Yoani Sanchez Tells What Life Really is Like in Cuba

Books don't capture the moment like blogging does. Armando Valladares, Humberto Fontova, and other authors, have masterfully captured the debauchery, the murderousness, and the torture of the Cuban Communist oligarchy; but history presents the truth in a way that can tempt and trick our minds into dismissing its facts as either exaggerations or occurrences of a bygone era. Blogging, however, puts those facts in your face almost as they happen.

With up-to-the-minute accounts by Yoani Sanchez--and hopefully soon-to-be others--Americans will now be able to get a clearer understanding that the debauchery, the murder, the torture, and the socialist expropriation are going on in Cuba right now.

It's too bad the internet wasn't around when the Cuban revolution of Fidel and Raul castro, along with Che Guevara and other gutter rats, plunged Cuba deep into the dark ages. With the internet, this travesty of freedom may never have been able to happen.

If Che Guevara were still around, he would probably rape her and have her shot. She is the current bane of Fidel and Raul Castro and their dictatorial minions. They have attempted to shut her off from the outside world, but Yoani Sanchez will not be silenced.

It's unfortunate that the American government has not and will not do a better job of describing the heinous living conditions that exist for the rank and file and Cuba. Unfortunately, several Americans and American institutions have given the opposite impression by praising the supposed genius and plenty of the Cuban system. They've only seen the veneer.

Robert Redford visited Havana--at least that part of it into which foreigners are allowed to venture--and pronounced it good. NBC news correspondent Andrea Mitchell became a favorite of Fidel Castro, because she was so trusting that the rest of the country behind the curtain was just like the small portion that The Dictator had allowed her to see. Bob Costas a few years back did a

History presents the truth in a way that can tempt and trick our minds into dismissing its facts as either exaggerations or occurrences of a bygone era. Blogging, however, puts those facts in your face almost as they happen.

comparison of the health care systems of Canada, Cuba, and the United States, wherein he dolefully "admitted" the untruth that Cuba's health care system was on par with the United States.

Yoani Sanchez, Cuban blogger extraordinaire, has called all of their bluffs.
What has probably unnerved the regime is not so much her attacks on the Castro brothers as her vivid description of daily life — how Cubans register their cows as oxen to avoid having to sell the milk to the government, how people get paid in worthless Cuban pesos but have to obtain "convertible pesos" on the black market in order to buy soap, and how the timid reforms put in practice by Raul Castro so far amount to the legalization of global technology that is beyond his control.
The Cuban dictocracy has made a feeble attempt to silence Ms. Sanchez. She sniffs her nose at them.
"The anonymous censors of our famished blog have tried to lock me up in the room, turn my lights off and prevent my friends from coming in. ... However, the punishment is so useless that it invites pity and so easy to elude that it becomes an incentive."
Liberty cannot be silenced forever. Not even in Cuba.

From time to time Yoani Sanchez's blog may be blocked by the Cuban government, but if not, here it is in English and here it is in Spanish. Other bloggers and news outlets have captured some of her material. For more information, click here, here, and here. "Yoani Sanchez" turns up thousands of hits on internet search engines.


  1. Why aren't we free to go see Cuba's failures for our selves? Why do we have to take someone else's word for it, someone who may have their own self-interest involved?

    The New York Times reported a few weeks ago that Washington is blocking hundreds of websites around the world with the word Cuba in it. What are we afraid of that we need to do that?

    Check out what the NYT said:

    March 4, 2008
    A Wave of the Watch List, and Speech Disappears

    Steve Marshall is an English travel agent. He lives in Spain, and he sells trips to Europeans who want to go to sunny places, including Cuba. In October, about 80 of his Web sites stopped working, thanks to the United States government.

    The sites, in English, French and Spanish, had been online since 1998. Some, like www.cuba-hemingway.com, were literary. Others, like www.cuba-havanacity.com, discussed Cuban history and culture. Still others — www.ciaocuba.com and www.bonjourcuba.com — were purely commercial sites aimed at Italian and French tourists.

    “I came to work in the morning, and we had no reservations at all,” Mr. Marshall said on the phone from the Canary Islands. “We thought it was a technical problem.”

    It turned out, though, that Mr. Marshall’s Web sites had been put on a Treasury Department blacklist and, as a consequence, his American domain name registrar, eNom Inc., had disabled them. Mr. Marshall said eNom told him it did so after a call from the Treasury Department; the company, based in Bellevue, Wash., says it learned that the sites were on the blacklist through a blog.

    Either way, there is no dispute that eNom shut down Mr. Marshall’s sites without notifying him and has refused to release the domain names to him. In effect, Mr. Marshall said, eNom has taken his property and interfered with his business. He has slowly rebuilt his Web business over the last several months, and now many of the same sites operate with the suffix .net rather than .com, through a European registrar. His servers, he said, have been in the Bahamas all along.

