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Born into one of the country's wealthiest and most influential families, outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Brent Symonette could have simply done what so many other white upper class Bahamians did and faded into the background, supporting his party behind the scenes without bringing unwanted attention to himself or his father's leadership role in the white dominated Bahamas of the past.
However, the men of the Symonette family do not live in the 'comfort zone', and like his father and brothers, the youngest son of late Premier Sir Roland Symonette, dove into front-line politics in 1987 and has been heavily involved ever since.
Now that Symonette, 57, has announced his pending retirement from politics, he will still have his wealth, but he will also have a lengthy record of national service.
That's not to say that there haven't been some rough patches.
Symonette attended St. Andrew's School in New Providence, Leys School in Cambridge, England and Brunel University in Middlesex, England, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in law and politics.
After he returned home, he became a lawyer and real estate developer by profession, but his heart never strayed far from politics.
"My family had obviously been involved in public life for a long time," Symonette told National Review yesterday. "I'd been involved in the sideline of politics all along, having grown up with my father and worked with him until he retired in the 1970s."
Symonette's father, affectionately known as "Pop", served 52 years in the House of Assembly, a feat that remains unmatched to this day.
The younger Symonette's half-brother Robert 'Bobby' Symonette, also served as Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Symonette remained active behind the scenes, helping Pierre Dupuch and Keith Duncombe with their political campaigns.
In the aftermath of the 1987 general election, which sparked several election court cases, Symonette was a key part of the legal team.
Also in 1987, then FNM Leader Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield asked Symonette to take a position in the Senate, which he accepted.
Then in 1992, when the Free National Movement first came to power under Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, he was asked to join the Cabinet.
He was not yet 40-years-old.
"[The Prime Minister] asked me if I wanted to be minister of tourism," he recalled. "I told him that I didn't think I was qualified. He told me that I was qualified."
While he was minister of tourism, Symonette brought a new mindset to the industry, which at the time was in a slump.
Back in the early 1990s, he pushed for environmental consciousness when most Bahamians were unaware of global warming.
He urged Bahamians not to take tourists for granted and sought to reintroduce The Bahamas to the world.
He also advocated for Sunday shopping downtown when the Bahamas Christian Council predicted it would signal the end of society.
When Ingraham reshuffled the Cabinet in January 1995, Symonette was made attorney general.
However, his time in that position was short lived and he resigned from Cabinet to take a more active role in his business interests.
Then, in 1997 he figured the time had come to throw his hat into the ring, he offered to run on the FNM's ticket in Montagu.
He didn't get the nod that time around; William Allen would be the party's standard bearer.
In the next few years he would still serve his country as head of the Hotel Corporation and then as chairman of the Airport Authority.
It was the latter post that would bring Symonette a blemish on his record.
In 2001, then Member of Parliament and now Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts revealed in the House of Assembly that Symonette awarded a runway repair contract to Bahamas Hot Mix (a company his family has an interest in) without getting the consent of the board.
Symonette, who admitted that he approved the work, later explained that he had done so because the matter was exigent and not enough board members were on the island to form a quorum at the time.
When the board did meet again, it approved Symonette's decision.
However, with an election fast approaching nothing could be left to chance and Symonette tendered his resignation after Ingraham asked him to do so.
But despite the public scandal, Symonette still managed to capture the Montagu seat for the party in 2002.
As Ingraham recalled shortly after Symonette announced his retirement late last week, he would be the only FNM representative for New Providence in the House for the next five years.
"He's been and remained an unwavering supporter and defender of the Free National Movement," said Ingraham.
After winning the deputy leadership post at the party's 2005 convention, Symonette was instrumental in the FNM's 2007 general election campaign.
He was attacked by the Opposition for his family ties, and painted as a throwback to the old guard white "Bay Street Boys" UBP leadership.
But Symonette was unmoved and supported the legacy of his father, who might have been complicit in the fight against majority rule, but was born a poor farmer on Eleuthera and would later build an empire.
"I am proud of my father, and I will remain proud of him all my life," said Symonette, asserting that all Bahamians should feel free to run for public office.
"I am Bahamian, and I have every right to be a member of Parliament."
After being returned to Parliament as the member for St. Anne's in May 2007, Symonette was sworn in as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and immigration.
United States representatives in The Bahamas seemed overjoyed at his appointment.
"Symonette is a pragmatic, no-nonsense leader with limited tolerance for inefficiency. We can expect him to be a strong partner for the U.S., who will be more decisive and more inclined to support U.S. positions than his predecessor," gushed a U.S. official in a confidential U.S. embassy cable in May 2007.
Since then, Symonette has indeed overseen his portfolio with corporate efficiency, though the sometimes perceived "soft stance" on illegal immigrants and unclear policy directives toward illegal Haitian migrants following the Port-au-Prince earthquake in January 2010, has lead to a few embarrassing moments for the government.
But despite some setbacks, Symonette has done a lot of work in foreign affairs and immigration.
He has been responsible for the at times shaky implementation of the e-passport program, eliminated the need for a Bahamian to have visas to travel to most major countries in the world, expanded the ability of Latin Americans to travel to The Bahamas and worked with many nations to have the country removed from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) "grey list" of tax havens.
And those are just a few of his achievements.
But accomplishments aside, there are those who will never appreciate Symonette's contribution.
Chief among them are some in the PLP, who released a particularly negative statement the night Symonette announced his departure.
The Opposition implied that Symonette used his public office to increase his private gains. Charges that are nothing new from the PLP, but Symonette denied again yesterday.
"Absolutely not," Symonette said when asked if his personal fortune has increased as a result of his time in government. "As a matter of fact, it's been detrimental."
Symonette claimed that the Ingraham and former Christie administrations have refused to do business with certain companies he is associated with, on several occasions.
"Don't talk to me about victimization and business interests," he said.
Symonette claimed that Minister of Public Works Neko Grant will soon reveal information that will counter some of the claims the PLP has made about him.
But for now, he is content that he has served the country well.
Symonette, married to Robin and father of Andrew, Islay and Julia, will soon return to private life.
But not before he tries to help his party retain power by helping coordinate the 2012 general election campaign.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell yesterday cautioned the business community against vilifying and degrading immigration officers in the conduct of their duties.
"It is important that a signal is sent out from the highest levels to the immigration officers who work the front lines along with other law enforcement agencies in the defense of this country that they are appreciated by the government for the work that they do," said Mitchell, without pointing specifically to any business person.
