Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Cuban dissident ‘free’ in Miami

  • Print

If symbols matter, then surely Yoani Sanchez won the hearts of Cuban exiles everywhere when she rushed from Miami International Airport straight to the Virgin of Charity Shrine so dear to so many on both sides of the Straits of Florida.

There she sat on the sea wall on Thursday afternoon outside the Coconut Grove shrine to Cuba’s patron saint, while visiting with Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski. "Miami’s Malecon," she called the wall — capturing exactly the yearning that Cuba’s first exiles experienced in the 1960s when they decided to pool their pennies to build the shrine overlooking Biscayne Bay, a view that many likened to Havana Bay and its famous sea wall.

Still, 54 years separate the 37-year-old wife and mother from those who first stepped on freedom’s soil in Miami after the 1959 revolution. Her beliefs and experiences, for a woman born a generation after the revolution, are in many ways unique to her so-called generation Y (those who grew up in Cuba under the influence of the former Soviet Union) and yet universal for those who believe that freedom comes from the people and not from a dictatorship’s decree.

Ms. Sanchez has faced many more fans throughout the world than pro-Castro mobs during her 80-day tour through three continents. In Miami, she’s likely to face some protests from another faction — the dwindling number of hard-right exiles who view her with suspicion. (Or those pro-Castro operatives who are known to infiltrate such groups to agitate.)

It would not be the first time that such a small, and increasingly on the fringe, group would get disproportionately more attention from the media than their numbers warrant. But as Ms. Sanchez stated in Brazil and Mexico when she was staring down leftist radicals with their 40 questions supplied courtesy of Cuba’s communist regime, "I dream that one day people in my country will be able to express themselves ... publicly like this, without reprisals."

There will be many questions for Yoani, whose first name has become a household word in Miami if not in Cuba, where her blog and her tweets are blocked by Raul Castro’s government so that they do not penetrate the limited access that Cubans have to the Internet. Certainly she has answered anything thrown her way with aplomb

She surely will speak out again against a regime that quashes most every basic human right and note, as she did in a small room at the United Nations when Cuban officials threw a tantrum after learning that the blogger was meeting with international correspondents: "If this meeting had been held in an elevator, it would have been freer" than what the Cuban people face on the island.

Castro sympathizers claim the same old line they’ve employed on other dissidents: that she is working for the CIA. Some exiles, having been burned before by Cuban agents in Miami pretending to be anti-Castro activists, wonder if this young woman is beholden to government officials in Havana.

What’s clear is that Ms. Sanchez does not shy away from telling us how she sees it. She is in Miami visiting her older sister, who arrived two years ago.

"I am truly happy," Ms. Sanchez said upon her arrival to Miami. "I feel in the air and in the people a lot of respect, a lot of freedom. I feel like I’m in Cuba but free."

Bienvenida a Miami, Yoani. Welcome to the Magic City.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Soca and Reggae Festival and Weekend Weather

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / Jan 10  2011 ‚Äì WEB STDUP ‚Äì Frosty morning at -15 degrees C , in pic frost covers the the Nellie McClung statue  on the MB Legislature grounds at 7am
  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google