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Yoani Sanchez
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Yoani Sanchez, a University of Havana graduate in philology, emigrated to Switzerland in 2002, to build a new life for herself and her family. Two years later, she decided to return Cuba, promising herself to live there as a free person. Her blog Generation Y is an expression of this promise. Yoani calls her blog ‘an exercise in cowardice’ that allows her to say what is forbidden in the public square. It reaches readers around the world in over twenty languages. Yoani's new book in English, Havana Real, is available here in paperback and Kindle editions.

In November 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, wrote that her blog "provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba" and applauded her efforts to "empower fellow Cubans to express themselves through the use of technology." Time magazine listed her as one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2008, stating that "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."

She has received much international recognition for her work, including: the Ortega y Gasset Prize, Spain’s highest award for digital journalism; the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University; the World Press Freedom Hero Award from the International Press Institute; and the Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands. Foreign Policy magazine named her one of the 10 Most Influential Latin American Intellectuals in 2008, and one of The World's Top Dissidents in 2010.

Yoani lives with her husband, independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and their teenage son Teo, in a high rise apartment in Havana, overlooking Revolution Square. There they host the “Blogger Academy” to help grow the Cuban blogosphere; some of the results of this work are available in English at Translating Cuba. She blogs about daily life in the Castros' Cuba at Generation Y.

Entries by Yoani Sanchez

Cuban Gamers

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 8:11 PM

One, two, three and start your computers. The sounds of the microprocessor fans will be heard all night. When the sun comes up the ashtrays will be overflowing, the coffee cups empty, and there will be a winner. They are the Cuban gamers, passionate about video games and engaged in...

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The Venezuelan Dialogue From a Cuban Point of View

(2) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 11:58 AM

The dialogue between the Venezuelan opposition and Nicolas Maduro is in full swing. Its critics are many, its most visible loser: the Cuban government. For a system that for more than half a century has disqualified and reprimanded its dissidents, this discussion table must present a sad acknowledgement of its...

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Happy 7th Birthday to My Blog, Generation Y

(1) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 11:08 AM


Happy Blog-Birthday, Generation Y!

At seven I had an incomplete smile. I was losing my baby teeth and also I read every sign I came across in the street. It was a time of learning and scraped knees from falls during...

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Apretaste! A Craigslist for the Island of the Disconnected

(1) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 2:53 PM

Home page of the site Apretaste!

Tatania wants to sell a stroller, Humberto is interested in some sneakers, and the retired woman on the corner is offering a mahogany desk. Individual barter and buying-selling alleviates the shortages in state markets. So it's...

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#MejorDesnudosQue: Better Naked Than

(1) Comments | Posted April 6, 2014 | 6:22 PM

Better naked than...

A woman with her breasts bare is an oracle in an ephemeral work of art. It is Havana in the '80s and the scandal caused by the exhibition "Nine Alchemists and a Blind Man" ends with its closing and the...

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Militant Cuban Communist Trades Ideology for a Spanish Passport in the Blink of An Eye

(1) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 8:12 PM

Photo: Silvia Corbelle

The whole neighborhood called him by the peculiar last name he'd inherited from his Basque grandfather. Vertical for ideological reasons, he always made it clear that he was "a man of the cause." Meeting after meeting, report after report, complaint...

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Cuban Regime Ambivalent About Self-Employed, While the People Can't Live Without Them

(1) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 5:08 PM

2014-03-27-coffeeseller2.jpg
Photo: MJ Porter

The day started with a certain nightmarish atmosphere. The little sip of morning coffee was missing, because the seller with a thermos and paper cups wasn't on the corner. So she dragged her feet to the bus stop, while...

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'Don't Stand Out,' Cubans Tell Their Children, Perpetuating the Repression

(1) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 2:42 PM


Photo: Silvia Corbelle

You're getting your bag ready for school and listening to your mother nag. "Don't get into anything that's going to make a ton of trouble for you later," she shouts from the kitchen. So you go to the...

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Eastern Cubans Are 'Palestinians' in Their Own Capital

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 3:32 PM

Photo: Silvia Corbelle

She left Banes on a hot and dusty morning. In a bag, some underwear and the address of relatives in Havana. When the train got to Central Station, Cosita took a deep breath and filled her lungs with that...

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Another Tiny Crack in the Wall: Email on Cuban Cellphones But State Security Is Likely Reading It

(2) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 2:53 PM



"Now you can read your @nauta.cu email on your cellphone"

"The line's long but it's moving fast," someone tells me outside a Cubacel Office. After an hour and several shouts from the guard whom we crowded around at the door,...

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Why I Won't 'Federate' With the 'Cuban Woman's Federation'

(3) Comments | Posted March 16, 2014 | 4:50 PM


Photo: Silvia Corbelle

The Congress of the Cuban Women's Federation (FMC) ended a few days ago. At its closing ceremony, a man uttered the final words. But this wasn't the only, nor the last, mistake of an antiquated organization marked by...

