Wednesday 1 May 2024

The Bahamas are becoming Haiti, only closer


The Bahamas are mostly known as a resort or cruise destination, only 90 miles to the right of Miami.  Not well known is that the Bahamas have become one of the key locations for Chinese Communist Party Adventurism in the Americas as China exploits a disinterested U.S. Government and State Department.  When I was in the Bahamas in late 2019, I went out of my way to talk to locals and see what was on their mind.  There were two common themes:  The first was that the Chinese Communists were thugs. The second one was, where are the Americans?  In late 2023 I spent a number of days in Panama with Michael Yon and Ann Vandersteel to understand the extent of Chinese mischief in Panama.  Funny – asking a Panamanian on the street would get almost an identical response to the Bahamians five years earlier.

In January of this year, the State Department put out an alert that rattled the islands and peeled back the illusion of conch soup restaurants, carefree citizens, and peaceful resorts.  The State Department Alert was a “Level II Alert” on increased violence and murders in the Bahamas.  In the first 24 days of January 2024, 18 murders occurred.   So what is going on?  When a U.S. Government Inspector General was appointed for Ukraine, suddenly Haiti collapsed (again) into unprecedented violence.  It was no coincidence.  Haiti is an international focal point for money laundering and human trafficking and business picked up with a sudden higher-level scrutiny of Ukraine.  Haiti is only a short boat ride a few hours from the Bahamas.  The Bahamas has become ungoverned space and as violence grips the islands, the clear winner is obvious:  China

A murder of a former Member of Parliament

The violence is now targeting members of the ruling elite of the Bahamas.  On March 29, 2024, former member of Parliament, Don Saunders was gunned down while at a Restaurant in Gambier Village, nine miles to the west of the capitol city of Nassau and just above the international airport.  After being shot, he was robbed of the keys to his car and the killers drove off in his car.  Mr. Saunders was the deputy of the Free National Movement Party, the minority party in the Bahamian Parliament and the center right party.  The FNM Party is the group most active and vocal in challenging the Chinese domination of the Island. This was the 35th homicide in the Bahamas in 2024.

This murder has rocked the Bahamas.  The party stance of the FNM while Chinese interests dominate the large archipelago of islands, that has a population of just over 400,000, is hard to overlook.  Gun ownership in the Bahamas is the highest in the Caribbean and owning a weapon is regulated but allowed.  According to the Royal Bahama Police, 90% of the weapons confiscated come from Florida.  As a branch and sequel to Fast and Furious in Mexico, the Biden Team seems to be enabling lawsuits by neighboring countries including the Bahamas against American gun makers as a proxy war against the American Second Amendment.  The mass violence and collapse of society in Haiti is only a few hours by boat away from the southern end of the Bahamas, so guns and bad people from Haiti enabling the growing chaos in the Bahamas should not be overlooked.

China’s dominating presence


China is ever presentin theresort industry and infrastructure projects like thegift of a $30M grant to build a national stadium.  The largesse of such gifts is overpowering to the small population of the Bahamas and the ruling Progressive Liberal Party.  Huawei is the leading provider of information technology and networks to the Bahamas.  Essentially the entire island is networked by Huawei up to the Internet Access Points at the undersea cable coming from Miami. 

Where Huawei goes so does the Chinese capability to monitor, a job that the newly established Chinese Cyberspace Force will prioritize with their footprint in the Bahamas, a short undersea cable ride to the National Access Point of the Americas in downtown Miami.  China is leading the multi-billion-dollar development of the Baha Mar Resort, which is years behind schedule, but also includes the British Hilton Colonial Hotel in downtown Nassau, across the street from the American Embassy.  The Chinese overpowering presence and exclusion of Bahamian citizens from much of the infrastructure work does not endear the Chinese to much of the Bahamian population.

Where are the Americans?

While General Laura Richardson, the Commander of Southern Command in Miami has warned repeatedly of the Chinese control of the Bahamas, U.S. State Department has apparently missed the memo.  There is no U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas, only the lesser position of “Chargé D’Affaires” which translated means, America does not care enough about the Bahamas to have a real Ambassador.  The Foreign Service Officer encumbering this neutered position is Jason Crosby who has a most unusual and atypical background, coming from the Diplomatic Security Service Office.  Jason should know better and should 24/7 be driving China out of the Bahamas.

The U.S. Navy has a large and sensitive facility in the Bahamas used for submarine training and research.  The ones and zeros of all the data from this facility transit the Huawei IT pipes as they travel to Miami.  With the growing alarm over Volt Typhoon, the Chinese cyber-attacks on American critical infrastructure, creating a non-Chinese IT backbone for the Bahamas including the rip and replace of Huawei is intuitive.  The average Bahamian gets it and asks, “where are the Americans?”.  That is a great question and one more reason November 2024 is so important.

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