‘Don’t bulldoze shanty towns - create a Little Haiti instead’

Fred Smith

Fred Smith


Tribune Staff Reporter


ATTORNEY Fred Smith, QC, yesterday urged the government to “form a little Haiti” in The Bahamas instead of bulldozing shanty towns and “destroying people’s lives”.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Smith also applauded Attorney General Carl Bethel for forming a committee to deal with the prevalence of shanty towns.

Last week, Mr Bethel told reporters his office has set up a committee to “review the whole question of shanty towns” and “provide legal guidance”. He said once his office puts in place the structure and methodologies, the committee will advise the government on what should be done “in an appropriate, lawful and constitutional manner”.

Mr Smith, who is also the president of Rights Bahamas, also offered to appoint a member to sit on the committee so that the “sensitive, complicated, and diverse issues can be addressed in a humane and lawful manner”.

“This is a far better approach than simply turning up at 7am in the morning with a bulldozer to destroy people’s lives. Shanty towns, ghettos, migrant villages and refugee camps are created all over the world. The Bahamas is not unique with The Mud in Abaco or the many Haitian villages in New Providence but I urge this government to be visionary and compassionate and to make a virtue out of necessity,” Mr Smith said.

“It was a shocking terrorist tactic by Fred Mitchell and the Progressive Liberal Party to begin arbitrarily and unconstitutionally bulldozing down people’s homes,” he added.

“People have rights and I remind the government that even citizens in waiting who are Bahamians of Haitian descent, and or even migrants whether here legally or illegally are protected just like Bahamians by the Constitution. These villages have existed, some of them for 20, 30, 40 years and people have gained the right in some instances to title of the land by virtue of adverse possession but also in many instances by actually getting sales documents from owners of the Bahamian land.

“So people have built some concrete houses, wooden houses with foundations, and they have become a permanent fixture of the Bahamian landscape. The reality is that in The Bahamas we have very poor persons as well as very rich persons, so I urge those who are in power to be compassionate - and as Carl Bethel said - that the government would be dealing with this in an appropriate manner, which would be lawful and constitutional.”

Mr Smith urged the government to research the slums in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which he said have now become a tourist attraction after the Brazilian government assisted with sanitation, power, water and waste management.

“I urge the government to look online at the painted favelas of Rio de Janeiro which have become an artistic delight and have inspired the people in those communities to express themselves artistically with painting, handicraft, and it has become a very attractive touristic feature,” he said.

“Haiti has hundreds of years of craftsmanship culture. Paintings, woodwork, metalwork from Haiti are renowned internationally and in the Caribbean. If we have such a huge population of Bahamians of Haitian descent, or Haitians, we should encourage them to become like that of Miami and create a little Haiti where they can celebrate their ethnic and cultural diversity. Trying to make it work is far better than inflicting government-institutionalised terrorism on poor people, even though they are migrants.”

A Department of Environmental Health report conducted in 2013 found that serious environmental and health concerns exist across the shanty town network, and that a number of illicit industries flourish there – among them the illegal burning of pine forest to produce coal and the unauthorised sale of prescription medication.

In 2012, the Christie administration formed a special unit to address shanty towns. In 2014, some residents of a shanty town off Carmichael Road had their homes bulldozed by contractors hired by the Ministry of Environment following eviction notices.

The next year, residents of a community in Gamble Heights said they were “hopeless and homeless” after demolition began at their shanty town.


ohdrap4 6 years, 6 months ago

ATTORNEY Fred Smith, QC, yesterday urged the government to “form a little Haiti” in The Bahamas

i agree . but build a trump wall around it and exile the outspoken QC there.

Candie 6 years, 6 months ago

We have to purchase our land yet they live on land for free something is wrong with this concept. Why are they allowed to squat on other individuals property...this is not Haiti integrate and adapt. Fred allegiance is towards Haiti not the Bahamas or its people.

Candie 6 years, 6 months ago

We have to purchase our land yet they live on land for free something is wrong with this concept. Why are they allowed to squat on other individuals property...this is not Haiti integrate and adapt. Fred allegiance is towards Haiti not the Bahamas or its people.

Damifiknow 6 years, 6 months ago

And pay for their health care!

birdiestrachan 6 years, 6 months ago

This man brags that he gave the present Government an undisclosed donation. So I suppose they will have to do what ever he tells them to do. How many Little Haiti will be enough to satisfy the undisclosed Dona?? Roc wit doc and Carl Bethel had better get busy. What about a little Haiti By his property?

Emac 6 years, 6 months ago

Here we go again...Once more, the deranged one is missing the point. The shacks that exist in these shanty towns were NOT built in compliance with the Bahamas' building code. So no matter how the cookie crumbles, they need to be destroyed. Otherwise, just get rid of the inspection department of the Ministry of Works. Stop messing with other builders and stop asking other builders for structural plans. Allow Bahamians to squat on farm land to build their homes. Allow residents in neighborhoods throughout the Bahamas to run "drop cords" to create fire hazard zones in these hoods.

Sorry Mr. "deranged" Smith, but being poor does not trump obeying the law. (No pun intended here) We all have our struggles, yet we all have to pay taxes and obey the law. Further, if Mr. Smith feels so strongly about helping his poor Haitian descendants, then he should start some fund raising program to help relocate the many "desolate Haitians that send hundreds of dollars each week home to Haiti."

Sickened 6 years, 6 months ago

I say build a Little Haiti but in Haiti. Send down a couple of tons of blocks, plywood, shingles to Haiti along with all of these illegal Haitians and let them live comfortably in their home country. They won't have to work hard in Haiti for years as they will have no rent to pay to scumbag politically connected Bahamians or bribes to policeman and defense force officers. They and us will be so much further ahead.

TalRussell 6 years, 6 months ago

Am I too white enough for living in a little Haiti shantytown does asks the most learned Comrade 'King's Counsel' Freedy... and, if he did move in - his nickname be da 'Most Learned' White Englishman's Freddy.

licks2 6 years, 6 months ago

This man is something else. . .THE FARVELAS. . .NO TOURIST IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WILL GO WITHIN 10 MILES OF THOSE PLACES. . .HELL THE POLICE DON'T GO IN THERE UNLESS THE HAVE ON THEIR NINJA SUITS AND SHOOT THEM DUDES ON SIGHT!! The biggest tourist problem in Rio de Jeneiro in street kids from the Farvelas. . .the Police are actually killing children to solve the problem of kids crime and exploitation out of control in the city . Yinna should watch the movies City of God and Children of God. . .both based on Brazil's Shanty Towns/Farvelas. . .those shanty towns themselves have become war-zones between gangs and police/special hit squad/army!

TheMadHatter 6 years, 6 months ago

If we create a Little Haiti on each island Mr. Smith, would you support creating a law and the related documents to be signed by each resident of those towns stating that they agree to reside there (or move to a Little Haiti on another island) for the rest of their lives and that their offspring in perpetuity agree to do the same, and any breach of that agreement amounts to consent to be deported?

Perhaps this would even require an amendment to the Constitution - which you would support also?

birdiestrachan 6 years, 6 months ago

The Out spoken QC knows that little Haiti in Florida was never a shanty Town. Of course doc and Bethel do not know that. They were not allowed to construct buildings where ever with out the proper plans.

bogart 6 years, 6 months ago

Creating such volitile inflamatory statements seem to be a clever ruse to raise obvious reaction in order to take to the international press for international condemnation

Powers of the politicians to bestow titles and entitlements to persons really need to be examined. Former Prime Minister should be asked to comment on all these pronouncements.

ThisIsOurs 6 years, 6 months ago

While these communities may develop organically, this is the worst strategic idea I have ever heard. What progressive country sets about to create a circumstance where the disaffected are kept separate from the native population? You see Israel? Your strategy should be one of integration of all LEGAL residents. This foolishness of living in the country illegally for 18 years has to stop. Leave, go back to your country, and at 18 from within YOUR country, decide which country you want to pledge allegiance to

John 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe (The Bahamas Government) should be so kind to the Haitians in the Bahamas as Florida was to blacks and Bahamian and Caribbean migrants in Overtown, formerly called Colored Town. Many went to Florida to work on the railway and take other manual jobs that were available. The city grew and became a thriving success much to the envy of the jealous white folk, who decided to build a highway right down the center of the settlement. . ."Longtime Overtown residents and Miami historians will both tell you that highway overpasses destroyed the neighborhood. The formerly segregated community, which used to be called "Colored Town," was full of renowned clubs, brightly colored homes, churches, and a thriving mix of Caribbean and African cultures that played itself out in city streets each day.

