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The World's Most Influential People
Our fifth annual list of the world's most influential people: leaders, thinkers, heroes, artists, scientists and more
Heroes & Pioneers
- Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie
- Oprah Winfrey
- Oscar Pistorius
- Mia Farrow
- Andre Agassi
- Lance Armstrong
- Bob and Suzanne Wright
- Peter Gabriel
- Sheik Mohammed al-Maktoum
- Yoani Sánchez
- Madeeha Hasan Odhaib
- Randy Pausch
- Lorena Ochoa
- Tony Blair
- Alexis Sinduhije
- Aung San Suu Kyi
- George Mitchell
Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2008
By Oscar Hijuelos
Lord knows, but had the resourceful and courageous Yoani Sánchez, 32, come of age before the Internet, it's most likely that we would have never heard of her. Nor would we have had the opportunity to read her charming but pugnacious slice-of-life portraits of Cuba, which she has been sending out through cyberspace since April 2007 as the Generación Y blogger (desdecuba.com/generaciony).
Trained as a philologist in Havana but denied a career in academia—her dissertation, entitled Dictatorships in Latin American Literature, was perceived as a veiled criticism of the Castro regime—Sánchez has made a living working in Havana's tourist industry.
More important, under the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot: freedom of speech. The pieces she has been clandestinely sending out from Internet cafés—while posing as a tourist—are often funny, elegantly written and poignant. Her subjects have included the shortage of lemons, the turgid proceedings of the Cuban parliament and the slowness of meaningful reforms by Raúl Castro.
These have earned her international acclaim. With a feisty dedication to the truth, Yoani Sánchez's activities bode well for the future of her country.
Hijuelos is the son of Cuban immigrants. His novel Dark Dude comes out this year
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