Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cuban blogger receives Spanish award - in absentia

Cuban blogger receives Spanish award - in absentia
Posted on Wed, May. 07, 2008
Associated Press Writer

MADRID, Spain --
A Cuban woman who gained worldwide acclaim for a blog that offers
stinging criticism of the Communist regime was honored Wednesday with a
Spanish journalism award - in absentia.

Cuban authorities did not approve Yoani Sanchez's request to travel to
Madrid for the award ceremony. But the 32-year-old woman was still able
to make some points.

"Nothing of what I have written in these 13 months speaks as loudly as
my absence from this ceremony," Sanchez said in a tape recording.

She said the fact she had to address the group through a recording was
"the clearest evidence of the defenselessness of the Cuban people with
respect to the state."

Sanchez was given the Ortega y Gasset Prize in digital journalism for
creating a now year-old blog called "Generation Y," which gets more than
1 million hits a month, mostly from abroad. Cuban essayist Ernesto
Hernandez Busto accepted on her behalf.

She said the international recognition would not give her "immunity,
because in Cuban society one is never immune from the State. But it does
allow me to carry on more strongly with this small protective shield
that the prize gives me."

Sanchez's blog has drawn a wide audience with her wry comments on life
on the Caribbean island and frequent digs at the communist government.

Cuban authorities have made no sustained effort to shut down Sanchez's
blog, although pro-government sites accuse her of accepting money from
opposition groups.

On Sanchez' site and others, anonymous Cubans lash out at their government.

Last year, Cuban dissident poet Raul Rivero, who now lives in Spain,
also won an Ortega y Gasset prize. They are named for the late Spanish
philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset.

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