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‘Haitian underground’

There are roughly 900 people living in three shantytowns across North Andros, where animal sacrifices are commonly practiced, according to a sworn affidavit by a former chief councilor.

“At present in North Andros, there are three large shantytown[s] of Haitian residents containing Haitian individuals totaling each about 300 to 400 Haitian residents each and several other smaller areas and various Haitians living in the bushy areas in North Andros,” said Peter Douglas, 60, in the document which was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

He added, “…These communities have their own church, that is to say, a place of worship. I have not attended any of these churches for worship but I am advised and I do believe that the worship is Voodoo, having chicken and goat sacrifice and marijuana is regularly grown.

“The sanitation is by plastic bucket with the contents thrown into the bushes.”

Douglas said he has lived in Fresh Creek, Andros, for most of his adult life.

He is asking the Supreme Court to ensure that the laws of The Bahamas are enforced, to remove the shantytowns, deport the Haitians who reside there without status and lift any injunction protecting the communities.

“For the past 10 years, I regularly visit these shantytowns about twice per month,” he said.

“My experience is that the Haitian residents of the shantytowns do not want to be part of or live with the Bahamian communities nor have they mixed with the Bahamian communities.”

There are Haitian children living in the shantytowns, Douglas claimed, adding that some have been brought to The Bahamas from Haiti while others were born in The Bahamas to Haitian parents.

He also claimed that he is “aware” that there is “regularly human smuggling” in these communities.

“Freighter comes up to Morgan’s Bluff and Nicholls Town in North Andros and they are met by the smaller boat and Haitians are brought there in North Andros and they move into the shantytowns,” he said.

Douglas said the shantytowns are “not governed” and do not come “within the concern or knowledge” of the local government or any of the central government’s departments.

According to Douglas, police do not visit or patrol these areas.

He said he is “certain” that local police are “aware of their existence”.

He also claims that the communities govern themselves and are “controlled by the Haitian underground”.

“…These communities have their own police system, foot soldiers, boss and sub-boss and information network,” Douglas said.

While he notes that he does not dislike Haitians, Douglas said he is concerned that the shantytowns supplement and support the Haitian communities in The Bahamas.

He said, “…Should the Haitian population increase as it is now increasing, that the indigenous Bahamian will be a minority in The Bahamas and thereby alter our rights in The Bahamas.”

According to Douglas, he has already noticed a 100 percent increase in the population in shantytowns in North Andros since Hurricane Dorian devastated Grand Bahama and Abaco in early September.

“I am further [concerned] that the building law and immigration laws are not enforced by the government,” he said.

He accused the building laws of being “enforced to the discrimination of the Bahamians” but not to “the Haitian living in these communities”.

“The houses in these communities are made of old plywood and tin,” Douglas said.

In 2018, the government announced that it would demolish shantytowns throughout The Bahamas.

However, in August of that year, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson handed down an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.

The government recently filed an application before the Supreme Court to have the injunction lifted.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has said shantytowns “will not be tolerated”.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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