The blogger/journalist Yoani Sanchez, a leading dissident voice in Cuba and one of the most influential people in the world, according to Time Magazine, is on her first worldwide tour. Sanchez finally received her passport in January, after the Cuban government rejected her application 20 times.
At the age of 37, Sanchez is the voice of a younger generation in Cuba. Her blog, Generación Y, receives millions of hits a day. Takeaway host John Hockenberry spoke with Sanchez (through a translator) about Cuban politics and her mission to scare the Castro regime while bringing the support of American policymakers into what she hopes will soon be the post-Castro era.
Sanchez says her first exposure to freedom of speech in the United States has her hooked. "I find myself becoming very quickly addicted to that kind of freedom of expression." However, she has less admiration for other aspects of the United States, such as foreign policy posturing that she believes has exacerbated the situation in Cuba: "I think that policy coming from the U.S. the last 54 years has allowed for an environment of confrontation to take hold and the Cuban government has used that environment, that confrontation to justify all its acts…acts of oppression, acts of intimidation and to justify what it does."
Amidst an environment rife with oppression and intimidation, Sanchez is most scared of living in fear: "There's fear at all levels of society and within the Cuban people. That comes from RaÃºl Castro. That comes from Fidel Castro. And so when you break that mold, when you are able to leave, you break down fear. And so they had to let people out because pressures were coming from within and now you see that fear subsiding."
Sanchez confronts her people's situation through her blog, a critical and often humorous expose of life in Cuba and the Cuban government. "Cubans from the diaspora in all corners of the world that follow me and read me, but there are also my countrymen within the island who are able to follow me and read me and keep abreast of what I say through alternative means although no internet Cubans have come up with alternative ways to communicate and through there they read me."