World

Cuban dissidents heckled at start of Summit of the Americas

  • Three Venezuelan women attend a pro-Venezuela meeting in Urraca Park, Panama City, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Panama City will host the VII Summit of the Americas on April 10-11, in which tensions between Caracas and Washington threatened to overshadow a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

    Three Venezuelan women attend a pro-Venezuela meeting in Urraca Park, Panama City, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Panama City will host the VII Summit of the Americas on April 10-11, in which tensions between Caracas and Washington threatened to overshadow a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)  (The Associated Press)

  • A couple of high school students wait for a bus at a stop decorated with a advertisement announcing the upcoming VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Panama City will host the Summit of the Americas on April 10-11. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

    A couple of high school students wait for a bus at a stop decorated with a advertisement announcing the upcoming VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Panama City will host the Summit of the Americas on April 10-11. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)  (The Associated Press)

  • A pair of national police officers stand on a corner of the Atlapa Convention Center, site where the VII Summit of the Americas will be held in Panama City, Panama, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. After more than 5 decades of isolation Cuba will attend the summit and Cuban President Raul Castro will likely meet with President Barack Obama, although no formal bilateral meeting has been announced.  (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

    A pair of national police officers stand on a corner of the Atlapa Convention Center, site where the VII Summit of the Americas will be held in Panama City, Panama, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. After more than 5 decades of isolation Cuba will attend the summit and Cuban President Raul Castro will likely meet with President Barack Obama, although no formal bilateral meeting has been announced. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)  (The Associated Press)

A group of more than 100 supporters of Cuba's government aggressively heckled dissidents from the communist island attending a civil society forum at a region-wide summit here.

Opponents of President Raul Castro were greeted to shouts of "imperialist" and "mercenaries" as they filed Wednesday into a hotel auditorium to attend speeches by host President Juan Carlos Varela and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The heated exchange at a normally sleepy forum for non-governmental organizations across Latin America and the Caribbean highlight the strong emotions hanging over the summit generated by the expected attendance by Cuba's president for the first time and recent sanctions against Venezuelan officials for human rights abuses.