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    Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez says her digital newspaper is launching soon

    Posted on Tuesday, 04.01.14

    Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez says her digital newspaper is launching soon
    BY IVONNE GOMEZ AND JUAN O. TAMAYO
    JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

    Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez says her planned digital newspaper is just
    weeks away from its debut, with a dozen staffers getting last minute
    training and looking for novel ways to distribute the reports with text
    messages, emails and digital memory devices.

    The publication, which she prefers to call a “new media,” will include
    the usual news as well as investigative reports, sports, interviews and
    profiles, Sánchez told the Hispanicize conference Tuesday at the
    Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami.

    She coyly declined to reveal the name of the publication — a risky
    endeavor in a country where the communist government controls all
    newspapers, radio and television outlets — but said she hopes it will
    launch in late April or early May.

    “I am not a career journalist, but I have become a journalist on the
    run. That is my passion. I believe in the force for change that is
    information. I dream of working in a newsroom,” she told a luncheon
    where she was awarded the “Latinovator” prize.

    Distribution will rely on cell phones and emails because Cubans have
    more mobile phones than computers — a meager 74 per 1,000 according to
    the latest official figures, she said — and easily available memory
    devices such USB flash drives, DVDs and CDs.

    She hopes the publication will be inserted into so-called Combos, which
    are DVDs and other large memory formats recorded with massive amounts of
    information like movies and telenovelas and regularly passed around
    hand-to-hand in Cuba these days.

    The staff is also working on several backup ways of distributing the
    reports and getting around government censors, Sánchez added. Other
    publications often send their reports to supporters abroad who then send
    them back to the island electronically.

    Government officials will likely try to crack down on her digital
    newspaper, Sánchez told a news conference after the award luncheon,
    perhaps by blocking its distribution, slandering its staffers or feeding
    them false information.

    Arresting the writers would be “clumsy,” added the author of the blog
    Generación Y, although several independent journalists have been charged
    under Law 88, known as the Gag Law, with “publishing false news against
    world peace.”

    Sánchez drew laughs when she noted that since the Cuban government
    refuses to issue work permits for independent journalists — those who do
    not want to work for the state monopoly — she obtained a license for
    the closest type of work, typist.

    Conference organizer Manny Ruiz introduced her as “a model for using her
    voice as a journalist and human being through the social media.” The
    conference was launched in 2009 as a way to connect major companies with
    the Hispanic consumer market.

    On Cuba’s new foreign investment law, approved by its parliament over
    the weekend, the blogger said she remains skeptical of a government that
    has seized the properties of even politically friendly investors in the
    past.

    “This is a government that has shown it acts because of convenience and
    does not respect private capital,” she said. Sánchez added, however,
    that people abroad should support the nascent sector of private micro
    businesses known as “self employment.”

    “Economic autonomy is political autonomy,” she declared.

    Asked about Venezuela, Sánchez said President Nicolás Maduro appears to
    be following some of the Cuban government’s traditional ways of dealing
    with its critics — refusing to recognize them, throwing them in prison
    and blaming others abroad.

    She added that some Cubans 50 years and older fear that the collapse of
    the Maduro government — and his subsidies to Havana estimated at up to
    $10 billion a year — will unleash a crisis in Cuba like the one that
    followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Its
    economy shrank by 35 percent when the Soviet subsidies stopped.

    Other Cubans believe that a change in Venezuela could force the Raúl
    Castro government to open the country’s doors further to private
    economic activity and perhaps even political freedoms, she said.

    Sánchez added that Cuban government controls are so tight, and the
    social fabric of the country is so damaged after more than 50 years of
    Castro rule, that she does not foresee the possibility of similar
    anti-government protests breaking out there.

    Source: Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez says her digital newspaper is
    launching soon – Cuba – MiamiHerald.com –
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/01/4033335/cuban-blogger-yoani-sanchez-says.html

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