Government in Bed With Straw Vendors?

Sunday 10th, October 2010 / 10:30 Published by

According to the PLP, the illegal actions of the straw vendors being held in the United States were done with the “complicity” of the Bahamian government. Therefore the government should pay the vendor’s bail and provide unprecedented assistance.

From a statement by PLP MPs Alfred Sears and Fred Mitchell:

“The incontrovertible and easily verifiable facts are that the counterfeit goods are sold in a government-owned and sponsored market. The vendors are issued business licenses by the government, they have licenses to have booths in the market and the vendors, when they bring their goods in, declare their goods and pay custom duty to The Bahamas government.”

Now, it is easy to dismiss the PLP’s comments as typical anti-FNM-government rhetoric. However, even though they are probably just using this as a political football, there might be something to the accusations that the Bahamas government is complicit in the trafficking of counterfeit goods.

Remember back in 2006, Bahamian government officals, including Customs officers, raided a warehouse full of counterfeit products. They confiscated thousands of fake designer handbags and other knock-off goods. Two persons were charged but no one was ever prosecuted. The owner of the goods, a Chinese national with Bahamian status, pleaded ignorant saying he did not know that the counterfeit designer goods were illegal. Of course, that shouldn’t have mattered as ignorance of the law is no excuse. Besides, while he might not have known the goods were illegal, Bahamian government officials and Customs authorities certainly did.

Thus, after that date, it is not too difficult to follow the logic that any and all counterfeit bags allowed to pass through Customs, or openly and freely displayed in the straw market, might be considered as having tacit government approval.

Further, by collecting duties on products known to be illegal, the government of the Bahamas could be seen as having received the proceeds of crime.

By failing to swiftly prosecute the Chinese owner of the illegal goods and stamp out the sale of counterfeit products in the straw market, the Bahamas government, again, seemed to be condoning the sale of counterfeit merchandise, while highlighting the dysfunctional justice system in The Bahamas. (That’s a subject for another article.)

Therefore, the government of the Bahamas may not only be implicated in the crimes of the vendors, it could be construed as being part of a larger conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit products.

In the United States, this could fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO Act or RICO). Under that law, racketeering activity includes counterfeiting and fraud.

But the plot thickens.

In an editorial in the Tribune, the editor refers to a letter from former Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Thompson:

“In a letter written to us yesterday, retired assistant commissioner of police, Paul Thompson, who is still in the police reserve, told us that at the time of the raid he called one of his senior police friends. He told his friend that if the police were to do a proper job they would now have to move on to the straw market and clear the shelves of the same illegal goods there. Mr Thompson was told that that was what the police had planned to do. However, he said, the police got a call from “a senior official in government”, who told them to drop the idea of a raid and give the vendors an opportunity to sell the goods.”

Whoa! If it was indeed “a senior official in government”, then the Bahamas government did actually “condone” the selling of the bags. The PLP was in power at the time but that does not make it a PLP decision. It was a Bahamas government decision made by a member of the (then) ruling PLP party who, right or wrong, was acting with the full authority of the Bahamas govermnment.

The fact that there is even ONE counterfeit bag in the straw market today, after what happened in New York, makes a damning statement as to the complicity and criminality of the Bahamas government, no matter which selfish political party is in charge.

An ethical government, one not rooted in criminality, would have swept that market clean of illegal merchandise the day after the arrests in NYC.

They would also shut down Super Video while they are at it.

Could the PLP be right? Is the Bahamas government complicit in the trafficking of counterfeit goods?

What do you think?  Is there logic to this line of thinking or am I full of beans?  Let me know what you think by commenting below.

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21 Comments on “Government in Bed With Straw Vendors?

  • One has to only go to Canal Street in NYC to see an American version of the straw market with counterfeit Gucci, Coach and others.

  • Agreed Annick, but then our dilemma would be – who could we elect? The “fresh blood” so-to-speak is already tainted and one look at today’s Bahamian youth is enough to scare anyone if that’s where our future is headed. Their attitudes, morales and ethics are seriously warped.

  • If we all agree that our govenment is corrupt, why do we keep re-electing these people? It’s time to make volte face and disappoint the whole lot.

  • The PLP is absolutely and irrevocably up to it’s neck in this. This parlous state of affairs began on their watch.
    Sadly the FNM has done nothing about it since being in power so they too are just as guilty.

    The Bahamas then, one has to draw the conclusion, has a bunch of immoral politicians running it, which is a very sad state of affairs.
    Meantime the world may wake up to what a crime infested place the Bahamas is and then tourists will stop coming.

    The Bahamas cannot compete on the world tourism stage as it is and is losing ground fast. It is expensive, dirty, shabby, dangerous, and full of people whose attitude should never be presented in the front line to tourists.

    The Bahamas future seems to be “Buy your knock offs and counterfeits and bootlegs here!”. You might as well sing from the rooftops “Crime is better in the Bahamas”. Perhaps COB should introduce a new degree course of how to be a successful criminal.

    There are nicer, safer, cheaper, places to go in the world.

    This matter is a big “deal with it” wake up call to all Bahamians who are tarred with the same brush of criminality by their Government condoning what is happening.

    • The Bahamas is beyond corrupt. It is far worse than the Turks where the British government threw the crooked polticians out, disbanded the Constitution and took back over the country. The same thing needs to happen in the Bahamas but it is a sovereign country. Only intense pressure from the outside will make the corrupt politicians act right. That’s sda that they have no scruples of their own.

