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Cuba: Generación Y and Voces Cubanas Unblocked in Cuba

Blogger Yoani Sánchez. Photo by Andre Deak republished under Licence CC-BY-2.0.

For nearly three years, Yoani Sánchez has called herself a “blind blogger.” Her blog, Cuba-based Generación Y, has been blocked in Cuba since March of 2008. But as of last week, it appears Sánchez has regained her sight. On February 8, the site was unblocked in Cuba. Voces Cubanas [es] and DesdeCuba [es], both platform sites with feeds for Generación Y, Claudia Cadelo’s Octavo Cerco [es], and many other Cuba-based blogs appear, are also back. Throughout this period, Sánchez has maintained her online presence with the help of friends in other countries, and by using proxy servers to access her own site.

When the blog was originally blocked in 2008, Sánchez wrote [es]:

…[L]los anónimos censores de nuestro famélico ciberespacio, han querido encerrarme en el cuarto, apagarme la luz y no dejar entrar a los amigos.  Eso, convertido al lenguaje de la red, quiere decir bloquearme el sitio, filtrar mi página, en fin, “pinchar” el Blog para que mis compatriotas no puedan leerlo…Sin embargo, la reprimenda es tan inútil…y tan fácil de burlar que se trueca en incentivo.

…the anonymous censors of our famished cyberspace have wanted to put me in my room, turn off the light, and not allow my friends to visit. This, translated to the language of the web, means blocking my site, filtering my page and, finally, “puncturing” my blog so my countrymen can’t read it…[t]he reprimand, however, is so futile…and so easy to get around that it becomes an incentive.

Generación Y posts on CD, for secondary circulation in Cuba. By jlori (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Her popularity in Cuban communities around the world, and her recognition within the international human rights and press freedom communities has skyrocketed since this period, and Sánchez believes that her status as a forbidden voice within Cuban civil society has only helped to increase her intrigue. When she posted about the unblocking of the site, she wrote that she suspected this would only be temporary, speculating that it may have been part of a government effort to soften its image during Havana’s recent information science fair, Informática 2011. In her post [es] in which she announced that the blog had been unblocked, she considered the possibility that government officials acted on some recognition of the appeal of the forbidden.

También es posible que después de haber comprobado que bloquear un sitio sólo lo vuelve más atractivo para los internautas, los policías cibernéticos han optado por exhibir el fruto prohibido que tanto satanizaron en los últimos meses. […] Esta es una victoria ciudadana sobre los demonios del control. Les hemos arrebatado lo que nos pertenece, esas plazas virtuales que son nuestras, con las que van a tener que aprender a convivir y a las que ya no pueden negar.

It is also possible that after having proved that blocking a website only makes it more attractive to internauts, the cyberpolice have chosen to exhibit the forbidden fruit they so demonized in recent months. […] This is a citizen victory over the demons of control. We have taken back what belongs to us. These virtual places are ours, and they will have to learn to live with what they can no longer deny.

Whether this change is temporary or permanent, Sánchez will surely maintain a powerful voice in foreign media coverage of Cuba, and an important role as a leader within Cuba’s small, politically critical blogging community.

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