Posts Tagged ‘Yoani Sanchez’

Frankenstein in the mirror

March 26, 2015

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Entitled “Espacio para el debate”, last March 18th Cuban newspaper Granma announced the creation of a blog platform named Reflejos. The service, using the tool WordPress, had at the time 3416 blogs — the platform managers confirmed to the paper.

Five days later, including Saturday and Sunday, reviewing Reflejos’ directory, I found 3849 blogs registered on different topics. It showed an evident increase at the rate of 100 blogs daily. The platform advantages —.cu domain that allows people with no Internet access to manage it as well as visibility from anywhere in the world— have been attractive to lots of people.

However, such a phenomenon has gone unnoticed by international media, which is always keeping an eye on freedom of expression in Cuba, especially with regards to Information and Communications technologies. Perhaps this is a sign of how much they care about democracy and the right to freedom of expression in those they name “ordinary Cubans”.

The very same international media paid different attention to the private paper created by Yoani Sanchez in a neighborhood of Havana, supported by a great sum of money and important technological back-up. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, U.S. officer in charge of negotiations with Cuba, visited her last January and it showed that international media is well informed about the priorities of the State Department and it is not coincidence that Ms. Sanchez has been named Vice-president of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) —association of media moguls allegedly pointed to be at the service of CIA.

Nonetheless, Reflejos’ luck may change soon. Yoani Sanchez has placed the contents of her millionaire company with eleven employees, on the platform of personal blogs.
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The presence of Ms. Sanchez’s Reflejos in the blog is not an exercise of individual freedom of a citizen who exercises a right of opinion in conditions of equity—which would be a legitimate practice— but the imposition of a systematic practice of lying for money —backed by the greatest power on Earth. Roberta Jacobson herself has admitted privately: the United States is a “barrier to connectivity in Cuba”.

Reflejos will likely grab all the headlines and not because the thousands of Cuban people who express their viewpoints there, or the abusive act with which Frankestein invades, rather for the way the little monster created in the laboratories of media war describes everything happening there.

We will know about it with the same objectivity with which she reported the false “beating”, the false interview to Obama, hunger strikes that ended in dinner parties, or the police assault to a church in Havana that never happened, the firing against a diplomat car with a grass mower, or the many deaths of Fidel. And these events are only the 1% of all Yoani’s journalistic prowess. Nevertheless, she has been awarded several prizes.

As a matter of fact, it is not about giving access to information unavailable for Cuban citizens —if we can call this practice “to inform”. I remember I gave out some opinions to the AP as a result of Yoani’s debut as a newspaper director. These opinions were never published. I said Yoani Sanchez and some of her assistants linked to the so-called Cuban twitter in the organization Raices de Esperanza met Joe Biden, U.S. vice-president, the same day the scandal of ZunZuneo flared up. Biden added:

I have seen that websites hostile to the Cuban government like that of Yoani are visible here, as well as newspapers such as El Nuevo Herald, Diario de Cuba, or the exclusive space recently opened by the BBC with a similar profile named Voces desde Cuba. Similarly, it is true that others managed or funded by the government of the U.S. like Radio and TV Marti, and ZunZuneo itself are not. It would be nice if the AP asks Biden about his relationship with all those projects, where there is lots of money from American taxpayers involved, so Cubans ended up watching nothing.

An AP newswire added: “Strategic documents procured by the AP show that Sanchez is one of the personalities that according to organizers could place her microblog in twitter through the messaging platform of ZunZuneo”.

It is hard to amplifying this thriving U.S. government investment in Cuba, with a surplus of workers and without reported incomes, lying systematically, acting fraudulently and with no journalistic work ethic, whose leader has been labeled by Wikileaks as the most popular worker for a U.S. embassy; instead, it is easier to silence the individual standpoint of almost 4,000 Cubans. But this is not democracy. It is understandable if we take into account that those who pay are the same who bombarded Yugoslav television.

Written by Iroel Sanchez, CubaSí
March 25, 2015
Cubasi Translation Staff

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Yoani Sanchez’s Funny Interview to Joe Biden

May 31, 2014

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Written by M. H. Lagarde

I haven’t written anything about blogger Yoani Sanchez’s much trumpeted 14ymedio daily because ‘half’ always sounded ‘half humorous’ to me, especially after reading that joke in the manner of a presentation where the blogger –who years ago used to visit the United States Interests Section (USINT) furtively and now travels as a tourist to the White House–, stated that the so-called independent online outlet wouldn’t have ideological or political commitment whatsoever.

A week later, my expectations have been exceeded. 14ymedio no longer seems half humorous but humorous and a half. The last joke of the blogger appeared in an interview with US Vice President Joe Biden, who Yoani Sanchez asks whether it is true that U.S. is going to invade Cuba.

“I can give you the simplest of answers and the answer is no. As President Obama stated”, said the vice president sharply.

Because of their ingenuousness, both the question and the answer make one laugh.

It would have been much more interesting and newsworthy that US Vice President Joe Biden had answered something like that:

Yes, of course we will invade Cuba, but once again we’re waiting for the ripe fruit. Therefore we have invented mercenaries like you, who firstly should demonize Cuba in the media with an editorial policy issued by our intelligence services. It’s about repeating in Cuba the outline of color revolutions in which our predecessor George W. Bush achieved so much success in the former Soviet republics. We also have the Syrian or Libyan case as variants, or the experiment we’re carrying out in Venezuela right now. Remember my dear mercenary Yoani that we’re heirs to a history of honesty like that Adlai Stevenson boasted, when he cynically denied before OAS that United States backed the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba or when General Colin Powell justified the war on Iraq at UN.

