Bahamas blasted by US lawmaker

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell and Cleola Hamilton, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell and Cleola Hamilton, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

NASSAU — A Florida lawmaker has branded as “spineless” and “immoral” The Bahamas’ decision to repatriate a group of Cubans last week.

In a press statement posted on her website, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the US representative for Florida’s 27th congressional district, said: “It is unconscionable that the Bahamian authorities have decided to forcibly repatriate Cuban freedom seekers back to their brutal oppressors under the Castro regime.”

Ros-Lehtinen said the Bahamas government took this “misguided approach” despite the fact that Panama had offered to grant asylum to 19 Cuban nationals.

She added: “Cuba maintains one of the world’s worst human rights records, and this spineless decision to send them back is not only unacceptable, it is immoral.”

Additionally, US Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and Congress members Mario Diaz-Balart, Albio Sires and Ros-Lehtinen wrote a letter to Prime Minister Perry Christie asking that the government to halt any further Cuban repatriations.

At a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell confirmed that 24 Cubans were repatriated on Friday.

He said another group of 20 is expected to be returned to Cuba shortly.

Last week, Honorary Consul General of Panama to The Bahamas David McGrath said Panama intends to offer humanitarian exile to 19 Cuban nationals.

However, Mitchell said the government has not received official word from the Panamanian government.

Yesterday, Mitchell also shot down an assertion made by Ros-Lehtinen, who suggested that a video purporting to show Cuban detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre being beaten by Bahamian officers is legitimate. (Nassau Guardian)

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