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Fred Mitchell, Frankenstein and the Cuban detainees

Published: Aug 30, 2013

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Dear Editor,

There are several striking similarities between Mary Shelley's main character in her classic novel horror “Frankenstein”, Victor (Frankenstein), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell.

In the novel, Victor is witty, ambitious, intelligent and immensely articulate. While enrolled at college in Ingolstadt, Germany, the young Frankenstein, inspired by his chemistry professor Waldman, alchemists Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus, embarked on a scientific experiment which culminated in the creation of a hideous being, which was directly and indirectly responsible for the undoing of Frankenstein's wife, Elizabeth; his youngest brother, William; his best friend, Henry Clerval and a young girl who was adopted into the Frankenstein family, Justine Moritz.

The monster was also partly responsible for the demise of Frankenstein. Like Frankenstein, Mitchell is intelligent, articulate, witty and ambitious. Moreover Mitchell, like Frankenstein, has created his own monster by the manner in which he has handled the Cuban detainee situation which continues to threaten to soil the good name and reputation of The Bahamas.

The Cuban American group Democracy Movement is somehow convinced that Cuban detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre were physically abused in May by the guards at that facility. The group is now alleging that Cuban women were sexually assaulted. Democracy Movement is claiming to have ironclad evidence to substantiate its claims, notwithstanding Mitchell's adamant and persistent denials.

Further, there was a photo purporting to be a Cuban detainee with a scarred back which appeared in two major newspapers in Nassau and on Facebook.

According to the dailies, those responsible for the photo are claiming that the marks and bruises were inflicted by a guard at the detention center.

Dismissing the Cuban protestors and U.S. lawmakers as enemies of The Bahamas and hurling condescending remarks at the Free National Movement (FNM) and its leaders is not the approach Mitchell should have taken in trying to bring closure to this matter. For awhile, there I was willing to give the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration and Mitchell the benefit of the doubt.

As this drama plays itself out, I am beginning to wonder how forthcoming the government has been, now that fresh allegations by the FNM have been levelled at the government as it relates to a report on this matter that was allegedly completed in June.

What's more, the FNM further alleges that five defence force officers have admitted to abusing Cuban detainees at the detention center and were supposed to face a defence force hearing last week but it was canceled indefinitely.

Cuban protestors in Miami are threatening to intensify their anti-Bahamian protests by making available to the press former Cuban detainees of the detention center who are also claiming to have been physically abused by guards. Such a move could blacken The Bahamas' image in the international community. Hopefully, this protest will not get the attention of media power houses such as Fox News, CNN, BBC, MSNBC and the major newspapers.

Unfortunately for The Bahamas, The Miami Herald has already taken notice of the protestors. Democracy Movement has repeatedly called on Prime Minister Perry Christie to remove Mitchell from having any involvement with the Cuban detainees. Those calls have fallen on deaf ears. This might be due to the fact that Christie is afraid of his foreign affairs and immigration minister.

Obviously, Mitchell has clout in the government. Removing him from this situation might be interpreted by him as a vote of no confidence in him by Christie and could cause a rift between the two. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Mitchell has taken on such a combative posture in responding to the Cubans and the FNM and the press on the alleged abuses.

He seems to carry on as if the FNM has insinuated that he was complicit in the alleged abuses at the detention center. Christie needs to assert himself as the leader and take full charge of this matter before it brings this country to its knees economically. Any Bahamian who comforts himself with the false notion that the Cuban American community, and by extension the whole of Florida, is in dire need of Bahamians supporting their economy by way of spending $1 billion annually in their stores is living in a delusional world.

I am surprised that Mitchell of all people would use such a weak argument. Bahamians are spending money which American tourists have injected into our economy. Furthermore, some of our tourists hail from the state of Florida. If anything, we are the ones who are at the mercy of Floridians.The day Florida stops supporting The Bahamas by way of tourism will be the day this country slides further into third world status.

I think the good minister is out of his depth in this matter. Moving forward the prime minister himself must now engage Democracy Movement with the view to bringing a resolution that everybody can feel happy with. He needs to understand that the shoddy performance of his minister in this matter is a poor reflection on him and his entire government and the entire country.

This issue has gone on far too long and has already hurt Mitchell's political career, this country and the PLP administration.

Like Victor Frankenstein's monster, Mitchell's bungling of this crisis could bring about his political undoing, and maybe that of the entire government and the country.

I believe that every Bahamian, FNM and PLP, is troubled by this unfortunate situation and is hoping for a speedy closure. The Bahamian people are eager to see the backs of these Cuban protestors.

 — Kevin Evans

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