Barbados

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Overview

Barbados was the destination for George Washington’s only known overseas trip, undertaken when he was a young man of nineteen. Today, more than 130,000 Americans follow their first President to Barbados every year, making it a leading tourist destination. Although technically not in the Caribbean, by history, culture, and proximity, Barbados is as Caribbean a nation as any other. It is also one of the most prosperous and stable countries of the region, with strong tourism and a growing economy. In fact, in 2007 Barbados hosted the championship match of the Cricket World Cup, and co-hosted the entire tournament with the other Anglophone countries of the region: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Barbados is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, just east of the Caribbean, with an area of 167 square miles, about 2½ times the size of Washington, DC. The hilly, terraced island is composed almost entirely of coral, while coral reefs almost completely surround it. Sugarcane plantations, long the basis of the island’s economy, cover the slopes and coastal plateaus. The capital, Bridgetown, has a population of almost 100,000. Barbados lies about 300 miles north of South America. 

 
Population: 287,000 (2011 estimate)
 
Religions: Christian 95.5%, non-religious 1.73%, Baha'i 1.22%, Muslim 0.76%, Hindu 0.33%, other (mainly Rastafarian) 0.46%.
 
Ethnic Groups: black 93%, white 3.2%, mixed 2.6%, and East Indian 1%.
 
Languages: Barbadian Creole English (Bajan) 88.7%, English (official) 4.4%.
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History

Barbados was inhabited as early as 1600 BCE, although these unknown people were followed much later first by Arawak and then by Carib peoples. Although the Portuguese visited during the 16th century, the first permanent settlers were the English, who claimed the island in 1625 and ruled it for more than 300 years. The English replaced the subsistence agriculture of the natives with a plantation economy based on sugarcane production for export; the extinction of the native peoples was one result. Large English plantation owners imported thousands of Africans to work as slaves on their sugar plantations, and the resulting expansion of sugarcane agriculture gradually pushed the smaller English yeoman farmers off their land and off the island. Working conditions on the plantations were so brutal that death rates among slaves were so high that the slave population was not self-sustaining. Barbados became one of the leading sugar producers in the world, enriching a small number of British absentee landlords and relying on thousands of slaves to work the island’s small number of large sugar plantations. The abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom and its colonies in 1834 changed the sugarcane workers’ lives only somewhat, as their access to land and credit were limited. From 1800 until 1885, Barbados served as the seat of Government for the British colonies of the Windward Islands, and the resident Governor of Barbados also served as the Colonial head of the Windward Islands. After the Government of Barbados officially exited from the Windward Island union in 1885, the seat was moved from Bridgetown to St. George's on the neighboring island of Grenada, where it remained until the territory of the Windward Islands was dissolved in 1960.

 
Despite being few in number, the plantation owners and propertied classes generally held a firm grip on power well into the twentieth century, owing largely to highly restrictive election laws that allowed only about 30% of adult Barbadians to vote. Women could not vote, nor could the poor, nor many in the middle class. During the Great Depression years of the 1930s, a vocal and militant labor movement developed among the sugarcane workers, who led the nation to political reforms and eventually independence. One of the leaders of the related political movement, Grantley Adams, in 1938 founded the Barbados Progressive League, which later changed its name to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Adams and his party demanded labor rights for the working class, universal adult suffrage, free education, and better housing and health care. Ironically for a left-leaning party leader, Adams also staunchly supported the British monarchy. Progress toward a more democratic government in Barbados was made in 1942, when the income qualification for voting was lowered and women won the right to vote. By 1950 the income restrictions on voting were entirely abolished, and control of the government control was wrested from the planters. In 1958, Adams was elected Premier of Barbados.
 
From 1958 to 1962, Barbados was one of the ten members of the West Indies Federation, a country doomed by island-specific nationalism and by the fact that its members, as British colonies, held limited legislative power. Adams served as its first and only “premier,” but he failed in his attempt to make of the Federation a sort of United States of the Caribbean, and his opponents used his continued defense of the monarchy as evidence that he had lost touch with the people. 
 
Errol Walton Barrow, a fervent reformer, challenged Adams during the 1950s. In 1955, Barrow left the BLP and formed the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as a more progressive alternative. By 1961, Barrow had replaced Adams as premier and the DLP controlled the government. It was Barrow’s government that won Barbadian independence at a constitutional conference with Britain in June 1966. Barbados finally became an independent parliamentary democracy on November 30, 1966, with Errol Barrow its first prime minister, although Queen Elizabeth II remained the monarch. Barbados also maintained historic linkages with Britain by joining the Commonwealth of Nations grouping. A year later, Barbados obtained membership in the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Today, Barbadian politics is still dominated by the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party, the latter of which won the country’s most recent elections, in 2008, with 53% of the vote and 20 out of 30 seats in the House of Assembly. 
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History of U.S. Relations with Barbados

The United States and Barbados have had friendly relations since Barbados’ independence in 1966, with no major conflicts or controversies. The U.S. has supported the government’s efforts to expand the country’s economic base and provide a higher standard of living for Barbadians, who are also known as Bajans. Barbados is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through multilateral agencies such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Bridgetown.

