By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WHILE branding the US State Department’s most recent advisory “counter productive”, Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell used the warning to criticise the Minnis administration over its crime strategy, saying it has by many measures made matters worse.
Earlier this week, the advisory warned US citizens to avoid visiting the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay at night and ranks the Bahamas at ‘Level 2: Exercise increase caution'. It states that violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assault are common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas.
The former Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister is now urging the government to get to work and produce the results they "smugly" boasted about prior to the May 10 general election.
“We note the latest travel advisory issued by the US Government to its citizens travelling to the Bahamas. We thought that the FNM promised that all these advisories would stop once they became the government,” Mr Mitchell said in a press statement Thursday. “Alas, just as in the case of the three murders in one week in Freeport, FNM policies on crime have not made a bit of difference. By many measures it is worse.
“Of course, the advisories are a double-edged sword in that they do not often adequately tell the true story and are often counter productive. But unlike the FNM, the PLP takes no joy or pride in telling both the prime minister and his national security minister ‘we told you so’. The US does what it feels is best for its citizens. It is now your job to do what is best for Bahamians. The PLP can help but not if the FNM continues with the blame game and victor's justice.”
He continued: “A weak Ministry of Foreign Affairs also does not help, increasingly manned by political operatives instead of professionally qualified staff. The government needs to get to work and produce the results they smugly boasted about prior to May 10. Bahamians are watching and taking note with each passing day.”
The State Department on Wednesday also maintained its stance banning Embassy personnel from visiting the Sand Trap in Nassau or using jet ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Island. However, its latest warning struck a major blow to one of the city’s most popular cultural offerings, the Fish Fry.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames said the advisory came as a “surprise”, adding Royal Bahamas Police Force officials were unaware of any serious issues of concern at the popular tourist attraction.
In an interview with The Tribune on Thursday – the day after the cultural hub was singled out as dangerous – Mr Dames was adamant that there had been no incidents that would have caused any serious level of concern, especially at Arawak Cay, where there is a police station on-site headed by a superintendent and supported by the RBPF’s Central Division.
While maintaining that he couldn’t say, based on his daily conversations with Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson, what led to the warning, the Minister Davis said the Minnis administration is in the business of fixing problems. He said if the US is aware of certain issues, the doors are always open to discuss how they can be resolved.
Mr Dames said while the government has made marked progress in the fight against crime, it realises a lot more must be done.
On the same day the warning was issued, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said the advisory was “odd and troubling," adding he was “at a loss” over why the State Department would opt to target the area given there is an on-site police station.