(AFP) – May 6, 2008
HAVANA (AFP) — Cuban authorities have refused to give a travel visa to a Cuban blogger who was to have flown to Spain to receive a top journalism award, the writer told AFP Tuesday.
"I have canceled tonight's flight" to Madrid, writer Yoani Sanchez, 32, told AFP, after learning that she would not be given authorization to make the trip.
"It's another way to remind us that we are like little children who need to get our parents' permission to leave the house," she said.
The blogger now apparently will not be able to personally receive the prestigious Ortega y Gasset prize given out each year by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, which she was to have been given Wednesday.
Last month, El Pais announced it had awarded the prize to Sanchez, whose blog "Generacion Y" chronicles everyday Cubans' daily woes.
An El Pais official in Madrid told AFP that the island's communist government had been "complicating" Sanchez's exit.
Sanchez has said her request for a travel visa is the "perfect test" to see if Cuba's new President Raul Castro, who succeeded his ailing brother Fidel Castro in February, is serious about opening up the regime.
El Pais praised Sanchez's "vivacious" writing style and "shrewdness" in overcoming hurdles to freedom of expression in Cuba when it announced her prize.
The blog, hosted on a server in Germany, is Cuba's most popular, receiving 1.2 million hits a month.
Since becoming president, Raul Castro has taken modest steps to improve living standards, including allowing Cubans to stay in tourist hotels, take out mobile phone contracts, and buy appliances such as computers, motorbikes and pressure cookers.
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