 
Barbados receives counter-narcotics assistance and is eligible to benefit from the U.S. military’s exercise-related and humanitarian assistance construction program. Barbados and U.S. authorities cooperate in the fight against narcotics trafficking and other forms of transnational crime. In 1996, the United States and Barbados signed a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) and an updated extradition treaty covering all common offenses, including conspiracy and organized crime. A maritime law enforcement agreement was signed in 1997.
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Barbados

Noted Barbadian-Americans:

Public Service
Shirley Chisholm: A politician, educator, and author, Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. Her mother was a Barbadian immigrant.
Eric Holder: He is the 82nd and current Attorney General of the United States, and the first African-American to hold the position, serving under President Barack Obama. His father and maternal grandparents were born in Barbados.
Media
Gwen Ifill: A journalist, television newscaster and author, Hill is a prominent fixture for the PBS news shows “Washington Week” and “The NewsHour.” She moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice Presidential debates. Her parents were both Barbadians. 
Entertainment:
Afrika Bambaataa: A DJ from the South Bronx, New York, he was one of the three originators of Hip Hop music, and transformed the street gang the Black Spades into a music and culture-oriented group called Universal Zulu Nation. His grandparents were born in Barbados.
Grandmaster Flash: Born Joseph Saddler in Bridgetown, Barbados, King Grandmaster Flash is an American hip hop musician and DJ, one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing, and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making him, along with the group The Furious Five, among the first hip hop/rap artists to be so honored.
Cuba Gooding Jr.: He is an actor best known for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film Jerry Maguire, and his critically acclaimed performance as Tré Styles in John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood. His paternal grandfather was born in Barbados. 
LL Cool J: Born James Todd Smith, better known as LL Cool J (“Ladies Love Cool James”) is a rapper and actor known for romantic ballads like “I Need Love”, as well as pioneering hip-hop such as “I Can't Live Without My Radio.” He has released thirteen studio albums and two greatest hits compilations, has appeared in numerous films, and currently stars as NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna on the CBS crime drama television series “NCIS: Los Angeles.” His parents were both from Barbados. 
Rihanna:   Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Saint Michael, Barbados, Rihanna moved to the U.S. at age 16 to pursue a recording career, signed a contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for then-label head Jay-Z, and has sold more than 15 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide.
Paule Marshall: She is an author born in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents who was chosen by Langston Hughes to accompany him on a world tour in which they both read their poetry, which was a boon to her career. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a past winner of the Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and was designated as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library in 1994.
 
54,509 Barbadians live in the U.S. The five states with the largest Barbadian populations are New York, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, and California. Unlike most immigrants to the United States, Barbadians do not form communities but tend to settle wherever they find work. 130,767 Americans visited Barbados in 2006, and about 3,000 Americans live there full time. The number of visitors to the island nation has remained around 130,000 in recent years. 54,096 Barbadians visited the U.S. in 2006. More Barbadians have traveled to the U.S. every year since 2002, when 41,934 came to America. 
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Where Does the Money Flow

Tourism is the largest sector of the Barbadian economy, employing at least 10% of the workforce and accounting for an even larger share of the country’s GDP. The other service sectors of informatics and financial services are also important and growing. The economy is dominated by the service sector, which employs 75% of the workforce and generates 78% of the GDP, while manufacturing employs 15% of workers and creates 16% of the GDP. Although sugarcane once led the island’s economy, agriculture now accounts for only 6% of Barbadian GDP and employs just 10% of the workforce. 

 
The global recession has impacted U.S.-Barbadian trade, which was down in 2009 after several straight years of growth, with imports declining 18.9% and exports 18.6% as compared to 2008. U.S. imports from Barbados came to $32.7 million, dominated by alcoholic beverages ($15.4 million or 47%), electrical apparatus and parts ($4.3 million or 13.1%) and various foodstuffs and beverages ($2.2 million or 6.7%). The U.S. sold more than $404.7 million worth of goods to Barbados, led by food ($80.2 million or 19.8%), computers and telecommunications equipment ($35.8 million or 8.8%), household goods ($33 million or 8.2%), industrial machinery ($32.9 million or 8.2%) and plastics & chemicals ($21 million or 5.2%). U.S. firms involved in tourism, such as major hotel chains and cruise lines, are heavily invested in Barbados, and U.S. food producers have an interest in the country’s stability as well. 
 
