Nassau Guardian Stories
August 22, 2014
Blue Curry is a Bahamian artist currently living in London, who flies his flags in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Known primarily for his installation works that broach cultural and historical themes, in 2013 Curry was asked to take part in Unsettled Landscapes, a biennial exhibition featuring the work of artists from Nunavut all the way to Tierra del Fuego, and countries in between.
Held at Site Santa Fe, Unsettled Landscapes opened in July 2014. The exhibition examines the "urgencies, political conditions and historical narratives that inform the work of contemporary artists across the Americas". Each work in the show responds to three themes: landscape, territory and trade.
Curry's childhood memories of a tourism-saturated Downtown Nassau were the catalyst for his proposal for Unsettled Landscapes.
"I started by remembering how, as a boy, the cruise ships would come into Nassau Harbour and how dramatic the difference was between just walking around kind of two-story or four-story buildings, and suddenly something the size of a cruise ship comes in and creates this new city," he said.
Seeing the cruise port through a sculptor's eyes, Curry noted the port's shifting shape each time one of the massive vessels arrived or left.
"I'd often see the cruise ship port as a sculptor, because, if you look at the ships, on no two days, does that combination of ships in the port look exactly the same. So I would see it as sculpture and the combinations of the ships coming in, the way they dock and the formations they make, as a sculpture."
Looking to the past for inspiration again, Curry drew on his knowledge of Fort Fincastle and its historical flagpole, which served as an effective communication method for the port, Nassau's residents and incoming ships, in years gone.
"That was at a time when you could look to the top of that hill and see the flagpole - people did commonly know what the flags stood for, so they knew what was going on in Nassau Harbour," said the artist. "Time progressed and flagpoles became obsolescent. Beyond that, the downtown port became predominantly a port for cruise liners, so it served no more purpose. At one moment that flagpole would have been so important, and it has no relevance at all now."
With his wheels turning, Curry offered the concept of presenting Downtown Nassau as a "site for sculpture and installation, rather than a site for just
consumption" to Unsettled Landscapes' curatorial team. His proposal began with the installation of a live video camera taping the port and displaying the "sculptural formations of cruise ships coming in and out".
In a twist on the Fort Fincastle flag post, the artist recreated a signal mast outside of the Site Santa Fe gallery. Curry highlights the impact of The Bahamas' largest industry on its landscape with a pole of nondescript, patterned beach towels fashioned into flags. Each flag represents one of the 40 cruise lines expected to arrive in Nassau Harbour for the duration of Unsettled Landscapes. Inside the Site Santa Fe gallery, the installation is complemented by a projected broadcast of the live streaming from the video camera situated in Nassau and shelves of meticulously folded flags representing the ships that are not currently in Nassau Harbour.
"It's the responsibility of the gallery staff, according to the cruise ship schedules, to raise and lower flags when ships are in the port of Nassau," said Curry. "...One sculpture in Nassau activates another in Santa Fe. Just like cruise ships, it's always changing. There is not really a day that the flag poles always look the same."
Curry has pointed out the symbolism involved in his use of the beach towels as flags.
"The beach towel I'm using it in a sly way," he said. "It is a means of conquest. If only for a day, when tourists go to the beach, they throw these towels down, and they can occupy a beach for a day. This sort of taking over of space that tourists do on a daily basis maybe doesn't affect us, but maybe psychologically it does, as a very small act of conquest. I'm interested in the beach towel as a material that you can use to possess a piece of land, a piece of the beach, if only for the day."
The Unsettled Landscapes exhibition will be up until January 2015. Those interested in finding out more about the space are encouraged to visit its website at https://sitesantafe.org/. More information about Blue Curry and his work as well as a link to his installation's live video stream can be found online at http://www.bluecurry.com/index.html.
Jump: Curry examines beach towels as tools of conquest
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August 22, 2014
Despite not coming up with a medal on Friday, Joanna Evans and Laura Morley were still able to set new national records with their performances at the second Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
Evans managed to finish just fifth in the women's 400-meter (m) freestyle final, but her time of 4:12.14 topped the old record of 4:13.74 that she set just hours earlier in her qualification heat. Prior to yesterday the old record time in the 400m was 4:17.29, and was also set by Evans back in march at the Swift Swimming Championships in Nassau.
Hannah Moore of the United States finished first in the 400m final and scored her second gold medal of the championships. She won the race in a time of 4:11.05, followed by Sarisa Suwannachet, who finished in a close second with a time of 4:11.23 and Kathrin Demler out of Germany finished third with a time of 4:11.2.
Laura Morley competed in the women's 200m breaststroke but could only muster an eighth place finish in her preliminary race. Despite failing to advance, her time of 2:36.42 trumped the old national record of 2:37.97 set by McKayla Lightbourn at the 2008 CARIFTA swimming championships in Aruba.
The swimmers can now unwind in China, because yesterday marked the final day of swimming competition at the Youth Olympics.
In tennis, Rasheed Carey and his mixed doubles partner, Simona Heinova, of the Czech Republic, lost 2-0 in their quarterfinal match on court number two. They were defeated in straight sets by Stanislaw Zielinski, of Poland, and Jil Teichmann of Switzerland. The total time of the match was one hour and five minutes.
On the track, Drashanae Rolle finished fifth in heat number two of the women's 400m hurdles, with a time of 1:02.01 at the Nanjing OSC Stadium.
She finished 12th overall and although she failed to make it to the finals, she will be competing in the "B" finals on Monday at 7:05 p.m.
Paul De Souza was once again denied the chance to get out and sail on the Jinniu Lake. Yesterday was the second day that all sailing races were canceled due to inclement weather. The country's sole sailor is competing in the Byte CII Class - Men's One Person Dinghy, and will hopefully get a chance to get in the water at some point today. De Souza has yet to compete in race eight, nine or 10 of the 11 race course due to the weather. Officials are working on a new schedule for the sailors, and will release it at some point today.
The Bahamas will be looking forward to some good performances in athletics today at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.
Tyler Bowe will compete in the men's 100m finals out of lane eight, and that race is set for 9:20 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Jenea Ambrose will look to make noise in the women's 100m final. She will be runnning out of lane two in the final that is set for 9 a.m. EST.
Henry Delauze was the first Bahamian athlete to make it into the final round, and will be competing in the men's 400m final that will begin at 10:06 a.m.
Almost 4,000 athletes from 204 countries are competing in 28 disciplines at this year's Youth Olympics.
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August 22, 2014
Two of the top teams in the New Providence Softball Association (NPSA) scored blowout victories at Banker's Field on Thursday night.
The Sting Truckers trampled the DK Smokers 19-2 in the first game, while the BTC Elite Warriors cruised past Chances Mighty Mitts 15-2.
Lamar Watkins led the way for the Truckers with two runs, two hits and four runs batted in (RBI).
Eugene Pratt was also good for the team as he finished with one run, two hits and 5 RBIs, while Jamal Johnson added two runs, one hit and two RBIs.
Phillip Johnson was the top performer for the Smokers and ended the night with one hit and one run.
Both teams struggled in the first inning and the Smokers managed to take a 2-1 lead. In the second inning, the Truckers picked up steam and outscored the Smokers 6-0. The third inning was another good one for the Truckers, who managed to outscore the Smokers 4-0. In the fourth, things would go completely haywire for the Smokers as they allowed the Truckers to rattle off eight runs and would again go scoreless. After the fourth inning, the officials decided that they had seen enough and put an end to the game. The winning pitcher of the game was Thomas Davis.
In the second game, Sherman Ferguson who scored two home runs, two hits, two runs and three RBIs led the Warriors to an easy victory.
The Warriors stunned the Mitts as they jumped out to an 8-1 lead, after the first inning. The Mitts defense picked up in the second as they held the Warriors to just one run in the second inning. However, the offense continued to struggle and they failed to score a run in the inning. The Warriors had their way with their opponents in the third. They outscored the Mitts 6-0, and after a scoreless fourth inning the referees decided that it did not make sense to continue and ended the game in the fourth. The winning pitcher of the game was Avery Rolle.
There will be no softball this evening due to the fact that the league wants to show its respects to the late manager of the Electro Telecom Lady Hitters, Carl "Bang Bang" Johnson, whose funeral is today in Eleuthera. The NPBA will resume its season on Tuesday night.
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August 22, 2014
Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said yesterday that Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins' "days are numbered" in the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and added that the FNM would welcome him.
Rollins' political future came into question on Wednesday after he slammed Prime Minister Perry Christie during the value-added tax (VAT) bill debate in the House of Assembly and called for new political leadership in the country.
"I commend Mr Rollins for his willingness to be straight with the people. His days are numbered in the PLP but he can be assured that he has a place in the FNM," said Cash.
"A key phrase that will follow Perry Christie is 'betrayal of trust' because his word has counted for so little since he returned to office in 2012. Most notable among those whom this Prime Minister has betrayed is that generation of young people he deceived into voting for him on the basis the he would support and invest in them. Those closest to him, like Andre Rollins and [Marco City MP] Greg Moss and [Bamboo Town MP] Renward Wells know the extent to which Mr. Christie has paid only lip service to young leaders."
During the VAT debate, Rollins accused the prime minister of threatening Moss and himself.
"The political threats uttered by the prime minister and minister of finance this morning (Wednesday) left me with one impression, and that is we need new political leadership in The Bahamas," said Rollins.
"When a leader and minister of finance, and prime minister could take a debate as important and critical to the pockets and wallets of the Bahamian people, a debate as critical as that, where he could spend most of his contribution threatening members of this side, it is evidence that we need new leadership.
"He spent more time, Mr. Speaker, and energy trying to threaten us, to scare us, rather than give hope and comfort to a public that is leery of the impact of VAT on their lives and that of their families. We have to be concerned Mr. Speaker."
Following Rollins' attack on Christie, who was not present in the House at the time, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis said Rollins "crossed the line" and suggested he expects his resignation as Gaming Board chairman.
It was unclear if Rollins had resigned yesterday.
But Cash said he agrees with Rollins that there needs to be new political leadership.
"Mr. Rollins' damning speech in the House is symptomatic of what PLPs have in common with the majority of Bahamians," Cash said. "We all know that Mr. Christie has passed both his sell by and use by dates and it is time for the PM to move into retirement and enjoy the foreign travel that he has come to love."
