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Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez to visit Congress

@PatriciaMazzei

Yoani Sánchez, the dissident Cuban blogger who since last month has been on an international tour after being granted a passport, will meet with U.S. senators and representatives on March 19, Sen. Bill Nelson's office announced Monday.

Nelson, of Florida, and Miami Rep. Joe Garcia, both Democrats, invited Sánchez to visit. She plans to spend a couple of days in Washington D.C., and she is scheduled to stop in Miami in April.

"I look forward to this meeting and her unique view of the realities of life in Cuba," Nelson said in a statement.

Read the full statement after the jump.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Opposition blogger Yoani Sanchez has accepted an invitation from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to share her views with members of Congress on ways to further promote freedom, democracy and human rights for the Cuban people. 

Nelson invited the blogger to a Capitol meeting after she embarked on an international tour last month that will stretch nearly three months.   During her world tour Sanchez plans to also travel to Latin America, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.  Brazil was her first stop. 

Her tour comes after she received a passport under Cuba's new travel and migration policy.  Enacted last month, the law eliminated exit permits required of islanders for the past five decades.

Sanchez told Nelson she has set aside 10:30 a.m. to noon on March 19 for the meeting in Washington.  The blogger has also announced plans to visit Miami April 1, and speak at the iconic Freedom Tower owned by Miami-Dade College.   

“She is looking forward to this rare opportunity to visit the Congress in order to share her experiences as a member of Cuba’s emergent, independent civil society and her ideas about the island’s changing reality,” Sanchez’s representative in the United States wrote in a letter to Nelson (D-FL) and U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Miami), who also extended an invite on the House side.

Sanchez asked that Nelson and Garcia arrange a meeting of members of both chambers.

“I look forward to this meeting and her unique view of the realities of life in Cuba,” Nelson said today.    

The Cuban blogger has achieved international fame.  Time magazine listed her as one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2008.  "Under the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot; freedom of speech," the magazine said. 

The main part of Sanchez’s response to Nelson and U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia is below, followed by Nelson’s initial letter to her: 

Friday, March 8, 2013 

Dear Senator [ Bill ]Nelson and Representative [ Joe ] García, 

As you know, I am organizing the itinerary for Cuban blogger and human rights activist Yoani Sánchez for when she visits New York City and Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks. 

Ms. Sánchez will be in Washington on March 19-20 and has set aside Tuesday morning, March 19, from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon for a visit to Capitol Hill. Specifically, she wants to respond affirmatively to the gracious invitations she has received from each of you.

Due to the fact that Ms. Sánchez received a number of other invitations from various members of Congress following yours, rather than setting up a series of individual office visits, Ms. Sánchez’s preference is for a single, inclusive, and bi-partisan meeting with interested members of Congress. She also requests that the meeting be open to members of the press. 

… She is looking forward to this rare opportunity to visit the Congress in order to share her experiences as a member of Cuba’s emergent, independent civil society and her ideas about the island’s changing reality. 

Sincerely,

Ted Henken, Ph.D.

President, Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy

Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Black and Latino Studies

Box B4-281; Baruch College - CUNY

One Bernard Baruch Way; New York, NY 10010

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