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Dissident blogger's new digital newspaper is blocked in Cuba

HAVANA--Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez launched a new online newspaper Wednesday, with hopes of making it Cuba's first independent news outlet in 50 years, but it was promptly blocked inside the communist-ruled island.

People in Cuba who tried to connect to Sanchez's “14ymedio” site were redirected to another page, Yoanislandia.com, filled with attacks on the prize-winning writer and pieces by pro-government bloggers.

“This is a site of people sick of Yoani Sanchez presenting herself as the Mother Teresa of Cuban dissidents,” the replacement site said in its “about us” tab.

Sanchez launched her new site at 8:05 a.m. (1205 GMT), promising to offer Cubans “a complete spectrum of news, opinion pieces and information” about life on the island.

But by 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) it had been blocked inside Cuba, where the state has controlled all media since the early days of the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

“I have been so nervous lately, I have bitten my nails down to the quick ... Thanks for the words of support and the criticism that will help make us better,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter.

“Bad strategy from the Cuban government blocking our site. There is nothing more attractive than forbidden fruit.”

Moral Support from the Famous

Noted figures from around the world, including Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa and Polish Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa, urged the government to “respect the right” of the newspaper to exist, in a letter posted on the site.

Sanchez assembled a newsroom of 11 journalists, including herself, in Havana to produce the news site. Her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, is editor-in-chief.

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