An off-the-cuff meeting with United States (U.S.) Vice President (VP) Mike Pence was a pivotal point for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis at the Eighth Summit of the Americas held in Lima, Peru over the weekend.
Eyewitness News understands that the highlight of said conversation was The Bahamas seeking assistance from the U.S. in stemming the tide of illegal immigration into the country.
“I’ve had a one-one-meeting with Vice President Pence: we are more concerned about the problems we face with illegal migration and I pointed out that we need assistance in this matter,” Dr. Minnis said.
He said he was very satisfied with Pence’s response to those matters, who he said, also acknowledged issues facing The Bahamas.
The Bahamas is “not looking for money, per se,” the prime minister said.
Instead, he said, the country is seeking assistance in improving its technology, skills, and its access to more supplies and equipment.
The U.S. Government announced that President Trump would not attend the Eighth Summit of the Americas, as originally scheduled.
At the president’s request, the vice president travelled in his stead. The president was said to have remained in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.
Dr. Minnis had the very same discussion with President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, whom he said, is aware of the problem and is willing to work with the Bahamian government.
“They would allow us to take a ship ride into their waters so as to deal with this issue,” said Dr. Minnis.
“But it would also help us with the problems we face with illegal fishing. Once our technology and manpower resources increase, then we can deal not only with the migratory problem but also illegal fishing.”
The prime minister stated that he also asked for assistance in dealing with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) blacklisting of The Bahamas as a ‘tax haven’.
“We are a transparent nation. We do all to stem corruption. We do all to ensure transparency, honesty and good governance… and if they think we are off track, to let us know so that we can correct that problem and maintain world standards,” he said.
“But I pointed out that I don’t think it is fair to us or other small nations because, every time the bar is moved, it affects us. So at least fix it for everybody so that we can have fairness.”
Prior to this latest meeting, the prime minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator Carl Bethel, met with US Vice President Pence and Acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan, to discuss security cooperation, disaster risk preparedness and economic and trade cooperation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General and the Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd attended a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) meeting with a nine-member US Congressional delegation, headed by House Chair of the Western Hemisphere Sub-Committee Paul Cook, to discuss CARICOM issues related to climate change, disaster risk preparedness, security cooperation, and trade arrangements.