EDITORIAL: Action on Haiti needed - but what?

THE issue of immigration is once more in the headlines, whether it is in Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis’ speech in Argentina, in the renewed talk of action on shanty towns - or in the inflamed rhetoric of some who would choose to drum up support for their political posturing through hate.

The latter cannot be said for Mr Davis’ speech - which correctly identifies the instability in Haiti as a driving force behind the latest waves of migrants heading to our shores.

The latest group, a party of almost 400 migrants, has been detained off Cay Sal and taken to Inagua, where a medical team has been dispatched to check for any infections. At a time when there have been cases of cholera in Haiti, and with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, this is simply to ensure any cases among such a large number can be isolated.

Doubtless, the people detained will be processed and sent back to Haiti, to return to the turmoil the country presently faces.

Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, there has been little sense of any kind of political stability in Haiti.

The Tribune has regularly published updates as the world watches a nation almost strangled by the control of gangs. Last year, fuel was cut off for large portions of the country after gangs blocked off the ports.

Estimates say that about 60 percent of the country is under gang control - with three police officers shot dead in a battle with gang members last week.

Those estimates do vary - some doom-laden voices have even said 100 percent of the country is under gang control.

Senators have found their terms expiring and there has been no sign of a new election as promised.

Make no mistake, though, the boats that carry migrants from Haiti are no missions of mercy. Passengers are crammed on tight and expected to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of passage - with many aiming to reach the United States. For many migrants, arriving in The Bahamas is a way station on the route to Florida.

To pay those thousands of dollars off, the travellers are often expected to keep sending money once they reach their destination, or face the consequences of wronging the human smugglers who run these criminal operations.

It’s a big money game, and there is no mercy or compassion from the smugglers for those who get caught, or worse, whose vessels sink.

The people on board those vessels are fleeing from the worst of circumstances, but those operating the ships are criminals profiting off a nation in disarray.

As for those migrants who live here, when the question is raised why a shanty town springs up, the answer is relatively simple - the demand for cheap labour. If people weren’t paying, there would be no reason to stay. But as a nation, we do.

So how does the current Haitian crisis get solved?

Mr Davis talks of a need for action - but there are no real proposals for specific actions being put forward.

He talks of a need for a partnership - but with whom? The leadership structure in Haiti is fragile at best.

He talks of Haiti-led solutions, but again who are these leaders? The senators whose terms are up or the gang leaders who control the roads?

Migration from Haiti is nothing new - numerous administrations have struggled to get to grips with the situation. But the current political situation in Haiti is more precarious than in a long time. That exacerbates the problem we, and the wider region, face as a result.

Ultimately, what will help the most is Haiti thriving as a nation. A stable country where fleeing is not the only way to survive.

We are a long way from that, and while talk of action is encouraging, actual action is what is needed.

What that is, there has been no sign of so far.

But migration is a symptom of the problem at home. Solving that is a conundrum that will take great wisdom - and a huge effort.


birdiestrachan 4 months, 1 week ago

Many Hatians remain in the Bahamas never mind the story they are on their way to the USA They can not construct shanty towns in the USA, The Hatian government does not want other countries in their affairs


sheeprunner12 4 months, 1 week ago

The white-led UN is not interested in solving the Haitian crisis, nor is OAS or USA. So, what can Davis and CARICOM do????

The Bahamas is in a Catch-22 situation. Haitians make up at least 25% of our present population and they are an integral part of our economy. That is hard to reverse after 60 years of modern Haitian immigration.

Our politicians know that the Haitian vote is important in at least 12-15 constituencies. They are in fact the swing vote. So each party will court the Haitian vote to win the next election.

This gives the Haitians a sense of social power that they are obviously beginning to flaunt. This brazen action is what is driving the backlash from "real Bahamians".

If the Bahamian government doesn't get a hold on this powder keg, it will explode, as it has in Haiti.


GodSpeed 4 months, 1 week ago

400? that's a Battalion, literally being invaded.


Sickened 4 months, 1 week ago

Absolutely. And you can be absolutely sure that they arrived with illegal guns and cutlasses. If they decided to be violent and shut the locals up with violence then we would be in real trouble. It would take our entire police force to go and route them out. So far we have been very lucky that a Haitian gang hasn't decided to invade and take over one of our smaller islands.


GodSpeed 4 months, 1 week ago

Haitians tried this once in the Turks and Caicos islands, the British government had to come and put the Haitians in their place with force. So a gradual process went on afterwards, a constant inflow of illegals. Now Turks and Caicos is overrun with Haitians, Jamaicans and Dominicans. That place used to be virtually crime free, now tourists are getting murdered downtown in the crossfire of foreign gang warfare. The British and the Bahamas had to send police over there. Many of the Turks Islanders have already left to the UK and US, there are those that remain, but that place will never be like it was before. The same gradual process is already taking place here. It will happen eventually, especially say if America balkanizes.


BMW 4 months, 1 week ago

I am hearing some of the illegal immigrants that landed in The Bluff South Andros were in possesion of current work permits.


stillwaters 4 months, 1 week ago

Davis had better bring his apparatus home and stop fooling around out there, where he thinks he is in some non-existent 'demand'......how foolish can he be? Sir, please come home and deal with the country you were voted in to take care of. Things are badly falling apart here, while you travel around talking, talking, talking. Cholera might explode in Inagua and Andros, but you doing crap out there. Suck teet.....


bahamianson 4 months, 1 week ago

Lifeboat economics. We take them in.....we drown.


LastManStanding 4 months, 1 week ago

Build a wall around the shoreline. I'm not joking, that is literally the only thing that will ever stop them from coming here. Haiti is not a "nation" anymore than I am the King of England, approaching the issue from that perspective is foolish from the beginning. Problem is that no one wants to go and claim the territory because its millions of more mouths to feed at no benefit to the host country. So I say simply build a wall around them and let them figure it out.


Sign in to comment