By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- A day after Free National Movement (FNM) leader Dr Hubert Minnis claimed that five Cuban detainees were abused at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, Miami-based Cuban activist group Democracy Movement on Thursday called on Prime Minister Perry Christie to remove Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell from having any involvement in the matter.
Group spokesperson Ramon Saul Sanchez told The Nassau Guardian from Miami, that he is pleased to see that the truth is “beginning to emerge”.
Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell
However, Sanchez, who was contacted for comment, said his group does not want to get into a political debate and is not siding with the FNM, which has called for Mitchell to be fired outright.
“We merely support the truth,” he told The Guardian. “I believe that the prime minister is concerned about this issue too.
“It’s sending bad sentiments around the world against the government of The Bahamas.
“I’m sure if the prime minister takes the necessary steps and brings out the truth the Bahamian government will be vindicated.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, Mitchell questioned the opposition’s patriotism. He added that there is no government cover up over the allegations.
Minnis said the FNM would not back away from the issue and affirmed his party’s love for The Bahamas.
He added that Mitchell should “know that no amount of personal insults will prevent those of us in the Free National Movement from doing the necessary to expose all those who seek to do harm to The Bahamas and to its good name at home or abroad”.
“We love The Bahamas unconditionally,” he said.
Dr Hubert Minnis
“His recent rude utterances in the media suggest that he is permitting his emotions to get the better of him.
“This is not appropriate for a senior member of the government.
“We again call on the prime minister to relieve Mr Mitchell of his portfolio responsibilities.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Minnis claimed that, after seven detainees attempted to escape from the detention center on May 20, they were severely beaten.
He claimed after the beating, some of the detainees, with help from one or more Defence Force officers, videotaped and reenacted the beatings.
When asked how he came across the information, Minnis said it was based on a government report into alleged abuse at the detention center.
However, Minnis did not provide proof to substantiate his claims or a copy of the report.
Mitchell said the government has ordered an investigation into allegations of abuse at the detention center following a video that aired on a Spanish language TV station in Miami purporting to show Cuban detainees at the center being abused by Bahamian officers.
He has said the video was fake.
When the report is completed, Mitchell said, the “chips will fall where they may”.
Minnis claims the report was completed in June.
Former Minister of State for Immigration Branville McCartney said on Thursday The Bahamas should speak with one voice on the Cuban issue.
“It is necessary that we as a country ensure that the international community is most aware that we do not tolerate abuse of any kind against anyone,” McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), said in a statement.
“And we must speak in one voice to this effect.”
McCartney said it is not the policy of the government of The Bahamas to condone the abuse or torture of any person.
“We in the DNA trust that calm and sensible heads will prevail in order to expeditiously resolve this issue regarding our Cuban brothers and sisters,” he said.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian