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In this April 1, 2013 file photo, Cuba’s best-known blogger Yoani Sanchez speaks at the Freedom Tower of Miami Dade College, in Miami, Florida. Sanchez said she will start publishing a general-interest newspaper online Wednesday, May 21, 2014, in a move that will test both the government’s openness to free expression and the dissident’s ability to build a following inside her country. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

In this April 1, 2013 file photo, Cuba’s best-known blogger Yoani Sanchez speaks at the Freedom Tower of Miami Dade College, in Miami, Florida. Sanchez said she will start publishing a general-interest newspaper online Wednesday, May 21, 2014, in a move that will test both the government’s openness to free expression and the dissident’s ability to build a following inside her country.

(Lynne Sladky/AP)

Launch of Cuba's first independent online newspaper faces obstruction Add to ...

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez launched Cuba’s first independent online newspaper on Wednesday with reports questioning the quality of Cuba’s health care system, but access to its maiden edition was soon redirected to another site mocking the journalist.

The new site 14ymedio.com seeks to draw attention away from the Communist-ruled country’s state-controlled media and challenge the government’s heavy media restrictions. Cuba has been tolerating a greater criticism in recent years but not yet from such a professional-looking website produced on the island.

Within its first 90 minutes online, people in Cuba who tried to connect to Sanchez’s 14ymedio site were redirected to another page, Yoan$islandia.com, filled with attacks on the prize-winning writer and pieces by pro-government bloggers.

From her Twitter account, Ms. Sanchez called it a “bad strategy by the Cuban government Nothing more attractive than what is forbidden.”

As launched, the site had stories of a type rarely seen in official Cuban media, for example doubting the quality of Cuba’s free health care system, officially seen as a triumph of the 1959 revolution.

Ms. Sanchez’s blog on daily life and politics in Cuba, Generation Y, has rattled the Cuban establishment, and she has won prestigious media awards in the United States and Europe.

The Cuban government in turn has tried to discredit her as a well-paid propagandist doing the bidding of the U.S. government, and six of the site’s nine reporters have been called in for questioning by state security officials, Ms. Sanchez said.

Most Cubans will not be able to read the new publication. Only 2.6 million out of a population of 11.2 million have access to the Internet, and most of those who do have only been able to explore a limited, state-controlled basket of approved websites.

Reuters with a report from Agence France-Presse

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