Well-known Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was one of 10 women to receive the 2011 International Women of Courage Award at an event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Although the Cuban government would not allow Sanchez to travel to the U.S. to claim her award, Radio and TV Martí made it possible for her to participate in the ceremony via radio.
“Nasta Palazhanka from Belarus and Yoani Sanchez from Cuba could not be here because their governments would not allow them to travel here,” said the Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, at the March 8 event at the Department of Sate. “But we are with them in spirit and we salute them for everything they are doing on behalf of their countries and their people.” (full remarks here)
Sanchez, who is a regular on-air contributor to Martí programs, was able to listen to the awards ceremony via Radio Marti’s live broadcast. Clinton observed that Sanchez, “has created an interactive space for the exchange of ideas and free expression. She has given voice to the concerns and aspirations of her fellow citizens. And, as governments are learning around the world, you cannot stop the Internet. And so her words, despite her government’s best efforts, are being translated into other languages, are being picked up and spread around because freedom knows no boundaries.”
Given concern that phone lines might be cut or transmissions interrupted, Martí editors put Sanchez on the air immediately after Clinton’s remarks.
“The Cuban government prohibited Yoani Sanchez from being there, but she listened to all of the details of her award ceremony while she was on air live with Radio Martí,” said Jorge Luis Hernandez, Senior Program Manager at the Martís. “Bloggers from throughout the island joined the conversation congratulating Sanchez, speaking of their work together and expressing their admiration while this historic event was taking place.”
Although, the phone connection with Sanchez was cut off eventually, Radio and TV Martí continue to provide extensive coverage of the growing online community in Cuba along with other news and information essential to their audience on the island.