Yoani Sánchez is known for her mordant accounts of the vicissitudes of life under a repressive government. Yet on Wednesday night, at an auditorium at Georgetown University simply adorned with a Cuban flag, I was inspired not only by the lyricism of her Spanish, but by her tone of reconciliation and hope. In wide-ranging remarks, the dream of “a Cuba where all Cubans fit” was the recurring theme.
The island of Sánchez’s imagination celebrates intellectual pluralism, suppressed for decades but now growing from a whisper to a clamor in the “virtual Cuba” of dissident bloggers. It also unites Cubans “from the two shores.” Sánchez vividly conjured the image of islanders and exiles looking at two sides of a mirror and recognizing each other, in direct defiance of a government that has separated gusanos (worms) from revolutionaries.
The equally intrepid blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, who joined Sánchez on her whirlwind speaking tour in Washington DC expressed the joy he finds in building bridges with the Cuban diaspora. Responding to requests from Cubans around the world, he snaps photographs of stucco houses shaded by mango trees, family crypts in the Cemetery of Colón, even the graceful slope of Havana’s seawall—all frozen in the memory of the exiliado.
Please find the original text below, submitted in Portuguese.
In the next few years, Brazil will host two major world sporting events, the World Cup (2014) and the Olympic Games (2016).
Beyond putting the country on the international stage and increasing the number of tourists and investors, the big question is what will be the real impact of these events in improving the living conditions of the majority of Brazilians. With this in mind, the Special Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality (SEPPIR), with support from the U.S. Consulate in Brazil, organized a series of events inviting representatives of social organizations and governments to look at how best to include Afro-Brazilians in the preparations for the games.
One of the concerns of SEPPIR, a ministry of the federal government, is the fact that the Afro-Brazilian population has historically not been a part of the process of economic inclusion—the result of more than 300 years of slavery and a lack of economic inclusion policies. Social movement activists point out that it is very likely that most Afro-Brazilians will not benefit from the opportunities of the games, even though Brazil is attracting significant public and private investments.