Haitian activist, Malario-Ricaldeo Abraham Sarette wants to tell the Haitians in The Bahamas that in order to become a part of this society they need to embrace Bahamian culture and accept that the government is trying their best to follow international protocol, and overcome a backlog of people applying for citizenship that has stemmed from poor translation of documents.
Sarette, a Bahamian citizen born to a French Guyanese mother and Haitian father, who became a naturalized Bahamian prior to his sonâ s birth spoke to this daily with regard to how Haitians living in The Bahamas need to listen and ease up on the complaining.
Comparing the 60s and 70s with today, Sarette explained that The Bahamas has changed considerably, and while in those days Bahamians would never cut grass for a living and the Haitians were happy to have a job so they could support their family back in Haiti, nowadays Bahamians have opened several landscaping companies on the Island.
Sarette also noted that the Department of Immigration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Bahamas have a difficult task.
Due to the fact that documents presented are often translated poorly, Haitians use other Haitiansâ documents to apply so the Immigration Department has to be extra thorough during their investigations.
â A more in depth look is needed, and I feel anyone wishing to change their citizenship need to be educated enough so they understand the culture. They need to be asked what they know about this country,â Sarette added.
Acknowledging that there is sometimes a 15-year wait for citizenship to be given, Sarette pointed out that it is because the documents need to be authenticated and translated. â Donâ t hold the Ministry responsible for this, we are too quick to carry on bad. The Ministry has a job to do; it is the Ministerâ s job to protect the integrity of the country. The integrity of all foreign nationals come under one umbrella. In every international country they are very careful the government is just being alert,â Sarette stated.
He added, â If you are illegal you should be held, and if you feel you deserve status concentrate on those grounds and donâ t carry on badly and shout injustice.â
Sarette laid some of the blame at the feet of Haitian leaders in this community, â those who claim theyâ re working in the interests of the people.â
These leaders, Sarette claimed, are taking the blind to a cliff, â the Haitians are the blind and came to The Bahamas as it is an open window to Miami. In the interim they try to survive.â
Sarette also maintained that when they flood into this country they have three to five children, unlike Bahamians who worry how they can cope with three.
â These Haitian families make no effort to let their children try Bahamian food, dress like Bahamians or go to the same church as their friends; they constantly grow with division,â Sarette acknowledged.
â It is important we broaden ourselves and become more social and add something Bahamian in the pot so, when they get to that age they at least have some Bahamian characteristics,â Sarette added.
Additionally, Sarette said that he wants the Haitians who are worried about the new student ID system to realize that it is not going to stop their children from attending school, it is just a way for the government to do a type of census.
â There is nowhere that it says they cannot go to school and if you have a problem, call me. I have been to every school on this Island to register students of Haitian descent and I have never been turned down,â Sarette confirmed.
â You will be given a letter and in that letter it states you have three months to be in compliance. During that time you bring in the evidence that the person should be here. If anyone needs me to translate, I am ready and willing.â
In conclusion, Sarette wants the Haitian community on Grand Bahama to realize that they are sending the wrong message by speaking against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Immigration and other entities that they feel are treating them badly, as everyone is misinterpreting that message and seeing the country that has assisted them for decades as something it is not.