  • Why do we wonder why the Bahamas is a crime infested country when, from Executive Government/Police/Defense Force/Judiciary/to Religious Leadership, a blind eye can be turned to any crime and more often than not it is a question of who committed it than what was committed. Our cooler is coming though because we can’t continue to exist in a civilised world when we allow uncivilised behaviour to go unchallenged. Yes, the Government and all of the above are complicit by their collective silence. Complicit meaning that they are as guilty as the ones now formally charged for the crime.

  • We all know that when certain persons travel they do this when one of their friends is working at customs, this way they can walk right thru without paying any duty. I have seen this time and time again. Bahamians with very large amounts of luggage paying no duty.

  • Wolhard v. Krageneck

    and so what ? is there a solution ? you wanna get a new set of citizens imported from Africa? The Bahamas has ALWAYS been a FAKE, fake quality, fake untrained service staff, fake justices, fake currency, fake foods, fake “real” estate prices, fake casinos, fake accountants, lawyers and fake banks. Fake Gucci bags were always the smallest nails in that out-growing coffin. It’s a sunny place for shady people. thats all. Enjoy the conch, at least was not bribed.

  • While the comments about the Bahamian government are valid, I have difficulty in understanding the position of the U.S. government as it appears to allow the open sale of the counterfeit goods witghout doing anything about that.

    This attitude reminds me of the recent report about the massive amount of illegal weapons found in Mexico, Jamaica (and the Bahamas too, no doubt) which are all traced backed to suppliers in the U.S.A.

    • Stephen, Thanks for your comment but I think you are mistaken. The U.S., especially NYC, is adamant about stopping the counterfeit trade. The Bahamian vendors knew who to contact in NYC to buy the illegal goods. This trip was set up in advance, which is why it is deemed a conspiracy.

    • As a former US Customs worker I had firsthand knowledge involving conducting raids on vendors who deal with illegal goods and have made many arrest. Just like any other illegal goods for profit such as bootleg CD’s, DVD’s, guns and drugs you know how hard it is to wipe it off the map. So for all of you who think the US condones it you are 100% wrong.

  • You hit the nail on the head! I think the United States government is going to get the vendors to testify in open court that the Bahamas government allowed them to sell these bags and even collected duties upon their import. That could make the government complicit and could certainly change the game for the Bahamas as it relates to full WTO status.

    • It will at least give the US some negotiating power with the Bahamas against any Chinese initiatives in the UN.

    • Tell the truth and the truth shall set you free, so much illegal things have been going on in the Bahamas and this is why I left, it is so sad that both Government parties are not doing what is best for the country and by the people, and they in all of it are blinded by their actions.

      I remember as a young lady growing up there and the pain and suffering that I had to indure and no one to turn to, and this is why I left. Do I miss the Bahamas, yes I do but not the way that you are treated if your family is not Miss so & so. I pray that something would happen for the world to see the Bahamian Government for what they truly are.

  • Dr. Dexter Johnson

    Unfortunately Bahamian history demonstrates just how this country has always condoned illegal action while at the same time giving lip service to being a christian country. Real honesty at all levels has never managed to surface for any length of time. Easy money has always been accepted, and a true ethic of hard work has never been promoted by any government since self-government in 1965!

    Of course government is guilty of complicity in at least turning a blind eye to the violation of international copyright. The problem is that popularity is more valued by the so called leaders than doing what is right, and political parties want to stay in power. So they pander to the lowest of standards and refuse to stand for honest and integrity.

    Can the Bahamas ever become a honest country… not as long as greed for power dominates the political scene. The PLP is just as guilt as the FNM, so where is the change to come from in a system that rewards cronies, family, and personal friends and ignores those with merit.

    Face it…this is a borderline criminal country from top to bottom, and the goverment is the biggest part of the problem!

      • I do agree with you Buckles, God is finally allowing the world to see their greed and curuption. I only wish that my Mom was still alive to see this, before she died she said to me, I quote, “That Bahamas is going to pay for what they stole from me” she was 86 years old and they treated my Mom so badly as hard as she worked and the little money that she was getting from National Insurance the Government stold from her. I am so happy that I saw what they was about and left at the age of 20 and took my Bahamian son with me he was 17 months old and he’s serving in the US Army.

    • I must agree with you Dr. Johnson. I for one do agree with your statement. I was born in the Bahamas and left at the tender age of 20 because of the corruption in the Government.

      Most Bahamains refused to admit the situation there, and stand by their beloved Government. As for me I can truly say that the Bahamas is far beyond corruption.

      In 2003 I traveled to Nassau, to bring my Mom back to the States with me, and when I found out about her National Insurance benefits it was in 2007, and they refused to pay me the back payment that they owed her. In conclusion The Bank of The Bahamas stole the little pension that they was giving her.

      You ask the question “Can the Bahamas ever become an honest country?” Coming from a Bahamian living in the US. “Hell NO”

    • What we have is a society of corruption. Because we are such a small nation the corruption has infiltrated all levels from top government officials down to the families who benefit from the proceeds of criminal activities.

      In today’s Bahamas turning a blind eye for a bribe isn’t even considered a wrongdoing anymore and as long as you can justify your actions – “just making a living” – everything is peachy.


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