Foreign Minister Fernando Núñez Fábrega said the decision was made quickly due “to the dangers to the people,” and Guillermo Cochez former ambassador to the Organization of American States, was named as a special envoy to handle the case.
Christie initially agreed to allow the 19 to go to Panama, but changed tacks after Cuban government officials insisted that his government fulfill the bilateral agreement on repatriations, according to Cuban activists in Miami.
Nuñez said Friday in Panama that the Bahamian government could have waited on the repatriations because the 24 had the promise of asylum, but added the decision was up to Nassau.
The Cuban detainees’ status was to have been discussed Monday at a meeting of Cochez, Bahamas Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell, Miami lawyer Lorenzo Palomares and Miami banker Raymond Molina. It is not clear whether the meeting will go ahead as planned.
Detainees at the immigration detention center in Nassau — Cubans but also Haitians, Brazilians, Colombians, Chinese and others trying to reach the United States — have long complained about guard abuses, health conditions and the food there.
“The callous, brutal and inhumane treatment that Cuban freedom seekers receive at the hands of Bahamian prison guards has been known for some time. I have brought up this abuse with Bahamian and U.S. authorities on prior occasions and the Bahamians always denied it,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“I will continue to press the Bahamian government that it must cease the deplorable detainment conditions under which Cubans are not fed adequately nor treated humanely (and) it must honor the generous asylum protections offered by third countries, such as Panama,” she added.