Cubans plan protest outside Bahamas consulate in Miami

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Bahamas Immigration and defence force officers escort Cuban nationals to the defence force’s Coral Harbour Base on Saturday after they were found on Cay Labos near the coast of Ragged Island. The group consisted of 14 males and 3 females. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell

By Taneka Thompson
Nassau Guardian Senior Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas — Cubans living in Florida planned to demonstrate outside the Bahamian consulate in Miami on Monday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said on Sunday.

Mitchell said he did not know the specific reason for the planned protest, but officials in the United States alerted The Bahamas government.

“I’m sure it’s going to be properly policed,” he said at a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

“I don’t think it’s a security concern, but we are aware of it and we have a senior officer in place in Miami now to manage the event and see that the government’s property is protected.”

Last week, four Cuban women housed at the Detention Center refused food and placed protest banners on a fence at the holding facility.

Mitchell said the women were picked up for overstaying their time in the country.

He said they wanted political asylum, but did not meet the requirements and were protesting their planned repatriation.

Mitchell said officers noticed that the women did not come out to eat during dinner time on March 16.

That same day the women began wearing shirts with reference to political asylum and placed banners on the Detention Center’s fence.

Mitchell said while the women refused meals from the Detention Center, officials confirmed that they took food from visitors. He added that food was found in the women’s dorms during a routine room check.

“As a consequence, to categorize their actions as a hunger strike is misleading,” he said.

“The ministry can confirm that the women were examined by a doctor and they are all found to be in good health.”

He said the group was interviewed by officers from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, but did not meet asylum criteria.

The minister also said the government is monitoring the recent influx of illegal Cuban immigrants and is trying to find out the reason behind the trend.

The Defence Force apprehended 17 Cubans at Cay Lobos on Saturday.

The group was brought to New Providence on Saturday and is at the Detention Center.

Mitchell said a group of 10 illegal Cuban immigrants was picked up in the country several days ago.

He also noted that 16 Cubans who were allegedly seeking asylum in the Turks and Caicos escaped the country last week and ended up in the United States.

“The matter of Cuban migration therefore remains under review,” he said.

Mitchell said The Bahamas has granted “not more than a handful” of asylum requests over the last year.

He said in most cases these people were sent to countries other than their homeland.

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian

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