After tour abroad, dissident blogger Sanchez returns to Cuba

Fri May 31, 2013 3:09am EDT
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By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, wearing a brightly colored dress and a big smile, returned on Thursday to the homeland she both loves and lambastes, after more than three months on a tour through the Americas and Europe.

Her family and about a dozen supporters applauded loudly and shouted "welcome home" as she emerged from the customs area at the Havana airport

With tears in her eyes, she hugged them all as curious Cubans awaiting other passengers looked on and asked reporters who she was.

In brief comments to the press, the 37-year-old who has dark, waist-length hair said she had had a "marvelous trip, a trip that's going to change my life in many ways."

"I'm here with many projects," Sanchez said. "The future is wide open."

Even though the Cuban government considers Sanchez public enemy No. 1 because she regularly blisters the country's leaders and socialist system in her Generation Y blog, she whisked through immigration and customs and was one of the first passengers off the Air Europa flight from Madrid.

Her trip was made possible by a newly liberalized travel law that ended the requirement for an exit visa from the government, which she has said were denied her 20 times.

After leaving Cuba on February 17 she traveled to a dozen countries, including the United States, where she collected previously won prizes for her work, gave speeches criticizing the Cuban government as well as U.S. policy toward the communist-led island and occasionally was the object of protests.   Continued...

Cuba's best-known dissident, blogger Yoani Sanchez, speaks to reporters outside Havana's Jose Marti International Airport May 30, 2013. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan