5 Cuban Bloggers Who Open Up Their Island (and Themselves) to the Rest Of the World
Prominent Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez has gained much of her fame due to her harsh and unapologetic criticism of the Cuban government. However, her blog doesn't tell the whole story or represent what every Cuban thinks. In a country that is currently undergoing rapid changes, the online space for dialogue and discourse is slowly opening up. Here are some interesting Cuban blogs offering different, more nuanced perspectives about life on the island. Caveat: Most of these bloggers write in Spanish, which might be the reason for their relative lack of exposure.
1. Elaine Díaz
Recently interviewed by the New York Times, Elaine Diaz is a moderate voice in the polarized Cuban blogosphere, offering a relatively objective view of what's happening on the island. As a Cuban journalism professor at the University of Havana, she has received a lot of attention through her writing on Global Voices and through her personal blog La Polémica Digital (The Digital Controversy, in Spanish). Her writing is insightful, subtle, and interesting.
2. La Jóven Cuba (The Young Cuba)
What do young people in Cuba think about politics, society, the economy, and culture? That's a broad, difficult question, but perhaps this group of university students from the Matanzas province can offer their perspective. Although most of the posts on La Jóven Cuba (in Spanish) espouse a pro-government ideology, the really great stuff happens in the comments. Some of the comments are highly critical, while others take a more moderate stance. The back-and-forth in the comments is perhaps the most interesting part of this blog.
Members of the website recently participated in a live meeting with other prominent Cuban bloggers & Twitter users. U.S. Special Interests Section head Conrad Tribble attended the meeting and asked for more dialogue between the two countries.
3. Sandra Álvarez
Psychologist and journalist Sandra Álvarez tackles issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation in Cuba head-on as the author of Negra Cubana Tenía Que Ser (It Had to Be a Black Cuban Woman, in Spanish). Her intersectional analysis and identity as a proud Afro-Cuban woman provide a new dimension to learning about life in Cuba for people of color, the LGBT community, and other minority groups. Very little mainstream international reporting focuses on Cubans of color, although they comprise the majority of the country's population.
4. Dazra Novak
Not all Cuban bloggers are political or aiming their work at the international community. Dazra Novak, a member of the Union of Cuban Artists & Writers (UNEAC), takes her readers to unknown corners of Havana and describes the idiosyncracies of everyday life on her blog Habana Por Dentro (Havana from the Inside, in Spanish). Her prose is so lush, descriptive, and poetic, it will at least make you feel like you are in Havana.
5. Conner Gorry
Conner Gorry is snappy and honest on Here is Havana (in English), where she dishes her extensive knowledge as an American journalist who has lived and worked in Cuba for over nine years. Gorry is great at getting past the BS and politics and giving her unvarnished perspective as a foreigner living in Havana. She has also been pushing her Cuba travel app quite extensively, which includes useful travel tips, guides to cheap(ish) restaurants, and other free/low-cost events for people traveling to the country.