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Haitian Group Rejects Boycott

The press conference hosted by the United Association of Haitians and Bahamians yesterday.

The press conference hosted by the United Association of Haitians and Bahamians yesterday.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

THE United Association of Haitians and Bahamians has publicly denounced the “vicious and unfair” comments of a Florida politician and a Haitian-Bahamian activist whom they said were “misinformed” and could not speak for those at the centre of the government’s new immigration policies.

This comes as, Fred Smith, president of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) branded the policies, which came into effect on November 1, as “institutional terrorism” and “ethnic cleansing.”  

On the day the changes came into effect, there was a mass round-up of illegal immigrants, mostly Haitian, in New Providence.

Both civic groups made the separate opposing statements yesterday in the aftermath of the call by Daphne Campbell, a Democrat in the Florida House of Representatives, for tourists and international businesses to boycott the country. She said she became upset after seeing videos of children being led away by immigration officers.

Later Jetta Baptiste, president of the Haitian Bahamian Society in the Bahamas, told The Tribune she supported Mrs Campbell’s calls 1,000 per cent because the Haitian community was “simply tired of all the political games that have been played with (them) over the years”.

However, UAHB administrative assistant Robertson Dieudonne, told reporters that the group was greatly concerned about the damaging remarks, adding that neither of the women consulted with the association before making public statements.

He said the controversy has already damaged the perceptions of Haitians living in the United States with some people cancelling travel plans to the country.

The association, which partnered with two other civic associations – Vibes United and Univision - held a press conference at the Victory Chapel on Minnie Street to address the issue. The UAHB said it supported the work of the government in fixing the illegal migration issue.

Mr Dieudonne said: “Neither Mrs Campbell nor Jetta Baptise reside in the Bahamas, and therefore, we do not feel that they have the authority to speak on behalf of Haitians and people of Haitian descent in this country in the tone and manner in which they have spoken. 

“While they are free to express their opinions, we wish to make our position clear that we oppose their suggestions that the Bahamas should be boycotted by Americans and other nationalities via its tourism product.

“We understand their passion for our Haitian brothers and sisters and would have supported them if we felt Mrs Campbell’s accusations were accurate and fair.

“In this case, however, we do not believe that they were properly informed and therefore, their comments were both inflammatory and unfounded. Further, we do not see the wisdom in an international boycott of the Bahamas – there is too much at stake, even for Haitians in the country. 

“Here is one example, I have a group of 13 including family members, more than 80 per cent which were born here in the Bahamas who have cancelled their vacation including my siblings,” he said. “I am trying to change their perception coming to the Bahamas as they do annually from the US.”

The group has made recommendations to the government about revising the new policies that includes extending the time frame to six months for Haitians to acquire their passports and other documentation.

Meanwhile, Mr Smith in a press statement said the mass round-up policy is unconstitutional and a flagrant violation of the fundamental concept that individuals are innocent until proven guilty. 

Mr Smith said: “It can only be described as institutional terrorism, if by that term we mean an inhuman and degrading policy designed to strike fear in the hearts of an entire community. They are breeding ‘Haitian hatred’, racism and discrimination. It seems the Bahamas is now into ethnic cleansing.

“The GBHRA has nothing against immigration officers detaining those they have good reason to believe are in the country illegally, and subjecting them to the process outlined in the constitution for anyone suspected of breaking the law.

“However, this draconian business of wholesale round-ups, indiscriminately casting a net over entire sections of the population – both innocent and guilty alike – and then sorting illegal immigrant from lawful resident after the fact, is downright criminal.

“Sadly, rather than applying the law properly on a case-by-case basis, this new policy of home invasions, of totally illegal road blocks and checkpoints, seems designed to create ‘shock and awe’, to send an intimidating message to the Haitian-Bahamian community. And it’s working – some have abandoned their homes and even their children.”

Mr Smith added that there were countless innocent people caught in the raids who have been subjected to lengthy detention periods in hostile, unsanitary conditions and the loss of thousands of dollars saved in bank accounts.