Until local officials drove a bevy of highway overpasses through the dead-center of the neighborhood in a move that shuttered businesses and bottomed-out home values almost overnight. The area never recovered.'

The city never recovered (just like the French did to Haiti) and is one of the poorest slums in South Florida even today."

. "Given that history, it's quite odd that All Aboard Florida, which is trying to build a privately run train line from Orlando to Miami, would plunk a huge wall right between Overtown and the rest of downtown Miami. The multistory wall, which is still under construction, stretches down NW First Avenue from the I-395 overpass to the corner of NW Eighth Street. (The wall will eventually end around NW Third Street.) One break in the barrier, along NW 11th Street, is just a few hundred feet from the city's famous clubs, like Space and E11even. A few splotches of graffiti have been sprayed along the wall already.

"It’s crazy," longtime Overtown activist Edduard Prince tells New Times. "They’re destroying the community."

The wall is popping up right as negotiations for soccer star David Beckham's plans to build a huge stadium in Overtown are coming to a head. Last night, the city held a meeting to discuss the athlete's vision of a gleaming stadium in one of Miami's poorest communities — and residents were not universally pleased." Posted May 18, 2017...imagine what the stadium would do. or was it just a diversion.

licks2 6 years, 6 months ago

John I tried to get the "jist" of your post but I am afraid you have som many different things so mixed-up that you went of the rail of good reasoning a piece back there ma brudda! One thing I do see that you avoided is the "illegality" of migrant influx as apposed to legal migrants! Florida as did other nations did allow heavy migration. . .however those migrations were heavily regulated also. . .

joeblow 6 years, 6 months ago

We already have little Haiti's through several islands of the Bahamas!! The fact that they can survive here without speaking the language (English) attests to that!

jamaicaproud 6 years, 6 months ago

I always support this fellow's Humans Rights causes, but I think he has crossed over into insanity. Many countries have "Little This", and "Little That". It is ok if it's a natural growth process. However, I cannot see how any sane country would assist in setting up a country within a country, even if it is allegedly an economic zone.

This is so crazy on so many levels, no reason to get into it.

sheeprunner12 6 years, 6 months ago

I think our government should evacuate one or more of our islands (near Haiti) and give it as a gift o the Haitians ......... Hell, Russell Island, Moores Island and Salina Point are already Haitian "islands" ......... along with the 40-50 other Nassau, GB, Eleuthera and Exuma shanty towns ..... The Mud, Pigeon Pea and Sandbanks are already "established towns" in Abaco ....... This is just a ridiculous argument but that is where we are right now in this country ........... SMDH

SP 6 years, 6 months ago

Fred Smith finally said something so outlandish, he has certified himself totally irrational!

Bahamians DO NOT WANT Haitian settlements in our country. Haitians have no respect for our laws, already have an illegal parallel economy, dodge paying taxes, ride on the backs of Bahamians for free education, health care and social services.

We must get rid of the damn parasitic Haitians and focus on helping and uplifting our own Bahamian people in need.

Haitians are burden on Bahamians and a major blight to the Bahamas!

realitycheck242 6 years, 6 months ago

Now we know for sure that Fred Smith is a mental patient and belongs in sandilands. Haitian are a problem in every country they migrate to . The US wants to get rid of them. The Dominican Republic has passed legislation to deport them, In Mexico, many of them are stranded at the Border, They have stripped their land of all the quality trees, no wonder earthquakes and torrential rains cause so much damage. Some of them practice religions that worship the devil, now why would we want a little Haiti here.Our athorities have already discovered off carmichael road areas where there is whole scale destruction of the pine forest for the production of charcoal for shipment to Haiti. Haitians by their mindset have shown that they have practices that are destructive to the Bahamian environment..The Dominicans destroy our marine resources while the Haitians destroy our land resources. All shanty towns should be bulldozed no matter where it is.The Bahamas does not need an increase in Haitian identity to the detriment of our own cultural identy. That would send a confusing message to our Bahamian children and the world.about our future.Put an end and roll back the Haitianization of of this country. Smithy boy we are not fools like you.

sheeprunner12 6 years, 6 months ago

And to think that Trump is being demonized for his "shit hole" comments ...... When we have many "shit holes" existing right among us .......... Government must stand up for its citizens.

