U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, earlier today signed onto a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional letter with her Florida colleagues Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) as well as Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) to the Prime Minister of The Bahamas regarding the repatriation of Cuban refugees. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"It is unconscionable that the Bahamian authorities have decided to forcibly repatriate Cuban freedom-seekers back to their brutal oppressors under the Castro regime. Despite the fact that Panama had offered to grant asylum to 19 Cuban nationals that were being detained in The Bahamas, the government of The Bahamas took the misguided approach to cave to the influence and pressure of the Castro brothers and sent these refugees back to the place they so desperately tried to escape.
"It's obvious the Castro regime is using these refugees to seek revenge against the Panamanian authorities for seizing the North Korean bound ship, from Cuba, carrying illegal arms last month. Not only did these refugees face brutality by the Bahamian prison guards and live under unbearable conditions due to the lack of basic necessities, they will now be forced to face definite retribution and deplorable conditions in Castro's gulags. Cuba maintains one of the world's worst human rights records, and this spineless decision to send them back is not only unacceptable, it is immoral."