The shredder

When you read this post I will be sitting in the waiting room of the Plaza Municipality Office of Immigration and Emigration.  Among military uniforms, my passport waiting for a permit to travel that has been denied me on two occasions.  During the last year, the obedient soldiers dedicated to limiting our freedom of movement have not permitted me to accept international invitations.  In their databases next to my name there must be a mark condemning me to island confinement. The possessive logic of this Daddy-State sees it as normal that I, as a punishment for writing a blog, like a box on the ears for having believed myself to be a free person, will not receive the “white card.”

The least I desire on this Friday of bureaucracy and expectation, is that it ends with someone putting their hand on my shoulder to tell me, “We were wrong about you, you can leave.”  I do not think they will amend “the error” of blocking my travel, nor do I nurture the slightest hope of boarding the airplane on March 29.  I will sit in the crowded lobby of the mansion at 17th and K for only two reasons: to inconvenience them with my pigheadedness and to claim my rights.  To show them the visa document that authorizes my entry to many parts of the world, while “they” curb my travel.  I will be there, confident that one day all this machinery to extract profits and generate ideological loyalties—which the exit permit has become—will cease to exist.

I confess that I do not want them to allow me to travel as if it were a gift, rather I fantasize that—this very day—while I am waiting for the third “no”, someone will come out and announce that this regulation that is such a violation was just repealed.  I have a feeling that I will leave Cuba when everyone can do it freely, but in the meantime,  I will continue besieging them with my demands, my posts and my questions.

Here are links to the two forms I had to fill out to request permission to leave:  Form 1 and Form 2.  [An English translation of the form is available here.]

Added Friday, March 20, 2:15 pm.
Response to the application: Again, the answer is No.


  1. Where are the european nations? What do they have to say about this flagrant violation of human rights? Where is Zapatero and his Foreign Affairs minister? Where is the world opinion? Where is Amnesty International? Where is Jimmy Carter? Where is Michael Moore? Where is Steven Spielberg? Where is Oliver Stone? Where is Oprah Winfrey? Where is Osama, sorry Obama?
    They all are looking the other way! Pretending that everything is normal in Paradise Island.
    Wake up world!

  2. Sadly, Statue of Liberty, the world doesn’t really care. I have a feeling that the world will only wake up after massive change occurs Cuba and then they’ll all band together and say “We really wanted to help, we just didn’t know how…” or something along those lines.

    I have seen so many people being denied the right to travel away from Cuba and so many dreams shattered that I have lost faith in the rest of the world’s ability or desire to intervene on any level in Cuba. It’s up to individuals to write about it, talk about it, post about it and raise awareness. The governments of the world will only start applying pressure on Cuba if they feel WE are pressuring THEM.

  3. Yeah, but Statue of Liberty’s post is also a bit of a cheap shot.

    Amnesty International and European nations have consistently spoken out against the Castro regime’s travel restrictions, as well other human rights violations, most recently at Cuba’s Universal Periodic Review before the UN Human Rights Council.

  4. I hope it works this time. It’s a big world. I enjoy your blog. As far as what others are saying above me, Russia still scares a lot of people…

  5. I’m so disappointed for you Yoani. Cuba really is a large open air prison. Maybe you can write a blog posting on where you planned to travel. Also a bit more on what transpired when they turned down your application.

  6. Here’s something else I came across on the Havana Times website that shook me up today. One of their bloggers has been fired from his job at a Cuban university for counter-revolutionary activity. Since the Havana Times website is subject to state censorship, I’ll re-produce his blog posting here in its entirety:

    ” About to Lose my Teaching Job
    March 12, 2009

    Erasmo Calzadilla

    –Something convinced me to recount the conflict that caused me to leave the university classroom as a philosophy professor. I am raising some of the points here, but not all of them, only because I do not wish to affect the next steps of my struggle. Likewise, decency prevents me from speaking openly about these problems.

    As I’ve said earlier, I was fired this past January. The reasons initially presented by the administration were very different from those that finally had me removed. What happened was that I, as a professor, and a group of students sat down in the grass of my institution -with the permission of the head of the department- to discuss and converse about Marxist thinkers.

    This either raised a lot of sincere concern (keeping in mind that it is not common that discussions like this occur without the direct control of political organizations), or the administration was simply waiting to dismiss me with any excuse, which they found here.

    Those students and I were called in to attend a single and unexpected meeting with all of the executive staff of the university where I work. There, we were told that our meetings had been inappropriate because they had not been arranged through the official channels that are prepared to direct any interest in philosophy, politics or other school matters.

    In short, we were being taken to task because we had met without the permission of anyone and had left the bureaucracy outside of our gatherings.

