New York Times Maledictions on The Bahamas

Go Lean Commentary

In this context, the word malediction simply means “bad” or “damning” words. It is not calling down a curse on a subject, but rather the reporting of an unbecoming characteristic. The Bahamas has done “bad” and the New York Times is telling the world.

But this is New York, not the Bahamas; why should this matter?

The New York Times is more than just the newspaper for the Tri-State metropolitan area surrounding New York City (35 million people); nicknamed for years as “The Gray Lady“, the New York Times is long regarded within the industry as a national “newspaper of record“.[6] The paper’s print version remains the largest metropolitan newspaper in the United States. Its motto is “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, which appears in the upper left-hand corner of the front page.CU Blog - NY Times Malecdiction on The Bahamas - Photo 7

If a student wants to do research on the 1892 American Recession for instance, (the paper has printed continuously since September 18, 1851), this one only has to retrieve the archives of the New York Times for that period.

Over its history, the New York Times has been awarded 114 different Pulitzer Prizes for Excellence in Journalism. Pulitzer Prizes have previously been awarded to journalists reporting on human trafficking and illegal migrations – See VIDEO below – it is an ignoble accomplishment to be put into this focus.

A front-page story, above the fold, about a small 320,000 populated nation in this paper is by all means an earth-shattering occurrence. Bahamas, you have done “bad” to garner this type of coverage, right in the middle of your #1 tourist market during the peak tourist season.

The article print date is Saturday January 31, only a few days after vicious Winter Storm Juno pelted the Northeast United States, (shutting down all of Manhattan), now to be followed by another (Artic Blast) storm currently lambasting the Mid-West (Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, etc.) but heading eastward towards NYC. Drawing attention to a tropical resort destination like the Bahamas in the middle of such uninviting winter weather should be a bonus of free publicity. But alas, the New York Times article is a malediction!

This is also “on the heel” of a demand to “boycott Bahamas tourism” by certain fractions in Miami, Florida.

The purpose of this commentary is more than just newspapers and maledictions, but rather the acknowledgement that perhaps, the boycott-cause is gaining traction. Anyone from this Caribbean country, as is the case of this writer, may be timid with the characterization of supporting a cruel, inhumane – though legal – regime in his homeland. The constitution in the Bahamas do not award citizenship to babies born in the Bahamas to non-national parents. This is the standard – jus solis – in the US and in Canada. This standard obviously shades the American newspaper’s view of the Bahamas domestic policies.

There are so many issues with this New York Times story that aligns with the book Go Lean…Caribbean. The book serves as a roadmap for elevating Caribbean society and the economic, security and governing engines. The roadmap introduces the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), asserting that the problems besetting the region are too big for any one Caribbean member-state to tackle alone. That rather, there is a need for a super-national solution. Considering the details of the following article, a number of countries have been struggling with this same issue: Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Island, Dominican Republic, etc. The actual New York Times story about Haitian immigrants is as follows:

Title 1: Immigration Rules in Bahamas Sweep Up Haitians
By: Frances Robles – January 30, 2015

NASSAU, BahamasKenson Timothee was walking down the street when a uniformed officer asked him a question that sends Bahamians of Haitian descent like him into a panic these days: Do you have a passport?

Mr. Timothee, who was born in the Bahamas to illegal Haitian immigrants, wound up jailed in immigration detention for six weeks. He is one of hundreds of people swept up in a fiercely debated new immigration policy in the Bahamas requiring everyone to hold a passport, a rule that human rights groups say unfairly targets people of Haitian descent.

CU Blog - NY Times Malecdiction on The Bahamas - Photo 2Mr. Timothee had proof that he was born in the Bahamas, but because he had trouble obtaining his absentee father’s birth certificate, his application for Bahamian citizenship was never completed.

“I showed them that I had applied for citizenship, but they said that wasn’t good enough; as far as they are concerned, you are not Bahamian, you are Haitian, and you need to get deported,” Mr. Timothee said. “I don’t know anything about Haiti.”

On Thursday, the Bahamian government announced that the new policy would go a step further: By next Fall, schools will be asked to ensure that every child has a student permit. The annual $125 permit and a passport with a residency stamp will be required even of children born in the Bahamas who do not hold Bahamian citizenship.

The tough new policy echoes similar stances around the region, where new citizenship policies and anti-immigration measures have overwhelmingly affected Haitians, who are fleeing the hemisphere’s poorest country and are the most likely group to migrate illegally in great numbers. The top court in the Dominican Republic ruled in 2013 that the children of illegal immigrants, even if they are born in the country, did not have the right to citizenship.

Facing an international backlash, the Dominican government came up with a plan to prevent tens of thousands of people from becoming stateless, but months later, few people had managed to complete the process. With few successes to tout, in October the Dominican government extended the application period for another three months.

In Turks and Caicos, a top immigration official vowed early in 2013 to hunt down and capture Haitians illegally in the country, promising to make their lives “unbearable.” The country had already changed its immigration policies in 2012, making it harder for children of immigrants to obtain residency. Last year, Turks and Caicos said it would deploy drones to stop Haitian migration.

In Brazil, politicians considered closing a border with Peru last year to stem the tide of Haitians, and last month, Canada announced that it would resume deporting Haitians.

Here in the Bahamas, Mr. Timothee’s arrest coincided with stepped-up immigration raids in predominantly Haitian shantytowns, where people who lacked passports or work permits were apprehended. When illegal immigrants ran from officers, the agents knocked down doors and took their children, and the photos of toddlers being carried away circulated widely on social media.

Since the policy took effect November 1, children born in the Bahamas have been deported with their parents, and others with Haitian-sounding names have been pulled from school classrooms, human rights observers said. The government acknowledges that even Bahamian citizens with French surnames are frequently arrested by mistake. In September alone, 241 Haitians were deported, according to government figures.

Though 85 percent of Bahamians support the new policy according to one poll, it has set off a round of international condemnation. A Florida legislator called for a tourism boycott of the Bahamas and organized a protest at the nation’s Miami consulate. Citing some of the more alarming cases, including that of a pregnant Haitian woman who gave birth on an immigration detention center floor aided only by other detainees, several international groups have asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to intervene.

Immigration officials in the Bahamas say their policies do not target any particular group, provide a better sense of who is living in their country, and could deter thousands of Haitian migrants from taking to the high seas each year in boats that often sink.

“We had situations where 100 people were showing up every day; that’s unsustainable,” said Frederick A. Mitchell, the Bahamian foreign minister. “That situation had spiraled out of control.”

Annette M. Martínez Orabona, director of the Caribbean Institute for Human Rights, said she recently visited the Bahamas to investigate the new policy, arguing that it fit into a broad context of immigration crackdowns in the region.

“It’s all guided by discriminatory practices toward persons of Haitian origin,” she said.

Children like Mr. Timothee’s 5-year-old daughter are in a particularly precarious legal situation, she said. If nationality is passed down by blood and Mr. Timothee has no citizenship, then what passport would his daughter get?

“The third generation is in a black hole,” Ms. Martínez said.

In the Bahamas, the Constitution says that people born there to parents who were not citizens have the right to apply for citizenship between their 18th and 19th birthdays. In a country where one in 10 Bahamians is of Haitian descent, many people never apply, and others face years of administrative delays, leaving an untold number of people in the country without documentation.CU Blog - NY Times Malecdiction on The Bahamas - Photo 5

The new policy forces them to apply for a passport from their parents’ country of origin. Americans who have children in the Bahamas regularly get United States passports for them, and this is no different, Mr. Mitchell said.

“There’s nothing wrong with being Haitian,” Mr. Mitchell said.

But the people affected by the new policy are leery of obtaining citizenship from Haiti, a country most of them have never visited.

“It’s a trick,” said Fred R. Smith, a civil rights lawyer in the Bahamas who has become the policy’s most vocal critic. “Once you apply for a Haitian passport, you’re already a citizen of another country, and you no longer fit into a category where the Bahamas is under an obligation to give you citizenship. You are no longer stateless.”

He said the government had routinely descended on an area, apprehended a few hundred people, and “hauled off” anyone who could not produce papers on the spot. The majority of detainees are released when their relatives or employers come to the detention center with their paperwork.

CU Blog - NY Times Malecdiction on The Bahamas - Photo 3Some people have been deported even though they were born in the Bahamas. People like Mr. Timothee, whose citizenship status is pending, wind up in limbo. Others, like Rose St. Fleur, have been sent home with an admonishment to carry their paperwork.

Ms. St. Fleur, a 29-year-old Bahamian citizen, said she had been picked up twice since October. She was 32 weeks pregnant when neighbors watched agents drag her down the street onto a bus, she and her neighbors said.

“When they asked me my name and I told them, they said, ‘That’s a foreign last name,’ ” Ms. St. Fleur said. “I told them, ‘Yes, but I am a Bahamian citizen.’ ” She said they replied, “You still have to come with us.”

Many people have not been able to obtain documents because the paperwork required, including certified copies of both parents’ birth certificates, is difficult to obtain. The Haitian government, itself crippled by political infighting and a halting recovery from the earthquake five years ago, has been unable to speedily produce records for the hundreds of thousands of people in the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas who are suddenly in need of decades-old birth records.

Because of delays in obtaining Haitian passports, thousands of Bahamians are now at risk of having no nationality at all.

“The person who may have a delay in getting papers is not stateless,” Dwight L. Beneby, the Bahamas’ assistant director of immigration. “It’s not that we’re trying to get rid of people or trying to get out of giving them citizenship. If you are here, let’s know who you are.”

Francois Guillaume II, who was Haiti’s minister of Haitians living abroad when the policy was announced, said the new policy came without warning.

CU Blog - NY Times Malecdiction on The Bahamas - Photo 6“It’s troubling when we have cases of people who have never lived in Haiti and are sent to a country that is completely foreign to them,” said Mr. Guillaume, who lost his position in a recent ministerial shuffle. “It must be traumatizing for them.”

