Henfield plays down comments by US ambassadorial nominee


Doug Manchester


Tribune Staff Reporter


DESPITE "misstatements" made during his confirmation hearing before a United States Senate committee this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield said yesterday he is still "enthused" by the opportunity to work with the nominee for United States ambassador to The Bahamas, Doug Manchester.

In an interview with The Tribune on Thursday, Mr Henfield called for "understanding and reasoning" in the wake of Mr Manchester's controversial comments when he called The Bahamas a "protectorate" of the US earlier this week.

Mr Henfield insisted that while he was "caught off guard" by the comments, he opted to "look at the full specs" during Mr Manchester's extended Senate hearing Wednesday.

Responding to questions by New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr Manchester suggested that the United States views The Bahamas, "for all intents and purposes" as a "protectorate".

Those comments received immediate push back from former Foreign Affairs Minister and current Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Fred Mitchell, who slammed them as "patently offensive".

Senator Mitchell, in a statement Wednesday evening, demanded Mr Henfield address the comments and clarify whether the FNM minister accepted the claims as a part of the Minnis administration's foreign policy.

"A protectorate is an instrument of colonialism," the former Fox Hill MP affirmed. "Is this now the intention of the United States?"

"We have a moral right to exist and the right to our way of life and to self-determination. Our size and lack of world power does not negative those rights," he added.

However, in response Thursday, Mr Henfield said while he expected reaction to Mr Manchester's hearing, he was somewhat puzzled by the "range" of Mr Mitchell's reaction.

"I truly don't know what influenced his mind or thought process. We have a good relationship with the United States and I expect that to continue.

"Misstatements, I didn't see it as nothing more or nothing less. I didn't see it as an attack or as disrespect to the sovereignty of our nation and I didn't think it required such push back as he offered," Mr Henfield said.

"Look at the work done between our two countries over the years. I don't think the ambassador designate is coming here with the intention of infringing on our rights as a nation.

"Let's all settle down and look at everything else he brought up in his hearing. When you look at the full specs of what he said with a level of understanding and reasoning, you would conclude very quickly that this is a man who has respect for the values and achievement of this great country.

"I am enthused by that," he added. "I am looking forward to his confirmation because I think we will work well together and push the US-Bahamas relationship to the next level."

In addition to his "protectorate" comments, Mr Manchester urged more US investment is needed in The Bahamas, noting that it would be the only way to limit Chinese investment.

He also praised existing links between the two countries.


TalRussell 6 years, 9 months ago

Comrades! When we're thinking about what Freudian slips ' really reveal' about people.... we need looks no further than the mind's of the US Ambassador "Papa" Designated to head to the Bahamaland, and the red shirts Foreign Affairs Minister Darren.
Sweet Jesus, does you not know that two loose lips Papa's at the same time - can sink the
S.S. Bahamaland?


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Manchester was absolutely correct in stating during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing that the Bahamas is a protectorate of the U.S. The ensuing backlash by certain members of the public here in the Bahamas is nothing but a tempest in a teacup. Thankfully Minister Henfield knows exactly what Mr. Manchester intended to say and what we all should know. Given the geographical proximity of the Bahamas to the U.S., the U.S. will never allow our country to be used or occupied by another nation in a way that is hostile or threatening to the national security interests of the U.S. The Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s is a fine example. The former Soviet Union thought it could set up threatening nuclear missile launch sites on Cuba, having obtained Fidel Castro's blessing to do so, but the U.S. quickly put a stop to that hostility. If Red China tried to do something similar in the Bahamas with our government's blessing you be rest assured the U.S. would quickly intervene and put a stop to it. The term 'protectorate' as used by Mr. Manchester simply means that the U.S. will trample all over our sovereignty if need be in order to exercise its fundamental right to defend itself if we are foolish enough to ever allow something (or do anything) that seriously threatens its national security interests. We will have to live with this simple reality just like we have to live with where our country is physically situated on this planet.


Sign in to comment