Of the many events and personalities which have come to impact the Bahamas, a large majority of them have come from without, rather than within its shores. Haiti and the Bahamas, have had the longest running relationship, of any two Caribbean countries, since the crash of Columbus. It began in 1492 and continues to present day. On October 12, 1492, Columbus kidnapped several Lucayan boys in search of gold. He finally landed on Hispaniola on 5th December 1492. At least two of the boys were still alive. Lucayans were taken from the Bahamas as slaves to work in the mines on Haiti. From this point, the fates and fortunes of the two islands would become intertwined, complex, jagged and tested.

In June 1969, the relationship between the two islands would be sorely tested when a bullet ridden plane, which had recently bombed the presidential palace of Francois Duvalier, landed on Grand Bahama. The so-called revolutionaries and freedom fighters sought refuge on the island.

What was the Bahamas government supposed to do? This plane represented the highest level of foreign affairs, of which the Bahamian government, had no opinion, much less jurisdiction over.


Wednesday June 4, 1969, a plane suspected of having taken off from Cuba (claimed by the Haitian Ambassador in Washington)bombed the capital of Port au Prince, killing at least two people. Haitian military fire at the plane. It escapes. Duvalier asks the Americans to send bombers to protect Haiti. The Americans consider the request, but takes no action.

The bullet ridden four engine bomber, a Constellation, landed at the American Air Base on Grand Bahama. The nine occupants asked the Americans for fuel to take off again. The Americans, quite naturally, said no.

Why in the world would the Americans offer fuel to the fugitives, and put themselves in the middle of a major foreign incident, while they themselves were on foreign Bahamian soil? Offering fuel would have drawn the Bahamas into what was essentially, an act of terror, on Haitian soil.

When the Americans refused, the men left the plane and hired taxis to go into Freeport.

Phone calls started flying across the islands and across the world.

London was called.

Washington was called.

Nassau was called.

The nine were arrested in Freeport by Bahamian police, charged as illegal immigrants.

(The Independent Press Telegram Thursday June 5, 1969)

Someone had telephoned Haiti to tell Francois Duvalier that the bombers had been arrested, and the British were dealing with it. He announced this in a radio address which surprised everyone, including the British who were doing their best to stay out of it.

(The Independent Press Telegram Thursday June 5, 1969)

What is typical of the many attempted coups in Haiti are the varied personalities, nationalities and motivations involved. Six gasoline drums with detonation fuses were dropped. One exploded. One fell on the gardener’s house of the US Ambassador to Haiti. Three people were killed, all peasant farmers and two more suffered heart attacks from shock.

We then look at the nationalities onboard the plane and wonder.

By Friday, June 6, 1969, all the men were off Bahamian soil and held in various detention centres or jails abroad.

(The Independent Press Telegram Thursday June 5, 1969)
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