The Miami Herald reports that Cuban-Americans in South Florida are criticizing the Bahamas government Friday after it repatriated 24 Cuban migrants, including about eight offered asylum in Panama after accusing a guard of beating them at a Nassau detention center.
The 24 were bused to the airport and put aboard a plane bound for Cuba despite last-minute entreaties by U.S. government and other officials to delay the returns, said Ramón Saúl Sánchez, head of the Miami-based Democracy Movement.
Authorities in the Bahamas had could not be reached for comment but previously said that their country has an immigration agreement with Havana to repatriate any undocumented Cubans who do not qualify for political asylum.
The alleged abuses and plans for repatriations have heightened tension in South Florida, where Cuban groups called for tourist boycotts of the Bahamas, held hunger strikes and staged horn-honking protests around the Bahamian consulate.
Sánchez said the Democracy Movement would seek to accuse Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie in international fora of sending the migrants back to Cuba in order “to hide from public view those who were tortured in his country.”