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Posted December 28, 2007 by publisher in Cuban Culture

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Wall Street Journal

On a recent morning, Yoani Sánchez took a deep breath and gathered her nerve for an undercover mission: posting an Internet chronicle about life in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

To get around Cuba’s restrictions on Web access, the waif-like 32-year-old posed as a tourist to slip into an Internet cafe in one of the city’s luxury hotels, which normally bar Cubans. Dressed in gray surf shorts, T-shirt and lime-green espadrilles, she strode toward a guard at the hotel’s threshold and flashed a wide smile. The guard, a towering man with a shaved head, stepped aside.

“I think I’m able to do this because I look so harmless,” says Ms. Sánchez, who says she is sometimes mistaken for a teenager. Once inside the cafe, she attached a flash memory drive to the hotel computer and, in quick, intense movements, uploaded her material. Time matters: The $3 she paid for a half-hour is nearly a week’s wage for many Cubans.

Ms. Sánchez has done this cloak-and-dagger routine since April, publishing essays that capture the privation, irony and even humor of Cuba’s tropical Communism—“Stalinism with conga drums,” as she and her husband jokingly call it. From writing about the book fair that blacklisted her favorite authors to the schoolyard where parents smuggle food to their hungry children, Ms. Sánchez paints an unflinching, and deeply personal, portrait of the Cuban experience.

While there are plenty of bloggers who dish out harsh opinions on Mr. Castro, most do so from the cozy confines of Miami. Ms. Sánchez is one of the few who do so from Havana.

“What makes her so special is that she is fresh, observant and on-the-scene,” says Philip Peters, a former Latin America official at the State Department who now studies Cuba at the Lexington Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “Almost all of the Cuba blogs are written by people who travel there occasionally, or by people who haven’t seen the island in 40 years, if ever,” he says.

Not only does she write from Cuba, she even signs her name and posts a photo of herself on her Web site. Most Havana bloggers are anonymous. “Once you experience the flavor of saying what you think, of publishing it and signing it with your name, well, there’s no turning back,” she says. “One of the first things we have to do, a great way to begin to change, is to be more honest about saying what you think.”

The problem is, saying what you think in Cuba can be dangerous. In 2002, Cuba imprisoned dozens of journalists who declared themselves dissidents and published criticisms of the regime—many are still there. Most Cubans are so afraid of being labeled a critic that they are reluctant to utter the words “Fidel Castro” in public. Instead, they silently pantomime stroking a beard when referring to their leader.

Direct Writing

Ms. Sánchez’s writing is direct. On Oct. 5, she wrote about Mr. Castro’s regular newspaper editorials, which usually focus on international politics rather than the problems of Cuba.

“The latest reflections of Fidel Castro have ended my patience,” she wrote. “To try to evade or distance oneself from our problems and theorize about things that occurred thousands of kilometers away, or many years ago, is to multiply by zero the demands of a population that is tired, disenchanted and in need today of measures that alleviate its precariousness.”

The fact that Ms. Sánchez has avoided jail is a source of great intrigue for global Cuba watchers and the Cuban exile community in Miami. Some experts say it signals new tolerance by Raúl Castro, who has taken over day-to-day leadership from his brother because of Fidel’s deteriorating health. Since taking temporary power in July 2006, Raúl Castro has called for an “open debate” on the country’s economic policies, and promised agricultural reforms to bolster the food supply. Cuba experts debate whether Raúl’s promises suggest a true re-examination of Cuba’s economic model, or are simply rhetoric.

Others, especially the exile community, can’t quite believe Ms. Sánchez gets away with what she does. They wonder if she is an unwitting dupe—or a complicit agent—in a campaign to make Raúl Castro appear more tolerant as he seeks greater foreign aid.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want her blog to be legitimate and be the seed that grows into something in Cuba,” says Val Prieto, a 42-year-old Miami-based architect who edits an anti-Castro blog called Babalu. “The reason the exile community is wary is that we’ve been bamboozled time and time again. You never can tell when it comes to Castro.”

There may be a simpler explanation. Some experts say Cuban authorities are mainly concerned about what people on the island think, and since the vast majority of Cubans don’t have Internet access, the government is less alarmed by a Web site available primarily to outsiders.

Taken Aback


Read her blog in Spanish here http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/

Read her blog in English here http://www.desdecuba.com/generationy/

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on December 28, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    The Havana Journal has supported her efforts ever since it was first learned that she was writing from Havana.

    I understand Val Prieto’s concern but I think Ms. Sanchez is genuine because she said “The latest reflections of Fidel Castro have ended my patience”.