Rollins spoke out against Christie as he expressed anger over the fact that Christie used a majority of his communication to "threaten" backbenchers for their dissenting views, instead of providing "hope and comfort" to Bahamians who are concerned about the impact of VAT.
Cash said yesterday that he is not surprised that Christie has resorted to using threats.
"The damning statements from Mr. Rollins also point to the clear frustration that new generation PLP leaders feel about the do nothing style of leadership provided by Mr. Christie," he said.
"Unlike in the FNM where young leaders had a genuine opportunity to impact government policy, Mr. Rollins now understands that in Christie's PLP, they are merely window dressing and the 'old guard all for me baby' entrenched interests still control the ebb and flow of the PLP. I know that for a go-getter like Rollins and Greg Moss that must be unbearably painful."
Moss also criticized Christie for issuing "threats" to those who went against the party stance.
He said Christie's way of thinking is harmful to democracy.
During debate on the constitutional referendum bills earlier this week, Rollins also blasted the Christie administration for using young politicians as "tokens" to help win the election.
He said the PLP is not open to independent thinkers.
"If we take strong views and we suffer for it, then so be it," Moss said on Tuesday.
Rollins resigned as party whip on Wednesday after expressing opposition to two of the four constitutional amendment bills the government hopes to advance to referendum.
Christie said the move was the right thing to do.
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August 22, 2014
A day after Fort Charlotte MP Andre Rollins unleashed a verbal assault on an absent Prime Minister Perry Christie in the House of Assembly and was asked to do the "honorable thing" by Acting Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, both men were silent yesterday as to Rollins' future in the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Davis said in the House that he expected to meet with Rollins yesterday morning to discuss how he would do the "honorable thing", but it is unclear if that meeting ever happened.
The Nassau Guardian waited for several hours outside the Ministry of Works on John F. Kennedy Drive to follow up with Davis, the minister of Works and Urban Development.
He sent a message with his aide that he did not want to be interviewed.
Another two hours were spent in the reception area of Rollins' dental practice, Faith Dental Centre on Robinson Road, but the Fort Charlotte MP refused to meet with The Guardian.
He sent several messages through his staff that he had no intention of speaking to the media, and eventually requested that The Guardian leave and "respect his wishes".
Davis' suggestion that Rollins should resign came in the House of Assembly after a scathing attack from the backbencher on Christie and the need for "new political leadership in the country".
Christie was out of the country at the time Rollins made his contribution.
Rollins expressed anger over the fact that the prime minister used a majority of his communication to "threaten" backbenchers for their dissenting views, instead of providing "hope and comfort" to Bahamians who are concerned about the impact of VAT.
He also lashed out at Christie for quoting scripture repeatedly in Parliament, saying if he wanted to hear constant scriptural references he would go to church.
Davis' response came before he made his own contribution.
"The prime minister and our leader is out of the jurisdiction," Davis said.
"It pains me to note that the member for Fort Charlotte crossed the line today."
Davis said Rollins "crossed the line" when he questioned his leader and his motives, suggested he should no longer be the leader.
"He hold a post to which the leader appointed and I'll say no more," Davis said.
"He and I can meet tomorrow morning as the acting prime minister and the acting leader of the Progressive Liberal Party and we can discuss the manner in which he ought to do what is the honorable thing.
"I'll say no more about that."
After Rollins noted that he was no longer the Gaming Board chairman because the board appointments expired June 30, Davis pointed out that those appointments were extended to the end of this month.
Meanwhile, radio talk shows and social media buzzed with comments from dozens of residents, who called Rollins' comments refreshing.
Some said his criticisms were wrong, while others called his move a distraction from the VAT Bill, which was passed by a majority in the House Wednesday night.
In a statement yesterday, Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said Rollins' time in the PLP was coming to an end, but he "has a place in the FNM".
The Fort Charlotte MP was also offered a home in the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
DNA Deputy Leader Chris Mortimer said during a press conference that if Rollins believes in standing on principle and doing what is best for the next generation, "he can come to the DNA".
Rollins resigned as party whip on Monday after expressing opposition to two of the four constitutional amendment bills the government hopes to advance to referendum.
Christie said the move was the right thing to do.
During the 2012 general election campaign, Rollins told hundreds of supporters that as the next MP for Fort Charlotte he will "journey towards greater national development in this great political vehicle that is the Progressive Liberal Party".
"I shall stand with you and be counted," Rollins said.
"I shall join you and be proud. We shall walk through the valley undaunted.
"And we shall all shout out loud: PLP, all the way. PLP, all the way."
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August 22, 2014
St. Anne's MP Hubert Chipman said yesterday that he found it "disgraceful and appalling" that Prime Minister Perry Christie was absent when members of the House of Assembly voted on the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill on Wednesday night.
"When I look at the whole thing, the record will show that he did not vote for VAT, he was absent," Chipman told The Guardian.
"He is putting a tax on the Bahamian people that he didn't even vote for. I find that disgraceful and appalling.
"While he might say he had the majority, he abdicated his responsibility as the minister of finance.
"What are you saying to the Bahamian people?"
On Wednesday evening, Christie traveled to Las Vegas with Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe for the opening of a hotel and casino.
The VAT Bill passed with 22 yes votes, eight no votes and six absent.
The opposition voted against the bill.
