By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA
THIS week we saw our borders being prepared for re-opening, and a police involved shooting, clouded in controversy and conspiracy theories, in which three young Bahamian males lost their lives.
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, once again we seem to be mirroring the actions of our neighbours to the north.
Let’s have a closer look!
ORDER AT THE BORDER
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar made the announcement in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
“The current protocol requires that all visitors and returning residents must have a negative COViD-19 test for entry into Bahamas.”
This was the responsible and correct decision to make in this regard, in my opinion.
But I do know, however, there are many of you out there, especially business owners, that don’t share the same opinion, and I respect and understand your valid concerns in not agreeing with the decision made by Mr D’Aguilar.
And I need the borders to open ASAP, just as bad as anyone else.
Jokers Wild remains closed until things return to some semblance of normalcy in the tourism sector.
However, we can’t miss the big picture, premature openings, relaxed social distancing and testing requirements have led to spikes in COViD - 19 cases across the United States.
A perfect example with a similar tourist model, is Florida.
Florida reported 3,207 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday, the largest single-day count in the state since the pandemic began, according to the state health department. Florida’s total reported cases climbed to nearly 86,000.
The ‘Sunshine State’ has all the components to become the next large epicentre of coronavirus transmission, according to projections from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
Florida, along with Alabama, Arizona, California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas, are now seeing record high seven-day averages of new coronavirus cases per day, since relaxing social distancing protocols, and re-opening businesses.
This according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
According to the tourism minister, the present model, requiring negative tests for entry into the country, for all, returning residents and tourist alike, and will remain in place after the July 1 opening, given the spike in US cases, where the bulk of The Bahamas’ tourist market comes from. (Smart move).
Again this was a very tough call, a catch 22 even, but it appears Mr D’Aguilar made the right call.
Additionally, it’s easier and far more affordable, to get tested in the US for $100 with rapid results, than here, and given the choice between travelling to Florida, where COViD-19 is rife, or to The Bahamas, where there is almost no COViD-19, many Americans will gladly hop this extra hurdle, but they will more than likely choose a different destination, if we are giving Florida competition for new COViD-19 cases.
Do the math, it may be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s much more palatable despite the hardships, to gut it out until October or November as things balance out in the tourism sector, rather than having to wait until mid-2021.
LIGHTS, BODY CAMERA, ACTION
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, amid public backlash, regarding this past Saturday’s deadly police involved shootings, which claimed the lives of three young men, offered these remarks in the HOA: “Yes, we had a shooting over the weekend. All shootings are very concerning and unfortunate and that shooting like every shooting will be looked into. And at the end of the day, justice will prevail.”
Marking yet another deadly police-involved killing, the three young men were killed by police on Cowpen Road on Saturday after an officer was “ambushed” by a gunman, police said.
This is eerily similar to the three men killed by the RBPF, last year in Blair Estates.
Police Commissioner Paul Rolle told the press that Saturday’s shooting involved suspects, who “ambushed” and “engaged” police.
Rolle also added: “If persons want to engage the members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force they need to be prepared to meet their maker. I’m not training my officers to go out there, I would like for them to return home at the end of the day when they come to work.”
With all due respect, I would much rather hear a crime-related report from Commissioner Rolle, with body and dash cam footage from the officers in question, accompanying his report.
So there is no longer a grey area in relation to police arrests, suspects in custody and police involved killings, in the line of duty, in The Bahamas.
No more incidents with police, like numerous others in earlier years that live on in local street lore.
No more stories about the Sea Breeze canal, and like those of ‘Little Ounce’, ‘Skeva’, ‘Jim Rat’ and more recently ‘Lil Dee’ just to name a few. All four were well known to the police, whose killings at the hands of the RBPF were inevitable, due to their numerous criminal offences and enterprises, however their killings are eerily similar to extra judicial killings, as seen in South America and the Philippines.
And there is no place in any civilised society for that, especially The Bahamas.
Recently the government signed a $1m contract for 400 body and dash cameras, to be used by police officers this year.
Mr Dames added previously when signing the contract that with the new technology, officers will be placed under “greater scrutiny unlike ever before”.
While giving his contribution to the budget debate, Dames announced in the HOA: “They’re now on island and in order to meet our projected roll-out period, training is continuing online and this is as a result of COVID-19 so we don’t want to lose any time. Meanwhile, the signalling units for the dash cams have been installed in the new police vehicles; $232,357 will be invested during this month while the duplicate amount will be paid during the upcoming fiscal period for maintenance.
“Mr Speaker, this cutting edge police technology is expected to provide critical evidence for both internal and external investigations. It is anticipated that projected roll out period will be August of 2020, not long now.”
Now the waiting game continues, amid public outcries against police brutality and police involved shootings, which has left three men dead and brought the country’s police-involved killings for the year to eight, according to The Tribune.
Until next week I will leave you with the words of Malcolm X: “If you aren’t careful, administrations and certain media outlets, will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”