Cuban blogger says she is briefly detained

AP News
Posted: Nov 07, 2009 6:06 AM

A Cuban blogger who has gained international attention for her searing commentary about life on the communist island said she was briefly detained Friday and warned by state security agents about her opposition activity.

Yoani Sanchez, who runs a blog called "Generation Y" and whose writings have appeared in several international publications and Web sites, told The Associated Press that two state agents in civilian clothes stopped her in Havana's Vedado neighborhood as she and several friends made their way to a protest march in central Havana.

The agents ordered her and one of her friends to get into their car and pulled her hair and kicked her when she initially refused, Sanchez said.

"It was very violent," she said.

Once in the car, Sanchez said, the agents told her she had gone too far with her writings, which vividly tells of problems of a country where the government controls nearly all aspects of life. Sanchez said that after issuing their warning, the agents let her and her friend go.

The Cuban government had no immediate comment, and it was impossible to independently verify Sanchez's charges. Many Cuban opposition leaders say they are harassed from time to time by the state, particularly if they try to attend or plan street demonstrations.

The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation says there are more than 200 political prisoners in Cuba, a number that has dropped sharply since Fidel Castro ceded power to his brother Raul in 2006. The government does not recognize the legitimacy of the opposition, saying they are paid mercenaries of Washington.

Earlier this year, Time magazine named Sanchez one of the world's 100 most influential people. In October, the government denied her permission to travel to New York to receive a top journalism prize, the second time this year she has been refused permission to leave the island.

While her blog gets about 1 million hits a month, Sanchez enjoys more of a following off the island than on it. Internet access to the blog is often blocked in Cuba and Sanchez blames the government, which has refused to comment.

The communist government severely limits freedom of speech and assembly and controls all newspapers, radio and television stations.


Associated Press Writer Paul Haven contributed to this report.