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News > Bahamas

Bahamas: Republic Claims After Half Century

  • Bahamas political independence. Jul. 11, 2023.

    Bahamas political independence. Jul. 11, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@ScottWRasmussen

Published 11 July 2023

Republican claims returned among some sectors of the country's civil society. Since the death of Queen Elizabeth, republicanism has been activated in many members of the Commonwealth and its populations.

Thousands of Bahamians took to the streets of Nassau yesterday to celebrate half a century of political independence from Great Britain.


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The big day is celebrated with a 10-day celebration beginning around July 1 leading up to the official Independence Day on July 10. The full roster of events traditionally includes colorful float parades, musical performances, and special church services to mark the occasion. Dozens of concerts, military and civil parades, masses, and religious rituals.

Like many areas in the Caribbean, the hundreds of islands and cays that make up the Bahamas were "discovered" and claimed by European explorers in the late 1400s. The road back to independence and self-rule was long but relatively peaceful.

The centuries in between explain why the culture and people of the Bahamas are rich with native Caribbean, European, and African influences.

And in this context, the debate on the option of declaring the Bahamas an independent republic was updated. Republican claims returned among some sectors of the country's civil society, and since the death of Queen Elizabeth, republicanism has been activated in many members of the Commonwealth and its populations.

From University College in London, the historian Kate Quinn, who works as an associate professor at the university institution, recognized that the republican claims "involves a much broader context that questions, from the most common sense, what has been the true importance that the British crown has represented for the Bahamas: ¨have they ever done anything for us?" Kate questioned.

Since the beginning of the celebrations, many have awaited the official government speech on July 10 to find out what position the government held on this issue. The Prime Minister, as head of the executive, did not disappoint in this regard. During his speech, he was enthusiastic about the possibility that the Bahamas could achieve the status of an independent republic. He insisted that in the case of his government, the opinion of the people was essential. He promised to organize a referendum to decide on the issue. Another way to institute the independent republic would be to create a constitutional amendment, especially when the party in the presidency is the majority in the government structure.

The Bahamian economy has depended more on the United States of America than on the United Kingdom. The Bahamas is a purely food-importing country. It imports 90 percent of the food consumed in the country, and 80 percent of that comes from the US market. Therefore, the northern country is an important ally of the country and a strategic neighbor to sustain its economy. It remains to be seen if the republic status could further enhance bilateralism between the two countries, or if it is a question of history or ideology.

There are those who claim that the Commonwealth plays an important role in supporting small economies in situations of national emergency and in mitigating the consequences of climate change, present every year in Bahamian reality. Those who make these arguments, reluctant to the republic, consider that it is not about staying united with the British crown but rather preserving the good practices that have been promoted in the Commonwealth, especially with regional neighboring countries.

With the power that massive festivities have in the streets of the capital and also in many other cities in the country, hope and optimism were breathed for the future of the country at a time when they are facing a deep economic crisis, as is the trend in all the Caribbean region.

Philip Davis, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, while addressing the 50th anniversary of independence celebrations, urged Bahamians to recognize that independence was not just a fleeting moment but a profound state of mind and attitude.

“It was not just the throwing off of the shackles of colonialism. Independence was and is a state of mind, an attitude, and a conviction that we will faithfully discharge the weighty responsibilities of sovereignty and self-determination. Independence was the first big step on the long journey that continues to take our nation forward and upward,” said the Prime Minister.

While reaffirming his commitment to the oaths and promises he made to the Bahamian people when he became Prime Minister, Davis urged Bahamians to reaffirm their commitment to making the Bahamas better.

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