    Mr. Marshall said he did not understand “how Web sites owned by a British national operating via a Spanish travel agency can be affected by U.S. law.” Worse, he said, “these days not even a judge is required for the U.S. government to censor online materials.”

    A Treasury spokesman, John Rankin, referred a caller to a press release issued in December 2004, almost three years before eNom acted. It said Mr. Marshall’s company had helped Americans evade restrictions on travel to Cuba and was “a generator of resources that the Cuban regime uses to oppress its people.” It added that American companies must not only stop doing business with the company but also freeze its assets, meaning that eNom did exactly what it was legally required to do.

    Mr. Marshall said he was uninterested in American tourists. “They can’t go anyway,” he said.

    Peter L. Fitzgerald, a law professor at Stetson University in Florida who has studied the blacklist — which the Treasury calls a list of “specially designated nationals” — said its operation was quite mysterious. “There really is no explanation or standard,” he said, “for why someone gets on the list.”

    Susan Crawford, a visiting law professor at Yale and a leading authority on Internet law, said the fact that many large domain name registrars are based in the United States gives the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, control “over a great deal of speech — none of which may be actually hosted in the U.S., about the U.S. or conflicting with any U.S. rights.”

    “OFAC apparently has the power to order that this speech disappear,” Professor Crawford said.

    The law under which the Treasury Department is acting has an exemption, known as the Berman Amendment, which seeks to protect “information or informational materials.” Mr. Marshall’s Web sites, though ultimately commercial, would seem to qualify, and it is not clear why they appear on the list. Unlike Americans, who face significant restrictions on travel to Cuba, Europeans are free to go there, and many do. Charles S. Sims, a lawyer with Proskauer Rose in New York, said the Treasury Department might have gone too far in Mr. Marshall’s case.

    “The U.S can certainly criminalize the expenditure of money by U.S. citizens in Cuba,” Mr. Sims said, “but it doesn’t properly have any jurisdiction over foreign sites that are not targeted at the U.S. and which are lawful under foreign law.”

    Mr. Rankin, the Treasury spokesman, said Mr. Marshall was free to ask for a review of his case. “If they want to be taken off the list,” Mr. Rankin said, “they should contact us to make their case.”

    That is a problematic system, Professor Fitzgerald said. “The way to get off the list,” he said, “is to go back to the same bureaucrat who put you on.”

    Last March, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights issued a disturbing report on the OFAC list. Its subtitle: “How a Treasury Department Terrorist Watch List Ensnares Everyday Consumers.”

    The report, by Shirin Sinnar, said that there were 6,400 names on the list and that, like no-fly lists at airports, it gave rise to endless and serious problems of mistaken identity.

    “Financial institutions, credit bureaus, charities, car dealerships, health insurers, landlords and employers,” the report said, “are now checking names against the list before they open an account, close a sale, rent an apartment or offer a job.”

    But Mr. Marshall’s case does not appear to be one of mistaken identity. The government quite specifically intended to interfere with his business.

    That, Professor Crawford said, is a scandal. “The way we communicate these days is through domain names, and the Treasury Department should not be interfering with domain names just as it does not interfere with telecommunications lines.”

    Curiously, the Treasury Department has not shut down all of Mr. Marshall’s .com sites. You can still find, for now, www.cuba-guantanamo.com.

    Online: Documents and an archive of Adam Liptak’s articles: nytimes.com/adamliptak.

  2. Great post.

    As Cuban born and raised under the castro's communist dictatorship, I feel honored, and at some point, relieved, to see freedom-loving Americans telling the truth about Cuba; even in places where the Cuban American community it is not that big as in Utah...

    These days, blogging and the Internet has become a powerful tool for us to disseminate the reality of the life in Cuba; a reality that is totally different from the one the government has always sold to the rest of the world and that has nothing to do with the wonders that publishes most of the MSM.

    Now, to answer Mr.Lippmann's (who routinely posts his "doubtful" comments in all freedom for Cuba related blogs) question: because if you go to Cuba to sunbathe in Varadero and feed up with castro's propaganda, you are definitively not seing the people's real life.

    And to make something clear: it's not a matter of taking someone else's word for it, it's a matter of reading the experiences of the human being that are truly suffering the failure of that system, while you enjoy your freedom of speech in America, a freedom that can cost to Cubans many years in prison if they dare to speak out against the regimen. (Ever heard of the Black Spring?)

    By the way, Mr. Lippmann,it's considered of very bad taste to copy and paste an entire article in a blog's comment section; us, the rest of the readers, will really appreciate if you just add the link or the reference.

