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 Bahamas Commentary

2003-06-27 16:20:17

A Culture Of Crime

Two decades ago, Bahamians awoke to the reality that their country had been invaded by a motley assortment of gangsters.

While we cannot make any direct reference to anything which is currently happening in the courts, we reiterate our fears concerning the drift The Bahamas seems to be taking in the earliest years of this new century. High on that list of concerns is our fear that a generation of Bahamians who have come of age in the bad years may not have the fortitude and moral substance to withstand the blandishments of new gangsters who would wish to continue to use The Bahamas as an export platform for their criminal enterprises.

Two decades ago, Bahamians awoke to the reality that their country had been invaded by a motley assortment of gangsters. Some of them went to great lengths to buy influence so as to shape state response to their criminal activities. It took two major Commissions of Inquiry to reveal the massive extent to which The Bahamas had been corrupted.

Of equal concern was the fact that some of the criminal activities involved the importation of cocaine, marijuana and other illicit drugs. This, in turn, led to the development of a criminalized substratum of 'druggies' and 'jonesers'.

We are absolutely convinced that there remains a large reservoir of deeply troubled sick people in this country, and that their distresses continue to ramify throughout Bahamian society. When HIV-AIDS and guns are added to the mix, one gets a better understanding of the nature of the toxic brew which continues to cause so much distress in today's Bahamas. Our guess is that there is no Bahamian family which has not been touched by the drugs trade and its attendant evils.

On the other side of that dreadful ledger are the substantial economic gains made by a sophisticated cadre of drugs dealers and the professionals who facilitate their activities. This, too, was copiously documented in the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry which was called to look into these and related matters.

What is interesting today is that there are tens of thousands of young Bahamians who were born in the late seventies and early eighties who know no other reality then that of endemic crime, persistent reports of drug use and abuse and perennially gloomy concerns about HIV-AIDS and gun violence. In other words, that generation of Bahamians born in the midst of the drugs crisis are themselves oblivious to its continuing ravages.

Indeed, there is now emerging evidence to suggest that a cynical and jaded generation of Bahamians have developed within its ranks an attitude towards life, which sees little outrage in anything. There is also disturbing evidence suggesting that many young Bahamians are prepared to do practically anything at anytime if it would assist them in 'getting over'. To say the least, this is no way to build a nation.

Finally, Peace In The Middle East?

There is today hopeful news to the effect that peace in the Middle East might yet be given a chance.

As reported from Jerusalem by Dan Perry and Karin Laub: "Islamic extremists agreed to halt attack on Israelis for three months, Palestinian negotiators said Wednesday. But the tenuous deal was immediately undercut by an Israeli air strike and Hamas treat of revenge.

Ending 33 months of violence is a necessary prelude to the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan aimed at establishing a Palestinian state by 2005.

Despite the truce accord, which some Hamas officials denied, there was no sign of a letup in the bloodletting. Four Palestinians were killed in Gaza, including two in a helicopter attack that Israel said was aimed at a squad preparing to launch rockets.

President Bush reacted coolly to reports of a cease-fire signed by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Yasser Arafat's Fatah. "I'll believe it when I see it," he said at a Washington news conference, echoing Israel in insisting that the real test is whether Palestinian security forces will disarm extremist groups.

Israeli officials said Wednesday that a truce was an internal Palestinian issue and they would judge the Palestinian Authority solely on results. Officials have been highly sceptical of the truce idea, fearing it is a ploy to enable extremists to regroup for more attacks.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has ruled out force to disarm the groups, fearing it could lead to a civil war.

The emerging deal was shrouded in some confusion, with Hamas leaders in the Palestinian areas strenuously denying it has been finalized. Its fate was further thrown into question by the Israeli air strike, which killed two bystanders in the Gaza strip."

Only time will tell if this is finally the beginning of the end of a bloody cycle of violence, which has destroyed the lives of so many innocent people.

Editorial, The Bahama Journal 

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