Chipman said he found it amazing that MPs were debating the most important piece of legislation in the Ministry of Finance and the minister of finance had "abdicated his responsibility and left".
"What is this? What is he doing?" he asked.
Noting that Christie's birthday was yesterday, Chipman asked, "Is this his birthday gift to the Bahamian people, VAT?"
The government will implement VAT on January 1, 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent.
The imposition of VAT is expected to generate an additional $300 million annually, according to government estimates.
The bill was tabled on July 23 and debate began on Tuesday afternoon.
FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Deputy Leader Christopher Mortimer said Christie's absence was a "crying shame".
"As important as this issue was, as central as it was to them talking about reform, the prime minister did not even show up to vote for this bill," Mortimer said. "That, my friend, is a crying shame.
"If you are the prime minister of a country, if you say that it is absolutely important that this has to happen to fix our ailing economy, then the buck stops with you and you should be there for that vote.
"It is not sufficient to castigate members of the opposition [parties] or castigate opposition within your own party and then not do the honorable thing and show up to record your vote for history.
"He has not done that. I cry shame on the members of Parliament who sat in that House and voted yes. They deserve to lose their seats in 2017."
The DNA does not support VAT.
Butler-Turner said she thought it important that Leader of Opposition Business Neko Grant asked for a division on the vote.
"History would have recorded that as important as this shift is as being a cornerstone for reformation and financial tax shift in The Bahamas, the minister of finance saw fit to not be in the country for that vote along with six members for the governing side," she said.
"It certainly speaks to the lack of regard, I feel, and contempt and arrogance that the prime minister has toward the Bahamian people."
The Long Island MP added that the debate was rushed, stating that there has been no focused attention on the legislation.
"I have never ever seen the governing side, or any side for that matter, fight amongst its own the way I have seen over the last two days," she said.
"There is something inherently wrong with this."
She was referring to criticism from Marco City MP Greg Moss, who voted against the bill and Fort Charlotte MP Andre Rollins about the bill.
Moss said VAT will "savage" Bahamians, that it is a regressive tax and that it is not in line with the philosophy of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Though Rollins voted in favor of the bill, he highlighted the plight of many young Bahamians who remain unemployed.
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August 22, 2014
Police confirmed last night that a man was shot dead in the Lyon Road area of Kemp Road sometime around 10 p.m. Thursday.
Details surrounded this latest murder were unclear up to press time. It was the second fatal shooting on New Providence in as many days.
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August 22, 2014
After facing criticism for his stance against several recent Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) bills in the House of Assembly, Marco City MP Greg Moss said that he is comfortable with his decisions and is prepared to face "whatever ramifications come with them".
However, Moss declared that he still believes in the PLP and supports his leader.
"I am in the PLP because I see the stated ideology of the PLP as being most consistent with my view on how to develop a country," he told The Nassau Guardian in an interview this week.
"Once those two things continue to flow in the right direction then I'm very comfortable being where I am.
"...I think differences are a mark of strength in the political process. I think other people need to get on board. I think we will go down this path, we will finish this path and we will be stronger for it.
"If other people have decisions to make they should make those decisions. I'm comfortable with the decisions I make and I'm comfortable with whatever ramifications come with them."
In the past week, Moss has voiced his opposition to two of the constitutional amendment bills before the House and also said he cannot support the government's value-added tax bill.
Responding to Moss, Prime Minister Perry Christie said in the House this week that there would be "consequences" for Moss' anti-government position.
Asked if he is worried about his political future given Christie's comments, Moss said no.
"Persons should not come in the House and worry about their political future. Persons should come in the House and worry about discharging their duty to the country. I am confident that the Bahamian people should make right judgments about who should represent them," he said.
"I have no concerns whatsoever about my standing in my constituency. Once I run again, I will be elected. And I have no intention whatsoever of not running.
"My interest in coming into politics was to help stabilize our country and help reshape. That task isn't finished. That task has barely started.
"And those who have a challenge with forthrightness, with conviction, with forcefulness... simply have to get used to it."
He said the country is far too distracted by the idea of personal political agendas.
"When you get to the point when you start to make decisions based on how you perceive they will impact your political future you need to get out of politics," he added.
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August 22, 2014
Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins would be welcomed into the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), DNA Deputy Leader Christopher Mortimer said yesterday.
"We have always said that the DNA has as big tent," Mortimer said.
"If he believes in his country and believes in standing up on principle and doing what is best for the next generation, he can come to the DNA."
DNA Chairman Andrew Wilson added, "Mr. Rollins would be welcomed to join us in the DNA.
"Even the prime minister realizes that value-added tax (VAT) will be the death of the PLP."
Rollins, the Gaming Board chairman, severely criticized Prime Minister Perry Christie in the House of Assembly this week, stating that "it is evident that we need new political leadership" in this country.
During debate on a compendium of bills to amend the constitution to bring about gender equality in The Bahamas and debate on the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill, Rollins sharply criticized the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and eventually resigned as government whip. He voted against the constitutional amendment bills going to committee, though he supported the VAT Bill.
During debate on the VAT Bill on Wednesday, Rollins expressed anger over the fact that Christie spent the majority of his contribution to the debate on the bill "threatening" backbenchers for their dissenting views.
