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Being careful in South Florida

Published: Sep 06, 2013

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Dear Editor,

Bahamians who are thinking about travelling to South Florida to shop had better take measures to conceal their nationality from the Cuban-American community that currently resides there. The Cuban-American population in Florida stands at 1.21 million and is reported to be the largest Hispanic group in the Sunshine State.

Every year thousands of Bahamians flock to Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale during the summer, Christmas and Thanksgiving to shop. For years many of the Cuban businesses have been generously patronized by Bahamian shoppers, particularly on 20th Street, Miami. In light of the current controversy surrounding allegations that Cuban detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre were severely beaten by Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers, it comes as no surprise that Cubans in the United States would harbor acrimonious feelings towards the Bahamian people.

A dear Bahamian friend and colleague of mine told me that his 14-year-old granddaughter, who was born and raised in South Florida, visited Grand Bahama several weeks ago for her summer vacation. She has since returned home. About a week or so ago my friend’s granddaughter, along with an adult family member, visited the Miami area where they encountered a group of hostile and belligerent Cuban-Americans. The young lady was wearing a Bahamian T-shirt at the time. The group of Cuban-Americans noticed the Bahamian T-shirt she was wearing and decided to approach her. They began to yell at her and say uncouth and demeaning things about The Bahamas and Bahamians. Mind you, we are talking about a 14-year-old girl here. Her apparent youthfulness meant nothing to the rabble. All they could see was the Bahamian T-shirt. Fortunately for my friend’s granddaughter, her adult family member was there to defend and protect her. There is no telling what this mob would have done to this child. The adult family member explained to the Cubans that the girl was an American; not Bahamian. Obviously this bit of information quelled their anger towards the 14-year-old.

But you can be certain that these people are 110 percent convinced that the human rights of their countrymen were blatantly violated by Bahamian guards at the detention center. Despite Democracy Movement’s chatter about loving The Bahamas and the Bahamian people, it looks like its agitations has greatly influenced the Cuban people to hate this country and its people. The mob that went at the 14-year-old seems to believe that every Bahamian was somehow complicit in what allegedly transpired at the detention center. They are so enraged at The Bahamas that they cannot see the forest for the trees. If and when this situation is resolved, it remains to be seen how Cubans in Florida will view the Bahamian people. I am not too certain that the once cordial relationship the Bahamian people had with the Cuban-American community will be restored.

I just wish that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell and the Progressive Liberal Party administration would do a better job of diplomacy with the Cubans. Their approach has only exacerbated this situation to the extent that Bahamians cannot even wear their nationality on their sleeves while in South Florida.

In the meantime, Democracy Movement must tell its people not to harass any Bahamian who is visiting Florida. What the aforementioned rabble did to the 14-year-old girl was wrong and uncalled for.

– Kevin Evans

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