In 2009 the U.S. gave $31.6 million in aid to Eastern Caribbean countries (i.e. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The programs receiving the most funding were Global Health and Child Survival ($23.9 million), Development Assistance ($5.7 million), and International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement ($0.5 million). Eastern Caribbean countries will receive HIV/AIDS funding through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which lies outside of the budget for foreign operations. 
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Controversies

Are Barbados Banks Engaging in Money Laundering?

Although Barbados was not among the Caribbean nations whose offshore banking operations were criticized during the late 1990s, that has begun to change. Some now charge that Barbadian bank regulation is so lax that money laundering may be more common than thought, and some believe that the government may be turning a blind eye to the issue. 
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Human Rights

Barbados is a stable two-party parliamentary democracy. Free and fair elections were last held there in January 2008, resulting in a peaceful transfer of power to the party that had been in opposition since 2003. Freedom of speech, press and religion are recognized. Although the government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, problems include excessive use of force by police and societal violence against women and children. In a 2008 report, Amnesty International called on Barbados to abolish the death penalty and accede to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. 

 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Eileen R. Donovan

Appointment: Jul 22, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 1974
 
Theodore R. Britton, Jr.
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 9, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 12, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 22, 1977
Note: Accredited also to Grenada; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Frank V. Ortiz, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 14, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 29, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 15, 1979
Note: Accredited also to Grenada; also Special Representative to Antigua, Dominica, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Sally A. Shelton
Non-career appointee
Appointment: May 17, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 7, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 24, 1981
Note: Accredited also to Grenada and Dominica; Minister to St Lucia, and Special Representative to Antigua, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, and St. Vincent; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Milan D. Bish
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 23, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 10, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 4, 1984
Note: Accredited also to Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; St. Lucia; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Thomas H. Anderson, Jr.
Non-career appointee
Appointment: May 3, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 11, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 12, 1986
Note: Also accredited to Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; St. Christopher and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Paul A. Russo
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Oct 14, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 10, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 25, 1988
 
Joy A. Silverman
Non-career appointee
Note: Nomination of Jul 11, 1989, not acted upon by the Senate. John E. Clark served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Jun 1988-Nov 1990.
 
G. Philip Hughes
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Oct 10, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 14, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 17, 1993
Note: Also accredited to Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Jeanette W. Hyde
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Mar 28, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 14, 1994
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 31, 1998
Note: Appointed Ambassador to Grenada, Antigua/Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis, Mar 4, 1995.
 
E. William Crotty
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 24, 1998
Termination of Mission: Died at Gainesville, Florida, Oct 10, 1999
Note: Accredited also to Antigua/Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincint/Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
James A. Daley
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Aug 3, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 26, 2000
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. A second nomination of Sep 28, 2000 was not acted upon by the Senate.
 
Earl Norfleet Phillips
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Jan 30, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 1, 2003
Note: Accredited also to Antigua/Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Mary Kramer
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 15, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 3, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, October 30, 2006
Note: Accredited also to Antigua/Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent/Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Mary Martin Ourisman
Non-career appointee
Appointment: October 31, 2006
Termination of Mission: January 20, 2009
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Barbados's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Beale, John

John Beale was appointed ambassador of Barbados to the United States on Jan. 29, 2009, replacing Michael Ian King, who had served in the post since 2000. Unlike King, who had thirty years’ experience in the Barbadian Foreign Service, Beale is a businessman with little diplomatic background. Beale worked for 26 years in international banking and project financing, including 11 years in the Chase Manhattan Bank network, three and a half years at Banco Internacional, three years at RBTT Bank Barbados Ltd., and more than eight years at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank. His positions have included investment officer with the Business Advisory Service of the IFC (1987-1995); divisional executive chairman of Barbados Shipping and Trading Co. (BS&T) and director of BS&T and Neal & Massy (1995-2004); and President and CEO of RBTT Barbados Ltd. (2004-2009), a leading pan-Caribbean banking group with assets of $7 billion. Beale also served as honorary consul in Rio de Janeiro and Uruguay, as well as head of the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team from 2003 to 2007. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Marietta College in Ohio, and a Master of Business Administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. He speaks English, Portuguese and some Spanish, and is married with three children.

 

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Barbados's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

Barbados Embassy in U.S.

2144 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 939-9200     
Fax: (202) 332-7467
E-mail: washington@foreign.gov.bb
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U.S. Ambassador to Barbados

Palmer, Larry Leon
ambassador-image

The United States will soon have a new ambassador to the Caribbean island nations of Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. President Barack Obama nominated Senior Foreign Service member Larry Leon Palmer on November 1, 2011. Confirmed by the Senate on March 29, 2012, Palmer is the first Foreign Service officer to serve in this post since President Jimmy Carter sent Frank V. Ortiz, Jr., in 1977.