"As the cows in Andros in the early 90s starved and died, and are no more, the young in our country, the highest segment of unemployed in this country, are starving and crying because they have no grass to eat and they feel forgotten," Rollins said.
He was referring to the scandal where cows died due to neglect at the North Andros agricultural station under Christie, who was then minister of agriculture.
Acting Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis responded, stating that Rollins had "crossed the line" and suggested that he expects Rollins' resignation as Gaming Board chairman.
Mortimer added yesterday: "Mr. Rollins did say something interesting and I do agree with him. He says the PLP needs new leadership. We think that has been evident prior to the last election."
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August 22, 2014
A judge yesterday approved the removal of an electronic monitoring device from a man facing extradition.
Melvin Maycock Jr. is on bail as he fights extradition to Florida on allegations that he was part of an international drug smuggling gang.
The extradition request has been pending since 2004.
Prosecutors allege that Melvin Maycock Sr., Trevor Roberts, Devroy Moss, Shanto Curry, Torrey Lockhart, Wilfred Ferguson, Derek Rigby, Carl Culmer, Sheldon Moore, Gordon "Hog" Newbold, Brian Deal, Lynden Deal and Laron Lockhart were part of a multi-national drug smuggling ring.
They are prohibited from leaving the country without getting prior approval from the court and have to report regularly to police stations in their districts.
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August 22, 2014
After a third trial, there has finally been a conclusive decision in the murder trial of Leonard Barnette.
Justice Carolita Bethell yesterday directed jurors to acquit Barnette after upholding a no-case submission made on his behalf.
Two previous trials ended in mistrial after jurors could not reach a decision on his guilt or innocence.
Prosecutors alleged that Barnett shot and killed Rico Farrington at Spinney Road and then hid his body in bushes off East Sunrise Highway on Grand Bahama.
Farrington was shot five times - once in the chest, twice in the back and twice in the head. Police recovered the murder weapon several days after Farrington's body was discovered.
Jermaine Knowles claimed that he bought the gun, that was linked to the crime through ballistics tests, from Barnett for $300.
Barnett said he picked up the gun and shot Farrington.
Barnett remains at Her Majesty's Prisons as he's serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery.
Kevin Farrington and Raquel Whyms prosecuted. Jairam Mangra appeared for Barnett.
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August 22, 2014
Kindly grant me a small space in your column to voice my concern over the proposed new constitutional amendments.
While I understand that the proposed amendments seek to end "gender discrimination" I believe that the first three bills, if left as proposed, would have far more serious consequences on the makeup of our country and its population than simply giving equal rights to both men and women under our constitution.
As a young Bahamian female of voting age, what stands out for me in the proposed amendments is not the issue of gender equality, but that of granting automatic citizenship after five years, barring any national security issues, to persons who are not born to two parents who are fully-fledged Bahamians and persons who are married to one.
In a nutshell, by the proposed amendments, what I am understanding is that if you are tied to a Bahamian (whether man or woman) either through birth or marriage, no matter where you are in the world, you should be granted automatic citizenship in The Bahamas.
While I have no issue with persons being allowed some sort of status because of their tie through birth or marriage to a Bahamian, I feel that where the foreign element is involved, citizenship in our country should not be granted so easily. In fact, it should give us cause to slow down and tread a little more lightly.
As matters now stand, we are dealing with a large influx of illegal immigrants, many of whom continue to assert that their children have a right to citizenship if they are born here based on this very same constitution which our government is now looking to amend. No successive government appears to want to address this very vexing problem which, to me, is far more urgent, but yet here we are adding to our already complex citizenship issues by letting more people in. More of the foreign element than is already here. More persons, in many cases, with no real knowledge of our history or culture. More persons with no real ties to our country except through marriage. More persons who can decide with the stoke of a pen who can become our leaders in the next general election simply because they married one of us. That, to me, is scary.
In my opinion, citizenship should be a process - the ultimate prize in any country in which one resides who did not initially 'belong'. Something earned by an individual after residing in a country for a length of time and showing some sort of allegiance to that country by contributing and being involved in its culture. It should not be given away carte blanche in exchange for a slip of paper called a birth or marriage certificate. Your birth in a country or marriage to a citizen of that country does not give you allegiance to it. Just ask the thousands of Haitians who now reside here.
The Bahamas is a very unique place. Clearly we have something here which many persons on the outside recognize and would love to have a stake in, yet we ourselves do not see it. We ought to protect that uniqueness and not just give it away to all and sundry.
While I'm all for gender equality, the point I'm making is that because it's coupled with citizenship, it should give us cause to pause. Tell me, if the referendum is successful, are we planning on making citizenship retroactive to a certain date for the thousands of persons that it will affect? What if all those persons who reside abroad and now realize they are automatic citizens decide to come 'home' to their new country. Can we handle it? Do we know who and what we are getting? Do we even know how many persons there are?
Further, why the rush? Do we have Bahamian women married to foreign men marching on Parliament demanding voting rights for their non-Bahamian husbands? I certainly haven't seen any. In fact, before this issue arose with the constitutional amendments I didn't hear anyone complaining. Most foreigners are just happy to have some sort of status, whether through a spousal permit or permanent residency. I query the real intention of our parliamentarians. This is certainly not the most pressing issue. We only need to read our newspapers to see that.
