EDITOR, The Tribune
I watched Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened documentary, and found it both deeply disturbing and ironic that Exuma and Norman’s Cay are once again at the centre of an international scandal of epic proportions that has brought embarrassment to The Bahamas.
This is the second time this country’s image has been tarnished internationally as the direct results of the shenanigans of foreigners in Exuma we naively accepted without proper vetting. Obviously someone within the Progressive Liberal Party administration dropped the ball.
Thirty-five years ago, Norman’s Cay was the reported transshipment base of Medellin Cartel bossman Carlos Lehder and his drug trafficking henchmen. Whatever transpired on Norman’s Cay eventually led to the 1984 Commission of Inquiry and the subsequent downfall of several high ranking Bahamian political officials. Norman’s Cay only became an issue due to American journalist Brian Ross’ riveting A Nation for Sale investigative report. Back then, no Bahamian journalist would’ve dared to do what Ross did.
The name Pablo Escobar, the deceased Colombian drug-lord, who is reported to have murdered an estimated 5,000 people in Colombia, was proudly mentioned several times on the documentary by Fyre Media CEO Billy McFarland and his associates.
McFarland now sits in a cell at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, for defrauding investors of over $27 million. The 27 year old, who was called a consummate con artist by Manhattan prosecutors, will spend six years behind bars although, I suspect, his incarceration will bring little comfort to the hundreds of individuals he has defrauded of millions. McFarland sold his foreign associates as well as Ministry of Tourism officials and Exumians a pipe dream. Gullibility was on shocking display in the documentary.
Today, both Norman’s Cay and Exuma are household names to Netflix’s 130 million viewers, due to the Fyre Festival debacle. What many Americans and other internationals are discussing is not the allegations of Bahamian officials demanding $1 million in bribes, or the reported $175,000 which was owed to Customs for the Evian Water imported into the country by Fyre Festival organisers, although I suspect that most Bahamians have accepted the fact that many politicians throughout the years have been corrupt dating all the way back to the United Bahamian Party era.
International observers are talking about McFarland associate Andy King’s salacious allegation of a Bahamian official requesting a fellatio job. This disturbing news item has gone viral on social media and other prominent media outlets such as the Daily Mail, Out Magazine and EDM News. Netflix’s massive viewership will watch this documentary, and they will immediately stereotype Bahamians as having no moral scruples and as being a nasty set of people. The international press is having a field day with King’s allegation.
I want to give the alleged individual or individuals the benefit of the doubt, notwithstanding King’s shockingly cavalier attitude when discussing the matter. Whatever the case might be, this allegation has brought a tremendous amount of embarrassment to The Bahamas in the international community. As a Bahamian, I am deeply ashamed.
January 23 2019