 
The son of a minister, Palmer was born in Augusta, Georgia, and graduated from T.W. Josey High School as valedictorian in 1966. He earned a scholarship to Emory University and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1970. Shortly after graduating from Emory, Palmer joined the Peace Corps and served as a volunteer in Liberia from 1971 to 1973, teaching high school biology, science, chemistry, physics and American literature. Back in the U.S., he received an M.Ed. in African History at Texas Southern University in 1973, and then began an academic career as assistant director of financial aid at the University of Virginia from 1973 to 1974.
 
Returning to Liberia, he taught history as an assistant professor at Cuttington College in Suakoko  from 1974 to 1976. He earned an Ed. D. in Higher Education Administration and African Studies at Indiana University in 1978 and then taught at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina, from 1978 to 1981.
 
Palmer entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982. He served as vice consul at the embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 1982 to 1984, and then as personnel officer at the embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, with concurrent responsibility for personnel posted to Asuncion, Paraguay, from 1984 to 1986. Returning stateside in 1986, Palmer served as staff assistant to the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs from 1986 to 1987, and then served a tour in Africa as counselor for administration at the embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from 1987 to 1989.
 
In 1989, Palmer became a Pearson Fellow, serving as assistant to Diana Natalicio, the president of the University of Texas at El Paso, with the task of promoting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating faculty and student exchange opportunities in universities throughout Mexico, and serving as university consultant for International Affairs. At the end of his two years as a Fellow, Palmer served as personnel officer at the embassy in Seoul, South Korea, from 1991-1994, and then returned to the embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as counselor for administration from 1994 to 1998. From 1998 to 1999, Palmer attended the State Department Senior Seminar. He returned to South America in August 1999 to serve as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Quito, Ecuador, remaining until July 2002.
 
Palmer began his first ambassadorship on September 9, 2002, as ambassador to Honduras, where he served until July 2005. He was then named president of the Inter-American Foundation, an independent agency that provides grants to Latin American communities to foster economic development, serving until June 2010.
 
On June 28, 2010, President Obama nominated Palmer as United States Ambassador to Venezuela, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination. However, in September 2010, Venezuela announced that it would not allow Palmer to enter the country because at his Senate hearing Palmer had testified that morale in the Venezuelan army was low and that members of Venezuela’s government had ties to leftist Colombian rebels. (All nations have the right to approve foreign diplomats; for example, Vatican City in 2009 rejected three American nominees for being insufficiently anti-abortion.) On December 28, 2010, Venezuela confirmed the finality of its rejection of Palmer’s nomination, and the next day the U.S. revoked the visa of Venezuela’s ambassador, Bernardo Álvarez Herrera.
Palmer and his wife, Lucille, have one son.
 
Biography (Wikipedia)
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Barbados

Hardt, Brent
ambassador-image

The U.S. last had a fully accredited ambassador to Barbados in January 2009, when Republican political appointee Mary Martin Ourisman resigned upon President Barack Obama’s inauguration. At that time, D. Brent Hardt became Chargé d'Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, having served as Deputy Chief of Mission since May 2008. 

 
Hardt earned a Bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He joined the U. S. Foreign Service in 1988, and served as a Consular Officer in Barbados from 1988-1989, Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany from 1990 to 1992, and Political-Military Officer at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague from 1993 to 1996, where he also served as an exchange diplomat in the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1996 to 2000, he returned to the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean as Political-Economic Section Chief and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission. During this time, he helped develop the 1997 Caribbean-U.S. Summit agenda and subsequently worked to implement Summit commitments with countries in the Eastern Caribbean. From 2000 to 2002, Hardt served as Team Leader for NATO Policy in the Office of European Political and Security Affairs in the Department of State. He then served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican in Rome, Italy, from 2002 to 2005, and at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, from 2005 to 2008.
 
Hardt gained a certain amount of attention in the diplomatic community when WikiLeaks released a cable he sent in November 2006 prior to the death in the Bahamas of Anna Nicole Smith. “Several months into her Bahamian residency,” wrote Hardt, “American B-list celebrity and regular entertainment television fixture Anna Nicole Smith has changed the face of Bahamian politics. Not since Category 4 Hurricane Betsy made landfall in 1965 has one woman done as much damage in Nassau. Lying in disarray in her wake are Doctor's Hospital, the Coroner's Court, the Department of Immigration, local mega-lawyers Callenders and Co., formerly popular Minister of Immigration Shane Gibson, and possibly Prime Minister Christie's PLP government.”
 
Hardt speaks Italian, Dutch, German and French. He and his wife, Saskia, have three sons.
 

