**PEN America experts are available for interviews in English and Spanish//Los expertos de PEN América están disponibles para entrevistas en inglés y español.**

(New York, NY) — Cuban journalist Karla Pérez González was stranded in Panama this week after being notified that her government had banned her from re-entry to Cuba, despite meeting travel requirements and having the correct paperwork. In a statement today, PEN America decried the decision as a politically-motivated and repressive effort to exile the journalist, and demanded that authorities allow Pérez González to safely return to her country.

“Karla Pérez González is being prevented from returning to her own country, and to her family, because the Cuban government believes it is acceptable to banish Cubans who criticize them,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of free expression at risk programs at PEN America. “Pérez González’s case is another stark example of the alarming lengths that the Cuban authorities will take to silence and punish their critics. We call on the government to immediately lift Pérez González’s entry ban and allow her to go home.”

“Pérez González has been away from friends and family for four years because of an undaunted commitment to expressing her views,” said Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “First her studies were interrupted, and now her entire life has been thrown into tumult because the Cuban government has decided that opposing viewpoints have no place in their country. This type of ideological exclusion is anathema to the free flow of ideas, to cultural exchange, and to freedom of expression.” 

Pérez González had been finishing her journalism studies at the University of Costa Rica after having been expelled from studying journalism at the University of Las Villas in Santa Clara after she began to write for Somos +, an opposition blog. In Costa Rica, Pérez González was an intern at El Mundo and occasionally wrote for the ADN Cuba portal, another outlet critical of the Cuban government. After she concluded her studies and her visa expired, Pérez González intended to return to Cuba, flying on Thursday to Panama on a connecting flight, but she was notified there that the Cuban government was prohibiting her from entering the island. She has reportedly been forced to seek asylum in Costa Rica.

Journalists, writers, artists, and activists who express criticism of the ruling regime in Cuba have faced particularly heightened dangers in recent years. In recent months, PEN America has condemned the multiple arrests of Cuban writer Jorge Olivera Castillo and human rights activist Nancy Alfaya, as well as the government’s increasingly brutal efforts to suppress the artistic collective the San Ysidro Movement. 

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. ARC recently released A Safety Guide For Artists, a resource that offers practical strategies to help artists understand, navigate, and overcome risk, and features an interview with Cuban artist Tania Bruguera about the state of free expression on the island. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC.