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Posted on Friday, 10.05.12

Arrested in Cuba, Yoani Sanchez "is not alone"

By Fabiola Santiago

fsantiago@MiamiHerald.com

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."

Indeed.

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

inside.

"I ask the policeman if it's because of the dengue and he stays silent,"

she said.

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.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/05/3036450/arrested-in-cuba-again-yoani-sanchez.html

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