Letters

A slap in the face

Dear Editor,

One has to wonder which country the prime minister and the minister of tourism govern.

The prime minister casually exempts himself from COVID travel requirements along with that for members of the press, public officers, including his police security detail, and airplane pilots, in order for him to cut a ribbon on a dock in Exuma while everyone in Exuma remains in their homes owing to an island-wide COVID-related lockdown.

He brought a senior citizen out of lockdown to stand next to him for the ribbon cutting – obviously, all for a photograph for press publication.

Cheap politicking at the expense of the taxpayer and a slap in the face of the homebound citizenry!

The dock could be used without the ribbon cutting and/or the ribbon could be cut virtually.

After all, weddings with friends have been denied; funeral services have been banned from churches; restaurant eating has been severely curtailed; coconut water vendors have been arrested, found guilty of violating COVID regulations, fined, and become the owners of police records – branded as criminals; families celebrate major events with virtual activities and, so on, ad infinitum, it seems.

But a bit of public-financed, absolutely unnecessary grandstanding has to go on.

And to cap it off for the PM, he goes on a jaunt, entourage in tow, for obviously political campaign visits to Rum Cay and Cat Island where there was open personal interacting with the populace by the PM and his entourage while none of them were required to produce COVID-negative test results or to do any quarantining!

To accuse the prime minister of being tone-deaf is to offer a kindness.

He knows exactly what he is doing.

One rule for him and his cabal, and another for the rest of the citizenry.

This is reprehensible and a gross insult to everyone and, dare I say, ethically corrupt.

Not to mention the casual potential exposure by someone in the entourage who may be infected by COVID-19 to the citizenry of Rum Cay and Cat Island.

At least most of the citizenry of Exuma were not permitted to place themselves in harm’s way – except, of course, for the administrator and Exuma-based police officers who would have been required to be present!

And then along came Dionisio D’Aguilar, who, after three years in Cabinet, has not learned that The Bahamas is not just New Providence and Grand Bahama.

He, apparently, has not taken the time to learn about how thousands of citizens live in our many islands.

No private doctor would set up a clinic in San Salvador, Rum Cay, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, and all the cays in Exuma, Abaco, Andros, and Grand Bahama where folks live and depend on a public clinic usually headed by a nurse with a visiting doctor.

There is simply no way for a private medical practitioner to make a living of any sort just from a medical practice on any of these.

There would be a serious challenge on other islands as well.

So, the public clinic, as currently staffed, is what he should have known is what there was to work with and have properly prepared for it.

But then again this would have required a plan!

I apologize for the use of that four-letter word.

Minister D’Aguilar is known for speaking to the moment as in, “I don’t know exactly which islands, but I know there were a couple, for example, the more remote islands – Long Island, Cat Island, San Salvador, of course, MICAL, all those islands down there.”

How insulting – “all those islands down there”.

The entire southern region of our country is dismissed as just an afterthought and not at all important.

And where was the minister of health while time was passing leading to the November 1st opening?

Apparently, the “trained engineer” minister was asleep, as he responded to a Guardian reporter’s question with this piece of brilliance: “When contacted about the lack of antigen testing capability and waivers being given, Minister of Health Renward Wells said, ‘That’s not my understanding.’”

He told The Guardian he would “investigate and revert”.

So, the Ministry of Tourism arranged for the “executive director of the Industry Facilitation Division at the Ministry of Tourism” to grant “waivers” for “the COVID-19 emergency order requires people entering The Bahamas to undergo a rapid antigen test five days after arriving with a negative molecular RT-PCR test result”.

From whom did they receive this authority?

Was it the so-called competent authority or was it from the Ministry of Health?

Will the minister of tourism confirm who gave the permission to the tourism officer to waive COVID requirements?

Is she a trained medical practitioner able to make this critical decision in our interest?

I believe that we, the people of The Bahamas, deserve more information from a government that promised and touts its “transparency”.

If not, they may find themselves accused of using the big word without knowing its meaning.

– Philip P. Smith

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