||Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM
SLIDE SHOW Photos: DNA Facebook Album
Freeport, Bahamas - The
Democratic National Alliance (
DNA) political party held their Grand Bahama launch last evening, July 2nd at the Our Lucaya resort. Nine candidates have been announced and include: 1. Karen Davis (Marathon) - Businesswoman; 2. Randy Butler (North Andros) - CEO Sky Bahamas; 3. Christopher Mortimer (Sea Breeze) - Businessman; 4. Dario Terrelli (Blue Hills) - Sales Manager Seaboard Marine Bahamas Ltd.; 5. Osman Johnson (Pine Ridge) - Attorney; 6. Roger Rolle (West End & Bimini) - Businessman; 7. Wayne Munroe (Mt. Moriah) - Attorney; 8. Shawn Francis (Rum Cay, Cat Island & San Salvador) - Businessman; and 9. Philip Thomas (High Rock) - Businessman).
The party was initially launched in May 2011. The following is party leader, Branville McCartney's speech.
Party leader, Branville McCartney Photo: DNA Facebook Album
Ladies and Gentlemen, young women and young men of this great island of Grand Bahama - and to all from around the Bahamas who are joining us here at the OurLucaya Resort in Grand Bahama tonight, I want to say good night!
On Thursday, May 12th, at the initial launch of this immense movement that is now the Democratic National Alliance, we promised you, the people of Grand Bahama, that we would bring our message of hope and our vision for the future to you and ask you to join us on our mission to become the next government of the Bahamas. Well Grand Bahama, tonight the DNA is here!
As your government in waiting, we are officially here, asking you to join us - as agents of change - in rewriting Bahamian political history and the story of the way politics is done in the Bahamas.
But more importantly, for your enduring patience, good will and sacrifice over the past few years, we are also here tonight to pay tribute to you for the resilience that you have shown and continue to show, in the face of hardship and oppression. For almost a decade now, you have been bending, pulled down by daunting pressures and the heavy load of economic deprivation; but you have shown the whole Bahamas and the powers that be what true strength is all about; you have shown us all that you may bend, but you will not break!
Tonight, Grand Bahama, the DNA has come to your island to say to the people of Grand Bahama, from West End to Pine Ridge, from Lucaya to High Rock, from Eight Mile Rock to Marco City, that with your help and the help of God, we will not allow you to be broken either.
We want you to know that the DNA will prop you up, push you up, and help you to stand tall once again, so that you CAN become the beacon of light in the Northern Bahamas - the gateway to the Bahamas - that you were intended to be. Grand Bahama, I am truly humbled beyond measure by your presence here this evening. When I came to your island a few weeks back to visit with the residents and a few of our prospective candidates, I had an opportunity to spend some time in the various constituencies and settlements, I was amazed, and saddened at the same time, at the repressive and depressive conditions that so many people are being forced to live under; notwithstanding the success that appears on the surface when you drive through the well paved streets and bright lights that illuminate government and private establishments in the downtown area. I found that it was not only the hard working, good people of West End, Pineridge, Marco City or Eight Mile Rock who were living in a state of oppression, but that it was also the good, hardworking people of Lucaya and High Rock who were suffering as well; I was overwhelmed by everyone just crying for help.
During my time here and even after I left, the only thing I could think of was "What happened to Grand Bahama?" What happened to the dream that was supposed to be Freeport and Grand Bahama? Did it just dry up like a raisin in the sun like Ralph Ellison asked in his "Dream Deferred," or did the dream simply just explode? I am convinced that the answer is no, and that is why I, along with the first nine candidates that were introduced last month; the nine that you will meet tonight, and the many others from all across our nation - both young and old - have taken up the cause of the DNA. No longer can we just sit back and allow the dreams of so many Bahamians to be deferred, to dry up, to explode; the time for change is now, and we MUST BE THAT CHANGE!
I believe that you are here tonight Grand Bahama because you, like many in our country, still believe in the Bahamian dream but you realize that things are going drastically wrong in our Bahama-land and that we, as a nation, are rapidly heading in the wrong direction. You and I are here tonight because we are sick and tired of being ostracized and marginalized from the governance of our country; we are here tonight because, as citizens, first class citizens who have been and are being treated like second class citizens, we are tired of being tolerated but not recognized. And when we are recognized, we are not tolerated.
Photo: DNA Facebook Album
The DNA and you, Grand Bahama, are here tonight because, collectively, we all realize that this Grand island, as its name implies - like almost every island in the Bahamas, for that matter - 38 years after Independence and over half a century since the signing of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, this Grand island is still not the island of greatness that was envisioned at its inception.
Tonight we are gathered here simply because we know that for us to move closer to being the economically prosperous Bahamas that has been dangling before us for decades, the inevitable must happen; and, again, CHANGE MUST COME. That change, however Grand Bahama, will only come when a new generation of people, and leaders with vision, united against and challenge - head on - the political status quo, who, for decades, has denied us, as a people, the right to have the semblance of power that independence promised; for decades, they tried to stifle us in our tracks at every turn.
Now, they may want you to believe that the present state of our economy and the condition of our people are to be blamed on some global recession, but do not allow yourselves to be fooled people; what we see taking place in the Bahamas today, including here in Grand Bahama, is not just a result of any global economic recession; it is the result of a visionary recession taking place in the leadership of our country; visionless leadership that still has yet to find ways to diversify our economy in such a way as to create a broad enough spectrum of opportunities to challenge all of the rich, creative talents, gifts, abilities, and intellectual ingenuity of our people. For far too long, we have entrusted them with our lives, believing that they were men of vision. But Proverbs 29 and 18 says, where there is no vision, the people perish. And people of Grand Bahama, you know better than most, we in the Bahamas are beginning to perish at a tremendously fast rate.
We are perishing, Grand Bahamians, because successive governments have failed us miserably. After 44 years of back and forth volleying and vain talks, neither has yet to put in place any broad-based programs to grow our economy; nor have they created or
presented any concrete, long term financial development plan that will help reduce the 4.2 billion dollar debt that they got us into, only to have it hang over our heads, our children's heads, and the heads of our children's children. Again, I say they have no sustainable vision for moving this country forward into any century, 21st or otherwise. They never had and they never will.
I think it is safe to say that the state of despair and degradation that many of us are suffering under today is a direct result of the failure of successive governments. They have failed to live up to their primary responsibility and obligation to ensure that the Bahamian people, all 350,000 of us - as the most precious "natural" resource above all natural and material resources, are nurtured to be economically and intellectually prosperous - allowing us, above all others who come or are brought to our shores, to contribute in significant and meaningful ways to the growth and development of our own country.
SLIDE SHOW Photos: DNA Facebook Album
The Chairman of the governing Party made this perfectly clear when he told officials from the Communist Party of China few weeks ago, and I quote "I am particularly impressed with the success of your planning through your five year plans. I do believe a greater attention to national planning would be a great benefit to the Bahamas - not just every year a budget, but to have a vision over a longer term." The Chairman has acknowledged the absence of a long-term plan and that his party is devoid of vision, and . . . where there is no vision, the people perish.
How much longer Grand Bahama will you allow yourself to perish? How much longer will we, as a nation, allow ourselves to perish Bahamas? Led aimlessly through the wilderness by visionless leaders who continue to do the same thing over, and over, and over again, hoping for different results. This doing things over, and over, and over again and hoping to get different results, according to Albert Einstein, is nothing more than insanity.
Grand Bahama, tonight, we have come to your island to tell you and show you that our country is brimming with a whole generation of young people and young leaders who are waiting to put a stop to this madness, and we are calling on you to join us, JOIN US, and others across the Bahamas in telling this present leadership, thank you for your service, but your time is up. GAME OVER! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! As the CEO's of this great island nation, you have every right to say to them "you have failed to live up to your obligations to the citizens of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and it's time for you to go! No make-ups, no do-overs; YOU'RE FIRED!" I think you will agree with me when I say that it is time for us to get back to government and governance that truly put people first; government and governance of the people, for the people, and by the people; government and governance that believe in Bahamian people and a Bahamas for Bahamians, where paradise is no longer just a place for the tourist to enjoy the beauty and bounty of this land, but a place where Bahamians can enjoy it too.
