Monday, May 07, 2007

The Bahamas in the News

Having survived the turbulent transition period between semesters, I will briefly summarize some of the major issues and events that have taken place in the Bahamas that I've not had time to blog on during the past several weeks.

First and foremost in the news has been last week's elections. This years election was notable for a number of reasons including: (1) the ruling PLP party was defeated after only one term in office, making it the first political party in Bahamian history to NOT be reelected for at least one additional term of office. (2) The newly elected prime minister Hubert Ingraham previously served in that position from 1992-2002, making him the first Bahamian to serve non-consecutive terms as PM. (3) This is the first election in which the winning party achieved victory by a narrow margin rather than a landslide. Click here and here to read what Bahamian commentators are saying about the this year's elections.

One of the criticisms in the run-up to the elections was that there was too much negative campaigning and no substantive discussion of the issues of the day. Nevertheless, at least some groups of private citizens attempted to introduce discussion of key issues into the public debate. The Bahamas Human Rights Network, for example, ran a full-page ad in all three of Nassau's major dailies, exhorting voters to ask their candidates where they stood on a variety of human rights issues. Another group, the Coalition of Pastors for Transparency, attempted to conduct a survey of each candidate's position on a variety of moral issues and then publish the results in the local newspapers as a resource for voters.

Over Easter weekend, the newly formed Bahamas Human Rights Network held a candlelight vigil to remember the lives of Haitian migrants who drowned off of Exuma in March and Eight Mile Rock in early April. Amongst other things, the vigil generated some positive publicity for the group's efforts as well drawing criticism from a Bahamian government official for calling on the international community to cancel Haiti's debt instead of seeking international assistance for Bahamian efforts to repatriate undocumented Haitian immigrants.

A large Haitian squatter settlement near Marsh Harbour, Abaco was ravaged by a major fire in late March. The government's Urban Renewal program, the Red Cross, and other humanitarian organizations have been attempting to provide assistance to the Haitians who lost their homes and belongings in the fire.

Last week, in two separate incidents, unarmed civilians were shot by police. One was a man who was accused of stealing a small amount of candy and money from a vendor on Arawak Cay. He was shot in the back while trying to escape from the police. The second was a Haitian immigrant who was shot by a Defense Force officer during a routine apprehension of undocumented immigrants. The Bahamas Human Rights Network, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, and Amnesty International have spoken out against these incidents and raised questions about the lack of transparency and failure to rely on independent review boards when investigating such incidents of police misconduct.

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At Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 6:45:00 AM EST , Blogger Té la mà Maria said...

irreverent, iconoclastic e liberty



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