"The department has the support of the minister and the government in the lawful conduct and exercise of their work. The department does a good job given the resources and manpower available to them."
Mitchell said he was constrained to issue his statement in light of the statements emanating from certain representatives of the business community "who appeared to have vilified and degraded officers of the Department of Immigration in the lawful exercise of their functions and especially the enforcement exercise executed by those officers last week".
"I think it is always wise to utter judicious statements when dealing with the exercise of powers of law enforcement officers in the absence of proof that their behavior was unlawful," he said.
"In this regard, I wish to draw particular attention to the proper way the behavior of the department was described by Robert Sands of Baha Mar who said that at all times the immigration officers were respectful while doing their jobs.
"This is in stark contradistinction to other spokesmen from the business community who having admitted that they did not know the facts of what transpired with regard to the immigration checks, went on to berate and defame the department, the officers and their actions.
"This is indeed regrettable."
Last Wednesday, immigration officers escorted a foreign employee off the Atlantis property in error, sparking further concerns that the government's new immigration policy is too aggressive.
The American woman works with marine mammals at the resort.
Director of Immigration William Pratt admitted the woman was brought in by mistake.
He told The Nassau Guardian the woman had her work permit application refused in February, but he said the refusal was being appealed.
Pratt admitted that the department had misplaced the appeal.
George Markantonis, the president and managing director at the mega resort, said foreign workers awaiting the renewal of their work permit applications is not uncommon. He condemned the "heavy-handed behavior" of at least two officials from the Department of Immigration.
"We are dealing with this as privately as possible with the relevant authorities, but I can tell you we are extremely upset," he said. "It is the heavy-handed behavior in front of tourists that is extremely unprofessional."
Mitchell noted that immigration officers have a dangerous job to do.
"Morale is low in the department that was neglected over the last five years," he said.
"It is not worthy of us as a people then to reward hard working officers with denunciations without at first knowing the facts of what transpired and even then speaking with discretion and decorum."
Haitian President Michel Martelly's encouragement to Haitian-Bahamians to vote in a bloc for the party that best serves their interests sparked outrage yesterday from political observers, who called the comments 'insulting' interference in the country's political system.
Some members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), the Free National Movement (FNM) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said Martelly's comments were inappropriate. Some observers also said they were ill-timed, considering the fact that the next election is so close.
It was also suggested by some yesterday that newly-regularized Bahamians might heed Martelly's advice and be inclined to vote for the FNM.
"I thought it was an insult to the Bahamian people that a foreigner would come here and instruct Bahamian citizens to vote one way or the other," said PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts.
Roberts, who was briefly a former immigration minister in the Christie administration, pointed out that only Bahamian citizens can vote in elections. He said they should therefore vote for the party that best serves the country, not a particular sect or group.
His sentiments in this regard were echoed by Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell and former PLP MP and senator Philip Galanis.
"People vote for their best interests, they don't in my view vote as a bloc. Every Bahamian who is voting will vote for the party that is in the best interest of The Bahamas," said Mitchell.
He said, however, that the PLP was assured by the Haitian Embassy that the comments were not meant to be inflammatory.
However, Galanis said Haitian-Bahamians who were eligible for citizenship and regularized by the government over the past five years may see Martelly's words as an endorsement of the FNM.
"It was totally inappropriate for him to make those statements in the run-up to the next election because there were so many persons who just received citizenship by the FNM, and they may take that as [a cue to say] that's who they should vote for," said Galanis.
The government granted citizenship to nearly 2,600 people in the four-and-a-half years it has been in power, Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette revealed earlier this week, but he did not indicate how many were of Haitian descent.
Yesterday, the Democratic National Alliance said Martelly's comments were not suitable considering the heightened political season.
DNA Leader Branville McCartney said the president's remarks were a "direct attack on Bahamian democracy and all Bahamians -- those of foreign descent or otherwise -- who uphold the ideals of the nation and their right to vote for whichever political party they see fit".
"Haiti's president should respect the sovereignty of our democracy," McCartney added in a statement yesterday.
FNM Chairman Carl Bethel, who did not speak for the party but gave his personal views, said Martelly's political statements shocked him.
"Non-Bahamians cannot dictate what goes on in The Bahamas, whether they visit or live here," said Bethel, who stressed that this comment did not refer to President Martelly.
He also shot down speculation that Martelly's visit was orchestrated by the FNM to gain votes from the Haitian-Bahamian community.
"The FNM is a Bahamian party whose first interest is the interest of The Bahamas," he said.
During his brief visit to The Bahamas, President Martelly urged Haitian-Bahamians with the right to vote to support the party that could serve and protect their interests.
He made the statements during a meeting with Haitians and people of Haitian descent at Church of God on Joe Farrington Road on Tuesday night, and repeated them on Wednesday.
Last year, PLP Leader Perry Christie said successive governments have been hesitant to take a strong stance against the illegal Haitian immigrant problem because they fear a voting bloc of Haitian-Bahamians.
"Once governments become frightened of the numbers of Haitians who have become Bahamians and who can vote... they have become an important voting bloc. So somewhere along the line the purity of the commitment to protect The Bahamas and its territorial waters is sort of merged to the fear of doing things that might cause you to lose an election," Christie said.
"...We allowed ourselves to be influenced too much by their presence as opposed to using our own commitment to convince and satisfy them that they are Bahamians, accepted as Bahamians, and that the programs that we are offering them to close down illegal immigrants coming into our country are programs as much in their favor as in any other Bahamian's favor."
Funeral Service for the late Sylvanus Urklin Dean age 81 years of Simms, Long Island will be held on Saturday February 11, 2012 at 11:00am at First Baptist Church Market Street and Coconut Grove. Officiating will be Rev. Dr. Joseph Knowles assisted by other Ministers of the Gospel. Interment will follow in Southern Cemetery, Cowpen and Spikenard Roads.
Left to cherish his memories is (7) Sons: Maxwell Dean, his children, Janell Nairn, Glen Miller, Ken, Floretta, Anthony, Mohammed, Angel, Marcia, Marvin, Rashad, Tiandra, Xilene, Xayden Dean. Immigration Officer Mervin Dean, his children, Nashika & DÁndra Dean, Glen Dean, his wife Theresa, their children, Glen Jr., Decoda, & DeShan Dean, Kevin Dean, his children, Dole, Olivia & DeJanea Dean, Ellis Knowles, his wife Hyson and their children, Percy & Urklin Dean. (5) Daughters: Loretta Maycock, her husband Brian Maycock, Sheryl Adderley, her husband Glen Adderley, their children Winston, Freddie, Julio & Latoya Adderley, Linda Isaacs (deceased) her children, Charlene, Darvia & Edward Isaacs, Michelle Dean-Weekes, her husband Pernel, their children, Mandecqua Gardiner, Marine Seaman Denard Dean, Volare' Clarke & Mickel Weekes, Andrea Dean, her children, Xavia & Shawn Dean, and Vida Dean. (28) Great Grand Children, (3) Sisters: Viola Gardiner, Idell Seymour & Murial Baker, (14) Nieces: Rozina, Helen, Synida, Ginger, Janet & Dellerice Gardiner, Etherine, Carolyn & Anuscha Baker, Petty Officer Christine Smith, Estell & Rosie Seymour, Yvonne & Barbara (20) Nephews: Retired ASP Richard Gardiner, Llyod, Nelson, Daniel & Eric Gardiner, David & Edward Baker, Quincy & Leading Seaman Mirza Cartwright, Enos, Patrick, Pedro, Ricardo & Keith Seymour, Michael, Maxwell & Pastor Alyson Dean, Rodwell, Colon, Maxwell & Bretham; numerous grand nieces and nephews including: Leading Mechanic Dwayne Gray, Spence Dorsette & Kiera Knowles; A host of other relatives including: Cora Dean, Mario & Burnetta Simms and family, Agnes Knowles and family, Rex Pratt and family, Jerry Knowles & family, Rev. Alvin Gray and family, Rev. Urban Knowles & family, Pastor Garnett Rolle and family, Hubert Miller & family, Stanley Pinder and family, Scofield Miller and family, Endril McPhee and family, Fred Bridgewater and family, Drexwell Dean and family, Cornelius Miller and family, Itel Knowles and family, Wellington Smith and family, Isaiah Taylor and family, Malachi Knowles and family, Norris Smith and family, Freeman Cartwright, the Deans, Knowles, Smith, Taylors, Adderley, Seymour, Horton and Deal families, Hon. Lawerance Cartwright, M.P and family, staff of Blue Chip Restaurant (LI), staff of Persis Rodgers and Good Samaritan Home For The Age and the entire North Long Island communities. Many others too numerous to mentioned.
Viewing will be held in the Celestial Suite at Restview Memorial Mortuary and Crematorium Ltd., Robinson and Soldier Roads on Friday from 10:00am to 6:00pm and at the church on Saturday from 9:30am until service time.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
PRIME Minister Hubert Ingraham said customs and immigration officers at the airport are breaching their terms of employment by refusing to work the shift system outlined in their contracts.
Claiming that the civil servants' stance is politically motivated, Mr Ingraham said it is unthinkable that people would do such "nonsense" .
"The reality is that most of those (Customs) officers were hired by the government on the basis that they would work shifts. Many of them have signed a letter confirming, that's how they got hired and so the fact that they don't want to work that way is putting their own jobs in their hands for them ...
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie last night accused Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham of showing the customs and immigration union "disrespect and contempt".
Christie hit at Ingraham over remarks the prime minister made on Saturday, after immigration officers at Lynden Pindling International Airport refused to work beyond 5 p.m. amid a dispute with the government over a shift system and overtime pay.
Ingraham ordered the workers to adhere to the shift system or face the consequences.
Speaking at an event to mark the opening of the PLP's Golden Gates constituency office, Christie said the officers "simply couldn't take it anymore and responded with work-to-rule".
"And what did they get in return? A fair hearing of their grievances? No. Threats from the PM [that] they better get back to work or else," he said.
"This man is becoming more of a bully with every passing day. Every day, there's a new victim. Instead of dialogue, he wants dictatorship."
Christie claimed that Ingraham does not want to support workers, he wants to "steamroll workers into submission".
"As usual, rather than acknowledge his own culpability, he does what he always does - he blamed me, saying the PLP was behind the industrial action."
Christie said this is just another reason Bahamians have had enough of the Ingraham administration.
Christie also addressed claims made by the Free National Movement's candidate for North Andros Desmond Bannister that PLP operatives are facilitating the illegal registration of people in that constituency.
Christie insisted there is absolutely no truth to these claims. He called them "made-up hogwash".
"Last Friday in Andros I told him to put up or shut up," said the PLP leader, noting that he also challenged the parliamentary commissioner to do his job and ensure the integrity of the voter's register.
"They can invent a new distraction every day, the newspapers seem happy to oblige with front page headlines, and in the meantime, Bahamians are not getting the campaign they deserve," Christie said. "...The FNM's running, but their record is catching up with them."
The PLP leader also addressed the controversial New Providence Road Improvement Project, noting that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report was tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday.
That committee is chaired by Bain Town MP Dr. Bernard Nottage.
Christie said the PAC found "colossal examples of gross incompetence - incompetence so serious it cost Bahamians tens of millions of dollars."
He said the report also reveals that the government is in serious violation of crucial international agreements, putting future investments in The Bahamas at grave risk.
"Not only did the government time and again mislead the Bahamian public about the true cost of the project, about the true length to completion - by the way, we still haven't been offered a completion date - and about the true damage to local businesses.
"But in addition to all that - as if that was not bad enough - what this report really shows is that the roadworks project is truly rotten. And like a rotting fish, it's rotting from the top down."
He charged that the FNM is "squealing in fright".
Christie said the truth of this report is so simple, "even a caveman could understand it".
The prime minister revealed in the House of Assembly yesterday that project cost overruns total $77 million.
Christie said the government refused to purchase oil futures to contain costs, and the Ministry of Finance vetoed provisions in the contract to compensate for the volatility in the global petroleum market.
"Imagine that," he said. "The cost overruns - tens of millions of dollars - were within the control of the prime minister, but he botched it."
He said, "If the man wants to make things right, he should be asking Bahamians for forgiveness, not for votes."
Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette yesterday announced that he will not seek re-election for the St. Anne's constituency or the nomination for any other seat in the upcoming general election.
Symonette said he decided to retire from politics to make way for a fresh, new candidate.
The decision, made more than two years ago, was a closely guarded secret within the Free National Movement (FNM), said Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Ingraham said he tried in vain to dissuade his colleague from retiring but he respected his decision.
The announcement came minutes before the party's candidates committee was set to recommend nominees to be ratified by its national council.
Symonette thanked his constituents for electing him to the House of Assembly on two separate occasions. He also expressed gratitude to the prime minister for appointing him to Cabinet and as deputy prime minister.
"It is with this spirit of gratitude that I announce today that the time has come for me to leave front-line politics. I shall not this afternoon be offering for re-election for the St. Anne's constituency or any other constituency in the general election of this year," Symonette said at a press conference at FNM headquarters.
When asked what prompted him to retire, the long-time politician said his party is focused on ushering in younger candidates.
"The FNM is committed to introducing a brand new group of candidates. I feel it is time for me to make way for the other persons to come
forward and contribute to the party in any way they can," said Symonette, minister of immigration and foreign affairs.
Ingraham said he was emotional about Symonette's decision. There was speculation in June last year that Symonette planned to retire; however at the time he dismissed the reports as tabloid fodder.
"I feel badly about it because I thought I would go first, since I've been here longer than he has," Ingraham said.
"This has been a very [well] kept secret. Brent told me this more than two years ago that he did not intend to seek re-election. One day he said it in the presence of his colleagues and somebody leaked it to the newspapers and I'm still looking for that culprit. This is not a sudden decision on Brent's part."
Ingraham added: "I did try and dissuade him from leaving but I came to terms with it."
The prime minister also commended his colleague for his 'graceful' departure from front-line politics. He also thanked him for his loyalty and years of public service.
"Brent has given long and distinguished service to his county in the political arena as well as other areas in national life," said Ingraham.
"Brent has been a valued, competent and effective minister of the government. He has at all times applied himself to the task at hand, managing each of the assignments of his portfolios with vigor and effectiveness.
"He's been a thoroughly dependable and faithful partner as my deputy. He's been and remained an unwavering supporter and defender of the Free National Movement."
Symonette was appointed to the Senate in 1987 and again in 1992. He was elected to the House of Assembly in 2002 and 2007.
Symonette, who has also served as a minister of tourism and attorney general, said he will continue to be an integral part of the FNM and will help co-ordinate its 2012 campaign.
Few issues ignite dread and outrage in equal doses in The Bahamas like illegal immigration and the grant of citizenship.
Indeed, deciding who gets to carry the honor of being Bahamian is one of the most sacred and powerful duties of government.
Unlike in The United States and elsewhere, babies born in The Bahamas do not automatically become citizens.
With illegal immigration a decades-old problem, and some illegal immigrants having children in greater numbers than Bahamian women, there existed a fear among the framers of our Constitution that any automatic grant of citizenship could create serious threats to the Bahamian way of life.
But the Bahamas Constitution provides that children born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamians could apply for citizenship on their 18th birthday or within the following 12 months.
As a result, many children born to illegal immigrants have become Bahamian citizens.
This provision remains controversial in some circles.
For instance, former Minister of State for Immigration and now leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Branville McCartney has told The Nassau Guardian that if his party is successful in winning the next general election, his administration would propose that the Constitution be changed to prevent any child born to an illegal immigrant from ever qualifying for Bahamian citizenship.
"We need to stop the bleeding," McCartney said. "We can't afford to continue doing that in this country."
McCartney thinks such a referendum would receive widespread support from the Bahamian people, many of whom are frustrated by the illegal immigration problem.
He said such a change to the Constitution would only affect children born to illegal immigrants after the amendment is made.
Of course, there are also other individuals eligible for citizenship; among them, foreign women who marry a Bahamian citizen; individuals born to an unmarried Bahamian mother outside The Bahamas and children adopted by Bahamian citizens.
Individuals who have resided in The Bahamas for an extended period of time may also qualify.
Many Bahamians become very uneasy when they hear reports of citizenship grants.
With swearing in ceremonies done without any fanfare or public announcements, mystery and suspicion abound. And some Bahamians have demanded that official lists of new citizens be made public, despite the already existing requirement for applicants to advertise in newspapers.
I recall as a young intern in Springfield, Missouri, I was given several weeks to prepare stories connected to an approaching swearing in ceremony -- primarily proud Vietnamese who were becoming American citizens after a long period of studying the U.S. Constitution and culture.
The new Americans were shown on the evening news and named in articles that explored their paths to U.S. citizenship and they displayed their pride in taking the oath of allegiance.
This past Thursday, The Nassau Guardian came by information that showed that several swearing in ceremonies were held within an eight-week period and more than 150 new citizens were sworn in by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette at the Department of Immigration on Hawkins Hill.
That number in and of itself had no real meaning without some context. So we took a look at citizenship numbers previously made public by the minister.
The Ingraham administration approved 1,144 citizenship applications between May 2, 2007 and June 30, 2010 -- that's a monthly average of 31.
The more recent grants -- between November 18, 2011 and January 13, 2012 -- work out to a monthly average of about 75.
Symonette explained that improved efficiencies in the department meant that applications that had been languishing for many years were finally being dealt with.
The department ought to be applauded for improving efficiencies, and dealing with applications that were seemingly lost in the system for years. People who qualify for citizenship ought not be disadvantaged because of public service sloth and inefficiency.
Symonette previously revealed that during the Christie administration 2,038 citizens were sworn in; 1,582 permanent residencies were granted; 2,286 spousal permits were granted and 22,839 permits to reside were approved.
Between May 2, 2007 and June 30, 2010, the Ingraham administration approved 1,165 permanent residency applications; 1,506 spousal permits and 10,012 permits to reside.
The immigrant vote
The improved efficiencies in the Department of Immigration come on the eve of a general election. So it is no wonder some people think the government is seeking to use the power of the citizenship grant for its own benefit.
It of course is a claim Symonette vehemently denied. The claim is a familiar one.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has told the story more than once of former minister Bradley Roberts swearing in new citizens in Abaco in 2007 so they could register to vote. Only recently, he repeated the story in the House of Assembly.
Roberts was briefly immigration minister after Shane Gibson's unceremonious departure from the Christie cabinet several months before the election.
Roberts is now chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party, and while he again branded Ingraham's claim as absolute rubbish, he said the current government's 'haste' in approving citizenship applications is a sign it is taking desperate measures to win votes.
