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a567: Nassau Guardian Editorial on Haitian Tragedy (fwd)

From: Daniel Schweissing <dan_schweissing@hotmail.com>


  Haitian tragedy

  Released Saturday, January 26, 2002 at 10:01 am EST by Anthony Capron

  Early last year when tragedy struck at Rum Cay and a Haitian boat ran
aground on a reef, a deep pit
  had to be dug on the island to accommodate all the bodies of those who had
died. Another tragic
  event has taken place in Bahamian waters and up to yesterday 14 bodies
were recovered from the sea
  south east of New Providence where they drowned after their boat

  It is unlikely that they will be buried in a mass grave in the manner that
it was done on Rum Cay, but it
  is indeed a poignant reminder and one that should evoke sympathy and
Christian charity from all
  Bahamians. However, the sad fact is that this kind of incident has
happened in the past and it is almost
  a certainty to occur again as long as the Haitians continue to leave home
in those unseaworthy boats.

  In these first 25 days of 2002, the Bahamian authorities have already
apprehended more than 600 illegal
  immigrants from Haiti, practically rescuing them daily as they huddle
aboard the rickety boats that only
  make it any distance because of the Grace of God.

  This status has not fallen to the Haitian alone as the Cubans suffered a
similar fate in the first two
  decades following Fidel Castro's revolution, and the mass exodus of the
1980s took on monumental
  proportions during the Mariel Boat Lift when Cubans took to the sea in
anything that could float. The
  Gulf Stream was littered with human movement away from Cuba.

  Following the end of the Vietnam war in the mid-70s, the Vietnamese people
by the hundreds of
  thousands also took to escaping from the country across the South China
Seas and the Gulf of
  Thailand in boats that were not fit for the journey. Thousands never
reached land and were not heard
  from again.

  There is also a grave refugee problem in Europe and Africa where wars have
displaced millions of
  people who are crossing borders and seas in search of peace and a better
life. But while the strife in
  those far off places should concern us as a part of the global village,
and our hearts go out to them, the
  Haitian dilemma is much more pressing as it is happening in our own front
yard. We have to be

  Wednesday's tragedy occurred when Royal Bahamas Defence Force personnel
were transferring the
  immigrants from their overcrowded vessel and they all went to one side of
the craft causing it to
  overturn in the rough seas. That was unfortunate and we have to accept
that as long as the Haitian
  people continue to flee their country in the manner that they are doing,
such atrocities could happen

  The refugees cannot be faulted for they are just desperate people seeking
to escape the oppressive
  poverty that has engulfed their homeland since the last generation and

  Copyright (c) 2001 by Nassau Guardian

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