Categorized | National News

Backlash On Gov’t Warning

The government’s decision to issue a travel warning particularly to young men traveling to the United States has not only caught the attention of new organizations worldwide but has drawn some backlash.

Mike Pesca, a commentator on a news website named, called for the warning to be ignored because “Bahamians are safer abroad than at home.”

The government’s warning came after Alton Sterling was killed by a police officer in Louisiana on video.

Just hours later, a chilling video of the police shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota was circulated across social media and later on most television stations across the US.

Both incidents caused a further climax of racial tensions within the US.

In a terse statement sent Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Bahamians traveling especially in light of the recent Independence holiday weekend to “be sensible.”

“We wish to advise all Bahamians traveling to the US but especially to the affected cities to exercise appropriate caution generally. In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate,” the statement said.

“If there is any issue please allow consular offices for The Bahamas to deal with the issues. Do not get involved in political or other demonstrations under any circumstances and avoid crowds.”

But Pesca in his article, pointed to The Bahamas’ murder record last year which saw 149 murders.

“This murder rate of roughly 38 per cent 100,000 residents is comparable to the deadliest three of four American cities,” he said.

He also acknowledged that the US State Department rates New Providence as critical as the country frequently sends warnings about The Bahamas.

“If you want to compare The Bahamas overall murder rate with the chances a black man has of being killed by a police officer in the United States, the Caribbean nation looks even more dangerous,” Pesca said.

Two newspapers recorded separate statistics on police killing black men in the US. One of them –the Guardian – recorded 294 killings while the Washington Post recorded 248.

“The Census Bureau estimates there were 22.2 million black men in the US in 2015, meaning the chances of any Bahamian being murdered in The Bahamas is roughly 30 times the chance of a black man being killed by a policeman in the US,” Pesca said.

Meanwhile, a site named opposing views also joined in the discussion.

Mark Jones, a writer on this site said The Bahamas is well in its rights to issue a warning.

“The Bahamian travel advisory, issued on the final day of a tragic week in humanitarian history, is neither surprising nor illegitimate,” he writes.

“The CIA reports that 90.6 percent of the population in The Bahamas is black. It would make sense that the majority of citizens traveling from The Bahamas to the United States are black. As informed protectors of their people, Bahamian government officials are smart to raise a red flag before a significant portion of their population travels to a country whose recent news headlines overwhelmingly involve police brutality and provoke the trending of #blacklivesmatter.

“Notably, the MOFA’s travel advisory is not a restriction. The Bahamian government is not telling its people that a trip to the United States will result in inevitable harm. The advisory is simply a timely warning in the wake of tragic events.

Indisputably, the United States currently faces a problem of racial injustice. The Bahamian government is completely within reason to warn travelers of the unfortunate dangers that exist on American soil.”

In an interview with the Bahama Journal yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said there was nothing unusual about the warning.

“This is nothing unusual. It is a responsibility that we have for our citizens. I quite don’t understand what the confusion is about. I really don’t. It is simple advice that governments do when their citizens are traveling to another country and there is nothing extraordinary about it,” he said.

“There is nothing in it about the United States. It is a simple warning, which we have a legal and moral obligation to do. We sent a note to CNN because we could not understand what is the extraordinary nature of this. Every country does this so what is the issue?”

Other countries that have recently sent out warnings on the US include Australia, Bahrain, Croatia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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