Cuba: Yoani Sanchez at the Round Table

Warhol P

Yoani Sanchez from her blog Generation Y.

HAVANA TIMES — I have just finished reading an article by Rosa Martínez published in Havana Times, titled “Aversion at First Sight”. A better title, in my humble opinion, would have been “Dressed in Red”.

In her article, Martínez speaks for others, and on her own behalf, to criticize a woman who is currently abroad, not on vacation, but to inform about the current situation in Cuba.

As far as I know, Yoani Sánchez, the woman in question, has repeatedly called for the lifting of the blockade imposed on Cuba. I want to point out that I am not a follower of Sánchez’, or of any other blogger for that matter. I have only read two or three of her posts and they have struck me as accurate and sincere.

I have not, what’s more, had the privilege of accessing her blog, owing to Internet connection problems and censorship, something I would like to do in order to read her posts and see if there is anything she writes I do not agree with. Likewise, to have the opportunity to get to know the so-called “dissident” more closely.

It is understandable that this blogger has detractors and many followers. I suppose the international recognition she has earned for herself is not undeserved. About those awards that offend people so much, I can only say: “he whom God assists, Saint Peter blesses”.

If you, my dear colleague, defend an individual’s right to express what they think or talk frankly about their personal experiences, as you claim, then, in that case, let the water find its own level. What lies has Sánchez spread? I am anxious to know what they are.

Can you honestly claim that there’s freedom of expression in Cuba? Can you honestly say that all Cubans enjoy the same rights?

Let me briefly share with you my own story. I started to work when I was nineteen and held a full-time job for twenty years. These years of arduous labor afforded me no concrete benefits. I have worked hard for a very long time, and I have grown old hearing the same, tired political rigmarole.

Now, to add insult to injury, we have to put up with news about Venezuela and its problems, which is pretty much more of the same (though their news is better than ours because Venezuela’s economic situation cannot be compared to Cuba’s, which is in dire straits…our country is just too poor, as most of its people are).

Many of our doctors go on solidarity missions abroad to soothe their financial woes, to bring back computers and a long list of other things they can’t buy here.

Many Cuban families lack such basic things as a telephone or a color TV, in this day and age.

Owning a mobile phone is a luxury in Cuba. It’s true, many (mainly young people) do have them, but they use them merely for texting, because call rates, considering that an average salary in our country is laughably low (and can remain the same for 5, 10 years), are simply ridiculous and abusive.

We have poor diets. Many of us can’t even enjoy a glass of milk in the morning, many of us don’t even know what a bowl of cereal is. The price of basic groceries is still sky-high and, by the looks of it, will remain so for a very long time. Public transportation is also a disgrace.

To cut to the chase, I could draw up an enormous list of basic, unmet needs that Cubans have today. This clearly demonstrates that our political system does not and has not satisfied our needs throughout these past years of crisis. We cannot ignore these problems and behave like fanatics, blindly supporting a Party that is in many ways dysfunctional.

The only thing everyone gets, without exception, is the ration card. I don’t think I need to remind you that the great majority of Cubans cannot afford to buy products in hard currency stores. Many simply frequent these stores to spend their time looking at products they can’t purchase.

With regards to Sánchez’ ties to the United States, please, my dear colleague, since time immemorial, all of our problems have had to do with our nasty neighbor, in one way or another.

I ask you: where, if not the United States, can Yoani go to hold talks and demand changes? To Russia? Japan, maybe?

Of course she needs to establish ties with the United States. It is up there, in the monster’s entrails, where most of our nightmares come from, nightmares which have lasted more than 50 years.

At least she has had the courage to go and debate with them, to make proposals. Perhaps they will fall on deaf ears. Whatever the results, good or bad, she is making the effort.

I can only hope that when she returns – and she will return – she will be invited to take part on one of our televised round table discussions, that democratic prime-time program of ours, so that we can all hear what she has to say, and she can share with us her criteria and ideas for the future.

When that day comes, I will finally believe that Cuba is really changing. It will be a great day for all Cubans.


22 thoughts on “Cuba: Yoani Sanchez at the Round Table

  • Thats fine, and thats the reason why I call her an entertainer, not a dissident, much less a journalist (journalism is a death profession anyways, honor and integrity are alien words in today’s word, or so it seems) and the reason I tend to ignore her.

    And I’ve said this before: do not blindly trust any news source about Cuba. The overwhelming majority is extremely polarized one side or the other and is not to be trusted at all. The best you can get is a heavily distorted version of the Cuban reality that is simply not true and a cadre of blindfolded sycophants with mob mentality and serious confirmation bias issues in the comment section.

    Objective information about Cuba is so scarce in the net that finding it almost requires superpowers. And not, posting doom and gloom anti-government propaganda besides pink glassed pro-government propaganda is being indiscriminate, not objective.

    The situation is so bad that in order to said something positive about Cuba and be taken seriously you have to quote statistics from the CIA factbook and in order to say something negative, from the ONE. And that on verifiable, quantitative facts, post anything a little more nebulous that can’t be backed by hard data and you are either a pinko-communist or a heartless-imperialist.

    In short, you are too generous on your assumptions, To me, trust and respect is something that has to be earned, and for someone in the news business, that means objectivity, truthfulness and impartiality. And when your income is linked to ratings, clicks or pandering to pressure groups, you are not longer a journalist and become an entertainer and I don’t care for those and certainly don’t have a reason to trust what they say.

  • As a matter of fact, I have contributed to her blog on several occasions. I think she understands what sells. I genuinely could not tell you that what she writes reflects what she believes people who think like I do expect her to write or if she is authentic. I also do not know if Iroel Sanchez who writes a pro-Castro blog from Havana is authentic either. Until I see him walking around Calle Ocho in Miami with Posada Carriles, I have to assume he believes the crap he writes about supporting the revolution. I give Yoani the same benefit of the doubt.

  • You missed the point completely. For whatever reason, she couldn’t provide the evidence backing her statements, so for all purposes it didn’t happen, at least not with the severity she claimed. Besides, what kind of beatings leaves bruises only in the butt? Spanking? Do you thing a state security will spank her for being a bad girl? Seriously?

    I already discussed the second point in my post and I’m not going to do it again because it wasn’t the main issue. The point is that she returned, after all the trouble to get her husband and kid out of Cuba. I recall you said your wife is a Cuban migrant, ask her what does SHE think of that specific situation. And in this specific context, the reasons for her return DOES matter. As I explained before, a person that without any apparent disability is unable to provide for him or herself and her family in a free, developed country and chose voluntarily to return to a greatly impoverished, supposedly dictatorial state is a FAILURE in my book and at least I wont take him or her seriously.

    I’ll said it again: her behavior explicitly implies that extremely poor, oppressed Cuba is more desirable for herself and her family than one of the highest rated countries in the world by any positive metric imaginable. You can’t seriously expect me to take seriously ANYTHING that person has to say, do you?

    And don’t be naive, we have discussed Cuba issues before and you may or may not agree on my position sometimes, but I think is pretty clear that I have a damn good understanding of what is happening in Cuba, the root causes of their issues, the alternatives for the solution. So yes, I can judge when something related is true, untrue, biased or incomplete. And when I say so, I’m expressing my opinion and only my opinion, I never ever claimed to be the ultimate authority regarding anything.

    How does she tiptoe around the Cuban government? Easy, she goes to great lengths to expressly avoid direct confrontation on key issues, painting herself as some kind of unbiased reporter, which IMHO is bollocks. And that is fact, no opinion. I can dig in her blogs to find plenty of evidence supporting that statement if you want, but I think you get my point.

    If you think that there is nothing shady in the way she finances her operations or her online statistics, I have a bridge to sell you. Also I never claimed that she was a CIA employee, but certainly she have plenty of anti-castro sympathizers that are more than willing to provide financial help for the sake of creating trouble for the Cuban government and able to do so. An in the case of Cuba, because of the dual currency crap, ridiculously small contributions in USD have a long way of helping any cause you want.

    Do you seriously think that she never accepted such small, anonymous and harmless contributions? Don’t you think that after a while those people became her target audience and she is catering to their preferences to increase revenue?

    Don’t you think things like that tend to affect her objectivity?

  • You have said quite a bit. I disagree with most of it. For example, she was not compelled to show Salim during that interview those bruises she received from her beating located on indiscreet parts of her body. Besides, it is not like the police have never beaten dissidents. Surely you don’t believe that? She was born in Cuba, why should she have to beg to return to the country of her birth. If you left your country, would you expect to ask permission to return, assuming you have committed no crime? Her reasons for returning, due to career failure as you suggest or because she missed Cuba as she has claims are her reasons and should not be judged. Besides AC, what does any of that have to do with her blog about life today in Cuba? Which, by the way, she acknowledges reflects her personal experiences and although her comments reflect common experiences they are still her experiences. How do you dare to judge that as true or untrue, whole or incomplete? How could she directly confront the Castro dictatorship? Any suggestions? Of course she has to “tiptoe”. It is tiptoe or face imprisonment or worse. She has explained her finances ad nauseaum. Nothing at all shady there. No one has ever proved that she is employed by the CIA or any anti-Castro group. I disagree with you that her opinions have changed. That is a frequent criticism of her that has yet to gain traction. Besides, that’s why it is called an OPINION! Facts should not change but opinions may. I believe that your biggest problem with Yoani is that you disagree with her. I disagree with most of what is broadcast on Fox News and yet I don’t have the animus towards Fox that Castristas have for Yoani.

  • There is no such thing as “internal embargo”, just internal failures. The big question is whether the embargo can be accounted for all (or a seizable portion) of such failures or whether they failed all by themselves. And that is going to be a rhetorical question until the embargo is lifted and the situation between the two countries normalized.

    Your example is simply not valid, one of the main reasons Cuba has such poor credit is precisely because of the US embargo and some of the less known side effects, like the ability to confiscate Cuban transactions made in US dollars, banning Cuba from borrowing from the IMF, banning ships that dock in Cuba from entering US territory in six months, banning all US subsidiaries in third countries of doing business with Cuba and so on.

  • Moses, you are wrong. The burden of proof is ALWAYS in the one making a positive claim, in this specific case she claimed that she was severely beaten by Cuban authorities but failed to provide evidence for some unknown reason. And as I’ve said a few times already, what is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    The whole episode just adds to her lack of credibility. I have no reason to fear her, and neither the Cuban government, otherwise she would never be allowed to exit the country and her recent “tour” proves the contrary.

    Face it, she is an entertainer, not a journalist nor an opposition member. Her blog is a heavily biased version of the Cuban reality tailored to her target audience (people outside of Cuba, not her fellow citizens) and even when I won’t go as far of accusing her of blatantly lying (I could do that in some instances, like the incident Luis mentioned), she is certainly guilty of lying by omission and distorting facts in the vast majority of her posts.

    I don’t like her at a personal level. She already left Cuba for Switzerland, where she tasted the dream of capitalism and failed miserably. I’ll say it again: she failed to make a living for herself and her family out of honest work in a free, developed country. Then she begged the Cuban government to allow her back (lets forget for a moment how stupid where the immigration laws at the moment, laws are laws and must be obeyed regardless) and they made a concession to allow her to get her resident status back, and since then she has been made a (rather comfortable) living out of criticizing the same government (aka, the dissident business model).

    Notice that I’m not saying that what she is doing is wrong, is just that when someone like she do it, it stinks to death rat riding the easy wave of professional opposition instead of someone actually caring for the serious issues in today’s Cuba and fighting to solve them.

    So paint me skeptic, but I seriously doubt her intentions and goals, the objectivity of her opinions, the veracity of her sources, the tinted glass she uses to see Cuban reality, the way she tiptoes around the Cuban government to avoid direct confrontation, her focus on an external audience instead of rallying her fellow citizens to actually solve the issues at hand, the underhanded way she finances all her operations, the shady statistics surrounding her online success, the way her opinions bends in the direction of the wind… in short almost everything around her smells rotten.

  • You bring your personal perspective to your understanding of what she SAID. She believes as I do, and as many Cubans, that the internal embargo that Cuba imposes upon itself has contributed far more to the problems in everyday Cuban life that the Castros opportunistically attribute to the external embargo. If the embargo were lifted today, Cuba still lacks the hard currency to purchase the goods which were prohibited by the embargo. They are among the world’s worst credit risks so borrowing the money would be costly and unwise. They lack the productivity to grow their economy fast enough to impact their situation. The only strategy left is free or subsidized loans and they already do that. The US is the fifth largest trading partner with Cuba and #2 with regards to food imports. What embargo?