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Bookmark and Share
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Overview

Barbados was the destination for George Washington’s only known overseas trip, undertaken when he was a young man of nineteen. Today, more than 130,000 Americans follow their first President to Barbados every year, making it a leading tourist destination. Although technically not in the Caribbean, by history, culture, and proximity, Barbados is as Caribbean a nation as any other. It is also one of the most prosperous and stable countries of the region, with strong tourism and a growing economy. In fact, in 2007 Barbados hosted the championship match of the Cricket World Cup, and co-hosted the entire tournament with the other Anglophone countries of the region: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Barbados is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, just east of the Caribbean, with an area of 167 square miles, about 2½ times the size of Washington, DC. The hilly, terraced island is composed almost entirely of coral, while coral reefs almost completely surround it. Sugarcane plantations, long the basis of the island’s economy, cover the slopes and coastal plateaus. The capital, Bridgetown, has a population of almost 100,000. Barbados lies about 300 miles north of South America. 

 
Population: 287,000 (2011 estimate)
 
Religions: Christian 95.5%, non-religious 1.73%, Baha'i 1.22%, Muslim 0.76%, Hindu 0.33%, other (mainly Rastafarian) 0.46%.
 
Ethnic Groups: black 93%, white 3.2%, mixed 2.6%, and East Indian 1%.
 
Languages: Barbadian Creole English (Bajan) 88.7%, English (official) 4.4%.
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History

Barbados was inhabited as early as 1600 BCE, although these unknown people were followed much later first by Arawak and then by Carib peoples. Although the Portuguese visited during the 16th century, the first permanent settlers were the English, who claimed the island in 1625 and ruled it for more than 300 years. The English replaced the subsistence agriculture of the natives with a plantation economy based on sugarcane production for export; the extinction of the native peoples was one result. Large English plantation owners imported thousands of Africans to work as slaves on their sugar plantations, and the resulting expansion of sugarcane agriculture gradually pushed the smaller English yeoman farmers off their land and off the island. Working conditions on the plantations were so brutal that death rates among slaves were so high that the slave population was not self-sustaining. Barbados became one of the leading sugar producers in the world, enriching a small number of British absentee landlords and relying on thousands of slaves to work the island’s small number of large sugar plantations. The abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom and its colonies in 1834 changed the sugarcane workers’ lives only somewhat, as their access to land and credit were limited. From 1800 until 1885, Barbados served as the seat of Government for the British colonies of the Windward Islands, and the resident Governor of Barbados also served as the Colonial head of the Windward Islands. After the Government of Barbados officially exited from the Windward Island union in 1885, the seat was moved from Bridgetown to St. George's on the neighboring island of Grenada, where it remained until the territory of the Windward Islands was dissolved in 1960.

 
Despite being few in number, the plantation owners and propertied classes generally held a firm grip on power well into the twentieth century, owing largely to highly restrictive election laws that allowed only about 30% of adult Barbadians to vote. Women could not vote, nor could the poor, nor many in the middle class. During the Great Depression years of the 1930s, a vocal and militant labor movement developed among the sugarcane workers, who led the nation to political reforms and eventually independence. One of the leaders of the related political movement, Grantley Adams, in 1938 founded the Barbados Progressive League, which later changed its name to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Adams and his party demanded labor rights for the working class, universal adult suffrage, free education, and better housing and health care. Ironically for a left-leaning party leader, Adams also staunchly supported the British monarchy. Progress toward a more democratic government in Barbados was made in 1942, when the income qualification for voting was lowered and women won the right to vote. By 1950 the income restrictions on voting were entirely abolished, and control of the government control was wrested from the planters. In 1958, Adams was elected Premier of Barbados.
 
From 1958 to 1962, Barbados was one of the ten members of the West Indies Federation, a country doomed by island-specific nationalism and by the fact that its members, as British colonies, held limited legislative power. Adams served as its first and only “premier,” but he failed in his attempt to make of the Federation a sort of United States of the Caribbean, and his opponents used his continued defense of the monarchy as evidence that he had lost touch with the people. 
 
Errol Walton Barrow, a fervent reformer, challenged Adams during the 1950s. In 1955, Barrow left the BLP and formed the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as a more progressive alternative. By 1961, Barrow had replaced Adams as premier and the DLP controlled the government. It was Barrow’s government that won Barbadian independence at a constitutional conference with Britain in June 1966. Barbados finally became an independent parliamentary democracy on November 30, 1966, with Errol Barrow its first prime minister, although Queen Elizabeth II remained the monarch. Barbados also maintained historic linkages with Britain by joining the Commonwealth of Nations grouping. A year later, Barbados obtained membership in the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Today, Barbadian politics is still dominated by the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party, the latter of which won the country’s most recent elections, in 2008, with 53% of the vote and 20 out of 30 seats in the House of Assembly. 
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History of U.S. Relations with Barbados

The United States and Barbados have had friendly relations since Barbados’ independence in 1966, with no major conflicts or controversies. The U.S. has supported the government’s efforts to expand the country’s economic base and provide a higher standard of living for Barbadians, who are also known as Bajans. Barbados is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through multilateral agencies such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Bridgetown.

