By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell on Monday called a Miami-based Cuban group’s escalating protests against The Bahamas “economic blackmail”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell
Mitchell also praised the opposition Free National Movement’s (FNM) defence of The Bahamas in light of the group’s actions.
“We take further note of the intention stated in the press that this group is seeking to take aim at the economic interests of The Bahamas,” Mitchell said in a statement.
“This is nothing short of economic blackmail and is misdirected.
“These ill-conceived protests are deplored. From statements over the weekend, it now appears that both government and the opposition in this country agree that these protests are not in the best interest of The Bahamas.
“It is refreshing that the opposition has joined us in defending The Bahamas.
“It is right and just to stand up for The Bahamas.”
Ramon Sanchez, a spokesman for Democracy Movement, the protest group, said on Monday its members plan to meet with businesses in Miami to talk about the alleged human rights abuses at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
He previously said the group plans to move its protests against The Bahamas to Florida airports that have flights to The Bahamas.
Sanchez said the group met with executives from Carnival Cruise Lines to discuss the alleged abuse of detainees at the detention center.
A Carnival representative confirmed that executives met with the group but did not offer further comment.
It is also trying to meet with Genting Group, Royal Caribbean International and other cruise lines that frequent The Bahamas in an effort to make “entities that deal with The Bahamas aware of the human rights abuses in The Bahamas”, Sanchez said.
Free National Movement (FNM) chairman Darron Cash said the group’s plans could be damaging to the country.
He urged Democracy Movement to reconsider “this proposed course of action”.
Democracy Movement held a silent protest outside The Bahamas Consulate in Miami on Friday.
Mitchell said the demonstration did not affect the work of the staff at the facility.
“We continue to work with the Diplomatic Security Service of the United States government to protect Bahamian staff and property in Miami,” he said.
The government has ordered an investigation into the alleged abuse of Cubans at the detention centre.
Sanchez is calling for the government to make the results of that investigation public.
Cash called on Prime Minister Perry Christie to organize a meeting between government officials and Democracy Movement.
It is something Sanchez said he would welcome.
“We are open to it,” he said on Monday. “We appreciated the gesture from the opposition.
“I am sure we can sit down at the table of brotherhood, and I am sure we can find ways to not only get out of this crisis, but work together in the future.”
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian