SO ANXIOUS to win the 2012 election, the Christie government promised the Bahamian people that if elected it would reduce, if not eradicate, the country’s escalating crime. The PLP claimed to have had the answers.
However, despite their promises, the PLP had no solutions for the country’s problems and if more intelligent voters had gone to the polls they would have known that crime was a social, not a political problem — a problem that no politician, political party or government could remove with sleight of hand.
But, having made a promise, Bahamians are holding the government to what many consider a political contract.
Last week, Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis highlighted the confusion that exists among government leaders.
“They have Prime Minister Christie saying they are going back to the drawing board (to find solutions), and then the Minister of National Security saying they are always at the drawing board…” said Dr Minnis.
“Someone at this board is sleeping,” he concluded, ”the Minister for State for National Security (Keith Bell) said rape is up, then the Commissioner (Ellison Greenslade) said rape is down. They are confused and they are losing the confidence of the Bahamian people.”
Dr Minnis worried that if the United States continued to send out its travel warnings “the economy will deteriorate and the tourist market will be affected.”
Unfortunately, the evil genie is already out of the bottle.
On page 7 of Saturday’s International section of the New York edition of The New York Times, an article – also posted on its web site – written by Frances Robles, announced:
“US Embassy in Bahamas issues crime warning”.
“I have never seen as many security advisories from the embassy as I have this year in Nassau,” commented Jim Walker, a maritime lawyer in Miami who writes a blog about crime in the Caribbean. “The prior ones,” he said, “were even more gruesome than the more recent ones.”
If this is in fact so, then certain crime is not being included in the daily local crime report, because we know of no more gruesome alerts than the one just sent out.
So far, the US embassy in Nassau has issued four security advisories for the year.
Mr Walker, who was interviewed for the article, said that throughout the Caribbean water scooter vendors often “posed a risk because they were unaffiliated with the hotels where they recruit customers”.
In many places, he said, the hotels don’t know who they are.
“Such crimes,“ Mr Robles reported, “present a liability for cruise operators if they fail to warn passengers about known dangers at the port of call. Last year, the United States Embassy reported on assaults in hotel rooms and in casinos, outside hotels and on cruise ships, including several in which the victim had been drugged.”
Some months ago when Bahamians learned of the first travel warning, many felt that America was being disloyal to its poor little tourism-dependent neighbour by sending out a crime alert. Little do many Bahamians realise that if cruise ships, hotels, and all facilitators of travellers to tourist destinations, fail to warn of dangers that might lie ahead for their passengers, they can be held liable.
The New York Times report said that since July at least three American tourists have been sexually assaulted.
“News of the sexual assault reports, posted on the embassy’s website on Monday, came as a surprise in Nassau; local news media reported that the reports had not been disclosed on the daily blotter of the Royal Bahamas Police Force. More than six million travellers visited the Bahamas last year, making tourism the country’s top industry and crime against visitors a delicate topic,” reported the New York Times.
And Mr Robles’ article continued: “The embassy said Americans were not being singled out but were being caught up in increasingly violent robberies and home invasions. An American living in Freeport was murdered in January. The next day, two American citizens were the victims of a carjacking at Jaws Beach on New Providence Island, the embassy said.
“The embassy declined to elaborate on the reported sexual assaults but noted that at least one of the victims was a minor. Some victims have taken to posting information about assaults on consumer websites. Last month, an American woman who lives in the Bahamas was kidnapped and raped, the embassy said.
“We also have noticed criminals increasingly becoming more brazen and creative in their methods,” the embassy said in its latest alert — as reported in The New York Times.
More than a week ago Prime Minister Christie chaired a meeting with his National Security Minister and the Bahamas National Security Council to devise new initiatives to curb crime.
Since this meeting there have been more killings — 100 Bahamians have been murdered this year.
Early Thursday during the morning rush hour, traffic on Soldier Road was brought to a standstill when two masked men jumped from the bushes, shooting at a passing car. There was pandemonium, as frightened Bahamians ran screaming, trying to open the doors of cars, trapped in the traffic confusion, to find safety inside. Glass was shattered, cars could not move because of the gridlock. A 21-year-old man in a car driven by a woman, believed to be his girlfriend, was mortally wounded. By the time she got him to the Central Detective Unit, he was dead.
The woman driver was arrested when police discovered a loaded 9mm pistol and a quantity of ammunition in her purse.
Two weeks earlier, this young man’s 20-year-old brother had been gunned down in the Farrington Road area. He too is dead.
Last week, police were looking for eight “armed and dangerous men.” Forty-eight hours later they had five of them behind bars, with three of them having turned themselves in.
They then named six more, also wanted in connection with murder. They urged public assistance in tracing them.
It is now time for this community to waken from its slumber and total dependence on the government. The police are doing their best, but the crime problem cannot be solved without the full cooperation of the public – and this includes both lawyers and the courts.
Only Bahamians can now help to create an atmosphere in which it will no longer be necessary for the American Embassy to send out crime warnings.