The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, Thursday called for “respect” among opposition groups and Cuban officials who staged violent incidents yesterday that ended with the temporary detention of about twenty people.
“We are a country that welcomes everyone and we ask everyone to show respect. Last night those detained were released with a warning that, if the incidents are repeated, sanctions will be applied,” Varela told journalists before the inauguration of the Rectors of America Forum, parallel to the Seventh Summit of the Americas.
The president said that what happened outside the Cuban embassy in Panama, “Was very unfortunate and unacceptable,” and pointed out that also striking were “The sectors of Cuban [government] staff and their lack of tolerance and their provocation,” which ended with a confrontation of punches and kicks.
Although no individuals were identified, the violent encounter occurred between staff and people linked to the Cuban government, and exiled Cubans invited to the Civil Society Forum, which opened yesterday delayed by the incidents, another of which also took place at the meeting site in a hotel far from the Embassy.
Varela acknowledged that among Cubans, “There are deep wounds”
Varela acknowledged that among Cubans, “There are deep wounds” and stressed that the Panama forums are “an opportunity for approach” but that the incidents resulted in “security being strengthened in all forums,” as a result of which he directed, “a warning to everyone because the country will offer guarantees to all the leaders attending the summit.”
The Secretary of Communication for Panama, Manuel Dominguez, specified that “If a new incident occurs, the police will use force” to stop it and reiterated that they would only allow demonstrations within the framework of the law, which has provisions for expulsion or deportation from the country for the use of violence.
The Seventh Summit of the Americas will meet on Friday and Saturday, April 10-11, with all the countries of the Americas for the first time since 1956 — with the incorporation of Cuba — to discuss “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.”