Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez touched down at Miami International Airport Thursday afternoon and reacted emotionally to reuniting with her family as well as arriving in the heartland of Cuban exiles.
Via her Twitter account, Sánchez said she would be spending the next few days with her sister Yunia, brother-in-law and niece before beginning a public agenda Monday.
One of her first stops Thursday was at La Ermita de la Caridad, the Coconut Grove shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba’s patron saint. She met with Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Rev. Richard Vigoa and Rev. Juan Rumín, rector of the bayside shrine. She also had a picture taken of herself sitting on the seawall at the shrine and dubbed it the “malecon of Miami.’’
Sánchez, who was denied permission to leave Cuba for a dozen years despite many invitations to travel abroad, finally received her passport and began an international tour in February that has already taken her to Latin America, Europe, New York and Washington.
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Her outspoken style about daily life in Cuba and the plight of dissidents in her Generación Y blog has earned her well over 15 million hits a month and she has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter.
She wasted no time in sending out a stream of Tweets after her arrival in Miami. Among them:
• “After two years of separation, I’ve finally been able to reunite with my sister and give her a hug.’’
• “Since I arrived at the airport, I’ve encountered Cubans everywhere. What emotion.’’
• “My sister and I, two years, 90 miles of separation. The drama of so many Cuban families.”
Sánchez begins the day Monday with a meeting with The Miami Herald editorial board. From there she’ll head to Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower where she’ll receive the MDC Presidential Medal for championing human rights and take part in a public conversation with Miami Herald Editorial Page Editor Myriam Marquez. The conversation will be live-streamed on the college website. All 800 tickets to the event have already been distributed.
From there she’ll head to Florida International University for an evening reception and public event.
She also plans some private meetings and will appear at a Tweet Up at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday. She’ll be discussing technology, innovation and social change at the event organized by the Knight Foundation and Roots of Hope. The public will be able to send her questions by tweeting them to #askyoani. Free tickets are available at askyoani.com