Monday, February 27, 2006

Cuban Refugee-Dentists in Limbo

25th February
Cuban Refugee-Dentists in Limbo

The matter concerning the two Cuban dentists who are detained in The
Bahamas is now reaching a crescendo. Many people are watching and
waiting to see how these Cuban refugee dentists in limbo will be resolved.

Today we wish to suggest that United States representatives Connie Mack
IV and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are totally wrong when they say that Cuban
dentists David Gonzalez-Mejias and Marialys Darias-Mesa have been in The
Bahamas for 10 months, despite having received permission to migrate
legally to the United States, Mack said.

The visa in question was a United States visa. The visas had expired.

These two politicians are also wrong when they say that The Bahamas is
caving in to pressure from Cuban leader Fidel Castro by detaining the

We see no evidence to support this absurd conclusion.

The facts –in their totality- suggest that a contrary scenario might be
closer to the truth.

As we see it, the Cuban doctors in question are among the latest victims
of the U. S. wet-foot dry foot policy. Had their wet feet landed on a
beach in Florida rather than on a beach in a sovereign and independent
Bahamas, none of the current controversy would today be taking place.

The two Florida members of Congress are threatening to push for economic
sanctions against The Bahamas that could affect its tourism industry if
Bahamian officials do not free two Cuban dentists who have been in
immigration detention there for 10 months.

U.S. Republican Reps. Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Thursday
they may ask the Federal government to take a number of steps to
pressure The Bahamas. Criticism of The Bahamas has increased since a
Spanish-language TV journalist was allegedly beaten by a jail guard
earlier this month after he interviewed Cuban migrants detained at the
Immigration Detention Center on Carmichael Road in Nassau.

''You've left us no choice. Congress must now consider every available
consequence,'' said Mack, a member of the House International Relations

Mack said options on the table include ``rethinking the existing U.S.
preclearance customs policy, congressional hearings that [would]
reexamine the relationship between the U.S. and The Bahamas, and. . .
other measures that could reduce our economic support of The Bahamas.''

In a statement, The Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that
the island government ''cannot be drawn into the rhetorical war of words
between members of the legislative branch in the United States and the
Cuban government on migration issues.'' It pledged to ''resolve this
matter'' according to international law and migration accords between
Cuba and The Bahamas.

We support and respect our officials for the principled stand they have
taken. It also seems to us that while the government should not allow
itself to be drawn into any rhetorical war of words, it may wish to
focus on the idea that the two dentists might well have well-grounded
fears of persecution if they are returned to Cuba.

As we understand the law that governs matters such as these, the
stipulation is to the effect that under an agreement with Cuba, The
Bahamas will return Cuban boat people and Cuba will accept them.

The Cuban doctors are boat people who happen to be in The Bahamas.

This would suggest that the next move should be for them to be sent back
home. This is precisely what happens to other undocumented migrants. In
the case of Haitians, the turn around exercise is sometimes decisively
quick. Unlike the Americans, The Bahamas Should not adopt a "white foot,
black foot" policy – one law for Cubans and the other for Haitians.
Information currently available suggests that the current administration
wishes to have this already speedy process accelerated.

Strangely, the same administration has seen fit to do otherwise in the
case of the two Cuban doctors. In this regard, it is our understanding
that this matter has languished for the past ten months.

This delay suggests that this case has become somewhat of an
embarrassment for the Government. At this juncture, we wait to see how
this matter will be resolved.

While we would never recommend such a shenanigan, we do say that this
matter has been allowed to drag on for far too long, that it should be
dealt with without further ado or delay.

This matter will continue to be handled professionally and courteously.

No comments: