Freshman Daniela Lorenzo immigrated to the United States from her hometown, Havana, Cuba, at the age of 6.
“My parents wanted my little sister and I to have a good future, something hard to get in Cuba because of the government,” Lorenzo said.
Lorenzo, who now serves as the secretary for the Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos, or the Federation of Cuban Students (FEC), was among the few students and members of the student media who had the opportunity to sit down and speak to Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez at a private event Tuesday afternoon.
The event was held at the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), located within the Richter Library.
Sanchez answered questions from the group and spoke about the lack of information and news within Cuba. Sanchez also took a tour of the CHC, which has an extensive collection of nearly 50,000 books and documents on Cuba.
“Information to me is like a breath of fresh air,” said Sanchez, whose blog on Cuba is titled the “Generacion Y” blog.
Lorenzo, who was the first person to ask Sanchez a question, was excited to be a part of the event.
“It was an honor to meet her. I was familiar with her before and admired her strength and courage she had to speak up against injustices,” Lorenzo said. “I also admire her passion for spreading knowledge and information, something Cubans are unfortunately often deprived of.”
Lorenzo expressed warm sentiments about the meeting.
“She’s so down to earth and well-spoken, that I learned a lot from the short amount of time she was here,” Lorenzo said.
Junior Elan Aleman, who serves as the vice president of FEC, also enjoyed Sanchez’s visit. Though he was not born in Cuba, his family is Cuban.
“I felt like it was a curtain lifting as to the reality down in Cuba,” he said. “I know the stories that are spun by politicians and the exaggerations from the exiles that either don’t remember or never witnessed the reality of the situation under the Castro regime.”
Aleman appreciated hearing her take on the state of Cuba.
“She brought a genuine and honest illustration of the contradictions between what is said and what actually is,” he said.
Sanchez’s visit formed part of her 80-day international tour. After her event at UM, Sanchez was scheduled to speak Tuesday evening at the Coral Gables Country Club. The event was hosted by the Foundation of Human Rights in Cuba.