Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let freedom tweet

Posted on Saturday, 03.30.13
The Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

Editorial: Let freedom tweet

OUR OPINION: Now in Miami, Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez has become a
symbol of hope for her Generation Y
By The Miami Herald Editorial

If symbols matter, then surely Yoani Sánchez 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. Sánchez 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

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. Sánchez 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 here if not in Cuba, where her blog and her tweets are
blocked by Raúl 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. Sánchez does not shy away from telling us how
she sees it. She is in Miami visiting her older sister, who arrived two
years ago. On Monday she will meet with The Herald's Editorial Board and
receive freedom awards at Miami Dade College's Freedom Tower and Florida
International University.

"I am truly happy," Ms. Sánchez 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.

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