An Informal History of the
The following article was written at the suggestion of Chris Lowe of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce. He was concerned that there was no available history of Freeport's origins and development available online, and felt that this was something residents of the community ought to have access to. After reading the selections posted on this website, he got in touch with me and, by providing useful source material, convinced me that this was a worth-while project. It will be a while before it is complete, as the later years are as yet far less well documented than the earliest and more dramatic ones.
As in any historical reconstruction based on available but hardly complete (or unbiased) sources, the "Informal History" inevitably will contain errors and omissions. There may also be some facts and interpretations that are unwelcome. If you the reader can correct the former, by sending me an email (email@example.com), I would greatly appreciate it. I do not however guarantee to accept or credit corrections unsupported by more than mere assertion, so please cite sources or detailed circumstances wherever possible.
Part Six: Freeport Struggles On
Looking back from the present (2008) and the current dispute over the ownership of the Port Authority stock (or more correctly, the stock of the holding company, Intercontinental Diversified [ICD], that legally "owns" the Grand Bahama Port Authority) as well as related questions of where the percentage of ICD stock presumably held by the Bahamian government and whether the divestiture of many of the Port Authority's assets, the intervening interval between the early 1980s when Sir Jack Hayward and Edward St. George took control and today, the picture becomes a bit difficult to describe or analyse.
If the early years were dominated by Wallace Groves and his vision for the Port Authority, the next period was determined in large part by Edward St. George and his pragamtic response to the problems and pressures confronting a beleaguered corporation caught between an antagonistic and often rapacious Bahamian government and the international forces of irresitable economic fluctuations and a burgeoning illegal drug trade. It was not an easy time for the Port Authority, although on balance, we must admire St. George's ability in succesfully traversing these treacherous currents while deploring his (and his partners') self-interested exploitation of the corporation's assets and resources.
Edward St. George seems to have been a genuinely able administrator with a fascinating combination of character traits.
The early 1980s were not kind to the Bahamas as a whole. The newly independent nation and its ruling PLP leadership certainly were more able in dealing with forces beyond its control than other new Caribbean nations such as Jamaica, but inevitably corruption followed the dirty money of Columbian cocaine barons, who found the Bahamian archipelago a perfect waystation for their illict enterprise, as well as the international and money launderers. Players such as Carlos Lehder and Robert Vesco poisoned the economy and seriously compromised a number of Bahamian politicians, from Pindling's patently corrupt associate Everett Bannister and Nigel Bowe or George Smith, to the more debatable cases of the Nottages and the Prime Minister himself.