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Over the decades the menace of smuggling in the Bahamas has reached alarming levels as more and more people continue to be subjected to the cruelty of this illegal human smuggling. Despite the indulgence of the government and the international security agencies, the problem has continued to affect the nation, both internally and its overall relations with the international community. Over the decade's different platforms such as printed and printed media have been used to highlight the menace related to smuggling in the Bahamas. One of such development the acting and production of the movie Cargo (2017), a Bahamian movie addressing on the topic of human smuggling in the region.
Produced in 2017, the movie Cargo focuses on a fisher turned smuggler when he runs into debts from gambling. To support his family, he engages in the illegal trafficking of Haitians to Florida. According to (Mortimer et al.), thousands of people in the Bahamas fall into the trap/hands of smugglers be become part of domestic smuggling (within their country), or abroad smuggling. Concerning human trafficking, entailing foreigners being offered or facilitated with illegal entrance through illegal means. Human trafficking in the Bahamas mostly involves to people brought in from nations such as Jamaica and Haiti as well as locals who are focused on improving their lives, but the promises made to them before arrival comes fruitless hence being forced into hard labor, prostitution among other vices to survive. With human smuggling been regarded as an illegal act. The Bahamas have been a destination for men and women from Haiti as well as other Caribbean nations.
Released in March 2017, the movie Cargo was filed in the Bahamas focused on the theme of human smuggling an epidemic in the region and the country at large. The movie is categorized as a drama, written and directed by Kareem Mortimer with Warren Brown the star actor. Other cast members include; Gessica Genius, Omar J, Jimmy Jean-Louis among others, the movie has had a positive review of the viewer’s due to its focus on smuggling, which has been a menace in the region (Bahamas) (Mortimer et al.). The film is inspired by actual events, hence viewers able to connect with the case of the Bahamas about human trafficking and smuggling. The movie's storyline is developed on smuggling theme revolving a Bahamian fisher who is faced with a gambling problem/addiction in the Nassau, hence taking up Smuggling Haitians in Florida to turn his bad financial situation and focus on giving his family the best support he could.
Not because the movie is prepared in the Bahamas, or produced by a Bahamian producer, nor is it because of renowned Bahamian actors, but instead its popularity is solely due to its timely focus on at some of the significant issues facing the Bahamians today. More so, the movie approaches the problems head-on without sugar coating. According to (), one primary and central plot concerning this movie cargo is human smuggling, more specific the illegal migration of Haitians. Additionally, the movie addresses other vices facing the Bahamians such as how the Bahamians grapple with gambling, infidelity and addiction challenges, as well as race and class issue related problems. The movie unfolds with Kevin’s relationship with his wife and close relatives deteriorating, hiding from his wife who later brands him a murderer when she learns what her husband is into. His life runs from bad to a worse situation as he fails to make for his expenses. Kevin’s mother has Alzheimer’s; he has a mortgage to pay, school fees for his son, coupled with his wife’s career being over as she is just being released from jail after serving her term from her involvement with drugs. To Kevin, this more than what he can afford with situation been worsened by the fact that he gables with the little he gets from fishing. In a desperate move to turn this predicament, he desperately puts his only source of income into the illegal smuggling business transporting Haitians to the US. Kevin’s desperation and the thought of being experienced in this unlawful business lead to him attempting to smuggle his girlfriend and son to the US. However, at some point in his efforts to hide Haitians in the US, he is forced to abandon refugees at sea not far from Miami shores, an incident that forces Kevin to reassess his responsibilities (Strachan, 2018).
In the movie, Kevin a white fisherman has his life slowly unraveled after his money gets lost in a gambling joint. He is, however, approached by a security officer who suggests for him to use his boat/vessel to transport people illegally into the United States. The officer explains to him how this could supplement his income. Despite first being reluctant, he accepts and in turn becomes a smugger with his gains used to settle his debts and provide for his family. The human smuggling theme comes out openly in the movie, however, for documentary lovers, the film isn’t one. Hence, not a documentary on human smuggling deal in Bahamas region. One of Kevin’s view of humanity as disposable objects ‘like Cargo’ and is in turn ready to use the cargo to get his life demands. Despite being a typical Bahamians story, the use of black and whites may depict how black Bahamians treat Haitians who visit their nation.
