The Bahamas, both before colonialism as we know it and long before Columbus walked our shores, developed a dubious reputation as a land of pirates; a land of bootleggers; a land of land speculators; a land of white collar crime (fraud and corporate slight of hand, and a nation for sale).
The bulk of the players over the years has been foreigners and their Bahamian associates.
When prohibition was in full swing in the United States, The Bahama Islands were a known haven and facilitator for rum running from our shores into the United States.
Big profits were made and countless people, mostly Americans, lost their lives in the pursuit of financial gains. It is alleged that a few Bahamian families actually started their accumulation of fantastic wealth and privilege as a direct result of bootlegging and even gun running and smuggling of migrants into the US.
Long before this, Columbus his fellow Europeans and a handful of other nationals came over into this part of the world looking for gold and to establish cotton plantations and other profit generating businesses.
Black Africans were eventually imported. Some landed in the USA where they toiled day in and day out or were subjected to all sorts of inhumane treatments.
The males were beaten into submission and, it is said, that their females, inclusive of girls, were publicly raped right before their very eyes as a means of demoralizing them and forcing them into submission.
Much later came the fraudsters and white collar proponents. Many of us would recall British and Canadian “investors”. They “bought” huge tracts of land from the government of the day and, allegedly, swindled countless of uneducated and native Bahamians, out of land, which they then flipped while pocketing millions of dollars before abandoning developments.
Others came in and opened banks and insurance companies. A few even got casino licenses for a pittance and, allegedly, consultancy fees. Grand Bahama and Paradise Island were vital cogs in the wheel.
There were also the transnational drug dealers. Most of the smuggled narcotics was destined for the US, Canada and Europe. Unfortunately, many of their local allies themselves were partly compensated in duffle bags and kilos.
What they did not personally consume they sold or gave away to other locals. Thereafter, the phrase was coined: “A nation for sale” and the rest is history. Drug and turf wars became the order of those days as they are to this very day.
Our politicians, lawyers and law enforcement officers were complicit in numerous cases, facilitating drug trafficking without any concern or regard for the mental and societal consequences.
Bahamians were walking the local streets, mumbling to themselves and counting lamp poles. The rest were admitted to Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, incarcerated in Fox Hill prison or extradited to the United States.
The latest “growth” criminal industry is human smuggling and the importation of illegal ammunition and firearms.
It is my suspicion that these activities are being aided and abetted by some of our law enforcement officers and money launderers.
With the advent of digitalization and the emergence of crypto currency, it is inevitable that we shall see even more Greeks bearing gifts.
The Davis administration must ensure that due diligence is conducted on all incoming investors for whatever purposes. If it is to buy or flip a hotel or resort, due diligence. If it is an investor blowing his horn, due diligence.
— Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.