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The Countdown to an Independent Newspaper in Cuba Has Begun

(6) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 5:56 PM

"The newspaper was talking about you..." sings the voice of Joaquín Sabina, while I read the newspaper Granma. On the cover, as usual, there's some event. A tribute to a figure from the past, a reminder, a phrase someone said forty or fifty years ago....

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Cuban Communist Regime Replaces Parents and Then Complains Its Children are Badly Brought Up

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 5:08 PM


Strictly Prohibited: Drinking alcohol, Animals, Ball games, Skimpy clothing

It's difficult for a cell to maintain its health inside a sick organism. In an inefficient society the bubble of functionality bursts. In the same way, certain ethical values -- selected and...

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Asking For Criticism and Then Calling the Messenger a Counter-Revolutionary

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2014 | 5:04 PM


Revolutionary Vigilance, a Permanent Task

He raised his hand at the meeting. The director had told them "don't hold back," so he took advantage of the chance to say what he'd remained silent about for months. He started with the very...

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Venezuela, With Eyes Wide Open

(5) Comments | Posted March 2, 2014 | 11:43 AM


Genesis Carmona, college student and local beauty pageant winner shot in the head during the protests, being rushed to the hospital, where she died. Photo from runrun.es

They say no one learns a lesson through someone else's head, that...

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Cubans Flock to New Film That Exposes the Myth

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 8:31 PM

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Miguel has earned a lot of money this week. He managed to sell almost one hundred pirated copies of the Cuban movie Conduct. Although the film is showing in several of the country's theaters, many prefer to see it at...

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Am I Living in Cuba, or Never Never Land?

(2) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 1:59 PM


Focus on a fixed point and you'll see that we are, in fact, advancing. Graphic humor from Santana

Everything moves clumsily, heavily. Even the sun seems to take longer than normal up there. The clock knows nothing of precision and the...

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Race and Identity in Cuba

(2) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 7:14 AM


Backside of the Cuban Identify Card with a box for "Skin"

It's just been born and in a few hours they will register the baby with its brand new name. A few days will pass before the parents...

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The Havana Book Fair Behind the Scenes

(1) Comments | Posted February 15, 2014 | 10:17 PM


Behind the shelves there is another International Book Fair. One barely perceived among the partitions and walls of the exhibition areas. The national newspapers will never report on it, but these parallel and hidden events sustain the other one. A network...

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Being a Journalist in Cuba: Success Is Measured By Your Ability To Make Things Up

(4) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 3:05 PM

Our apologies, we do not have subtitles for this video. Article 53 of the Cuban Constitution (referenced in the video) reads:

ARTICLE 53. Citizens have freedom of speech and of the press in keeping with the objectives of socialist society. Material conditions for the exercise of that right are provided by the fact that the press, radio, television, cinema, and other mass media are state or social property and can never be private property. This assures their use at exclusive service of the working people and in the interests of society.

Reinaldo speaks little of his time as an official journalist. When he does, it is with a mixture of frustration and relief. The first from his responsibility for the fabrication of so many stereotypes, and the second because by expelling him from the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) they turned him into a free man. Cuba International Magazine holds a prominent place in his memories, as he worked there for almost fifteen years.

In our house we have created an entire category of news with the name of this publication. When a provincial correspondent speaks on TV of the marvels of a battery factory -- without mentioning how many are actually being produced -- we watch, laugh, and say to ourselves: "This is in the worst style of Cuba Magazine." If there is an article in the press presenting the life of a small provincial town through rose-colored glasses, we connect this, as well, with the editorial approach that has done and is doing so much damage.

Mayerín, unlike Reinaldo, just graduated from the Faculty of Social Communication. Sometimes he calls from a public pay phone to tell me about his latest article on a digital site he collaborates on. "Did you see," he asks me, "what I managed to slip in in the third line of the second paragraph?" So I go check my reporter friend's daring and find that instead of writing "our beloved and invincible Commander-in-Chief," he has simply put "Fidel Castro." Keep up your daring work!

Several generations of information professionals have had to approach their work through censorship, ideological propaganda and the applause of power. Sugarcoating reality, using national media as a showcase for false achievements and filling newspapers with a doctored and distorted Cuba, these are some of the evils of our national press. If these deformations leave a sour taste the mouths of readers and television viewers, the effect is even worse on the journalists themselves.

The informants end up prostituting their words to stay out of trouble or to earn certain privileges, and the social prestige of the reporter plummets and the press becomes an instrument of political domination. For this informant, who as a child dreamed of uncovering some scandal or investigating an event to its ultimate consequences, all he is left with is folding or breaking down the door, continuing to put make-up on reality, or being declared a "non-journalist" by the government.

My blog, GENERATION Y, has moved: READ IT HERE.

Read me and other Cuban bloggers on TRANSLATING CUBA.

And here is a link to my blog IN OTHER...

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