Hostages being held at knifepoint by Cuban detainees spoke out to police today through the jail's public address system, voicing support for the inmates and asking for a helicopter to let the Cubans escape.
"We are trying to publicize the unfair practices that the United States has put into action against the detainees and their families," said Warden Todd Louvierre, his voice crackling through the dark.
The FBI was negotiating with the Cubans as the uprising entered its fourth day. Officials at the prison would not comment on the statements or whether they thought the hostages had been forced to speak.
The Cubans, who have demanded they be released, have completed sentences for various crimes in the United States. But the U.S. government won't release them to American soil because it considers them subject to deportation. There is no agreement between the United States and Cuba to have them sent back.
"The warden and I are okay. Hopefully they'll get us out of here soon," said Jolie Sonnier, a female guard at the St. Martin Parish jail. "Give them a helicopter with fuel to get the federal detainees out of here as soon as possible."
A female inmate, Rebecca Richard, said she was being held hostage too. Officials had not previously said she had been taken hostage along with the three jail officials.
A law enforcement source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said four of the Cubans were among detainees held in 1987 at a federal facility in Oakdale and at an Atlanta prison when inmates rioted. The issue then was the State Department's announcement that Cuba had agreed to take back some refugees.