In my mind with these proposed bills, our government is trying to make us a little United Nations overnight. Sadly because we don't know who we are and what we have, we are letting everything and everyone else define who we are as Bahamians.
As a woman, I am not comfortable with this referendum, not because I don't support gender equality. I am just not comfortable with awarding citizenship in my beloved country so easily. Most first-world countries do not operate like this.
There should be a process for citizenship in The Bahamas, and one should toe the line if one really wants it.
- Concerned Bahamian
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August 22, 2014
I have, like thousands of other Bahamians, voted "yes" to the elimination of gender inequality in our constitution - in the 2002 referendum. I am not motivated to participate in referendum 2014 about the same question, as I feel that this is the 2002 "no" voters' referendum.
It's time that they reconcile their conscience and do the thing that they should have done over a decade ago - vote "yes"!
The 2002 referendum "no" voters have enough support no doubt, to bring about a "yes" victory in 2014. Go for it - 2002 referendum "no" voters!
- Dennis Dames
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August 22, 2014
A Ministry of Works investigation into the controversial letter of intent (LOI) that Ministry of Works Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells signed with Stellar Waste to Energy (Bahamas) Limited last month has been completed.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said that while the Office of the Prime Minister has been sent the ministry's report, informing the public of its contents is not at the top of the government's agenda.
When asked when the public can expect to learn the outcome of the investigation, Davis, who is also the minister of works and urban development, said once the government gets through some legislation it may turn its attention to the matter.
"We are doing some heavy lifting now in executing our legislative agenda, and as soon as we have a respite from this I'm sure it will be addressed," he said.
The LOI was for a $650 million waste-to-energy plant for the New Providence landfill. Wells reportedly did not have Cabinet approval to sign the document.
Following the revelation of the signing, Prime Minister Perry Christie asked Wells to resign, but the MP has not done so and Christie has not fired him.
The prime minister said on August 7 that he will make a final determination after he completes an investigation. It is unclear if this investigation differs from the Ministry of Works probe.
Meanwhile, the opposition has accused the government of stalling on the issue. Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said Christie is either afraid or unwilling to fire Wells.
Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn suggested that the government "rushed" the constitutional referendum bills - part of the "heavy lifting" to which Davis referred - in an effort to divert attention from the LOI controversy.
This came on the heels of Leslie Miller, a veteran MP for the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) claiming Wells is no more than a scapegoat who was "coerced" into signing the document by "people who should know better, by seasoned men who have been around for a long time and they know why they would have gone to him to sign this so-called document and he signed it".
In the face of such a serious statement, we would have thought the governing party would be quick to inform the public of its investigation results and let the chips fall where they may.
After all, allowing the impression to take root that certain influential people may have had something to gain from the LOI, and that the government may have sought to divert attention from this fact, cannot bode well for the public image of the PLP.
This is, of course, entirely aside from the fact that Bahamian citizens have a right to know about what their elected officials do on their behalf.
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August 22, 2014
If you are complaining about the Haitian legislature that spends its time doing nothing or blocking the forthcoming election on spurious arguments of constitutionality, go and read Gail Collins in her column in The New York Times: "The road to roads" and you will find the American Congress has not scored better than its Haitian brethren.
Republican Congressman Bob Corker of Tennessee summed it up best. "I've been here seven and a half years," Corker said in a phone interview. "We have not solved one single problem since I've been here. It's just so frustrating."
I have often been asked to run for senator in my North District of Haiti; my answer has been the same: What the hell I would do in that melee! It seems to me there is a better way to bring about democracy.
Greek in origin, the word made up of demos or people and kratos or power - people power, a government by the people and for the people - has been the canvas from Solon to Abraham Lincoln.
Democracy might have its origin in the city state of Athens in Greece, where Solon, a teacher of Plato, around the year 600 BC, was called upon to help the city liberate itself from the enslavement of the majority of the population by the rich citizens. Nothing new under the sun!
He devised a middle way whereby each citizen would have a role, as such enabling the better functioning of the city. He took the term citizenship to a higher plateau where each person would have rights and responsibilities.
Today in Haiti being called "a Citizen" has an honorable connotation with the all rights thereto. You are given the better seat on the bus. You are looked upon with some deference. (How do they detect that you are a citizen has been often my question.)
How we can create a critical mass of citizens and, as such, better nations in this world, is the subject of this essay.
The Swedish or the Scandinavian model
I was reading recently that Sweden has succeeded in taking the downtrodden from Somalia and transforming them into successful Swedish citizens. I set out to find out how they proceeded to do it. The literature on good citizens leads to Barbara Cruikshank (1999) who instructed that: "Citizens are not born, they are made; dependent, non-responsible, passive citizens need to be empowered."
The Swedish government, in a rite of passage that should be the model for every country, provides each of its citizens who attain the age of 21 a lesson in good citizenship from the "Citizenship Book". The curriculum includes instruction on the democratic heritage, the common interest of each group and the glue of solidarity and the feeling for the collective as well as the art of compromise. The school creates a better person who is self-conscious about responsibility and willing to enter into a social contract for the betterment of all.
As such, it is not a surprise that democracy is alive and doing well, not only in Sweden but in the whole Scandinavia including Finland and Iceland, that were once considered the backward states of the region.
