The voice of Cuba's future - A profile of Yoani Sánchez
Yoani Sánchez is one of the most influent bloggers and journalists in Cuba
"#Cuba The official press says that there are few people in the street because they are gathered in their pain ... the truth is that there is fear, much fear."
"The most repeated words on public TV: eternal, always, immortal ... #LaMuerteDeFidelCastro.
As usual, Yoani Sánchez's Tweets grate on the ears of the Cuban regime. Even after the death of the Commander-in-Chief, this well-known Cuban journalist and blogger from La Havana can’t keep her mouth silent. Since Yoani opened his own blog (Generation Y) in 2007, and a little later, a Twitter account, her mission has always been the same: to deny the propaganda and tell the truth about what happens on the island, as controversial as it may be.
"To talk about Fidel Castro is to talk about the past. Past Tense. Twentieth century. I am a woman of the 21st century. So somehow for me he represents something that no longer is. A Cuba that has been left behind” she said in an interview for Chilean television T13 in April last year, shortly after the United States and Cuba announced their historic rapprochement.
And with more than 700 thousand followers on Twitter, Yoani Sánchez, director of the digital newspaper 14ymedio, represents exactly this: the Cuba of the future, the Cuba that wakes up after the death of Fidel Castro.
"Cubans who were under 15 in July 2006, when the president’s illness was first announced, can barely remember the sound of his voice. All they know are the photographs that he appeared in lately when he was being visited by some foreign dignitary, or else they are familiar with his increasingly nonsensical thoughts. This is a generation that never felt the thrill of Fidel’s oratorical prowess, and never backed his fearsome cry of “¡Paredón!” – the wall against which people were executed by firing squads – that made Revolution Square tremble”, writes Yoani Sánchez in an OP-ED column published last weekend in the Spanish newspaper El País, after the death of Fidel Castro.
“These young people have already done the job of reducing Castro’s historical dimension to a size inversely proportional to the lack of moderation he exhibited in his governing style. They will not stop listening to a single line of their favourite reggaeton song in order to utter a “¡Viva Fidel!”. They will not give birth to a new generation of babies who will bear the deceased’s name, nor will they bang their own chests and tear out their hair during the burial ceremony” wrote Sanchez, born in La Havana 41 years ago.
The notoriety of Yoani Sánchez, who graduated in Hispanic Philology with a thesis titled "Words under pressure. A study on the literature of the dictatorship in Latin America, "reached global terms when she started to publish critical posts in her blog, almost 10 years ago. Because of her critical view of the Cuban reality – opposite to what the official propaganda was saying – Generacion Y was blocked on several occasions, but also helped her to win numerous international awards, including the Ortega y Gasset Prize for digital journalism in 2008 (awarded by the Spain leading newspaper El País). She was also selected among the best 25 blogs in the world by the CNN television network, among others.
"Your blog offers the world a special window into the realities of everyday life in Cuba," President Barack Obama said in 2009, after Yoani Sánchez asked him to list seven questions on how to facilitate the overcoming of the tensions between Cuba And the United States. The entire Obama's answers were published in Generation Y. At the same time the State Department linked his web to her blog, triggering the number of visits.
Alarmed by Sánchez notoriety, the Cuban authorities have tried several times to stop her from travelling abroad and participating in public events or bloggers summits. However, they have realised that it will be quite difficult to control what she publishes on the Internet and social media.
“The eternal question that foreign reporters used to ask finally has an answer: “What will happen when Fidel Castro dies?” Today, we know that he will be cremated and that his ashes will be taken up and down the island, then laid to rest at Santa Ifigenia cemetery, just meters away from José Martí’s grave. There will be tears and nostalgia, but his legacy will gradually wear away, she wrote.