    I have felt that and I think the younger generation of Cubans have felt that way too. This is not a feeling that the Cuban government would understand so I don’t think it is crafted.

    In the past I hesitated to actively promote her blog thinking that maybe she didn’t want too much press. Well, if she’s sitting with an interview for the Wall Street Journal, I don’t think a little more “ink” from the Havana Journal would do her any harm.

    So, Yoani, I wish you the best of luck and much success.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on December 30, 2007 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    I also feel that she is genuine. Even if the government is more tolerant many brave people are still in jail just for talking in favor of the human rights. She is very brave in talking about the real problems in todays Cuba.
    We all should praise the extremely brave job of this courageous young Cuban.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on March 25, 2008 by nelson ruiz

    como estan i just wanted to say to anyone hello i hope you all in cuba are doing ok

  4. Follow up post #4 added on May 05, 2008 by Alex el que el sistema actual de cuba trata de des

    Nueva desinformacion del estado Cubano para detectar enlaces con YAONI SANCHEZ

    El gobieno del actual presidente por Raul Castro despues de aprovecharse de las falsas insinuaciones de mostrar cambio sobre la sitema dictatorial heredado por su hermano Fidel Castro a mostrado su naturaleza de no acceder a tales cambios.

    El estado cubano (a intereses de una sola persona “su presidente militar”) ademas de mostrar abiertamente su posicion intransigente como el anterior gobernador cubano Fidel Castro no permitiendo la salida de la ciudadana Yoani Sanchez, se ha dedicado a bloquear dentro de Cuba el blog mas visitado en toda la historia de ese pais, para mas con una paciencia de parte del lector si visita dicho blog se vera como el estado cubano ha plagado de “trolles internautas” dicho Blog, sembrando el desanimo y la contienda de dichos participantes mediante supuestos “no cubanos opinando o atacando a yoani por su premio” o simplemente ofendiendo directamente a sus participantes


    Asi mismo tambien estan apareciendo links de contactos para Yoani Sanchez como el siguiente


    Una de las estratagemas del actual sistema de trolles para sembrar la confucion es copiar los nick de los participantes y dar mensages con intenciones a la contienda.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on May 08, 2008 by Dennis Vaughn

    We in America have forgotten that in our infantsy, our citizens were jailed and hung for the thoughts, writings, and actions againts opression. Cuban citizens want these same things, for it is true that mankind everywhere want these things of freedom of thought, action, movement, and happiness.
    The Cuban government has heard all this before and someday may realize the tastlessness of separation. Until then voices like Yoani and others must continue to speak and be heard. Throught time all things are brought in judgement, and throught judgement, then justice.
    dennis vaughn

  6. Follow up post #6 added on June 18, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    The Associated Press has just released a story stating that Fidel Castro says that Yoani Sanchez’s comments “only add fuel to attacks” against Cuba by its enemies.

    Without mentioning Yoani’s name, he said “What is grave isn’t so much affirmations of this type that are divulged immediately by imperialism’s mass media,” and that she is one of many who “assume the job of those who undermine, and of the neocolonial press of the ancient Spanish metropolis that awards them.”


    Might I say that Fidel Castro is the one who “undermines” the hopes of freedom for the Cuban people?

    Cuba consulting services

  7. Follow up post #7 added on June 18, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    Fidel is the past; Yoani is the future

  8. Follow up post #8 added on June 25, 2008 by Reinaldo Escobar

    Written by:Reinaldo Escobar in Desde Aquí

    The ex-president Fidel Castro has just published a prologue of the book “Fidel, Bolivia and Something More” in which he denigrates the blog Generación Y, which my wife writes on the internet. From the first day she has put her full name (which he omits) with her photo in view of the readers in order to sign the texts that she writes for the sole purpose, confessed repeated times, of vomiting everything in our reality that nauseates her.

    The ex-president disapproves of the fact that Yoani has accepted this year’s Ortega and Gasset prize for digital journalism. arguing that this is something fostered by imperialism in order to drive the waters of it’s mill. I recognize the right of this man to make this comment, but I permit myself to make the observation that the responsibility implied in receiving a prize will never be comparable to that of awarding it, and Yoani, at least, has never placed a medal on the chest of any corrupt official, traitor, dictator or murderer.

    I make this clarification because I remember perfectly well that it was the author of these reproaches who put (or ordered put) the Order of José Martí on the most terrible and undeserving of all possible lapels: Leonid Ilich Brezhnev, Nicolae Ceausescu, Todor Yivkov, Gustav Husak, Janos Kadar, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Robert Mugabe, Heng Samrin, Erich Honecker and others that I have forgotten. I would like to read, in the light of these times, a reflection that justifies those inappropriate honors that, to drive the water of other mills, sullied the name of our apostle.

