The Bahamian ambassador to the United States and its attorney general denied allegations of governmental corruption yesterday, saying the country is doing everything possible to end international drug smuggling.
But a top State Department official said while the United States is pleased with increased cooperation from the Caribbean nation in the past year, corruption "continues to make the Bahamas attractive to drug traffickers."
Margaret McDonald, Bahamian ambassador to the United States, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that Americans should stop worrying about the Bahamas and start worrying about attacking their own drug problem.
The Bahamas must not only fight drug traffickers but also American leaders who "make their stand on the war against drugs by penalizing a small, victim state rather than by addressing . . . the problem of eliminating supply and educating against demand," McDonald said.
The Treasury, Postal Service and General Government subcommittee held the hearing in preparation for a probable Senate vote next month on whether the Bahamas should be deprived of U.S. aid because it hasn't done its best to combat drugs.
Recently, an admitted drug smuggler, testified in Florida court proceedings that he paid Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden Pindling a $400,000 bribe in a Bahamian casino. The State Department in a recent draft report said the Bahamian government has not made a serious commitment to fight corruption in its ranks.
The country also has been unwilling for two years to extradite to the United States alleged drug trafficker Nigel Bowe and has been accused of having a poor record of bringing suspected drug smugglers to trial.
Bahamian Attorney General Paul Adderley denied the corruption charges, saying the idea of Pindling accepting a bribe in a casino was as "ludicrous as the president of the United States taking a bribe in a casino in Atlantic City."
State Department Assistant Secretary Ann B. Wrobleski said the Bahamian government has increased its cooperation with the United States and, as a result, more than 24,000 pounds of cocaine and 146 tons of marijuana were seized in 1987, a 300 percent rise over 1986.
But corruption still remains a problem, Wrobleski said.
The ruling Progressive Liberal Party nominated two men identified as drug figures to seats in the country's parliament, which they won, she told the committee.