Yoani Sánchez (Cuba)
Yoani Sánchez (1975, Havana) is a leading figure in the use of social networking technologies to breach imposed frontiers. A graduate in philology, she is now dedicated to computer sciences and their capacity to alter perceptions and generate social change. She works as a webmaster, columnist and editor for Desde Cuba, an online news portal. Determined to promote freedom of information and to speak out regardless of danger, in 2007, Yoani Sánchez set up a blog, Generation Y.
Her regular posts offer punchy accounts of the day-to-day environment. Avoiding direct criticism and global politics, her blog provides subjective insights into the practical difficulties people face. Emphasising the vital importance of material autonomy for any form of active citizenship, her subjects include unaffordable food, shortage of proteins and vegetables, the turgid proceedings of parliament and the lack of meaningful reforms.
Sánchez operates in a context of strict control and censorship, working clandestinely, under threat of arrest. Local access to internet is limited and filters set up by the authorities slow and block connection to Generation Y. Local supporters circulate her writings in emails and USB memories, and volunteers translate her Spanish reports into 22 languages. Generation Y’s growth has been exponential. It is now one of the most-followed blogs in cyberspace, and a compilation has been published as Cuba Libre.
Yoani Sánchez is awarded for raising global awareness of daily Cuban realities through her blog, for her inspiring and courageous example in giving a voice to the silenced, and for demonstrating the immense impact internet communications technologies can have as tools for social change and development.
September 6, 2010