Sunday, March 31, 2013

Yoani Sánchez faces as many questions as explanations from exiles

Posted on Saturday, 03.30.13
In My Opinion

Myriam Marquez: Yoani Sánchez faces as many questions as explanations
from exiles
By Myriam Marquez

Forty questions in 80 days.

From Brazil to New York, internationally renown Cuban blogger Yoani
Sánchez has encountered Castro sympathizers agitating, calling her a
"mercenary of the CIA," a gusana, a worm (so old school for the
commies), an instrument of the U.S. government. They have thrown at her
fake dollar bills and a list of 40 loaded questions the Cuban regime
wants answered.

Forty questions in the 80 days of her whirlwind tour to Latin America,
Europe and the United States. Forty questions that aren't questions at
all but, rather, malevolent intentions to trap a 37-year-old Cuban (for
daring to question her government) in a crumbling ideological box.

Now she's in Miami, the soul of the exile community, and faces more
questions, some heartfelt and truly curious about this wife, mother and
writer who turned to the Internet just a few years ago to report about
her homeland, an island of daily paradoxes and humiliations. And with
each posting on her Generation Y blog and each tweet on Twitter she has
become an internationally recognized figure in journalism, politics and
human rights causes that extend beyond Cuba.

From Miami, many more than 40 questions are headed her way as she meets
with me and the Herald's Editorial Board and newsroom editors and
reporters on Monday before heading to the Freedom Tower at Miami Dade
College to answer more questions, then to Florida International
University for more questions. So many questions for the unfazed Yoani,
who seems to take it all with poise, her words as biting about the
regime as they are illuminating and hopeful about Cubans' march toward

More than the questions, there are the explanations from Miami's walking
wounded — the old soldiers of Brigade 2506, the now middle-aged children
of Pedro Pan, the exiled political prisoners, the historicos. They want
Yoani to know, for her to let fellow Cubans know upon her return, that
exiles love their homeland, love their compatriots — but more than that,
that their history has been distorted by a dictatorship that gets to
write it.

The brigadistas' fight at the Bay of Pigs 50-plus years ago, like
Yoani's words running through the iCloud in nanoseconds today, was an
attempt to save the country they still love from the ruin it has become
under the Castro brothers. The 14,000 Cuban children sent to the states
by desperate parents through the Catholic Church in the early 1960s
wanted the best for them, they were exercising the universal and
fundamental right of each parent to save her children, and they needed
no CIA-inspired plot to come to that conclusion.

And so the questions and the explanations will come at Yoani rapid fire
in the hope that she will speak truth to a world of apologists for the
regime. As if this slip of a girl with the hip-length hippie hair were a
21st century prophet descending the Sierra Maestra. On Saturday, she
once again descended the mountain of lies to expose the historical scabs
to freedom's fresh air. In a Saturday post titled "Flan de Coco" on her
Generación Y blog, she writes:

"I've found a Cuba outside of Cuba, I told a friend a few days ago. He
laughed at my play on words, thinking I was trying to create literature.
But no. In Brazil a septuagenarian excitedly gave me a medal of the
Virgin of Charity of Cobre. 'I have not been back since I left in 1964,'
she confirmed as she handed me this little gem that had belonged to her
mother. During my stay in Prague, a group of compatriots living there
seemed to be more aware of what was happening in our country than many
who vegetate, inside it, in apathy. Amid the tall buildings of New York,
a family invited me to their house and their grandmother made a 'coconut
flan' in the style of our traditional cuisine, so damaged on the island
by the shortages and scarcities.

"Our diaspora, our exile, is conserving Cuba outside of Cuba. Along with
their suitcases and the pain of distance, they have preserved pieces of
our national history that were deleted from the textbooks with which
several generations have been educated or rather, raised to be mediocre.
I'm rediscovering my own country in each of these Cubans dispersed
around the world. When I confirm what they have really accomplished, the
contrast with what official propaganda tells me about them leaves me
with an enormous sadness for my country.

"For all this human wealth that we have lost, for all this talent that
has had to wash up outside our borders and for all the seeds that have
germinated in other lands. How did we allow one ideology, one party, one
man, to have felt the 'divine' power to decide who could or could not
carry the adjective 'Cuban?'

"Now I have proof that they lied to me, they lied to us. Nobody has had
to tell me, I can grasp it for myself on seeing all this Cuba that is
outside of Cuba, an immense country that they have been safeguarding for

And, still, so many questions — from the spiritual to the ordinary to
the conspiratorial. Is she religious? How did she lose a tooth, really?
Who's paying her way?

She will answer them all, I suspect, with the grace she exhibited while
being attacked by pro-Castro mobs in Brazil on her first stop. Here, she
will be tested by a dwindling rightwing fringe that wants her to fall
lock step with their pro embargo position. They will not speak for the
majority of exiles who see beyond one U.S. policy to judge a woman who
succinctly and poetically exposes her people's suffering every day from
inside the dictatorship and, now, once again with four simple words
tells the world:

They lied to us.

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