The Paradox of Yoani's Denial of Permit to Travel

Yoani Sanchez has decided to take her political involvement to Brazil. She prepared and presented a petition regarding human rights, and sent a personal request to the President of Brazil allowing her to travel there. She was issued a visa by Brazil to visit.
But she has reported on Twitter this week, and many news reports around the world have stated that she was denied an exit permit from Cuba. Thus, she cannot leave.

Yoani’s plight is paradoxical. She permanently left Cuba some years ago, and was living happily and peacefully in Europe. Then, she decided to return to Cuba, with her husband and child, and fight for freedom of the Cuban people.

She has become famous because of her blogs and tweets from Cuba, complaining about government censorship and other government activities. She has received many awards and been invited to speak at international events. Every time she is invited, her right to leave is denied.

Interestingly, the president of Brazil was in Cuba recently, apparently offering money and other benefits to the Cuban government. Yoani strongly criticized the visit and its purpose.

Cuba’s exit permit process is generally thought of as prohibiting permanent exodus from the country. But Yoani does not want to leave permanently. She wants to travel and return – to continue to criticize her country’s government. One would think the government could allow her to leave, and then not let her return. What is the reason for keeping her in the country?

The government has been unhappy with her activities for a long time. But it doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. It has been a long time since she has been arrested or physically assaulted, although she reports such actions against many other vocal dissidents. She apparently still must travel daily to access the Internet. There was a time that the government tried to prevent her from doing so. But at this time, she apparently is able to do so regularly. The government watches her every move. It posts guards to watch her apartment. It won’t let her leave the country, but allows her to criticize it.

So, once again, she has the opportunity to point out a contradictory stance of her government, in denying her the right to leave, after she voluntarily returned.


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