Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban dissident blogger who in 2013 was permitted by the island’s Communist Party government to travel abroad for the first time since starting Generación Y – a blog popular with Cubans living abroad and published in 17 languages – met with US Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday in Miami, according to Café Fuerte.  Sánchez was in town to receive an award for her work at Hispanicize, an event for Latino trendsetters and innovators, where she announced that she and a team of 11 journalist collaborators were only weeks away from launching an independent news service based in Cuba. 

The half-hour encounter between the two was confirmed in a Tweet from Biden’s office, which said they had met to “discuss the challenges of civil society & free speech advocates in Cuba”.  A spokeswoman from Biden’s office declined to give further details in response to a request by HuffPost Voces. Sánchez, who is not a journalist but rose to fame internationally for columns ranging from criticisms of specific governmental policies to chronicles standing at the intersection of politics and personal life, spoke briefly about her new project after accepting the award, according to NBC.  "The first question is, are you brave enough to do this?” she said in reference to the recruitment of journalists to the team.  "The second is, are you willing to learn how to be a true journalist?”

The Miami Herald reports that Sánchez said that the service – whose name she declined to reveal – will be distributed through cell phones and emails as well as digital drives such as USB devices, DVDs and CDs.  Cell phone use in Cuba dwarfs that of Internet, as access to a personal connection is rare and Internet cafes charge a premium in a country where the average income is about $20 a month.  She told the paper that she hopes the publication can be passed from hand to hand in Combos – DVDs with large memory capacity which are regularly used in Cuba to store movies and telenovelas.