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Visitor Locked Up At Detention Centre As Her Dream Holiday Turns Into A Nightmare

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Paul Donovan and Jesika de Oliveira.

A vacation to the Bahamas turned into a “nightmare” for a US attorney and his girlfriend, who was allegedly subjected to 24 hours of undue treatment by Bahamas Immigration authorities on her arrival at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

Paul Donovan, an attorney from Boston, said his girlfriend, Jesika de Oliviera is traumatised by the “horrible” ordeal she suffered on July 2 after being denied entry to the country, not being allowed a phone call and allegedly being detained without cause at the Detention Centre.

“She was assaulted, harassed and extorted for money in an environment with no water, food, shower or a private toilet,” the attorney further claimed.

Mr Donovan and Ms de Oliviera, a Brazilian, had made plans for a trip to Grand Bahama. He had been to the Bahamas before, but it was her first visit.

She flew from Natal to Nassau, arriving at 11:30am, and was due to take a connecting flight to Freeport six hours later. Mr Donovan said his girlfriend was expected to arrive a day earlier than him in Grand Bahama, where he had rented a villa for a month.

However, things took an unexpected turn when an Immigration officer at LPIA stopped Ms de Oliviera and refused to grant her leave to land.

Mr Donovan said his girlfriend speaks Spanish and Portuguese, but does not speak English well. “As best she could she gave the officer all of the details of our trip, including my name and phone number. She had all the proper documentation, including a passport, return ticket to Natal, the address and phone number where we were staying as well as the name and phone number of the owner,” he explained.

He said she was also travelling with $300 of Brazilian currency and was going to convert it on arrival. However, the supervising Immigration officer refused her entry to the Bahamas stating that she did not have enough money with her.

The attorney said the officer was relying on the portion of the Bahamas Immigration Act, which states that a person shall demonstrate that they “are capable of supporting himself ... during such time as he may be permitted to remain in the Bahamas”.

He noted that the statute is vague and does not specify how much money a person must have to enter the country.

When contacted by The Tribune, Director of Immigration William Pratt confirmed that Ms de Oliviera was refused leave to land because the officer was not satisfied she was a bona fide visitor. He refused to discuss the matter further.

Mr Donovan said even though Ms de Oliviera told the immigration officer that she was his guest and was meeting him in Freeport, the officer refused to call him or the owner of the villa to verify the information she had given him.

He said the officer took her into custody at the airport, where she was placed in a room with no access to a phone or internet and had no way of contacting Mr Donovan to let him know what was happening. He said at some point she was able to send a text message detailing her plight.

Mr Donovan said after several attempts he got through to an immigration officer named Mr Gordon at the airport who informed him that Ms de Oliviera had been denied entry, was being detained and would be deported because she did not have sufficient money to support her stay in the Bahamas.

“He arrogantly told me that the decision had been made and would not be reversed no matter what I told him, even though there was still time for her to catch the connecting flight to Freeport. I offered to wire money to the airport immediately. He said no. I offered to send copies of my bank statements. He said no. I offered him my itinerary. He said no. He said the supervisor who made the decision had left and that he would not override that decision.”

Mr Donovan asked for the supervisor’s cell phone number, but Mr Gordon refused to give it to him. He said after a frustrating conversation with the immigration official he took the next available flight to Nassau.

He said while at the airport in Fort Lauderdale awaiting his flight to Nassau, Mr Donovan called again to enquire about his girlfriend. He was told that around 7pm she had been transferred to the Detention Centre.

Mr Donovan said he happened to be sitting next to a Bahamian tourism official and explained the situation. He said he was able to obtain the cell phone number for the director of immigration.

On arrival in Nassau, he said he met with Mr Gordon, the immigration officer. “I pulled out $5,000 US and put them on Mr Gordon’s desk and asked him if that was enough money to release Jesika. I offered to show him the exact same documentation that Jesika had showed him regarding our stay and travel plans. Without looking up, he just waved his hand and told the other officer to get me out of his office.”

Mr Donovan said he later phoned Mr Pratt and explained situation to him. “He asked me some questions about Jesika. I answered him completely. He then asked why they wouldn’t release her. I told him they wanted an order from him. He said that they had the authority to do so without him. I told Mr Pratt they wouldn’t.”

Mr Donovan said he was told to return to LPIA in the morning and speak to a Mr Ferguson. When he returned, Mr Donovan said he was told that his girlfriend was detained because she had no money on her but he explained that she had Brazilian reals equivalent to $300.

“He said that those ‘don’t count’ because nobody will take them. When I explained that they are easily convertible to dollars at several locations in the Bahamas, he just waved his hand dismissively.”

After two hours, he said Ms de Oliviera was finally released and they met up around noon, but she had no idea that he had flown to Nassau. He added that her experience at the Detention Centre was frightening. Ms de Oliviera claims that people at the facility had attempted to extort money from her to be released.

She had nothing to eat or drink, there was no bed or air-conditioning and she was harassed by other male staff and detainees, he claimed.

Mr Donovan and Ms de Oliviera are now in Grand Bahama. They have contacted a local counsel and are considering the possibility of a lawsuit.

Mr Donovan said their encounter with immigration officials was a terrible experience.

“We are not happy about it and I doubt we will come here again after that experience, and we plan on warning people about our experience (here in the Bahamas).”

Mr Donovan said they decided to tell their story to make others aware so that it does not happen to anyone else.

“The immigration officers we encountered need to be properly educated on the law and they need to be replaced with people who understand the law and who have a little bit of commonsense when wielding their power to arrest and detain people,” he said.

Comments

Thinker 6 years, 3 months ago

Racial profiling y'all. We do it here too. She could have taken a job from a Bahamian! (Sarcasm)

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Sickened 6 years, 3 months ago

Being a Bahamian I do not know how to respond to this.

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TalRussell 6 years, 3 months ago

Comrade small children (police mentality immigration officers too) might be reading this, so try being polite with the language by using ...flipp'in outraged. Why even bother spending millions of dollars in promoting TV ads, featuring a smiling female immigration officer, welcoming a visitor to Bahamaland?

Welcome Comrade Visitor and enjoy our Bahamaland ... that's, if you can get by rude Immigration officers?

