Categorized | Editorials

Border Controls Deficient

New information coming in suggests that Bahamian police “…may have arrested the captain of the ‘Glory Time’ – the boat which capsized on route to Florida on a “smuggling expedition…”.

The captain is thought to be one of five survivors who swam ashore after the boat broke up in Hawksbill Cay as it headed to the US.

The four other survivors are said to be in “safe keeping” and were helping the police.

There is also every indication that most of the drowned were undocumented migrants, hailing from the Republic of Haiti.

The barest facts we now know: The boat apparently had engine trouble, took on water and then capsized; it was a vessel with a number of passengers onboard had capsized in waters off North Abaco in the area of Hawksbill Cay; the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the US Coast Guard, BASRA and other concerned citizens responded.

This is surely the stuff of which tragedy is born.

And now, the grim work begins: Today Haitians in Abaco were helping to identify bodies pulled from the water. An estimated 28 Haitians were on the 25-30 foot boat when they set off on Sunday. So far, 11 bodies have been recovered.

We also learn from the police that the US Coast Guard was helping Bahamian authorities in the search.

Thank God for the United States Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is so constituted and mandated that it serves and protects the interests of the United States of America.

And so, it necessarily follows that we should also – as a people united in service and love- should do all we must if we are to protect and defend our borders.

This is the real measure of sovereignty!

Indeed, were we really serious about border control and the defense of this nation’s sovereignty, we would have long ago – as a people – turned our collective backs on all who would use these islands as staging grounds for their criminal enterprises.

Indeed, we would have also done more to see to it that wherever Bahamians live and work anywhere in the Bahamas, there would be some real means for them – in the name of the Bahamian people- to monitor and patrol our harbors, waters and other such boundaries.

Today these thoughts come to mind as we reflect on yet another story that could be described as a crying shame.

This new information concerns not only the deaths by drowning of a number of Haitian men, women and children; but also concerns the callous indifference some Bahamians display whenever any of these people face any of life’s calamitous turns.

More galling still happens to be the fact that there are people [some of them Bahamians] who routinely prey on people who are – on occasion – hell-bent on getting to the United States of America; that much-vaunted land of opportunity.

There is another side to this story that today begs for policy-level response from the Christie administration; with that response being one that focuses public regard and policy on what must be the only response that can – even now – show that we are really serious about defending and protecting this nation’s borders.

Sadly, behavior on the ground throughout this archipelago suggests that quite ordinary Bahamians are prepared to sell out their country’s most vital interests to any and all who would use these islands as staging grounds for the conduct of their criminal enterprises.

In addition, today’s highly urbanized Bahamas is deeply impregnated with Haitians, Jamaicans, Nigerians and a host of other nationalities and ethnicities.

This mix of peoples brings with it any number of costs and benefits; with these being on the cost side with the widening incidence of guns and drugs smuggling, increasing cultural tension and therewith the development of a sense that, Bahamians are being marginalized in their own land.

Once tensions are resolved – the realization dawns that – in time – there are processes at play that conduce to making strangers into strangers no more; thus their reception and assimilation as Bahamians.

Notwithstanding our understanding of the need for new blood in a modern Bahamas – we are acutely aware of the fact that today’s Bahamas – especially some of its islands closest to the U.S. mainland – are frontier like zones where foreign and native gangsters [whether Haitians, Jamaicans, Americans, Colombians or whomever] do work together.

Saddest of all, though, are those times when perfectly innocent children are lost and so too their parents; men and women who only wanted to be free in the land of the brave.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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