09/02/13 - Bahamas Tribune - Minister's Pledge On Cuba Probe
By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell vowed that "justice
will be done" following the investigation into abuse allegations at the
Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
A timeline of events involving the Cuban detainees.
Asking the press - "Look me straight in the eyes" - Mr Mitchell dismissed
criticism from The Democracy Movement, a Florida watchdog group, and calls
from the FNM for his resignation.
He said "there is no nexus" between his conduct and the FNM's claims.
He confirmed a delegation, including Defence Force Commodore Roderick Bowe,
would be flying to Cuba to discuss a range of issues, including
repatriation of illegal migrants in the Bahamas.
However, the minister refused to comment on last week's leaked report,
which included a young marine admitting to punching, kicking, and beating
unresisting Cuban detainees with a stick on the instructions of superiors.
The beating is alleged to have taken place after an attempted escape. Mr
Mitchell explained he would not comment on an ongoing investigation.
"It is when the investigation is complete, the reports to the extent that
they can be made available, will be available - and that's all I have to
say on those things," he said. "I'm not commenting on stuff that I don't
know the authenticity of it, I don't know the truth or otherwise of it."
Speaking inside the Lynden Pindling International Airport's VIP Lounge,
yesterday afternoon, Mr Mitchell said there has been "no interruption" in
relations between Cuba and the Bahamas, or the Bahamas and the United
States, as a result of the allegations.
"As I tried to indicate," he said. "This is, in my view, very much a local
dispute confined to South Florida which is designed to rattle the cages of
Bahamians. Most Bahamians ignored it and supported the fact of the
government's position on this - which is if people do something which is
unlawful or which amounts to disciplinary action or causes disciplinary
action, those individuals will be tested, either by a disciplinary panel or
by some form of action - whatever that action should be.
"Until those processes work this way out, there's no reason for us to be
unpatriotic and linking arms with people who are trying to do harm to our
South Florida group,The Democracy Movement, has been vocal about its
criticisms of the Bahamas and its government over claims of abuse done to
Cuban detainees at the detention centre.
"I really, I'm always loathe to dignify what they say or do by any form of
comment," Mr Mitchell said of the group. "I think it's outrageous what
they've said about our country. My role as the chief diplomat of the
Bahamas is to defend this country's reputation and that's what I do; I'm
unapologetic about it. And those who want to apologise for it, like the
Leader of the Opposition seems to want to do, fine - that's their role. My
role is to defend the country, as long as I have this role."
The FNM is "a group of very desperate people," Mr Mitchell continued.
"They're down on their political fortunes," he said, "Their leader is in
political trouble and he's making himself look most unintelligent by
seeking to link these events to a call for resignation because all he has
to do is examine the facts and he can show there is no nexus between what
he is saying and my conduct. I find it simply outrageous.
"One of the reasons why I asked you all to come here is because I want you
all to look me straight in the eyes, look me straight in the eyes and say
what he says, what they say, has no impact on me, whatsoever.
"My role is to defend this country and I'm defending this country to the
best of my powers and I thank the people who have supported me and
supported the government's position in this. Justice - whatever it is -
will be done and the chips, as the statement says, will fall where they
Mr Mitchell also took a moment, yesterday, to publicly thank Consul General
Ricardo Treco, Deputy Consul General Sandra Carey and staff, for their
"hard work and dedication during a stressful and provocative period."
He said: "The promised demonstration in Miami on Friday last fizzled and
work went on unhindered as it has during this whole matter. Once again I
reaffirm my commitment and dedication to our country and its institutions
and processes and I thank all true blooded Bahamians for their full and
continued support of the policies which we are pursuing to protect our
country from harm."
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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