receives Spanish award — in absentia
By Daniel Woolls
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/237990
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 (http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/) 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.