Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The right to travel

Blogger Yoani Sanchez last week was denied permission to travel to the United States to receive a Columbia University journalism award, so she recorded this video message for the awards ceremony. She was also profiled in the New York Times.

Yoani posted a recording of her visit to the immigration office, where she let the lady at the counter know exactly what was on her mind:

Yoani’s episode brings to mind the tribulations of Rockwell Kent, an American citizen who was refused a passport, and thereby denied his ability to travel abroad, because the State Department deemed him to have a “consistent and prolonged adherence to the Communist Party line.” He took his case to the Supreme Court in 1958, and he won when the court found that no law gave the State Department the authority to act as it did. “We must remember that we are dealing here with citizens who have neither been accused of crimes nor found guilty,” Justice Douglas wrote in the majority opinion.

I argue in favor of an end to U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba for many reasons, including that they infringe on Americans’ rights.

In Cuba, the idea of ending restrictions on travel abroad has been debated, but seems to be going nowhere. Yoani seems optimistic that her son will be able to travel without restriction when he grows up; I hope she’s right, and sooner than that.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Ms. Sanchez could sue the Cuban government for infrigement of her constitutional rights. She could appeal her case all the way to the Council of State, the body that put in place the travel restrictions in the same place. Any guess what the outcome would be? We should expect her imminent arrest. There are some websites that detail the level of surveillance she is under right now. Creepy stuff indeed!

Vecino de NF

The Hypervigilant Observer said...

One fact in Rohter's NYT's story blew me away.

He reports that Yoani Sanchez's site gets... 14 MILLION hits per month!

The entire NYT site gets only about 15 million per month.

Lex Wadelski

ac said...

"She could appeal her case all the way to the Council of State, the body that put in place the travel restrictions in the same place."
I doubt that. The law was signed by Dorticos in 1959 and clearly states that the Ministry of Interior can deny the exit permit at will. Unfair? Surely, but thats the law.
"We should expect her imminent arrest."
Nope, she is pretty much harmless (and dumb and some times an idiot) and it putting her behind bars the Cuban government won't win anything. Simply she isn't worth the trouble. Besides if they finally decide to imprison her it will be for legally sound reasons. Maybe unfair and absurd, but nonetheless legal.

Anonymous said...


Are you saying that it's impossible in Cuba to challenge the constitutionality of a decree law signed by an interim revolutionary government that predated the current Constitution?

If that's the case, should we conclude that Phil Peters' comparison of Yoanni Sanchez' legal options to Rockwell Kent's legal options is not appropriate?

Vecino de NF

Carlos said...

Nitpick. 3:47 - "Mis nietos". She is not that optimistic, since she expects things to change by the time her grand-kids are around.
On the other hand, her son is already alive and things haven't changed, so maybe she is just being realistic.
As for ac, please stop being a troll. Calling her names does not deny her courage and the positive change she is trying to affect. I might not agree with her in all matters, but I surely respect her efforts. Many many of the most virulent opponents of the regime do so from the comfort of exile, something that the Castros can tolerate since it allows them to continue running Cuba as their personal finca. When more and more voices like Yoani's get to be heard IN CUBA we will start seeing change.