Cubans Claim Abuse at Bahama Refugee Facility

Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 07:21 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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The first Cubans to arrive in Miami from an oft-criticized migrant detention center in the Bahamas have provided harrowing details of abuse at the lands of local authorities.
 
They allege that male detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre in Nassau are regularly beaten by guards and that females are sexually abused by staff, the Miami Herald reported.
 
One of the women repatriated from the center to Cuba last month arrived pregnant by a guard, according to the Democracy Movement, a Miami group that has been helping the undocumented migrants detained in Nassau.
 
The movement led a string of protests against the Bahamian government this summer after detainees at the center smuggled out cell phone images of what they say is a guard kicking prisoners, according to the Herald.
 
Randy Rodriguez, 31, his wife Misleidy Olivera, 30, and their two children were the first detainees to speak in person to journalists about conditions at the center after they arrived in Miami on a recent flight from Nassau.
 
“That video is real, and after the video came the beatings” by guards as punishment for the negative publicity, said Rodriguez.
 
Bahamian Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell has said the video is a fake, though local media reports suggest it is genuine.
 
According to Mitchell, the allegations are under investigation.
 
“I wish to say that no one from the Bahamas government has admitted that there was any abuse of detainees by the Bahamas government,” he said in an Aug. 18 statement.
 
Detainee Alexander Vásquez said he suffered a punctured lung from two broken ribs and his brother suffered a cut on his head that required 17 stitches in a hospital. Rodriguez said he still has a lump on his forehead, from a kick, that refuses to go away.
 
One night the guards tear-gassed the wards to force everyone outside despite a heavy rain and then kept them, face down on the ground and lined up should-to-shoulder, from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., he said.
 
One hefty guard then counted the inmates, twice, by walking on their backs, each step counting one prisoner, he added.
 
“We were treated barbarically, and I don’t know why,” Rodriguez said.
 
His wife said she was not sexually abused by guards during their stay because she stayed with their children. But speaking in a low voice, she added: “It is true that the women, to get water or food, have to sell their bodies.”

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