(click on picture for larger image)
Haiti is a failed state. There are virtually no opportunities for work. Many of them try to escape. The Haitians build sloops and sailing boats from scrap. The sails are old fabrics, bed sheets, old fabric signs -- virtually anything that they can get their hands on.
The Haitian sloops used to be in great numbers in Nassau Harbour, trading mangoes and other foodstuffs for cold hard cash. They aren't there any longer, because the Royal Bahamas Defence Force stops them.
There are many illegal Haitians in Nassau. The Haitian population is around 70,000 people in a country with a population of 330,000. Illegals are desirable for employment in Nassau, because they have an excellent work ethic, unlike the Bahamians who are lazy and won't do low-level jobs. The Haitian workers also send most of their money home.
Haitians are hated and discriminated against in the Bahamas by the general population. Populist governments make great shows of rounding up the illegals. However they still keep coming because Bahamians keep hiring them for their work ethic and cheap wages. I have often heard in the street "Deport the Illegals, but not my Haitian"! One of the most derogatory terms that a Bahamian can call anyone is a "Hyshun", which is how they pronounce it in the local dialect.
Most Haitians would rather end up in the US than in the Bahamas. The US is only 100 and some miles from Florida, however the waters are heavily patrolled. Human trafficking is a huge problem. Many Haitians regularly die in mass drownings in the Bahamas. This happens from overcrowded boats or in some cases, human traffickers dump the refugees overboard when the authorities come near.
Just in the past two weeks there have been two boats intercepted in Bahamian waters. One had over a hundred people crammed on it, and another had 200. With just a bit of weather, there would have been a mass drowning and human tragedy. Pictured above is one of the boats, being towed by Royal Bahamas Defence Force this week.