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Cuba Denies Exit to Pro-Democracy Blogger Invited by Brazil

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez
Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez. Photographer: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Cuba’s best-known pro-democracy blogger said she was denied permission to leave her country after Brazil granted her a visa ahead of President Dilma Rousseff’s state visit to the communist island last week.

“There’s no surprise,” Yoani Sanchez said in a posting on her Twitter account today. “They again deny me permission to leave. It’s the 19th time they violate my right to enter and leave my country.”

Sanchez, a critic of Raul Castro’s government on her Generation Y blog, requested permission to travel to Brazil next month so she could attend the screening of a documentary in which she appears. While she’s been barred from leaving Cuba for the past four years, expectations she might be allowed to exit this time increased after Brazil granted her a visa on the eve of Rousseff’s visit this week.

After Rousseff failed to meet with Sanchez and other activists during the three-day trade mission to Havana, the blogger complained on Twitter that the Brazilian president came to Cuba “with her wallet open and her eyes shut.”

Rousseff, who was inspired by Cuba’s revolution to take up arms against Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1960s, said she would not get involved in what is an internal Cuban matter.

“Brazil gave the visa to the blogger,” she told reporters in Havana. “The rest is not a matter for the Brazilian government.”

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Cuba’s decision when contacted by Bloomberg News.

While blocked from traveling abroad, Sanchez openly criticizes Castro’s government online, and has emerged as a leader among a group of young dissidents who describe the daily travails life in Cuba through difficult-to-access social media. She was invited to Spain after winning the Ortega y Gasset journalism prize in 2008. Many of her chronicles are published by newspapers throughout Latin America.

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