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Author Topic: WaT Zoo Exhibit #13: Yoani Sanchez & Reinaldo Escobar - Blog As A Weapon  (Read 2269 times)


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« on: 16 December 2009, 23:10:38 »

I read about this couple in my newspaper (http://www.demorgen.be/) and was impressed.

It's something you won't read every day...using the internet as a weapon against the government in Cuba.

it's all about this blog: http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/

some quotes and sources:

US President Barack Obama has engaged in an unprecedented written exchange with a blogger in Cuba who is openly critical of its communist government.
His comments came after prize-winning blogger Yoani Sanchez sent questions chiefly about US-Cuba relations.
Mr Obama said in one of the responses he wanted better ties, but indicated it was up to Cuba to act.
Ms Sanchez, 34, has also sent questions to Cuban President Raul Castro, but has not received a reply so far.
The White House confirmed the US president had written to Ms Sanchez.

Asked if he was prepared to hold direct talks with Cuba, the US president said he was not interested in "talking for the sake of talking".
He said he wanted "direct diplomacy" with Cuba.
"The United States has no intention of using military force in Cuba... Only the Cuban people can bring about positive change in Cuba and it is our hope that they will soon be able to exercise their full potential."

'Repressive system'
Ms Sanchez's Generation Y blog on the trials and tribulations of everyday Cuban life has won several major international journalism awards.
But the BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says that recently, her postings appear to have become more political.
Last week she claimed she had been briefly detained and beaten by members of the state security forces, which prompted a letter of concern from the US state department.

In a report released this week, Human Rights Watch accused President Raul Castro of perpetuating the repressive system of his brother Fidel.
The report said the authorities relied on a law which allows the state to jail people even before they commit a crime.
It documented more than 40 cases where individuals had been jailed for "dangerousness" for such activities as staging peaceful protests or organising independent trade unions.

Cuba's dynamic emerging blogging community has recently been testing the limits of free expression with posts ranging from vivid accounts of everyday life to sometimes risky calls for political change in the Communist-run state.
Bloggers - many of whom were born after the 1959 revolution - are trying to move debate away from the established official doctrine to exploring social and economic issues.
Most still avoid direct criticism of the government, for fear of provoking a crackdown on the country's growing internet.
However, the government's present tolerance could change, as an increasing number of bloggers are beginning to condemn the harassment of independent writers and are demanding structural reforms.

'New space'
The New-York based media watchdog Commitee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a report published in mid-September welcomed the "surprisingly vibrant blogosphere" that has recently sprung to life in Cuba.
"The bloggers, mainly young adults from a variety of professions, have opened a new space for free expression, while offering a fresh glimmer of hope for the rebirth of independent ideas in the country's closed system," the CPJ said.
Manuel Vazquez Portal, a Cuba-based award-winning journalist and dissident, says he can see a "strong connection and notable differences" between the independent press movement of his generation and the new blogging community.

"The emerging Cuban blogosphere has established itself as distinct from both the government and the dissident movement," Mr Portal told CPJ.
The emergence of independent bloggers is "evidence of a generation shift, a sign that even a country as isolated as Cuba is slowly moving into the 21st Century," Daniel Erikson, an expert at the Washington-based organisation Inter-American Dialogue said recently on US-based thedialogue.org.

Laritza Diversent, a lawyer from Havana, says she and her fellow bloggers were part of the post-revolutionary youth.
"We were brought up after the fall of Soviet socialism, a generation that is unbound by the political considerations of the past. For us, blogging is saying and writing what we think," she has said in her blog, which is written in Spanish, Las Leyes de Laritza (Laritza's Laws) .

Only about 2.1% of Cubans have regular access to the global internet and 11.5% to the Cuban intranet, according to the Washington-based democracy and human rights organisation Freedom House.

"Bloggers can go online at government-owned internet cafes, at universities and hotels," it says.
In recent weeks, the Cuban authorities have authorised the Post Office to install internet connections in its branches, BBC Mundo's Havana correspondent Fernando Ravsberg reports.
The cost of accessing the internet remains high for the majority of Cubans, he adds.

Defying control
The majority of bloggers do not openly criticise the government, believing this is the best way to avoid surveillance and persecution.

Yoani Sanchez, whose Spanish-language blog Generation Y was named one of the 25 best blogs in the world in 2009 by Time magazine, said that openness can disarm government efforts at harassment.
"My friends think I am taking a huge risk with my blog. But I think this is my way of pushing back against the system, if only a little bit," Ms Sanchez says.
But even using this strategy, Generation Y has been blocked on many occasions, and Ms Sanchez has been refused exit visas to both Germany and Spain to receive journalistic awards.
Over the last few months, the Cuban blogging community has become bolder in its attitude towards the state, demanding greater civil liberties and criticising government policies.

On the Octavo Cerco website, journalist Claudia Cadelo has been active in advocating radical political change, including the "resignation of the president of the Council of State and the entire National Assembly, multi-party elections and overhaul of the security forces".
And Miriam Celaya, author of the Sin Evasion blog , has called the Communist Party's Central Committee an "old machine" that cannot be fixed", and said Cubans were experiencing "ideology fatigue".

The Cuban government has shown little tolerance of critical opinion in the past. It still holds 22 people in prison for the "crime" of free expression.
So far however, the government has not clamped down on independent bloggers. Unlike China for example, Cuba has no sophisticated systems of internet control and censorship.
The reason for this, according to Daniel Erikson, is a lack of understanding of the blogging phenomenon.

"I suspect there is a generational disconnection between the activities of Raul Castro and Yoani Sanchez," Mr Erikson says.
Moreover, "independent Cuban blogs are not being used as tools to mobilise people for political action", he adds.
But with the country in the middle of an economic recession, writing about food shortages, healthcare or publishing critical political views could test the limits of government tolerance.
"If bloggers start opposing the government more directly, their risks will certainly increase," Mr Erikson predicts.

Generacion Y on Youtube in Spanish:
Paloma D. Bejerano - Generación Y -La2N{11nov09

Yoani Sanchez - Technological Leaps

CNN English report:
Cuban blogger beaten (CNN)

Cuba won't let blogger Yoani Sanchez leave

Yoani Sanchez: Awarded Abroad, Intimidated at Home (Embedding disabled, limit reached)
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