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Calls To Fire Fred Mitchell Grow Louder

Opposition Leader Hubert Minnis has joined the chorus of voices calling for the termination of Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell from the Cabinet.

Speaking at a press conference at FNM Headquarters, Mr Minnis called on Prime Minister Perry Christie to “dismiss Fred Mitchell from his Cabinet forthwith.”

“It has now become clear that Minister Mitchell has exhausted every ounce of credibility as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The FNM is appalled at the dismal mismanagement of our country’s foreign interests by Minister Mitchell,” Minnis said.

Mitchell has been accused of orchestrating a cover-up, hiding the fact that guards at the Detention Centre abused Cuban detainees.  For weeks Mr Mitchell has insisted that no abuse had taken place.

Accusing Fred Mitchell of a ‘cover-up,’ Mr Minnis called on the PLP government to release the ‘full and unedited’ reports of all investigations that have been conducted to date into Cuban detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

“To date, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has not given a full and honest account of what took place at the Detention Centre on May 20, 2013,” Minnis said.

It certainly is odd that Mr Mitchell is so adamant about the fact that no abuse took place, yet he says there are investigations underway.

Which is it?  Why investigate something if you are so certain it didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Perry Christie told reporters that it is not the “policy” of The Bahamas to abuse detainees.  That sounds good, but it doesn’t speak to whether or not any abuse did indeed take place.

Mr Christie may be able to get away with that kind of ambiguous rhetoric when talking to the average Bahamian, but it doesn’t fly when he is talking to people whose grade average is above D-minus.

The fact is, there were several guards at the Detention Centre whose behaviour was inappropriate. Those guards used outrageously excessive force to “restrain” some of the Cuban detainees, who allegedly were trying to escape.

The abuse was so significant that three of the detainees had to be taken to Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment. One of the detainess was detained and the other two returned to the Detention Centre.

Following the beatings, the remaining detainees videotaped a reenactment of the earlier beatings.  This is the video that started the current controversy when it was posted on YouTube.

Senior Bahamas government officials have known all this for weeks and have been lying to the local media, the public and the international media.

Then, the Bahamas government repatriated those injured Cubans, sent them back to Cuba, specifically so no one could talk with them, or see the wounds they suffered at the hands of the abusive Detention Centre guards.

In his criticism of Foreign Affairs Minister Mitchell, Opposition leader Minnis said the FNM is aware that the report of the government’s preliminary investigation into the abuse incident was completed in late June.

“Despite becoming aware that a serious instance of abuse had taken place, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has continued to use well-chosen language to mislead the public,” Dr Minnis said.

“Minister Mitchell continued to use strong, combative and undiplomatic language intended to deflect attention from the underlying legitimacy of the issue raised by the demonstrators. He had multiple opportunities to tell the Bahamian people and the intentional community the full truth of what had transpired. Instead, he has chosen to engage in a full-fledged cover-up,” Minnis said.

Bahamian government officials were trying to “protect tourism”.  They didn’t want the reputation of The Bahamas, as a vaction paradise, to be negatively impacted by a scandal involving the abuse of immigrants.  They’ve already gotten a lot of criticism for the way immigrants are treated, and there have been several instances where Bahamas Police officers have beaten prisoners to, while they were handcuffed in a holding cell.

But in an effort to cover up the scandal, the PLP government of The Bahamas has made the situation worse, much much worse.

And as this all comes out, it will be the actions of Mr Mitchell and other PLP government officials, not the abusive guards, that will destroy the reputation of The Bahamas.

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