    It’s true that the name of the philosopher Ortega y Gasset can be equated with elitist and even reactionary ideas, but at least, in difference from those decorated by the author of the prologue, he never launched tanks against his nonconformist neighbors, or built palaces, or imprisoned anybody that thought differently than him, or left his followers in the stockade, or amassed fortunes with the misery of his people, or constructed camps of extermination, or gave the order to shoot those who, in order to escape, jumped over the wall of their patio.

  9. Follow up post #9 added on December 22, 2008 by Armando Ayala

    I had known Yoani since 1992 when we attended the same Preuniversitario in el vedado. We were good friends for almost two years and I was aware of her ideas and disconfort with the cuban goverment. She was never afraid of expressing what she believed was her opinion. I lost track of her when I was force to enter en el servicio militar. Years later I came to the US and I never hear from her again, until today. What I’m trying to say is that she is not part of the goverment or any other plot to make the world believe that freedom of speech in cuba is changing with Raul. She is a legitimate voice that somehow had escape the brutal prosecution that cuban disidents face everyday. I’m proud of her, we, cubans, need eleven millions more like her. Gracias Yoani por tener lo que la gran mayoria de alla y de aca no tienen: Cojo..s

  10. Follow up post #10 added on December 23, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    Thanks for that insight. I never thought that she was an agent of the Cuban government.

    However, the HavanaTimes.org claims to be open minded thinking from Cuba and I know Circles Robinson and HavanaTimes.org are agents of the Cuban government.

    This site is the Cuban government’s lame attempt at freedom of speech but I have exposed the site as pure Cuban government propaganda.

    Cuba consulting services

  11. Follow up post #11 added on January 10, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Sorry folks about Peter and his comment spam. The comment has been deleted.

    Peter, self promotion is okay so long as your comment is on topic and contributes to the original post. We have plenty of cigar articles if you want to post some information that contributes to the conversation there.

    Otherwise you will be banned.

    Cuba consulting services

  12. Follow up post #12 added on February 10, 2009 by hector tobar


  13. Follow up post #13 added on March 23, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Yoani writes about her third failed attempt to get a visa to travel outside of Cuba and how she is confined to an “island prison”.

    Cuba consulting services

  14. Follow up post #14 added on May 01, 2009 by Harold Ruvira

    Hello my name is Harold Ruvira I was born in Batabano, Cuba in 1974 I came to the state in the 1980s on the mariel boat lift I just started a social website called http://www.amigoyamiga.com I need for my Latin family to help me get my site up and running so if you can pass the word around about my site Thank You Harold Ruvira

  15. Follow up post #15 added on June 07, 2009 by Armienne

    Adelante, Yoani, sigue allí que tienes el apoyo de todos los cubanos que desean la libertad de Cuba y el fin de la tiranía comunista que la oprime.

  16. Follow up post #16 added on June 07, 2009 by Fabian Pacheco Casanova

    Yoani es una mujer de principios conocedora de lo que en Cuba esta pasando, las denuncias de las tropelias de los tiranos castro ella lo comunica conm maestria sin igual.. Felicidades Yoani.. Eres iuna patriota de tiempo completo…Fabian Pacheco casanova

  17. Follow up post #17 added on June 07, 2009 by Fabian Pacheco Casanova

    Escribi dos articulos anteriores y no fueron Publicados, de seguro algo salio mal de mi parte… Saludos a Havana Journal

  18. Follow up post #18 added on June 20, 2009 by joepep22@yahoo.com with 1 total posts

    Con el coraje y la determinacion de Yoani, ahora tengo mas fe, de mi Cuba ser libre pronto.

  19. Follow up post #19 added on June 21, 2009 by aanabela

    sigan la lucha cubanos no solo la s mujeres si no los hombres unanse todos y vallan a la calle   a gritar abajo fidel

  20. Follow up post #20 added on September 02, 2009 by Patricia Cadenas

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Yoani you are my hero.  A change will come thanks to people like you who have the courage and determination to tell it like it is!
    Yoani sigue la lucha te apollamos!