"There has been a substantial monthly increase, more than doubling, and this suggests that there was a pure rush to approve additional ones in the past few months," Roberts said. "This is a matter of concern to various persons.
"I listen to the various talk shows and the government seems to be in a some special haste to get a number of people approved, I guess placing them in a position to be able to vote and participate in the forthcoming general election."
But Symonette has insisted: "This is a thrust to make sure persons who feel they're Bahamian in all the sense of the word can get regularized because [their files] have been languishing in the filing cabinets for years."
Any reasonable observer would acknowledge that it is the government's duty to address the matter of people born in The Bahamas, who have lived here all their lives, who have attended school in The Bahamas and who feel disenfranchised.
But any sound immigration policy must of course ensure the country's sovereignty does not come under threat.
There must be an aggressive program of border protection and repatriation.
McCartney thinks the children of illegal immigrants should be sent to the countries of their parents' birth. Whether those countries are willing to accept them is another matter entirely.
Asked previously by The Nassau Guardian what would happen to the children of illegal immigrants should he be elected prime minister and succeed with such a referendum, he said, "We are not going to encourage illegal activity in The Bahamas.
"If you know you're illegal, you are expecting to get a benefit from an illegal activity? That's what's happening quite frankly."
McCartney said the referendum would not negatively impact children born to illegal immigrants who have Bahamian fathers.
Ten years ago, the Ingraham administration failed in its bid to have the Constitution changed to eliminate forms of discrimination against Bahamian women who cannot automatically pass their citizenship onto their children if those women are married to foreigners.
This is not the case for Bahamian men. Why that referendum failed in February 2002 is a complex issue that has been analyzed and discussed ad nauseam by pundits.
The discrimination still exists, as do the many critical questions connected to Bahamian citizenship in general.
Symonette has said there are a large number of people who were born in The Bahamas who are eligible for citizenship.
With a high birth rate among Haitian immigrants in particular, this group will continue to swell.
High birth rate
The Nassau Guardian reported last year that a U.S. diplomatic cable obtained through the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks points to what many Bahamians have known for decades through anecdotal information: An "alarming" number of children are being born to Haitian women at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
Minister of Health Dr. Hubert Minnis informed The Guardian at the time that of the approximately 5,000 babies who are born at PMH every year, about 600 are born to Haitian women.
Government officials rarely make public any information on Haitian birth rates. In 2005, a report from the Ministry of Health highlighting the issue was made public.
That report showed that 76 or 63 percent of all babies born at the Marsh Harbour Clinic in 2003 were to Haitian mothers, while 45 or 38 percent were to Bahamian mothers.
According to that report, this was the first district in which the number of infants born to Haitians was greater than the number of infants born to Bahamians.
It was also revealed that of the 31 women that delivered at the Coopers Town Clinic in 2003, 51.6 percent were Bahamians and 48.4 percent were Haitians.
In the diplomatic cables, U.S. Embassy officials widely discuss the state of Haitians in The Bahamas.
"Many children of long-time Haitians living as Bahamian residents have become de facto stateless," said one of the cables.
These so-called 'stateless' people live in communities across this country. What to do about them is a question with a variety of answers.
Symonette said he would table the very latest citizenship numbers in the House of Assembly, possibly as early as today.
He thinks the immigration debate in the country must continue in a frank and honest way.
In the upcoming election, there is little doubt that immigration and the grant of citizenship will be among the most critical of issues.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
AFTER almost five years of helping an "alarming number" of Bahamians regain once revoked United States visas, an immigration lawyer is calling for the government's intervention to the matter, which is a "cause for concern".
Donnette Russell-Love, a Grand Bahamian who practices law in Miami, Florida, raised the issue to a group of PLP officials who visited the city to court Bahamian students and citizens who reside in the state for the 2012 general elections.
Those persons, will for the first time be allowed, if eligible, to cast their votes at the Bahamas Consulate one day before the election begins.
According to the attorne ...
One may refer to the current prime minister as many things, positive and negative, but no one is able to deny that he is a 'master' at smoke and mirrors. The Free National Movement (FNM) has been in power for almost five long years. Their propaganda machinery has sought, successfully, in a number of cases, to portray the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) as bumbling, inept and out of touch with the electorate.
The blame game, however, must stop at some point and the FNM must face the reality of the fact that it is 'in charge' and has been for the last five years or so. What the PLP 'failed' to do or did not do is food for thought, but the buck stops at the feet of the prime minister and his crew.
For the most part, the FNM has heaped taxes on the backs of the small man and woman in this country in an attempt, albeit a vain one, to address the fiscal imbalances brought on by its own cockeyed and tired economic policies. To start a business in The Bahamas today is exorbitant, challenging and dysfunctional in the extreme. The 'new' business license application form is beyond a rocket scientist's pay scale. If a potential business entrepreneur wishes to access Crown land or a simple bank loan, the hurdles are almost insurmountable.
Last year, electricity was turned off at the behest, allegedly, of management at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) here in New Providence. Scores of Bahamian homeowners were foreclosed on by The Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, headed by the compassionate and caring Senator Dr. Duane Sands. Bahamians were told, allegedly, that they needed not to apply for the acquisition of shares or a beneficial ownership in certain Bahamian enterprises.
Now that we are in the general electoral mode, bogus political and other promises are being made and proffered to all and sundry by all and sundry. BEC has been 'ordered' to reconnect consumers whose accounts are grossly in arrears. Short-term jobs and employment opportunities are being offered to even the most unqualified, seemingly on a political basis. Soft 'loans' are being made available to every Tom, Dick and Harry, regardless allegedly, of the lack of a business plan.
Haitians and others who never had the 'ghost' of a chance of acquiring citizenship or naturalization are being processed almost at the drop of a hat. The FNM's minister of immigration has announced, rightly so, that he will not be seeking reelection.
The minister of labour is deathly silent on the spate of unprecedented lay-offs and terminations within the private sector. Foulkes is a long-term friend and benefactor, but he has 'fallen' down as a proactive minister. Indeed, his stance and pronouncements would appear to be reactionary, at best.
The prime minister is to be seen all over the place opening every school, government building and 'chicken' shack ad nauseum. He is also, as minister of finance, approving the awarding of all manner of contracts for this and that. He and his administration in these so-called economic hard times have, allegedly, found hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up and open the sports stadium. Those Chinese left the stadium in a mess, or did they?
