
to tell the story of the trip made by
Melissa Sweeting to my branch in Fox ill to talk about this
project. She describes herself as a conchy
joe Bahamian. That means
according to her that her culture dates back to the white Bahamians who were
here before the Loyalists came from
America in 1783. She says that there is
part of that culture there. She says
that there is certainly evidence of a major Lucayan site, the pre-Columbian
culture. Finally there is the culture
of the Loyalists and their slaves. That
is the part of the culture from which we spring.
of part one-
INTERVENTION BY SENATOR FRED MITCHELL
ON RESOLUTION TO SELL
28 JUNE 2000
President, the Government of The Bahamas by the passage of this resolution will
get the approval of Parliament to sell the national heritage and treasure, the
birthright of the Bahamian people. The
Progressive Liberal Party through its leader has made the position absolutely
clear. He made is statement on the very
sands of the beach at Clifton—the so called jaws beach.
President this is what he said and I quote: “ We hereby put Chaffin and
Associates, the Bechtel Corporation and all other partners or financiers of the
proposed Clifton cay Development project on public notice that when the PLP
regains power following the next General Election we shall forthwith rescind
all building approvals and permits which may have been issued by the FNM
Government for that project. Any
construction then in progress will be terminated immediately and no new
construction will be permitted.
Further, we will simultaneously take the necessary steps under the Acquisition
of Land Act to compulsorily acquire in the public interest all the land that
would have been sold to the developers.
In doing so, we will, of course, pay compensation to the landowners in
accordance with the provisions of the Act and of the Constitution… The Clifton
Cay development may start under the FNM but under the PLP it will be brought to
a screeching halt.”
President this statement was received to universal acclaim save for those who
have a vested interest in the development.
CONTINUATION OF INTERVENTION
SENATOR FRED MITCHELL
ON CLIFTON CAY DEBATE
SENATE 5 JULY 2000
President, the word creolized in The Bahamas is apparently a red flag, a buzz
word that means to many citizens of The Bahamas that the Haitians are taking
over. In fact, the very word Haitian in
The Bahamas is a pejorative for many things that are negative. That is most unfortunate because there is
nothing intrinsically wrong with the citizens of Haiti. They come to this country out of a desperate
political and economic situation. They
come to this country for a better life.
They provide manual labour for the country at a level at which Bahamians
are either unable or unwilling to work.
in the classic sense, the pure scientific sense of the use of the word,
creolization means a culture which grows up out of the local experience. And so in the classic sense The Bahamas is
already a creolized culture in the sense that none of us came originally from
here. We all came by boat so to
speak. The aboriginal inhabitants of
this country were carted away long ago.
By the time our ancestors arrived in this country, the aboriginal
inhabitants were long gone, in one of the most cruel transfers of human cargo
in the history of nations.
ironic that we are involved today in a national debate over what is an
extremely sensitive subject. Sensitive
because of the negative connotation in our country associated with being
Haitian. This has driven any sensible
discussion about the problem underground, and such discussions that do take
place surround jingoism on the one side and unrealistic romanticism on the
problem is that we have a problem with illegal immigration. That touches and concerns migrants from
Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba. It appears that
at one level political problems drive the exodus from those countries. But the great magnet is the economic
activity in The Bahamas. Bahamians are
ambivalent about the presence of Haitians in The Bahamas. We can’t make up our
the one hand, we want the Haitian peasant that comes here - in the main
illiterate and impoverished - to work in our homes and our yards and do our
manual tasks. On the other hand, we
want them to know their place. We want
them out of the country because we believe that there is a burden on our health
care system, on our national security, our education system, and on our
then there are the middle class, who having absented themselves from the inner
urban areas of New Providence have rental accommodation in those inner city
areas and they rent them, pack them in and collect rent for sub-standard
housing. They would not want the
immigrants to go. There is also that
group of persons including the Government who own land in the hinterlands of
New Providence that allow Haitians, to squat on their land. Many private citizens collect moneys from
Haitian immigrants for living on their land.
They do not care about whether the sanitation facilities are proper and
lawful, or whether the trees are destroyed. All they care about is collecting their land rents. The situation has provided squalor in many
areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and in Abaco.
so Bahamians have to examine themselves on this question. Who is at fault? The fault dear citizens is within
ourselves. We are the ones who have
allowed this to happen over the many decades and months, so that we have The
Mud in Abaco. Despite all the protests
about The Mud in Abaco, it is still there.