....///https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y92k...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y92k...

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The_Oracle 6 years, 3 months ago

Not at all surprising given the Ton Ton Macoute attitude that many officers have. Completely unable to deal with the out of the ordinary situation, completely ignorant of the law, but well trained in thuggery. In any case, she got a decent ride compared to Haitians, Philippines. Put them in pink jumpsuits instead of their pseudo military drab. Might give them a much needed dose of humility.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Weird. I guess they're concerned about sex workers...in that case they need to raid some government offices. But seriously, as an attorney would he have approached a US immigration officer in the same manner? Thrown a bunch of money at them? Would that be considered attempting to bribe a public official? In her defence, these days no one really needs to travel with a bunch of money, so I don't know how you would demonstrate that you could support yourself...

again People behaving badly on ALL sides. Never let your good be spoken evil of

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blackcat 6 years, 3 months ago

It makes no difference if they were concerned about sex workers or not. There's a way to deal with people humanely, and I can't see this being it.

"Ms de Oliviera had been denied entry, was being detained and would be deported because she did not have sufficient money to support her stay in the Bahamas."- I assumed that is the reason he put the money on the table for the immigration officer, to show that she could 'support herself'. He also offered verification via other travel docs and itineraries.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

As I said: "People behaving badly on ALL sides"

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Princetide 6 years, 3 months ago

Your responce makes you sound like you work for the Department of "Ignorantation" AKA. Immigration. Tourists not acting badly, unless you wish to blame the victims for the crime.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

And your response makes you sound like the Executive Director. Tourists are people, they are human, they have emotions just like every Bahamian. And they can act badly just as this man did when he tried to bribe the officer. Have you ever heard anyone being accused of "making the situation worse"? Just because you were the offended party does not mean your response to being offended is the correct one.

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Kalypso 6 years, 3 months ago

TIO. You need help w the word "bribe." Get a dictionary! And while you're at it, look up the word "asinine".

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the government will get lucky and there will be an international boycott against tourism to the Bahamas. Then all those self-important government officers won't have to be bothered with actually working and can concentrate on important matters, like checking their iPhones and ordering lunch.

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GrassRoot 6 years, 3 months ago

This is a very unfortunate occurrence for the tourist from Brazil. I don't think though that this is a "scandal" or similar, unless the treatment of the tourist was unprofessional and unfriendly, which seems to have happened. At the end of the day, the immigration officer has to enforce the laws and that is what he or she did.

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blackcat 6 years, 3 months ago

Another dumba$$ friggen Kool aid drinker. What kind of dream world are you living in buddy ?I have heard similar stories from others who have come to visit.....These officers are out there minds. If what she is saying is true, there was no real warrant to why she was detained....and even if there were, the whole experience and way they were treated leaves much to be desired. Would you want to be locked up in a detention center with no food, water or private toilet? Would you want to be harassed ? Would you want your mother or sister to be harassed and advanced upon whilst being detained ? Think man, c'mon...This is exactly why our country is the way it is. TOO MUCH FRIGGEN GREED AND SLACKNESS.....Stop siding with the officer just because he/she is a Bahamian and the tourist is not.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

I've heard stories about people travelling to the States, Canada or Israel...it's strange to the tenth power why she was even questioned in the first place about being able to support herself. I'm guessing something about her gave the officer some cause for concern. That said, did it warrant her going to the detention center? Dunno, I don't know what the procedure is, I assumed if they denied you entry, they just put you on the next available plane back to where you came from....

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pepsi 6 years, 3 months ago

i so totally agree with you blackcat242. abuse of power, i believe in do unto others as you would have them do unto you.jackass

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GrassRoot 6 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for your kind words. If you read, what I wrote, before your brain started to fart, your answer might be more tempered.

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Kalypso 6 years, 3 months ago

GR. Sadly, others "think" like you. There is an inherent inability to recognize unprofessional, scandalous, yes, and even criminal conduct. Is that because this is generally accepted behavior? Sad times, indeed! I encourage the good gentleman and his companion to proceed w the lawsuit...

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bahamian242 6 years, 3 months ago

Yes I believe of what she says about her ordeal at the Dentition Centre! All kinds of promises to get out for money, and people say things that they can do, but can't! It just not the Cubans, it happens to all that go there, and don't be a woman, for good God's sake!

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ChaosObserver 6 years, 3 months ago

Welcome to "Bizarro Land"....the land where government officials do what the hell they want to to anyone they want to and at any time!....cause that's "how we roll".....bahamian style....personally I hope these people sue the pants off the Bahamian officials....they should lose their jobs (very very doubtful for sure since all are related and no one wants to "rock the boat) or hold people accountable for their actions.....

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justthefactsplease 6 years, 3 months ago

Will Minister Ryan Pinder fly to Grand Bahamas to apologize to her as well or is she not white enough?

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ohdrap4 6 years, 3 months ago

you come to spend a month with 300 dollars in foreign currency?

cannot even take a cab ride to the hotel.

brazilian currency is not internationally traded, cannot even find at the miami airport

the treatment may not have been courteus, but the officer who stopped her was right

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

It's weird, I didn't know you had to show how much money you had on you when travelling. I usually travel with a few dollars but nothing to sustain me for the length of the trip. I typically expect to be able to access an ATM...I'm curious as to what prompted the officer to even ask if she could support herself financially

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Bo 6 years, 3 months ago

The Immigration Officer was going by the law. That is what the law says... And... If she had a credit card or a debit card from Brazil, she could have shown the officer that she was able to take money out of the account. That can also be done when the officer has doubts as to the visitor's financial situation in the country.

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

No he wasn't. Read below. And by the way she did have a debit card.

