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International Relations

Government & Society in the Bahamas: International Relations/Diplomacy

The Bahamas has bilateral relationships with the United States and the United Kingdom, represented by an ambassador in Washington and High Commissioner in London. The Bahamas also associates closely with other nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The Bahamas has diplomatic relations with the Castro’s Cuban regime, although not with resident ambassadors. Sadly, a repatriation agreement was signed with Cuba in 1996, and there are commercial and cultural contacts between the two countries.

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas became a member of the United Nations (UN) in 1973 and the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1982.

Overall Bilateral U.S.-Bahamian relations are excellent. A common language, cultural similarities, family and personal ties dating back to the days of the American Revolution (when the ancestors of many modern Bahamians first came to the islands from the southeastern United States), and the enormous number of visitors every year between the two countries have engendered an unusually high level of familiarity and ease of communication.

One disgraceful recent event is the, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell (under the PLP government), who had the Bahamas vote to  have the communist state of Cuba — a major human right’s violator — on to the new United Nations Human Rights Council in May of 2006.

Commented former Prime Minister Ingraham on the disgraceful vote:

“If we [the FNM] were in office Cuba would not have the nerve or the gumption to ask us to vote for them to be on a human rights commission. That’s an unthinkable event.”

“This is a new commission established by the United Nations and countries are able to vote for their choice. It was wrong of Mr. Mitchell to lay the blame for the Bahamas’ vote or to support the Bahamas’ vote position by producing a minute of a relatively junior foreign officer in the Mission in New York.”

“…We would not have had an embassy of the Bahamas in Cuba. We may have had a consulate office, which is a downgraded position, in Cuba to deal with Bahamian nationals…I don’t know what it is about Cuba that causes it to rise to the level of ambassadorship from this government’s point of view…[The FNM] didn’t see it that way and don’t see it that way, so if we came to office, we would downgrade the office in Cuba back to consular level.”

“There are many things that we support Cuba [on], but not to be a member of the human rights commission…Cuba’s human rights record does not lend itself to membership on a human rights commission and one of those tenets for a human rights commission would be countries that allow their citizens to leave the country when they choose to and return when they choose. Cuba does not do that.”

“The most critical (and important) relationship the Bahamas has with a country outside its borders is the one with the United States of America. We want to maintain the relationship with Cuba, Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean and the world, but we’re not going to put at risk our relationship to cosy up with and be friends with Cuba.” [Bahama Journal]