    Two days later I was called in to be informed of the decision to fire me, but this time the pretext was knowledge of my counterrevolutionary activity in the classroom. I was asked to leave for the good of all, but I decided to take up my fight since I felt innocent and owed no one.

    A few weeks later I was officially informed of my dismissal, but the reason cited this time was the non-fulfillment of the study plan. This was done without having reviewed a single class with me concerning the accusation in question; the firing was instead based on questions that a committee of professors posed to my students.

    Many in our country believe that to understand philosophy means to be able to repeat the answers that interpreters of Marx have supplied to questions that they themselves have asked. If that was what they queried asked my students (and I’m certain that it was), my students would have had difficulty responding “correctly,” since what I tried to do throughout my entire tenure was to avoid this rote method, which -in my estimation- runs counter not only to Marxism, but to all philosophy.

    I appealed to the Employment Justice Agency, which carried out a kind of a trial at the workplace, but it didn’t rule in my favor. Because it is among my rights, I then went to raise my case before the municipal court. This is the step where I am at now, waiting for the date of the hearing in which this time I will have the assistance of real lawyers.

    I am not completely hopeless.”

  7. I think you should have some kind of sign on your main web site saying specifically that for THREE times you were
    denied leaving the country and that your blog is forbidden and forbidden in Cuba.Because if you write articles about it every now and then people abroad take those two right for granted and they won’t know or will forget.
    This violation of human right is very gross and should be posted PERMANENTLY togheter with all prizes you have won internationally in your web page.

  8. John Two. Let me correct you, my comment is not a bit of a cheap shot, my comment is a direct accusation to those Europeans nations that consistently praise the system and continue to do business with the tyrant and never denounce the atrocities committed against our people. I am not accusing or offending those who are in our side but those who look the other way and continue to boot-licker the tyrant for the sake of making some Euros.

  9. John Two. This is not a cheap shot; this is real news coming directly from Cuba.
    Cuba’s New Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, met Wednesday March 18 in Havana with European Union Commissioner Louis Michel.
    I am sure they did not discuss The Ladies in White or dissidents dying in prison. Louis Michel was there to see how he can be of assistance in future transaction with European Nations.

  10. People is being incarcerated nowadays in Cuba for watching foreign TV channels (it were in the news today), harass against the 75 prisoners of the Black Spring is increase, also the White Ladies has been hardly repressed the last days, Yoani and hundred of other cubans are retained by the tyranny as hostages as well as hundred of children who’s parents decided emigrate and got legal status at theirs new residence country, purge is in progress, the other day I wrote my fears about a possible penal process on some of the purged poor devils and it has begun ….. the most international recognition get the tyranny the higher repression the cuban people suffer. I am pretty sure we will witness an unprecedented repression escalate as soon as USA lift the embargo or improve in any way its relationship with the tyranny.

  11. I just returned from a trip to Havana. Fortunately our Canadian government allows us to visit Cuba whenever we want and I visit as often as I can. I understand that my expenditures in the country help to support this police state, which I abhor, but I also understand that it also helps the people by stimulating economic activity as all these Canadian dollars enter the country in the form of Cuban convertible currency, creating jobs in the tourism sector and opportunities for people to better themselves through access to these convertible “pesos” which have substantial buying power. I hate the double standards. Our money is “gold” and their money is worthless. We can travel where we want, when we want and they are virtual slaves. We have access to the best products and services available on the island while the people have to be content with what they have. I pray that someday soon this will change.

  12. Alsdally.
    Your understanding that it helps the people by stimulating the economy is not the way you think or see it. That perception applies to free market nations. Whatever profit it’s derived from tourism is going directly to bank accounts of Minint or Minfar or whatever, perhaps Castro’s account.
    The great majority of Cubans receive very little as a result of tourism, there are only a small percentage of Cubans who works directly in tourism, the rest, the other twelve millions remain slaves of the Apartheid system imposed by these degenerate communist, Marxists or any other name you want to give them.

  13. At the end of The shredder, Yoani mentions two government forms that she needs to fill out to request permission to leave, it will be beneficial to those who are not Spanish speaking to see what kind of questions the Gestapo is asking.

  14. I have to admit that sometimes I cringe when I read Yoani’s blog. Sometimes it is too much truth for me and I worry that it will cause her harm. Then I remember that this is why she is such a powerfull voice in the world. It is because she speaks fearlessly about the world she lives in. What a powerful example!