Meanwhile the UAHB said it will continue to work with the government to reach a compromise on immigration policy reform.

Comments

birdiestrachan 5 years, 10 months ago

What does Fred Smith say when boat after boat loads of illegals come to the Bahamas and breaks the laws of the Bahamas. What about the cost to the Bahamian tax payers. Does Fred care about the Bahamas or its people??. He never has any thing good to say about either.

Fred rants and rages like a mad man, with no sense of reasoning. He makes no sense. He should take his medication and remain calm, but the poor fellow needs a cause, so he can be in the news,

Mr. Smith this is the Bahamas, do you think any Bahamian can go to Haiti. and do what they come to the Bahamas and do. Hell no....

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Alex_Charles 5 years, 10 months ago

While he may rant and rave this is actually a good thing for once to denounce it. It's fine to be critical but see both sides for once.

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SP 5 years, 10 months ago

Fred Smith was born a British subject in Haiti in 1956. Mr. Smith became a Bahamian citizen in 1973 upon the country’s independence. As child, he along with his parents divided their time between Haiti and The Bahamas.

Fred Smiths' "true roots" are Haitian, NOT Bahamian.

This is another shinning classic example of why it is of utmost importance for the Bahamas not issue "full citizenship" to expats and their children. These people will ALWAYS side with their country of origin.

Our country must replicate Bermudas' citizenship laws which would render a Fred Smith mute and voiceless in the affairs of Bahamians whom he cannot care about because he is "Haitian in spirit".

Read Bermudas' citizenship laws: ........... http://www.bermuda-online.org/citizen...">http://www.bermuda-online.org/citizen...

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afficianado 5 years, 10 months ago

oh so his loyalty is to Haiti...typical illegal Haitian!!

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Girly 5 years, 10 months ago

I had a feeling that man had haitian roots.These haitian people causing discord everywhere they go.They went to the Dominican Republic causing confusion.They went to Trinidad causing confusion.Now they in the Bahamas causing confusion and talking fool.It amazes me that they are not causing confusion in their own country and the outside community is not seeing the error of their illegal ways.This has got to stop.

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afficianado 5 years, 10 months ago

Why should they be given a 6 month extension? Mr. Smith is ludicrous! Mr.Smith what you can do is converse with president Martelly and "humanely" devise a plan where your people aren't voyaging every week to seek survival elsewhere. If they are leaving by the hundreds sounds like you need to look at the human rights in "Fish Net" Haiti. There's nothing draconian about the "round-ups" when you come to a country through the back door disrespectfully then you should be tossed out disrespectfully. Teach your people some manners!!

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TalRussell 5 years, 10 months ago

This the Comrades in red shirts 'reconfirmed' position this Monday afternoon November 17, 2014. on Haitians. The red party officially sates that it believes that "as a country gifted with abundance of resources, it IS the nation's responsibility to use its resources to rebuild Haiti." Didn't the PLP say same thing? Comrades wear your red shirts on November 21st, but do so by not fooling yourself that a Minnis or Loretta offers Hope. Papa stood up on floor House of Assembly, to confirm how this nation's spoils belongs only, he and his former law partner.

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SP 5 years, 10 months ago

The FNM government as matter of policy granted over 5,000 work permits to foreigners every month while over 40,000 Bahamians were unemployed, and an additional 6,000 school-leavers were joining the unemployment lines annually.

Loretta Butler (BLT) is on record saying "Bahamians are a useless drug and alcohol dependent unreliable people which forces the FNM to bring in foreigners for jobs"

If Bahamians are stupid enough to put the FNM back in power then Bahamians will indeed lose the Bahamas to Haitians and do not deserve to keep the country!

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Girly 5 years, 10 months ago

Listen here.If the red party sides with the illegals.I definitely WOULD NOT BE VOTING FOR THEM.

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TalRussell 5 years, 10 months ago

Comrade if you believe Bahamaland has a surplus of resources to help rebuild Haiti when we have government workers who haven't been paid in months. When we cannot even afford replace old worn out generators at BEC - then I guess you will feel comfortable on November 21, voting for a Minnis or Loretta? This was "reconfirmed" as the red shirts rebuild Haiti policy this afternoon.

