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Cuban Dissident Speaks in Orlando

November 1, 2013 | WMFE--Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez is best known for her online criticism of her country's regime. This week she took her message face-to-face in Orlando.

[Photo from Yoani Sánchez’s blog, Generacion Y:]

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Sánchez’s speech at Valencia College puts a face to her acclaimed blog, Generacion Y. 

Boomerang Effect

Her contacts outside Cuba help her post and tweet online.  When her message returns to Cuba, she says, it offers people a rarity: uncensored speech.  “There’s a boomerang effect,” she says through a translator.  “The information leaves Cuba, and then it comes back to Cuba – and people listen.”

Sánchez says that’s important because young people in Cuba can be apathetic.  She says those born into Communism struggle to understand change is possible, and that makes them less likely to strive for it.

Female Activists

But, Sánchez says, her message is for the rest of the world too.  She says the Cuban regime presents other countries with an overly optimistic image that disguises her people’s struggle to survive.

In Cuba, the government distributes the limited food available through rations.  Sánchez says most activists there are women, risking imprisonment to protest a lack of food for their families.  That, she adds through a translator, is something the women of Central Florida can understand.  She says, “Women understand each other.  We understand each other in pain and responsibility and in joy as well.”

Sánchez says she’s visiting the U.S. because human interaction creates empathy.  She says many Floridians are already receptive to her criticism of Cuba because so many exiles from that country live here.

Disagreement Among Nations

The U.S. State Department has consulted Sánchez about relations with Cuba, but many world leaders disagree with how the U.S. deals with that country’s regime.  This week marks the 22nd year the United Nations has voted against the U.S. embargo of Cuba.  That vote was nearly unanimous.


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