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    Cuban arrivals from Bahamas allege beatings and sexual abuses

    Posted on Saturday, 08.31.13

    Cuban arrivals from Bahamas allege beatings and sexual abuses
    BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
    JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

    The first Cubans to arrive in Miami from a notorious migrant detention
    center in Bahamas this month alleged Friday that guards regularly beat
    some of the male inmates and sexually abused some of the women.

    One of the women repatriated from the center to Cuba earlier this 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 Bahamas government
    this summer after detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre
    smuggled out cell phone images of inmates sewing their lips together in
    protest and an alleged guard kicking prisoners.

    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 flight
    from Nassau.

    “That video is real, and after the video came the beatings” by guards as
    punishment for the negative publicity, said Rodriguez.

    Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell has said the video is a fake,
    though Bahamas news media reports this week indicate it is real. He said
    recently that 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.

    Rodriguez said he took part in a 17-day hunger strike that never became
    public, and after the video incident was taken to Fox Hill maximum
    security prison and imprisoned put in a cell with a cop killer, a rapist
    and an apparently deranged man.

    Food was delivered to the Carmichael Road center only once every three
    days, he added, and the Cuban men usually saved their meager rations of
    bottled water for their female relatives and children in a separate ward.

    He weighted about 232 pounds when he was sent to the detention center
    and now weighs 183 pounds, he said.

    His wife said she was not sexually abused by guards during their stay
    because she stayed with their children, but added in a low voice that,
    “It is true that the women, to get water or food, have to sell their
    bodies.”

    Democracy Movement chief Ramón Saúl Sánchez, who greeted the family on
    their arrival, said a 24-year-old woman repatriated from Nassau to
    Havana last week had reported that she was six months pregnant by a
    guard at the detention center.

    Rodriguez’s son Landy, 12, speaking briefly at a news conference just
    hours after the family’s arrival in Miami, said that conditions at the
    detention center had been “very bad” while his 4-year-old brother Leandy
    dozed on his father’s lap.

    “I don’t know what the guards had against us,” the father said. “We were
    treated barbarically, and I don’t know why.”

    Rodriguez said his group of 10 relatives and friends from the north
    central town of Caibarien set off of in a 19-foot boat hand-made with
    bits of lumber and metal sheeting and headed for Florida but were
    intercepted Aug. 12, 2012 by the U.S. Coast Guard. They were taken to
    Nassau, apparently because they were in Bahamian waters.

    He was later approved for U.S. asylum, he said, because he could be
    sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for taking his children out of the
    island without permission and because of help from Rep. Ileana
    Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican.

    Bahamas repatriated 24 Cubans to Havana on Aug. 16 and another eight on
    the 21st, including several of the alleged victims of beatings and
    sexual abuse in what Sánchez has complained is an attempt to silence
    their reports of abuses.

    Another 18 undocumented Cubans detained in the Bahamas will be allowed
    to fly to Panama, which has agreed to issue them “territorial asylum”
    while they try to arrange onward trips to the United States.

    Joining Sánchez in a news conference was MarleineBastien, executive
    director for Haitian Women of Miami, who said that Haitians also have
    been complaining about the treatment at the Carmichael Road center “for
    many years.”

    Source: “Cuban arrivals from Bahamas allege beatings and sexual abuses –
    Cuba – MiamiHerald.com” –
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/31/3596914/cuban-arrivals-from-bahamas-allege.html

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