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Cuban dissident held briefly in Panama ahead of summit

April 5, 2015

PANAMA CITY – Panamanian authorities held a Cuban dissident for several hours Sunday as she tried to enter the country for a meeting on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, the activist said.

“Panama’s National Security is holding me at the plane door,” Rosa María Payá wrote on Twitter.

She said authorities searched her handbag and kept her datebook. She said one of the agents told her: “‘You are going to be deported to Cuba if you cause any trouble. … Why don’t you go back to your country and cause trouble there,” according to her Twitter feed.

Payá was released after being held for several hours, according to a Panama government source who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

Panama’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying “mistakes were made” at the airport but would not be repeated, without naming Payá specifically.

The activist, who opposes Cuba’s Communist government, plans to attend a forum on youth on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10-11.

Payá’s father, Oswaldo Paya, and another Cuban dissident, Harold Cepero, died on July 22, 2012, in southeastern Cuba after their rental car went off an unpaved country road and crashed into a tree.

A Spanish politician, Ángel Carromero, has said Oswaldo Payá did not die in a car crash but was “assassinated” by Cuba’s secret services.

The Cuban government said the death was an accident, which his family has questioned.

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