Yoani Sánchez is on the cover of Italian Wired this month. In the three years she's been online, the 32-year-old blogger has become Cuba's Arianna Huffington.She's now a tweeter, a blogger on the actual Huffington Post, and her blog, Generation Y, gets 14 million page views a month, according to the New York Times. Last year, she even interviewed President Obama. But there are other Cuban bloggers toiling away behind obsolete computers. Here are some you've never heard of.
1. Octavo Cerco: If
Iranians used social networking sites to organize street
action, Cubans use blogs. Claudia Cadelo, a young French teacher,
updates hers on an almost daily basis, like a stock ticker, with the
slightest political tremors en la isla. She says she's followed by secret police. A badge of honor, for sure.
2. Boring Home Utopics: La Habana is really like Great Expectations' Miss Havisham. This is the place to see it in all of its decrepit glory. Photographer Orlando Luis Pardo first took to the web when a state publisher dropped a book of his after he criticized the government online. He decided instead to publish the whole book on the blog and now runs it as photolog.
3. Penultimos Dias: When you've fallen behind on your island news, go to Ernesto Hernández Busto's blog. It's a regularly updated aggregator of all things Cuban. Published from Spain, it's probably the best written of all the blogs, with regular contributions from censured writers still living in the country.
4. Laritza Diversent: Another young blogger, Diversent advises Cubans what their legal rights are under the country's spotty, rarely adhered to constitution. Last year, she blogged on the Huff about police beatings.
5. Re-evolución: Sometimes it's easy to read these blogs and shrug them off: Depressing! But Alain Saavedra's is written in the young, pissed-off voice of the hip-hop DJ he is. In a recent post, he ragged on a youth concert sponsored by the government because it didn't include reactionary bands such as Porno Para Ricardo. Coincidentally, Saavedra was one of the people who received Porno frontman Gorki Aguila when he returned to Habana last month.
6. The Voice of El Morro: Only 11 percent of the population has access to the Internet. The government grants free passwords only to a small group, and for the other half, it's unaffordable. Think of El Morro as Cuba's digital soapbox. It's a collection of grim testimonies from random residents, such as a woman whose husband is on a hunger strike.
7. Voces Tras Las Rejas: In 2003, some 75 journalists were arrested for writing
critical stories about the catastrofuck that is daily life in Cuba. The crackdown earned the nickname the Black Spring. Most of the people arrested are still in jail, but they update this blog with stories about life as a political prisoner.
8. Desde Aquí: Of the 200 estimated blogs, some 25 have a journalistic bent, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reinaldo Escobar, who was a reporter for the state press, has been furiously covering the recent spate of protests in the wake of dissident Zapato Tamayo's death, paying special attention to Las Damas en Blanco, which inspired Gloria Estefan's march on Calle Ocho.
10. El Auditorio del Imbecil: All the blogs use the Interwebs to mock El Maximo and rail against the inadequacies of the government. But Ciro Diaz, a 31-year-old Jason Mraz-ish balladeer, does it in song.