Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez arrived in NYC yesterday, and received a warm welcome at the airport, unlike her prior experience in Brazil. In the evening, she spoke at Columbia University,
Thursday night, Sánchez appeared at Columbia University’s School of Journalism to answer questions.
Sánchez described the problems Cubans have when trying to access the Internet and government surveillance of independent journalists. She also spoke about the changes made by Cuban leader Raúl Castro.
“I would love to pose 50 questions to Raúl Castro. And I anticipate right now that they won’t be answered,” she said.
Sánchez stressed that Cuban government restrictions of the Internet have “been even more aggressive” than she expected.
Cuba is one of 60 countries that censor communications and limit or harass Internet users constantly. The average access to the Internet by Cubans is the lowest in the Western hemisphere. Individual connections are restricted to official entities and educational and cultural institutions, under strict supervision.
Access to foreigners and Cuban citizens must be officially authorized after an exhaustive background check. “But as a journalist I am not frightened by the problems,” said Sánchez. “What’s most important is that the Cuban government and [the Communist Party daily] Granma are reading us. That is why they have created an alternative blogosphere to reply to us. They’re acknowledging us and that’s a first step toward acceptance.”
Prior to her visit to the USA she had visited Mexico, where only four senators attended her speech at the Senate in Mexico City.
After NYC, she’s heading to Washington, DC.