 
Barbados receives counter-narcotics assistance and is eligible to benefit from the U.S. military’s exercise-related and humanitarian assistance construction program. Barbados and U.S. authorities cooperate in the fight against narcotics trafficking and other forms of transnational crime. In 1996, the United States and Barbados signed a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) and an updated extradition treaty covering all common offenses, including conspiracy and organized crime. A maritime law enforcement agreement was signed in 1997.
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Barbados

Noted Barbadian-Americans:

Public Service
Shirley Chisholm: A politician, educator, and author, Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. Her mother was a Barbadian immigrant.
Eric Holder: He is the 82nd and current Attorney General of the United States, and the first African-American to hold the position, serving under President Barack Obama. His father and maternal grandparents were born in Barbados.
Media
Gwen Ifill: A journalist, television newscaster and author, Hill is a prominent fixture for the PBS news shows “Washington Week” and “The NewsHour.” She moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice Presidential debates. Her parents were both Barbadians. 
Entertainment:
Afrika Bambaataa: A DJ from the South Bronx, New York, he was one of the three originators of Hip Hop music, and transformed the street gang the Black Spades into a music and culture-oriented group called Universal Zulu Nation. His grandparents were born in Barbados.
Grandmaster Flash: Born Joseph Saddler in Bridgetown, Barbados, King Grandmaster Flash is an American hip hop musician and DJ, one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing, and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making him, along with the group The Furious Five, among the first hip hop/rap artists to be so honored.
Cuba Gooding Jr.: He is an actor best known for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film Jerry Maguire, and his critically acclaimed performance as Tré Styles in John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood. His paternal grandfather was born in Barbados. 
LL Cool J: Born James Todd Smith, better known as LL Cool J (“Ladies Love Cool James”) is a rapper and actor known for romantic ballads like “I Need Love”, as well as pioneering hip-hop such as “I Can't Live Without My Radio.” He has released thirteen studio albums and two greatest hits compilations, has appeared in numerous films, and currently stars as NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna on the CBS crime drama television series “NCIS: Los Angeles.” His parents were both from Barbados. 
Rihanna:   Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Saint Michael, Barbados, Rihanna moved to the U.S. at age 16 to pursue a recording career, signed a contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for then-label head Jay-Z, and has sold more than 15 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide.
Paule Marshall: She is an author born in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents who was chosen by Langston Hughes to accompany him on a world tour in which they both read their poetry, which was a boon to her career. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a past winner of the Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and was designated as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library in 1994.
 
54,509 Barbadians live in the U.S. The five states with the largest Barbadian populations are New York, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, and California. Unlike most immigrants to the United States, Barbadians do not form communities but tend to settle wherever they find work. 130,767 Americans visited Barbados in 2006, and about 3,000 Americans live there full time. The number of visitors to the island nation has remained around 130,000 in recent years. 54,096 Barbadians visited the U.S. in 2006. More Barbadians have traveled to the U.S. every year since 2002, when 41,934 came to America. 
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Where Does the Money Flow

Tourism is the largest sector of the Barbadian economy, employing at least 10% of the workforce and accounting for an even larger share of the country’s GDP. The other service sectors of informatics and financial services are also important and growing. The economy is dominated by the service sector, which employs 75% of the workforce and generates 78% of the GDP, while manufacturing employs 15% of workers and creates 16% of the GDP. Although sugarcane once led the island’s economy, agriculture now accounts for only 6% of Barbadian GDP and employs just 10% of the workforce. 

 
The global recession has impacted U.S.-Barbadian trade, which was down in 2009 after several straight years of growth, with imports declining 18.9% and exports 18.6% as compared to 2008. U.S. imports from Barbados came to $32.7 million, dominated by alcoholic beverages ($15.4 million or 47%), electrical apparatus and parts ($4.3 million or 13.1%) and various foodstuffs and beverages ($2.2 million or 6.7%). The U.S. sold more than $404.7 million worth of goods to Barbados, led by food ($80.2 million or 19.8%), computers and telecommunications equipment ($35.8 million or 8.8%), household goods ($33 million or 8.2%), industrial machinery ($32.9 million or 8.2%) and plastics & chemicals ($21 million or 5.2%). U.S. firms involved in tourism, such as major hotel chains and cruise lines, are heavily invested in Barbados, and U.S. food producers have an interest in the country’s stability as well. 
 