And why does it survive there? Because Bahamians do not have the will to
end their dependence on the labour pool which those Haitians provide.
wish to disassociate my self from any sentiment which condemns any people as a
class. That argument cannot logically
be sustained. I believe that each
individual has to be judged on his or her own merits. I am surprised at those in the Human Rights movement who seek to
draw a distinction between myself and them on that point. Nothing has changed
in that regard.
as a politician, I know what is being whispered in the barrooms and on the
streets. I know what the police have
said to me, and continue to say to me.
I know what the official testimony has been to this very Senate about
the Haitian community. As I said to one reporter who called me, that does not
then make me take a flying leap from the observation that some descendants of
Haitians in The Bahamas may be involved in gangs and other forms of social
disruption to the conclusion that Haitians as a class are responsible for
crime. It is irresponsible for people
to suggest such a thing.
surely those in the human rights movement must admit that we have a
responsibility to study these anecdotal observations and find out the truth or
otherwise of it. Not because that is
the only cause of crime, or that it is a cause of crime, but if important
sectors of the Government’s enforcement machinery including the education
system believe it, then public policy is being informed and shaped by it. It may turn out to be nothing more than
prejudice, but the fact is whether we like it or not, there are many in
authority who believe that fact and act on those beliefs.
one seeks to make the Haitian community in this country scape goats
either. It is irresponsible to suggest
such a thing.
The Bahamas is already a polyglot of cultures as Melissa Sweeting points out
about Clifton Cay. The irony is that
the first contact which this country had with Hispaniola, the island where
Haiti is located, was the pre-Columbian migration of Lucayans from Hispaniola to
here. Then there was the purge that
took place after Columbus came, where the Lucayans were transported back to
Hispaniola to work in the mines.
British arrived here looking for religious freedom in the seventeenth
century. They met no indigenous culture
here, and started the British culture we have today. The next spurt of growth came when the Americans came here
following the revolution in 1776. They
transformed the population from a fishing village to a plantocracy, and they
doubled the black population. For the
first time in the history of the country, the Black population outnumbered the
white population. The Americans brought
with them grits and okra. We still eat
these things today. We talk like the
Black people in the Carolinas talk even today.
if you go by Michael Craton and Gail Saunder’s accounts of the history of these
transformations of population, the Bahamians then were worried about these
strangers coming into their midst and what it would to the them and their
culture. They had a feeling of being
swamped and they were right. Their
entire culture was supplanted by the new populations.
must also point this body to a long essay written by Sean McWeeney who
discovered that after the revolution in Haiti when the African slaves there
defeated Napoleon’s troops in the early nineteenth century, that there was mass
exodus from Haiti to the Americas especially up to Quebec. Many Haitian boats stopped here. In fact there was a trade in human cargo
from Haiti, and many Haitians stayed.
They too upset the population in those days, and the Government sought
to take measures to stop the influx.
out of that migration came Stephen Dillett who became the first Black member of
the House of Assembly. We revere his
name today. So what happened Mister President is that the dominant culture of
the British still survived and it simply accommodated itself to the
newcomers. The newcomers themselves
wanted to integrate, and they were not prevented from doing so by the dominant
culture. Can anyone argue that our
population is not richer for that immigration centuries ago.
the turn of the century there was another significant migration as the colonial
Government looked for workers to staff the civil service and the trades. One of those persons was my grandfather a
Barbadian on my mother’s side who came here at the age of one with his father
and mother and first cousins. They
settled in Augusta street. He died here
in 1961. He married a Hanna woman. The pattern of that is repeated in so many
families. The first generation of Black
leaders of the country were many of them first generation Bahamians. Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Clement Maynard,
Alfred Maycock, Loftus Roker, Jeffery Thompson– all first generation
Bahamians. And so in that respect would
be no different than the so called Bahaits who are here today. It is no disgrace to be the son or daughter
of an immigrant.
came as policemen, as teachers, as nurses from Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana,
Jamaica and Bermuda. No one doubts that this later group of twentieth century
immigrants are making a valuable contribution to The Bahamas.
then is the difference between that group of immigrants that the Haitian
immigrants. The difference is that the
other group came here in the main legally.
And with the possible exception of Jamaican immigrants to the country
now, those that come from the English speaking Caribbean in the main come here
Haitian immigrant in the main comes here illegally. He is an economic refugee.
