For decades, sloops filled with illegal Haitians have left Haiti destined for our shores. Many have landed successfully, and sometimes tragedy strikes and lives are lost. This is nothing new. What is new is the magnitude of this most recent unsuccessful smuggling trip in which more than 20 lives were lost and the speed with which the remains of the deceased were identified. Yet to date, we have heard nothing of the owner or captain of the sloop.
If the spaces on these human cargo sloops are paid for in advance, which is not an unreasonable assumption, then either Haitians are not as impoverished as we are being led to believe, or there are persons financing their trips. If it is true that the average price per head for such a trip is $2,500, without bed or shower facilities, then the ill-fated sloop with about 80 persons on board was carrying at least $200,000 worth of human cargo, not including any contraband that might have been lost or recovered. If we conservatively estimate that only 8,000 illegal Haitians were transported to this country over the years, then at least 100 such trips had to have been made and tens of millions of dollars pocketed by a shameless, nameless, faceless group of individuals. This is staggering!
Despite contradictory government reports, every Bahamian knows anecdotally, that expanding illegal communities are evidence that this thriving trade has unloaded thousands of illegal immigrants to our shores. It also shows that if many of these thousands of illegals have documentation of some kind, then there are persons well-placed to provide the requisite document services. For, how can one arrive in the country illegally, but have legal documentation?
Conspiracy to commit a criminal act is against the law. Sending money to a person in a foreign country for the purpose of securing a seat on an illegal voyage to be smuggled into The Bahamas is most likely a crime which involves conspiracy. This act has to involve communications to coordinate time of sailing, landings and assimilation into communities and the doling out of “papers”. Whether or not we will see any of the relatives who identified the deceased or sent remittances to Haiti for illegal passage investigated or tried for a criminal act remains to be seen. The blood of the deceased lies squarely on their hands, since they spent money for the purpose of committing a criminal act, an act that resulted in many unnecessary deaths.
Let’s see if the government has the will to actually do what it should to uproot this profitable evil of trafficking in human cargo and the systems that allow it to thrive. I hope that Bahamians are not the only ones who have to be held to the standards of the law.