J’can in Mexico melee claims discrimination
Cleon Harden, the Jamaican man who was seen in a video damaging infrastructure at a Mexican airport, has alleged that he was detained and beaten for two days by the authorities following his boisterous behaviour.
"Dem start kick me up, handcuff mi and put mi inna di cell. Dem kick mi up all bout, all inna mi head and side. Mi affi play like me dead and a so dem affi stop. Then the next day dem come back wid it again," Harden told THE WEEKEND STAR at his home in Portmore, St Catherine. He said that he got angry after he felt that he was wrongfully profiled by the immigration officers as one of the many Jamaicans who have attempted to gain illegal entry into the United States via Mexico.
"I showed them that I was coming from Panama and never had any problems, but one of them tell me to go over the interrogation room. While I was over there, they called me out say 'Jamaica yuh going back home', and from deh so mi stand up and mi just lose mi cool. Dem a interrogate Jamaicans like say wi a some top drug dealer or some top drugs we a carry. Mi no know why dem a deal wid it suh," Harden continued.
The distraught labourer, who also revealed that he was deported from England 11 years ago for a similar incident of misconduct, said that he feared for his life during the whole ordeal, which took place on December 23. He expressed surprise at seeing the video when a friend showed it to him on Wednesday.
"Me a say, 'Wait, dem nah show di part when dem soldier a kick me, police a kick me and immigration a kick me'. A no so dem treat visitor. Mi come as a visitor, yuh no supposed to a 'rae' and a beat me. Mi no touch nobody, mi no draw no blood or nothing," he said. Harden said that he was still hoping of getting some justice.
"Dem beat me up and from I come here, I don't even get to go a hospital. Mi affi use homemade remedies like go a sea and sap it and tek some painkillers. A yesterday mi boil likkle bitters and drink it because I don't know if a rib broke inna me or fracture," he said.
Jamaica's Ambassador in Mexico, Sharon F. Saunders, confirmed that an investigation has already commenced.
"It has now been confirmed by the Mexican Immigration authorities that the incident took place at the Cancun International Airport. The man in the video is confirmed to be a Jamaican national. It was confirmed that the Jamaican arrived at the aforementioned airport claiming to be a tourist. However, due to inappropriate behaviour, disrespect to authority and inconsistencies in the first interview, he was sent to do a second interview," Saunders said.
The ambassador disclosed that Harden "responded in an inappropriate and violent manner" during the second interview, which then led to his denial of entry.
"Due to the inconsistencies in both interviews, Mexican immigration deemed him not to be a genuine tourist," she said.
In the video, Harden was seen breaking glass and using a piece of the broken glass to threaten immigration staff and passengers who were also in the second review room and at the immigration office.
He subsequently tried to leave the airport but was prevented from doing so by the Federal Immigration and National Guards Agent, Saunders said.
Harden was eventually subdued and cooperated. He was placed on a flight from Mexico to Panama. He arrived in Jamaica on December 25.