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GrassRoot 6 years, 3 months ago

you do, every where you go, almost every time I travel to the US or Ecuador, or even Brazil I am being asked how much money I had or whether I had access to cash or had to even show credit cards. I guess it makes sense.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

Bull. Her friend she was meeting up with was footing the bill for their visit and has plenty of financial means. You're as stupid and dishonest as the so-called "officer" at Immigration.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I get that, but she had BRL and he was nowhere around, where exactly where was she going to convert it? At the airport? Something prompted the officer to start asking questions, I think he was doing his job in that regard. A separate question is his attitude, whether he was doing what he was supposed to do to protect our borders is a hill of beans if he carried it out in an unprofessional manner

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

I'd like to know if she had a credit card, and I'd be willing to bet she did. If you want to defend this sort of fascist behavior, it's your right. But don't whine when tourists go elsewhere and the Bahamas' well runs dry. Maybe everybody can just grow tomatoes for a living.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

Read the story, dumbass ... if you're able. The woman had a return ticket to Brazil. Are you too f'cking stupid to understand what that means?

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Exactly. He should have been arrested for trying to bribe an official. I am 100% positive he would not have tried that in the US where they wisk you away and send you to Guantanamo for years no questions asked.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

So what? It proved she planned to go home, you idiot. Gawd, are you ever dumb. And the boyfriend's tantrum came after she was abused for 24 hours, moron. You think nobody here takes bribes? Hah! Remember the woman who got permanent residency for a Rolex watch and a blowjob? Grow up. Feed your single working brain cell.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Drug mules have every intention of going home too,.... directly after they complete their crime. It is the customs/immigrations officer's right to ask tough questions and to be stern when doing it. What he does not have leave to do is to be unprofessional. Secondly It doesn't matter when the tourist tried to bribe the officer, he did it, he was WRONG to do it. The judge would tell him he should have exercised better judgement.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

Did they find drugs on her? No? Bzzzzzzt -- you're wrong again. The bribe attempt, if that's what it was, came LATER. Try to keep up.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

I didn't say they found drugs on her. You implied that since she intended to leave the country no alarms should be raised, I was pointing out that a return ticket by itself is not a necessary and sufficient sign of good intentions e.g. Drug mules. And again, it doesn't what time of day or how long after the initiating incident it is, when you attempt to bribe an officer, it's still a crime

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

The bribe attempt, if that's what it was, came well after her unnecessary incarceration, and is a separate issue. There was simply no reason to jail her in the first place. If they hadn't done that, the other problem would never have occurred. What was her crime? Failure to change her Brazilian cash before arrival? Maybe she thought a grown up nation would have ATMs at the airport, like the rest of the world. Are you thick? Please try to keep up.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

You're projecting again... I didn't say the bribe attempt had anything to do with her incarceration, I said he should have been detained for attempting it. I'm surprised at you, you should know that you don't have to commit a crime to raise suspicion, and once they feel they have reason to question you further, you go to the waiting room. Secondly it's strange to travel with a currency that isn't readily convertible. B$ is 1-1 with USD and I wouldn't take that as my sole means of non-electronic support on a 30-minute flight to the US hoping against hope that I could change it "somewhere"

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Fascist behaviour? Have you ever been questioned by US or Canadian Immigration? Tough questions are standard if they pick you out. I have no idea why she was sent to the detention center, that's the only part of the story I have an issue with. Tourism was in trouble long before this lady hit the island. The gentleman should have been arrested fir trying to bribe a public official, as a lawyer he would have known his behaviour was way beyond the pale

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jackbnimble 6 years, 3 months ago

Not that I don't feel bad for the lady but this is a joke to what I experienced at the Canadian Border going into Canada from New York for a 4-day visit with a friend to see the Niagara Falls with our Bahamian passports, US-cash in hand, and our hotel reservation - still they held us up for 4 hours grilling us with questions and searching our rental car and suitcases... the whole nine yards. We were completely baffled by the treatment as we were clearly tourist just coming in for a visit. I wanted to go back across the border and call it a wash, but I refused to let them spoil my visit. I will never return to Canada again so I know exactly how this lady feels. I trust they get to the bottom of this.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Exactly. This is what Immigration Officers do. They ask tough questions. (But they are supposed to be professional while doing it)

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sacox 6 years, 3 months ago

Not to trivialize your experience, but Ms. de Oliviera's sounds a lot more... uncomfortable. Being held overnight in a detention centre with no real understanding or communication about her situation is bad enough, but let's be honest, the Bahamas is incredibly patriarchal and I can only imagine the treatment she received as a foreign woman. I've dealt with American and Japanese customs for hours on end in similar circumstances to yours. I sympathize, believe me. It's uncomfortable, frustrating, and belittling. However, it seems Bahamian Customs took it to a different level detaining her in this manner. Just my two cents.

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Bo 6 years, 3 months ago

Yes please, stop knocking down the Bahamas. Many have negative experiences with Canadian immigration and customs and also in places such as Spain and other European countries. We have to protect the Bahamas

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

No, this clown agreed with you. He was doing what he's trained to do. (Wait a minute on which days do I alternately classify as a clown, slave or FNM minion?)

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concernedcitizen 6 years, 3 months ago

helmit boy ,,how is your mommas couch ,,no one cut your a$$ yet ,or you still just hiding behind your computer cussin people

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DEDDIE 6 years, 3 months ago

The problem same to be systematic with all of law enforcement. The police is by far the worst. It almost same that if you give a black man some authority it gives him permission to treat others in a subhuman way.I made an illegal turn in the United States and an officer stop me. He was so courteous that I would not have minded if he give me a ticket. Once he saw my Bahamian drivers license he give me a break.Courtesy is learnt at home and apparently it is not been taught there.

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birdiestrachan 6 years, 3 months ago

We have heard only one side of the story. it will be wise to listen to the other side. Bahamian Immigration officers are not dumb and he must have had reasons for what he did. Many persons pass through the Airports of the Bahamas this seems to be a situation out of the ordinary. I am not saying they are not speaking truth. But there is always two sides to every story. Let us hear his side before any one stands in judgment of him. They knew how to contact the Tribune. I will never ever condemn a person who is black.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

"I will never ever condemn a person who is black."

So, basically, you're a moron. And, for the record, I know Bahamian Customs and Immigration officers who are as dumb as a sack of rocks.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

I was quoting the person above. Try to pay attention.

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

We rely on tourism for 80% of our national income............... regardless of the situation, this doesnot leave a good impression of us to the tourist............. There is more to this story than a single Tribune article .................. just read between the lines and many layers will emerge Brazilian girlfriend........... American boyfriend ......... LPIA ............ GB vacation ????? Then Bahamian border officials and detention centre????????????? Money & press??????

