lunedì, febbraio 27, 2006

CBS 4: Latin Builders Boycott Bahamas

Latin Builders Boycott Bahamas
Latin Builders Association Has About 750 Corporate Members
Tuesday A Channel 23 Reporter Was Beat By Jail Guards

(CBS4/AP) MIAMI Fallout from a Hispanic television reporter allegedly beat up by Bahamian guards outside a detention center could lead to a massive boycott of the island.

A local construction industry group joined Cuban-American activists Thursday in a boycott of the Bahamas to protest alleged mistreatment of migrants who pass through there on their way to the United States. The Latin Builders Association, which is comprised of about 750 corporate members, said it had suspended its annual plan to hold its fishing tournament and retreat in the Bahamas.

Earlier this week, Channel 23 reporter Mario Vallejo was beat up outside a Bahamian detention center after he was trying to file a report on a group of Cubans that were being held there after their arrival on Elbow Cay. Wednesday, exiles marched outside the Bahamian Consul in protest.

Association head Gus Gill also called on industry and community leaders that do business in the Bahamas to pressure the island's government to improve its handling of migrant detainees.

The move came days after a Florida television reporter was allegedly struck by a prison guard in the Bahamas as he interviewed seven Cuban migrants who complained of abuses at the hands of Bahaman authorities.

The Bahamas Ministry of Labor and Immigration said Wednesday the incident was under investigation. The country typically detains and then deports illegal migrants back to their native countries.

Gill said he hopes to meet with Bahamian officials about improving communications between immigrants and their families.

"I'm trying to go beyond just saying 'I'm going to boycott an event,"' Gill said. "We want to have a broader effect."

Ramon Sanchez, head of the Cuban-American activist group Democracy Movement, called for the boycott earlier this week to protest the treatment of Cuban, Haitian and other migrants who land in the Bahamas.

"The government has converted the mistreatment against the immigrants into a policy of the state to dissuade immigrants from coming to the island while they are in transit," Sanchez said before heading to a protest outside the Bahaman Consulate in Miami.

Amnesty International has reported poor treatment of immigrant detainees in the Bahamas in the past, including not providing enough food or drink, forcing detainees to sleep on the floor, failure to provide toiletries and restricted visiting and telephone access. Amnesty has also reported allegations of sexual abuse.

(© 2006 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)