03/13/13 - Miami Herald - Editorial: Ms. Sánchez goes to Washington
BY THE MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL HERALDED@MIAMIHERALD.COM
Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez's whirlwind tour through Latin America and
Europe now comes to the United States. Will she be cheered?
Supporters of the Castro dictatorship have protested her appearances from
Brazil to Mexico, and she's likely to experience some protests from
leftists enamored of all things Castro when she speaks Thursday at Columbia
University in New York, where she finally will be able to pick up
Columbia's Maria Moors Cabot Prize, which she won in 2009 for her blog that
shares Cubans' struggles on an island run by the same communist regime for
No surprise that Castro sympathizers in Latin America would boo Ms.
Sánchez, who bravely speaks truth to power even if most Cubans can't read
her blog posts because the government of Raúl Castro makes sure they have
no access to the Internet. But we were taken aback by the reaction of some
Cuban exiles who are calling her ugly names on blogs and Spanish-language
radio because they have just "discovered" her position on the U.S. embargo
Would they be Miami pawns of the Cuban government, trying to stir things up
to once again turn the true hurt of exiles into an ugly exhibition of
In fact, Ms. Sánchez has long been a proponent of dropping the embargo
because she sees it as a convenient excuse for the Cuban regime to blame
U.S. policy for the island's economic and social ills when the truth is the
dictatorship's top-down control of every aspect of Cubans' lives is the
real culprit. (We believe the embargo should not be removed until the
Castros are gone and the opportunity for free and fair elections exists.)
Opposition leaders in Cuba are indeed divided on the embargo, but,
regardless, they work together for a common cause: democracy.
Dissidents are not blind to the regime's manipulations. Even the "reforms"
that the Cuban government lauds - such as the one that allowed Ms. Sánchez
to travel - are manipulated by the Castro government to ensure it divides.
Some bloggers and opposition leaders are allowed out, others are not. That
has long been the strategy employed by Fidel and Raúl Castro, to try to
raise questions among exiles about dissidents so that they do not inspire
support. Prime example: Oswaldo Payá.
Mr. Payá was killed last year in an automobile crash in Cuba, and the truth
has now been confirmed by the driver of that vehicle, a Spaniard who is
serving his time for vehicular manslaughter in Spain. From Spain he finally
spoke freely: His car was run off the road into a ditch by Cuban government
operatives who had been following them.
In death, Mr. Payá was praised for his work on human rights by many exiles
who had opposed his Varela Project more than a decade ago. Indeed, when he
was allowed to travel to the United States key exile leaders questioned if
he was a Cuban spy.
Now Ms. Sánchez faces similar machinations. Soon, she will meet with
members of Congress and she has asked for a bipartisan group of lawmakers
It would be devastating to the cause of freedom for Cuba if the
Cuban-American Republican members of Congress would allow Ms. Sánchez's
position on the embargo or partisan wrangling over whose invitation she
first accepted (from Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, both
Democrats) to steer them away from participating. Ms. Sánchez should see
all the diversity that exists in our political system, from all parties.
Who better than Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and
Mario Diaz-Balart to showcase the American way?
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