MIAMI (CBS4) – Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez arrived in Miami Thursday. Her first stop was the Shrine to Our Lady of Charity in Coconut Grove.

“I just got here from Amsterdam and it feels great to be in Miami,” Sanchez said after visiting the shrine to Cuba’s patron saint. “I plan to spend the next 48 hours reuniting with my family and catching up on the last two years that we have not seen each other.”

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Sanchez, who has 459,000 Twitter followers, tweeted photos of herself sitting on a seawall along Biscayne Bay and pictures from inside the shrine. When she’s in Cuba she uses social media to shed light on life on the island and the plight of those who oppose the government. Her first impression of Miami was that its much like Cuba.

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“I feel respect and liberty in the air in Miami,”  she said. “I feel like I’m in Cuba but with freedom. This is what Cuba would be like if we had democracy.”

Sanchez was given permission to leave Cuba in February after a new law was enacted easing travel restrictions for Cubans. Her world tour includes a dozen countries over a period of three months.  While she’s in South Florida, Sanchez plans to speak out about democracy on the island and about Cuba’s relations with Miami’s Cuban-exile community.

“This is the most important part of the trip for me emotionally,” Sanchez said. “I am glad I can see Miami with my own eyes and I am especially happy to be with my family.”

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Sanchez plans to spend her first two days in Miami with her sister and other relatives. She will make public appearances at the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami Monday afternoon and at Florida International University on Monday night.

Eliott Rodriguez