An ancient African proverb maintains that “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”.
The New York Times over the past weekend carried a well-researched and balanced story on its front page retelling the story of two mega wealthy magnates, neighbors in an exclusive enclave on New Providence, who have taken their argument over a common driveway to unusual lengths ensnaring ordinary, mostly poor underaged girls who have become pawns in their dispute.
Also brought center-stage in the stand-off between these feuding titans are politicians, including ministers of the government, law enforcement officers, politically well-connected operatives and money-bag men.
The story is well known to most Bahamians. It has tentacles on many fronts: in the fight to protect the seabed being encroached upon by one of the parties to the dispute in southwest New Providence in defiance of government and court orders; in efforts to buy influence by plying a political party with generous funding; in reports to the police about illegal use of sonic boom speakers; in bribery allegations, on the part of both sides, in efforts to shape and doctor witnesses’ allegations and in alleged bribes to entice law enforcement and other public officials to look the other way.
As these two elephants fight it is The Bahamas that suffers.
It is young Bahamian women and men who are being portrayed as pawns to the rich. And it is Bahamian politicians and law enforcement officials who are exposed as spineless and corrupt; the New York Times reminding us that a 2017 report by Transparency International records The Bahamas’ dismal record on reporting sexual abuse to a police force considered by some to be the most corrupt institution in the country.
One of the parties to the argument is a self-made fashion magnate with a self-promoted reputation as a lady’s man obsessed with recapturing his youth. The other is a staid business executive.
Over the years, news reports on aspects of this continuing tale have been extensively reported by The Nassau Guardian.
We covered extensively the court actions in The Bahamas whether dealing with the defiance of court orders to reinstate the natural coastline of the island or in relation to allegations of stolen emails, death threats and manufactured protest marches.
All these matters have also been amply covered in news and opinion pieces by The Tribune.
Most recently, that newspaper provided detailed coverage of allegations of sexual abuse by one of the parties being pursued in a New York court.
This was followed by a piece by an apologist for the last government and its leader, Perry Christie, suggesting a less than cordial relationship between the former leader and the fashion magnate.
The statement issued by the PLP following the publication of the lawsuit in New York was implausible at best.
The absence of comment by the government is surprising, particularly after the minister for national security claimed that the allegations were being investigated by the police. He, too, is presumably unaware of the photographs of Bahamas police vehicles at the gates of the fashion mogul’s estate exhibited in the court action in New York.
The New York Times on Tuesday morning reported that an FBI task force raided the corporate headquarters of the fashion mogul in New York City seeking evidence in a sex trafficking investigation.
It is this paper’s view that if the allegations now being made have merit, the matter ought to be handed over to the police to conduct a thorough investigation in regard to all of the allegations.
Let the chips fall where they may.
There is a view in some social media circles that this newspaper is not granting the sleaze story of the fashion magnate’s travails in New York sufficient play in The Bahamas and that this amounts to suppressing the news.
Others say that by not regurgitating these stories, that this paper is nothing but a mouthpiece of the opposition party.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
It appears that such commentators are anxious to have their own views on the dispute between the parties validated by The Nassau Guardian.
The Nassau Guardian reports all news that is “fit to print”.
We live our mantra: “Be at peace with all mankind but at war with their vices.”