Cuban Dissident Yoani Sanchez on the Power of the Hashtag

"If I lived in the United States, I'd probably have a blog denouncing many of things that occur here, but so it happens I was born in Cuba," she said through a translator. "I have a commitment to my reality, but that doesn't mean my defense of human rights and individual liberties are limited to geographic location."

But mostly, Sanchez has been greeted with support at her New York public appearances. Her keynote and panel presentations this weekend were punctuated by applause and exclamations of "Yes!" and "There you go!" from the local Cubans in attendance. Several offered tearful testimonies and expressions of gratitude during the Q&A portions, too. As artist, scholar and conference organizer Coco Fusco put it, "Yoani says out loud in public what every Cuban wanted to say but couldn't."

Yoani's stateside speaking tour kicked off on Thursday night at Columbia University's School of Journalism, where she belatedly received the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Prize. It was actually awarded to her four years ago, but she was prohibited from leaving the island and couldn't accept it in person.

On this stateside leg, Sanchez has already met with the Cuban youth digital advocacy group Roots of Hope, visited the Committee to Protect Journalists and toured Google's New York headquarters. The blogger popped into a Reddit AMA on Saturday afternoon and her instagram has captured images of local sights seen, too.

Upon her return to Cuba, Sanchez has announced plans to launch an independent news outlet. In the meantime, she continues her tour through the United States this week. Her itinerary includes meetings with members of Congress, as well as speaking dates at the Cardozo Law School today, Georgetown University on Wednesday and City College of New York on Thursday.

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