Posted on Friday, 10.05.12
Arrested in Cuba, Yoani Sanchez "is not alone"
By Fabiola Santiago
This is the real Cuba — not the one of circular and unproductive policy
debate in Miami and Washington, D.C., but the one people suffer and endure.
Already virtual a prisoner in her own country — her requests to travel
abroad denied or ignored by the government — Cuba's best-known
journalist, blogger Yoani Sánchez, and husband Reynaldo Escobar were
arrested Friday, communication cut off.
Sánchez, who pens the internationally read blog Generación Y, and her
husband were on their way to the eastern town of Bayamo to report on the
trial of Angel Carromero.
He's the 27-year-old Spaniard blamed by the Cuban government for the
death of dissident leader Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and dissident Harold
Cepero in a car accident in July.
Carromero, the driver, faces manslaughter charges and a possible
seven-year sentence. Payá's family doesn't blame Carromero, and has
called for an independent investigation.
Unbelievable to those of us in the free world, Payá's three grown
children were also kept Friday from the first day of trial by police who
blocked them at the courthouse entrance.
Adding to the absurdity, news of Sánchez's arrest was posted by
pro-government bloggers, part of a government campaign to steer public
opinion away from Sánchez's popular and intimate reports of what she
calls "my reality."
One blog dubbed Sánchez "pro-American" and accused her of traveling to
Bayamo to stage a "provocative show and hurt the Carromero trial."
Despite its inventive propaganda machine, the Cuban government can't
hide its totalitarian face the way it flagrantly did before the age of
the Internet. In this connected world, news of detentions, abuses, and
suspicious deaths like Payá's travel the world in seconds.
From the BBC to the Spanish news agency EFE to the Huffington Post,
news of Sánchez's arrest spread Friday. Spain's El País newspaper said
Sánchez was their correspondent and confirmed the arrest.
"Yoani has always been aware of the dangers she faces, and that is, in
part, what makes her work all the more fascinating and admirable,"
Columbia University professor Mirta Ojito, who interviewed Sánchez last
December for the blogtalkradio webcast Tweeting Under Castro, told me
Friday. "No one who lives in a dictatorship is exempt from punishment —
of one kind or another. For years, they have tried to silence her by
refusing to give her exit visas. Now, it's come to this. Let's hope the
government of Cuba understands that the world is watching and that Yoani
is not alone."
As she traveled Thursday from her Havana home to Bayamo, Sánchez
reported via Twitter what she was experiencing, doing what she does best
in her blog: lift the curtain on Cuban life.
In Camaguey, she tweeted, police frequently stopped her car to spray it
"I ask the policeman if it's because of the dengue and he stays silent,"
Now the world needs to speak up, and energetically condemn this brave
journalist's detention, and the farce of a trial designed to deliver a
public relations show for the dictatorship, but certainly not justice.