  3. Dear Cubanita -

    Yoani Sanchez at least gives her real name. How can anyone know if you are even a real person. I give my real name, too. And I give Yoani Sanchez credit for returning to Cuba after living in Switzerland. Lots of people who've left Cuba never go back. At least Yoani Sanchez chose voluntarily to return and to face life's challenges like other Cubans do.

    Why aren't the people from the United States of America free to visit Cuba if we want to? We can go to North Korea, China and Vietnam which have the same kind of one-party system Cuba has. We can go to Saudi Arabia which has a NO-PARTY system, but why do we need a permission slip from Washingto to see Cuba for ourselves?

    My guess is that the exile militants and the politicians in Washington simply don't want us to see Cuba with our own two eyes. I spend lots of time there, but have only visited Varadero once.

    I'm mostly working when in Cuba, so I hardly get a sun-tan, though I walk the streets a lot and look around and talk to people.

    My guess is that the exile militants simply don't want us to see things like what these Canadian kineseology students recently saw:

    Best wishes,

    Walter Lippmann

  4. Sorry. Here's the link for what the kinesiology students saw:

  5. Frank,

    Walter Lippman is a communist who goes around posting propaganda on blogs that challenge the castro regime's legitimacy. If you do a google search for his name you will find that I'm telling you the truth. We don't let him comment at our blogs because his point of view gets plenty of exposure in the mainstream media.

    Do with that information what you will.

    By the way, thank you for your service.

    P.S. Yoani's blog is not blocked to the outside world, it's within Cuba that it's blocked.

    I just posted an English translation of one of her latest writings which was published at a Spanish language web site called Letras Libres

  6. Walter,

    I agree that we should be able to see for ourselves, but I'm not sure why you think it is inaccurate to take someone else's word for it--someone who is there.


    Thanks for your response. I am glad that it is important to you and other Cubans that there are people in everyday America who care about your plight.

    I appreciate particularly your statement that

    it's not a matter of taking someone else's word for it, it's a matter of reading the experiences of the human being that are truly suffering the failure of that system, while you enjoy your freedom of speech in America, a freedom that can cost to Cubans many years in prison if they dare to speak out against the regimen.

    I, too, was a bit taken aback when I received a comment from Walter that is likely longer than my original article.


    Thank you for your comments as well. I was a bit confused by Walter's comments, and I wonder if he was deliberately trying to be confusing.

    Thank you for the clarification that Yoani's blog is blocked only in Cuba. At least she (and hopefully others) are still able, from inside the country, to convey to the outside world what's really going on there.

    I apologize to you (insofar as it is in my ability to do so), Cubanita, and others for American lap dogs such as Robert Redford, Bob Costas, and Andrea Mitchell.

  7. Frank, your solidarity is highly appreciated, since raising awareness is the best we can do to let the rest of the world know what's really going on in Cuba.

    No need to apologize; I know all Americans are not the same and thankfully, the majority are freedom lovers and go for democracy; and "the pursue of happiness".

  8. Frank,

    Thanks for the note. No need to apologize. I consider myself just as American as I do Cuban.

    I always tell these people that want to "see for themselves" about Cuba that they should start by seeing for themselves about North Korea. But North Korea doesn't have beautiful beaches and great music and pretty women. Somehow I get the feeling that what they want to see for themselves has nothing to do with what Cubans do in their daily lives. In fact almost anywhere Americans travel it has more to do with seeing and doing fun things, which is fine because most countries are not totalitarian dictatorships.

    P.S. I don't need to travel back in time and see for myself to believe that slavery existed in this country. Or that segregation existed. I don't need to visit Germany to know that the holocaust actually happened.

  9. One problem with the exile militants is that, not only do THEY want to stay home, which they are already free to do, but they want to prevent everyone else from going to Cuba and seeing it for themselves.

    We can go to Saudi Arabia, to China, to Vietnam, but only for Cuba to most people from the US need a permission slip from Washington.

    That's also one of the reasons why Washington blocks websites with the word Cuba in the domain name, as the NY Times reported.

  10. Mr. Lippmann,

    I read your post and for a very different reason I agree with you.
    I believe that an invasion of American tourism in Cuba will destroy the lies that the non-elected-government of Cuba has been feeding my country on a daily basis for 50 years!
    That will be the begining of the end!

  11. Bibi,

    Excellent point. What I worry about though, is that tourism in Cuba is controlled much like it was in the Soviet Union. If the tourists could go wherever they want whenever they want, it will help to quickly destroy the lies.


Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting. If you have a Google/Blogger account, to be apprised of ongoing comment activity on this article, please click the "Subscribe" link below.

Popular posts from this blog