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Editorial: Nothing Adds Up In Abaco Shanty Raid

THE raid on The Farm shanty town in Abaco yesterday was a big operation.

Officers showed up with flatbed trucks, forklifts and a 40ft container. This wasn’t some small venture, this will have come from the top.

So it makes it all the more concerning that there are so many things to criticise about it.

Let’s start with the operation itself. Local reporters were not allowed in while the raid was under way. Why not? If the operation is being handled in a legal manner, why would independent observers not be allowed to monitor the activity?

As the operation unfolded, no official – not police, not an administrator – would give details publicly as to what was going on. Again, why not? What reason for secrecy is there for an operation that can be seen to be taking place?

As officers departed, those trucks were seen departing loaded with items – generators, gas tanks, even a refrigerator.

Immigration Director Clarence Russell dismissed the idea that such clearly visible items were being taken away, saying: “The confiscation of generators does not fall under our purview of duties or responsibilities. A very unlikely story.”

Hours later, a Ministry of Public Works press release said the operation resulted in arrests and “the seizure of suspected stolen goods; and the disconnection of a large quantity of illegally operated generators and gas tanks”.

Not such a very unlikely story after all, Mr Russell. And we’d be intrigued to know why a refrigerator was taken away – was it being illegally operated too? How does one even illegally operate a generator? Where will these items that were seized end up, and how can those who had them taken away challenge such a decision? How would you feel if officers came into your home and took your belongings?

That’s the event itself – but let’s look at the bigger picture. Why are suspected illegal migrants in Abaco?

It’s no mystery – Abaco desperately needs workers to rebuild after the damage from Hurricane Dorian. Where will those workers stay as they come to help to reconstruct people’s homes and businesses? Well, that’s the missing link, isn’t it?

There has been no concerted effort by government to create temporary accommodations for those being hired for reconstruction. There’s no tent city that’s been erected, no empty hotel cleaned out for workers to stay in. Flying in and out every day would be unlikely even without COVID restrictions. So where are they going to stay? Surprise, surprise, shanty towns spring up.

Here’s another thing, though. The bus swoops in and gathers up people detained by immigration, but whose land are these buildings on, and are they making money out of the residents?

So what we saw yesterday is a big operation that doesn’t solve any of the conditions that led to these buildings springing up in the first place.

Until all the dots are joined up and all aspects of the problem are being tackled, all we’re going to see is another shanty town spring up, and another, and another.

And that, Director Russell, is a very likely story indeed.

Answers needed

Well done, Brent Symonette.

The FNM MP is also a former Immigration Minister, so he knows what he’s talking about when he addressed the case of the seven asylum seekers who were released from the Carmichael Road Detention Centre on Wednesday.

The refugees had been locked up for nearly two years before a court challenge forced the government to bring proof by April 7 that it had detained them legally. Instead, the government released them without an explanation.

Mr Symonette says that’s not good enough. And he’s right.

He said: “The government has a responsibility to respond to the courts and someone should give the public an answer as to what happened. That they were released doesn’t prove that they were legitimate asylum seekers, but the Office of the Attorney General is representing taxpayers. This has nothing to do with the Attorney General of a particular administration, it’s just a matter of justice for these people and justice for the Bahamian people. We pay these bills.”

We couldn’t agree more. There should be a full explanation of why these people were deprived of their liberty for so long, and why they were released without a reason or an apology being given.

It is not often that a senior politician will speak up in this fashion against a government run by his own party, and we applaud Mr Symonette for doing so. Now it’s time for the Attorney General’s office to find a voice – and give that explanation that the Bahamian people deserves.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 9 months, 1 week ago

The argument that the shanty towns sprung up due to a lack of accomodations post Dorian is just wrong. Sorry but Abaco has had huge shanty towns for years and years, dorian has absolutely nothing to do with it.

I agree this operation seems fishy, but let's be real. Shanty towns did not just pop up after dorian.

This is a weird situation, the immigrants are wrong for illegally building entire communities and stealing electricity but government is also wrong for essentially allowing the illegal activities to go on unfettered for years.

As a Bahamian it pisses me off that foreigners here illegally can simply build whatever they want seemingly anywhere and anyhow they want and not be charged and made to demolish every illegal structure...

Lastly if there are people from other islands on Abaco under contract to government then government has to provide accomodations. I have not seen anybody in the papers making this complaint, which seems strange...

