July 30, 2009
Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism announced on Monday that Yoani Sanchez, author of Cuba’s most prominent independent blog, Generación Y, will be awarded a Maria Moors Cabot Prize and special citation for outstanding reporting. For the past 71 years The Cabot journalism prize—the oldest international award in journalism—has been conferred to journalists “who have covered the Western Hemisphere and, through their reporting and editorial work, have furthered inter-American understanding.” Past winners include Peruvian journalist and author, Mario Vargas Llosa and Mauricio Funes, the President of El Salvador.
The school of journalism’s official press release calls Sanchez’s blog “a pitch-perfect mix of personal observation and tough analysis, which conveys better than anybody else what daily life—with all its frustrations and hopes—is like for Cubans living their lives on the island today.” They also announced a special citation to Sanchez “for her courage, talent and great achievement” of putting the rest of the world in touch with Cuba.
In her response from Cuba, Ms. Sanchez said the most important thing about the honor was that it gives her prestige and a degree of “protection” from possible repressive actions by the Cuban government. She also indicated she would “use the prestige and protection that the Cabot Prize brings with it to continue to grow the Cuban blogosphere” and to support other future projects.
It is very unlikely that Ms. Sanchez, who has been labeled a “professional dissident” by the Cuban regime, will be permitted to travel to New York to receive her prize at the award ceremony in October. Instead, she says she travel in a virtual manner, as she does every day through her blog.
Read more about Yoani Sanchez and her consortium of bloggers in “Dispatches from the Field: Is Cuba Really Changing?” in the latest issue of Americas Quarterly.