In what seems like one step forward for freedom of expression on the island of Cuba, on Wednesday a blogger in Havana named Yoani Sánchez has published President Obama’s replies — in Spanish and English — to seven questions she put to him on relations between their countries.
Ms. Sánchez explained on her blog, “Generación Y” (the English-language version of site is “Generation Y“), that it took a while to set up the exchange: “After months of trying I managed to send a questionnaire to the American president, Barack Obama, with some of the issues that keep me from sleeping.”
My mother called to tell me that a friend of hers in New Jersey had heard that Cuban-based blogger Yoani Sanchez — human-rights activist and pro-democracy advocate — had been beaten and arrested in Havana. I went to Yoani’s site, Generacion Y, looking for a confirmation and this is what I found:
(Note from [Generacion Y] blog editor: This video is of the demonstration that Yoani was prevented from attending).
Near 23rd Street, just at the Avenida de los Presidentes roundabout, we saw a black car, made in China, pull up with three heavily built strangers. “Yoani, get in the car,” one told me while grabbing me forcefully by the wrist. The other two surrounded Claudia Cadelo, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and a friend who was accompanying us to the march against violence. The ironies of life, it was an evening filled with punches, shouts and obscenities on what should have passed as a day of peace and harmony. The same “aggressors” called for a patrol car which took my other two companions, Orlando and I were condemned to the car with yellow plates, the terrifying world of lawlessness and the impunity of Armageddon.
I refused to get into the bright Geely-made car and we demanded they show us identification or a warrant to take us. Of course they didn’t show us any papers to prove the legitimacy of our arrest. The curious crowded around and I shouted, “Help, these men want to kidnap us,” but they stopped those who wanted to intervene with a shout that revealed the whole ideological background of the operation, “Don’t mess with it, these are counterrevolutionaries.” In the face of our verbal resistance they made a phone call and said to someone who must have been the boss, “What do we do? They don’t want to get in the car.” I imagine the answer from the other side was unequivocal, because then came a flurry of punches and pushes, they got me with my head down and tried to push me into the car. I held onto the door… blows to my knuckles… I managed to take a paper one of them had in his pocket and put it in my mouth. Another flurry of punches so I would return the document to them.