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moncurcool 9 months, 1 week ago

Like you I am flabbergasted and still trying to figure out this editorial. Is seems like The Tribune is advocating the ilegal immigrants and illegal construction because pople they say need a place to stay to help for reconstruction?

This is in no way responsible jouranlism.

We must deal with illegal activities in the country. Otherise, we might as well allow the children to go to school and sell marijuana cookies, let the drug lords, run wild, allow illegal guns to stay o the street.

I'm sorry but this editiroal enrages me, that a national paper in this country seeks to justify illegallity in people who bltantly break and immigration and building laws and fluant it.

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Emilio26 9 months, 1 week ago

proudloudandfnm I have a strange feeling that the person who wrote this article is no other than Human Rights Activist Fred Smith QC.

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Proguing 9 months, 1 week ago

So you support Biden who is for letting illegal immigrants into the USA and giving them residency papers, but you are against it when it's for the Bahamas. You are looking more like a Trumpie everyday!

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proudloudandfnm 9 months, 1 week ago

I'd try to explain to you how I do not bite on republican lies but something tells me I'd be wasting my time...

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DDK 9 months, 1 week ago

The shanty towns were there decades before Dorian and should NOT have been.. What gives, Editor? Moonlighting for Fred Smith?

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DDK 9 months, 1 week ago

Further, there are unemployed BAHAMIANS from all over THE BAHAMAS looking for work in ABACO!!!

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John 9 months, 1 week ago

You sound stoopid!ask Bahamians what happens when they try get a job in Grand Bahama dude

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 1 week ago

Mr: Smith can do no wrong as far as the Editorial page is concerned.

Lifts him up for the cases he wins. against the Government..

The truth is he is not good at all. only shows how very bad the Government side is. it islike taking candy from a baby.

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Emilio26 9 months, 1 week ago

birdiestrachan it's quite clear as day that Fred Smith has no loyalty to The Bahamas instead his loyalty lies in Haiti.

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TalRussell 9 months, 1 week ago

Well, of course, nothing adds up In the Abaco Shantytown raid because arithmetic, has never been the Governing Authority's strong suit.

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JokeyJack 9 months, 1 week ago

Tal, but da people in da shanty town is know how to multiply.

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DDK 9 months, 1 week ago

I have to wonder whether The Editor is aware that these invaders take bread out of the mouths of Bahamians. Living rent-free and regulation-free in their illegal shanty towns enables them to accept lower salaries, particularly from so-called second home-owners, than Bahamians who must shoulder the high taxes and fees levied on them which allow the invaders access to schooling, medical care, social services and all of the amenities of the country structure of which Bahamians now find themselves deprived because of over-crowding. All of this is due to the lunacy, corruption and lack of action of the governments, past and present, in allowing these foreign elements to waltz in and take over.

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Emilio26 9 months, 1 week ago

DDK I have a strong feeling the person who wrote this article is obviously Fred Smith QC.

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truetruebahamian 9 months, 1 week ago

This editorial is so biased so as to be actually unworthy of submission and print.

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JokeyJack 9 months, 1 week ago

When Fred finnish wit us, da Vaseline company dem gah be rich.

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tribanon 9 months, 1 week ago

The Tribune's editorial staff long ago abandoned reasoned critical thinking and the putting forward of a balanced perspective on the issues of the day. For them and The Tribune's owners it's now all about pushing the right buttons to titillate the D- educated among us who can read in order to increase their readership and in turn increase their advertising revenue. Quite frankly we're the fools for helping them put aside professional journalism in order to achieve their profit centric goals.

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hrysippus 9 months, 1 week ago

There are several people commenting here who come from families that comfortably avoided military service during the war against the fascist regimes of Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan. Sir Etienne Dupuch, like the father of the tabloid's editor was brave enough to risk his life. This will have given his family members an appreciation of how important it is that human rights abuses by any government must be challenged. Congratulations to the editor of the Tribune. Ignore the ignorant and ill advised negative comments.

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tribanon 9 months, 1 week ago

Apropos my first post above: "Quod Erat Demonstrandum" (QED). Thank you @hrysippus.

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Dawes 9 months, 1 week ago

Just as a point, I think Sir Etienne fought in the first world war, the Nazis was the second.

