Cuban blogger says government bars trip to Brazil

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2012 4:34 PM
Cuban blogger says government bars trip to Brazil

HAVANA (Reuters) - The Cuban government has denied a request by dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez to travel to Brazil, her 19th failed effort to obtain a permit to leave the country, she said on Friday.

"There are no surprises. They have denied an exit visa again," she wrote on Twitter. "It is occasion number 19 in which they have violated my right to enter and leave my country."

While Sanchez has been repeatedly blocked from traveling, this case became an issue when the Brazilian government granted her an entry visa shortly before an official visit to Cuba this week by President Dilma Rousseff.

Sanchez' "Generation Y" blog has an international following and is much despised by the Cuban government, which likely was not pleased by the Brazilian visa, or the timing of it.

Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured by the Brazilian government in the 1970s, came under pressure in her country to intervene on Sanchez' behalf for an exit visa from Cuba.

But she told reporters in Havana the decision was up to Cuba and instead of talking about human rights on the Communist island, she criticized the United States for rights violations at its prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

One of the main international criticisms of Cuba has been that Cubans must obtain the government's permission to leave the country and have to go through an elaborate and costly process to get it.

The Cuban government, under then leader Fidel Castro, imposed travel restrictions as thousands of Cubans fled the country after the 1959 revolution.

The government has repeatedly refused to let Sanchez and other dissidents go abroad, often in cases where they were to receive awards for their human rights activism. It never gives reasons for denying a visa.

Sanchez had hoped to go to Brazil this month for the showing of a documentary in which she appeared.

(Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Kevin Gray)