ACCORDING to our outspoken Fred Mitchell, who preens himself on being the Bahamas’ Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, and is wont to let his month run ahead of whatever good sense he might still have, has now informed a foreign investor that he should “consider making the appropriate steps to live elsewhere” if he cannot conform with the expected conduct of “economic guests.”
In his web site, which invites us to watch his every step and which seems dedicated to pushing him into the prime minister’s seat as soon as it becomes vacant, it is claimed that “Sarkis Izmirlian is done. He is a turkey. Stick a fork in him.
“All of this is incompatible with his status as Permanent resident of The Bahamas. It is now time for the authorities to act aggressively to bring this matter to a head and write him a letter to show why his permanent resident permit should not be revoked.”
If Mr Mitchell did not write this comment, then he certainly approved it. It is an echo of what he told his Fox Hill constituents at their emancipation day celebrations on the Fox Hill parade on Monday. And if the Prime Minister has any backbone he will immediately disavow the statements of his so-called ambassador.
Is this, perchance, the same Fred Mitchell, who when speaking to the Rotary Club of South East Nassau on June 9, 1993, urged the Bahamas government to mount a military attack on Haiti to remove that unstable government, and replace it with one friendly to Bahamian interests? Mr Mitchell, then an Independent Senator, first made this suggestion in November 1991. As far as he was concerned it was the only solution to our Haitian “problem.” On Thursday, February 4, 1993, under the headline “Invasion of Haiti” The Tribune published an item that informed our readers: “Copies of a detailed paper on the question of the invasions of Haiti and other public policy options available to the government of the Bahamas are available on request from the office of Senator Fred Mitchell.
“A number of persons have asked for copies of the paper because the question about an invasion of Haiti that was put to the government in the senate on Monday. Sen. Mitchell said he wishes to make the paper generally available to the public.”
An embarrassed Ingraham government quickly distanced itself from the independent senator, announcing that it had no plans to invade Haiti.
Mr Mitchell, still with his bully-boy tactics, is now flexing his mouth filled with invective against a long-time resident who thought he was living in a democracy where free speech was protected and encouraged. Mr Izmirlian was doing nothing more than an average citizen — a permanent resident of 15 years standing whose family had invested almost $900 million in the Baha Mar development and was now under threat of losing it all. He believes that he is being unfairly treated. He has said nothing that anyone should have taken offence to, but our thin-skinned politicians, who can give, but seemingly can’t take their own medicine, now want him to walk the plank. And leave all of his investment for them to destroy – no way! And we defend his right to say so — at least the Bahamas was a free-speech democracy when we wakened this morning.
Prime Minister Christie, who should have been warned when Mr Mitchell started to expose our dirty linen in a speech at the UN last week, that he needed to immediately put a curb-bit on his mouth as soon as he landed in Nassau. Government has tried to make the public believe that negotiations with the three partners — Baha Mar (Sarkis Izmirlian), the Import-Export Bank of China and the China construction company, which is where all the trouble started — is slowly moving to a workable conclusion.
If there was any hope of a settlement, Mr Mitchell certainly “put mouth on it” when he let off his puerile threat and blew whatever agreement there might have been to bits. Not only were alarmed investors talking and having second thoughts about the Bahamas and its so-called democracy, but so were Bahamian business persons, and the ordinary Bahamian who depends on the jobs that these two groups provide, were more than worried. There were even a few members of the foreign press in town to tell the world about our foolish Bahamian leaders, and the obvious political ambitions of our little foreign minister.
“After 13 years of working on Baha Mar, overcoming the great recession and being 97 per cent complete,” said Mr Izmirlian yesterday. “I never imagined I would find myself fighting with the very government that asked me to invest in the Bahamas in the first place. Our position however remains the same, we will work with the government of the Bahamas cooperatively towards the rapid and successful opening of Baha Mar.”
Mr Izmirlian is desperately fighting to see that all of his staff are paid — both Bahamian and foreign. However, he has been blocked by the Bahamian government and its crutch called “sovereignty”. Not only has this government made pawns of Baha Mar’s staff, but it has taken our “sovereignty” hostage and made a laughing stock of all of us.
In 2002 Mr Christie, in his first bid to be prime minister of the Bahamas, promised Bahamians that he was introducing a “new PLP.” Many believed him. But this appears to be another broken promise that he can add to his failed scoreboard. He has allowed his Immigration Minister to drag us back to a past that most of us wish had never existed.
By the end of today we shall probably be given our own walking papers — wasn’t it the late prime minister Pindling himself – the so-called “father of the nation” – who, on the floor of the House, dismissed us as that “crazy French woman on Shirley Street!” Of course, what he failed to realise was that next to our fourth generation Bahamian pedigree he was only a first generation Bahamian — and for a time even that was in question. We wonder where Mr Mitchell fits into this Bahamian pot-pourri?
But seriously — enough damage has been done to this small country in the last 48 hours. We suggest that Prime Minister Christie get his Foreign Minister under control and this country back on track.