The European model
The old man Europe that produced World War I and World War II has evolved thanks to the US Marshall Plan into a continent where democracy flourishes - maybe better in the northern part than in the southern one.
The European Union, setting itself as a European united nations, might be more functional and more efficient than the real United Nations. It has fostered and increased economic cooperation between the member countries. Yet, it has not fared as well in its mission of incubating human rights. The hordes of Africans or Turks or Arabs who knock at the doors to enter into Europe are clustered in a no-man's land with no welfare and no future.
The American model
Democracy according to Solon started flourishing in the United States upon the end of the Civil War around 1864. As in Athens, democracy had a short life in America, since its father Abraham Lincoln was assassinated two years after the end of the war. A full century had to pass before Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson joined hands to create a true union.
A black man (Barack Obama) has become president, yet democracy in the United States and its intervention in the world has been less than perfect. Rioting is taking place near St Louis, Missouri, at this writing, around the death by an unidentified police officer of a young man named Michael Brown. Operation Democracy sponsored by the United States in Iraq has been such a debacle that France is considering sending arms to the Kurds to protect them against the Sunni extremists.
Yet democracy is well and alive in the United States, with elections taking place at scheduled times, the institutions functioning well and the infrastructure extending into the most rural areas. The glass is half full in spite of the comment of Congressman Corker that "we did solve one single issue".
The fake nation and the fake citizen model
Amongst some of the 195 nations of the world, a majority of them fit the model or the canvas of fake nation and fake citizen scheme. The government makes believe that it cares for its citizen and the citizens make believe that they care for their government.
In my life, I have witnessed the unmaking of democracy by successive regimes that pretend to do better than the one before. The dethroning of the Shah of Iran was supposed to bring a government of the people by the people for the citizens of Iran. It has been anything but. Iran has been torn into a tyrannical state not only for its own people and for the region but for the entire world. The Ayatollah became the master ruler who defines the big and the small details that concern the state, muting the citizens into true zombies.
In my own country of Haiti, an old man of 87 made the confession with tears in his eyes that he is enjoying for the first time a government that seems to be caring for its people. Yet the compounding problems of Haiti wrought by the past governments in environment, mis-education, overpopulation, intergenerational poverty and the feeling for the collective are so severe that it that it would necessitate a government two thousand and fourteen times better than that one.
The old continent of Africa has moved from crass colonialism to crony paternalist regimes that seem to care only for the family members of the rulers and the very few loyal servants. The demos and the kratos of Solon do not enter into their line of governance. Zimbabwe is the extreme example where international as well as the national interventions have not been able to shake the old lion from domineering the entire field.
The old Soviet Union, the motherland of fake citizens and fake nations, disbanded through the clever gotcha of Ronald Reagan, has transformed itself into a state monopoly where the wealth of the nation is shared disproportionally with those closest to the government.
China is experiencing the model of "I will get you rich faster if you let me have the full command of the kratos/power." It has succeeded because not only it has raised some 800 million citizens from the squalor of extreme poverty but it also has a piggy bank filled with $700 billion in sovereign treasure, practically bankrolling the major powers of the world including the United States.
India, the oldest and largest democracy, has been a long way from the extreme policy of kratos/power to the demos/people. Only a few are empowered. The caste system maintains the rest in bondage. India's progress is minuscule compared to the leap forward made by China.
The democracy model framed by Solon had a short life. A cruel dictator named Pisistratus and his son Hippias put an end to the experience some two centuries later (508 BC - 322 BC) with power going to the mob or a collective tyrant. Here again, nothing new under the sun. The road to democracy leads to the concept of empowering each citizen - even the would-be citizen - so they will have a keen sense of rights and responsibilities.
The fake citizen model wrought recurring disasters and calamities. The tragedy of fake citizen and fake nation is very explicit in the beautiful and historic city of Cape Haitian from where I am filing this essay. The iron covers of the sewers have been stolen for sale as scrap metal by some citizens. The holes are now covered with detritus causing immense flooding as soon as the rain comes.
I remember how my CO (community organization) teachers Frances Piven and Howard Cloward, immortalized in the Cloward-Piven Strategy some 40 years ago, were leading the way for a better New York City from their chairs as professors at Columbia University. In the end we will need in this world more Solon-like framers ready to build the canvas for a better world that will begin with each nation like ancient Athens.
o Jean H. Charles, LLB MSW, JD, is a syndicated columnist with Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at Caribbeannewsnow/Haiti. This is published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.
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August 22, 2014
Value-added tax (VAT) is a very attractive form of taxation for most governments simply because of the "catch all quality" of this particular tax mechanism.
VAT is a form of consumption tax. From the perspective of the buyer, it is a tax on the purchase price. From that of the seller, it is a tax only on the value added to a product, material, or service, from an accounting point of view, by this stage of its manufacture or distribution.
Manufacturers remit to the government the difference between these two amounts, and retain the rest for themselves to offset the taxes they had previously paid on the inputs. The purpose of VAT is to generate tax revenues to the government similar to the corporate income tax or the personal income tax. The value added to a product by or with a business is the sale price charged to its customer, minus the cost of materials and other taxable inputs. A VAT is like a sales tax in that ultimately only the end consumer is taxed. It differs from the sales tax in that, with the latter, the tax is collected and remitted to the government only once, at the point of purchase by the end consumer. With the VAT collection remittances to the government and credits for taxes already paid occur each time a business in the supply chain purchases products. It's also self-regulating as resources used in its collection provide a minimal input by a government-maintained revenue collection service. VAT therefore by its very nature is prone to manipulation as it depends on the honesty of business to account for their revenue intake from VAT.
