After protesters harassed her at the airport when she arrived in Brazil, and later forced the cancellation of the film screening, a Brazilian hotel association presented her with a couple of nights of free lodging at a Rio de Janeiro hotel, Sánchez said during an appearance at Miami’s Freedom Tower. A Cuban in Salvador gave her an iPad3.
Two Brazilian legislators invited her to speak before an ad hoc committee in the Chamber of Deputies. The National Congress paid for her ticket from Salvador to Brasilia and then from Brasilia to São Paulo, said Deputy Otavio Leite, who extended the invitation to Sánchez along with Sen. Alvaro Dias. In São Paulo, Sánchez stayed at the home of Jaime Pinksy, head of the publishing house Editora Contexto.
In the United States, some logistics and support came from Raices de Esperanza (Roots of Hope), a privately funded group that seeks to empower young people in Cuba. Its members sponsored a breakfast and reception while Sánchez was in New York and also organized a Miami event with the Knight Foundation, where she answered questions that arrived via Twitter.
“We haven’t directly financed her trip or travel. We just took on the costs of the events,’’ said Raul Moas, executive director of Raices de Esperanza.
After a couple of needed rest days with her sister’s family in Miami, Sánchez revved up again. García, her brother-in-law, put together an intense itinerary that included a meeting with Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald editors and reporters, her Miami coming-out at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower, and a tech talk at Florida International University.
“Much like Yoani’s message, which is viral and organic, so too were the logistics for her visit, which were coordinated through a handful of regular, everyday people,’’ said Juan Mendieta, a spokesman for the college, in an email. “It was very grass-roots, and we’re extremely pleased with how everything turned out.”
Next up: Peru and after that, possibly, Argentina. Then it’s off to Europe for the third time before her expected return to Cuba in mid to late May, supporters say. “The trip is still evolving,’’ Porter said.
During the Freedom Tower talk, Sánchez addressed her funding and said money and prosperity are sensitive topics for the Cuban government.
When a Cuban, through talent or solidarity with others, starts to move beyond the “survival level,’’ she said, “that starts to bother the government and it starts questioning the integrity and moral ethics of a person.
“The Cuban government says I am a millionaire — yes, a millionaire in friends,” she said.
McClatchy correspondent Vinod Sreeharsha contributed to this story from São Paulo.