Rubio: Panama's Harassment of Cuban Dissidents Sends Chilling Message

Monday, April 6, 2015
Rubio Calls on Panama to Welcome Democracy Activists at Summit of the Americas

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, issued the following statement in response to Panama’s detainment of Cuban activist Rosa María Payá the week before hosting the Summit of the Americas:

The reports that emerged out of Panama this weekend do not bode well for the Summit of the Americas and its supposed commitment to democracy and the right to free expression of all people who live in this hemisphere. I am very concerned by reports of detentions, interrogations, searches and threats made against members of Cuba’s real civil society, including Rosa María Payá.

I call on the Panamanian government to guarantee that all members of Cuba’s democratic movement, along with those from Venezuela and every other country, be welcomed to the Summit and encouraged to exercise their free speech rights.

What happened in Panama’s airport this weekend sent a chilling message to members of Cuba’s pro-democracy movement, one that cannot go unanswered. President Obama’s Cuba policy and his support for Raul Castro’s participation in this Summit have sent the wrong kind of message to the rest of the hemisphere that being democratic and respecting human rights are negotiable and no longer prerequisites for participating in this forum. The President and his administration must make sure that members of Cuba’s real civil society are never again intimidated and threatened the way they have been so far.