Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) issued the following statement after reports that Bahamian officials backtracked on clear statements made to U.S. State Department officials regarding the fate of Cuban refugees who were seeking freedom:
"It is pathetic that a government feels so beholden to the Castro regime that officials would classify as lies the very words they uttered to our State Department officials and conduct themselves in a manner not conducive to a free society.
The truth remains that Bahamian government officials told U.S. State Department officials in the Bahamas that the video of the abuses against the Cuban refugees was accurate. Also, last week, the Bahamian officials stated that the guards had been reassigned and security cameras were installed due to these incidents. Yet today, the Foreign Minister denies all of these words.
The Foreign Minister also stated on Friday that the Bahamian government would not send Cubans to any third country such as Panama because it could encourage further illegal migration. He now says merely that Panama had just not filled out the proper paperwork even though the Panamanian government had sent a letter to the Bahamian Foreign Minister regarding asylum being granted to the Cubans refugees.
Furthermore, U.S. officials had set up the meeting with the Foreign Minister at the airport to discuss these issues and to request that the Cubans not be sent back to the Castro dictatorship, but the Minister did not inform our officials that the plane carrying the Cuban detainees was on the tarmac ready for takeoff as the conversation was taking place."
There are Cubans still left in the horrid detention center in the Bahamas and the government of that country must improve the livelihood of those under its care and provide basic necessities for these freedom seekers."