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Biminites Live in Fear of Speaking out!

NEWS : LOCAL Last Updated: Nov 8, 2013 - 6:21:59 PM

Bimini Waterkeeper: Bimini residents 'petrified with fear' large development will crunch tiny island, but 'scared to talk'
By Diane Phillips & Associates
Nov 8, 2013 - 2:15:21 PM

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Bimini Waterkeeper Joseph Darville expresses concern that a massive development plan that calls for delivering 500,000 visitors a year to the island that now attracts about 50,000 poses an historic threat to its waters, infrastructure and way of life. "Bimini will go down in the history of the Bahamas as the greatest potential tragedy to an eco- system," said the retired educator, a director of Save the Bays and environmental advocate. Nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for an Environmental Protection Act for The Bahamas.

Biminites who have been quietly talking among themselves as heavy equipment stands at the ready to alter their lifestyle and their environment are "petrified with fear" about ongoing expansion efforts by Resorts World Bimini, but too scared of victimization to speak out publicly, says Bimini Waterkeeper Joseph Darville.

Speaking on a popular radio show being broadcast live from Bimini recently, Darville -- who also serves as a director of the fast-growing environmental movement Save the Bays -- said the majority of Biminites are resisting the development the central government thinks is good for them, but as scared as they are of the changes to lifestyle and environment, they are even more afraid to voice their opinion.

"What is happening on and around that little gem in the ocean, Bimini, will go down in the history of the Bahamas as the greatest potential tragedy to an eco system,"nsaid Darville.

The tiny island, with a population of less than 2,000, has been grappling with considerable changes as construction ramps up by Genting Group, a giant conglomerate originating from Malaysia. The resort developer is targeting up to 1,500 tourists daily from nearby Florida following the construction of a cruise ship terminal.

"There were hundreds of people who signed a petition against that particular development, but people are afraid to come out and face them publicly because they fear possible political and economic repercussions," said the retired educator, environmental and human rights advocate. “They are afraid. They are petrified with fear.”

Droves of Biminites have signed a petition against development or voiced concerns in private corners. But activists claim most residents are fearful of taking protests to the next level.

Darville noted that many Biminites have been kept ignorant of the developer’s plans, and once information becomes available, "fear and anxiety" tends to take over.

Last week, a long-awaited Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project spoke for them. According to the report, two-thirds of Biminites did not want an increase in the island’s tourism arrivals. It also identified a number of disturbing environmental concerns should development by Genting Group continue and concluded that the scale of the resort that would eventually aim to bring in 500,000 visitors a year to the island that now attracts about 50,000 would have cultural, environmental and infrastructural impact.

Despite the report, many Bahamians remain in the shadows.

Fred Smith, environmentalist and senior partner at Callenders & Co, said most locals are more concerned about protecting their livelihoods.

Highlighting the "political culture of intimidation and victimization" in the Bahamas, Smith felt both political parties have allowed this environment to fester. Resorts World Bimini has rapidly become the largest employer on the island, making its overall economic influence more profound.

According to one local resident who wished to remain anonymous, development on Bimini has been destructive and haphazard for years.

"I walk my dogs on the beach every morning, and I can always tell when they are dredging in Bimini Bay," said the resident who has lived on the island for more than two decades. "There is a ribbon of dead pink shrimp from one end straight up to the northern end."

Describing herself as "patriotic", a Bahamian businesswoman also conceded that she must be "careful". Success on the island depends on positive relationships with those holding the strings of influence, she said, and while most Biminites talk about these issues privately, they tread carefully to avoid victimization.

"You have to watch your back," she added. Others who gathered around the radio show production, Issues of the Day, live from the Bimini Big Game Club, nodded in agreement, but covered their faces to avoid being seen when the radio show airs on Channel 14, JCN. Half a dozen said off-air that they had been negatively impacted, losing taxi fares, fishing charters and other business since the Bimini Superfast ferry began service this summer, transporting guests directly from Miami to the Resort World Bimini casino door and zipping back to Florida in a matter of hours. Only one was willing to speak on radio. Government argues that more jobs are forthcoming and construction of two hotels will boost all business.

Darville claimed that the situation on Bimini and elsewhere illustrates how Bahamians are "as enslaved or more enslaved now than we were in the beginning".

