Cuban dissident speaks in Miami
Yoani Sanchez speaks at Florida International University, Freedom Tower
One of Cuba's most renowned dissidents lectured about the role of social media in a democratic Cuba on Monday.
During a lecture at Florida International University, famed blogger Yoani Sanchez, 37, described how the internet is being used to spread the news of activists being arrested by the government.
"With those little cell phones we started to spread the message to all the activists in the country with whom we have been able to connect" said Sanchez.
The FIU lecture included questions from an audience largely comprised of Cuban exiles.
"I think she did a very good job in covering the idea that there is virtual Cuba and a real Cuba and that right now there is a separation between the two, but increasingly there is more a connection between the two," said Dr. Jorge Duany who led the lecture Monday night.
The debate over the U.S. embargo on Cuba also came up during the event. Sanchez said the issue has been used by the Castro government to pit blame on problems facing the country. She is in favor of ending it.
"She gives a good logically reason for it," said Rogelio Madan who attended the lecture.
FIU presented her with a valor medal. It's the first time the award was handed out.
Sanchez speaks at Freedom Tower
Earlier in the day, Sanchez called for unity after five decades of a revolution that has divided families and sent thousands into exile.
The blogger's remarks were made during a speech at Miami's Freedom Tower, where many Cuban exiles were processed after fleeing the 1959 communist revolution.
Sanchez told an enthusiastic audience she dreams of a Cuba where people don't have to differentiate themselves by politics. Instead, she said, "We are all Cubans. Period."
"Help unite us. Help us knock down that wall whose difference from the Berlin Wall is not of concrete or brick but of lies, silence, and bad intentions," she added.
VIDEO: Cuban dissident calls for unity
Sanchez has earned praise worldwide for her candid descriptions of modern life in Cuba. She said she wants the U.S. to end the Cuban embargo.
"I was born in a place where everything is justified by the embargo. Everything," she said.
"That's why I'm here today, so that no one can ever again divide us between one type of Cuban and another type of Cuban," she said.
"She's a very brave woman," said Dinorah Rangel. "She's risking her life. I fear for her safety when she returns to Cuba and for her family."
"We want the world to know that she's supported, that she has friends in the United States," said Rafael Palacios with the Democracy Movement. "She's got guts."
Sanchez also thanked exiles for keeping Cuban traditions alive.
"She has a new approach and I believe that we're the old ones, we should back her up, and that's what we are doing," said Felix Toledo.
"The fact that she was able to leave Cuba and come to the Cuban exile and say, all the Cubanism I have found is because of you, you have kept it alive," said Ninoska Perez-Castellon with the Cuban Liberty Council.
Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron presented Sanchez with the college's presidential medal. In 2009, she was named one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine.
Sanchez is on an international tour after being allowed to leave Cuba for the first time in nearly a decade. She has traveled to Europe, Latin America and the United States.
She arrived in Miami on Thursday and has described this stop as the most emotional of her journey.