Overall, the movie unfolding of the smuggling menace in the Bahamas avoids numerous vices that plague the Haitians. However, the movie has overly been pleasing to the viewers, more so being rated as one of the best Bahamians produced films to have been released (Strachan, 2018). The movie doesn’t feel rushed, but instead carefully taken care of, hence regarded as a beautiful piece of work. One thing that’s is well understood, and clear is that the movie production doesn’t go well with all the Bahamians or Bahamas as a nation as it doesn’t portray the country and its people in a positive manner. Unfortunately, this isn’t a lie anymore as the smuggling issue has been a menace to the Bahamas, the Caribbean region, security, authority as well as nations such as the US where most of smuggles are destined. This is despite being shot in the best way possible with excellent view, beautiful images and aerial shots, the movie has highlighted a severe menace within the Bahamas society.
Smuggling Theme as per the Movie
The increasing demand for an improved living for the Haitians, Bahamas, and other Caribbean nations has forced people in the region result of illegal means to get admission into the United States. This is driven by an effort to make earnings and improve their way of life. The inability to secure good paying jobs, in the region, forces people to seek an alternative. This is the scenario with Kelvin, as he looks forward to meeting his life demands, expenses, schools, mortgage and hospital bills, the only source of income he possesses, fishing isn’t enough to supplement his costs. According to the movie Cargo, smuggling remains an illegal a menace in the Bahamas. One of the apparent aspects concerning trafficking as depicted in the movie is the vulnerability among children and women, but smuggled people also entail men, as the search for cheap labor fuels the trade. Despite their weakness, the human being is all in search for a way out of the menace. And in turn, the desperation taking them into the hands of smugglers.
Concerning the movie, one major factor behind smuggling is the peoples leaving of their places due to poverty in search of wealth. The same case remains true concerning Kevin, unlike the victims, he has to turn his life around from poverty to stability, and in turn the reason behind his indulgence into the menace. The majority of the victims in the movie is promised good jobs, better returns and in turn fall prey to the smugglers. Their place of origin is poverty-stricken, and hence the desire to move out. Additionally, the movie portrays women and girls as lesser regarded in the society. The social and cultural practices of the community focused on the movie devalue as well as abuses and exploit women and girls in the organization. With little or no chances for upward development amongst girls and women in Haiti and other Caribbean nations, the less value attributed to women does not good for their suitability as they become more vulnerable to smuggling and human trafficking in the Bahamas.
The movie (Cargo) being set and acted in the Bahamas displays the incitement factors in the nation and other neighboring nations. This is the reason as to why the movie Cargo is regarded as not a positive marketer for the Bahamas as it displays its fault as far as human trafficking and smuggling problem is concerned (Strachan, 2018). These include unemployment, social exclusion, violence, social and economic instability, lack of access to information and education, poverty, gender discrimination among other vices. Not only does the movie depict this business as a risky one, but also an act against humanity, hence the need for the authorities, leaders and all parties ought to condemn is in the most robust way possible. Inspired by actual events, the movie is a depiction of the situation in the Bahamas as far as human trafficking and smuggling are concerned. At some point, Kevin the leading actor in the movie becomes so good in the dangerous to the extent of trusting himself with his girlfriend and son whom he attempts to smuggle into the United States (Strachan, 2018). This is an indication of the problem in the Bahamas and the desperate measure and desire of the people to improve their lives by all means.
One of the evident aspects with reference to the movie is the broken social structure of the Bahamas and the rest of Caribbean nations. Defined by drug smuggling, gambling, unemployment, etc. have been some of the driving factors behind the forces driving more and more people into illegal relation for a better life. In terms of approach to reduce the menace, the leading actor identifies that, once he is financially stable, he wouldn’t indulge in the illegal activities of smuggling people. In an effort to curb the deteriorating cases of Haitians, Bahamians and Jamaicans, the governments should be focused in providing the basis amenities for its people such as education, employment, etc. this would significantly reduce the number of people in desire to relocate for between pay and lives.
Smuggling Problem in Bahamas
Due to its geographical location, the Bahamas have been a preferred destination for men and women from the Haiti and Caribbean nations who are determined to gain illegal access to the United States. This has in turn been one of the factors that have led to the country; the Bahamas are a primary route for smugglers. According to Geddes (326), the rate of human trafficking and smuggling from the Bahamas has led to increased concern as more and more people continue to suffer from the illegal trade. Jamaica and Haiti serve as the primary source of people who are smuggled through the Bahamas. In some cases, the migrants come willingly to improve their lives, but the conditions worsen as they are subjected to force and hard labor not forgetting women forced into prostitution.
Despite the fueling factors behind smuggling in Bahamas such as social inequality, poverty among others, the demand for cheap labor in destination nation also acts as an attraction for the poverty-stricken Haitians and Jamaicans to find a way to the US. This, in turn, increases desperation rate and in turn increased rate of smuggling activities. Human smuggling has been and remains an international problem and is likened to modern day slavery. According to (), the primary reasons for human trafficking include labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Despite much emphasize on the Bahamas to actively control the menace, the trade of smuggling is partly driven by buyer demand, which can be attributed to being the case in the Bahamas.
In recent times, smuggling trends have pinpointed a significant increase in Grand Bahamas making it a hotspot for illegal immigration to the US. The smuggled victims end up in forced labor and to lesser extent sent to forced prostitution. Haitians are not spared either, since a majority of them voluntarily migrate to The Bahamas only to be subjected to forced labor in Agricultural fields, domestic service or forced sex trade (Langberg 131). Chinese nationals Tourists have sparked complaints are citing unfair profiling since the Chinese are the most affected Brazilians and South American citizens. In 2016, the Department of Immigration arrested a total of 7357 people (Geddes 336). Out of that figure, 6,869 were deported while 488 foreign nationals were freed. Among the latter, were persons owed work permit fees. The immigrant face unfair work practices from employers ranging from subjecting them to more extended working hours, meager pay, withholding of their travel documents, altering their terms of employment contracts and or threatening to have them deported through other means.
The government of the Bahamas does not conform to the minimum the standards that seek to eradicate trafficking. This is according to reports by the American government, though they admit that they are trying to do so. Recently, the government initiated some investigations into suspected cases of smuggling, but failed to identify the culprits among the vulnerable populations proactively. These populations, mostly encompass women and girls engaging in the sex trade and has consistently continued to deport immigrants that are undocumented without first determining whether they indeed are victims of trafficking.
Strategies to Curb Smuggling in Bahamas
Smuggling remains one of the world’s most ancient professions. When states establish border points seeking to regulate traffic across them, they create avenues for human smuggling and goods as well. Human trafficking refers to illegal immigration and transnational criminal networks that are highly organized. However, many smuggled humans participate willingly while others are duped or coerced into it. Either way, all are vulnerable to abuse, violence, exploitation perpetuating smuggling in its pernicious form a barrier to the successful protection of many migrant laborers and their families difficult (Langberg 134). Many social challenges come with human trafficking. These include sweatshops, servitude that is involuntary, trading of human beings, fraudulent documentation, corruption, highly organized transnational criminal activities and other sorts of crime. Unfortunately, these become hard to not only detect but also prosecute. Global communications facilitate smugglers to quickly change their marked routes, countries of destination and transit and scheduled timings (Banzon 58). This also allows for high quality counterfeited documentation. The government of the Bahamas has taken decisive measures aimed at strengthening combat activities of illegal drug, arms, and migrant smuggling. The minister for defense stressed that the Bahamas must be viewed as credible and decisive in their attempts to make their national borders free from transnational crime when organized crime is on the rise. Approaches geared towards this realization include;
Law enforcement. The strategies in this category are both a mixture of disrupting the organized crime as well as deterrence. These encompass declaring human trafficking and smuggling an explicit criminal activity, raising legal penalties for capturing smugglers into the Bahamas. Advance in the intelligence that can dismantle smuggling rings heightened arrests and prosecution of human smugglers, distorting of traditional routes and safe houses used by offenders as well as improved communication and cooperation with state and local law enforcement organs (Banzon 56). Also, focusing attention on labor law enforcers and specifically, employers who exploit different routes to obtain immigrant laborers will be increased to ensure lesser humans are trafficked for forced prostitution. In the Bahamas, all these strategies will be pursued as the government emphasizes. Federal penalties for human smugglers will be increased, providing that persons who knowingly participate in human smuggling into or out of the Bahamas will be subjected to imprisonment or fined per human smuggled. Further, death occurs from acts of smuggling, life imprisonment or even death penalty will be imposed.
The Bahamas appreciates that substantial levels of inter-country cooperation are needed while combating smuggling. As such, the Bahamian government is focusing on improving boarder security surveillance to fight offenders by both sea and air. They are joining hands with others in the Caribbean to disintegrate significant smuggling rings which will call for working with both domestic and overseas carriers to enlist their assistance in thwarting smuggling.
Education. Educational campaigns geared to informing those intending to employ the smuggler’s services and the dangers entailed is a plan by the Bahamian government. For instance, other countries like Mexico and the US mounted efforts at the southern border trying to reach out to Mexicans about the dangers of human smuggling across the desert areas. The initiative proved successful in seeing a reduction in the smuggling in recent times (Malik, 2014). Hence Bahamian government wants to borrow the lesson. In fact, education campaigns to stop trafficking women in the Bahamas has garnered support since women have been recruited into legitimate occupations only to find later themselves plunged into forced prostitution, hard labor and other types of exploitations. International Organization for Migration is carrying out campaigns in some countries including the Bahamas.
