Rosa María Payá, the daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá,
was briefly detained on Sunday at Panama’s airport and threatened with
deportation to Cuba if she caused any public disturbances at the Summit
of the Americas, according to an account she gave on Twitter.
Payá was released after being questioned and her personal items were
subjected to a careful review by authorities, in what was later
described by the Foreign Ministry of Panama as “a bureaucratic error.”
The incident caused alarm in South Florida, with some activists
expressing fear that other Cuban dissidents traveling to Panama to make
their voices heard at the summit may also be subjected to mistreatment
in the Central American country.
Payá, whose father died in 2012 in what Cuban officials portrayed as a
single-car crash, reported on Twitter that officials of Panama’s
National Security intercepted her as soon as she exited the plane.
According to her account, an agent told her: “You’ll be deported to Cuba
if you cause any disturbance, you carry a banner … Go to your country to
“Now they put me in detention, say they are checking my documents. I’m
somewhere in the Tocumen Airport,” Payá, 26, said in Spanish on Sunday
afternoon from Panama.
In other short messages, Payá also expressed dissatisfaction with the
manner in which her personal items were being reviewed by the Panamanian
“They checked everything that I had in my bag, even my underwear. At one
point he took from my sight my personal agenda with all my notes,” she said.
The arrest sparked much interest in social media, motivating activists
and other personalities to contact Panamanian authorities to advocate in
Panama’s former ambassador to the Organization of American States,
Guillermo Cochez, said he called National Security Director Rolando
López to request the Payá’s release.
“They applied procedures that to me seem inadequate. I reported it to
the foreign minister, I reported it to the president,” Cochez said in a
brief telephone interview.
Hours later, when Payá had been released, the foreign ministry issued a
statement regretting the incident.
“The foreign ministry apologizes for the bureaucratic mistake made and
has taken steps to ensure that it does not reoccur,” it said.
Cuban dissidents were invited to participate in the Summit of the
Americas, where Cuban leader Raúl Castro also plans to participate.
Ruben Castillo, Panama’s coordinator of the Forum of Civil Society and
Social Actors of the Summit, confirmed in recent days to el Nuevo Herald
that organizers decided to send invitations to dissidents despite Cuba
placing restrictions on the groups.
“The Cuban dissidents and other groups of civil society in Cuba will be
represented,” Castillo said. “We will make efforts so that everyone has
representation and make a dignified debate.”
Source: Activist daughter of late dissident Payá detained in Panama at
Summit of the Americas | Miami Herald Miami Herald –