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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Vazquez Is Favorite to Win Uruguay Presidential Vote

Leftist ruling party candidate buoyed by widespread affection for country's outgoing leader, strong economic growth
More

Brazil's Rousseff Struggles to Limit Petrobras Scandal's Damage

President expects bribery scandal at state-run oil company to deteriorate in coming months, aides say, with arrests possible for some political allies
More

Mexico, Central America Hail Obama's Immigration Reform

Mexican leader calls US president's proposals 'most important measures taken in several decades'
More

Torturers of Chilean President's Father Sentenced to Jail

Judge sentences 2 retired colonels to prison for committing 'crime of torture resulting in the death' of Alberto Bachelet Martinez during early days of Pinochet dictatorship
More

NYC Immigrant Advocates Praise Obama Move, Vow to Continue Fight

Threatened refusal by Republican congressional leaders to cooperate will backfire politically, attorney insists
More

Obama's Immigration Action: What It All Means

Attorney Camille Mackler is director of legal initiatives at advocacy group New York Immigration Coalition, and she discusses specifics of the action
More