By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe expressed concern on Sunday over the continued campaign against The Bahamas by a Miami-based Cuban protest group Democracy Movement.
Wilchcombe said his ministry is very concerned about any negative publicity The Bahamas is receiving as a result of Democracy Movement’s actions.
Democracy Movement spokesman Ramon Sanchez said last week the group plans to move its protests against The Bahamas to Florida airports that have flights to the islands.
Wilchcombe said this latest act is merely a “PR stunt”, adding that the government is working on a report into the alleged abuse of Cubans at the detention centre in The Bahamas.
“I think it’s time for it to stop,” Wilchcombe said.
“What more does he want the country to do? What more does he want us to do? What more does he expect of our country? We’re Bahamians; we have sovereignty, and there is a way in a democracy where things are investigated and handled.”
The group began protesting against The Bahamas shortly after a video aired on a Spanish language TV station in Miami purporting to show Cuban detainees being abused by Bahamian guards.
The government has said that the video was staged.
The government has also ordered an investigation into claims of abuse at the facility.
Sanchez, who said the group would agitate for the report’s release, said he is not seeking to attack The Bahamas.
However, Wilchcombe asked, “What is he seeking to get? If you are not seeking to hurt our economy then why would you speak to Carnival, why would you be at the airport if you are not trying to hurt The Bahamas?
“If he is continuously standing on the docks or standing on the airport trying to speak to our country, then he is engaged in a campaign to affect our nation and to affect our economy. That’s unacceptable.
“Their campaign seeks to cast a negative perception of our country and that is something that all of us, every single Bahamian, is against.”
Democracy Movement met with executives from Carnival Cruise Lines recently 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.
Sanchez said the group is 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”.
The new round of protests will focus on the rights of women who are housed at the detention centre, Sanchez said.
Democracy Movement also wants to meet with the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss the alleged abuse.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian