INTERNATIONAL

Rubio blasts treatment of Payá by Panama

The U.S. senator claimed that the temporary detention of the Cuban activist was a serious human rights violation.

Temas:

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a likely Republican presidential candidate, today blasted Panama for temporarily detaining Cuban dissident Rosa María Payá Sunday ahead of the Summit of the Americas.

"Reports coming from Panama this weekend do not portend anything good for the Summit of the Americas and its so-called commitment to democracy and the right to free expression of all people living in this hemisphere," said the senator. "I am very concerned about the reports of arrests, interrogations and threats against Cuban members of civil society, among them Rosa María Payá."

In his note, Rubio urged the Panamanian government to ensure the rights of "all members of the democratic movement in Cuba," as well as those from Venezuela and other countries.

"What happened at the airport in Panama...sent a chilling message to the members of the movement for pro-democracy in Cuba, one that cannot be left without a response," he added.

Payá, the daughter of the deceased Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, reported Sunday that she was detained at Tocumen International Airport. She said that an immigration official warned her that any type of dissident behavior would not be tolerated.

Subsequently, the Foreign Ministry said that the temporary detention of Payá was a "bureaucratic error" and apologized for the conduct of the immigration official.

Rubio is of Cuban origin and is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee for Latin America. He is a strong opponent to the new policy of openness toward Cuba initiated by President Barack Obama.

According to the legislator, the Obama policy toward the island and "its support for the participation of Raúl Castro" at the summit "have sent the wrong message to the rest of the hemisphere that democracy and respect for human rights are negotiable and that there are no more prerequisites to participate in this forum."

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