Categorized | National News

Cubans Flocking To The Bahamas

National Security

The fact that a number of Cuban detainees have alleged widespread abuse by Bahamian guards at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre and a human rights group in Miami, Florida has launched a vicious protest against The Bahamas has not stopped Cuban immigrants from boating to Bahamian shores.

In fact, National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage said it could be that those Cubans looking to flee their homeland are using this controversy as their prime opportunity to get into The Bahamas or a third country.

“I think that that is a strategy,” he said. “When it was reported that Panama had agreed to take some of the asylum seekers and we did not respond, it was because while this was in the newspapers there had been no approach by the Government of Panama to The Bahamas.

“One of the reasons we were careful about that is we didn’t want it to appear that The Bahamas is an open country to get anyone to a third country. So, I don’t think that’s farfetched.”

Since the Cuban detainees made their allegations, there have been a steady flow of Cuban migrants still coming to The Bahamas, many of whom have been caught by Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers.

Dr. Nottage added that currently, there are 17 Cubans in the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, 14 of whom the Cuban government has agreed to take sometime this week; 13 were apprehended in Grand Bahama yesterday morning; a number of them are being housed in safe houses and two are in custody at Her Majesty’s Prisons as a result of disturbances at the detention centre.

“We are constantly being bombarded by illegal immigrants who expect to be treated in particular kind of way,” he said. “What we do is we give them all the courtesies that we can, consistent with their activities, but for some of them it is illegal activities.”

Dr. Nottage said some Cubans living in safe houses in The Bahamas were found smuggling other Cubans into the United States.

“So we do the best we can do. We treat them decently and all we are seeking to do is to develop with the United States and Cuba the kind of policies that would enable us to be hospitable,” he said.

He added that the governments are working out an agreement that would see to it that Cuban detainees will not have to stay in The Bahamas as long as they sometimes.

He said some Cubans are housed there for up to nine months.

Ianthia Smith

Written by Ianthia Smith

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