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Yoani Sánchez Divides Opinions on a Visit to Brazil

[All the links lead to Portuguese language pages except when otherwise noted.]

She finally did it. After several attempts to leave Cuba, blogger Yoani Sánchez landed in Recife [es] on February 18. With a full schedule in Brazil, which includes visits to Bahia and São Paulo states, her trip will also take her to Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Canada, Peru, Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where she lived between 2002 and 2004. She was received in Brazil by pro-Cuban government's protesters.

In one of the first tweets in Brazilian soil, Yoani (@yoanisanchez) highlighted [es] the good Internet connection quality:

#Cuba Mi primer tweet conectada a #Internet en #Brasil… waooo que conexión más rápida :-)

#Cuba My first tweet connected to #Internet in #Brazil…Wow, what a fast connection :-)
Yoani morou na Suiça entre 2002 e 2004 (Foto: Cristian Eslava, no Flickr)

Yoani lived in Switzerland between 2002 and 2004. Photo: Cristian Eslava, on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Still on the microblog, she said she was impressed [es] to see, already at the airport, people openly talking about politics:

Me asombró ver a varios empleados aeropuertarios de #Brasil hablar en voz alta y francamente de política. En #Cuba hablan en un murmullo

I was impressed to see many airport staff members in #Brazil talking out loud and frankly about politics. In #Cuba they whisper

The documentary Conexão Cuba-Honduras (Cuba-Honduras Connection), for which she was interviewed, was going to be screened on Monday night (02/18) in Feira de Santana, a town in Bahia state.

However, due to protests organized by militants from the Workers Party (PT) and the Brazil Communist Party (PC do B), the screening didn't take place

On Twitter, journalist Marcos Rolim (@RolimMarcos) ranted against the act:

O que Yoani fez para merecer este ódio? Pensar diferente do partido único de Cuba? Exigir que todos os cubanos tenham acesso à internet?

What did Yoani do to deserve such anger? Thinking differently from Cuba’s only party? Demanding that all Cubans have access to Internet?

Rolim also said

A imbecilidade dos protestos é tamanha que só o que esses militontos irão conseguir é mais isolamento para suas ideias do séc. XIX.

The imbecility of these protests is so that the only thing these “millisilly” [from Portuguese militonto, a term created by him – millitants+silly] will achieve is more isolation to their XIX century ideas.

The dissident became known in 2007, when Reuters correspondent in Cuba, Esteban Israel, published a story [en] about her blog, Generación Y (The Y Generation). She is also very active on Twitter [en], with more than 417,000 followers.

The Jornalismo B blog, by Alexandre Haubrich (@alexhaubrich) says, in an article published on January 27, that “Cuban blogger has been, for years, the international star of the imperialist fight against the Cuban Revolution”. The text goes on saying:

Yoani é uma peça interessante no tabuleiro que sedia a luta entre a Revolução Cubana e o imperialismo capitalista. Ela usa a mídia internacional para se promover e ganhar dinheiro – muito dinheiro, como indicam ao menos as premiações que recebe – ao mesmo tempo em que é usada como fonte principal de tudo o que se fala sobre Cuba, sempre com o direcionamento de ataques frontais ao governo cubano.

Yoani Sánchez conseguiu autorização para sair de Cuba (Foto: Andre Deak, no Flickr)

Yoani Sánchez got an authorization to leave Cuba Photo: Andre Deak, on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Yoani is an interesting piece in the fight between the Cuban Revolution and capitalist imperialism. She uses the international media to promote herself and makes money – a lot of money, as at least her prizes indicate -, at the same time she is used as the main source for everything that is said about Cuba, always related to attacks against the Cuban government.

According to Portal Imprensa, this trip is a chance for her to respond to accusations of “having received money from the United States’ government and of being a CIA agent”.

Critical of Yoani Sánchez’s activities, the French journalist Salim Lamrani condemns the financial prizes Yoani has received in the last years, a total of 250,000 euros. An Opera Mundi article, re-published on February 18 by Portal Vermelho says:

isto é, um montante equivalente a mais de 20 anos de salário mínimo em um país como a França, quinta potência mundial, e a 1.488 anos de salário mínimo em Cuba.

This sum is equivalent to more than 20 years of receiving a minimum wage in a country like France, the fifth world power, and to 1.488 years of minimum wage in Cuba.

