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Cuban Dissidents, Castro Loyalists Clash in Panama

By: Rebeca Morla - @RebecaMorla - Apr 9, 2015, 12:28 pm

Español “For a free Cuba.” That is the message members of the Assembly of Cuban Resistance planned to deliver minutes before a violent clash with pro-Castro Cubans in the streets of Panama City, ahead of the Summit of the Americas.

The confrontation took place on Wednesday, April 8, just meters away from the Cuban Embassy at Porras Park, where the dissidents planned to leave flowers at the bust of Cuban national hero José Martí.

Before the violence erupted, the pro-government Cubans reportedly demanded the dissidents leave, accusing them of being “terrorists, members of the CIA, and murderers.”

The Panamanian National Police intervened and reportedly arrested members of the Cuban Resistance group.

The Assembly of Cuban Resistance, a coalition of over 50 dissident groups from both on and off the island, issued a statement claiming its members were “brutally beaten by a pro-Castro mob during a silent demonstration before the bust of Martí.” The Assembly further denounced their attackers’ apparent disregard for the presence of women within the group.

“Those men beat us, and did not care that we are women,” said Isela Fiterre, member of the board of Mothers and Women against Repression in Cuba (MAR).

“They viciously beat Antúnez [Jorge Luis García Pérez], Orlando Gutiérrez, Augusto Monge, Yris Pérez Aguilera, and others. We are being arrested right now, they are taking us to Cuartel San Miguel. Please denounce this,” she said.

During their press conference, the Assembly also announced plans to hold a “unity forum” on Thursday morning.

Florida congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen issued statements condemning the actions of the Castro supporters in Panama.

“Today, the Castro regime once again demonstrated that it is the same violent, terrorist dictatorship that it has always been, as it continues to export its brand of thuggery and aggression anywhere that it finds dissent,” said Diaz-Balart.

“Rather than taking the hand of Cuba’s chief thug at the summit, President Obama must stand with the freedom advocates and publicly demand an immediate end to the violent repression of the Cuban people,” he added.

In the same vein, Ros-Lehtinen stated that the attack “by Cuban regime thugs on peaceful pro-democracy protestors and US citizens in Panama is just another reminder of the brutality of the Castro brothers and their enablers.”

“Mercenaries of the Empire”

The Cuban government’s delegation to the Summit was also center stage during Wednesday’s opening of the Forum of Civil Society, one of four sessions planned before the Summit kicks off on Friday.

The meeting was delayed as the Cuban delegation voiced opposition to the dissidents’ participation. The Cuban government’s representatives eventually walked out on the event.

In response, Cuban Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel stated that it is “unacceptable” for Cuba to share a space with dissidents, whom he called “non-legitimate representatives” of Cuban civil society and “mercenaries of the empire.”

Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.

Rebeca Morla Rebeca Morla

Based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Rebeca Morla works as an editorial assistant with the PanAm Post. She is a political scientist and an Executive Board member of EsLibertad. Follow @RebecaMorla.