Now let me say that it is not my intention to lecture, chastise, or insult the intelligence of anyone listening to me tonight; And I hope that, in saying what I am about to say, my words - in no way - are taken as an affront or offensively, as I, admittedly, do not know all that there is to know about Freeport and Grand Bahama. But after coming to this island repeatedly, seeing firsthand the depressed and repressive conditions under which so many are being forced to exist, there is no way that I can speak about future hopes to you without first honestly addressing and taking head on the very force or forces that stands in the way of hope's progress. So whereas I may stand to be corrected, I will not make any apologies for what I am about to say.
Grand Bahama Launch on July 2nd, 2011 Photo: DNA Facebook Album
The Grand Bahama Port Authority came about as a result of a trust agreement - a formal agreement by which a trustor, in this case the Government of the Bahamas, vests the ownership rights, or title, to one or more assets - in this case, areas of the land in the Port Area of Freeport - to one or more trustees for conservation and protection on behalf of those entitled to the beneficial interest of the trust. This trust relies on the integrity, strength, ability, and surety of individuals; those persons who place their trust in the hands of trustees have confidence, hope, and a certain belief that their interests will genuinely be looked after in the long term.
Now, it is my understanding that part of the trust agreement between the Government of the Bahamas and the developers of Freeport was that Freeport would have been developed into an industrial base for the benefit of the Bahamas. It is also my understanding that to make the Port economically viable and attractive to foreign investors, the government agreed to, and put in place, 99 years of tax-free concessions. And I am also led to believe that, as a result, the Port Authority had an obligation - for those 99 years - to ensure that it promoted and encouraged the establishment of factories and industries to benefit the Bahamian economy and provide employment for the people of Grand Bahama. Free from all "duties and emergency taxes" on equipment and supplies that would be necessary for the maintenance, repair, and operation, among other things, of all roads, parks, places of beautification and recreation, and "all other buildings and accommodation of every kind in Freeport," in short, the promise of this island was that it was to be a progressive little city that would incorporate and be economically beneficial to Grand Bahamians from settlements across the island and the Bahamas, in general.
Now, I do not want to sound disingenuous by giving the impression that, over the years, good has not come to some in Freeport and Grand Bahama, and that many have not benefited from the Freeport of the good old days; But I think it was Sir Lynden Pindling, in 1969, who said, "There are many people in the Bahamas who participate and are interested in the economic development of the Bahamas. Not all of them, however, are cognizant of or interested in the economic and social welfare of the Bahamian people... and far too many have adopted the attitude that they have certain guaranteed rights to make money and that is all that matters." In 1969, the former Prime Minister too recognized that some economic opportunities had come to Grand Bahama as a result of the Port Agreement, but he also recognized an ugly reality that still exists today, people are still being victimized - in a sense - because money is all that matters to most who come, still under the guise of creating and participating in economic development for the benefit of the Bahamas. "I had very much hoped that the events of the last few years," said Mr. Pindling, "would have been sufficient to impress on developers, apartment owners, and real estate agents that I could not stand idly by and watch a haven of economic success spring up in Freeport and ghettoes develop around it. I had very much hoped that serious steps would have been taken to solve the long-standing problem of housing Bahamians here, but these hopes have been dashed to the ground." Again that was in 1969, but to the grandmothers and grandfathers of the mothers and fathers of the young boys and young girls growing up in the difficult areas of Pineridge, and Marco City, where there is not only a problem of housing, but sometimes no housing at all, the dilemma of dashed hopes in Pindling's 1969 statement is the same dilemma of dashed hopes that they must face in their everyday lives growing up in the shadows of a dwindling success.
Sammi Starr Poitier (DNA Candidate)attends with his family Photo: DNA Facebook Album
Again, I stand to be corrected, but in 1955, the people of Grand Bahama were placed - by the Government of the Bahamas - in the care and trust of another, with the confidence, the belief, and the hope that they, along with both trustor and trustee, would have been beneficiaries of this trust.
