Cuban Blogger Wins Freedom Prize. Forbidden To Leave Cuba To Accept It
Yet another reason to wonder aloud why so many free Westerners choose a repressive communist gulag as their vacation destination: the Cuban government will not allow Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez to travel to Denmark to pick up an award for promoting freedom and human rights.
Sánchez was denied permission by the Cuban government to travel to Denmark and collect the CEPOS Freedom Award — a $50,000 prize that she was granted by the independent Danish think tank, CEPOS — at the official award ceremony tomorrow night in Copenhagen. Sánchez, author of the world-renowned blog Generación Y and a speaker at the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum, was nominated for the award by HRF president Thor Halvorssen, who will give the keynote speech at the ceremony in Copenhagen.
“The CEPOS Freedom Award is granted to individuals who demonstrate a principled and steadfast commitment to the values and ideas of individual freedom and basic human rights. Through her blog, which is available in 21 languages, Sánchez exposes the harsh reality of life for everyday Cubans,” said Halvorssen.
Sánchez’s outspoken criticism of the Cuban dictatorship earned her the 2008 Ortega y Gasset Prize for Journalism and the 2009 Maria Moors Cabot Prize. She was 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. On December 17, 2010, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands awarded Sánchez the Prince Claus Fund Award for her role as a “leading figure in the use of social networking technologies to breach imposed frontiers in Cuba.” Sánchez was denied permission to be present at that ceremony.
“Cuba’s totalitarian dictatorship—with its billions of dollars, guns, secret police, soldiers, tanks, planes, and network of horrible prisons—is so afraid of being exposed that it must keep Yoani Sánchez trapped in Cuba rather than allowing her to speak her mind abroad. All she has are a few books, a blog, and an indomitable will to write about her experience and clamor for her individual rights. Ultimately, her ideas will win,” said Halvorssen.