JMF 6 years, 6 months ago

"Don't bulldoze shantytowns-create a Little Haiti instead." Stop all demolition immediately! Salvage all of these ill-built structures and transport them to the rear and side of Fred Smith's residence and let him deal with it in a humane manner. Is this for attention? Or should the Bar request a psychological evaluation for Mr. Smith?

bogart 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually here is a SINGLE person who has taken on VERSUS the ENTIRE sovereign nation, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas given its nomenklatura and through clever tactics has been able to get national attention for his cause. Notice how the word bulldoze is introduced and many of us cant remember the govt doing it in an illegal manner.

Have to give it to him that his tactics of showing up, having car window smashed on beach, showing up at Detention Centre and all events capptured on film for the press.

Excellent guerrilla tactics and legal strategy against whichever govt that he must be given credit. Like him or dislike him, you must give him credit for consistantlly fighting his battles.

Many individuals and even large thousand plus strong pressure groups have come and gone and compromised, sold out, quit, collected all the food they were able to take away etc but this man is still fighting single handed for his cause regardless whether it is against the majority who dont want colonization by 12 million strong Haitian nation some 25 miles from our southern border.

sheeprunner12 6 years, 6 months ago

Fred Smith is an Enemy of the State (The Bahamas) ........ Do not give him any credit.

birdiestrachan 6 years, 6 months ago

He the outspoken QC never speaks well of the Bahamas .or its people. Remember his statement about some Black Bahamians. It was just plain gutter talk. Can he say anything else that is bad about the Bahamas and its people??. I am sure he will give it much thought.

SP 6 years, 6 months ago

Donald Trump may not be eloquent about it, but, he does ask an interesting question. WHY DOES the U.S., Bahamas or Canada need more Haitians?

After decades of swarming into these countries uninvited, what have Haitians done to improve any of them? Nobody ever heard of Haitians "helping" after disasters, contributing to worthy causes, or assisting authorities to tackle human, drugs, and arms smuggling.

Donald Trump's question is relevant, eye-opening, and deserves serious consideration!

sheeprunner12 6 years, 6 months ago

How much USD remittances does Haiti receive from Cayman, TCI, Bahamas, USA and Canada per month/year???????? ........... Well, we already do more for them than is humanly necessary........ The Haitian Government needs to do better.

ashley14 6 years, 6 months ago

That's the problem, Their Government! Evidently Trump feels much of the same. I don't think he was being racist last week with his statement. He doesn't mind immigrants that bring something to our society. Not drain it. Once your in the States, our government will house, feed and treat you medically if you need it. Let's not forget educate your children. We bus all of the children to and from school. Feed them breakfast and lunch. No cost. Educate them even if they don't know the language. We pay to teach them English then main stream them with everyone else. I am given a new student that knows no English, in less than a year they learn the language. They then advance at the same pace of everyone else. It's great to watch them develop so fast.

TalRussell 6 years, 6 months ago

Ma Comrade Braddas, I'm a big advocate for government sign over the ownership Kanaval to Haitian Flag Day...leaving Junkanoo be held but once yearly, not twice but run 10 days.

charl 6 years, 6 months ago

ha ha ha he he he ahhhhhh I am a fishermen. I have been looking with great amazement at life in this Bahamas. We allow those with the least concern or the least dealings with the subject matter to have the most influence on them. We are his little pet project. The things that he is trying to accomplish he does not and will not live with results. Then he will blame us for not being appreciative of the changes that have been thrust upon us. In an era when almost every country on the globe are more heavily regulating (not restricting) emigration, for security, societal and many other reasons, this man thinks that he knows different. However, I am weary when I hear of these extremes. Sometimes they are proposed to make us accept ideas that otherwise would be less palatable.

sealice 6 years, 6 months ago

great plan - make a little Haiti, get em all in one place, then round every single last one up and maybe get so many you cull the population?? Great idea Fred thanks .....make sure Marvin gets the details in triplicate.....

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