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2005-05-09 16:57:23

Mitchell: No Referendum on CSME

Despite clamouring from trade organisations, top businessmen and many politicians, Minister says referendum is not necessary.

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell is battling on several fronts to dismiss calls for a public referendum on the Bahamas' participation in the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Minister Mitchell claims the excercise would be a costly waste of time and that past decisions, of even greater significance, have not been put to a public vote.

Before the Bahamas became independent in 1973, a referendum was not called; another major move was taken by the administration in 1994 to begin negotiations along with other countries in this hemisphere (except for Cuba) to establish the FTAA.

But as the talk surrounding the CSME intensifies, more Bahamians are saying they want a stake in determining what path the country takes.

The PLP came to power on a promise of "consensus and broad-based consultancy with the Bahamian people." However, some Bahamians feel that the government is trying to ram the CSME down their throats.

Others are worried that a public poll could have the same disasterous results that occurred when the FNM held a referendum on women's rights contained in the Bahamas Constitution.

In that case, the noble attempt to correct the injustices in the Bahamian Constitution was defeated by ignorant Bahamians who believe women should not be given the same rights as men.

Editor's Note: Before we get a ton of mail from ignorant Bahamians, we want to point out that there is a big difference between ignorant and stupid. The word used above was ignorant, which means a "lack of knowledge" and has no bearing on the intelligence of individuals.

Some think that the people calling for a referendum are motivated by politics, or they want to take advantage of the ignorance of many Bahamians on the particulars of the CSME to futher their own business interests. They know that a referendum on the matter would be defeated because of the fear and misunderstanding that surrounds the rather simple decision.

For more information on the subject, or to join a discusion on the CSME, visit the Bahamas Message Board

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