By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
RADIO show-host Louby Georges is calling on the Bahamas to be a “big brother” to Haiti and use its voice in the international arena to help a neighbour dealing with ongoing economic strife.
Mr Georges’ comments were made at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas during the first-ever screening of Kareem Mortimer’s multi-award winning short-film ‘Passage’.
Passage tells the story of a young woman and her brother fighting for survival while being smuggled into the United States on a fishing vessel.
In a panel discussion following the screening, the host of Kreyol Connection, which airs on Guardian 96.9, told scores of attendees that notwithstanding the fact that Haiti is older than the Bahamas as an independent country, “the Bahamas needs to play more of a big brother role because the Bahamas, is the wealthiest Caribbean nation.”
He added: “And I think the Bahamas has a voice on the international stage so therefore I think the Bahamas needs to go out into the international arena and lobby on behalf of Haiti. Let’s try and strengthen the relationships and lets try and curb the exploitation of our fellow man.”
According to the World Bank’s 2014 World Development Report, the Bahamas is the richest country in the Caribbean community, having a gross national income per capita of $21,280.
The figures are contained in the report’s “key indicators of development” section and apply to 2012. The United States figure is $50,120 and the UK figure $38,250.
The Bahamas is followed by Puerto Rico, with a per capita income of $18,000.
Trinidad and Tobago is next at $14,400, followed by St Kitts and Nevis, with $13,330, according to the report.
Antigua is $12,640; Suriname $8,480; Grenada $7,110; St Lucia $6,530; Dominica $6,460; St Vincent and the Grenadines $6,380; Jamaica $5,140; Belize $4,180; Guyana $3,410.
At last Thursday’s screening of Passage, Mr Georges claimed Haitians are the most resilient people on earth considering what they had to go through to gain it’s independence from France in 1804.
“Do you know what it is to stand up against Napoleon (Bonaparte), who at the time was the most powerful single man on the face of the Earth?” he asked.
“It was one of the rare occasions that the French, the Spanish and the English, got together. And why did they get together? They got together and said that we have to isolate this island.
“We have to isolate this country. We cannot trade with these people. We need to put them on the back burner because we can not allow them to send their message out to the rest of our colonies and break the back of slavery.
“But nonetheless Haiti did it and sent out a cry to the entire world and guess what? As long as you are a black man and you step foot on Haiti, you are a free man.
“You see, we need to understand what is happening with Haiti. The world has turned it’s back on Haiti. We think that the world has Haiti’s back but if you look at what Haiti’s going through, there’s 19 families that control that entire nation. They control every economic interest in Haiti. And that is why Haiti is in the state that its in right now.”
Last month, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell revealed that the government is working to resurrect an agreement between Haiti and the Bahamas on work exchange and immigration procedures.
He said the agreement was signed by both countries, but never ratified by the Haitian government after the removal of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.