This Natural Wonder Will Soon Be Destroyed, Unless We Commit to Saving It
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.” — H. L. Mencken
For as long as I've been writing on the internet I've tried to avoid writing about the Bahamas and its politics; I've avoided portraying the Bahamas negatively in general. Partially it's out of a primitive sense of patriotism and the want to not exacerbate the delicate economic situation of my home country; partially it's so my family's civil engineering company won't face the petty spite of a winning politician that I (rightly or wrongly) criticized or insulted; and partially because (let's face it) Bahamian politics rank up there with golf, curling, and spending a Friday night in a dry county as far as excitement goes. Today, obviously, I'm breaking this self-imposed silence due to an explosion of rage over Facebook that was so great I thought for a moment I was scrolling through my post history. The rage has stemmed from this press release, which states that the land surrounding Dean's Blue Hole, the world's deepest underwater cave, is for sale.
To give my American readers a close comparison, imagine this is Old Faithful that we’re talking about; a natural wonder and national treasure that is an icon for the country. Now further, imagine that some greedheaded land grabber bought the land around Old Faithful and was determined to develop it into an all inclusive five star resort you had to either stay at the resort to get to, pay an exorbitant visitors fee, or parachute in to see. I know, not a perfect comparison since Old Faithful is in the middle of a national park whereas Dean’s Blue Hole isn’t, but I did only say a close comparison. Different articles list different prices ranging from $10 to 24 million dollars, and given the projected profits a high class resort would reap that’s a steal. When the rage began to bubble and people contacted the Bahamian government about the prospect of the land falling into non-Bahamian hands, they pushed forward our Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe to answer: “It will remain in the hands of the Bahamian people. We will not get rid of our treasures, it is a part of the Bahamas and we are going to keep it.”
For people in the Bahamas, one of the biggest fears is that a foreigner will own the land. Unfortunately my people are (as usual) ignoring the bigger picture in favor of playing the hollow political game that has been set before them. Who owns the land is irrelevant; a Bahamian is just as capable of ruining the land as anyone else. What should be even more important, is that the land remains undeveloped and in pristine condition for all to enjoy. The Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust (the managing body of all national parks in the Bahamas) has been quoted as saying “the blue hole should have been declared a national park a long time ago, and been given an official designation.” A good point, but I’m not writing this to mock the failures of past Bahamian governments.
The plans for development are still in their infancy, but it doesn’t take a vivid imagination to picture what construction of any kind will do to this picturesque landscape. The possible environmental damage, surface runoff primarily, would single handedly destroy what makes this otherwise desolate and uninteresting slice of an isolated rural island desirable. That is my primary concern, that Dean’s Blue (whether the land is in Bahamian hands or not) will become another overdeveloped paradise lost; a well handled gem that lost the beauty that made it so attractive in the first place.
The thought is a depressing one to the average Joe, but it should be a terrifying thought to the politicians running my country. Appealing to the human decency rarely works on politicians, in any part of the world, but appealing to (or threatening) their election prospects should. The best case scenario that could play out for the government would be to purchase the land and then declare it a national park before handing over management to the Bahamas National Trust. The worst case scenario is, of course, the land is developed irrelevant of whether the owner is Bahamian or not and everything is ruined. Either outcome will be remembered come the next election, even if it is four years away. Dean's Blue and the land surrounding it must be designated a Bahamian National Park.
Should this article ever be read by anyone in the Bahamian government, I have one final message: You may still be riding high eight months later, but don't forget the rule of all real Democracies. Elections always come.