Yoani Sanchez, a well-known Cuban blogger who runs Generation Y, a blog that has become a thorn in the side of the Cuban government, was detained and harassed by Cuban authorities yesterday in Havana. She relayed the experience on her blog this morning:
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.From CNN, via Raices de Esperanza (Roots of Hope), a US-based non-profit, non-partisan organization, founded in 2003 that through cultural and academic initiatives, seeks to unite Cuban youths living on the island with those living in the United States:
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.
Before agents released Sanchez, they warned her that her writings had gone too far, the nonprofit said. Freedom of speech is limited in the island nation, where media are controlled by the government.This should serve as a reminder to how lucky we are to essentially be able to write what we want, when we want without being harassed by government officials, whereas in Cuba, just 90 miles south of the Florida Straits, the same freedoms aren't available.
Earlier this year, the blogger was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine. The government barred her from traveling to New York in October to receive a journalism award.