Ministers and others in the FNM administration appear to be abandoning their once 'safe' seats in droves. Desmond Bannister has left Carmichael. Zhivargo Laing (the preacher man) has left Marco City to fend for himself; Phenton "Black Out" Neymour has 'gone back home' and Michael Pintard, the Fox Hill 'homeboy', has hightailed it down to Cat Island and San Salvador. All what is left now is for the political dinosaurs to be elected in traditionally 'white' constituencies.
Our politicians, across the board, would appear to have 'sold' us out to partisan interests and to 'hell' with the average Bahamian. They all give a 'good' speech, but are they realistic and genuine? The bamboozle is now in full swing and the shaving cream is being dished out big time.
Bahamians, or those of us who are indigenous, must come to the stark realization that "there are, in fact, more of them than us". This is the last lap for Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham. This may well be the only lap for Branville McCartney, seeing that history and political precedents have not been too kind to those who 'also ran'.
I make no bones about it, the upcoming general election will be crucial to the way forward for this nation. Ingraham is a tired man and Christie is not too far behind. Branville is full of himself, in my view, and full of utopian promises. What will it be and what will not be the final outcome?
To God then, in all things, be the glory, for there are yet great things He will do.
- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Government of The Bahamas welcomed His Excellency Michel Joseph Martelly, President of the Republic of Haiti for high-level discussions on matters relating to trade, immigration issues and the redevelopment of that country since the 2010 devastating earthquake.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon Brent Symonette led the welcoming party at the Odyssey Airport, where President Martelly arrived with his delegation on a private aircraft on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 around 8 p.m.
President Martelly was taken away in a motorcade to meet with the Haitian community at the Church of God Auditorium, Joe Farrington Road. His visit also includes paying Courtesy Calls on His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes, Governor General, at Government House; the Rt Hon Hubert Ingraham, Prime Minister at the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre; Mr Symonette at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Hon Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Bolam House, George Street; the Rt Hon Perry Christie, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition at his residence on West Bay Street and members of the business community led by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce.
Most Bahamians agree that our public education system is in dire need of a complete overhaul. Dismal graduation rates coupled with poor test performances are troubling indicators for the quality of our future young professionals - white or blue collar.
Graduating is often the easy part. Keeping abreast of the latest technology or trade-specific knowledge takes a lifetime of continuing education. Bahamians must demand greater skills training through public-private partnerships to relieve the tremendous cost burden associated with this activity.
The performance of an entity, private or public, generally relies on the strength of its human capital - that is, the employees. Based on the findings of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report "Analysis of The Bahamas' 2012 Wages and Productivity Survey", our human capital is in need of a skills tune-up. This sentiment was echoed by Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association President Stuart Bowe in April.
"We have a major skills shortage in The Bahamas - both soft and hard skills," he said. "This is exacerbated by a high rate of turnover which according to the survey results is largely behavioral problems."
To rectify skills shortcomings, local and international companies pay hefty immigration fees to bring in talented individuals with niche qualifications. What is needed is an identification of those hard and soft skills lacking in Bahamian employees and targeted industry training programs. Atlantis has a formidable training academy that has improved our tourism product; Baha Mar has its Baha Mar Academy. But perhaps the Bahamian Contractors' Association (BCA) and Bahamas Technical and Vocation Institute (BTVI) joint program with grant funding from the IDB is the right training model for The Bahamas.
Atlantis, Baha Mar, and other large corporations can absorb the cost of training and reap the rewards of greater performance. But for small to medium enterprises, training is costly with limited in-person courses available in The Bahamas. The Internet has undoubtedly expanded training possibilities but such courses rarely target specific geographic regions. We need more collaboration between trade organizations, private entities and development agencies to enhance training programs.
Bahamians do not lack the desire to learn. There are just too few opportunities for those interested to engage in professional development. Employers must encourage and enable employees to partake in structured and tailored programs. Trade associations must recognize the skills needed and use their combined resources to facilitate training programs as done by the BCA and BTVI.
Applying for grants and developing an education program takes initiative and commitment. Yet, it must be done. Instituting trade-specific programs for continuing professional development is crucial to improving our human capital.
Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney last night pledged to hold a referendum on citizenship if his party is elected to government.
McCartney said such a referendum would allow Bahamians to decide whether people who come to The Bahamas illegally in the future, or their children could be eligible for citizenship.
Under the Constitution, people born in The Bahamas to foreign parents have the right to apply for citizenship at age 18.
McCartney has previously said children of illegal immigrants should have no such right even if they are born in The Bahamas.
The DNA leader made the formal announcement regarding the referendum when he spoke at an event at the Wyndham Nassau Resort where his party unveiled its full slate of candidates.
McCartney served as minister of state for immigration in the Ingraham administration, but resigned from the Cabinet two years ago.
He left the Free National Movement last year and formed the DNA.
Last night, McCartney also reiterated his criticism of Haitian President Michel Martelly, who visited The Bahamas last week and urged Haitians and Bahamians of Haitian descent to form a voting bloc and support the party that has their best interest at heart.
Martelly also criticized the Bahamian Constitution for not providing for automatic right to citizenship for children born in The Bahamas.
McCartney said if he becomes prime minister he would "not enter another country and disrespect its democracy".
In addition to addressing the controversial immigration issue, the DNA leader also outlined what his party would tackle in its first year in office if it becomes the government and pledged to "redefine the possible".
He said a DNA government would find new and creative ways to generate revenue to match the growing diverse needs of Bahamians.
"So while we complete the projects that will be inevitably left behind by previous governments, a DNA government will focus more on production, design, technology, manufacturing and inventive industries driven primarily by exported goods and services provided by local businesses," said McCartney as DNA supporters cheered him on during the nationally-televised event.
"Within the first year of office, a DNA government will create sustainable opportunities for Bahamian small to mid-size enterprises, particularly those in the agriculture, fisheries, alternative and renewable energy, and manufacturing and assembly industries."
Last night, the DNA also formally announced Christopher Mortimer as its deputy leader.
Mortimer told supporters that if elected, the DNA would do much to curb crime, unemployment, environmental issues, dependence on foreign oil and improve the state of the economy.
