Cuba bars blogger from US trip to receive honour

Havana : The Cuban government refused permission to prominent blogger Yoani Sanchez for travelling to the US to accept an honour from Columbia University, her husband said Monday.

Reinaldo Escobar told EFE that an immigration official informed his wife that “at the moment, she doesn’t have permission to leave the country”.

The official did not respond when Sanchez asked why her application was turned down, Escobar said.

The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism announced in July that Sanchez, 34, would receive a special citation as part of the 2009 Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean.

The blogger was invited to Wednesday’s awards ceremony at Columbia’s New York campus.

Escobar said Sanchez showed the immigration official photocopies of her three previous requests for an exit visa – all denied – as well as the invitation from Columbia and another from the Brazilian senate, which has asked the blogger to make a speech.

Sanchez has also been invited to events in Poland, Spain and Mexico, her husband said.

Since 2007, Sanchez’s Generacion Y blog has become a trusted source of news about Cuba for readers outside the island, earning her Spain’s Ortega y Gasset Prize for digital journalism.

But Cuban officials wouldn’t allow her to make the trip to Madrid to receive the prize.

Cuba is one of a handful of countries that require citizens to apply for authorisation to travel abroad.

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