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Yoani Sanchez

Yoani Sanchez

Posted: July 13, 2009 03:33 PM

An Imprisoned Journalist Blogs From Inside Castro's Gulag


2009-07-13-pablo_pacheco.jpgToday I continue my series of guest posts to introduce Huffington Post readers to some of my fellow citizens who blog from inside Cuba. Unfortunately, only a limited number of blogs are currently being translated into English, but our volunteer translators continue to add new blogs as fast as possible.

Today's guest blogger is Pablo Pacheco who was arrested during what has come to be called the Black Spring in 2003. With the world's attention turned to Iraq, Fidel Castro used the cover of the first days of the war to launch a crackdown against independent journalist in Cuba. Pablo Pacheco was one of seventy-five journalists arrested; he was subsequently sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Two months ago Pablo launched his blog, From Behind The Bars, dictating his entries by telephone to fellow blogger Claudia Cadelo who prepares his entries for publication; additional helpers outside Cuba manage the translations.

The Power of Unity
By Pablo Pacheco, Prisoner of Conscience in Cuba.

It is true that throughout history, unity is what has bound all of mankind. When the idea of having my own blog first blossomed, and Ivan proposed to help me put one together, I planned at first to have something with a fictional flavor. I knew very little about what a blog was and even less about the internet due to the ferocious restrictions imposed on us by those who seek to enslave the thoughts of all Cubans.

I would like to believe that in all totalitarian systems there exist men like Boris Pasternak who won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature and declined the honor to remain ensconced with and continue suffering the pain of the Russian people.

Recently, Cuban blogger Claudia Cadelo has informed me that my blog is now being translated into English, Portuguese and those who manage it are pushing to try and get it translated into French.

Something interesting about my part in this story was that when Ivan went to the capital to find out if it was true, he was unable to get anyone to meet with him. This was March 14th, 2003, four days after I was arrested during the repressive wave of that year known to the outside world as the Black Spring.

I am unable to meet Claudia and am only able to speak to her on the telephone. The incredible thing is that it seems to me that I've known them my whole life. I will forever feel gratitude towards them, as it seems my mother taught me well when I was a young boy.

Since the beginning I decided to dedicate my blog to my compatriots who were arrested with me on that fateful day, to all their relatives and certainly to all those I know and communicate with. In my opinion, the blogger movement in Cuba has become an excellent alternative form of free communication that is so badly needed by those living in despair here on this island, taking on for a small moment the role of foreign press as the voice of the internal opposition and the dissident movement.

It has previously occurred to me that everyone with a blog is therefore a dissident with the choice to be joined to or to be independent of everyone else and to certainly not have to compete with other foreign press agencies.

In the end it is like we are the press, even if it's our own independent one, since news happens everywhere in the world. For the time being I consider myself to be the voice in this dismal prison of those whose voices have been taken away from them, and who do not have the chance to have a blog. I think I can also say without fear of being wrong that the voice that has been the most tightly muzzled among the 11 million Cubans is that of the prisoner.

Because of this it is our duty to speak for them, because they need us to fight for those with blogs and those without, since this is the true definition of unity.

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