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 Bahamas Commentary

2006-01-10 19:33:51

Crime "Out of Control"

Finally, socially prominent and politically well-connected Bahamians are saying what Bahamas B2B has been saying for years.

These are the times when the talk everywhere is about the latest crime wave.

Some of these voices -as we now know- are those of a number of socially prominent and politically well-connected Bahamians who are saying that crime is out of control.

They are also calling on the government to get tough on criminals. Their advocacy is for the law to be enforced without fear or favor. Indeed there is also heated talk about the need for the government to hang convicted murderers.

The new mantra in this so-called new fight against crime is zero-tolerance.

All we can say at this point is that Bahamians are very interesting people. No day passes when we are not fascinated by their capacity to simultaneously hold on as if for dear life itself to contradictory stories.

We are also convinced that this country country's social life is mired in contradiction.

On the one hand, there is tourist copy describes the country as "a nearby, dependable, and affordable tropical island paradise, The Bahamas has much to offer the U.S. traveler. This 700-island archipelago off the east coast of Florida gets more annual visitors (about four million) than any of the Caribbean areas to the south.

On the other hand, there is much evidence to support the conclusion that The Bahamas is also home to very many distressed, wretched, and dispossessed Bahamians, is another place altogether. It is a place where disease, destruction, and sudden death lurk, and where there is the ever-present chance for "all hell to break loose".

There is evidence that suggests that The Bahamas is a deeply conflicted place in that it is home to people who sometime seem as if they belong to two totally different societies.

There is also a sense in which The Bahamas is not only home to a highly sophisticated cadre of workers in the tourism and financial services sectors of the economy, but also home to thousands of working poor people, and some others who live by their wits or off the proceeds of crime.

There is for example so very much that Bahamians can be thankful for. There is absolutely no doubt that in the last three to four decades that there has been an increase in the quality of life for the vast majority of Bahamians.

The evidence is there for all to see in the guise of the millions of tourists who continue to arrive and who continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in The Bahamas.

There is also evidence of Bahamian good fortune to be found in a financial services sector that provides a good living to a goodly number of Bahamians. There is no gainsaying the fact that today's Bahamian has aspirations that call for them to do even better.

Our hunch is that herein we may find the secret to why it is that so very many Bahamians remain so very unhappy, so very angry and so terribly conflicted.

Bahamians may have been bitten by that American bug that compels its victims to believe that more is better and that more and bigger is even better than that, thus what now seems a national preoccupation with gluttony and excess.

Today's Bahamian has been weaned on the idea that they should have more and more of whatever exists, even when more work is not done or even offered. This may also explain how it comes to be that fewer and fewer Bahamians are prepared to do the really dirty work that must be done to keep a society going, thus the increasing prominence of migrant labor in those fields where people actually sweat and labor for their daily bread.

Paradoxically, some Bahamians have time enough on their idle hands to complain about this. Indeed no day passes when there is not some cry about how the Haitians or the Jamaicans or the Cubans or the Chinese or the Nigerians, or human beings of some other nationality or the other are not taking jobs that Bahamians do not want.

In the meantime, some of these Bahamians are settling scores among themselves. On occasion, reports surface concerning how some are chopped up. At other times, the report is about others who have been gunned down. And yet again, there are occasions when cars are used as murder weapons of choice.

This sorry state of affairs is evidence that a time-bomb is ticking away in the innards of this society. Urgent action is needed now if tragedy, catastrophe and social meltdown are to be avoided. 'Urgent Action' entails far more than earnest police officers being detailed to deliver lunches for little old ladies.

Editorial from The Bahama Journal

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