CNN reported today that Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez was denied a visa yet again to exit Cuba in order to receive a journalism award. She was first rejected last year after Time Magazine awarded her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year Columbia University awarded her the Maria Moors Cabot Prize special citation and yet again the Cuban government denied her permission to travel to New York City to receive her award.
The article explains her blog:
“Her blog, Generación Y, chronicles daily life on the communist island. Her commentaries shed light on taboo topics such as harassment and the thriving black market. And she is openly critical of the government.
“Sanchez writes her blog at home and saves it on a flash drive or laptop. She then wanders Havana trying to get into one of the Cuban cyber cafes or hotel business centers to get her message out.
“She works, Columbia University said, with “scarce resources and an enormous amount of guts, buying a few minutes here and there on one of the few Internet-connected computers available to Cubans in Havana, quickly downloading and e-mailing her written and video comments to devoted supporters who post the blog in 15 languages.”
Yoani writes her blog knowing that any day she could be arrested by the Cuban government. She has no freedom in Cuba, but sneaks around to tourist areas forbidden to Cuban citizens so that she can upload her blog for the world to view. I am fortunate enough to blog right from my desk at work without fear of being arrested for my thoughts, but she, unfortunately, has to sneak around to do the same thing. Is it that I am just lucky? It shouldn’t be. She should have absolutely the same rights that I do and it sickens me that Fidel and Raul Castro for over 50 years now have destroyed the quality of life for the Cuban people on the island.
Here is something you might not know about Cuba. Cubans live on about 20 dollars per month. They get ration cards every month which lack enough food for them to survive the month forcing them to make ends meet in the black market which is illegal. It is also illegal in Cuba to create a small business, to own land, and to write blogs just to name a few. But the number one right that Cubans do not have is basic human rights.
The Cuban government spends most of its time spreading propaganda to the Cuban people convincing them that the reasons for their poverty are based on a “blockade” placed over 40 years ago by the US. As my former boss, Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez said in a speech last year at the Heritage Foundation, “Marxism has almost become a tactic to be able to cement Cuba as first and foremost and anti-American country. “
It is sad to see President Obama actually thinking that ending the embargo with Cuba would deem beneficial to all parties. Maybe it would help the United States, maybe it would help the Cuban government, but it will certainly not help the Cuban people who still are deprived of their basic human rights, or imprisoned for speaking out against the opposition. So before the Obama Administration starts moving forward with the Castro brothers on ending the embargo think about all the Cubans on the island who are denied human rights, and how lucky you and I have it here in the United States.