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Page last updated at 22:28 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 23:28 UK

Cuban dissident's family reunion

Hilda Molina hugs her grandson in Buenos Aires, 14 June, 22009
Dr Molina met her grandsons for the first time in Buenos Aires

A leading Cuban dissident who for years was refused permission to visit relatives abroad has had an emotional family reunion in Argentina.

Neurosurgeon Hilda Molina, 66, was greeted by her son and grandchildren at Buenos Aires airport. She will later meet her ailing 90-year-old mother.

Dr Molina has been fighting Fidel Castro's government since 1994 for the right to visit.

In 2008 she asked Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to intercede.

Dr Molina broke with Fidel Castro in 1994 in a row over the country's health system.

'Family rights'

Dr Molina was greeted by her son, Roberto Quinones, and grandsons Roberto Carlos, 13 and Juan Pablo, eight, both of whom she was meeting for the first time.

She said briefly to reporters: "Thank you all."

Dr Molina was given permission to visit on Friday and a day later had the necessary travel papers.

The BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says the change of heart may have more to do with Cuba's relations with President Cristina Fernandez than US pressure on human rights.

As Dr Molina left Havana airport she had said: "It's too much. The children, my son whom I haven't seen in 15 years, the grandchildren I've never met and my mother who is ill."

It is not known whether Dr Molina will return to Cuba.

As she departed she urged other dissidents to "ask for their rights, like I did".

"They mustn't remain silent," Associated Press news agency quoted her as saying. "They don't have to create problems, just simply claim their family rights, which is something so basic and simple."

Dr Molina broke ranks with the government over the ethics of stem cell treatment for conditions such as Parkinson's Disease.

She also criticised the country's socialised health care system, saying Cuba was offering superior treatments to foreign, fee-paying patients.

Her son moved to Argentina in 1994 with his wife.

Her mother, Hilda Morejon, was given permission to move to Argentina several months ago.

Fidel Castro's brother Raul took over as Cuba's official head of state last year.



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