  21. Follow up post #21 added on September 03, 2009 by aanabela


  22. Follow up post #22 added on September 04, 2009 by Marek

    ¡Ay, por favor!  ¿Por qué merece Yoani tanta atención?  Elle se representa como algún tipo de ‘agente secreto’ en publicar sus delirios, pero cualquier persona que sabe un pedacito sobre la realidad de Cuba puede decirle que sus “esfuerzas clandestinas” son fachadas. Yo con mis propios ojos ví a ella en el vestíbulo de la Melia Cohiba en Vedado, con su nuevo laptop y sin cualquier problema de accesar al internet. “vestido como turista” -jajajajajaja!!!!  Para comprar tiempo en el red inalámbrica en la Cohiba tiene que mostrar sus credenciales (como mi pasaporte canadiense, o su credencial como ciudadana cubana), pues, no hay subterfugio en su parte.  Ella es nada más que alguién quién quiere llorar las lágrimas del cocodrilo. No es “bravura”, es una chiflada.

  23. Follow up post #23 added on September 04, 2009 by aanabela

    bueno   ya que tu me escribes yo te respondo si yoani merese atencion la que tu al pareser   no   tu que hablas de ella que haces tu?  por la libertad de nuestro pais?  eso es lo que tu debes   saber ella tiene el valor   de parase   y decirle a un policia   lo que se merese   ella es victima   como miles   de cubanos   que no tienen ni un segundo de libertad   de expresion   no hay libertad   de nada allla   HAMBRE MISERIA   ES LO UNICO   QUE HAY ALLA   DESDE QUE FIDEL   ENTRO EN EL PODER   O ES QUE NO TE ACUERDAS   DE ESO   ANTES DE HABLAR DE ELLA LAVATE LA BOCA HACE FALTA GENTE   COMO PANFILO Y YOANI   ABAJO FIDEL   VIVA LA LIBERTAD

  24. Follow up post #24 added on October 13, 2009 by Rov

    Right on to Yoani !! She and ALL Cubans should have the right to speak up!!
    Cuba belongs to ALL the Cuban People!! Not just the self-centered, dictatorial,
    oppressive Castro brothers and their cronies!!

  25. Follow up post #25 added on October 26, 2009 by yeri lino

    hola solo quiero que sepas que en Ecuador tambien hay personas que te apollamos ,los que sabemos la realidad del comunismo rachasamos todo lo que tenga que ver con Chaves Correa y sus secuases

  26. Follow up post #26 added on October 29, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Marek, you obviously have no idea of the suffering of the Cuban people, or maybe you choose to look somewhere else.
    Yoani is a great Cuban, a very brave one, she openly fight the Castro’s dictatorship, while you drink daiquiris in the bar of the Melia Cohiba.
    The Castro’s dictatorship has been supported for over 50 years by people like you that enjoy our Country for a week and feel that they know the whole history.

  27. Follow up post #27 added on October 29, 2009 by Marek

    Yeyo,  I’m well aware of the hardships endured by the Cuban population. I’m aware of the disparities between those who have and those who do not. I simply disagree with you that the problem is entirely the Castro’s or Cuba’s political system. I’m an academic… a person who does research, who tries to understand the underlying causes of social / political / economic events. Cuba has been my area of study since the beginning of the Special Period. I’ve been to the island 20 times since ‘94, and I have never stayed at the Melia Cohiba, nor have I ever drank a daiquiri. 

    I go to the Melia Cohiba for the same reason Yoani goes: wireless internet access that is marginally faster than any other access point I’ve found so far.

    The “Castro dictatorship” has been supported for over 50 years by Cubans who have stayed on the island and live their lives… go to work… participate in an active social life…. raise children… complain and contribute or not.

    I’m not a blind cheerleader. But I’ve worked and lived in the “third world” for long enough to know that whatever Cuba’s problems, they pale in comparison to other nations in the region where the indignant Miami crowd doesn’t give a damn about poverty, oppression and hopelessness.

    Cuba’s critics bitch about Cubans on the island not having access to internet (without ever explaining how the hell Cuba is supposed to do that with limited resources and zero internal financial capacity for home computers). But they don’t care that the poorest female children in Mexico typically have their first child at the age of 14 years; that Haiti remains a basket case; that women throughout the region are trafficked as sex slaves; etc.  Someone on Cuba stubs a finger and it’s Fidel’s fault; child murder on the streets of Rio?  Just normal everyday living, baby!

    Hypocrisy is rampant here.

  28. Follow up post #28 added on October 29, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    “whatever Cuba’s problems, they pale in comparison to other nations in the region”

    but in Cuba the people are forced to struggle. They have no choice to elect leaders in their government.

    Cuba consulting services

  29. Follow up post #29 added on October 29, 2009 by Marek

    Rob, we can’t really debate this unless you’re willing to put down in “writing” your critique of Cuba’s electoral system. What’s the problem with neighbourhood elections, secret ballot, right of recall, etc.?

