When you get props from someone like Hilary Rodham Clinton, that's some serious shiz. Yoani Sánchez, commonly referred to as the "Cuban Blogger" for her illegal reporting of life in Cuba directly from the island, seems to have impressed our Secretary of State who said, "She has used technology to promote positive change. She has created an interactive space for the exchange of ideas and free expression. She has given voice to the concerns and aspirations of her fellow citizens." (Damn! We thought we were badass for getting 64 Facebook likes on a blog post.)
Sánchez isn't allowed to travel freely, but her voice is. Saturday at Books & Books, she read from her new book, Havana Real: One Woman's Fight to Tell the Truth About Cuba Today on video to a crowded house - despite the heavy rain.
Sánchez has been broadcasting the plight of the Cuban people -- always hungry, dependent on decades old appliances which are constantly breaking down, and unable to shop in ways open to those in democratic countries -- since 2004. Although she once tasted freedom when living in Sweden, she decided to return to Cuba to tell everyone who would listen what kind of a life it was.
Here Sánchez addresses people who have come to see her speak about her her book.
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Despite the fact that, as one person said, "Cubans and the rain. They don't go out. They stay put," the event was standing room only and there were people hovering in the hallway listening to what was going on. Not even technical difficulties with a projector could curtail interest, as a helpful audience member ran home, grabbed his Mac, returned and fixed the issue.
Unlike other Miami events, everyone was patient and seemed in no hurry. Writers Ted Henken, Carlos Alberto Montaner, and Ernesto Morales Licea spoke about Cuba and Sánchez and a video of the Cuban Blogger talking about her book was shown to the crowd. Considering that authors and books don't usually garner a lot of attention in Miami, this was an especially solid turnout. Apparently, freedom still means something to some people.