U.S. criticizes Cuba over blocking of dissident website
6:17 p.m. CDT, May 22, 2014
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States criticized Cuban censorship on
Thursday after Cubans were blocked from an independent website that is
challenging the state monopoly on news on the island.
Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez started publishing 14ymedio.com on
Wednesday, but would-be readers were redirected to another site that is
highly critical of her, reflecting the official line.
Sanchez's site remained blocked to the small minority of Cubans with
internet access on Thursday, though it was accessible outside Cuba.
The U.S. State Department stopped short of directly blaming Cuba,
referring instead to media reports that the government blocked the site,
but it took advantage of the incident to denounce Cuban censorship.
"The Cuban government continues to limit fundamental freedoms, including
freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of assembly, and the
free flow of information to, from, and within the island," a State
Department spokesperson said.
"Cubans deserve the right to freely express themselves and the right to
petition their government."
Cuba rejects such U.S. criticism as hypocritical intervention in its
A Cuban government spokesman said he was unaware who was blocking
Sanchez's site in Cuba, suggesting it might be the U.S. government. He
also declined to make available a representative from Etecsa, the state
communications monopoly and Cuba's internet service provider.
Cuba has tolerated greater criticism in recent years but not yet from a
website produced on the island as professional-looking as 14ymedio.com.
From her Twitter account on Wednesday, Sanchez blamed the Cuban
government, but on Thursday the website took a more sarcastic approach.
"It doesn't take much imagination to discover who were the aggressors,
but, as we don't have proof, we'll just conjecture that we're talking
about someone who has the technological resources ... and the
antagonism," the website said in an editorial.
"Blocking 14ymedio could become a failed strategy if the goal is to
silence us. Nothing is more attractive than that which is forbidden."
Since starting a blog on daily life and politics in Cuba seven years
ago, Sanchez has rattled the Cuban establishment and won prestigious
media awards in the United States and Europe.
The Cuban government has frequently tried discredit her as a well-paid
propagandist doing the bidding of the U.S. government.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington and Daniel Trotta in
Havana; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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