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Five More Cubans Escape From the Carmichael Road Detention Centre
Related to country: Bahamas

Five More Cubans Escape:

By Candia Dames -
Nassau, Bahamas:

The ongoing security problems at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre were underscored on Thursday after five Cuban men escaped from the facility in the wee hours of the morning.

It was the third escape of Cubans from the centre for the year, but Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Cynthia Pratt said the situation could have been more serious as more than 20 Cuban men were trying to escape but most of them were blocked by Defence Force officers.

"The [officers] sounded the alarm and they were able to create a stir [and] some five of them escaped [instead of the 20 or so]. We noticed that in doing our surveillance that there was a number of fences that were cut. The double fence was cut that’s hidden behind the buses that are parked here," Mrs. Pratt said.

The escape came less than a week after immigration authorities said two Cuban women who broke out in late May had been recaptured by the US Coast Guard attempting to make it to Florida on a boat.

Anet Savia Gainza and Karina Reyes Labra were recently sent back to the centre.

In early April, three Cuban men, Jose Alvarez Garcia, Victor Brito Senea, and Lazaro Acosta Ortiz, also escaped from the centre. They were never recaptured. According to immigration authorities, all the Cuban escapees this year cut through the fences to break out.

Thursday’s incident drew a team of National Security officials, including Defence Force Commodore Davey Rolle, who inspected the fences that the Cubans allegedly cut to escape.

After the tour led by immigration authorities, the deputy prime minister told reporters that she was deeply concerned by what had happened, but when asked whether the latest incident signaled a failure in security, she said, "No. I don’t view it as a failure."

She added, "Things happen. We just have to try to work and try to move as we go along. All around the world people escape. The Bahamas is not new to this. Other countries that have the resources they have escapes, and so we are not perfect. We don’t have the kind of resources to do what we need to do. Certainly, we’re working at it and we’re doing the best that we can."

When he contributed to debate on the 2006/2007 budget in the House of Assembly earlier this month, Immigration Minister Shane Gibson announced that major security upgrades were taking place at the Carmichael Road facility.

These included fortifying the perimeter and bringing in attack dogs.

The attack dogs were at the facility during the latest escape, the deputy prime minister confirmed and she said the security upgrades were ongoing.

"Today we were just informed that the cameras will be installed," she said. "We are just waiting for the apparatus and screening device. [They have] not arrived yet. Other than that we will be able to screen persons for what they have on the body."

Mrs. Pratt said authorities want to know at all times what people are brining in to the Detention Centre compound.

She assured, "Whatever the problem is we’ll correct the problem."

The deputy prime minister said there were no Haitians involved in the escape attempt and added, "We know that most of our problems are from the Cuban refugees."

She said because the Cubans tend to be at the centre longer than the Haitians, they tend to become more aggressive and they have a longer time to think about how to escape.

Off the record, some of the officials on the scene told the Bahama Journal that it was clear that there is some corruption involved, a claim they also made during earlier escapes.

Defence Force officers are responsible for security at the centre, and immigration authorities are responsible for the centre’s management.

A year ago, government officials appointed former Acting Superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison Edwin Culmer director of the Detention Centre, but Mr. Culmer recently told The Bahama Journal that he does not work at the facility and has no idea about the goings on there.

In fact, he was attending the consecration of Anglican coadjutor bishop Laish Boyd while National Security and Immigration authorities were at the facility investigating the breakout.

30 June 2006

June 30, 2006 | 12:05 PM Comments  {num} comments

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