Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield.
By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER an investigation into alleged corruption at the Haitian Embassy in Nassau led to the removal of some diplomats, Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield said the relationship between the Bahamas and Haiti still remains “strong”.
Speaking to reporters at Cabinet yesterday, Mr Henfield said he talks regularly with his Haitian counterpart.
He said: “Bocchit (Haiti’s foreign minister) and I talk regularly, in this instance we weren’t able to as we would have hoped...(we) kept missing each other. I think we have a strong relationship, I think the relationship must remain strong in the interest of both of our countries.
“There are strong traditional and strong historical ties between us. Of course, you know we have a large Haitian diaspora in the Bahamas. There’s an embassy here and we have an embassy there, so our relationship is very strong.”
On Monday, The Tribune reported that Haiti’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bocchit Edmond told Le Nouvelliste, a Haitian newspaper, the inquiry into corruption at the Haitian embassy here has revealed “unacceptable situations” and “wrongdoing”.
Officials from Haiti arrived in Nassau in July to conduct its investigation. They focused on claims the embassy was involved in getting visas for Haitians and finding fake partners for them to marry to gain status in The Bahamas.
The Tribune recently reported that since the commission completed its work, five Haitian embassy officials have been transferred out of the country, including former Chargé d’Affaires François Michel.
Another former embassy official, former First Secretary Adras Andirs, has resigned.
Yesterday Mr Henfield said at the earliest opportunity he and Mr Edmond will discuss “ongoing” issues relating to strategic plans left in place by the prime minister following his last visit.
He said: “These are ongoing discussions, how do we settle limiting our boundaries or how do we come up with a Shiprider Agreement that will allow the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to assist Haitian national police in policing their maritime space?
“‘How do we mitigate illegal migration from Haiti to The Bahamas? How do we come up with a regulated migration programme that will stop Haitians from risking their lives on unseaworthy barks trying to come to The Bahamas to find a better way of life?’”
When asked about the five Haitian embassy officials that were transferred out of the country, Mr Henfield said: “I read the same reports that you did, and I have no other information other than what’s already in the public domain.
“What’s been published in newspapers in Haiti and what’s been published in our papers locally. I was supposed to speak with (Mr) Bocchit who is still the foreign minister for Haiti, and we haven’t been able to connect so I don’t know any more than you do at the moment.”