The Fracturing of Communist Cuba's Propaganda Machine
"When I started my blog," says journalist Yoani Sánchez, "it was like an exorcism of something that was inside of me."
"Information is entering through the pores" of Cuban society, journalist Yoani Sánchez tells Reason, a process that is causing the official narrative of the country's dictatorship "to rupture."
Sánchez, the founder of 14ymedio, Cuba's first independent digital media outlet, gained international acclaim in the mid-2000s for her vivid accounts of life under a communist dictatorship—and for her courage in flouting government censorship. "When I started my blog," she tells Reason, "it was like an exorcism of something that was inside of me."
"[U]nder the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot: freedom of speech," noted Time magazine in 2008, listing her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world that year. "The pieces she has been clandestinely sending out from Internet cafés—while posing as a tourist—are often funny, elegantly written and poignant."
The 45-year-old writer and podcaster, who built her first computer in 1994, is also an avid technologist. In her speeches and public appearances, Sánchez often reflects on how the personal computer, the internet, USB flash drives, and Twitter and other digital platforms have empowered the Cuban people.
Sánchez sat down with Reason in February of 2020 in Guatemala City at a conference organized by the Reason Foundation, the organization that publishes this website. Shortly after she returned to Cuba, the government closed the borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to an increase in the harassment and imprisonment of political dissidents.
Interview by Jim Epstein. Camera by Pablo Gordillo. Motion graphics by Lex Villena.
Music Credits: Cobalt 2 by Tom Quick, Feel It by Stoic
Photo Credits: Desmond Boylan/Reuters/Newscom, 2004 Fred Ward Black Star Newscom, ID 8881376© Fotogotrek Dreamstime.com, ID 7823781© Neiromobile Dreamstime.com, ID 59252838© Andrey Anishchenko Dreamstime, ID 61647460© Kiosea39 Dreamstime.com, ID 116754717© Jaroslav Šimček Dreamstime.com, ID 122874465© Blue Ring Education Pte Ltd Dreamstime.com, ID 111200266© Adamico Dreamstime.com, ID 159605085© Sabelskaya Dreamstime, Lenin Nolly/Notimex/Newscom, Joachim Kampe, Nadia Isakova World Pictures Photoshot Newscom, Photo 116971118 © Dmitry Naumov dreamstime.com, Photo 116790652 © Filindmitriy86 Dreamstime.com, Photo 87873264 © Olexii Biriukov Dreamstime.com, Photo 49809788 © Alanpoulson Dreamstime.com, Walter Bibikow DanitaDelimont Danita Delimont, ID 144775597© Siarhei Nosyreu Dreamstime.com, ID 149385350© Gustavo Munoz Dreamstime.com, ID 137146791© Fondue Dreamstime.com, ID 101953047© Lapandr Dreamstime.com, ID 142267475© Ilkin Guliyev Dreamstime.com, ID 101848367© Vadymvdrobot Dreamstime.com, LHCU