U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) along with Reps. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) today sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration - Anne C. Richard - requesting the State Department convey to the government of The Bahamas the necessity of ensuring the safety and well-being of Cuban detainees currently detained in The Bahamas.
Said Ros-Lehtinen: "It's unimaginable to think that those who have fled the repression of the Castro brothers regime seeking freedom would be detained and subject to such horrid abuse. The only crime these Cuban refugees are guilty of is wanting a better life, free from the tyranny of their oppressors. There can be absolutely no justification for these Bahamian prison officials to beat, abuse and deny these refugees even the most basic rights like food, water and proper medical attention. This abuse must stop immediately, and those responsible must be held accountable. The State Department must pressure the Bahamian authorities to end these practices."
Full text of the letter below:
August 2, 2013
The Honorable Anne C. Richard
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521
Dear Assistant Secretary Richard:
We write to request that your bureau, which is focused on refugees and migrants, put pressure on the government of The Bahamas to ensure the safety and well-being of Cuban detainees that are currently being held in a detention center in The Bahamas.
As you are well aware, Cuban nationals frequently attempt to escape the repression of Castro's totalitarian regime, and some of those refugees come ashore to The Bahamas. However, the detainees and their family members continually report that they suffer beatings, malnutrition, dehydration, poor medical care, and indefinite periods of detention. Meanwhile, these Cuban freedom-seekers fear for their lives if they are returned to Cuba due to the summary trials and brutality they face at the hands of Castro's thugs.
In South Florida, local advocates have begun a hunger strike in solidarity with the Cuban detainees who are being held under difficult conditions in The Bahamas. Ramon Saul Sanchez, President of a Cuban exile organization called the Democracy Movement is on his 7th day of a hunger strike and his colleague, Jesus Alexis Gomez, has been on a hunger strike for 14 days as well.
Within all applicable rules and regulations, we urge your bureau to convey to the Bahamian government that refugees must be treated humanely while in their custody in accordance with international norms and obligations.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.