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U.S. Opinions: Miami

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Cuban blogger finally free to embrace democracy

From an editorial Tuesday in the Miami Herald:

After 20 unsuccessful tries in five years, Yoani Sanchez, Cuba’s most famous blogger, is free.

She is among the first opposition journalists to be approved for travel under Raul Castro’s new rules that eliminated the exit permit, which until last month had been required of all Cuban citizens by Fidel Castro’s revolution for five decades. Of course, Cuban authorities aren’t giving the green light to all Cubans. The dictatorship can still nix travel plans for certain Cubans, such as doctors, claiming it’s a matter of “national security.”

Indeed, several other Cuban dissidents and opposition leaders have not been allowed to travel outside Cuba. But Ms. Sanchez’s international acclaim – she has won various prestigious awards for her blog posts about life in Cuba, including named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2008 – made it tough for Cuban officials to turn down her request to travel. It would have once again exposed the blunt fine print in Cuba’s so-called liberalized travel rules.

So now Ms. Sanchez has a three-month permit to travel. For the first time, she will be able to post her blog without having to send it surreptitiously to friends abroad for posting to bypass the Cuban government’s censors. On arrival in Brazil, she was embraced by supporters and blasted by pro-Castro leftist protesters.

No matter. Ms. Sanchez, who lived for a short time in Switzerland in 2002 where she learned computer science before returning to Cuba to find she couldn’t leave again, sent out a tweet Monday.

“At the arrival many friends were welcoming me and other people yelling insults. I wish it would be the same in Cuba. Long live freedom!” she told her 409,000-plus followers on Twitter. (The irony is not lost that her followers are abroad because Cuba blocks her posts so that Cubans cannot see them.)

She called the protests, which some Brazilian newspaper reports say are being coordinated with the Cuban regime, “a shower of democracy and pluralism,” once again focusing on what makes a nation free: the power of the individual to protest.

Cuba’s most famous blogger knows of what she speaks.

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