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

Ur sorta right on this one General ............. this guy was really brazen

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birdiestrachan 6 years, 3 months ago

Why did this big shot lawyer not send his woman some US dollars. she only had Brazilian money three hundred dollars Yet persons at the centre were trying to get that money from her. I am not buying this story. and why was he sending her ahead of him when she is unable to speak English. to a strange Country. The Tribune is connecting this incident with her Editorial. some people will fall for anything. And the man went straight to the Tribune,

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GrassRoot 6 years, 3 months ago

go back under your rock. your world is very small birdie. today people date people from outside their village.

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henny 6 years, 3 months ago

He does not say he threw money on the table to bribe the officer. He put the money there to show that it didn't matter if she only had $300 she is to be spending her time with him and he had money. Some of you don't read the stories in the manner it was written and tend to misconstrue the real meaning. The woman doesn't speak much English and cooperated with the officer as best she could. He could have at least tried to contact the attorney to verify what she had said. There should have been a superior officer there to handle the situation. I have spent months at a time in the Bahamas over the years and have never been asked how much money I have on me or how I am going to support myself.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

His own words "officer. “I pulled out $5,000 US and put them on Mr Gordon’s desk and asked him if that was enough money to release Jesika". Sorry but that's attempting to bribe a public official. NOBODY, especially a lawyer believes that's the way to pay a fine. You do that in the US and you a$$ would be behind bars faster than you could blink.

Something about this lady's behaviour set off red flags, the officer wasn't just "lucky" to pick out the one woman among a 100 who didn't have enough money to support a one week stay.

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Emac 6 years, 3 months ago

You are usually right on the money with your comments. But I think you are taking the gentleman's words to literal. I believe he was just simply trying to show that he had enough money to support his girlfriend etc. Besides, being a lawyer, he would have known better than to bribe an official. I do agree if you do this in US you would be behind bars. But in the US you won't be treated the same. I can attest to this because I have visited at least 45 of the states. So my guess is that he saw the type of culture and service the Bahamas offered and simply adapted to the BS. When in Rome... you know the rest. Finally, these so called enforcement officers are the worst, period. I have had first hand experiences from these idiots!

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

You are flat wrong. Petty bribery is rare in the US and common in the Bahamas. I have homes in both countries, I know. In the US you don't have to slip money under the table to get your phone or cable or electric lines fixed. And you can't get residency in exchange for a Rolex and a blowjob, which happened quite famously in the Bahamas. And US politicians actually have to pay their electric bill. Imagine that! The US certainly has many faults, but a culture of petty bribery is not one of them.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

I read his comments. I make my statement on this premise. He is a lawyer not some farmer from the Midwest who left school at 10yrs to work the family farm (no disrespect to hard working farmers intended). He more than anyone knows that even if 5000 were the price to get Jessica out of detention, pulling the money out and presenting to the officer was not the way to do it. That's a bribe. It doesn't matter what he saw, I saw a girl hit another girl over the head with a bottle, should I do it because I see it? We have laws, he's a guest, he should respect the laws irrespective of what he sees Johnny down the road do. And I in no way let the officer off the hook for being unprofessional. My point has always been, they BOTH behaved badly.

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richinvestor 6 years, 3 months ago

This seems to happen to good looking ladies. Probably the same Officer with some personal issues. Similar thing happened to my fiancee some years ago. She came in to visit me from London and even with an invitation letter, was refused and threatened with deportation. I consider myself fairly well known and it would have been very easy for the officer to check. The only way I got her through was by going down there personally and calling his boss, which most visitors would not be able to do. The whole point here is that those people serving on the front line, most of whom do a fine job, need to remember that the way they greet and treat any visitor creates lasting impressions and impacts on the reputation of the Bahamas. Would it not be an idea to have a trained liason officer on hand to assist in these cases? That way, these unfortunate incidents could be avoided and everyone could come away with a smile.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

Absolutely right! The Bahamas should end all tourism so the people don't have to work at jobs, like a slave. Then everybody can live happily on 1/4 the income they have now. Brilliant!

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree with the additional training. And on their appearance you could be right as well, don't know where your girlfriend was from but I recall a few months ago a news report about a concern about South American sex workers entering the country. Don't recall how the story was worded exactly, but that was the gist of it. So it's possible they grill they girls harder.. .maybe(?)

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ohdrap4 6 years, 3 months ago

Yep, goldpanner. In the summer all you see at atlantis are brazilian tourists, and they are rich, carrying us dollars ebit and credit cards they buy in brazil.

i am willing to bet he came here to meet her because she could not get a visa to get into the US -- not sufficient income or suspicion that she would work illegally.

of course, the tribune could be making this up, you heard anything else about that http://www.tribune242.com/news/2014/j...">"missing peruvian woman"

No.

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birdiestrachan 6 years, 3 months ago

Consider this HUMAN SMUGGLING While the World cup was being played Persons from Brazil were found at a safe house in Grand Bahama. According to him she did not even have a cell phone . As for Air Condition Many people in the Bahamas go to sleep each night without even a fan .. He should have known her money could not be spent in the Bahamas and Common sense would say change your money before you leave your country. that is what we do when we go to America..

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GrassRoot 6 years, 3 months ago

believe me your Bahamian cell phone works almost no where outside the Bahamas (and for good parts not even in the Bahamas). so you have a funny view of the world.

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cleareluv 6 years, 3 months ago

He was not offering him the money to bribe him ... If you were reading the article its clear that they are saying the reason she was held was because she didn't have sufficient funds to support herself in the country ... He placed the $5000 in front of him to show that he has more than enough money to support her .. come on people -_-

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

That was not the way to do it whatever his intent was. If he did that in the US he would be in locked up in detention with Jesika. He was rude and obnoxious. Trying to do a good thing , i.e., help his friend but he went about it the wrong way. Never let your good be spoken evil of.

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cleareluv 6 years, 3 months ago

I never said that he was right for the way he did it all I'm saying is that he wasn't trying to bribe anyone ... And after that sort of treatment, any HUMAN would have been upset so I understand why he acted the way he did .