    Yoani Sanchez, quien forma parte del Jurado de Rudolf Vrba en el Festival Internacional de Documentales One World, ha mandado su selección por Internet. Por ser una Cubana, no pudo participar en el festival ya que el estado le prohibió salir del país. Yoani ha seleccionado el documental Ahuyentar el diablo al infierno y ha escrito su razonamiento para esta elección. Le ofrecemos este texto junto con un video con saludo que Yoani manda a todos los participantes de One World.

    thank you

  16. @14 i have the forms somewhere at home translated into english I think… If I can find them i’ll put them online and post a link here. I’ll look for them today.

  17. Se acuerdan de las mentiras de Fidel de que las puertas de Cuba estaban abiertas para todos aquellos que legalmente quisieran salir del pais que solo nesecitaban una visa de aprobacion de entrada de cualquier otro pais,estas son las cosas que me enferman y dan asco de los llamados comunistas de cuba y todos aquellos que siguen adulando a fidel ,Raul y su sistema represivo

  18. The following are the questions in the emigration form all Cuban need to fill in order of getting a permit to travel out of Cuba. (Form 1)

    Ministry of Domestic Affairs APPLICATION (Form M-01)
    Department of Immigration and Emigration
    Application date____________ Passport No._____________ Expedient No.____________(1)

    Follows a big box where a passport photo must be placed. Follows a space where questions must be answered using checking marks boxes. Questions:

    – Do you pretend stay outside the country temporally, permanently or indefinitely? (2)
    – What kind of passport you need, Normal, Official, Seaman?(3)
    – Do you need the passport to abandon the country definitively or temporally?(4)
    – Do you need a prorogation of your passport? If yes write down your passport No. and date of issue.

    Follows a big box where the “candidate” must sign.

    Then follows a tabled section under the title: “CANDIDATE’s” GENERAL INFORMATION
    Inside the table the following questions:

    – First name, Middle name, Last name, Second Last name(5)
    – “Candidate’s” father name and mother name(Complete name)(6)
    – “Candidate’s” high and special body marks
    – “Candidate’s” place of birth (Country, State, Province, County)
    – Candidate’s citizenship
    – Candidate’s ID No. and ID card No.
    – Scholarship, marking checks boxes for Elementary School, High School, Collage, Technical Institute, University.(7)
    – Candidate’s job, skills and profession(7)
    – Candidate’s revolutionary membership, marking checks boxes for membership in PCC (Cuban Communist Party, UJC (Union of Communist Youth) and ACRC (Association of Cuban Revolutionary Fighters)(8)
    – Checking boxes for Candidate’s gender, eye color, hair color, race and civil status
    – Candidate’s detailed address including time living in the address (9), telephone no.
    – Detailed information about Candidate’s actual workplace including address, telephone and occupation.(10)
    – Cause of the travel, country of destination and desired length of the permit(11)
    – Relation of relatives living in the same address and theirs revolutionary membership plus a complete information of theirs work and workplace. (12)
    – If Candidate has traveled out the country before must give a complete relation of those travels telling the destination country, the reason of the travel and the date of the travel
    – Candidate must indicate if has been member of the army or any army’s dependence or has been member of the Domestic affairs Ministry or any of its dependence such as police, political police, firefighter, etc. If the answer is yes Candidate must indicate place of service and length (13)

