News / Americas

    Cuban Dissident Blogger Prepares 'Victory' Tour Abroad

    Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez participates in the blogging event Clic, organized by Spaniard Jose Luis Antunez, in Havana, June 22, 2012.
    Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez participates in the blogging event Clic, organized by Spaniard Jose Luis Antunez, in Havana, June 22, 2012.
    Reuters
    Cuba's best-known dissident, blogger Yoani Sanchez, said she plans to make good use of "my victory" when she leaves on an 80-day-tour of more than a dozen countries on Sunday.

    Sanchez, under Cuba's sweeping migration reform that went into effect this year, was granted a passport two weeks ago, after being denied permission to travel more than 20 times over the past five years.

    Sanchez, considered Cuba's pioneer in social networking, told Reuters on Thursday that she would visit the headquarters of Google, Twitter and Facebook, and travel to Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, the United States, Spain, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries.

    "This is a victory after fighting five years for my right to travel, using patience, energy, legal and journalistic tools, and most of all the solidarity of many people,'' she said, as she left her home to pick up a visa at a local embassy.

    "I feel like a runner who has run the 110-meter hurdle. Tired, exhausted but happy to have met the challenge,'' she added.

    Sanchez, a 37-year-old Havana resident, has incurred the wrath of Cuba's government for constantly criticizing its communist system in her "Generation Y" blog, and using Twitter to denounce repression.

    Yoani Sanchez works on her laptop at her home in Havana, February 9, 2011.Yoani Sanchez works on her laptop at her home in Havana, February 9, 2011.
    x
    Yoani Sanchez works on her laptop at her home in Havana, February 9, 2011.
    Yoani Sanchez works on her laptop at her home in Havana, February 9, 2011.
    Sanchez, one of the world's best known bloggers, has tens of thousands of followers abroad, but few in Cuba where the government severely restricts the Internet.

    Her blog is named after the penchant of Cuban parents during the Cold War era of Soviet backing for the island to choose names for their children starting with "Y" because of the many popular Russian names starting with that letter.

    Cuba's leaders consider dissidents traitorous mercenaries in the employ of the United States and other enemies. Official bloggers regularly charge that Sanchez's international renown has been stage-managed by western intelligence services.

    Sanchez, who has won a number of international prizes for her blog but was denied permission to collect them, said she would now do so during her travels.

    'Various Objectives'

    "I have various objectives. I am going to give conferences at various universities, present my book [a collection of her blogs], receive the prizes I wasn't given permission to collect before and meet my readers, many of whom have followed me for six years,'' Sanchez said.

    Sanchez' case is viewed as a test of the Cuban government's commitment to free travel under reforms that require only a passport, renewed every two years, to leave the country.

    She is also likely to offer stern criticism of U.S. policy toward Cuba, including Washington's decades-old economic embargo against the island. In a recent blog, Sanchez said the embargo had failed to stifle the Cuban government and was exploited by Havana as ''a big bad wolf to blame for everything.''

    Other leading dissidents have also received passports, though two less well-known government opponents, Angel Moya and Gisela Delgado, have been denied.

    The old travel law was put in place in 1961 to slow the flight of Cubans after the island's 1959 revolution.

    The new law scrapped the much-hated requirement to obtain an exit visa and loosened other restrictions that had discouraged Cubans from leaving.

    It was one of the wide-ranging reforms President Raul Castro has enacted since he succeeded his older brother, Fidel Castro, in 2008.

    There are still travel restrictions, mainly for national security reasons and for those with pending legal cases. That may affect a number of dissidents like Moya, who is on parole after being jailed in a 2003 crackdown on dissent.

    "It's sweet-and-sour news. Yoani will travel to Mexico, Spain, Germany, and visit New York and Washington, D.C., and that's 'sweet' for Cubans everywhere. But, as with most things emanating from official Cuba, it's also 'sour,''' said Marifeli Perez-Stable, interim director at Florida International University's Latin American and Caribbean Center in Miami. "That she was given a passport and others have been denied underscores the arbitrariness of the migration reform.''

    Sanchez said the travel changes fell short of "granting to anyone born on this island the inherent right to come and go,'' but nevertheless was a step forward that will have an "incalculable political and social impact,'' including for the government.

    "In a way I am the flag-bearer of this new era that's beginning, where civil society is going to have access to international spaces and an international microphone and return with more information, knowledge and contacts,'' she said.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Haiti Braces for Trouble as Election Panel Report Is Due

    Haitians are preparing for trouble as electoral verification commission is due to deliver results of its monthlong review of last year's contested presidential and legislative elections

    Brazil Launches Manhunt for Alleged Gang Rapists

    Police identifies four of 30 suspects who gang raped teenager and posted video online

    'El Chapo' Lawyers Split on Extradition Case

    Lawyers can't agree on staving off extradition to US

    Colombia Rebels Release Three Journalists

    All three, including a Spanish correspondent working on a story about coca growers, were released Friday

    WHO Dismisses Changing Summer Olympics for Zika

    WHO says canceling or postponing the Olympics will not alter the international spread of Zika virus

    Global Growth the 'Urgent Priority', G-7 Leaders Conclude

    A final statement of addressed broad issues facing the global economy while glossing over a difference of opinions among leaders over fiscal stimulus