Letters

The disproportionate economic impact of this state of emergency on the most vulnerable

Dear Editor,

There is no doubt or dispute this state of emergency due to COVID-19 impacts the poor more harshly than the middle and upper class.

While well-off or financially stable Bahamians can manage to stay home from work for approximately two months, the poor cannot afford to miss one pay, period.

The government’s measures to assist cannot and have not assisted everyone in dire need.

Many of the poor sell on the street side, tote water to their homes and live on less than the minimum wage of $210 per week, from which they must buy groceries and medication, wash their clothes at a laundromat and pay rent and their electricity bills.

Pray tell how they can afford to be out of work for so long. The poor simply cannot afford to comply with the PM’s orders. It’s as if the poor are being required to stay home and starve.

To add insult to injury, a teenager who ventured out to sell coconut water on the roadside (bearing in mind that water sales were deemed essential and being conducted from trailers on the side of the road) was arrested, convicted and fined.

This teenager, seeking an honest living, is now burdened with a criminal record. His chances of getting a U.S. visa, going to college or securing gainful employment in the future, have been shattered. 

The public ought to remember that governments do not bow to the demands of a lone voice.

What has been proven time and time again, especially in the year and months leading up to an election, is that there is power in numbers, agitation and demonstration.

The citizenry is asked to agitate for the competent authority to be compassionate.

That can be done by a public announcement to quash the record of the young man convicted for selling coconuts on the side of the road.

A few months ago, the PM indicated his intent to quash the record of people convicted for small amounts of marijuana, yet nothing has been done.

It is time the PM does more than sell us dreams. We are awake, disappointed, frustrated and organizing to rid ourselves of members of Parliament who have failed to make this term “the people’s time”.

We call on the opposition, the independent voices in Parliament and all activists to join voices and agitate for the competent authority to show compassion, starting with the young man convicted of selling coconuts.

Every member of Parliament who remains silent on this issue has voiced their position.

As the citizenry makes notes of the issues that demonstrate that it’s them (politicians and the connected) against us (the marginalized voters), this issue of showing compassion for the poor during this health, economic and democratic pandemic will be remembered, and on this, they will be judged in the months leading up to elections.

 

Khandi Gibson, 

Family of All Murder Victims

(FOAM)

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