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Bo 6 years, 3 months ago

First question: why did she not try to contact her Brazilian Embassy or Consulate? There is one in Nassau.

Next comment: how do we know if the Immigration officer did not save a life? --- Remember Nelly Alba who was later to meet her American boyfriend in Freeport? --- Had she been refused entry and sent back to her country, she would still be alive. The American boyfriend met her in Freeport and left her there. She then presumably took a US-bound boat and drowned (well, we never knew what happened but she is still missing). --- The $5000 this American put on the table sound strange too!

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kairosmatt 6 years, 3 months ago

The $5000.00 was probably an attempted bribe. But can you blame him after all they crap Immigration put him through. And, frankly, Immigration's reputation precedes them. They are ALL looking for bribes. They are as bad as customs.

I have been treated poorly by the US and Canada but it doesn't give us the right to be worse.

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

Hi everyone. I’m Paul Donovan. After reading some of the comments on this story (which I suspect may be originating from people in or close to the Immigration department) I feel it necessary to explain a few things. First, I want to thank the Tribune for running this story. Jesika and I feel it is necessary for both potential tourists and Bahamians to hear the story so that something like this does not happen again. Second, for the people who think that the Tribune is not telling the whole story let me say that you are correct. The whole story is much worse. Allow me to provide some additional (lengthy) details. This will come through in several posts.

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Bo 6 years, 3 months ago

You are a suspicious Paul! I have made several comments and I am in no way connected to Bahamian Immigration or to the Bahamian government.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't work for immigration and I don't know anyone who does. You both behaved badly. If you were honest with yourself you would admit that. If you did exactly the same thing in the US, you would have been detained as well. Customs Officers don't play, nowhere in the world.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

No, but thank you for telling me what transpired

On arrival in Nassau, he said he met with Mr Gordon, the immigration officer. “I pulled out $5,000 US and put them on Mr Gordon’s desk and asked him if that was enough money to release Jesika. I offered to show him the exact same documentation that Jesika had showed him regarding our stay and travel plans. Without looking up, he just waved his hand and told the other officer to get me out of his office.”

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued...

With that said let me first address both the money Jesika had on her person and the money I showed Mr. Gordan. With respect to the Bahamas Immigration Act and the requirements for entry into the Bahamas pursuant to that Act both are red herrings. The plain language of the Act (quoted in the story above) does not require anyone seeking entry to the Bahamas to have any currency on their person when entering the Bahamas whether that currency is Bahamian dollars, U.S. dollars, Brazilian reals, francs, rupies, yen, pesos, etc. Further I can find no regulation requiring anyone seeking to enter the Bahamas to have any currency on their person. The statute simply requires one to demonstrate to an immigration officer, if asked, that they have a means of support for the time they are permitted to stay in the Bahamas. The official website of the Bahamas (www.bahamas.com) states the following requirements for entry for a person from latin america: “present a valid passport which must cover the period of intended stay. You are not required to have a Bahamas visa if the stay is less than 3 months. If you are departing The Bahamas for a country that has the passport validity requirement of six (6) months beyond the dates of travel, then that requirement will be enforced. You must also have a return ticket or onward journey ticket, hotel confirmation (if staying at a hotel, or name and address of residence) and, if requested, proof of funds to support your visit. Jesika presented a valid passport. She presented her roundtrip ticket. She presented the name and address of the owner of the villa where we were staying. With regard to “proof of funds to support your visit” nowhere in the statute, the regulations or on that website is there any instruction as to specifically what “proof” one is required to present. Neither the statute, regulations nor website state that you are required to have a particular amount of a particular currency on your person. Further, nowhere does the statute, regulation or website state how much “support” one is required to have on a per diem basis to enter the Bahamas. Carrying currency on your person is simply not required by law nor should it be required. When I travel I rarely carry more than $200 in my wallet. I used credit or debit cards to pay for everything. Most everyone I know does the same. It’s 2014 not 1914. But for this incident I would have arrived in the Bahamas with less money in my wallet than Jesika. The comments above regarding how much money Jesika had on her person and how much things cost in the Bahamas are completely irrelevant to the real issue. Jesika didn’t have to have a single dollar on her person. Further, who is the immigration officer to decide how much money someone is supposed to spend while they are here?

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued...

When Jesika was pulled aside by the immigration officer (Mr. Ferguson) in Nassau and asked about money she explained to him our travel plans and that I was paying for the vacation. She gave him my contact information and the contact information of the owners of the villa to verify that everything she was telling him was the truth. That was the “proof” that she had “funds” to “support” her visit. However, Mr. Ferguson refused to call me to verify this information. He refused to call the owners of the villa. Mr. Ferguson also refused to give Jesika the password the wifi in his office so that she could contact me so that I could speak to him. Jesika wanted to go outside the office to use the airport wifi. When she told him this and got up to do so he grabbed her and forced her back into her seat. When she began to cry and speak in Portuguese he yelled at her to stop crying and speak English. She was then put in a room by herself for hours. Is this how a Bahamian immigration officer is supposed to behave?

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued...

After receiving her text and finally getting on the phone with another immigration officer (Mr. Gordan) I asked what was going on with Jesika. It’s important to note that when I spoke to Mr. Gordan Jesika was still at the airport. There was still plenty of time for her to catch her flight to Freeport if immigration had released her then. Mr. Gordon told me that Jesika was being detained and refused entry into the Bahamas because she didn’t have enough money on her person. I told him exactly what Jesika had told Mr. Ferguson. I explained to him that I was meeting her in Freeport the next day (I was actually supposed to arrive a day earlier than her but a last minute snafu with the ferry out of Ft. Lauderdale forced me to re-schedule my arrival to the day after her arrival) and that everything was already paid for including the villa and her transportation. I also explained that she was my guest and that I would provide for her. I also tried to explain to him that the law doesn’t require her to carry any money on her person. He became irate that I was explaining Bahamian immigration law to him. Instead of arguing with him I asked him how much money Jesika needed to have on her person. He would not answer me (because by law there is no answer). I told him that I would provide him with whatever proof he needed and that I just needed to know what he wanted. He refused to give me answer. I offered to wire money, email bank records, etc. He said that the decision had been made and would not be reversed. He refused to call his supervisor (Mr. Ferguson) to explain to him that we had spoken and that Jesika was being truthful. He also refused to give me Mr. Ferguson’s phone number so that I could call him. His tone was extremely arrogant. I told him that I would be on the next flight to Nassau with cash in hand as proof of funds for Jesika’s support. That is why I had the $5,000. When I arrived in Nassau I put the $5,000 on his desk as proof of support. Before he wouldn’t tell me how much money Jesika needed to have on her person. That’s why I asked if this was enough money to release her. The comments regarding an offer of a bribe are ridiculous. And anyone who suggests that I didn’t put the money on his desk the right way also doesn’t know what they are talking about. They were not there in Mr. Gordan’s office. I don’t know that there is a proper or improper way to show someone $5,000. I have never had to do it before.

