- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jose Cardenas does a wonderful job bringing to light the Cuban government’s method of dealing with dissidents who challenge its suppression of freedom on the island in his column “Exposing a shady cover-up in Cuba” (Commentary, March 22). He did such a great job that I could not keep his piece out of my mind a few weeks ago when I had the privilege of hearing Yoani Sanchez speak about the lack of freedom in Cuba.

Ms. Sanchez has spent a good portion of the past decade writing a blog about Cuba’s quest for freedom and liberty, a blog that has exposed the mistreatment of Cuban citizens by their own government. These citizens’ only “crimes” have been their peaceful protest of the government’s way of rule. In addition to being a blogger, Ms. Sanchez wears many other hats, including those of mother, wife and teacher. Her persistence in raising awareness for the human rights injustices in her country has earned her worldwide recognition.

At an event at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, she had a noteworthy response to a question about Havana’s claims of having a high-quality health care system. She said that when a Cuban goes to visit a sick relative, he or she is expected to bring clean sheets, food, floor cleaner and a fan to the hospital. Her concluding parable about a caged bird, however, is what really struck a chord with me.

The bird (the Cuban people), she said, is told by its captor (the Cuban government) that it should be grateful inside its cage because it has water (the health care system) and bird feed (education). It needs nothing more. However, the bird would rather exchange its food and water for the opportunity to fly freely. It seems to be only a matter of time until more of the caged birds of Cuba demand to fly, and I cannot help but wonder and worry about the government’s response.

NICOLE BEYER

Washington, D.C.