Foreign Policy presents a unique portrait of 2011’s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them.
When Yoani Sánchez launched her blog, Generation Y, in 2007, the Havana-born computer programmer turned journalist was a virtual unknown. Four years later, she’s a dissident voice of such prominence that the Cuban government has ordered her detained and beaten. A blurb from Barack Obama even graces her recently published book, Havana Real.
Sánchez’s rise owes at least as much to her literary gifts as to the power of Web 2.0. Approaching her country’s ills with both hopefulness and a gimlet eye, where most Cuba commentators are didactic and ideologically entrenched, her posts — on everything from Raúl Castro’s latest pronouncements to the taste of mangoes — have over the years painted an unusually vivid portrait of a society in limbo. The very fact of their existence stands as a rebuke to a government that still sharply limits its citizens’ access to the Internet. (For years, Sánchez had to sneak into hotels pretending to be a German tourist in order to publish them.) “We have taken back what belongs to us,” Sánchez wrote in February. “These virtual places are ours, and they will have to learn to live with what they can no longer deny.”
Muse The freedom brought by the new technologies.
Stimulus or austerity? Stimulate investment and apply austerity to public spending.
America or China? America.
Arab Spring or Arab Winter? Spring.
Best idea The Internet is a universal human right.
Worst idea The people love their dictators.