Yoani Sánchez will be in Warsaw this week, participating with Nobel Peace laureates Lech Walesa and Mohammed ElBaradei in an international conference, the Warsaw Solidarity Forum, on Friday (May 16).

That’s the word from Poland, according to the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza (Electoral Gazette), which on Wednesday gave a sample of the Cuban blogger’s prepared speech.

“Two opposing elements govern Cuba today: repression and reform,” Sánchez will say. “Raúl Castro preaches that changes deepen socialism. Reality proves that our island is going toward capitalism without labor rights or civil liberties. More than half a million permits have been issued to self-employed entrepreneurs.

“That’s a lot, if you remember that in 1968 the government nationalized everything, even shoe-shining. In that major revolutionary offensive, the government appropriated all small enterprises. Cuban private enterprise was swept aside and stigmatized — to be reborn 40 years later.”

The conference, organized by the Lech Walesa Institute and the City of Warsaw, will be devoted to the conclusions that can be drawn from Poland’s transition from a Soviet bloc country to a capitalist country.

“Over the past quarter-century, Poland has come a long way from an oppressed and crisis-stricken country to a democracy with a dynamically growing economy,” says the president of the Lech Walesa Institute, Peter Gulczynski, quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza. “We will try to answer to what extent our transformation scheme be a model for countries that today are undergoing reconstruction.”

Lech Walesa won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to organize independent labor unions. He went on to become President of Poland (1990-1995).

Mohamed ElBaradei
Mohamed ElBaradei

Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt shared the 2005 prize with the International Atomic Energy Agency “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes.”

Other speakers at the conference will be British historian Timothy Garton Ash; U.S. economist Jeremy Rifkin; Peter Ackerman, founder of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, and Dr. Jan Kulczyk, Polish economist and multibillionaire.

[Photo of Lech Walesa and Yoani Sánchez was taken on May 28, 2013, when she traveled to Gdansk, Poland.]

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In Italy, ‘doubts and controversy’ swirl around Yoani

Reaction is emerging in Italy to the open letter in which Yoani Sánchez’s Italian-language translator, Gordiano Lupi, last week denounced the Cuban blogger. (For background, click here.)sanchez-yoani lupi-gordiano2

In an article titled “Suspicions Rain on Yoani Sánchez,” the website Termometro Politico says that “doubts and controversy continue to swirl around the Cuban dissident.”

“In the Western world, Sánchez has for years received both awards from liberal-democratic institutions and criticism from environments linked to the radical left,” the webpage says. “From various reconstructions, in fact, it would seem that the Cuban blogger is firmly tied to the diplomacy of the United States and financed by Western interest groups.”

“Many also criticize Yoani Sánchez for a number of inconsistencies relative to her activities in daily media activism that would contradict the lack of freedom of information in Cuba that she denounces.”

“To the criticism from the left, now is added [the criticism] from her former collaborator. The Huffington Post/Italy has reported the letter from Gordiano Lupi, who translated her for La Stampa, where Sánchez had a blog. From the letter by Lupi — a longtime expert in Cuban affairs — emerges a Yoani Sánchez who is interested exclusively in the quest for personal affirmation.” […]

“Those are heavy allegations from Lupi, which, however, differ from those generally expressed about the blogger in relation to her purported links with the American secret services. In fact, Lupi says that he often had the impression that Sánchez may have been a ‘spy,’ yes, but paid by the Castro family ‘to blow smoke in the eyes of others’ or to show the world that in Cuba it is possible to engage in opposition without being arrested or intimidated. A suggestive hypothesis, but — to tell the truth — a bit improbable.”

Termometro Politico calls Lupi’s statements “strong” and adds that “it is possible that the directly interested party will respond.” It closes by saying that “it now remains to be seen if Gordiano Lupi’s outburst, after years of intense collaboration with Sánchez […] is the expression of his sincere rethinking of the blogger’s ideas and activities or if it conceals personal evaluations that go beyond politics.”

The leftist Italian website Tribuno del Popolo — The People’s Tribune — on Monday (May 12) published an editorial titled “The lies of Yoani Sánchez, told by her former translator and biographer,” in which it commented on last week’s events.

“Lies, lies and more lies,” the editorial begins. “We always thought that about blogger Yoani Sánchez, although our Gramscian ‘partisanship’ probably led many to think that we were just ‘partial’ and therefore not objective. But now, the speaker was Tuscan writer and editor Gordiano Lupi, who translated Sánchez’s writings in Italy.”

(The reference is to Antonio Gramsci, a co-founder of the Italian Communist Party in 1921.)

“Yoani Sánchez had a blog in the international section of La Stampa and has now decided to terminate her contract with the Piedmontese newspaper, thus allowing Lupi to literally remove the pebbles from his shoe,” the article says.

“What pebbles is Lupi talking about? First of all, when it comes to Sánchez, most people think of a champion of human rights who is harassed by the terrible Cuban regime. The truth seems to be very different, however, as pointed out by Lupi, who instead presents an altogether different picture of the blogger, the picture of a greedy person who ‘does everything for money’ and who in Cuba enjoys an extreme freedom of movement and speech, unlike what she claims in her blog.”

After quoting extensively from Lupi’s denunciation, the editorial states:

“Lupi has launched a sort of all-out attack against the figure of the erstwhile heroine, saying that he was deceived into mistaking her cause for the struggle of David against Goliath.” Not only that, the editorial says, Lupi “discovered that what moved the Cuban blogger were not lofty ideals, because she lives in Cuba without any problems and with permission to enter and leave Cuba.”

Lupi’s “final sword thrust,” Tribuno says, was to say that Sánchez “will start a phony newspaper […] that nobody in Cuba will read because it will be available only online,” yet she won’t care because “to her, it’s enough that someone finances it, that it is read in Miami and Spain, that the Cuban community continues to be deceived by a nonexistent paladin.”

“In sum,” the editorial ends, “lies have short legs and, as somebody once said, the winds of history will sweep away all the lies and garbage.”

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