Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 04, 2013
Thirteen Cubans apprehended in Bahamian waters last month were repatriated yesterday, according to Immigration Director William Pratt.
The group was found on September 5 on a 20-foot makeshift vessel in an area known as North Rock, 22 miles off Bimini.
“The latest exercise represented an effort by the Government of The Bahamas and the Immigration Department to expedite the repatriation of Cubans to their homeland,” Pratt said in a statement.
The repatriation exercise came nearly two weeks after National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage said the Cuban government agreed to amend its foreign affairs policy to allow for quicker repatriations of Cuban nationals detained in The Bahamas.
Nottage said the traditionally slow pace of repatriations of Cubans continues to place a financial burden on the government.
In some cases, he said, Cubans have lingered in the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for over nine months.
Nottage said a Bahamian delegation met with the Cuban government in the past two months to discuss challenges with illegal migration.
So far this year, more than 70 Cubans have been repatriated.
This came amid claims of abuse by a group of Cuban detainees.
Five Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines were charged on Monday at the Coral Harbour base, their attorney Wayne Munroe said.
Miami-based protest group Democracy Movement has staged multiple protests over the alleged abuse.
Ramon Sanchez, a spokesman for the group, has said Democracy Movement will not rest until the government completes and makes public the investigation into the allegations.