Abaco Haitians could tip vote

About 200 Haitian-Bahamians from the Mud and Pigeon Pea community in Abaco are eligible to vote in the May 2 General Elections.

These persons were born to parents from Haiti, who illegally entered The Bahamas more than 18 years ago, and are now in possession of Bahamian passports.

"These are descendants of immigrants. They are Bahamians at least 18 years and older and there are many from the community of Mud and Pigeon Pea," said Local Government Chief Councillor of Central Abaco, Silbert Mills.

"They are (a) significant factor in the general elections as far as anyone's conclusion," Mills told The Guardian on Monday.

"They are Bahamians, holding Bahamian passport, whose parents may have come here years ago illegally, some legal," Mills said.

Numbering approximately 200, "they have every right as a Bahamian. They are Bahamians," Mills said.

According to Mills, if his parents migrated to a foreign country and he was born there, that gave him the right to be entitled to benefits such as citizenship.

"This is being exercised here," he said. "I don't see where one should feel upset about this."

It is no secret that illegal Haitians are in high demand for subservient labour in The Bahamas. And, those who become citizens are deeply integrated in the society.
"We use these people before the elections to do menial labour, and so the time has come where we must realize that they have every right as

everybody else," Mills said.

Asked how they are accepted in the wider community, Mills said that in today's society, Abaco is home to descendants of Haitian immigrants who are married to "White" and "Black" Bahamians.

"We have accepted that they have generally risen to their place in the society," Mills said. "They are Bahamians, they have built their homes here."

He mentioned an application for a home coming before Local Government from a young man whose parents were Haitians. Also, a number of other young persons in the same situation are home- owners, Mills added.

On the issue of housing, Mills was asked about the long-standing feud between the Haitian-Bahamian community and indigenous residents in the bustling Marsh Harbour settlement.

"There was concern about them not adhering to the law with regards to building applications," Mills said. "And also the right to the use of Government land."

But as for anybody expressing their feelings on the issue at this time, with about 200 votes in that area, "absolutely not," Mills said.

He concluded that: "You won't have the PLP making any statement, or the FNM making a statement on that, or any of their followers."

Mills also pointed out that some polling divisions in South Abaco do not have 200 registered voters like that in the Mud and Pigeon Pea community, with the exception of Sandy Point with over 200 voters.

"This community has more than some polling divisions in South Abaco," he stressed.


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