NASSAU — The United States Embassy suspended non-immigrant visa services in The Bahamas yesterday, one day after a US diplomat was assaulted and robbed in Nassau.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell told the House of Assembly yesterday afternoon that the US government had informed him that the suspension was “as a result of the injury to its vice consul at the US Embassy”.
The 74-year-old diplomat was accosted, robbed and injured on her way to St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on West Street around 11 a.m. Sunday, police said.
Mitchell noted that the matter was now with police.
He told Parliament: “Unfortunately, however, the embassy says that the absence from work of that officer means that no visa processing for Bahamians took place today (Monday) and the [Charg√ d’ Affaires John Dinkelman] thought that this would be for an unspecified period of time.”
Mitchell added: “I made known our concern at these developments even while understanding the situation. I am happy to report that I have now been informed by the charge that visa processing will begin again tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.”
The embassy said in a statement non-immigrant visa services provided by the embassy’s Consular Section will be available on a reduced basis today.
The embassy said it intends to resume full nonimmigrant visa services tomorrow.
The Free National Movement said in a statement the decision to suspend visa services “sent shockwaves throughout The Bahamas”.
“The FNM urges the government of The Bahamas to ensure that visitors and residents are protected against violence,” the statement said.
“Clearly, it must be possible for a visitor, in broad daylight to attend the Cathedral at West Street without being robbed.
“The FNM found the minister of foreign affairs and immigration’s emergency communication to Parliament woefully inadequate.
“In a conversation with the US Embassy the FNM was given assurances that every effort will be taken to return visa services to Bahamian nationals to normality.” (Nassau Guardian)