I believe that in 1955 a deal was made, but as it stands today, every indication is that the deal made in '55, is now broken in 2011, and the people of Grand Bahama, caught
in the middle are now suffering.
When I listen to Ms. Andrews, a hardworking young mother of two, who, despite being employed, is evicted from her home and forced to send her children out of Grand Bahama to live with other family members because she cannot feasibly stay afloat financially in this repressed economy - no matter how hard she tries - I cannot help but conclude that there has seemingly been a breach of contract; and something is not right here in Freeport.
When I speak with Phaybian, a young man hanging out in Pineridge, and he tells me that he is not looking for a hand out from the government; that all he is looking for is steady work, more opportunities, and a chance to be self-reliant, so that he can feel better about helping himself, I cannot help but wonder why it is that he falls outside an Agreement that, more than anything else guaranteed him, as a low-to-middle-class income earner living in Freeport, that he would have adequate employment opportunities to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. When I hear this, I say someone; somewhere is in breach of trust.
When I go into West End or Eight Mile Rock or High Rock, and I see people with no safe place of abode that they can call home; or people sick or turned away because they have no proper medical facility and bed space to address their growing health concerns; or I hear stories of people brought to the level of having to beg or steal for a meal at the end of the day; or young people full of apathy, brought on by the force of
complacency that is taking over this nation as a result of the lack of meaningful opportunities, I say SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE on this island, or SOMEONE,
SOMEWHERE in the halls of Government in New Providence is in breach of a trust that was placed in them by the people of the Bahamas to protect their interest and allow them to live adequately, provide for themselves and their families, and grow old and retire with dignity and respect.
I say something is terribly wrong; and we can blame hurricane Francis, and Jeane, and Wilma; or we can blame the global recession; or we can blame the Grand Bahama Port Authority, if we like; But I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Grand Bahama, the government of the Bahamas - the ones who you have repeatedly trusted to look out for you in your most genuine time of need; the Government of the Bahamas - the ones who come to you every five years begging, pleading, and - who promise you - election year after election year - that they will get it right the next time; those same governments are in breach of your trust; they have failed you when you needed them most and are still failing you, because they have not and are not living up to the rightful obligations of governments, as keepers of the people and of the nation.
The life of the Grand Bahamian, and many throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, has become the life of the invisible man. And many of you, as a result of long years of oppression and struggling to be recognized and tolerated, are so drained of self-respect that you have adjusted to being invisible.
But I will paraphrase the iconic African American novelist, Ralph Ellison, and say, you are no invisible man; you are no figment of someone's imagination; you are men and women of substance, of flesh and blood, fiber and liquid - and you possess a mind. The only reason you are invisible to them is because they REFUSE TO SEE YOU!
The stark reality is that in the eyes of your present day leaders, you do not exist. But I can guarantee when you hear the DNA say that we will put people first - and mind you, you will now hear everyone trying to play catch up by saying the same thing and they do not even sound genuine when they say it - but when you hear the DNA say "WE WILL PUT PEOPLE FIRST," you can rest assured that we will see every inch of flesh, every drop of blood, and every fiber that makes you the men and women you are.
We will not ignore you and pretend that, when your electricity is off, everything is alright; that when you are hungry and have no food to feed your family, that you are alright; when your children are on extended holiday because you can't pay fees; insurance has lapsed and you are at the end of your rope, we will not pretend that you do not exist. Under a DNA government, not only would we know who you are, but we will also be there for you, as responsible governments should.
Together we will help you climb out of this hole that has been dug for you so that your dreams of being proud Grand Bahamians will no longer have to be deferred. Now, I think it is apparent that the Grand Bahama Port Authority is under duress. It is evident that it is only a shell of its original self; and for all intents and purposes, its present leadership can most likely and may appreciate the help, assistance, and understanding of a concerned government. No longer can the Government, the Port Authority, or the Bahamian people allow the dream of Grand Bahama to be deferred, and we must come together to put Grand Bahama back on track.
