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Cuban situation a growing embarrassment to Bahamas, says former minister
Published on March 1, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

brent_symonette4.jpg
Brent Symonette

By Krystel Rolle-Brown
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas -- If the Bahamas government decides to pursue further the matter involving the controversial release from prison of two Cuban men, it would make an already embarrassing situation much worse, former deputy prime minister Brent Symonette warned on Sunday.

But minister of foreign affairs and immigration Fred Mitchell said the search is continuing for Carlos Pupo and Lazaro Seara Marin, who were released from prison on February 18 after being detained for nearly three years without being charged with a crime.

“We indicated to our own people to go find them,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the men have no status in The Bahamas and must be re-arrested.

He said the director of immigration advised that the men were last seen in Bimini and officials believe they are trying to smuggle their way into the United States.

Symonette, a former minister of immigration, said the government has made an absolute mess of the situation.

“It sounds ridiculous that they are now in Bimini and are chasing them,” Symonette said.

“Now they will have to regularize their status; otherwise they will be here illegally… That should be the way forward; regularize them.”

Pupo and Marin were originally held at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre but were transferred to the prison in 2013 for “security reasons”.

Authorities were also concerned that it was best to move them for their own safety, The Nassau Guardian understands.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered that the men be freed after attorney Fred Smith QC filed a writ of habeas corpus.

Mitchell said the men pose a risk to national security and should not have been released from prison.

In the House of Assembly last Wednesday, Prime Minister Perry Christie confirmed this position.

During a communication in the House, Mitchell said Pupo was arrested by Bahamian authorities at least three times between 2000 and 2013.

He said while at the detention centre in May 2013, Pupo incited an uprising and attempted to escape.

Mitchell said Marin, who was arrested by immigration officials in 2013, was transferred to the prison because while at the detention center he “actively participated in ongoing commotions with intelligence reports [identifying him] as a principal instigator and disrupter”.

Symonette said Mitchell’s communication on the matter was lacking.

“It’s already embarrassing,” he said of the government’s handling of the matter.

“They handled it poorly. There’s no getting around that. The minister’s statement did not adequately cover this and he knows that. I don’t think the excuse that they’re a security risk holds any water.”

In November, Mitchell informed his Cabinet colleagues that Pupo and Marin had met all security requirements to be granted asylum in The Bahamas and released into the general population.

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian
 
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