No doubt some of the ill will is a side-effect of fame.
Sánchez has written her way to prominence through her sharp Generación Y blog, tweets, books, and column on The Huffington Post. After crossing the Atlantic four times on her Europe-U.S. tour speaking at panels and collecting prizes, she will speak at two forums in Miami on April 1.
The youngest of the roving bloggers, Avila, who is in his 20s, has turned out to be quite a revelation.He became an overnight “dissident” in 2008 when, as a student at the University of Information Sciences in Havana, he publicly asked Ricardo Alarcón, then president of the Cuban Assembly, why Cubans weren’t allowed to travel freely. Alárcon’s ridiculously infantile answer — that there would be too many planes in the sky if everyone were allowed to travel — all but finished his career and turned Avila into a YouTube sensation.
And not long ago, in an interview with Sánchez taped in Havana, Avila unveiled Operation Truth, in which he revealed how the Cuban government uses the university’s computer programs and its students to spy on Internet users.
Avila became the first prominent dissident to get the passport that allowed him to see the world for the first time — and it tugs at the heart strings to see the map he updates on Twitter as one invitation leads to another and he travels to Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam.
The first one to make it to Miami was the funky and poetic Pardo, who pens the blog Lunes de Post-revolución (Post-Revolution Monday) blog and loves to show off, in an endearing way, in his tweets and writings his knowledge of English. He can pen Spanglish like a Miamian.
He stopped off in Miami a couple of days to visit “the Cuba of the heart, the one we’re missing,” before heading to New York to participate in an academic conference about the impact of digital technology in Cuba.
He called Cuba’s government reforms “a message of desperation and survival…. I don’t think it’s a message [indicative] of an opening.”
Likewise, Avila made his feelings clear from Paris in an interview circulated widely: “We, the new generations of Cubans, don’t want the government to self-reform, we want them to abandon el poder [power]” so that Cubans can choose their leaders democratically.
For me, of all the images the bloggers and others in their company are posting on the Internet, one stands out: Sánchez and Avila sharing a beer in Prague.
It was an ordinary moment, but for them and for us, it’s the counterpoint to an outdated, oppressive regime.
A small victory, and an affirmation of freedom.