  • Sometimes only a minority are enlightened enough to see the truth. Like the kid who yelled ‘the king is naked’. So what she has more supporters than detractors? Bush II had at certain point. Did that make him right? I smell a f-a-l-l-a-c-y here.

  • He wants to sell the same kind of stupidity Hollywood already does.

  • Well Moses: seems you got troubles hearing right. Why she is a bother to me? Personally I could care less. I just can`t stand hipocrits.Or maybe to make it clear to you: if I wrote little day in day out stories about daily Austrian life and everything that stinks here and in the EU, and get money from the outside , you think I would be received by Lehtinen, Bajart – Diaz, Aguirre etc. For how stupid do you wanna sell us man?

  • Like Salim Lamrani, you may not believe her answers but your doubts PROVE nothing. You are in the minority by the way. She has far more supporters than detractors. But then I guess you know that, hence the name-calling and fear….

  • Well said.

  • Hahaha! Did she tell you that? Or do you somehow have special powers to read her mind to know her ‘real’ reasons for speaking out against the embargo. How very talented you are!

  • The Castroite hatred of Yoani Sanchez is the rage of Caliban at seeing his own face in a mirror.

  • She only ‘attacks’ the embargo ‘because this serves only as Castro propaganda’, not because it strangles the Cuban economy. FRAUD. Period.

  • – ‘They have brutally beaten me!’
    – ‘Serious? But this was two days ago? How come, you look fine.’
    – ‘Oh the bruises are on my butt and I have the photos but I will not show them…’



  • Yoani has always supported ending the embargo. Period You are just wrong. There was some confusion in Brazil regarding her comments regarding the five convicted Cuban spies. She was being sarcastic and her response was taken literally. What she really thinks is very clear to people who have listened to her directly or actually read what she has written. Obviously, you are not among this group of people. Are you sure you are not a Cuban working for the regime whose job it is to say these sorts of nonsensical things? Guys like you say Yoani is a nobody then you spend time and effort to criticize her and call her a liar. If she is of such little consequence, why do you bother to say “the big virgin like innocent saviour angel”? Is she that important to you?

  • very strange. because as far as I know ( maybe I´m mistaken of course) she rather called for the contrary before , and just changed opinion because it was more useful to her, as most of the Cubans in the US did not share her position, which was very often also critized by Cubans ( or the few at least who know her on the island) in Cuba itself. And how could you appear as the big virgin like innocent saviour angel of the country, if at the same time to do everything your compatriots would suffocate and suffer even morecalling on the “ennemy”nation number one to continue to terrorize the country. How would she ever explain to the people living on ther island. So she was in a dilemma somehow. Wouldn`t have been very convenient for her image.Strangely enough at the same time she claimed tougher measurements calling for a harsher and harder position while being in Brazil from the Brazilian government. So what does she really think and want? She plays it according to her opportunistic needs and ego-trip and nothing else. I`m even convinced, even if some people might call me paranoid ( abd I´m sure there `ll be some) , that it wouldn`t suit her at all, if anything went better in Cuba. Because then, her game would be over.

  • Luis, this is an old and much-referenced interview. Every time I read it I do not see where she is said to have lied. The interviewer never proved she lied although he vigorously disagrees with how she arrives at her conclusions. Yoani has never claimed to be an “intellectual”. On the contrary, on her site, Generations Y, she openly states that her blog is about her everyday life in Cuba. Her fame, like it or not, is largely based on the fact that she is a regular person telling her story. There are millions of other Cubans who could tell the same story. I say “good for her’ that she has managed to gain fame and possibly fortune (by Cuban standards) by telling her story. Why does she bother you so much?

  • This is a good interview where Yoani Sanchez answers many of the questions
    many of her detractors have made!

    RADIO NETHERLAND: Controversial Cuban blogger answers tough questions –
    Published on : 29 March 2013 – by Alejandro

    Julio César Díaz in Chile: who
    finances your trips and luxury products?

    Maruss Khievick in El Salvador:
    How much does the CIA pay you to promote your biased project, financed by the
    worst human rights violators in the world?

    Harold Tupaz in Colombia: Is
    there so much hunger in Cuba that you sell your fatherland for a McDonald’s


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