What I am about to propose is not a comprehensive listing of the DNA'S goals and vision for Freeport and Grand Bahama, but only a few suggestive initiatives that we would like to pursue in getting you and your island back on your feet again. In the upcoming weeks and months, we would like to engage you the residents, licensees, and Port Officials, and other stakeholders in the success of Grand Bahama in a series of Town Hall meetings to get your input and recommendations on the transformation of your island.
Tonight, however, The DNA would like to propose that within the first 180 days after
The Party, along with the Principles and stakeholders in the Port Agreement, begin the process of transformation by engaging in meaningful dialogue to ensure that the Port Agreement of 1955 and its subsequent amendments are relevant to the realities, the needs, and current challenges of a modern day Grand Bahama and its citizenry.
Within the first 180 days, the Party will engage in meaningful dialogue with locally owned Private Authorities to lower port taxes with the eye to attracting greater numbers of air and cruise visitors so as to once again stimulate the local economy.
The Party will agitate for the creation of a government owned dock and cruise port in the Hepburn Town Area of Eight Mile Rock to enable local business persons to have easier access to trade and commerce.
o further jump-start the economy of Grand Bahama, the DNA will move to bring incentive legislation that would allow business entities throughout Grand Bahama, for a period of time, to enjoy the same concessions that are presently granted to licensees of the Port. That would mean that the bone fishing lodge owner in Pelican Point would more easily be able to afford the tools and equipment necessary to guarantee a world-class experience for his client, both foreign and domestic. This would also mean that commercial tour operators would no longer be solely restricted to the port area, but now will be able to bring large numbers of visitors straight into West End - the cultural heart of Grand Bahama - in their bonded vehicles.
Within the first 180 days, the DNA will move to diversify the economy of Grand Bahama by leasing tracks of land for the specific development of film and creative arts studios in the eastern end of Grand Bahama, helping to create and foster the growth of a whole new industry yet to be fully tapped anywhere else in the region other than in Orlando.
Through private/public partnerships, we will invest in the development of a flagship School of Film and Creative Arts to be located in the eastern end of Grand Bahama on the campus of the College of Bahamas, attracting, training, and educating the highly skilled workforce that will be needed to meet the needs of and sustain the growing creative industry.
We will work in concert with the Grand Bahama Port Authority to actively recruit leading manufacturing and technology companies to establish centers in the Port area of Grand Bahama.
We will invest in the development of a flagship school of Science and Technology, either in conjunction with the College of the Bahamas or an upgraded Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute; to provide the highly skilled workforce necessary for the growth and sustenance of the proposed manufacturing and technological industries.
Now, Nathan Walters suggests that the condition of one's environment says a great deal about his or her place and value to society; he further implies that the individual's willingness to believe in his or her ability to be successful in life, or the ability to believe that he or she can pursue and achieve greatness is, in part, dependent upon the environment in which the individual finds him or herself.
Therefore, in those most hard pressed areas of Freeport and the outlying settlements, in addition to providing a wide range of employment opportunities, within the first 180 days, the DNA, in collaboration with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, private businesses, and residents of those affected areas, propose to spearhead a series of improvement and beautification projects aimed at transforming the environment and living spaces of the area's residents.
And as a part of our national educational initiative, we will ensure that the schools in Grand Bahama, as with all schools in the Bahamas, are centers of excellence; that they are well managed, well staffed, and that the curriculum is redesigned so that it is both inspiring and engaging, meeting and challenging the various gifts, talents, and abilities of our young people; and producing critically minded, socially conscious citizens, who, aware of their social and environmental conditions, will be able to use their knowledge and skills to change their lives, the lives of others in their society, the region, and indeed the world. We will ensure that there is NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND!
And finally, this one is simple; The DNA, within its first 180 days in office, will move to begin the construction of hurricane shelters on the island, for the protection of the people, particularly since hurricane after hurricane has devastated the lives of so many here on the island.
Now once again, I remind you that this is only a few of the many suggestive goals and initiatives that we are prepared to set in motion once we take office. However, in coming up with the living document that will serve as our Government's version of Grand Bahama's development plan, the DNA will fully engage the stakeholders of Grand Bahama. And we look forward to your participation.