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued...

Although I asked Mr. Gordan to tell Jesika that I was on my way to Nassua (and he agree to do so) he did not tell her. Also, instead of keeping Jesika at the airport until I arrived she was sent to the detention center (which is essentially a prison). As she puts it, there she was treated like an animal. They took her possessions. They put her through a booking process similar to that which a criminal would go through. In front of a mob of howling men they put her up against a wall and frisked her. They put her in a room with dozens of other women filled with cockroaches and rats. There were fights breaking out among the women. She was not allowed to speak. Jesika was in this prison with no idea that I was in Nassau to get her out and no idea what was going to happen to her next. I was not allowed to speak to her at the prison nor was I allowed to see her at the prison.

In the meantime as the story states I was able to obtain contact Mr. William Pratt who is the director of Immigration for the Bahamas. The Immigration Act gives Mr. Pratt carte blanche to allow anyone entry into the Bahamas “notwithstanding any other provision” of the Act. I was given his cell phone number by a very helpful officer of tourism for the Bahamas while I was waiting for my flight in Ft. Lauderdale. I called Mr. Pratt while in Ft. Lauderdale and left a message for him explaining the situation. I also sent him a text message. Here is that text:

"Mr. Pratt. My name is Paul Donovan. I am an attorney from Boston. My girlfriend Jesika DeOliviera is being held in the immigration detention center in Nassau. We were supposed to meet in Freeport before she was detained. I am about to get on a flight to Nassau. I have whatever documentation you require to satisfy all immigration requirements. Please allow her release to me tonight upon my proof of funds and whatever else you need. I am desperate to gain her release this evening. She is travelling alone and is very scared. Please respond. Thank you in advance."

He did not immediately respond. When I arrived in Nassau and I tried to convince Mr. Gordan to release Jesika or at least to call Mr. Ferguson so that he would order her release. He refused (arrogantly). I sent Mr . Pratt another text:

"Mr. Pratt I am in Nassau. They are refusing to help me. Please help me."

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued...

I finally got Mr. Pratt on the phone. I previously told Mr. Gordan that I was in touch with Mr. Pratt regarding the matter. Mr.Gordan said that if Mr. Pratt ordered her to be released he would do so. As the story states I explained to Mr. Pratt what was happening. He did not understand why she had been detained and stated that they could release her if they wanted. I explained that Mr. Gordan wanted and order from him. Mr. Pratt then asked to speak Mr. Gordan. After a long conversation behind closed doors Mr. Gordan came out and informed me that Mr. Pratt would not order her to be released. He told me that I had to come back the next morning and speak to Mr. Ferguson. I sent several more texts to Mr . Pratt begging him to help me. He never responded.

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued...

The next morning I met with Mr. Ferguson. He could not have been more arrogant. He suggested that she wasn’t released because I had gone over his head to Mr. Pratt. He was not happy with this at all. After several more back and forth discussions regarding the facts and the actual law regarding entry into the Bahamas (and a reference to Fox News’ would be interest in this story) he told me that Jesika would be released. Jesika was brought to the airport from the detention center without being told what was going to happen to her. They didn’t tell her that I was there waiting for her. They stamped her passport and told her that she was free to go with no further comment. Nor did anyone from Immigration tell me where she was being released and how to find her upon being released. She just happened to wander downstairs looking for an outlet to charge her phone and saw me.

I can understand many of the questions above wondering why immigration acted this way. We have the same questions and many more:

o Why didn’t Mr. Ferguson contact me to verify the information Jesika gave him? o Why didn’t Mr. Ferguson contact the owners of the villa to verify the information Jesika gave him (after Mr. Gordan spoke to Mr. Pratt they did call the owners to verify the information)? o Why didn’t Mr. Ferguson allow Jesika access to the internet to contact me? o After I contacted Mr. Gordan and explained everything why didn’t he release her? o Why did Mr. Gordan refuse to contact Mr. Ferguson? o Did Mr. Gordan contact Mr. Ferguson and was he told to continue to detain her anyway? If so, why? o After I told Mr. Gordan that I was on my way to Nassau why did he send Jesika to the prison anyway (it is not required by law that anyone detained be sent to the prison)? o Why didn’t Mr. Gordan tell Jesika I was on my way to Nassau? o After I arrived in Nassau why didn’t Mr. Gordan release her? o After I arrived why didn’t Mr. Gordan contact Mr. Ferguson if he needed permission to release her (not that there was before but by this time there was no dispute that they had made a terrible mistake)? o Why wasn’t I allowed to speak to her at the prison? o Why wasn’t I allowed to see her at the prison? o After expressing doubt as to the validity of her detention why didn’t Mr. Pratt order her release? o Why didn’t they tell Jesika that I was at the airport after she was released and where I was? o What is happening with the other women who are being detained at the prison (Jesika said there are some who have been there for months)?

We don’t have the answers to any of these questions.

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued...

