By Kyle Walkine
All the papers have been signed to deport Cuban detainees from The Bahamas; however, no country wants them, according to Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Fred Mitchell.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet yesterday evening, the minister noted that America does not want the group, they cannot stay in The Bahamas and Cuba has no interest in taking them back.
The minister’s comments followed another protest staged by Cuban-Americans in Miami, Florida yesterday.
The “mass” demonstration turned out to be much smaller than officials expected, as only about 150 people showed up, unlike the thousands planned.
The protesters picketed outside the Bahamas Consulate’s Office in Miami, shouting in Spanish, “Don’t go to The Bahamas.”
It was their way of disapproving the detention of two Cubans at Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP).
Mr. Mitchell said while the protest was a peaceful one, the comments made are not fitting for a country that depends heavily on tourism.
“There were a lot of cars and blowing of horns,” he said.
“I find the comments made to be very curious for citizens living in Miami, a city that benefits from $1.1 billion in Bahamian spending per year, that they would want to do something to injure our economy.
“It really is something that they ought to consider very carefully because we don’t want to get into that kind of row.”
The minister said the government is working along with the US to resolve the issue, adding that as several of the Cuban detainees have status in the US, he is trying to see whether they are willing to take them back.
That should be known within two days.
Meantime, a court case is underway for the two Cuban men being held at HMP.
It was adjourned to Thursday.
As for Consulate General Ricardo Treco and the employees at the office, Mr. Mitchell said they are fine and he thanked them for handling the situation well, although he said this is something diplomats would have to deal with all the time.
“It’s not a new phenomenon,” he said. “Peter Drudge, who was one of our first Consul Generals in Miami back in the 1970s, had it worse. Protesters over these same issues in the 1970s actually bashed their way into the consulate while he was there and police had to be called to get them out.”
“So this time with all that behind us, we were able to organize ourselves effectively and I must say the US State Department did an excellent job of making sure that our diplomats were safe.”
Mr. Mitchell said the government will also not seek legal action against the South Florida Spanish TV Station that aired the video of a Caribbean man abusing Cuban detainees, implying that it was done at the Carmichael Road Detention Center.
He added that the information based on the investigation leads to disgruntled Cuban-American who clearly staged the video.
The minister recommended that if these Cuban-Americans want their people in the US so badly, then perhaps they should lobby the US government on their part instead of attacking the Bahamas.