Yoani Sánchez can be Cuba’s catalyst for change

 

The repudiation of Yoani Sánchez is sad, shameful, and speaks of the ignorance — perhaps incredulity — of most of the world of the chokehold that the Castros have had on human liberties in Cuba for half a century.

The Cuban regime is surely making an example of her and will spare no expense to mock and discredit her in her quest for freedom of speech in her homeland. Yet, in Brazil, her first stop on an international tour, Yoani displayed the elegance, humanity and high intelligence of a visionary whose influence will be profound. Am I the only one seeing parallels to human rights dissident Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar?

The thugs pulling her hair and shouting obscenities at her have been exported from the ranks of the same street bullies and government agents who spit and kick the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) on Havana’s streets. These creatures will likely follow her as she travels to Europe and the U.S. But they are also present in the Internet detractors and naysayers who doubt the legitimacy of Yoani as a voice for change.

¡Dios Mio! — has the exile community become so bitter and disenchanted that we can’t be hopeful that a 37-year-old petite woman of quiet demeanor and steel resolve could be the catalyst for change in Cuba? I have refused to return to Cuba until I can denounce the Castros in public there without reprisal. Maybe Yoani’s mission will make that possible for me and so many others who have only dreamed it. On April 1, I will be at the Freedom Tower, where I arrived 50 years ago as an exile, to thank Yoani and wish her Godspeed and protection in her quest.

Rosemary Ravinal, Miami Beach

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