His Africaness and his poverty and the fact that he does not speak
English makes him the subject of derision while at the same time a need
economic prop upon which this country survives. They are not known to be dishonest people. But what some Bahamians
do not like is the apparent ease with which they are able to set up shop as
vendors in his country, and many say in the straw market and the fish markets,
and setting up thirty day joints without any apparent interference or
enforcement of the law.
constantly hear Bahamians in poor constituencies complaining that while the law
is enforced on them it is not enforced on the illegal migrant population.
you have the makings of problems between the Bahamian citizen and the Haitian
citizen because of all the things that I have said. And again it does not help that they are Black. That only makes it worse. All of our racism comes out in us when we
see them. The Jamaican culture is
influencing out young people, and the older generation does not like it, but
the antipathy toward Jamaicans is nothing compared to that nursed against the
result is that the Haitian immigrant who is born here and raised here, in many
cases tries to hide his or her identity.
There can not be full participation in this society because of the
discrimination but also because of one important difference which did not exist
before 1973. The PLP took the decision
which I think was wrong to deny the right of citizenship to those persons born
in The Bahamas who did not have Bahamian parents. That changed the situation
under the colonial Government. The result is that you have a substantial
migrant population and their children here.
The parents have status. The children have a conditional status. And
there is no political support to change it.
Prime Minister in fact may have inadvertently caused people to think in the
direction of Haitians and crime when he himself blamed the U.S. for deporting
100 criminals back to The Bahamas from the U.S. These people had served their sentences. He said 25 of them had no connection with
the Bahamas. What he meant by that is
that the 25 were born in The Bahamas but because their parents were not
Bahamian they could not claim Bahamian citizenship. But the U.S. deported them to The Bahamas because they had
Bahamian identity documents.
when I raised the very question here a few weeks again when we debate changes
to the constitution I suggested that we consider an amendment to the
constitution which would clear up the problem by two formulations: every one born here is Bahamian and every one
whose parents is Bahama will be Bahamian.
But against here is no political support for that.
I said last week was that as a result of that legal discrimination, you now
have an underclass of people who are in fact Bahamians except in the legal
sense, who are discriminated against, they segregate themselves, there is no
effort to integrate them into the community, and so they feel no connection to
us because they are apparently not wanted.
We should not therefore be surprised if some of our difficult social
problems can be traced to that group.
We have no idea who they are and apparently don’t care to know. Our only response has been let’s get them
out of the country. We can not know who they are because some have deep sixed
their identity: by anglicizing their names or using their Bahamian parents name
if they born out of wedlock. And I know
of at least one case of a Haitian descendant who has Anglicized his name who is
terrified that people will find out who his ancestor is. That can not be good for personal self
esteem, and we need people in this country who are sure and certain and
confident about who they are.
said that Felix Bethel calls our calls the George VI Negroes. I said in more common terms he is describing
the ruling class that now rules the country, that grew out of the political
struggles of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. We
are a dwindling class. And coming below us is an underclass, part of which is
this migrant group who will eventually become themselves the ruling class. It
is like night will follow day. We have
been unwilling or more likely been unable to pursue the public policy of
expelling all illegal immigrants. The
solution then must be a concerted effort to fully integrate these people who
are Bahamian in everything but the law into the larger society so that the
dominant culture maintains its position while accommodating itself to the
newcomers. That is how the culture of
The Bahamas as we know it today will survive.
And that is, if it is important to Bahamians for it
said a few weeks ago that we have to get used to the idea that one day, persons
with buds and Rasta locks will sit in his Parliament, Those are amongst the new
Bahamians coming below us. And Mister
President what was interesting about all the responses to the latest debate
about Haitians is that there is a divide between the older persons and the
younger persons. The younger ones are
less concerned about the threat to the culture. The younger ones seem quite accommodating and less
concerned. But each persons that I met
had a point of view, and are convinced that their point of view is right.
want to say again that because an immigrant group may have gangs, gang members
and be involved in forms of organized crime that does not mean that the whole
group is condemned as a class. That
takes a great leap of illogic. And that
is the illogical leap that the press took about my remarks. And that is the illogical leap of my critics
within the human rights movement.
would argue that it is not because the persons are Haitian that what is
described by policemen and teachers are a tendency of some young men in that
group to involve themselves in gang activity occurs. It is rather because of poverty, deprivation and discrimination.,
And if you seek to eliminate those things then those activities should
cease. What happens immigrant groups
here is no different than what occurs in the migrant groups in other countries.
dominant culture has always accommodated itself to the influx of whatever
migrants come to these shores. That
dominant culture since the 18th century has been the Anglo American
culture. We continue to be that Anglo
American culture and that is not threatened.
