Cuba’s best-known blogger, Yoani Sanchez, announced Wednesday that her digital newspaper would begin publishing next week despite the government’s monopoly on the mass media, and will be named “14ymedio.”
“It will be a difficult road,” Sanchez wrote in a post on her blog, Generation Y. “Already, in fact, several people on our work team have received the first warning calls from State Security.”
“However, we have no reason to be hesitant. 14ymedio emerges with nothing to hide. Information regarding its editorial approach, ethics and financial commitments will be available on our Web page, which will go live on May 21,” she added.
The 38-year-old Havana woman became one of the Cuban blogosphere’s most-followed writers with her at times poetic, at times biting commentary on the failings of the island’s communist system.
She has said she wants the digital newspaper — the government owns all the presses and runs all the newspapers and radio and television stations on the island — to chronicle “the real Cuba” and accompany the political transition she believes is approaching.
Sanchez said the name of her newspaper, 14ymedio — 14 and a half in English — comes from the year of its birth and her 14th floor apartment in Havana. The “medio” is also Spanish for media, and the letter “Y” harks back to her start with Generation Y.
“Now, all that’s missing is that it pleases you, generates debate, and provides you with information. Thanks in advance!” she wrote in her post.
Sanchez has said she hopes her newspaper, with a staff of 12 that includes her husband, journalist Reinaldo Escobar, will have the usual sections of a newspaper such as sports, opinion, fashion and even business.
Recent posts by Sanchez and Escobar have shown a thinly veiled concern for how the government will react when the newspaper, which they have been working on for several months, finally hits the Internet.
The Cuban government blocked local access to Generacion Y and more than 40 other blogs it considered to be critical for several years. Police have detained her at least once, the first time when she was heading to an opposition street protest.
But in February 2011, the government lifted what Sanchez called the “the long night of censorship” on the critical blogs, implicitly admitting it could not really control what Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes once called the “wild pony” of the Internet.
She has won several prestigious awards that included hefty sums of money — Colombia University's Maria Moors Cabot prize, Spain's Ortega y Gassett award and The Prince Claus award from the Netherlands. Time magazine put her on its list of 100 most influential people in 2008, and President Barack Obama did a written interview with her in 2009.