The human rights watchdog said that political leaders have fine tuned "psychological enslavement", keeping Bahamians in the dark on various issues and far removed from the decision-making process, even in matters that affect them directly. Meanwhile, he said, most citizens remain unaware of their rights.

"We are no longer plantation people who are satisfied with not knowing anything with respect to what happens to them," he added. "We are a democratic society and therefore we expect more."

Darville, Smith and other Bahamian leaders have continued to push government for the promised Freedom of Information Act, which would offer more transparency and accountability in the public sector arena. Nearly 5,000 people have signed a Save the Bays petition www.savethebays.bs urging passage of a Freedom of Information Act and an Environmental Protection Act.
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Replies

  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    I think the roots of repercussion are deeper than the article states. You know me, my history with Bimini, and that I have super strong support from my native family. You will also note that when my problem arose they all yelled and screamed again in support, yet, not a single one physically went to bat for me with officials. Even the politically connected ones that made phone calls backed right off and washed their hand of it. "Sorry, this is politics and i can't help"... Who knows what the warning on the other end of the phone was. My American mindset on something so blatantly against the law is to fight tooth and nail and get in the face of everyone involved. There HAS to be a bigger fear in place than just having your request denied for the people. I'm not privy to what that is but could well be extreme as in just "disappearing". Sad but thats what it seems to be.
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    I think of some of my friends on Bimini and "imagine" if any of them are the ones quoted above.

    So very sad.........
  • It is interesting that the "take over" of Bimini is not much different than a "friendly" takeover by a foreign nation who thinks they know better than you do, how to live in your country.
  • testerman28testerman28 Posts: 1,329 Officer
    I will tell you from experience speaking out for your home or area you live in is not easy. especially when you know the big money is behind the curtain.
    we have one last meeting for our home tomorrow night here in Dania Beach, not to try to stop the airport but to figure out what little figure of a $ value they think our homes are worth (and ask yourself this: is your home worth 14% of some clown from the FAA deciding it's worth? and remember while answering your dealing with people who's own agenda is for themselves ) same as Bimini so I know their pain.
    seems it is easy to take or deceive people now days ..
    think about this also the ferry or a plane is the only way for islanders to travel..
    some days men will speak up and most will ridicule or argue the point they try to make because of the nature of chaos this world is in. it will depend on how you speak due to which side of the road your on.
  • BiminiwallBiminiwall Posts: 79 Deckhand
    Alot of Bimini People also like to tell you what you want to hear. Go and spent $100 at Sherry's on the Beach and she'll talk to you for hours about how she doesn't like the cruise terminal. One week later you'll see her on TV says she's tied of eating fish and lobster, and she wants to eat the steak. The Cruise terminal will bring her the steak.

    Same with other top people on the island. They will create two videos. In one video they talk about the preservation of Bimini. In another video you'll hear them talk about how great resort world is.
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    It is interesting that the "take over" of Bimini is not much different than a "friendly" takeover by a foreign nation who thinks they know better than you do, how to live in your country.

    The investment capital may be foreign but the "take over" is served on a silver platter by elected Bahamian officials.
    This is not a coup d'etat, they can vote the bums out and put in fresh bums in their place.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    The investment capital may be foreign but the "take over" is served on a silver platter by elected Bahamian officials.
    This is not a coup d'etat, they can vote the bums out and put in fresh bums in their place.

    very accurate and very true.


  • pescador67pescador67 Posts: 66 Deckhand
    The investment capital may be foreign but the "take over" is served on a silver platter by elected Bahamian officials.
    This is not a coup d'etat, they can vote the bums out and put in fresh bums in their place.

    Believe it or not, the guys they voted out in '09 were even worse than the current bunch of crooks. The problems of the Bahamas (especially on Bimini) are too deep for even the ballot box to fix. If I owned property there I would sell it asap. This is a country with "future instability" written all over it.
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    pescador67 wrote: »
    Believe it or not, the guys they voted out in '09 were even worse than the current bunch of crooks. The problems of the Bahamas (especially on Bimini) are too deep for even the ballot box to fix. If I owned property there I would sell it asap. This is a country with "future instability" written all over it.

