Cuba’s best-known dissident with ‘knees trembling’ makes it through Havana airport without incident
Cuba's best-known dissident, blogger Yoani Sánchez checked in without incident at Havana's international airport on Sunday on her way to Brazil, the first stop on an 80-day-tour of a dozen countries. She was sent off with hugs by a small group of family members and friends.
Sánchez was granted a passport two weeks ago under Cuba's sweeping immigration reform that went into effect this year, after being denied permission to travel more than 20 times over the past five years.
I made it through immigration, now I only need to board the plane and take off, said Sánchez, who has promised to tweet throughout her saga.
In another tweet to her followers as she waited to board her plane, she added: To tell the truth, my knees haven't stopped trembling.
Sánchez is one of a number of high profile government opponents who have received a passport under the new regulations, but the first to actually take advantage of the measure.
A few lesser-known dissidents have been denied passports.
Sánchez criticized the new law for not simply granting all Cubans the right to travel, but said, I plan to take full advantage of it and push it to the limit.
The old travel law was put in place in 1961 to slow the flight of Cubans after the island's 1959 revolution. The new law scrapped the much-hated requirement of having to obtain an exit visa and loosened other restrictions that had discouraged Cubans from leaving and traveling.
It was one of the wide-ranging reforms President Raúl Castro has enacted since he succeeded his older brother, Fidel Castro, in 2008. There are still travel restrictions, mainly for national security reasons and for those with pending legal cases.
Sánchez, who has won a number of international prizes for her blog but has been denied permission to travel to collect them, said she would now do so and planned to use part of the prize money to found a free press in Cuba.