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themessenger 9 months, 1 week ago

As usual in our xenophobic zeal we have missed the point of the article and attacked the messenger. The author asks some perfectly legitimate questions which none of you have bothered to answer either deliberately or through ignorance.

What gives the authorities the right to steal or confiscate those peoples property? The fact that they might be here illegally doesn’t give anyone the right to steal their personal belongings. If this was done to any one of you who are posting here you would be screaming from the hills about dictatorships and police states.

How do you operate a refrigerator illegally? Since when is illegal to own and operate a portable generator? Or is it only illegal because they’re Haitians?

Crooked and tiefin Bahamians have been doing this to Haitians since the first one landed here more than half a century ago, but we as a people have now stooped to an all time low, we have truly become a Nation of beggars and thieves.

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tribanon 9 months, 1 week ago

Apropos my first post above: "Quod Erat Demonstrandum" (QED). Thank you @themessenger.

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hrysippus 9 months, 1 week ago

TribAnonentity seems to have a continuing problem with the Tribune, his always negative comments suggest no positive solutions ever. He should just stop reading the newspaper so that the rest of us no longer have to read his sad comments. Better yet; he should start his own newspapers so we can hurl criticisms at his efforts. It will never happen of course, keyboard warriors like this rarely achieve anything themselves because they are kept too busy trying to keep others down.

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themessenger 9 months, 1 week ago

@tribanon, your myopic verbiage is just more of what’s expected from you and proves absolutely nothing, whereas the actions of the authorities, well, res ipsa loquitur!

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John 9 months, 1 week ago

Just another matter if another pussy cat trying to pretend to be a male cat .. again 🐒🐱. Don’t forget the helicopter raids on Bew Providence in the middle of the night, or did u forget already??

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tribanon 9 months, 1 week ago

And where were all of those helicopters you speak of when Louis Edward Rolle needed an emergency airlift from Bimini to a hospital in Nassau in order to have at least a fighting chance of defeating the suffering he experienced from COVID-19? God rest his soul.

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JokeyJack 9 months, 1 week ago

Authorities seem unable to find who is employing these illegals and give them one year in prison for each instance. Unable, unwilling, or perhaps for some other reason that an innocent mind such as mine cannot fathom.

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Chucky 9 months, 1 week ago

How did living in something you build on land you own or rent become against a law.

Building codes originated due to lobby efforts of banks who wanted a means to ensure their collateral ( your home) in a mortgage was up to a standard.

Then governments use the permit / inspection / valuation to determine property taxes.

Lastly building codes provide a reasonable means to ensure structures are safe for occupants. Statistics show far more deaths happen from state sponsor ed violence or war , than building failure (legal or otherwise)

Living in whatever you choose should be legal. Leat we prefer the poor be homeless and on the street 24/7. So surely a tin suck or a tent is better than on the street.

Immigration issues are just that. And could be solved if the goveremt really wanted to. After all, enforce the existing laws and fine anyone who employs an illegal and soon you would have no jobs for illegal immigrants and likely they will choose to starve in their own countries. Keep employing them and they will keep coming.

It's a bad argument to simply say that since we confirm and pay our property tax etc that we should want everyone else to suffer this too. If the defence force was running around raping like happens in so many backward countries, would you cry " they should be raped too" when it comes to a segment of society escaping the action.

Property taxes , mortgages and building codes are great when you can afford it. But when you earn 150 a week and have a family, I suggest it should be fine for them to live how they want and where they want.

After all it's Bahamians and their freedom to survive as they see fit. Not that it matterS, but if it's illegals ,. That's an immigrant issue, not a compliance issue.

Do you really want to give government control of everything. Compliance just ensures all are milked,. Some should be free if it means their survival.

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jamaicaproud 9 months, 1 week ago

Why dont you all hold Covid19 accountable. An invader without a Visa. Sets up shop anywhere. Kills destroy, has wrecked the only source of Foreign exchange. How is this rabid hatred going to help.

How is incarcerating more people in Covid infested lockups going to help.

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tribanon 9 months, 1 week ago

And as a Jamaican, we would not expect you to readily admit that the ruthless Xi Jinping led Communist Chinese Party bears full responsibility for the creation and unleashing of the COVID-19 virus on the rest of the world. After all, Jamaica was the first Caribbean country to allow itself to get hooked on sucking in a big way on the very sinister and evil lending teat ('tit') of Communist China.

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