  30. Follow up post #30 added on October 29, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Nothing to debate.

    You see the propaganda and I see the truth.

    An election from one party is a Selection of leaders… and all those are approved (directly or indirectly) by Fidel.

    I’m not going to get into an discussion over propaganda and lies.

    Cuba consulting services

  31. Follow up post #31 added on October 29, 2009 by Marek

    ...and the fact that the party is forbidden by law from participating in / endorsing / supporting any candidate for office is what, something I’m making up?  The fact that you do NOT need to be a member of the party to be elected… this is a lie?  I’m not asking you to debate “propaganda and lies” - but you could at least read up on the scholarly research / writing on Cuba’s electoral system and then debate its pluses and minuses… dismissing Cuban elections out of hand is just… well.. dishonest.

  32. Follow up post #32 added on October 29, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    That’s funny.

    You know Cuba does not have an election process. It has a selection process.

    Cuba consulting services

  33. Follow up post #33 added on November 21, 2009 by aanabela

    que dios te bendiga yoany y que siempre puedas expresarte como lo stas haciendo   hasta   ahora   es lo que los hombres cubanos no hacen   paresen jutias congas   detras   de su mama es hora que despierten   y vean la valentia   de esta joven   suerte   amiga

  34. Follow up post #34 added on November 21, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Hey Marek, are you telling us that ......”the party is forbidden by law from participating in / endorsing / supporting any candidate for office”
    Now you have turned from free (or maybe paid) Castro propagandist to delusional.

    In Cuba, every single candidate is endorsed by the Comunist Party, plain and simple. Anybody that is not considered fit by the Party “elders” simply would not make the first cut.

    Secondly the high positions in the government that are all members of the National Assembly are single out by Castro personally. Or it is a mystery that people even in high positions as Vice Presidents of the Government, Ministers and Vice Ministers had disappeared suddenly because a Fidel Castro or Raul Castro critiques.

    Would you tell me that Lage, Perez Roque and the others really sent their resignation letter?? Or it was that the letter was written and they were “told” to sign and send it to be published?

    The only thing dishonest in this site is your partiality pro Castro government and against the reality, if you really feel what you are writing, your naiveness make me wonder what kind of Academic are you??

  35. Follow up post #35 added on November 29, 2009 by Lang

    Esto es mucha propaganda nosotros tambien tenemos problema aqui elecciones libre se dan con 17 % participantes no leparece raro esto respaldo reciben tambien enemigos de Yoani.Queria saber como puede vivir sin trabajar y tambien otros que hacen todos los dias protestas.Aqui en plena democracia se pude protestar solo con el permiso y esto su compatriotas no se lo dan .Por ejemplo estudiante que hace dos anos le hizo pregunta en la univerzidad international de Miami tesibio Tasser y no hizo nada contra gobierno y nuestros internet apareces bloqueados puede ser que esto no salga ,quien le paga telefonos tu Miami a nosotros nos desconectan cuando quiera sin hablar contra gobierno entonces no se queje su actutid se parece mucho a senor Havel que gano mucha plata privatizo ahora no se puede quejar,lo mismo es senor Wallesa ,ambos trabajaron en gobiernos anteriores con policia secreta.Como Yoani viviria si recibia retiro que es en alguna parte en mayoria europa oriental como 200 euros y para pagar elecricidad y calefacion casi todo este dinero y ahora con la privatizacion de medicina gente no tienen para medicina que es tan cara que la pueden pagar solo empleados de gobierno o buenos empresarios que robaron las empresas y desempleo es l5% eso le queda vivir bajo de puente y comer pan por si acaso,en lado donde hasta obama le contesta ni los coruptos congresistas que saportan sus ideas no le ayudan a nadie .total control de telefonos y internet es oficialmente controlado,puede esperar asi cliente fue bloqueado le pasa lo mismo aqui si ud hacia parecida llamadas contra gobierno entonces se le caeria la llamada y no la podria pagar asi que ud tiene muchas ventajas pero systema que usd espera sera moneycracia como se formo en europa porque no protesta contra salarios de diputados de europa quienes no fueron electos ni ciudadanos nadie no pregunto si quieren ser incluido en corupta europa ,asi vee sin eleccion se hacen cosas donde se necesitaba plebiscito saludos amigos de Yoani

  36. Follow up post #36 added on November 30, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Mr. Lang we cannot understand you.
    That is not Spanish, try in English.

  37. Follow up post #37 added on December 01, 2009 by paul

    Mr. Lang needs a grammar lesson, but he’s long winded like marekita and pipefitter.

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