Most of the Bahamian-born deportees were children, but one was 18 years old, and it was unclear why she was not given the opportunity to seek legal residency, he said.

“I don’t think there is an anti-Haitian sentiment in the area; I believe there are countries experiencing social pressure and are trying to look for solutions,” Mr. Guillaume said. “Some solutions are rash. Sometimes they are politically motivated. Nonetheless, we hope the solutions respect international norms.”

Though the Bahamas immigration/nationality enforcement is “legal” per the country’s constitution, not everyone in the homeland approves of this policy. Note to the  New York Times: “The round-up of Bahamian-born Haitians is not universally concurred in the country”. This is a policy of the current government administration. There are non-government organizations (NGOs) and elected opposition officials that are vocal in their disagreements of this enforcement. (This Go Lean commentary remains apolitical). See a news article (snippet) here in that vein:

Title 2: Call To Bring Immigration Legislation to Parliament –
(Retrieved 01/30/2015 from:

ST ANNE’S MP Hubert Chipman yesterday renewed calls for legislation to be brought to Parliament to support the government’s new immigration policy.

Mr. Chipman, shadow minister for foreign affairs and immigration, said the only person who had a clear understanding of the policy was Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell, and questioned how the new policy has affected the department’s backlog of citizenship applications.

He said officials have put the “cart before the horse” by targeting migrant communities before modernizing infrastructure to process individuals.

These articles reflect the heavy-lifting burdens that the Caribbean member-states must address regarding nationality and immigration. Underlying to this issue among all the affected Caribbean member-states is the failing disposition of Haiti. The Go Lean…Caribbean book presents a Marshall Plan to re-boot Haiti. The consequence: a better Haiti to live, work and play. Only then will the citizens of Haiti, and the Caribbean as a whole, be less inclined to flee the homeland.

The Go Lean roadmap provides perhaps the ultimate resolution to this perplexing nationality processing problem, that of a regional entity, the CU, to streamline application processing. This would be an extension of the current CariCom passport process.

A key problem with this nationality issue is the current sensitivities of Jus soli (Latin: right of the soil) versus Jus sanguinis (Latin: right of blood). These points were detailed in a previous blog.

In the middle of the winter, the New York Times should be inciting its readers to flee the bitter cold and enjoy the hospitality of the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos and the Dominican Republic, yet instead the front page article is exposing the human rights shortcomings of these states’ nationality policies.

The Go Lean book and blogs addresses ways to better protect human rights. While this subject is not tried-and-true economics – the usual focus of this roadmap –  there is a correlation of satisfactory human rights records and American trade. The roadmap seeks to elevate all the engines of Caribbean society for a better homeland for the 42 million residents and 80 million visitors, across the 30 member-states. The CU, applying best-practices for community empowerment and human rights, has the following 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance, with consideration for minority equalization, to support these engines.

The Go Lean book details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to optimize the region’s economic landscape:

Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation Page 23
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Manage Reconciliations Page 34
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision –  Integrate region into a Single Market Economy Page 45
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Department of   Homeland Security Page 75
Implementation – Ways to Foster   International Aid Page 115
Planning – 10 Big Ideas … in the Caribbean Region – Haiti & Cuba Page 127
Planning – Ways to Ways to Model the EU – From Worst to First Page 130
Planning – Reasons Why the CU Will Succeed – Germany Reconciliation Model Page 132
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices – Cuba & Haiti on the List Page 134
Planning – Lessons from East Germany – European post-war rebuilding Page 139
Planning – Lessons from the US Constitution Page 145
Planning – Lessons from Canada’s History Page 146
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Empowering Immigration – Case Study of Indian Migrants Page 174
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice Page 178
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Protect Human Rights Page 220
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Cuba Page 237
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Dominican Republic Page 237
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Haiti Page 238

The message to the Caribbean leaders and planners is straight-forward: The US, New York Times and all American media, are watching and judging, based on their own standards. The goal of the Go Lean roadmap is to formulate the Caribbean region to be better American neighbors, a protégé status rather than the current parasite status. There is the need to re-focus on our populations in general – majority, minority, Black, White, French, English, etc.. Countries like the Bahamas, and Haiti for that matter, need “all hands on deck”, not less hands. Economic growth requires a growing population; (a previous report disclosed 70,000 Bahamians living illegally in the US).

We do not want to encourage migration nor facilitate it. Just the opposite, we simply want to encourage and facilitate citizens staying and contributing to their native homelands. We do not want to “fatten frogs for snake”, we want to elevate our own communities to be better places to live, work and play.

Now is the time for all the Caribbean to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap for Caribbean economic, security and governance elevation. Now is the time for all of the Caribbean to learn the lessons from other communities, (think Apartheid in South Africa). It is guaranteed: once the human rights issues are resolved, your society/community will soar.


Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


APPENDIX – VIDEO: Pulitzer Prizes on Human Trafficking

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