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jueves, mayo 08, 2008

Raul Castro: Let Yoani Sanchez Go To Spain

Yoani Sanchez

You might find it odd that this blog, with its minuscule readership of less than 50 visitors a day, would think it could send a message to the President of Cuba, but, that's how it is on the Internet. Anybody can talk to anyone else, and Yoani Sanchez can talk to thousands of people in Cuba every day with her blog Generacion Y.

Generacion Y explains itself:
Generatión Y is a Blog inspired by people like me, with names that start or contain a "Y". Born in the Cuba of the 70s and the 80s, marked by the "schools to the countryside", the Russian cartoons, the illegal exits and the frustration. So, an invitation goes especially to Yanisleidi, Yoandri, Yusimí, Yuniesky and others that drag their Ys, to read me and write back.
What's the blog about?
... under the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot: freedom of speech. The pieces she has been clandestinely sending out from Internet cafés—while posing as a tourist—are often funny, elegantly written and poignant. Her subjects have included the shortage of lemons, the turgid proceedings of the Cuban parliament and the slowness of meaningful reforms by Raúl Castro.
The problem isn't the blog. It's more concrete. It's getting her from Cuba to Spain so she can be given the Ortega y Gasset Award. The details:
The Cuban government has set up obstacles for Yoani Sánchez, creator of the blog Generación Y and winner of the EL PAÍS-issued Ortega y Gasset Journalism Prize, in her efforts to reach Spain. On the eve of the ceremony where she should be receiving her prize – at Madrid's Circulo de Bellas Artes - the blogger has still not been given permission by the Cuban government to leave the island.

Via telephone from Havana yesterday, Sánchez said she was "pessimistic" but was still clinging to the thread of hope that she could still technically travel to Madrid if she received permission today. "I haven’t received any answer from the authorities; and the case is being held up," she explained, adding: "Cuban bureaucracy is very cryptic," making it impossible to know what the next step will be. "I had a flight last Saturday, but I missed it because I couldn’t get an answer from the authorities, so I moved the flight to [today]. I have still not been given an answer and I am pessimistic but will keep hoping until the last minute."

Sanchez believes that her case would be the "perfect test" to see if the opening up announced by Raúl Castro is real or just an empty declaration. Despite the fact that her blog has received a lot of attention outside of Cuba, Sanchez has never left the island to promote it or receive a prize. "Now we will see if something is really changing or not," she said.

You can read Generacion Y, which is reporting on whether Yoani will be allowed to leave. The blog hasn't been taken down in part because it's on a German server.

I'd love to see Raul Castro loosen control on the Wonder Island enough for Yoani Sanchez to go to Spain and collect her prize. That would be a signal to Cuba and the rest of the world that restrictions were actually being lifted, that freedom of speech was slowly being granted.

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