Dissidents in Cuba
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Family greets dissident Cuban doctor in Argentina

Posted on Sunday, 06.14.09
Family greets dissident Cuban doctor in Argentina
By DEBORA REY
Associated Press Writer

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A dissident Cuban surgeon who had been denied
permission to leave the island for more than a decade hugged her
grandchildren Sunday for the first time after arriving to an emotional
family reunion in Argentina.

Dr. Hilda Molina, who quickly took advantage of the communist
government's surprise decision late last week to let her leave, was also
met by her son, Robert Quinones, whom she hadn't seen in 15 years. She
will visit her ailing 90-year-old mother, who was allowed to leave Cuba
months ago.

"Thank God and everyone who helped me," said Molina, a once-prominent
neurosurgeon who became a political pariah after criticizing Cuba's
health system.

Dressed sharply in a red jacket with white details, the 66-year-old
surgeon embraced her grandchildren, Roberto Carlos, 13, and Juan Pablo,
8, who were born after her son left Cuba and had only known her in
photographs.

Visibly moved, the doctor spoke briefly to the crush of reporters
covering her trip, then was escorted by police to a quieter area of the
airport.

"Hilda is very excited. She appreciates your presence, but you startled
her a little. She will talk to you all a little later," daughter-in-law
Veronica Scarpatti told reporters.

Quinones, who is also a doctor, said the family harbors no grudges.

"It is not time to blame the Cuban government," he said, adding that his
grandmother had not yet been told of Molina's arrival because of her
delicate condition.

Molina's travel documents are good for several months, but she said she
had not decided whether to return to Cuba.

The surprise authorization Friday was seen as another government gesture
of openness in the era after Fidel Castro, who ceded power to his
brother Raul for health reasons in 2006. It was also seen as a nod to
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, a Cuba ally, who along with her
husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, had been asking the Castros
since 2003 to allow Molina to leave.

Molina, who once posed for high-profile photos with Fidel Castro, was a
well-known physician at a government institution until 1994, when she
resigned after questioning the ethics of using human stem cell tissue in
studies on treating ailments like Parkinson's disease. That same year
her son left Cuba with his Argentine wife.

Molina filed paperwork periodically seeking for permission to travel
outside Cuba for 10 years and recently began the process again,
expecting to be turned down.

While Cuba has sent thousands of doctors abroad on official aid
missions, it restricts individual foreign travel by physicians, saying
it spends too much training them to allow them to emigrate for higher
salaries elsewhere.

Cubans like Molina who dare to openly criticize Cuba's system are also
often denied permission to leave the country.

Family greets dissident Cuban doctor in Argentina – World AP –
MiamiHerald.com (14 June 2009)
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/AP/story/1096728.html

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