This week, while teaching a group of people how to upload blog posts, Cuban blogger and dissident Yoani Sánchez learned she was to receive yet another award. This time it was the $50,000 (40,000 euro) Liberty Prize granted by Denmark’s Center for Independent Research (CEPOS). Sánchez said that “the news came when I was doing what I like best, providing people with wings to fly in the IT sky.”
CEPOS’ Liberty Prize is given to individuals who demonstrate a sustained commitment to the ideas of individual freedom and human rights. Sánchez, 35, founded the blog “Generación Y” in 2007 and has since used it as a platform to share the realities of daily life in Cuba. She recently compiled select blog posts into a book titled Cuba Libre: Vivir y Escribir en La Habana. For her elegant prose, brave criticism and dedication to empowering others through digital media, Sánchez was previously awarded the Spanish Ortega y Gassett Prize for Digital Journalism (2008) and Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on Latin America (2009). Sánchez was also named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2008 and was selected as a 2010 World Press Freedom Hero by the International Press Institute.
Sánchez has been invited to formally accept the Liberty Prize at an upcoming ceremony in Copenhagen, but it remains to be seen whether the Cuban government will grant her an exit visa to travel abroad. She has been prohibited from leaving the island eight times in the past three years.
For Sánchez, her isolation by the Cuban government allows her to keep in touch with Cuban realities and has not stopped her from writing or sharing her knowledge of Internet tools. “Finding people who read what I write and seeing new faces appear” are sufficient compensation, she says.