Bahamas reel under Haitian pressure

What took place


For years Haitians have been fleeing their country and ending up in various countries.
One such country that is besieged by these illegal immigrants is The Bahamas.


Now Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie is crying out for help. He said that for too long his country has had to bear the “unfair burden” of Haiti’s instability which stems from thousands of illegal immigrants flooding the Bahamas.


Christie said that his country’s plea for help must echo throughout the world.  “That is wrong, it’s unfair,” he said. “And we have to much stronger [communicate] our concern and the need for assistance.”


He added that The Bahamas must tell the world that it cannot shoulder the burden of the illegal Haitian problem. He added that because of his country’s advanced economy and sophistication, Haitians are attracted to The Bahamas.


“This unfair burden is visited upon us through our proximity to Haiti and the fact that we are the gateway to the United States of America, where they wish to go,” Prime Minister Christie said. “We have this added burden of instability in Haiti, which if not addressed by the world, will leave us again to carry the burden. That is why at the very highest level on a sustained basis, we would be making an effort to bring that about.”


He said with 200 years of independence, Haiti is still struggling to come to terms with its existence and how it should function.


“But in the meantime, we carry the brunt of it,” he said. “I have to impress upon people again, that Haiti is more than just a pastime. It has to be dealt with.”



Commentator’s views


Many commentators, Bahamian and non-Bahamian, have expressed the view that the Haitian problem is a serious one particularly for the Bahamas. They point out that it is a burden to the country and a drain on the economy.


In the eyes of Haitians, stated a commentator on a radio call-in programme, The Bahamas is a land of milk and honey and what’s more it’s geographically close to their country. “Therefore they jump on a boat and head for The Bahamas.”


This, the commentators point out, is not only an economic problem but also a social one. Tensions rise with this influx of illegal immigrants and from that anti-social behaviour comes to the forefront. “This adversely affects everyone.”


They agree that the problem is not just that of The Bahamas. “The international community, particularly those countries in the western hemisphere, must come to terms with what is going on and share some of the burden.” They added that it is unfair for The Bahamas to shoulder something that is not of its own creation.



What’s to come


The ostrich-like approach to the Haitian problem and its negative impact on The Bahamas has to cease. It is too much of a burden for The Bahamas to bear. Western countries in particular, and more so the United States, must get involved and help The Bahamas find a way out of the dilemma.


Countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which The Bahamas is a member, must also play their part. How can they help? A few by accepting Haitian immigrants but in more practical terms, by persuading bigger countries (not only the USA and Canada but also some Latin American countries) to accept Haitian immigrants and very importantly by working with other countries to get to the root of the problem.  That is, to tackle and solve the problem in Haiti itself.