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1959: Dame Margot Fonteyn released from jail
The world famous British ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn has arrived in New York after spending 24 hours in a Panama City jail.

Panamanian police are still hunting her husband, Dr Roberto Arias, a former Panamanian ambassador in London, suspected of planning a coup against the government of President Ernesto de la Guarda.

She was mobbed by journalists at the airport. After trying to get through to her mother by phone, she agreed to talk to the press.

The ballerina said she did not know where her husband was or even if he was safe.

"Naturally I am concerned. Any woman who doesn't know where her husband is, is naturally concerned," she said.

She refused to answer questions about the situation in Panama but said she intended to return, saying "Of course, it's my husband's country."

After intervention from the British Ambassador Sir Ian Henderson, Dame Margot was freed from prison at dawn and taken to Panama City's airport for a flight to the United States.

'Decoy duck'

In a statement to the House of Commons in London, shadow foreign secretary Aneurin Bevan welcomed her release. "The British public did not appreciate having seen her in the role of the swan, then seeing her in the role of a decoy duck," he said.

The Panamanian National Guard detained the ballerina yesterday when she arrived at Balboa harbour at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal on a fishing boat called Nola.

She had set out with Dr Arias on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Panama but when she returned the following day her husband was missing.

It is believed he left the Nola and jumped onto the Elaine, a shrimp boat, in the Pearl Islands with the intention of landing on the coast and storming the National Guard barracks in the town of Chorrera.

Local fishermen told the authorities Dr Arias ordered them to raise from the sea a buoy loaded with machine-guns, grenades and ammunition.

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Margot Fonteyn - 1951
Dame Margot Fonteyn says she has no knowledge of her husband's whereabouts


In Context
Three days later Roberto Arias took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Panama City. His small group of rebels made a failed attempt to invade Panama on 26 April.

He lived for a short while in Rio de Janeiro before returning to Panama to fight the government by more legitimate means.

In 1964, after he won a seat in elections for Panama's National Assembly, a former political associate shot and crippled him. He was treated at Stoke Mandeville hospital in London and resumed his political career in Panama in January 1967.

His uncle Arnulfo Arias was president of Panama three times - in 1940, 1948, and 1968. In 1999 Arnulfo's widow, Mireya Moscoso, became Panama's first woman president.

By 1962, Dame Margot Fonteyn's dancing days had seemed to be over but she formed a now famous partnership with Rudolf Nureyev - 20 years her junior - that revived her career.

She gave her last performance in the early 1970s before retiring to Panama to live with her husband.

She died of cancer in 1991.

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