In 2009 the U.S. gave $31.6 million in aid to Eastern Caribbean countries (i.e. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The programs receiving the most funding were Global Health and Child Survival ($23.9 million), Development Assistance ($5.7 million), and International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement ($0.5 million). Eastern Caribbean countries will receive HIV/AIDS funding through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which lies outside of the budget for foreign operations. 
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Controversies

Are Barbados Banks Engaging in Money Laundering?

Although Barbados was not among the Caribbean nations whose offshore banking operations were criticized during the late 1990s, that has begun to change. Some now charge that Barbadian bank regulation is so lax that money laundering may be more common than thought, and some believe that the government may be turning a blind eye to the issue. 
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Human Rights

Barbados is a stable two-party parliamentary democracy. Free and fair elections were last held there in January 2008, resulting in a peaceful transfer of power to the party that had been in opposition since 2003. Freedom of speech, press and religion are recognized. Although the government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, problems include excessive use of force by police and societal violence against women and children. In a 2008 report, Amnesty International called on Barbados to abolish the death penalty and accede to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. 

 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Eileen R. Donovan

Appointment: Jul 22, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 1974
 
Theodore R. Britton, Jr.
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 9, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 12, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 22, 1977
Note: Accredited also to Grenada; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Frank V. Ortiz, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 14, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 29, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 15, 1979
Note: Accredited also to Grenada; also Special Representative to Antigua, Dominica, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Sally A. Shelton
Non-career appointee
Appointment: May 17, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 7, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 24, 1981
Note: Accredited also to Grenada and Dominica; Minister to St Lucia, and Special Representative to Antigua, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, and St. Vincent; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Milan D. Bish
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 23, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 10, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 4, 1984
Note: Accredited also to Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; St. Lucia; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Thomas H. Anderson, Jr.
Non-career appointee
Appointment: May 3, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 11, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 12, 1986
Note: Also accredited to Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; St. Christopher and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Paul A. Russo
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Oct 14, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 10, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 25, 1988
 
Joy A. Silverman
Non-career appointee
Note: Nomination of Jul 11, 1989, not acted upon by the Senate. John E. Clark served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Jun 1988-Nov 1990.
 
G. Philip Hughes
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Oct 10, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 14, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 17, 1993
Note: Also accredited to Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Jeanette W. Hyde
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Mar 28, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 14, 1994
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 31, 1998
Note: Appointed Ambassador to Grenada, Antigua/Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis, Mar 4, 1995.
 
E. William Crotty
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 24, 1998
Termination of Mission: Died at Gainesville, Florida, Oct 10, 1999
Note: Accredited also to Antigua/Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincint/Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
James A. Daley
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Aug 3, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 26, 2000
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. A second nomination of Sep 28, 2000 was not acted upon by the Senate.
 
Earl Norfleet Phillips
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Jan 30, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 1, 2003
Note: Accredited also to Antigua/Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Mary Kramer
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 15, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 3, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, October 30, 2006
Note: Accredited also to Antigua/Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent/Grenadines; resident at Bridgetown.
 
Mary Martin Ourisman
Non-career appointee
Appointment: October 31, 2006
Termination of Mission: January 20, 2009
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Barbados's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Beale, John

John Beale was appointed ambassador of Barbados to the United States on Jan. 29, 2009, replacing Michael Ian King, who had served in the post since 2000. Unlike King, who had thirty years’ experience in the Barbadian Foreign Service, Beale is a businessman with little diplomatic background. Beale worked for 26 years in international banking and project financing, including 11 years in the Chase Manhattan Bank network, three and a half years at Banco Internacional, three years at RBTT Bank Barbados Ltd., and more than eight years at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank. His positions have included investment officer with the Business Advisory Service of the IFC (1987-1995); divisional executive chairman of Barbados Shipping and Trading Co. (BS&T) and director of BS&T and Neal & Massy (1995-2004); and President and CEO of RBTT Barbados Ltd. (2004-2009), a leading pan-Caribbean banking group with assets of $7 billion. Beale also served as honorary consul in Rio de Janeiro and Uruguay, as well as head of the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team from 2003 to 2007. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Marietta College in Ohio, and a Master of Business Administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. He speaks English, Portuguese and some Spanish, and is married with three children.

 

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Barbados's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

Barbados Embassy in U.S.

2144 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 939-9200     
Fax: (202) 332-7467
E-mail: washington@foreign.gov.bb
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U.S. Ambassador to Barbados

Palmer, Larry Leon
ambassador-image

The United States will soon have a new ambassador to the Caribbean island nations of Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. President Barack Obama nominated Senior Foreign Service member Larry Leon Palmer on November 1, 2011. Confirmed by the Senate on March 29, 2012, Palmer is the first Foreign Service officer to serve in this post since President Jimmy Carter sent Frank V. Ortiz, Jr., in 1977.