It appears that in the vast stream of media war against Cuba the independent blogger’s humorous and a half outlet will only contribute this kind of funny interviews with senior officials from the US government.

The next interviewee could well be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who the now journalist most likely asks whether what Castro’s propaganda says that she’s a CIA agent is true or not.

Now you can figure out Mr Brennan’s answer.

‘Cuban Twitter’ a new hurdle for bloggers, exiles

April 7, 2014

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By CHRISTINE ARMARIO

MIAMI (AP) — The revelation that a U.S. government-funded program set up a cellphone-based social network in Cuba is likely to pose new
challenges for independent bloggers and exile groups that work to increase access to technology.
Yoani Sanchez, the island’s most prominent dissident, began her activism
with a blog and now has nearly 600,000 followers on Twitter. She also is on the verge of starting a digital news project.
In recent years, exile groups in Miami have tried to help Cubans break
through the technology divide by sending computers, laptops and flash drives to store and share information.
Sanchez and others have gone to pains to say they are not supported by
the U.S. government. Yet even without any connection, analysts say findings by The Associated Press that the U.S. Agency for International
Development oversaw the financing and creation of a mobile phone network used by more than 40,000 people could be damaging.
“It’s going to be much more difficult for Yoani Sanchez to do the things
she wanted to do,” said Andy Gomez, a retired Cuba scholar from the University of Miami and senior policy adviser with the law firm Poblete
Tamargo. “I think the Cuban government is going to say, ‘You see, this is probably funded by some of the U.S. AID funding.'”

Strategy documents obtained by the AP show Sanchez was named
among marquee personalities whom organizers said could broadcast her “Twitter microblog through the ZunZuneo SMS platform.”
The network was called ZunZuneo, which is slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet.
It was not immediately clear if the project’s leaders reached out to Sanchez for collaboration.
Sanchez did not immediately respond to an email request Saturday for comment.
The renewed skepticism of dissidents and exiles on the island was already apparent in Cuba’s official media Friday. The state news agency

Prensa Latina recalled a Jan. 1 speech in which President Raul Castro
warned of “attempts to subtly introduce platforms for neoliberal thought and for the restoration of neocolonial capitalism.”
“Castro’s denunciations of the U.S. government’s destabilizing attempts against Cuba were corroborated by today’s revelation of a plan to push
Cuban youth toward the counterrevolution, with the participation of a U.S. agency,” Prensa Latina said.
Ted Henken, a professor at Baruch College who helped organize part of
Sanchez’s tour to the United States last year, said he felt Sanchez would not be affected in the long term.
“In the short-term, however, it will complicate her project,” he said.
U.S. officials have defended the program, a “Cuban Twitter” that operated from 2010 until 2012.
The AP investigation found the U.S. government set up the network to undermine the island’s communist government. Tens of thousands of
Cubans signed up for the service. The network allowed users to send and receive text messages, mostly news, sports and entertainment clips.

U.S. officials say that the program was in line with the U.S. Agency for
International Development’s mission, that the Obama administration had offered to discuss funding for the program with several congressional
committees, and that it wasn’t a covert operation requiring White House approval.
Users of the network, however, did not know it was created by the U.S.government.

The findings come the same week Sanchez told an audience in Miami that she plans to launch her digital news network this month, using
email, texts, and flash drives to spread the work of independent journalists.
She has not commented publicly on the ZunZuneo network.
Henken and others, however, voiced concern about the fallout for her.
“Cuban authorities already try to paint critical bloggers like Yoani
Sanchez as U.S.-funded mercenaries, and the report about ZunZuneo will only give them more ammunition,” said Emily Parker, a former State
Department policy adviser and author of the book, “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are,” a portrait of Internet activists in China, Cuba and Russia.
Parker said she especially concerned for less well-known bloggers, who lack the international visibility that Sanchez has.
“Authorities are now even more likely to paint such bloggers as U.S.-funded subversives,” she said.

The Cuban-American community has gradually been shifting its approach
in how to best bring about change on the island. While in the early days after the 1959 revolution, the community favored strong-arm tactics such
as the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, it increasingly has turned to soft-power tactics with the belief that change should come from within.
Those tactics have included cultural exchanges as well as sending
hundreds of cellphones, flash drives and computers to Cuba. Many of the groups have been explicit in stating that they are not political.
Their work could now come under a suspicious eye as well.
“It’s damaging to Americans who try and do good things in Cuba,” said Philip Peters, a longtime Cuba analyst and head of the Cuba Research
Center in Virginia. “It makes the Cubans question whether they’re really part of a covert U.S. government program.”

Cuba has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world, and
many in the Cuban-American community expressed support for a socialmedia network such as ZunZuneo on the island.
“I’m one who believes we should be doing that in Cuba, in North Korea we should be doing that, in Iran we should be doing that, where access
to social media is not permitted by the government for its own people,”said U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.
Others, though, fear that the U.S.-backed program will backfire.

Arturo Lopez Levy, a Cuban-born economist who lectures at the
University of Denver, has written columns advocating for open Internet access in Cuba in journals published on the island. As an adviser to the
group Cuban Americans for Engagement, he has encouraged people to take cellphones and laptops to Cuba.
He said he anticipates more people on the island will now question him.
“It’s unfortunate that the Obama administration didn’t calculate the harm that they can do to America’s soft power,” he said.

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