Affidavit exposes “hidden” shantytowns in North Andros

Affidavit exposes “hidden” shantytowns in North Andros

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – More than 900 residents live across three shantytown communities in North Andros, according to an affidavit sworn by a former chief councillor.

Peter Douglas, 60, further claims that those numbers have increased by 100 percent since Hurricane Dorian.

The affidavit was used in support of a summons issued to attorneys representing 177 New Providence and Abaco shantytown residents, seeking to lift an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.

James Roosevelt Thompson & Company has applied to add Gregory Bowe of San Andros and Shawn Nixon of Marsh Harbour as third-party applicants in the ongoing court matter between the government and shantytown residents.

Bowe and Nixon are seeking to have the injunction discharged as strangers, but if this application is dismissed they intend to file for the injunction to be discharged or amended to require the shantytown residents to “act under the principles that he who seeks equity must do equity”.

The firm is also seeking an order to add Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson as a respondent in the matter, and that he be ordered by the court to enforce the criminal sanctions of the law in respect to shantytown communities throughout the country.

It read: “At present in North Andros, there are three large shantytown of Haitian residents containing Haitian individuals totaling each about (300 – 400) Haitian residents each and several other smaller areas and various Haitians living in the bushy areas in North Andros.”

Douglas, a Fresh Creek resident, notes that he has lived in the settlement for most of his adult life, where he farmed and regularly visited North Andros – specifically those shantytowns – twice per month for the past decade.

“My experience is that the Haitian residents of the shantytowns do not want to be part of or live [in] the Bahamian communities nor have they mixed with the communities,” the affidavit read.

Douglas said that within the shantytown communities there are Haitian children “brought there from Haiti or born in The Bahamas by the Haitian residents as parents”.

He says that the communities are not governed or fall within the concern or knowledge of the local government or central government as with Bahamian communities but are controlled by “an organization of Haitians that supervise their communities”.

He further claims that the police do no visit or patrol those communities nor does the Immigration Department, even though both are aware of their existence.

“…These communities have their own police system, foot soldiers, boss and sub-boss and information network,” the affidavit continues.

“These communities have their own church.”

Douglas swore that while he has not attended any of the churches for worship, he is advised and believes “the worship is Voodoo, having chicken and goat sacrifice and marijuana is regularly grown”.

He notes that the sanitation method used is by plastic bucket with the contents thrown into the bushes – where he noted Andros land crabs live.

Douglas said he has observed the raising of pigs in the communities, which are often killed and sold for meat.

He also revealed that he is aware that they are “regularly human smuggling”.

“The freighter comes up to Morgan’s Bluff and Nicholl’s Town in North Andros and they are met by the smaller boat and Haitians are brought there in North Andros and they move into the shantytowns,” the affidavit read.

Douglas said he is concerned that the shantytowns supplement and support the Haitian communities in The Bahamas and “should the Haitian population increase as it is now increasing, the indigenous Bahamian will be a minority in The Bahamas and thereby alter our rights in The Bahamas”.

He expresses further concerns that the building laws are enforced on Bahamians but not the Haitians living in those communities in houses “made of old plywood and tin”.

“I wish to state in clear terms to say that I do not dislike Haitians in any respect and hold no racial or natural discrimination against Haitians, but say that I wish and insist that the building and immigration laws of The Bahamas be enforced as a matter of national security of this nation,” Douglas’ affidavit read.

“I swear this affidavit to support my wishes to request the court that the laws of The Bahamas be enforced and any injunction sustaining this situation be removed and that Haitians be deported to Haiti according to law”.

The government gave shantytown residents of New Providence until August 10, 2018, to evacuate those communities, and residents of shantytowns in Abaco, until July 31, 2019 to leave.

However, days before the deadline lawyers representing 177 of those shantytown residents filed an application for leave to apply for judicial review on the government’s eradication program.

Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson then granted an injunction barring the government from demolishing those structures.

The summons issued on January 23, 2020, seeks an order that the injunction issued in the action be disregarded along with the related application.

Other affidavits filed in support of the summons are from Donna Stubbs, a Fresh Creek resident.

Stubbs’ affidavit offers support for Douglas’ claims and also requests the injunction be removed.