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Christie: Roker was a ‘law and order’ person

A Loftus Roker, pictured at Potters Cay Dock on September 8, 2023. Photo: Andrew Owen/COUNTRY SPECIAL REPORTS LTD (UK)

A Loftus Roker, pictured at Potters Cay Dock on September 8, 2023. Photo: Andrew Owen/COUNTRY SPECIAL REPORTS LTD (UK)

By EARYEL BOWLEG

Tribune Staff Reporter

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Prime Minister Perry Christie remembered the late Loftus Roker as a “law and order person” known for his commitment to “protecting and preserving” The Bahamas.

Mr Christie recalled getting to know Mr Roker, who died on Monday at the age of 88, in his youth and admiring his capabilities. 

Mr Roker was known for his strict approach to immigration enforcement. Mr Christie said the former minister had strong opinions which likely influenced Sir Lynden Pindling’s decision to appoint him minister of national security at the height of the drug era and a time of escalating illegal immigration from Haiti.

Mr Christie said Mr Roker “had a view that there was too much slackness on immigration matters and that there should be a stern approach, a rigorous approach, a very disciplined approach to the regulation of illegal migrants”.

He added: “His reputation preceded him in terms of his commitment to protecting and preserving The Bahamas as he saw it and as he would speak to that issue.”

Mr Roker affected The Bahamas in other ways too.

Mr Christie said he was a “great friend” of Ted Arison, the owner of Carnival Cruise Lines, and that the friendship led Mr Arison to build the Crystal Palace Hotel and Casino.

“Again, someone who was a stern figure, a strong figure, dynamic figure in Bahamian nationalistic politics and policies, Loftus Roker understood that The Bahamas could not exist without direct foreign investment and amongst some of the people who he knew was such investors who he befriended and became friends with,” Mr Christie said.

Recalling Mr Roker’s tenure as minister of national security and immigration, Mr Christie said: “Any minister in government has to present a policy to his colleagues, and his colleagues have to agree and share what was taking place. Roker was an enforcer of the policy, and he was known to, insofar as ministers are able to dictate enforcement, he was one of those persons who clearly was a law and order person.”

“Whatever the law provided for, Loftus Roker believed that is what he should be able to do, but I don’t want to separate Roker from his government because in all things, he never ever wanted to be identified with someone who was saying I did and this is what I did. He was never that kind of person.”

University of the Bahamas professor Dr Christopher Curry noted yesterday that a second wave of Haitian immigration impacted Mr Roker’s tenure as immigration minister.  “It’s really during this period that Baby Doc, who is Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was the dictator in Haiti, that you see massive amounts of Haitians fleeing to The Bahamas,” the historian noted. “That is the period when Loftus Roker is in charge.” 

“I have to say it like that because the influx was both people seeking somewhat of political relief, not quite political asylum, but relief from the dictatorship, despotic rule of Jean-Claude Duvalier and his father before him, François Duvalier.

“So that is where you have this massive influx of Haitians coming into The Bahamas, and so he’s trying to police our borders. Mind you, he is in a space where The Bahamas itself is a new sovereign nation; we’ve only been independent since 1971, and he’s leading an area that demands quite a lot of his attention.”

Comments

ExposedU2C 2 months ago

In the early 1970s, Pindling, Roker and McWeeney Sr. were instrumental to the PLP's very successful policy of creating generations of dumbed down D - educated voters with minimal ability to discern or question what is really most important for the well being of our nation. These fellas recognised early on that easily manipulated voters assured the ability of the PLP to keep political power for many years.

sheeprunner12 2 months ago

Sadly, Vomit Christie learnt NOTHING from Roker as he was the polar opposite in his political career compared to Roker.

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