Cuba Dissident Blogger Yoani Sanchez Confronted by Italian Pro-Castro
By Gianluca Mezzofiore: Subscribe to Gianluca's RSS feed
April 28, 2013 9:59 PM GMT
Cuba dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez has been confronted by pro-Castro
fanatics at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia
A group of around twenty demonstrators accused Sanchez of being
pro-American, shouting "Yes to Cuba, no to Yankee" and throwing fake
dollars with the face of Sanchez in it. They demanded the release of the
Cuban Five, also known as the Miami Five (Gerardo Hernández, Antonio
Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González) who were
convicted in Miami of conspiracy to committ espionage, murder and acting
as an agent of a foreign government in the US.
The group left the room singing Bella Ciao, an old folk song used by
Italian anti-Fascist partisans during the Second World War.
"My voice sounds louder in face of their insults," said Sanchez. "I
dream one day that every public figure in Cuba will be scrutinised and
subject to critique."
Yoani Sanchez started the blog Generación Y (Generation Y) in 2007,
becoming Castro regime's most internationally vocal opponent. Her site
gets millions of hits per month, and hundreds of thousands of people
follow her on Twitter. The blog, available in twenty languages, reports
on everything from mass arrests to the endless queues, from sudden
spikes in food prices to some citizens who are "building their own
antennas" because antennas are illegal in Cuba.
Internet access is incredibly limited in Cuba due to tech
underdevelopment but also to government restrictions. It has been
estimated that 98% of Cubans have no Web access. Cuba has no high-speed
Internet connection and public computers are connect to an Intranet
system called RedCubana, which contains only regime-approved sites. To
break censorship, Yoani sends text message tweet from a mobile phone.
"I'm a techonology freak," she admits.
"I live in Cuba, because I chose to live in Cuba, not because I was born
there. I'm useful there. "When I was in Switzerland, my mind was in
Cuba, my body was in Switzerland. But I'm not I'm sorry I got back I
would do it again."
Sanchez was taken into police custody in September 2012 after a public
protest against the regime's detention of an anti-Castro writer, Yaremis
Flores, for her articles published on Miami-based CubaNet website.
Sanchez appeared unruffled despite the violent protest.
"Here [in Italy], when they can insult me I can reply," she said. "The
pain I feel is that in Cuba, if they insult me, I can't reply.
"I feel like Ulysses now, I've been travelling around the world to feel
people like me," she continued. "But I want to go home. That's the route
The blogger explained that she is very critical towards those who see
huge differences between the two Castro brothers. Raul Castro became
Cuba's leader when his elder brother, Fidel, stepped down in 2006 to
undergo intestinal surgery.
"Raul Castro government has an original sin: we did not elect him! He
inherited the president because he has the right DNA," she said.
"We want change," she continued. "My generation was never asked how we
wanted to see the country to become like. My generation had never been
able to choose the president who govern the country."
US president Barack Obama famously said that Sanchez' blog "provides the
world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba" and
praised her efforts to "empower fellow Cubans to express themselves
through the use of technology."
"I have to speak a universal language, tell people what's going on,"
Sanchez said. "We, people of Cuba, deserve respect, because we are
fighting against a monopoly, an inflexible structure which is the Cuban
"We want respect and freedom as human beings."
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