Sanchez said she simply felt the need to write about “a country that wasn’t anything like the one they had promised.” So she wanders around the nooks of Havana, analyzes the state’s opaque statements, and keeps track of the latest trends.
Of late, she has written of how so few Cubans seem to care, or even know, that the “octogenarians who govern” have chosen a younger apparatchik, Miguel Diaz-Canel, to succeed Raul Castro in five years.
A Cuban film caught her fancy in another post, specifically a character who smoked a cigar because tourists wanted to photograph him. She also wrote of addicts who “fall asleep in front of the same television where Raul Castro assures us that in Cuba there are no drugs.”
Those kinds of observations have led to several detentions. But she has not been jailed for lengthy stretches, perhaps because Cuba has of late appeared to be avoiding the bad publicity of jailing dissidents long-term. Her blog was also blocked in Cuba for three years, with the Cuban government accusing her of being a paid CIA agent.
Frank Calzon, who directs the Center for a Free Cuba, said Sanchez obsesses the regime because she writes in a vivid, engaging style and because she has mastered technology that dictators fear.
“After 50 years of controlling what Cubans read and what they wrote and even whom they could hate, here’s a woman speaking her own mind,” Calzon said.
Sanchez has also been a critic of Washington’s half-century economic embargo.
She notes with a laugh how loopholes in the law mean Cubans eat chicken, corn and other products imported from the United States. But she says the embargo has given the Castros a potent propaganda tool.
“It’s become the best way to explain problems in Cuba, that when there are no potatoes, it’s the embargo,” she said.
Still, even with U.S. policy little changed since the Cold War, Sanchez said she believes change will come to Cuba — not because of economic changes instituted by Raul Castro but because of an increasingly restless people.
“There is something irreversible happening,” she said. “And that is the need people have to express themselves.”