By ADRIAN GIBSON
Last week, the Department of Immigration - via Bahamas Information Services - responded to a column I wrote about Cubans Carlos Pupa Mendoza and Lazaro Seara Marin, who are currently being held at the Bahamas Department of Corrections without charge and who have suffered inhumane treatment.
I found the response of Immigration to be nothing short of pathetic. There is nothing that was materially incorrect in my last column: perhaps they need to learn the meaning of the words “materially incorrect”. The statement amounted to vacuous hogwash meant to obfuscate. It did not address anything at the core of the letter Mr Marin wrote.
Nothing was said about their allegations of abuse and mistreatment. Nothing!
The Department of Immigration claimed that: “Both men are lawfully detained at The Bahamas Corrections Department. Attempts to repatriate them to the United States, their country of last residence, were refused by US authorities. The authorities in Cuba, the country of their origin, have also refused to accept them. Efforts to find a third country to accept them have been unsuccessful. The Department is continuing to work on this repatriation in the best interests of the national security of our country.
“It has been determined that prima facie they do not have a claim for asylum in The Bahamas. To our knowledge they have not in fact asserted such a claim,” the department asserted.
After reading that response, Nicole Flem - sister-in-law of Mr Marin - told me: “Everything they say is true except that they are being detained in a deplorable prison on no charges except for standing up for themselves and others. Yes, the United States won’t let them back and neither will Cuba. It is inhumane the way they have been detained and the fact that it has been over two years and nothing has happened yet.
“I have been in contact with the Department of Immigration for these two years and have had nothing new happen for them. I was told if they had a solid place to stay in The Bahamas so they weren’t wandering the streets they could get out and stay at that location. So we found someone who agreed to let them live with her until a permanent country was found and they still didn’t do anything.
“We have sent these letters to human rights in the US, England and Panama. We truly hope and pray that they are released to a country sooner than later. The conditions in which they are being held is horrible! We don’t need them to come to the US or get sent back to Cuba, as long as there is a country to allow them entrance so they are out of their current conditions, we would all be happy.”
If and when the Department of Immigration addresses the core issues in my last column, then and only then would any response from them seem credible.