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Bahamian associations defend govt against attacks

  • One of numerous vehicles used during a protest against The Bahamas by Democratic Movement in Miami, Florida on August 30. AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 04, 2013

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A group of Bahamian associations in Florida yesterday defended the government against the "unwarranted" attacks leveled by a Cuban American protest group and called on the organization to "cease and desist".

In a joint press statement, the Bahamian American Federation, National Association of The Bahamas, Bahamas-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Concerned Bahamians Abroad, spoke out in support of the government's handling of the Cuban abuse claims, adding that the Cuban American protesters did not give the government a "fair" chance to address the allegations.

"We have watched with dismay the unwarranted attacks by certain elements in the South Florida community upon The Bahamas and its citizens and government over alleged abuses of detainees in a Bahamian detention center,” the groups said.

“We condemn those attacks in the strongest terms. We ask these groups to cease and desist these attacks on The Bahamas, and not rush to judgment."

Democracy Movement launched a series of attacks on The Bahamas over the alleged abuse of a group of Cubans at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

While protests have quieted, Democracy Movement spokesperson Ramon Sanchez recently threatened to reactivate protests after CARICOM criticized the actions of protestors.

Democracy Movement met with Carnival Cruise Lines and planned to meet with several Florida businesses that work with The Bahamas to discuss the alleged abuse.

However, the Bahamian groups called for calmer heads to prevail.

"We want to remind those elements in South Florida who have attacked The Bahamas that the city of Miami was formed and built on the labor of Bahamians, long before other groups of migrants came to Miami," the statement said.

"Bahamians continue to live and work here and contribute to Miami and the greater South Florida community. Bahamians spend more than $1 billion in the Florida economy per year.

“It is not in the interest of the South Florida community to attack The Bahamas. It is bad for business and it attempts to destroy the long and prosperous mutual relationship that our communities have enjoyed. We need to work together to resolve our differences."

The Bahamian associations said they are pleased that the government is looking to resolve the matter.

Five Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines were charged on Monday at the Coral Harbour base, their attorney Wayne Munroe said.

"We are satisfied that justice will prevail for all concerned," the Bahamian groups said.

"We also welcome the review of the detention center by the high level panel and look forward to its conclusions."

Last week, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage announced that Justice Emmanuel Osadebay (retired), Rev. William Higgs and former Superintendent of Police Douglas Hanna will formally inquire into the administration and management of the detention center, which came under intense scrutiny in recent months.

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