"However, I want to be clear; some of these things will not happen in the first 100 days of the DNA government," he said. "They may not happen in our first term, but just as the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, our journey toward real change for one Bahamas begins on election day."
Mortimer said he 'graciously' accepted the responsibility of being the party's second in command.
"I do not bear this responsibility lightly because I understand the magnitude of the undertaking facing the DNA and our country," he said.
Mortimer beat out several other DNA candidates, including Randy Butler (North Andros), Wayne Munroe (Mount Moriah), Charlene Paul (Elizabeth) and Wallace Rolle (South Beach) on Monday night for the deputy leader post.
The comments of Haitian President Michel Martelly to Haitian-Bahamians last week have dominated public discourse since Martelly advised Bahamians of Haitian descent to form a voting bloc, and to vote for the party that has their best interests at heart. His remarks exposed raw emotions on the immigration issue in our country.
The modern Bahamas is a nation created through migration. The Amerindians Christopher Columbus met here 520 years ago are no more. Europeans and Africans displaced those people when permanent contact was made between the old and new worlds.
Today's Bahamas is even more ethnically and culturally dynamic. People from the Middle East, China and India also call this country home. They bring their experiences to our cultural mix, expanding The Bahamas.
The Bahamian relationship with the Haitians who migrate here is complicated. Haitians have come to The Bahamas since the creation of the Republic of Haiti in 1804. With the collapse of Jean Claude Duvalier's regime in the mid-1980s, however, those flows increased as Haiti's poor looked for new lives in new places.
Some Bahamians resent the large number of poor Haitians who have come here looking for a second chance. Some Haitians are upset at the discriminatory treatment they have received from some Bahamians.
Martelly should not have gotten involved in Bahamian politics while visiting. Staying out of local politics while on foreign trips is a convention of diplomacy, but his intrusion into Bahamian politics is no excuse for bigotry and xenophobia.
The Government of The Bahamas has as a responsibility carrying out the laws of the country. It should provide our border protection officers with all the resources needed to prevent people from illegally entering Bahamian territory. Foreigners who come here illegally should be repatriated in accordance with the law.
But what must be remembered is that those who are given citizenship are Bahamians once that decision is made. They should be afforded the same rights and privileges as other Bahamians.
We can debate who should be given permanent residence as opposed to citizenship. Countries have the authority to set residency standards based on the consensus of the times. However, we should not disparage those given status or argue that they are lesser citizens if citizenship was granted.
In deciding to become part of our community these new Bahamians bring different ideas, languages, traditions, foods and energies to our already multicultural society. And as a culturally richer community we should work together to solve common problems.
Haitian-Bahamians should not close themselves off and form exclusive political blocs to defend themselves. Haitian-Bahamians should, like all other Bahamians, examine the various political parties and candidates and determine who is best to advance The Bahamas.
Conversely, 'native' Bahamians should not fear the inclusion of new people into our commonwealth. What should exist is an immigration policy that can reasonably control who comes to The Bahamas. We should seek to recruit people from around the world - in the numbers we think reasonable - to add skills to our country. In doing so, we as a nation become stronger.
When governments are unable to police the flow of people to a territory, the established community becomes suspicious. Hence, it is important for clear immigration policy to exist and resources to be provided to help ensure the policy is enforced.
We hope the passions cool on this issue. Ethnic rivalry has made many countries unstable and has led to conflict and war.
The nearing general election is increasingly dominating public discourse and public spaces. The political parties are on full attack mode and posters and party flags are increasingly visible as supporters display their allegiances. Bahamians are a passionate people around election time. High voter turnout rates have been the norm in our elections since majority rule.
While the parties will have much to say in the weeks to come, we want to hear from you as to what your concerns are for the country at this time in our history. Over the next few weeks we will feature in the paper your voices and ask the question,"What Matters to You?"
Many Bahamians have been harmed as a result of the high level of crime in our country in recent years. The record 127 people murdered last year were not just statistics they were people. Families still grieve and some still live in fear. The 2011 murder record was the fourth in five years.
While crime is the number one concern to many, for others it's the economy. The unemployment rate was last measured in November 2011 at 15.9 percent. When the thousands of discouraged workers from that labor survey are added to the overall jobless rate, it is obvious that many people are hurting and struggling to make ends meet.
Many of these unemployed people are among the thousands living without electricity. They simply do not have the money to pay bills owed to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation(BEC). The growing uncertainty in the Middle East could make this problem worse.
Syria is nearly in a state of civil war and Israel may be close to bombing Iran in an attempt to prevent that country from developing a nuclear weapon. A sudden spike in the price of oil would send more Bahamians into darkness due to the higher electricity rates.
The debt issues now facing Kerzner International have added to the general economic uncertainty in the country in the post-2008 financial crisis period. A creditor attempted to take the Atlantis and One&Only Ocean Club properties several months ago before pulling back from the move after other creditors objected. It is unclear what will happen in 2012 to the country's largest private sector employer.
As crime and the state of the economy worry many, for others illegal immigration and education are the major issues of concern.
The production of the news is a reciprocal process. The media asks questions and pursues stories on the behalf of the community and its mandate to be a watchdog. Hence, it is important for readers, in various ways, to indicate what are the major issues of concern at this time.
Tell us what you think we should be writing about. And let us know where you stand. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll print the most engaging opinions on our Op-Ed page over the next few weeks.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune News Reporter
BECAUSE of the high level of unemployment, the Department of Immigration decreased the number of work permits issued in 2011 by 24 per cent, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette said yesterday.
From January 1 to December 31, 2011, the Department of Immigration issued 7,091 work permits, 2,299 less than the 9,390 issued in 2010 and 1,025 less than 2009.
Mr Symonette revealed these statistics while answering questions posed to him by Opposition members in the House of Assembly.
"We are putting Bahamians first," Mr Symonette said.
"We are not issuing permits to foreigners for jobs Bahamians ...
NASSAU, The Bahamas - During the visit of His Excellency Michel Joseph Martelly, President of the Republic of Haiti to The Bahamas, February 7 -8, meetings were held between Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of National Security of both countries.
Talks focused on immigration issues, the redevelopment of that country since the 2010 devastating earthquake; and security matters relating to crime, the trafficking of persons and narcotics.
Pictured at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are: the Hon. Brent Symonette, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bahamas; and His Excellency Laurant Lamothe, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Haiti.
(BIS Photo/Kris Ingraham)
Speakers of the 21st Annual Bahamas Business Outlook (BBO) are geared up to share their thoughts on the need for Bahamians to develop innovative national strategies in various areas of business.
"There is a proverb that states, 'where there is no vision, the people perish'. In the 20th century, there was a vision to create tourism and financial services based economy for The Bahamas; a vision to achieve a balance of members in the House of Parliament more reflective of the constituents; and a vision for The Bahamas to become an independent nation. Now, to avoid demise in the 21st century, new visions must be developed and put into action," said Gowon Bowe, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Bowe will present the Vision speech at the upcoming conference.
"The last substantial vision for our country was set in motion circa 40 years ago. We as a nation have been living off of the economic and social vision of the 20th century with no observable new vision(s) or evolutionary enhancement of the aforementioned visions. When looking at initiating any seismic shifts in philosophy for a nation, the benefit of ceteris paribus is not a practical reality. Every aspect of a nation, including but not limited to education, health, wealth and the dark clouds of immigration and crime, are intertwined. Our new visions must not be myopic, as every action leads to a reaction," Bowe added.
Bowe calls for the public to view the government as "facilitator" of this vision rather than as "provider".
Donovan Moxey, president and CEO of IBS International, will discuss the need for technological advancement in meeting the mobile needs of Bahamian business in the 21st century.
"We are at a crossroads when it comes to the selection and implementation of infrastructure technology solutions that will allow us to improve operational efficiencies, fully meet the expectations of our customers, and compete on a global scale within the various industry sectors that will define us and our economy in the 21st century and beyond. In order to meet these challenges and opportunities, it is important that we in the private sector and in government embrace new technologies, in particular, next generation wireless infrastructure technologies that will allow our workforce to become more efficient and competitive, with the ability to securely conduct meaningful business activities while being untethered to the traditional office network that has limited capabilities," said Moxey.
The rise of smartphones, tablets, notebook computers, and other portable wireless devices, said Moxey, are used as a way of maintaining productivity, improving efficiency, and maintaining competition both in the local and global market place.
Bahamian musician and entertainer, Fred Ferguson, will speak about the state of the local entertainment industry.
"With that as a backdrop, I will speak specifically to the state of the industry when I became a 'full time' musician, the changes that happened through the years, and my hopes and wishes for the future," said Ferguson.
"Entertainment can be considered one of the components that is the bedrock of any developing society. And we Bahamians need to revisit the importance of entertainment to our survival, see what has been done correctly and incorrectly over the years, and examine the effect it had on the present decline of this industry," Ferguson added.
The 21st Annual Bahamas Business Outlook, "Vision Beyond Sight: How Ready is The Bahamas to do 21st Century Business?" will be held on January 12, 2012, at the Wyndham Nassau Resort.
For BBO registration information, log on to www.tclevents.com or contact Eileen Fielder at (242) 322-1000/322-7505; fax: (242) 325-2482; email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Funeral Service for Sylvanus Urklin Dean, 81, of Simms, Long Island will be held on Saturday February 11, 2012 at 11:00am at First Baptist Church Market Street and Coconut Grove. Officiating will be Rev. Dr. Joseph Knowles assisted by other Ministers of the Gospel. Interment will follow in Southern Cemetery, Cowpen and Spikenard Roads.
Left to cherish his memories is (7) Sons: Maxwell Dean, his children, Janell Nairn, Glen Miller, Ken, Floretta, Anthony, Mohammed, Angel, Marcia, Marvin, Rashad, Tiandra, Xilene, Xayden Dean. Immigration Officer Mervin Dean, his children, Nashika & DÁndra Dean, Glen Dean, his wife Theresa, their children, Glen Jr., Decoda, & DeShan Dean, Kevin Dean, h ...
Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney promised yesterday to readdress the package of anti-crime legislation introduced by the Free National Movement (FNM) government late last year, if his party is successful in the coming election.
Under the amended Penal Code the death penalty is mandatory for anyone convicted of killing a member of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Department of Customs, the Department of Immigration, the judiciary and the prison services system.
The death penalty is also mandatory if a person is convicted of murdering someone in the commission of a robbery, rape, kidnapping or act of terrorism.
However, murder convicts still have the right to appeal to the Privy Council and the death penalty has not been carried out in The Bahamas in the last 12 years.
During a 'March Against Violence' yesterday, McCartney said that under a DNA government murder would be punishable by death, regardless of who the victim was.
The DNA leader joined some of his party's candidates at Arawak Cay.
They marched on Bay Street and held a press conference in Rawson Square then returned to Arawak Cay.
McCartney insisted that the current administration and previous governments have not done enough to address crime.
"We need to look at many of these laws...and we need to update and increase penalties and sentences
because in many instances persons [who commit] these crimes are not dealt with properly and that is one way we can go about it by making an example," he told about 150 DNA supporters.
Enthusiastic supporters clad in green shirts raised placards that read 'Justice for Marco Archer' and 'Cut off the Privy Council' while chanting 'Stop the murder rate; vote DNA'.
Marco, an 11-year-old boy who went missing on September 23, 2011, was found murdered five days later in bushes behind a condo complex in Cable Beach.
In recent years, many murderers have escaped the death penalty due to significant rulings from the Privy Council severely restricting the imposition of capital punishment.
"We would make sure that if it goes to the Privy Council we would have the laws in place that will hold their hand to ensure that when there is a conviction on murder that the death penalty will be enforced," McCartney said.
"That is what we want to do, that is what we must do and we must ensure that happens right away."
Sexual offenders registry
DNA candidate for Bains Town and Grants Town Rodney Moncur, who has held several anti-crime marches over the last couple of years and advocated for a national sex offenders register, said yesterday that the DNA is the only party that is serious about addressing crime.
McCartney also promised that a DNA government would introduce a child sex offender's registry that would make public the names of sexual offenders, including those who complete their sentences and are released from prison.
The idea of a sexual offenders registry was renewed on the heels of Marco's murder.
"We will have a registry under the DNA government and if you do that foolishness people will know who you are," McCartney said.
Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest previously told The Nassau Guardian that the amendments made to the Sexual Offenses Act may make the need for such a registry unnecessary, however, the government was open to debate the matter in Parliament.
But it was never debated.
The government in its anti-crime package introduced around a month later made the sentence for sex crimes, including rape, range from 15 years to life .