    ...meet the new boss, same as the old boss....they WILL get fooled again...
  • Blue ZoneBlue Zone Posts: 414 Officer
    The current PM, Christie, and the previous PM, Ingraham were law partners back in the Pindling days and quite cozy with him. Interesting mentor, I would say.

    In opposing political parties, they have been swapping the post back and forth since 1992. What's wrong with this picture? I don't know how they work this out, but I guess when one needs a rest they call an election and the opponent fumbles on the one yard line. I haven't seen a dime's worth of difference between the two, although Christie may be just a tad more socially oriented (you can take that about 3 different ways, but all apply).

    One could say they have refined the Hatian and Zimbabwean models; sort of "PM for life" with a very generous holiday package. Rumor has it the OAS has taken a dim view of what's going on for a while.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Future? I'd venture to say that its already unstable... Complex doesn't begin to describe the mess. The overwhelming sensation and "gut feeling" I pick up on during and since my little taste of bad politics, is a growing anti American sentiment. I sense from conversations there is an "air" of "Americans let us down. They take take take and don't pay enough. The Asians are spending far more so we no longer need the Americans." Accurate or not, thats slowly coming to the surface. Thats in places and positions of power. On the "have not" side is something similar to what we see here. "All jobs and money need to go to Bahamians, qualified or not and NO foreigners at all'. Of course we can see the problem with that is that most of the country's income is either from forign investment or foreign tourism.They just don't seem to see it that way...
  • 2amigo2amigo Posts: 5,861 Admiral
    ...meet the new boss, same as the old boss....they WILL get fooled again...

    Quoting the Who. I like it Sap.
  • You guys know, we are missing the point here. Who better to decide what Bimini should look like in the future but a Malaysian company.

    They certainly know better than the stupid people living on that spit of land. We should all yield to the Malaysians, especially when they tell us what is best for the Miami Herald property on Biscayne bay.

    The only thing they are missing is a mascot, like a mouse or something. Maybe we need cartoon characters and magic mountains along the beach to attract visitors, who needs bathrooms, waterline, healthcare, food, housing,....


    I'm sorry we have been doubting you guys over there at Resorts World.
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    You guys know, we are missing the point here. Who better to decide what Bimini should look like in the future but a Malaysian company.

    They certainly know better than the stupid people living on that spit of land. We should all yield to the Malaysians, especially when they tell us what is best for the Miami Herald property on Biscayne bay.

    The only thing they are missing is a mascot, like a mouse or something. Maybe we need cartoon characters and magic mountains along the beach to attract visitors, who needs bathrooms, waterline, healthcare, food, housing,....


    I'm sorry we have been doubting you guys over there at Resorts World.

    No the point is we have to stop sticking our nose in everyone's problems all over the world, we are going to run out of noses.
  • mfieldvimfieldvi Posts: 44 Greenhorn
    "Bad stuff happens when good people do nothing"
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    I am certain there are plenty of "good people" in Bimini, and each have their own individual nose.
  • BiminiwallBiminiwall Posts: 79 Deckhand
    No the point is we have to stop sticking our nose in everyone's problems all over the world, we are going to run out of noses.

    You heard em boys. Bury your heads in the sand. Dont make a peep. Protesting does nothing. Speaking out against a cause in another location is hypocritical because we haven't spoken out against development in our own country.

    :troll
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    You guys know, we are missing the point here. Who better to decide what Bimini should look like in the future but a few Americans who visit here a handful of times a year.

    FIFY.

    while i am against the development, the irony of your calling out genting for trying to dictate what happens in a foreign country is not lost on me.


  • BiminiwallBiminiwall Posts: 79 Deckhand
    alacrity wrote: »
    FIFY.

    while i am against the development, the irony your calling out genting for trying to dictate what happens in a foreign country is not lost on me.

    The Bimini Blue Coalition is headed by Biminites. While there only may be a few "Americans" here, there are a lot more biminites objecting behind the curtain.

    I dont see many Americans in this video speaking out against the development. Only Biminites.

    This issue is bigger than the tropical section on Florida Sportsman, I promise.
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    alacrity wrote: »
    FIFY.

    while i am against the development, the irony of your calling out genting for trying to dictate what happens in a foreign country is not lost on me.