The strong underpinnings of this overlay of Anglo Americanism is Africa
with the creolized culture of the Caribbean seeping lately from the twentieth
would like also to respond Mister President to Fred Smith, purportedly of the
Human Rights Movement who attacked me with a great degree of venom and
hyperbole. I know Mr. Smith very well and I understand his innermost
insecurities and sensitivities. It is
those insecurities, some of which are related to discrimination against him
because of his place of national origin that I assume has caused him to react
with an irrational exuberance.
Comparing me to Nazi storm troopers and the like. He connected me with what the
hate filled propaganda. I forgive him
for his excesses.
Mr. Smith, now that he has resurrected himself must tell the Bahamian people
whether eh is fish or fowl in so many things.
Foremost amongst these is are you fro the downtrodden or are you fro
the rich. Are
you for the powerless or are you for the powerful.
For at least five years now, Mr. Smith has not been actively involved
in the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association.
He has instead been engaged in defending the Grand Bahama Port
when we last heard from him he was letting us know of a case in which the
Australian judge in Freeport rescued himself from all Grand Bahama Port
Mr. Smith was in fact representing the Grand Bahama Port Authority in
Mr. Smith has been engaged in defending the policy of the Grand Bahama
Port Authority to take away people’s houses when they fail to pays service
relatively small service charges owed the Port, lead to the confiscation
almost always of people’s homes.
He has to say how he is able to defend his professional work with his
stand for the human rights of people.
I do not fault him for his professional choices.,
But the time is now to say whether he is fish or fowl.
He must also begin to take a more measured approach to life,.
He has gone past the stage for that kind of excess of language.
Mister President the culture of The Bahamas has been and is being
influenced by the Haitian community.
That has been happening since the 1950s when the policy which is now
pursued by the FNM came into being to deal with what was then called and still
is called today: The Haitian Problem.
In fact, I would recommend to all you to read The Haitian Problem by
Dawn Marshall, the sister of attorney Jeanne Thompson.
It is the finest study on the migration of Haitians to The Bahamas but
it is current only to 1979.
I tried to get the FNM to hire Mrs. Marshall who lives in Barbados to
update her study so that she could help us deal with the problem.
That was 1993.
I was studiously ignored.
And so what are we pursuing as a policy in 2000?
We are pursuing he exact same policy of the colonial government of
1957, of the UBP of 1963 of the PLP in its decades in power.
We have a system of round ups, crackdowns: whatever you want to call
Governments have failed to excise the problem by dealing with it in that way.
The migrant population from Haiti remains here and remains stable
despite the best efforts of every Government and every Director of
There is no reason to believe that this Government will be any more
successful with this policy.
And so to Fred Smith who accuses the PLP of attacking Haitians, he must
answer to history.
The PLP did no better or worse than its predecessors or successors in
And in fact were perhaps more sympathetic to the Haitian people.
When the PLP came to power, the first Minister to deal with the problem
was the late Dame Doris Johnson and this is what she had to say in 1967: “
Either we must absorb them or expel them.
Expulsion is out of the question because so many Haitians here are
raising families. .. There must be some way to legalize their staying in this
country. ” That was 1967.
Mrs. Marshall reports, however that despite the best intentions of the
PLP within a year or so, there was so much political pressure that the
Government had to announce a policy or round ups which is exactly what
colonial Government and the UBP had done decades before.
And so I say to the FNM nothing has changed in that respect.
Mrs. Marshall ends here study by giving this warning to the Bahamian
people: “ It can not be in the best interest of either the Bahamian
Government or the Bahamian nation to allow a large proportion of its
population to live and develop in isolation.”
And so Mister President, I wish to thank the press for raising this
debate in such a curious way.
I hope that it enlightens the public.
I hope that as we are drawing attention to the public policy on Clifton
that we now see how important it is to protect our heritage.
The Bahamas Government is wrong to alienate this land at Clifton from
the Bahamian people.
The Leader of the PLP has called for the creation of national park.
I support that.
This side will oppose this resolution, we will call for a division so
that it will be known who voted and how they voted.
It will be the next generation of Bahamians who will ask those who
voted yes to Clifton Cay to explain why their forefathers voted to give away
the land of The Bahamas.
I thank you very much indeed.