A common criticism of VAT is that certain industries or services tend to have easier VAT avoidance. This happens where there is an industry where cash sales are predominant. In some countries VAT has even been seen as a cause of the increase in cash transactions, as it is very hard to capture VAT in these types of transactions. The Bahamas is just beginning to see positive growth in regards to electronic and check transactions outside of big business and it's expected that VAT will cause cash transactions to be viewed favorably by persons and companies trying to avoid or evade VAT.
In discussing VAT with various business persons throughout The Bahamas during the past year, it's clear the general feeling is that VAT is going to not only be burdensome, and but will also be a cumbersome addition to an already tough business climate. Several persons even went so far as to state emphatically their positions on evading and defrauding the government in this exercise. I don't personally or professionally believe that persons or companies should engage in fraud. Given the preliminary draft VAT legislation making the rounds I actually applaud the government of The Bahamas on its draconian penalties, which should help deter these types of activities.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a working paper released in 2007 states "like any tax, the VAT is vulnerable to evasion and fraud. Its credit and refund mechanism does offer unique opportunities for abuse and this has recently become an urgent concern in the European Union (EU)".
In the EU various types of fraud schemes have been developed in regards to VAT, but the most common is the missing trader scheme. This scheme involves a person or company buying goods from a country where VAT is not charged and then selling the goods in a country where it is; charging the consumer the tax and then pocketing the revenue without paying it to the government. You may wonder how that may work in The Bahamas. Well bear in mind that Grand Bahama may be a tax free zone; a company can simply import items there, ship them to Nassau and have them sold with VAT included and not turn over the revenue. It will require a bit of creative accounting but then again Bahamians are notoriously creative. Businesses therefore must practice a bit of their own "know your customer" or this case "company policy". Ensure that the company or vendor you're purchasing from is reputable; that they are compliant with regulators and are paying their VAT. Consumers likewise can also check with the Central Revenue Agency and the Consumer Protection Department, whom I am sure will create a fraud hotline for persons and businesses to report suspected fraud.
It will therefore be up to us to effectively combat VAT fraud by being vigilant. If the government cannot collect the needed revenue from VAT because of fraudulent practices, you can rest assured that they will add more taxes to cover the shortfall and therefore to quote Winston Churchill, "There is no such thing as good tax". So keeping them to a minimum should be everyone's goal.
So, as always, be aware and be safe.
o Gaylord Taylor is the managing director of AGT Security Services.
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August 22, 2014
FREEPORT - Eighteen Bahamian students are now enrolled at colleges and universities here and abroad after been selected as recipients of scholarships from the Bahamas Oil Refining Company International Ltd (BORCO).
Since its inception in 1991, the BORCO scholarship program has utilized over $150K annually to assist many Bahamians to fulfill their dream of attending university. One such institution is Kettering University, which through its Educational Experience Co-Op program allows students to spend their first four years alternating three-month terms attending classes on campus and then working for their co-op employers like BORCO.
Hilniqua Gibson, an 18-year-old sophomore studying mechanical engineering at Kettering University, is currently completing her three-month co-op work at BORCO as a part of her scholarship requirements. Hilniqua is one of two females who was awarded the BORCO scholarship last year and enrolled at Kettering University.
"Coming in I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but so far I'm enjoying my time here and the experience overall has been a very enriching one," said Gibson. "I worked very hard to get here and I learned more about engineering here than in the classroom and that is the number one thing I love about being enrolled in this program."
Kettering University, located in Flint, Michigan is a top-ranked United States university and one of the first to offer a co-operative education experience. The goal of the co-op program is to help students develop a strong and positive correlation between the academic program at the school and the educational experience, while also developing positive work-related habits that integrate the student into a productive and professional role with their employer.
During Gibson's three-month co-op she worked in the maintenance department at BORCO. "You have this general thought that you're just going to be working with a specific group of people," noted Gibson. "But thanks to BORCO, when you get here you're introduced to the management side, the health and safety department, how important it is to do your job safely and how many people's lives you can affect."
Ryan Herry, BORCO maintenance manager, is a product of the co-op program and was the first graduate from Kettering ever hired by BORCO who would have undergone the experiential learning program. "This program has developed my professional skills and has enabled me to apply what was learnt at Kettering to the workplace," Herry stated. "I have seen and can say that I know from experience the tremendous advantage this program has offered the co-op students compared to other institutions that only provide traditional classroom learning."
Kim Pratt, BORCO business coordinator, said the relationship between BORCO and Kettering University is an excellent one, which the company continues to maintain. "Successful applicants who have gone through this program have expressed that if it wasn't for BORCO giving them this opportunity they may not have been able to attend university, or get the practical work experience that has helped them succeed in school," said Pratt. "We are thrilled we can empower young Bahamians by offering assistance with tertiary level education and bring them home to work through the Kettering program, where they can apply what was learned in the classroom to the workplace."
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