Jesika was put through this ordeal even though she had told the truth and was in compliance with the entry requirements. We know this to be true because those same immigration officials who put her in prison gave her entry into the country based on the exact same information she had provided to them upon arrival in Nassau the day before. Further, they allowed me entry into the country based on the exact same information. Was she erroneously profiled by immigration officials because she is a single, attractive young woman whom they initially thought was travelling alone? Did those officials then fabricate a requirement for entry into the Bahamas as a reason to detain her? Whatever their reason for initially detaining her there is no excuse for their behavior after she told them the truth. They should have verified the information if they had any doubt and they refused to do so. That they continued to detain her after I verified what she told them is beyond comprehension. In my opinion solely out of sheer arrogance and ego they refused to verify that she was telling the truth and once they realized that they had made a terrible mistake they refused to admit that mistake. People like that should not be immigration officers with the the power to arrest and detain. An officer with an ounce of common sense and decency would have and could have taken several other reasonable steps before taking the extreme step of incarcerating her if they had any concern about her entry. They could have: • Called me; • Called the owner of the villa; • Allowed her entry subject to later verification; • Limited the time of entry for a day or two based on the money on hand and later verification; • Had an immigration officer investigate in Freeport at the villa; • Had an immigration officer escort her to the villa to ensure she was staying there; • Allowed her access to the internet to call me; • Mr. Gordan could have called Mr. Ferguson after talking to me and reversed course; • Mr Gordan could have called Mr. Ferguson after seeing me and reversed course; • Mr. Pratt could have ordered her release; • Mr Pratt could have called Mr. Ferguson to order her release; • Mr. Pratt could have order Mr. Gordan to call Mr. Ferguson to order her release; • Etc etc etc

Instead of any of these reasonable options they deprived Jesika of her freedom and diginity.

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

continued..

This was a traumatic experience for Jesika and myself. Jesika is a soft-spoken , sweet, gentle, vulnerable woman. To be tossed into a prison in a foreign country for reasons you cannot understand not knowing what was going to happen to you was simply horrible. And for those who think somehow my behavior was not up to par please imagine how you would feel if you found out that your girlfriend, wife, sister, mother or daughter were subjected to that same treatment. Imagine if you were not allowed to see them or speak to them. Imagine if you were not being given any reasonable reasons why she was not being released. How would you feel? How would you react?

I also want to address some comments alluding to there being something special about coming to the Bahamas and visa restrictions in the USA. Yes, we specifically chose the Bahamas for a couple of reasons. First, because they do not have a visa requirement for Brazilian citizens. To vacation in the USA Jesika would have had to apply for a US tourist visa and fly from Natal to either Rio or Recife for a 2 day visa interview. We wanted to avoid the time, expense and uncertainty of that visa process. If the Bahamas wants to screen tourists visiting the country based on income and assets then it should institute a visa application process so that tourists seeking to enter the country know beforehand whether they qualify for entry based on their income and assets. The first time that tourists finds out that the country has a concern about their income or assets should not be after they have spent thousands of dollars on plane tickets and traveled thousands of miles for hours to get here. That is a trap for the unwary tourist that a rogue immigration official can use when he decides to detain a tourist for some arbitrary reason. Further, it is not the law. Again, to be clear, the Bahamian immigration act does not require anyone entering the country to have a single dollar on their person. That excuse was a fabrication of the law.

The second reason we chose the Bahamas is because I was bringing my dog with me. Because I did not want to make him fly to the island in cargo I decided to take advantage of the ferry from Ft. Lauderdale to avoid that problem. Interestingly he had no problem with immigration or customs upon arrival even though he had no money on him??

Finally, I want to emphasize that we don’t mean to indict the people of the Bahamas by making this story public. Once we got past the immigration Gestapo the people here have been nothing short of wonderful to us and very sympathetic to our experience with immigration (with the exception of some of the comments here). To those people we say thank you.

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Fitmiss 6 years, 3 months ago

Let us please my people, stop discussing how terrible things like this have occurred to us also in other countries. I want to first say that I am appalled at this situation. If this truly happened no one should be treated like this regardless. Those of you trading horror stories stop and think about if it was your foreign born spouses or this happening to your wives, daughters and moms in a foreign country. Regardless she should have been given an interpreter and every opportunity should have been given for her to reach her consulate or family. This lady was in a foreign country and could not understand what was happening. It seems we have all judged and condemned her to be guilty. Let us treat people respectfully and none of us would want to spend time at the Detention Centre. Even prisoners of war are expected some humane treatment. Please save the rude responses to my comments and instead pray about why some of us are so cold hearted. Even if she was coming here to commit a crime (something that has not been proven) you treat people to humane conditions and whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty. I hope her and her beau wipe their feet clean of this country and do not return. I pray nothing like this ever happens again and we need to rehab the Detention Centre and the prison. These are human beings we are discussing. I am so sorry sir and madam for what you experienced in my country, regardless of the full story. This was wrong....... come on my people who I love dearly......

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Fitmiss 6 years, 3 months ago

Also honestly thank you for informing us about our own laws and policies as we do not seem to know them. I personally do not travel to America with a lot of cash, I use my debit or credit card. In the past when I have traveled with BSD I exchanged it at the airport (she probably felt she could do it here at ours) or at one of the malls. Come on people with all the warnings about our country coming from the U.S embassy, what tourists travels here with large wads of cash....... let's continue to demonstrate the Christian nature we are known for. I am not condemning the workers at the airport. I just know I wouldn't want it to happen to myself or anyone else in a foreign country. Let us use professionalism on our jobs as well as compassion and common sense.

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Bo 6 years, 3 months ago

Mr. American, you certainly have used up enough space in the Nassau Tribune. I wonder if you could enjoy same privileges in your country. You say that Mr. Gordan or Gordon was extremely arrogant. Well, in writing, you sound even more arrogant than him; and I suspect your arrogance in person may have contributed to the refusal. There is something in life that you don't know: one cannot just go into a foreign country and ask as if they own it. You may think that an American has this right, but you are wrong. Don't tell me that - say - a Trinidadian or an Albanian citizen could carry on at US Immigration the way you did in the Bahamas. Knowing American law does not make you an attorney in the Bahamas or in Timbaktu.

Advice for you: next time here or elsewhere out of your country, a little humbleness, a bit of tact and a touch of diplomacy may get you a long way. Finally, please be reminded that the governments of the Bahamas helps the U.S. fight illegal immigration into your country. Let the well-intentioned Bahamian government do its job.

