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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month
More

Pope's Relatives Killed in Argentina Car Crash

Family of pontiff's nephew killed after car plows into truck
More

Ex-Guatemalan Drug Kingpin Pleads Guilty to US Charges

Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, linked by authorities to Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, pleaded guilty to conspiring to import more than 450 kilograms of Colombian cocaine into US
More

Landmark Brazil Poll Brings Good News for Rousseff

Facing tough road to re-election, Rousseff has seen sharp recovery in approval ratings, voter support
More

Video Mexico Opens Energy Sector, but Investors May Hesitate

Mexican President Pena Nieto has signed into law changes designed to open it to private investment, though foreign companies are taking cautious approach
More

Video Obama Expected to Take Executive Action on Undocumented Immigrants

Congress has adjourned for a five-week recess without boosting federal funds to house and process child migrants - or reforming US immigration law
More