One of my favorite country blogs of all time is that of Yoani Sanchez, the 32 year old blogging secretly from Havana. To write on her blog, she has to pretend to be a tourist and go to a hotel to access the Internet.
Of the 11 million people who live on the island, only about 200,000 have open access to the web — they are mainly government employees, researchers and academics, to whom the government has given permission. The rest of the Cubans can access email and a few Cuban sites from certain public spots (for example the post office), but everything else is blocked.
I first found out about Yoani on the IHT last year, and have been reading her ever since. She reports beautifully (both in Spanish and English) on happenings in Cuba — she is probably one of the only authentic sources of information coming out of the island without censorship, and she always sounds fearless.
A couple of weeks ago she was chosen by Madrid’s El Pais newspaper to get the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Prize, but she was not allowed to leave Cuba to receive her award in Spain. To add to this, I read that she made the Time Top 100 list of influential people, which is phenomenal and much deserved.
But, what I fail to understand is that, with all the international exposure she has been getting — certainly magnified by being featured in Time Magazine alongside the likes of Obama, Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey — how on earth is she still getting away with her secret blogging? Does the Cuban government have any idea? She must really disguise herself well, and her German must be flawless to be able to get away with this for almost a year. Surely authorities must know — why aren’t they stopping her?
I don’t wish they catch her, I just don’t see how in such a tight regime she has been getting away with this for so long. It almost makes it questionable, no?