Cuban blogger Yoani Maria Sánchez Cordero has been named by the International Press Institute as its 60th World Press Freedom Hero.
Sánchez's blog, Generation Y , is an acerbic critique of life in Cuba, and a telling reminder to the world of the restraints on free speech and expression on the island.
Launched in 2007, the site was rendered unavailable in April 2008 by the Cuban authorities. Since then, Sánchez has managed to keep the blog alive through a series of ingenious measures and is thought to have a regular readership of more
than one million.
Sánchez has repeatedly faced harassment by authorities. In November 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported that she was beaten by a group of men while on her way to a peaceful protest.
However, Sánchez refuses to be silenced. If you are insulted by the mediocre, the opportunists, if you are slandered by the employees of the powerful but dying machinery, take it as a compliment, she says on her blog.
Sánchez's tremendously important work provides a glimpse into what is otherwise a closed world, said IPI's interim director Alison Bethel McKenzie.
Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said that the Cuban government has unblocked access to her blog, which had been off limits on the island's Internet since 2008.
In a posting on Twitter, she wondered how long Cuban Internet users would be able to view her Generation Y blog but exulted in the opening, however brief: In the long night of censorship, a small hole has opened. My blog Generation Y
returns to the insular light.
Her blog criticizes the Cuban system and the difficulties of daily life on the communist-led island.
Sanchez has won a number of international prizes and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2008. Her blog is translated into 15 languages and she has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter.
The unblocking came as Cuba hosted an international computer science conference.
The dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, famed for her outspoken online critiques of the country's communist regime, has issued an appeal to Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, to help her leave Cuba.
Sanchez, a Havana-based writer who has been accused by Cuban authorities of conducting a cyberwar against the government, has not been able to leave the country since 2004 because of migration rules that require Cubans to receive
government permission to travel.
She has now been invited to the Brazilian state of Bahia in February for the screening of a documentary about press freedom in Cuba and Honduras in which she features.
In the video appeal to Rousseff, posted on YouTube, Sa'nchez called on Brazil's first female president to intervene:
Please help me, who says it is her 19th attempt to get travel permission from Cuban authorities. Through this small video I want to send a very respectful [and] very humble message ... to the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff.
Unfortunately I am forbidden from leaving my own country -- I have not committed any crime.
The Cuban government must reform an arbitrary exit permit scheme that affects all Cubans and is used to punish freedom of expression, Amnesty International said after a prominent blogger was again blocked from travelling abroad.
On Friday, Cuba's migration authorities denied blogger and activist Yoani Sa'nchez an exit permit (white card or tarjeta blanca) for the 19th time in four years. As on previous occasions, no reason was given for the decision.
The well-known author of Generacion Y had been invited to speak at the premiere screening in Brazil's Bahi'a state on 10 February of a documentary on freedom of expression in Cuba and Honduras. Brazil had already issued her a visa to enter the
The Cuban government's repeated denial of exit permits to critics like Yoani Sa'nchez can only be seen as retaliation for the expression of their legitimate political views and activism, said Javier Zuniga, Special Advisor to Amnesty
International: Those fighting for freedom of expression, association, and movement must be authorized to leave and re-enter the country without arbitrary restrictions, and the Cuban authorities must end other tactics used to clamp down on