Yoani Sanchez and her crew
Ted Henken at the El Yuma blog has translated Yoani Sanchez's fascinating story of The Making of (her blog) Generation Y (Original Spanish post here). On one level, it's about the trials and tribulations of building a blog in Cuba with no tech support and no info, but ultimately, "The Making of Generacion Y' is the universal story of someone with something to say, who builds a support network saying it, and succeeds way beyond what was ever imagined possible. Kind of like what good music is supposed to be about.
For me, Generaçion Y was the first blog from inside the island that mirrored the conversations that I was hearing on my frequent visits to Havana. And since Yoani lives in Vieja Habana and I was staying in Centro Habana and then Vedado, she became like another one of my Cuban friends.....articulate, educated and frustrated as hell at the glacial pace of change in their country.
So Yoani went ahead and did something about it, and has now become an internationally recognized symbol for all Cubans who, despite the insane limitations on internet access imposed by the doble bloqueo****, are blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, using their Myspace pages and Flickr groups to express their opinions about whatever is on their minds.
Examples include Alexander Abreu of Havana de Primera using Facebook to test out his new lyrics, the virtual "repudiation brigades" (mitin de repudio) against Yoani on Twitter ... photo blogs, pro-government journalists blogs, political prisoner blogs, the list goes on. It's an online version of Calle G y 23rd, the square in Vedado across from the University of Havana where all the Cuban cultural and political tendencies are on display. (My fave new read is the English translation of La carpeta de Ivan)
The El Yuma blog has quickly become indispensable in keeping track of this new Cuba 2.0. Ted Henken is a professor out of Baruch College in New York who is a colleague of both Ned Sublette (they will be are co-teaching a class in NYC at Baruch - "New World Cities: New York, New Orleans, and Havana..." ) and Phil Peters of The Cuban Triangle blog. So he travels in circles of people who know what they are talking about, plus - unlike so many other U.S. pundits on the right and the left - he has actually been to Cuba.
Henken has posted extensively about the Cuban government's campaign to discredit Yoani, but there's lots of other developments (A Facebook campaign on the island against the tarjeta blanca, a confererence on Cuban Information Technology and Social Media) that keep him updating El Yuma on a regular basis. I'm hoping he has some new information on the news yesterday about the expulsion of a U of Havana journalism student for running a controversial Facebook group.
****doble bloqueo is a term I learned from a Cuban friend to describe how both the U.S. and Cuban governments deprive Cuban people of normal lives as citizens of the world.