Blogging in Havana

 

The blog from Havana– “Generation Y”[1]— is Yoani Sanchez’s courageous effort to let the world know about the daily life      and frustrations of ordinary Cubans.

She provides sketches of daily life in Cuba–“a dreary, enervating routine of food shortages, transportation troubles and          narrowed opportunity.”[2] Other major themes are the need for political and economic changes in Cuba and the Cuban          regime’s efforts to stifle her criticisms of the government.

 

A collection of her blog posts from 2007 through 2010 has been published as Havana Real.[3] Two of them prompt comments based upon my three church mission trips to Cuba since 2001.

Most Cubans struggle to survive. Those who have jobs generally make around $20 to $30 per month. They still have rationed basic food essentials at subsidized low prices, but as the blog emphasizes, many of these rationed essentials are very small quantities and are not really always available, and the government recently has talked about ending or reducing these pitifully limited rations. One day, Yoani’s mother called her to report that there was toilet paper available at a distant market, but that Yoani needed to hurry to get there because the “tp” would soon be gone.[4] On my last trip to visit our partner Presbyterian church in the city of Matanzas, its pastor told us that he was not able to buy any “tp” for our visit and stay in the church’s dormitory. He, therefore, asked the members of the congregation to give the church any extra “tp.”

Not surprisingly Yoani has negative reactions to Cuban political speeches that talk about the Cuban Revolution’s being “eternal.” She says she avoids using words like “eternal,” “always” and “never.” The word “eternal”, she says, means something that “lasts into the future ad infinitum,” but also something that “has no beginning.” There is little, if anything, that meets those requirements. She concludes with these words of wisdom, “It’s a relief that all the things in this world’s days are numbered.”[5]

In addition to her own blogging, she helps organize and present workshops in Cuba on creating blogs on “wordpress.com.”

Yoani has won many international awards for her blogging: one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World and Best Blog (Time Magazine), Ortega y Gasset Prize for digital journalism (Spain), one of the 100 Most Notable Hispanic Americans (El Pais Spanish newspaper), World Press Freedom Hero award (International Press Institute) and Young Global Leader (World Economic Forum).[6]

“Generation Y” honors those people like Yoani whose have names containing the Greek Y letter, so unusual in Spanish, but relatively common in Cuba in the 1970’s and 1980’s when Cuba was under Russian or Soviet influence.


[1] http://www.desdecuba.com/generationy/. The blog also has links to other Cuban blogs in English and in Spanish as well as her articles and interviews.

[2] Rohter, In Cuba, the Voice of a Blog Generation, N.Y. Times (July 5, 2011).

[3] Sanchez, Havana Real (Brooklyn: Melville House 2011).

[4]  Id. at 361-63.

[5]  Id. at 31-33.

[6]  Id. at 2.

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

9 thoughts on “Blogging in Havana”

  1. Comment: Yoani Sanchez Named One of the Top 100 “Global Thinkers”

    The U.S. periodical, Foreign Policy Magazine, has named Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez, as one of the top 100 “Global Thinkers.” According to the magazine, she now is “a dissident voice of such prominence that the Cuban government has ordered her detained and beaten.” Her posts, it says, paint “an unusually vivid portrait of a society in limbo. The very fact of their existence stands as a rebuke to a government that still sharply limits its citizens’ access to the Internet.”

    (The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers, Foreign Policy (Dec.2011), http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/11/28/ the_fp_top_100_global_thinkers?page=0,47#thinker81.)

  2. Comment: Yoani Sanchez Pleas to Brazilian President To Help Her Get Out of Cuba

    Yoani Sanchex, Cuba’s most famous blogger, has been invited to the Brazilian state of Bahia in February for the screening of a documentary about press freedom in Cuba and Honduras in which she is featured. This week she told a Brazilian television station that she expected her latest request for a Cuban exit permit to be denied without “high-level intervention.”

    She sought that high-level intervention with a video appeal to Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, that was posted on YouTube.

    Sánchez has earned international plaudits for her blog, Generación Y, on which she publishes regular critiques of the Cuban regime. Cuban authorities, on the other hand, have accused her of conducting a Washington-backed “cyberwar” against the regime.

    (Phillips, Cuban blogger appeals to Brazil’s president for help to leave Cuba, Guardian (Jan. 5, 2011); Yoani para presidenta Dilma, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHBLwbGp2e8&feature=player_embedded.)

  3. Comment: Brazil Grants Visa to Cuban Blogger

    On January 25, 2012, Cuba granted a visa to Yoani Sanchez, a Cuban blogger. She requested the visa to participate in a Brazilian film festival that will feature a documentary about her.

    Brazil Grants Visa to Cuban Blogger, N.Y. Times (Jan. 26, 2012).

  4. Comment: Brazil’s President Has No Comment on Whether Cuba Should Grant an Exit Visa to Cuban Blogger To Visit Brazil

    While visiting Cuba, Brazil’s President refused to comment on whether Cuba should grant an exit visa to Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez. Earlier Brazil had granted her an entry visa to attend a film festival with a documentary film about her.

    Assoc. Press, Brazil Pres: Blogger’s Travel for Cuba to Decide, N.Y. Times, (Jan. 31, 2012.)

  5. Comment: Yoani’s Unending Dream of Leaving Cuba

    In the April 22nd issue of the New York Times Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban blogger, writes of her unending dream of leaving Cuba.

    The Cuban government requires its permission in the form of a “white card” for a Cuban to leave the island. Such permission, however, is routinely denied to those like Yoani who are guilty of the “crime” of “thinking critically of the government, being a member of an opposition group or subscribing to a platform in defense of human rights.”

    This exit visa system, she says, is “our own Berlin Wall without the concrete, the land-mining of our borders without explosives. A wall made of paperwork and stamps, overseen by the grim stares of soldiers.”

    Yoani Sanchez, The Dream of Leaving Cuba, N.Y. Times (April 22, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/ the-dream-of-leaving-cuba.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

  6. Comment: Yoani Detained To Prevent Her Covering Trial # 87F—10/6/12

    On October 4th Cuban authorities arrested Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez, near the eastern city of Bayamo, where she traveled for a Spanish man’s trial over a car crash that killed another prominent dissident, Oswaldo Paya.

    She and her husband were then taken to Havana, where they were released after being detained for 30 hours.

    Assoc. Press, Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez Freed From Detention, N.Y. Times (Oct. 6, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/10/06/world/americas/ap-cb-cuba-dissidents.html?hp&pagewanted=print

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