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A purely analytical perception...


BAHAMAS

Continued from page 3

Hard times continued to plague the Bahamas until Prohibition began in 1919. Around the same time, Florida industrialist Henry Flagler built a train that went from Miami to the Florida Keys, making the Bahamas considerably more accessible.

Luckily for the Islanders, only those who had passed the Act had lost interest in drinking, and prosperity returned to the Bahamas. Just as the Bahamians were digging out, however, Prohibition was repealed and the Great Depression struck. Then, in 1939 a plague decimated the sponge crop, which had been one of the few remaining sources of hard currency. Bad news also hit Flagler's railroad when the most severe hurricane of the twentieth century turned the ties into tooth picks and the rails into man hole covers. The railroad would not recover.

World War II brought with it the chance of legitimacy. Industry perked up, tourism began, and a small offshore banking and insurance industry blossomed. The end of the War also brought with it drug smuggling for hard currency. Drug running has become a substantial part of the Bahamian economy; today, fully 11 per cent of the cocaine entering the United States passes through the Bahamas.

For more then 300 years, the country had been ruled by whites; members of the United Bahamian Party (UBP) who were known as the Bay Street Boys, taken from the name of Nassau's main business thoroughfare. Their reign was particularly important to the culture of the country from the end of World War II until the late 1960s. The Boys took charge of just about everything on the Island and deals were struck with just about anyone with a buck in their pocket. Concessions in gambling, hotels and land were given out to the "Boys'" favorites. This era of shady politics did not end when Sir Lynden Pindling, the leader of the black majority party, (Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) came to power in 1967. His regime lasted twenty-five years and was punctuated with allegations that he was getting a piece of everything that wasn't tacked down in the country. He was also charged with involvement in the drug trade and doing away with political opponents. Scandals abounded and ultimately the government fell. In the meantime, the country was deep in another depression sparked partly by distrust of the government.

Pindling did leave a bit of a legacy. He helped to create the Bahamian middle class and brought education to many of the 270,000 people of the Islands. However, he also left a legacy of uninterrupted drug trafficking and established the Bahamas as a haven for many of the world's most serious criminals. In his farewell address, Pindling seemed to grasp the moment and told the Bahamian House that. "I was less than perfect. When all I did for good is put in the balance against all I did for ill or failed to do at all, I hope that future generations will not find me sorely wanting," No other leader of a nation has ever put his short comings so succinctly.

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