    (1)- All Cuban citizens have several expedients that document the loyalty or non-loyalty of the citizen. It is essential part of the merit and punishment system that help keep the people under control. You will not escape this control even if you emigrate unless you renounce the family you left behind and your country. In this emigrant’s expedient will be gathered all information about your behaviors outside Cuba. If you, for example, are identified as one of the anti Castro commenter in this blog it will very possible this information is stored in your emigrant’s expedient and next time you solicit a permit to travel to Cuba it is denied. That’s the reason most Cuban commenter in this blog uses nicknames.
    (2)- Get a permit to travel out Cuba is not a simple question. You have to give a detailed explanation about the nature of your travel in order of demonstrate you are or not are a permanent emigrated. Permanent emigrants are not allowed in Cuba to conserve any property, you will go out Cuba without a single dollar or peso or jewelry or other document than your passport and other belonging than your cloth and shoes.
    (3)- Normal passport are for permanent emigrants, tourists and people traveling in special but not official mission, such as musicians, sportsmen, etc. Normal passport usually do not produce a special reaction from the Cuban government in case the carrier get in troubles during the travel. People that permanent emigrate from Cuba or that are living out of Cuba for an undetermined period of time can’t account with the Cuban government protection. Official passports are for people sent out in official mission by the tyranny, such as ambassadors, technicians, doctors, intelligence agents, etc. The seamen passport is for fisherman working out Cuba’s waters. Official and Seaman’s passports are different of the normal passport only in order of make understand to the carrier they will be easily identified if they desert the mission.
    (4)- See (2)
    (5), (6), (9), (12) – All this questions are related to explanation (2). If you are a permanent emigrant all your properties and personal belongings of some value will be confiscated, you will leave Cuba only with your personal cloth and shoes. That’s why the tyranny wants to know your parents and relatives name and residence in order of identify your properties and belongings. If you sold a house, for example, you can’t leave if you don’t pay to the tyrants the price they determine for the house. They want also know who your parents are to give you an advice: “Look, we know now who your parents are, you are kindly on us outside Cuba then maybe we authorize them visit you or you visit them when you ask for permission in the future. You behave unkindly on us outside Cuba then you can not account whit our collaboration in the future, capisce??
    (7), (10), (13)- Tyrant wants to know where you work in order to deny your solicitation if they understand you have sensible political, economical or military information. They also wants know your studies and deny your solicitation if you are a University graduate.
    (8), (13)- If you are member in some of these organizations then you are more “trustworthy” then other people. The more organizations are you member in the higher confidence you deserve if you are applying for a permit in order of traveling in official mission. The same account if you are member of the army or Dept. of Domestic Affairs.
    (11)- In the last years tyrants discovered the huge amount of money the exile can provide to theirs bank accounts. They also discovered the new generation of emigrants has not too much to be confiscated. Then they decided it were more lucrative to left people relocate themselves outside Cuba and allow them to travel out and in with curtains restrictions. In such way were created a new category of emigrants called temporary emigrants. Of course not everybody qualifies for this category you have to be a potential money “bringer” for getting this permit. Musicians, artist of all kind, children of the nomenclature, and people with an A+ in items (2), (8), (7), (10) and (13) are preferred.
    (8), (13)- Are you member in some of these revolutionary organizations, army or Dept. of Domestic Affairs and you decide to desert in mission or renounce to them while in service or after service, then you will have it much harder then other for obtaining an emigration permit.

  19. Thanks Carbo… I can’t find mine anywhere. I only still have the ones to invite a Cuban to Canada that I have to fill out on my end and give the Cuban Embassy and they’re in Spanish. If anyone is REALLY interested I can translate them, if you really ask nicely because I’m not a big fan of translating things and I’m really lazy. lol

  20. One has to wonder about the sequence of logical though that the Cuban government follows to deny exit to Cubans.

    Is it to show who is the boss?

    Is it to punish those that do not behave as quietly as they like you to behave?

    Is it to instill fear in the rest so that they de-incentivated the behavior they do not want?

    I do believe is all of the above.

    What could be more dangerous to a totalitarian government as a citizen who is not afraid to speak the truth?

    More citizens that are not afraid of speaking the truth!

    That is why they need to punish to create fear.

    I we want to win this we should respond to fear with valor. We should not be afraid.
    The more of us the more afraid they will be.

  21. Carbo Servia,

    Being pretty sure you wouldn’t mind, I have taken the first part of this “comment” and created a page on the site, and linked it to this entry, so that people can easily find your translation. Not knowing if you would want to be specifically identified… we are very careful about that in these parts… I simply said the translation had been provided “by a reader.”

    THANK YOU FOR THE TRANSLATION. You are now an official part of the {very large} Generation Y English Translation Team!

    Your Friendly English Translator

  22. SickBoy- ….. Sorry my dear friend, I started to make my “translation” before you posted your intention of publicizing your documents and I did not noted your post, sorry again.

    Dear and needed English translator, thanks a lot for your kindly benevolence on my “translation skills”. I know my written English is far away of being legible. What happen is the most readers of this blog are spanish speakers people and that’s why they can understand my undecipherable gibberish. I don’t believe my “comment” deserves to be linked to a site where people can find a translation of something. Please, don’t torture the readers with my petulance. You are the best option we have, don’t feel you limited by our boldness. Feel free of make your own translation of the texts we (I) damage because we (I) never pretend to be a translator…….. no even dreaming!!!

    Form 2 is a continuation of Form 1 and contains the following questions:

    – Make a detailed describing of the last job you had before your actual job. Company, industry, occupation, start and finish dates.
    – Make a detailed describing of the last address where you lived before the actual address.
    – Have you relatives (parents, spouse or children) that has leave the country illegally or has deserted while official missions out the country? If yes, make a detailed describing of this/these relatives including full names, birthdays, detailed address in Cuba, profession and occupation, company where he/she worked, which was your relationship with this person, how this person abandoned the country: desertion or illegally escape, actual residence country, leaving date.
    – Have you been found guilty by a tribunal? If yes, describe tribunal, file number and date, felony type, condemn size.
    – Make a relation of all your relatives (Parents, children, spouse or siblings) living outside Cuba including relationship, age, country of residence, leaving date, how long has been resident or citizen of this country.

