By Candia Dames
Nassau Guardian Managing Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Haitian President Michel Martelly was due to arrive in The Bahamas on Monday for a short visit to sign several bilateral agreements with Bahamian officials.
“I think this visit is very important because it is going to make more significant the relationship between The Bahamas and Haiti,” Haiti’s ambassador to The Bahamas Antonio Rodriguez told The Nassau Guardian.
“We are going to strengthen the relations by signing some agreements between our two countries.”
One agreement relates to migration, another to trade of agricultural products and another relates to investments, Rodriguez said.
“With those three documents that we are going to sign, we are going to see the relationship between Haiti and The Bahamas placed on another level, because now we can deal directly in a very official manner with all those issues that we have together,” he said, adding that relations between the two countries are already very good.
“We have always been very good friends, very good neighbours.”
The most pressing problem The Bahamas faces as it relates to Haiti is the constant flow of illegal immigrants into The Bahamas, which continues to strain resources.
Haitian President Michel Martelly
Martelly’s visits to The Bahamas are closely watched.
Last August, he was in The Bahamas on a private visit and met with Prime Minister Perry Christie at his Cable Beach home. It was Christie’s 70th birthday.
At the time, Martelly said he was confident that Christie was looking out for Haitians living in The Bahamas and added that the Haitian community is a “powerful” voting force.
“We do have concerns about it, but we have addressed the matter with the prime minister, we have understood that the prime minister is looking out for the well-being of the Haitians here,” Martelly told reporters when asked if he had worries about the treatment of Haitian detainees.
In 2012, ahead of the general election, the Haitian president sparked a firestorm when he suggested that his countrymen should form a voting bloc and align themselves with the political party that will best serve their interests.
During that visit, Martelly also lamented the plight of “stateless” people who have to wait until their 18th birthday to apply for Bahamian citizenship even though they were born in The Bahamas.
The Constitutional Review Commission has recommended the establishment of a commission to examine citizenship issues, but such a committee has not yet been appointed.
Martelly is expected to leave The Bahamas on Tuesday.
Rodriquez said if his time permits, the president would meet with the Haitian community.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian