Hunger Strikes in Cuba and Blog Roundup

by Elizabeth Hoover    /  March 23, 2010  / 9 Comments



Ever since I started preparing our most recent issue on Cuba, I have been following Yoani Sánchez’s blog, Generation Y. The first time I read it, I was enchanted by Yoani’s voice—bitter, sardonic but laced with a fierce optimism that change is possible. At times, she’s incredibly funny. While waiting in line at the Ministry of the Interior, she vainly hopes a worker distracted by hunger and eager to grab lunch will hastily approve her travel request. Yoani wrote, “You know well the effect that melted cheese and tomato sauce can cause in a bureaucrat who looks at her watch at three in the afternoon.”

She posted this just days after the death of her friend Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died during a hunger strike while in prison. Held for contempt, public disorder, and disobedience, Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience.

Today I opened the blog and read this: “To report what hurts us, to write about what we have encountered, touched, suffered, transcends the journalistic experience to become a living testimony.” This opens Yoani’s heart-wrenching entry about Guillermo Fariñas, who began a hunger strike after Tomayo’s death and vows to continue until all prisoners of conscience with health problems are set free.  It was through her blog that I learned Fariñas was hospitalized, an event initially not covered in the American press.

Blogs can offer their readers a street-level view of life under dictatorship—its tragedy, banality, and absurdity—that is at once intimate and informative.

Here are a few blogs from around the world that offer individual perspectives of life under political turmoil or instability. I don’t endorse everything the bloggers say,  but what they offer is invaluable—singular voices stubbornly pushing against the grain of mainstream media.

Generation Y, Cuba

Adventures of Mr. Behi, Iran

Angry Chinese Blogger, China

An Arab Woman Blues, Iraq

Anas Qtiesh, Syria

Scarlett Lion, Liberia/Uganda

What an African Woman Thinks, Kenya

High Peaks Pure Earth, Tibet

Baheyya, Egypt

GenderStan, Kyrgyzstan

The Devil’s Excrement, Venezuela

These are merely a selection of blogs I enjoy reading. Since I am an English speaker, they are all in English. Please feel free to add to the list using the comment section below. I’d enjoy seeing blogs in lots of languages!

Also check out Threatened Voices, a project of GlobalVoices advocacy. The site is mapping locations where bloggers have been threatened, arrested, or killed due to their work, and provides links if you wish to take action.

Click here to read Elizabeth’s bio.

Read issue 3 about Cuban Bloggers.

About the Author

Elizabeth Hoover earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University, where she received a Project on African Expressive Traditions grant and the Won-Joon Yon Scholarship for Racial Tolerance. She has written for American Heritage, Life, and Poets and Writers. Her criticism has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She has published poetry in The Adirondack Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and the Atlanta Review. Recently, New Letters nominated her for a Pushcart Prize. Hoover is a former associate editor at Sampsonia Way.

View all articles by Elizabeth Hoover

9 Comments on "Hunger Strikes in Cuba and Blog Roundup"

  1. CB Anderson March 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm ·

    Thank you so much for sharing! It is so important, now more than ever, to bring every voice possible to the table. Your entry touches on so many aspects of human rights and the global challenges facing us.

  2. Nancy Murrell April 1, 2010 at 6:16 am ·

    These are difficult topics, and although we sometimes feel helpless because there are no easy solutions, it’s important for us to know everything we can about our world. Thanks for this well written post shining light on people who are willing to put everything on the line for justice.

  3. A Simmons April 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm ·

    Thank you! So much of our newspapers doesn’t cover these topics, or gives inaccurate views. It is very helpful to be able to hear directly from citizens around the world and thanks to you I’ve just discovered new blogs to read. Thank you for this “street level view” of many of our neighbors around the world.

  4. Bekah April 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm ·

    It’s so useful that your work addresses so many different kinds of writing….previously you’ve posted about book publishers and now you are addressing blogging. I would love to hear more about how different governments react to blogging vs. book publishing. Does it seem to be considered as more threatening? Or less? Thanks for your work!

  5. Abigail Trollinger April 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm ·

    Having worked at an NGO I have experienced the paralyzing abundance of information and perspectives on blogs, and now that I’m in school I tend to give up rather than sift through it all. I could never collect these strong voices in one place, and I appreciate you providing us with such a valuable resource.

    Keep it up!

  6. Daniel Hatch April 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm ·

    I just want to second Abigail’s comment. I never know where to look for info like this. Also, I love the background and thoughtful commentary you give to these resources. Thanks!

  7. Doris April 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm ·

    It’s very exciting to learn about new blogs from such diverse places like Tibet and Liberia. I practically enjoyed GenderStan and it will certainly become a regular read of mine. Thanks!

  8. Amy N. April 3, 2010 at 8:50 pm ·

    These all look to be great reads! Thanks for separating the wheat from the chaff!

  9. Chris A. April 5, 2010 at 10:28 am ·

    What a wonderful resource. Thanks for sharing all of these links. I just learned more about what it is like to live in Iran from reading “Mr. Behi” for fifteen minutes than I have learned from reading newspaper articles over the past several years.

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