    Continues with the following paragraph:

    I declare and swear I have the necessary legal capacity for this act and all information by me offered hereto is absolutely true and hereby assume all penal or civil responsibility derived of my act, by signing this document I confirm what I declare.

    Then follow a space for solicitor signing, the emigration official signing and a superior official signing.

    Next follows a table only for emigration officials’ use that related the following issues:

    – Governmental department involved in the solicitation (?!)
    – Travel category (?!)
    – Authorized length of the travel
    – Travel classification (?!)
    – Travel conditions (initiation or reinitiating)(?!)
    – Migration category (?!)
    – Personal condition, candidate or accompany
    – Country where visa expedites
    – Visa classification
    – Visa expedition date
    – Solicitation has been approved or denied, response date…… special place for political reasons.

    Next follows a paragraph where emigration’s clerks ask:

    Dear customer (!!!!!!), in order of making easier our work we recommend:

    – Print all your answers
    – Use only the emigration offices near your residence
    – Bring the following document: ID card, receipt of emigration’s paid taxes, all other needed documents (??!!)

    Then follows a space where emigration’s official can write its comment. Another space for pasting all needed tax receipts follows.

    My comments:

    After commenting Form 1 I believe it is not needed comment Form 2…….. I know you all will understand Form 2 meanings. If not, do not hesitate and ask me.

  23. #22 and #23

    What a wonderful links!!!!
    What a useful information, specially #23….. I hope comrade landis can explain those figures!!!!!!

  24. Well I made a few small corrections in your English… which is much much better than when I try to write Spanish… believe me! But I did not go back to the original document… I trusted your translation which I’m sure is just fine with the few corrections. Tomorrow I will add page 2!

    I think this is very useful and one of the wonderful things about Yoani’s blog is that really — it is all of ours… as she has said over and over.

  25. I try to post this on the following post but get an error

    The writer Miguel Barnet mention above is using the known logical fallacy of Cherry picking
    Just because he is able to travel to 47 countries does not imply that all cubans that are not in prison can.
    Or maybe another way to see it is that he is one of the few not in prison
    the rest of the Cubans in Cuba are in fact in prison because they are not allow to travel.


  26. #22 , #23 and #27


    This is a very good article with solid references and incontrovertible data that refute the lies about the vaunted underdevelopment. The author shows how Cuba had a per capita twice that of Spain in 1958 and today has 10 times less. In Chile’s case the relationship is 6 to 1.


  27. Oh please. Do you people really believe the stuff you write? Cuba’s tourism sector is a model that other tourist-dependent nations should follow! Your ideological blinders regarding the use of tourism income show that you have little interest in the truth of the matter. When tourism opened up in Cuba at the beginning of the 1990s, Cuba entered into joint ventures with foreign investors, in more than 98% of the cases, the Cuban government maintained 51% controlling interest in the agreement, with total profit repatriation for the investor for a fixed period. This scheme enabled resource-poor Cuba to rapidly create an infrastructure (hotels, etc.) that it lacked. With the expiration of these agreements (15- to 20-years for the initial agreements), the infrastructure (and therefore the profits) become 100% Cuban. That income, unlike, say, Jamaica, flows into the cuenta unica (single account) which supports all government expenditures – those on health care, education, worker welfare, etc. By inferring that particular ministries or even Castro himself benefits from tourism is dishonest and furthers the distorted beliefs of rabid anti-communists everywhere. “Freedom of speech” is useless if the person speaking is either intentionally misrepresenting the facts, or is unable to grasp them.

  28. I’m trying to establish some sort of a comparison between freedom in Cuba and freedom here in the US. I see you are interested mostly in your freedom to travel and have been put on the Cuban version of our no-fly list. However, the most important issue about freedom according to those Americans who posted on Obama’s pre-election website, was marijuana legalization. Can you tell me what the status of this issue is in Cuba to include criminal penalties if any?

  29. Well this sounds more like pain than anyother thing that I’ve heard obout cuba in the last years, well I’m from Cuba , I recently moved to the states , and whenever people ask me about Cuba, I just tell them that some people can’t travel out of the country only if they have time to serve in jail or if the destination country won’t let you in. but this is BS. first the worst candidate for dictator was “finger-democraticly” elected. and then i heard also in the news that cubans didn’t need any more the White Card. This is filling me of hatred so much that i would vanish from the face of the earth the castros and all their supporters. I want to go to Cuba in the summer, and if you YOANY SANCHEZ read this please let me know reply to me through this site and I will contact you if you need help getting out of el caiman I will help you

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