Cuban Government Blocks Dissident's Online Newspaper Hours After Launch

Cuban Government Blocks Dissident's Online Newspaper Hours After Launch

On Wednesday Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez unveiled a new online newspaper, created as a daily platform for Cuba-based programming.

Shortly thereafter the Cuban regime blocked her paper – just hours after it appeared on the Internet.

Cuban authorities reprogrammed the Internet address so it would redirect to a website that accuses Sanchez of having ulterior motives and politically-minded interests. The redirected website, called “yoani$landia”, claims Sanchez is a radical capitalist “obsessed with money.” The site went on to claim that she is the “richest” person in Cuba, and she receives her funding from Spanish and Brazilian media organizations.

Sanchez insisted that the newspaper would not counter the state-run narrative of the Castro regime in the officially designated Cuban newspapers. Criticizing the regime in print is largely not tolerated in Cuba.

Yoani Sanchez’s paper, called 14ymedio (2014 media), appeared online Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. local time. She said the goal of her paper’s addition to Cuban media was to “contribute information so that Cubans can decide with more maturity their own destinies.”

The papers lead story featured a report from a local hospital interviewing nurses and doctors who treat injured victims.

Another story features an interview with jailed opposition leader Angel Santiesteban. He is an award-winning author and runs the blog The Children Nobody Wanted. Santiesteban has been imprisoned since February 28, 2013. Santiesban has global appeal, as he is published Mexico, the United States, Spain, China, England, France, Italy, Canada, and other countries.

Reinaldo Escobar, who is Sanchez’s husband, told the AP that the paper’s goal was not to clash with the Castro dictatorship. “We want to produce a newspaper that doesn’t aim to be anti-Castro, a newspaper that’s committed to the truth, to Cubans’ everyday reality,” he said. Words such as “dictatorship” or “regime” would be excluded from print in 14ymedio.

Many have wondered how effective the online paper would be with the reality that many Cubans lack access to the Internet. Today, about 16 percent of Cubans have access to the Internet, and most of that percentage can only access basic services such as email. When surveyed, only 2.9 percent said they had full access. However, a black market for Internet access has boosted that number to an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the total population.

Yoani Sanchez’s rise to fame is best attributed to her blog Generation Y, which has been a forum for criticizing the regime’s restrictions on basic human rights.