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Posted on Saturday, 03.30.13

In My Opinion

Myriam Marquez: Yoani Sánchez faces as many questions as explanations

from exiles

By Myriam Marquez

Forty questions in 80 days.

From Brazil to New York, internationally renown Cuban Yoani

Sánchez has encountered Castro sympathizers agitating, calling her a

"mercenary of the CIA," a gusana, a worm (so old for the

commies), an instrument of the U.S. government. They have thrown at her

fake dollar bills and a list of 40 loaded questions the Cuban regime

wants answered.

Forty questions in the 80 days of her whirlwind tour to Latin America,

Europe and the United States. Forty questions that aren't questions at

all but, rather, malevolent intentions to trap a 37-year-old Cuban (for

daring to question her government) in a crumbling ideological box.

Now she's in Miami, the soul of the exile community, and faces more

questions, some heartfelt and truly curious about this wife, mother and

writer who turned to the just a few years ago to report about

her homeland, an island of daily paradoxes and humiliations. And with

each posting on her Generation Y and each tweet on Twitter she has

become an internationally recognized figure in journalism, politics and

causes that extend beyond Cuba.

From Miami, many more than 40 questions are headed her way as she meets

with me and the Herald's Editorial Board and newsroom editors and

reporters on Monday before heading to the Tower at Miami Dade

College to answer more questions, then to Florida International

for more questions. So many questions for the unfazed Yoani,

who seems to take it all with poise, her words as biting about the

regime as they are illuminating and hopeful about Cubans' march toward


More than the questions, there are the explanations from Miami's walking

wounded — the old soldiers of Brigade 2506, the now middle-aged children

of Pedro Pan, the exiled political prisoners, the historicos. They want

Yoani to know, for her to let fellow Cubans know upon her return, that

exiles love their homeland, love their compatriots — but more than that,

that their history has been distorted by a dictatorship that gets to

write it.

The brigadistas' fight at the Bay of Pigs 50-plus years ago, like

Yoani's words running through the iCloud in nanoseconds today, was an

attempt to save the country they still love from the ruin it has become

under the Castro brothers. The 14,000 Cuban children sent to the states

by desperate parents through the Catholic Church in the early 1960s

wanted the best for them, they were exercising the universal and

fundamental right of each parent to save her children, and they needed

no CIA-inspired plot to come to that conclusion.

And so the questions and the explanations will come at Yoani rapid fire

in the hope that she will speak truth to a world of apologists for the

regime. As if this slip of a girl with the hip-length hippie hair were a

21st century prophet descending the Sierra Maestra. On Saturday, she

once again descended the mountain of lies to expose the historical scabs

to freedom's fresh air. In a Saturday post titled "Flan de Coco" on her

Generación Y blog, she writes:

"I've found a Cuba outside of Cuba, I told a friend a few days ago. He

laughed at my play on words, thinking I was trying to create literature.

But no. In Brazil a septuagenarian excitedly gave me a medal of the

Virgin of Charity of Cobre. 'I have not been back since I left in 1964,'

she confirmed as she handed me this little gem that had belonged to her

mother. During my stay in Prague, a group of compatriots living there

seemed to be more aware of what was happening in our country than many

who vegetate, inside it, in apathy. Amid the tall buildings of New York,

a family invited me to their house and their grandmother made a 'coconut

flan' in the style of our traditional cuisine, so damaged on the island

by the shortages and scarcities.

"Our diaspora, our exile, is conserving Cuba outside of Cuba. Along with

their suitcases and the pain of distance, they have preserved pieces of

our national history that were deleted from the textbooks with which

several generations have been educated or rather, raised to be mediocre.

I'm rediscovering my own country in each of these Cubans dispersed

around the world. When I confirm what they have really accomplished, the

contrast with what official propaganda tells me about them leaves me

with an enormous sadness for my country.

"For all this human wealth that we have lost, for all this talent that

has had to wash up outside our borders and for all the seeds that have

germinated in other lands. How did we allow one ideology, one party, one

man, to have felt the 'divine' power to decide who could or could not

carry the adjective 'Cuban?'

"Now I have proof that they lied to me, they lied to us. Nobody has had

to tell me, I can grasp it for myself on seeing all this Cuba that is

outside of Cuba, an immense country that they have been safeguarding for


And, still, so many questions — from the spiritual to the ordinary to

the conspiratorial. Is she religious? How did she lose a tooth, really?

Who's paying her way?

She will answer them all, I suspect, with the grace she exhibited while

being attacked by pro-Castro mobs in Brazil on her first stop. Here, she

will be tested by a dwindling rightwing fringe that wants her to fall

lock step with their pro position. They will not speak for the

majority of exiles who see beyond one U.S. policy to a woman who

succinctly and poetically exposes her people's suffering every day from

inside the dictatorship and, now, once again with four simple words

tells the world:

They lied to us.

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