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ohdrap4 6 years, 3 months ago

you know, when you visit the US, americans are nice and welcoming.

outside, the are called "the ugly american" you are being ugly, sir.

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Fitmiss 6 years, 3 months ago

I applaud him for standing up. It is us Bahamians who often allow ourselves to be mistreated here and abroad and say " thank you sir, may I have another?" Trust me I stand up for my rights whether its informing politicians or the newspaper. This was a condescending remark to a very well written explanation about a traumatic event. You are trying to taunt him for standing up for his rights. Yes I am a Bahamian and my parents` parents parents are Bahamian in case you say I'm some foreigner or sell out Bahamian.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Would never ask if you were a Bahamian. Yes service is a problem in this country, and I have spoken about rogue officers in the police, immigration and defence forces. Under other circumstances i would have been n his side. In this case, he took his stand in the wrong way, I do not applaud him for that. Never let your good be spoken evil of.

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1voice 6 years, 3 months ago

Well Mr. Donovan, I had the exact same situation with your U.S. Immigration on a trip. Details aside, I was refused entry after a lengthy 6 hours of interrogation, humiliating searching and all after giving verifiable information. So I feel no pity for you or your "friend". So when you want to castigate Immigration officers I suggest you start with your own. By they way, they were white and I was black; with not a piece of expensive jewelry or clothing to my name. Arrogance was their forte and no you cannot carry on that way with them - they carry guns! I think you need to have some interaction with the immigration officers at your own borders. They were not diplomatic in any way and treated me like I was trying to sneak into their country. So I applaud the immigration officer for doing their job, because if we were in the United States, you would say the same darn thing. So I suggest you and your "friend" bugger off!

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proudloudandfnm 6 years, 3 months ago

Situations like this happen in every country on earth. And every time, the folks that have been held make it sound like hell on earth. So this is not extraordinary in anyway.

And how stupid are you to go to a country with no cash and can't speak the language?

Also, the guy is a lawyer. His job is to sensationalize issues.....

So to this I say... Big deal... Get over it. Travel smarter....

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Fitmiss 6 years, 3 months ago

So only go where you can speak the language? Do not branch out and explore? Not every American, Canadian or Japanese traveler to The Bahamas can speak English. Can you imagine what would happen to our country if only persons who could speak the Queen`s English came here? For one kiss the value of our money good bye and who do you think help fill those penthouse suites at Atlantis? Do not blame the victim that is victimization and you just defile the victim again. We should be better, more intelligent and tolerant than blaming victims in 2014. The fact that this event also occur in every country doesn't make it right. If I come across suspicious, detain me, but give me due process. Allow me and those trying to help me every right we can be afforded. Also you just never know who that person is that you mistreat.

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proudloudandfnm 6 years, 3 months ago

Wanna see disgusting immigration officers? Hope ya never get pulled aside in Canada. Talk about nasty, disgusting officers!!!

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proudloudandfnm 6 years, 3 months ago

Wanna really have fun? Go to Turkey.... BOL!!!!!

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

Before some of the more radical commenters try to goad me into a back and forth over the facts and issues involved please don't waste your time. Besides some of the comments are so farfetched they don't require a response.

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islandgirls 6 years, 3 months ago

I am sorry Mr prominent Lawyer, but all the flags are red... 1. How a person doing a LOng international trip, (has to make a stop in Panama , there are not direct flights from Natal , Brazil to Nassau) does not have any us dollars with them? Us dollars is the Panamanian currency. How she can buy anything? Any meals? Any hotel, if she is doing a overnight conection?
2.Every country , when you flight ask to have funds to show how are you going to pay your expenses. Just try to get into the USA with 300 reales, to see what happen to you. 3.if you are so travel, why she does not have any us $ with her? There are western unions all over Brazil. Why she does not have a USA visa? 4.The fact that you are paying everything and she does not have any money, is way to funny. 5.I invite all Bahamians to take that copa flight, and you tell me what you find, its that why immigration is doing their jobs... lots of sex workers. Same stories... I think this story is about a lawyer in a hot date., now he is looking for money. Would love to know in his passport how many times he visited her in Brazil, or some place else, prove that she is your girlfriend

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Desq 6 years, 3 months ago

Speaking of farfetched comments...

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

It's not far fetched, the Immigration/customs officers don't know you. They are trained to protect the borders by picking out patterns. The things islandgirls listed are reasonable questions that an immigration/customs officer might ask to determine if someone is a bona fide tourist. After investigation they may be able to dismiss all of the points but their job is to be suspicious and to ask

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GrassRoot 6 years, 3 months ago

hey you have a lucidum intervallum? no cursing for once General?

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Bo 6 years, 3 months ago

You mean as a story involving [AN AMERICAN] foreigner, in this country of slaves.

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

If that was a black gal who gat treat like dat ................. this stupid white boy woulda gat slap so hard when he showed up in Nassau he woulda piss ............ yall know dat ............... LOL

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Bo 6 years, 3 months ago

You guys are boring. Stick to the story. American Paul and Brazilian chick. I don't buy their story and I hope Immigration guys get even tougher, because there is a lot (of dirty business) going on and they are our Police.

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BSObserver 6 years, 3 months ago

How is it that when people have the anonymity of an internet "handle" all social decorum seems to leave the discussion. Is this the way you speak to people face to face?

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

The reference to Fox News was strange almost hilarious because Fox is really known these days as the advocates for South American women in detention centres...

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

Our immigration laws should reply to anyone........... not just the obvious ppl from the South. The Detention Centre is the proper holding area for ppl not complying with our immigration laws. How come the Cubans and Americans get all bent out of shape when it applies to them??? Just look at what is going on along the US-Mexican border today ..... we are well within our rights to police who enters and with what criteria is needed................NUFF SAID

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javiebenz 6 years, 3 months ago

Dumd ass officers, all involve needs to be reprimanded , and send for additional training , the immigration department should also be sued. They should always have someone there or on call who could deal with a situation like that. #makingmypeopleandcountrylooklikefools

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Police officers in NY just killed a father of six, with seemingly little provocation, for selling cigarettes. Stupid doesn't have a nationality.

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