In 2012, Yoaní Sanchez was named one of the “10 Most Influential Ibero American Intellectuals” of the year by the Foreign Policy magazine. Before that, she had received many other honors and awards. Who is Yoaní Sanchez?
Yoaní is a Cuban of 38 years old who is a philologist who, as she herself describes, understood she did not want to be a philologist. She thus became one of Cuba’s most important bloggers by writing about the daily-life of the Cuban people.
After finishing her studies in philology, Yoaní realized that she considered the world of “intellectuals” too hypocritical. Then, she understood that people in Cuba were too badly paid and she decided to start working in tourism, which according to her, is the only sector that pays decently in the country. As she explains, many highly-qualified people in Cuba for long found it more lucrative to work as cab-drivers or as salesmen than doing what they were specialized in.
Tired of the Cuban repressive system, in 2002 she decided to leave Cuba and went to Switzerland. Eventually, she returned to Cuba in 2004 for personal reasons. Nevertheless, while in Switzerland she did the first steps that would lead to her success-story. She started to work in informatics, which she loved. Upon her return to Cuba, she founded a magazine of “reflection and debate”. In 2007, she founded the blog that would make her known, Generación Y [her blog can also be found in english here]. She describes the blog as “[…] a Blog inspired by people like me, with names that start with or contain a “Y”. Born in Cuba in the ’70s and ’80s, marked by schools in the countryside, Russian cartoons, illegal emigration and frustration.”. There, she tells the story of hers and other generations in Cuba, there she narrates the daily-lives of her fellow-compatriots.
As she explains, in the blog she can write what she cannot say out-loud. While not a blog of critic, it inevitably criticizes the choices of Castro’s regime. As she started to get recognition for her blogging in the international arena, her blog was blocked several times by the authorities in Cuba (knowing that internet is highly controlled). She was even abducted once, by men working for the government. Fortunately, she was able to keep on writing her articles by sending them by e-mail to friends outside Cuba who would publish the articles for her. Thus, millions of readers continued to connect to her site every month, which showed that what she was writing was worth reading.
In 2008, Yoaní received the Ortega y Gasset Prize for Journalism, and after that she was recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine. The honors kept flowing for several years, as even Barack Obama recognized that Yoaní’s blog provided “[…] the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba.”.
Until today, Yoaní continues to publish articles about the life in Cuba. One of her latest posts, “At Turtle Pace”, had a photo of a turtle which represents the regime, and said “At this rhythm, the Island [Cuba] will be rebaptized as the country of the “never ever”, where the clocks and the calendars will be prohibited […]”, showing that Cuba still has to walk a long walk…
[We thank Judith Lenzen for giving us to know Yoaní Sanchez.]