Other payments are presented in the text:

A isso se soma o salário mensal de seis mil dólares concedido pela Sociedade Interamericana de Imprensa, que agrupa os grandes conglomerados midiáticos privados do continente, e que decidiu nomeá-la vice-presidente regional por Cuba de sua Comissão de Liberdade de Imprensa e Informação5. O jornal espanhol El País também decidiu nomeá-la correspondente em Havana, e lhe paga um bom salário.

Add to that the monthly salary of US$ 6,000 she receives from the Inter American Press Association, that gathers the greatest media private conglomerates of the continent, and that decided to name her regional vice-president for Cuba of its Freedom of Press and Information Commission. Spanish newspaper El País has also decided to name her their Havana correspondent, and they pay her a good salary.

At a certain point, Yoani has said she was against the US embargo against Cuba:

É uma atrocidade impedir que os cidadãos norte-americanos viajem a Cuba, do mesmo modo que o governo cubano me impede de sair de meu país.

It’s an atrocity to forbid that North American citizens travel to Cuba, in the same way that the Cuban government forbids me to leave my country.

Those that support the dissident’s actions accuse the Brazilian government of collaborating with the Cuban government’s repression. A text published by Blog do Coronel, says that an espionage plan had logistic support from the Brazilian government, headed by the Workers Party (PT).

O que Yoani não sabe é que, apesar da distância que separa o Brasil de Cuba – 5 000 quilômetros -, ela não estará livre dos olhos e muito menos dos tentáculos do regime autoritário. Para os sete dias em que permanecerá no Brasil, o governo cubano escalou um grupo de agentes para vigiá-la e recrutou outro com a missão de desqualificá-la a partir de um patético dossiê. Uma conspirata oficial em território estrangeiro contra quem quer que seja é uma monumental afronta à soberania de qualquer nação.

What Yoani doesn’t know is that, although 5,000 kilometers separate Brazil and Cuba, she will not be off the eyes and arms of the authoritarian regime. For the seven days she will be in Brazil, the Cuban government has designated a group of agents to watch her and has recruited another with the mission to disqualify her, with a pathetic dossier. An official conspiracy in foreign territory against whomever is a monumental threat to the sovereignty of any nation.

According to website Brasil 247, the Brazilian Presidency's Secretary-General, Gilberto Carvalho, released a communiqué on February 17 in which he denies any contact with Havana.

A Secretaria-Geral ressalta que não tratou, nem autorizou nenhum servidor a tratar, da visita da cubana Yoani Sánchez ao Brasil. A Secretaria-Geral não foi informada de reunião na embaixada cubana nos termos relatados pela revista. A suposta participação do servidor Ricardo Augusto Poppi Martins será devidamente apurada quando de seu retorno ao Brasil.

The Secretary-General's Office highlights it didn't deal with, nor authorized any public servant to deal with Yoani Sánchez's visit to Brazil. The Secretary-General's Office was not informed of the meeting in the Cuban embassy, as was reported by a magazine. The alleged participation of public servant Ricardo Augusto Poppi Martins will be thoroughly investigated when he returns to Brazil.

Edson Sombra‘s blog says that Álvaro Dias (PSDB), opposition senator to Dilma Rouseff’s (PT) government, will call Foreign Minister Antônio Patriota and the Secretary-General Gilberto Carvalho for clarifications:

O senador Álvaro Dias (PSDB-PR) disse, neste sábado (16), que pretende convocar os ministros Antonio Patriota (Relações Exteriores) e Gilberto Carvalho (Secretaria Geral da Presidência), bem como fazer um convite ao embaixador de Cuba no Brasil, Carlos Zamora Rodríguez, para que compareçam ao Senado para falar sobre a suposta mobilização capitaneada pelo embaixador contra a blogueira cubana Yaoni Sánchez, conforme revelado pela revista “Veja”. Segundo a publicação, o embaixador de Cuba teria organizado uma reunião no dia 6 de fevereiro com militantes de partidos de esquerda brasileiros na tentativa de montar uma estratégia para denegrir a imagem da bloqueira cubana Yoani Sánchez.

Senator Álvaro Dias (PSDB-PR) said, on Saturday (16), that he intends to call Minister Antonio Patriota (Foreign Affairs) and Gilberto Carvalho (Brazilian Presidency's Secretary-General’s Office), as well as invite Cuba’s ambassador in Brazil, Carlos Zamora Rodríguez, to go to the Senate and speak about the supposed mobilization lead by the ambassador against Cuban blogger Yaoni Sánchez, as revealed by “Veja” magazine. According to the magazine, the Cuban ambassador supposedly organized a meeting on February 6 with militants from Brazilian left-wing parties, in an attempt to build a strategy to tarnish Yoani’s image.

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