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SP 5 years, 10 months ago

Hubert Ingraham is of Haitian decent and unquestionably demonstrated support for his Haitian people over Bahamians on numerous occasions.

http://bahamaspress.com/2011/06/06/in...">http://bahamaspress.com/2011/06/06/in...

The red party is hoping to garner the Haitian block vote in 2017.

Imagine what would become of the Bahamas and future generations of Bahamians if Haitians are allowed to vote and run for political office!

WE THE PEOPLE must cause a constitutional referendum change to amend Article 7 to reflect Bermudas' law on citizenship making only indigenous Bahamians eligible to vote or participate in the politics of the Bahamas......Read Bermudas' citizenship and voting laws:

http://www.bermuda-online.org/citizen...">http://www.bermuda-online.org/citizen...

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precious_1 5 years, 10 months ago

I am a citizen of the Bahamas I respect the law of our Bahamaland but I am disgusted by the horrible remarks made by our own about people of Haitian decent. I do not believe that people are iriate about the deportation of the Haitian population, they are unhappy about the way our govenment decided to handle the situation. We are all people and i love everyone. I will not encourage harsh and discrimitory remarks made by our bahamian people about the Haitians. God made us all. No one is better than the other. The situation is already bad. I would advise everyone that discrimination against others is horrible and should not be tolerated. Those that are illegal should be deported. Those that are currently citizens of the Bahamas and are in the system to recieve their citizenship should not have to suffer or called nasty names. We have a big problem when we generalize everyone. Not everyone practice voodoo or is a criminal. This is wrong. We are being critisized around the world by comments that some of us make. At the end of the day we are making ourselves look bad. Bahamas put God first. Only God can fix this current situation.

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Girly 5 years, 10 months ago

Excuse me.Are you living in your own La La land.Have you not heard the most derogatory and threatening remarks made by Haitians against Bahamians.Eg.wanting to use the Columbian necktie on our people.Or are you just one sided?I don't agree with derogatory remarks by ANYONE.Please don't side with just one.Look at the whole picture.

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Girly 5 years, 10 months ago

And for the record it was a man of Haitian decent that started the derogatory war of words.

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SP 5 years, 10 months ago

Truth is truth and no amount of watering it done can ever change the truth

Get off your soap box. Bahamians are not racist and do not "hate Haitians as a people".

Bahamians hate "WHAT HAITIANS DO" that is destroying our country and lowering our standard of living by ruining our economy, making education and health care unavailable for citizens, indiscriminately building of shanty towns, negatively affecting our way of life etc.

Take off your fake "Christian blinders" and recognize that Haitians are clearly defined as "parasites".

Definition #2 below clearly describes Haitians actions in Bahamas as those of parasites:

http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...">http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...

  1. an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.

  2. a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

  3. (in ancient Greece) a person who received free meals in return for amusing or impudent conversation, flattering remarks, etc.

You cannot keep living with your head buried in the sand pretending all is well with Haitians presence in the Bahamas.....The truth will set you free!

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Observer 5 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Fred Smith should have been appointed adviser to the government of Haiti to look after the repatriation matter. He could be somewhat more effective than the present Haitian ambassador to the Bahamas. Perhaps this is what he is vying for, lowly trickster. Bahamians, let us cast our votes for Mr. Smith. To Fred Smith, QC. We did that too.

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DEDDIE 5 years, 10 months ago

SP you may be on to something. I did notice a Haitian at Super Value purchasing cream minus the custom duty. Guess what, when they go to Miami, they do not pay the departure tax or the airport fee. There are no Haitian mason, carpenters or maid. They come here and do absolutely nothing except to suck the Bahamian people. I could recall when Yellow Elder Gardens and Elizabeth Estate was first built. There were no Haitians there and those areas disintegrated into ghettos. You mentioned education, minus the private schools,the family island and yes Haitian kids,the average is a "Z". We are our own worst enemy.

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