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Yoani Sanchez

Yoani Sanchez

Posted April 1, 2009 | 08:10 PM (EST)

Obama Did What? Hey, Let Me Tell You About the Potato Harvest


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Surrounded by commemorations and dates to celebrate, we didn't pay much attention to Cuban Press Day, which was March 14. The news featured long reports about the selfless efforts of journalists and their loyalty to the Revolution. Some reporters received certificates for their outstanding work and impeccable ideological posture, while the newspaper Granma devoted a ton of space to the self-congratulation.

In the same days as these parties, the North American president, Barack Obama, eased the limitations on travel to the Island for Cuban Americans. The restrictions he abolished had prevented these immigrants from visiting their families more than once every three years. There had also been a strict limit on sending remittances to relatives on the Island. For the precarious domestic economy, the money sent from the United States is indispensable oxygen for survival. In a country where so many citizens live on the other shore, the notice of this relaxation should have been front page news in all the papers. It's what one learns in the journalism schools as the obligatory lead of an entire week.

The Cuban press, however, barely mentioned this positive step taken by the occupant of the White House. An official silence was the only response to this long-awaited and welcome measure. In the street no one talked about anything else, and mothers prepared to welcome their children living in the North, but the official media treated it warily. The journalists have been caught up in other issues: the potato harvest, the World Baseball Classic, the Bolivarian Revolution and, of course, the celebrations for Cuban Press Day.

Yoani's Blog, Generation Y, can be read here in English translation.