Protecting the Migrant Rights is another initiative. Education campaigns are still aiming at safeguarding immigrant’s victimization, but when they dare to enter, governments struggle with defining the standards governing the kind of treatment served to them. For example, is the rights of immigrants trying to gain illegal entry to be protected from forms of abuse at the hands of traffickers, other predators as well as immigration officials? For instance, in the San Diego police department, there exists an anti-immigrant victimization unit where police patrols the canyons arresting all bandits while ensuring the safety of illegal smugglers but does not enforce any immigration laws. This has seen Bahamas map to create its counterpart unit to patrol its borders. However, protection can also be beefed up via mechanisms such as training and developing border officials on issues pertaining human rights for civilian review bodies to get complaints and compliments against their officials and evaluation of their impact on the immigrants.
Another way human smugglers can be combated is enforcing witness protection programs who the bold individuals who may be willing to testify against smugglers. The reason behind this initiative is the fact that smuggled victims who get themselves stranded or apprehended mostly lack resources to fund their return to destinations of origin. Further, immigrants who are abused require help to safe evacuation and the Bahamas has established programs to offer these services. This is in addition to initiatives protecting rights of females smuggled for sexual purposes. Measures addressing trafficking should cease marginalizing, stigmatizing or even isolating female victims thus making them vulnerable to both abuse and violence (Langberg 132). Instead, the Bahamian government is offering support programs for smuggled victims which include and not limited to, peer counseling, a provision of a hotline for the intervention of crisis, legal advice, and assistance, and homely shelters for victims whose lives are threatened by criminal gangs.
Rated as one of the best films produced in Bahamas, the Cargo film has a strong message to send across not only for Bahamians, but also for the rest of the world. Human trafficking and or smuggling can be regarded as some of the illegal operations on people. The movie has developed the smuggling theme as well as the other social vices affecting the Bahamians. Driven by the desire to have a better life, Kelvin the leading actor brings out the daily hustles by the Bahamians in an effort to survive. Nevertheless, for documentary lovers, the film Cargo doesn’t meet their desire, but rather highlights the issue. In terms of curbing the problem in the Bahamas and other Caribbean nations, the movie is an example of the existence of the illegal trade, hence need for active action against it.
Currently, smugglers have an advantage over many governments due to lack of international migration regime where governments come together to condemn and prosecute human smugglers. This places smugglers at a place where they are able to exploit the gaps left by the institutional structures.it is also advantageous to them that besides inflicting violence, their primary service of providing cheap labor for receiving nations is widely practiced and tolerated though illegal. Their advantage is the mere fact that immigrants are dependent, ignorant and lack recourse when anticipated agreements are not met. Combating human smuggling n Bahamas needs a systematic understanding of the scope and nature of the problem at hand, as well as best practices that will control smuggling operation attempts. Human trafficking cannot be stopped in isolation and hence international organs must come together to curb receiving countries from participating in this trade. Finally, for a successful fight against the menace, there ought a corroboration between the destination country and the source country, this this case, the United States agencies, together with Bahamian authorities, Jamaican and Haitian would prove more successful other than fighting for one side.
Banzon, Marie Yvette L. "Combating Trafficking in Persons through Gender-Focused Strategy." UN Chronicle, vol. 42, no. 1, Mar-May2005, pp. 56-60.
Geddes, Andrew. "Chronicle of a Crisis Foretold: The Politics of Irregular Migration, Human Trafficking and People Smuggling in the UK." British Journal of Politics & International Relations, vol. 7, no. 3, Aug. 2005, pp. 324-339.
Langberg, Laura. "A Review of Recent OAS Research on Human Trafficking in the Latin American and Caribbean Region." International Migration, vol. 43, no. 1/2, Mar. 2005, pp. 129-139.
Langberg, Laura. "A Review of Recent OAS Research on Human Trafficking in the Latin American and Caribbean Region." International Migration, vol. 43, no. 1/2, Mar. 2005, pp. 129-139.
Malik, Khalid and Programmed United Nations Development. Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience. United Nations Publications, 2014. Human Development Report.
Mortimer, Kareem et al. "Cargo (2017)." IMDb. N.P., 2018. Web. 26 Mar. 2018.
Strachan, Dwight. "Kareem J. Mortimer’S ‘Cargo’ Is a Must-See Film – The Nassau Guardian." Thenassauguardian.com. N.P., 2018. Web. 26 Mar. 2018.
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