 
The son of a minister, Palmer was born in Augusta, Georgia, and graduated from T.W. Josey High School as valedictorian in 1966. He earned a scholarship to Emory University and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1970. Shortly after graduating from Emory, Palmer joined the Peace Corps and served as a volunteer in Liberia from 1971 to 1973, teaching high school biology, science, chemistry, physics and American literature. Back in the U.S., he received an M.Ed. in African History at Texas Southern University in 1973, and then began an academic career as assistant director of financial aid at the University of Virginia from 1973 to 1974.
 
Returning to Liberia, he taught history as an assistant professor at Cuttington College in Suakoko  from 1974 to 1976. He earned an Ed. D. in Higher Education Administration and African Studies at Indiana University in 1978 and then taught at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina, from 1978 to 1981.
 
Palmer entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982. He served as vice consul at the embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 1982 to 1984, and then as personnel officer at the embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, with concurrent responsibility for personnel posted to Asuncion, Paraguay, from 1984 to 1986. Returning stateside in 1986, Palmer served as staff assistant to the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs from 1986 to 1987, and then served a tour in Africa as counselor for administration at the embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from 1987 to 1989.
 
In 1989, Palmer became a Pearson Fellow, serving as assistant to Diana Natalicio, the president of the University of Texas at El Paso, with the task of promoting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating faculty and student exchange opportunities in universities throughout Mexico, and serving as university consultant for International Affairs. At the end of his two years as a Fellow, Palmer served as personnel officer at the embassy in Seoul, South Korea, from 1991-1994, and then returned to the embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as counselor for administration from 1994 to 1998. From 1998 to 1999, Palmer attended the State Department Senior Seminar. He returned to South America in August 1999 to serve as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Quito, Ecuador, remaining until July 2002.
 
Palmer began his first ambassadorship on September 9, 2002, as ambassador to Honduras, where he served until July 2005. He was then named president of the Inter-American Foundation, an independent agency that provides grants to Latin American communities to foster economic development, serving until June 2010.
 
On June 28, 2010, President Obama nominated Palmer as United States Ambassador to Venezuela, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination. However, in September 2010, Venezuela announced that it would not allow Palmer to enter the country because at his Senate hearing Palmer had testified that morale in the Venezuelan army was low and that members of Venezuela’s government had ties to leftist Colombian rebels. (All nations have the right to approve foreign diplomats; for example, Vatican City in 2009 rejected three American nominees for being insufficiently anti-abortion.) On December 28, 2010, Venezuela confirmed the finality of its rejection of Palmer’s nomination, and the next day the U.S. revoked the visa of Venezuela’s ambassador, Bernardo Álvarez Herrera.
Palmer and his wife, Lucille, have one son.
 
Biography (Wikipedia)
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Barbados

Hardt, Brent
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The U.S. last had a fully accredited ambassador to Barbados in January 2009, when Republican political appointee Mary Martin Ourisman resigned upon President Barack Obama’s inauguration. At that time, D. Brent Hardt became Chargé d'Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, having served as Deputy Chief of Mission since May 2008. 

 
Hardt earned a Bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He joined the U. S. Foreign Service in 1988, and served as a Consular Officer in Barbados from 1988-1989, Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany from 1990 to 1992, and Political-Military Officer at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague from 1993 to 1996, where he also served as an exchange diplomat in the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1996 to 2000, he returned to the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean as Political-Economic Section Chief and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission. During this time, he helped develop the 1997 Caribbean-U.S. Summit agenda and subsequently worked to implement Summit commitments with countries in the Eastern Caribbean. From 2000 to 2002, Hardt served as Team Leader for NATO Policy in the Office of European Political and Security Affairs in the Department of State. He then served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican in Rome, Italy, from 2002 to 2005, and at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, from 2005 to 2008.
 
Hardt gained a certain amount of attention in the diplomatic community when WikiLeaks released a cable he sent in November 2006 prior to the death in the Bahamas of Anna Nicole Smith. “Several months into her Bahamian residency,” wrote Hardt, “American B-list celebrity and regular entertainment television fixture Anna Nicole Smith has changed the face of Bahamian politics. Not since Category 4 Hurricane Betsy made landfall in 1965 has one woman done as much damage in Nassau. Lying in disarray in her wake are Doctor's Hospital, the Coroner's Court, the Department of Immigration, local mega-lawyers Callenders and Co., formerly popular Minister of Immigration Shane Gibson, and possibly Prime Minister Christie's PLP government.”
 
Hardt speaks Italian, Dutch, German and French. He and his wife, Saskia, have three sons.
 

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