    It's more than ironic, it's moronic. They want to be the Evil Empire that rules the Galaxy while you and I may be more the Hans Solo type.
  • pescador67pescador67 Posts: 66 Deckhand
    No the point is we have to stop sticking our nose in everyone's problems all over the world, we are going to run out of noses.

    How about you do whatever you want with your nose and I will do whatever I want with mine?
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    It's more than ironic, it's moronic. They want to be the Evil Empire that rules the Galaxy while you and I may be more the Hans Solo type.

    i havent seen star wars, so your allusion to hans solo is lost on me. :rotflmao


  • BiminiwallBiminiwall Posts: 79 Deckhand
    It's more than ironic, it's moronic. They want to be the Evil Empire that rules the Galaxy while you and I may be more the Hans Solo type.

    I've never rolled my eyes so far...
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    alacrity wrote: »
    i havent seen star wars, so your allusion to hans solo is lost on me. :rotflmao

    Come on Sir, Hans Solo, intergalactic smuggling.....
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    Biminiwall wrote: »
    I've never rolled my eyes so far...

    Be careful with that eye, it's red, and in your case prone to bleed.
  • Blue ZoneBlue Zone Posts: 414 Officer
    No the point is we have to stop sticking our nose in everyone's problems all over the world, we are going to run out of noses.

    Sap,

    Fundamentally, I totally agree with you.

    However no one has broached the idea of either sending in battleships or strafing Nassau. Some of us actually live in these islands, some have invested in property and second homes here, and the rest of the Yanks just care about what is going on in iconic Bimini. It’s not Afghanistan, ok?
  • I won't argue with a Sap!
  • SapingasKangasSapingasKangas Posts: 279 Officer
    Blue Zone wrote: »
    Sap,

    Fundamentally, I totally agree with you.

    However no one has broached the idea of either sending in battleships or strafing Nassau. Some of us actually live in these islands, some have invested in property and second homes here, and the rest of the Yanks just care about what is going on in iconic Bimini. It’s not Afghanistan, ok?

    Agreed, and we'll have the same result of changing hearts and minds in Bimini as we did in Iraq. Hey everything in life is risk and reward. My parents and grandparents, all born in Spain, moved to Cuba and lost everything to the Castro regime. So I know risk all too well.
  • BiminiwallBiminiwall Posts: 79 Deckhand
    Agreed, and we'll have the same result of changing hearts and minds in Bimini as we did in Iraq. Hey everything in life is risk and reward. My parents and grandparents, all born in Spain, moved to Cuba and lost everything to the Castro regime. So I know risk all too well.

    You are still failing to realize that all we are doing is echoing the Bimininites feelings.

    Your analogy is crap considering there are millions of Cuban Americans in Miami trying to dictate what happens in Cuba. Your ignorance shines brighter than 1000 suns.
  • My point on these threads has always been the will of the people of Bimini. I truly believe I understand the people, know the people, and can help put THEIR word out.

    The last time I was over there, I spent most of the day with several friends, including former local leaders talking very openly about their thoughts on Genting and RW. I don't think a lot of you realize that the true locals love Bimini just the way it is. I talked to one young man who was working at Mackeys and he related to me that he loves the quiet times on the Island and that's why he still lives there and wants to raise his kids there. Same with old timers, they love the Island. I will try to focus my posts on that issue for my good friends on that Island.

    Now that's not to say they can control development on land they do not own, but this development idea is the worlds worse conceived, and so much more than this Island can survive.

    Look at them right now, sitting at the dock, playing PR games, and trying to make it look like everything is great. Of course they are playing the idea that "see why we need the dock?" What is ignored is the fact that Bimini Blue Coalition has show several better ideas that have a much lighter "footprint" in the sand than the one Genting is plowing forward with.

    Our goal should be to support the people of Bimini, give them the tools they need to make their point, and most important::: Watch out for this Giant! He is coming to Miami and will try to do the same thing here! Overbuild and ignore the need for infrastructure is their biggest fault right now. Second is ignoring the resident of Bimini and keeping them in the dark. Lets see what else they do wrong so we can stop them from bullying us around in Miami!


    On the good side, the people of Bimini are enjoying some quiet time right now while this wind howls!
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