I would like to say that for us to be successful as a nation and as a people, it is time for us to come up with ideas and strategies where we can use the industries that we presently have in place as revenue generators, while at the same time, find new and creative ways to diversify our economy to meet the growing and varied needs of our Bahamian people; no longer are we in the 20th century, and no longer can we use 20th century thinking to solve our country's 21st century global problems.
We must begin laying the framework for an economy that is less based on physical capital in favor of one that is dependent on human intellectual capital, as this is more important to the society's welfare than physical capital can ever be; Ask the Government and people of Singapore.
We must move away from an economy that thrives primarily on imported goods and servitude, and create an economy that thrives more on production, driven primarily by exported goods and services created - in many forms - by technology, manufacturing, innovation, and invention.
We must have a more concise plan for the mobilization of our landmass, where each island is developed and advanced so as to play an integral part in our country's developmental well-being.
We must see to it that education is harnessed and used by Bahamians as a tool that can be used to meet more of their own consumer needs, and at the same time, meet and fulfill the needs of many of our global neighbors, particularly those in other Caribbean nations.
We must ensure that the workers of this nation are not being asked to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, unless we first give them boots - WITH STRAPS - so that they can live up to our requirements of them. For far too long they have struggled to prove themselves as upwardly mobile without getting or having the necessary support systems in place. The workers of this nation will be respected for the value that they bring to the advancement and development of this nation.
No longer can we, as a government and as a people, take a hands-off approach to our country's progress. Together, Together, we must take control and clearly define our national needs and goals. The future of our country must be one by which we have clear direction of where we want our country to go, and - God forbid - in the absence of qualified and skilled Bahamians, we invite others from the outside to assist US with the building of our national dreams - instead of us using our labor to continually build the dreams of others.
Only when we begin to move in these directions, Putting Bahamian People First, and valuing them as the most precious resource, will we become "a nation where the individual and corporate productivity are equal with self-worth and where the love of work is esteemed as a national obligation."
It is unfortunate that we have come to a point in our country's history, once again, where the people must rise up in revolt against their treatment at the hands of their own government. However, the yearning for freedom from the chains of oppression that have weighed us down in recent years is growing stronger each day; and in the words of Martin Luther King, "oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever." The uprising taking place in our country today and the growing number of people who are expressing their frustration and anger at the present and past government, says that, we as a people, have come full circle in our quest for true independence and that we have lost faith in our chosen leaders to deliver on the promises made to us decades, even years ago. How many more broken political promises can an already broken people take before saying STOP! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Now more than ever - is the time to redefine history; Now more than ever is the time for change; And for those of you who doubt me, I say, if not now, then when? I say, If not you and me; then who?
This election, my friends, is too important to sit back and wait. You have waited long enough; you have allowed your dreams to be deferred for too long. Remember, this one is for our children, and their children, and their children also. We must decide whether we want change or more of the same. Let me repeat that, do we want change or more of the same!!!
Ladies and gentlemen let our country no longer be a place where the forces of complacency, oppression, insensitivity, bitterness, and hate weigh us down and cripple us.
Remember, my brothers and sisters, you are not alone in this movement, together, TOGETHER, we can - and will - BE THE CHANGE THAT WE WANT TO SEE. As always, I would like to thank my wife, Lisa, and my children, Kasia, Tai, and Khail who are all here tonight. I would like to thank all those who continue to work so diligently behind the scene to ensure that the DNA Party succeeds in its aim to become the next government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Further, I wish to thank the people of Grand Bahama and the Bahamas for allowing me this great opportunity to serve and help you realize and fulfill the power of the dream - and REDEFINE THE POSSIBLE. Remember the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." In the shaping of our country, let us become self-disciplined and self-reliant and there will be no other destiny in store for us than to be recognized as the nation of excellence that is The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
And now, before I leave you tonight, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you the latest of the Democratic National Alliance's 41 candidates for change; men and women not cut from the cloth of political sameness, but who are Of the people, For the people, and coming to work side by side With the people. Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to introduce to you, 9 future Members of Parliament in the next DNA government of the Bahamas.
Thank You; God Bless You; and God Bless and Protect the Commonwealth of the
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