After five-year struggle, Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez obtains passport

By Alejandro Martínez

After more than 20 denied requests in the last five years, well-known Cuban blogger and activist Yoani Sánchez was granted on Wednesday a passport to travel abroad.

"Increidible!!" Sánchez wrote on her Twitter account." They called me at home to tell me that my passport is ready! They just gave it to me!"

Sánchez had been asking for a passport since 2009 to attend conferences, academic events, awards ceremonies and the release of her own books abroad, Café Fuerte reported. Cuban authorities denied Sánchez the document 24 times.

However, Cuba recently put an end to so-called exit permits -- lengthy and costly documents needed to leave the country -- meaning Cubans now only need a passport to travel abroad. Sánchez applied for the document on Jan. 14, the very same day the change went into effect.

International travel still has some restrictions in Cuba. In an interview with Spanish news agency EFE, Sánchez said receiving her passport was a "sour-sweet" victory because her fellow activist and former political prisoner Angel Moya, who also applied for the document, did not recieve it because of "public interest reasons."

Sánchez, who was detained by Cuban authorities twice last year, is the author of the prominent blog Generación Y, in which she writes about life in Cuba. She was named in November the Inter-American Press Association’s new freedom of expression delegate in Cuba.

EFE reported that Sánchez plans to travel to Spain, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and the U.S., where her sister -- who she hasn't seen in more than a year -- currently lives.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.