Yoani's White Sneakers Aren't Affected

Thursday, July 14, 2011
We have the utmost respect for Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez.

Her socio-economic critiques of life in Castro's Cuba are extraordinarily enlightening.

However, it seems that every time she shifts her attention (and criticism) to U.S. policy and Washington, she stumbles on the facts.

Thus, she's either being mislead on the facts (regarding U.S. policy) -- or she's simply not privy to them.

Let us provide some guidance.

Yesterday, Yoani criticized the provision in the 2012 Financial Services Appropriations Bill that places limits on Cuban-American travel and remittances to Cuba.

She tells the story of how in 1992 she almost dropped out of high school because of the huge holes in the sole of her shoes. So her mother called her father's aunt abroad and presto:

"Along with soup cubes and some ointment to treat the pains of rheumatism, was a pair of brand-new white sneakers. I returned to my 11th grade classroom the next day."

Let's be absolutely clear:

There is nothing in the 2012 Financial Services Appropriations Bill that would prevent soap cubes, rheumatism ointment, brand-new white sneakers or any sort of humanitarian aid from being sent to Cuba.

Moreover, the U.S. has always been the foremost source of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people -- whether under the Bush or Obama regulations.

The provisions added to the 2012 Financial Services Appropriation Bill simply place caps and limits on Cuban-American cash remittances and visits, in order to preserve their humanitarian intent -- while respecting the generous exception provided to Cuban-American refugees under U.S. law.

Yoani continues:

"Right now, thousands of teenagers, the self-employed, seniors, students and babies depend on the uninterrupted growth in the flow between the families in exile and those on the island."

Once again, nothing in the 2012 Financial Services Appropriations Bill will prevent those thousands of Cubans from receiving humanitarian aid either.

But what about the millions of other Cubans? Or the financial windfall that the current unlimited travel and remittance provisions are providing the brutal Castro regime -- and thus hurting those millions?

Another Havana-based blogger, Oswaldo Yanez, responds to Yoani (H/T Babalu Blog):

"I am very happy that a relative in exile sent her a pair of tennis shoes so that she could graduate from high school. However, I must remind her that if no Cuban would have been able to send a single dollar since leaving their homeland, then perhaps she would have been able to buy tennis shoes for a few pesos at the store in her block. That's because freedom would have returned to our country, since the tyrant would have had to take the plane instead of her relative."