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Los Amigos de las Bibliotecas Cubanas
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   Defenders of Intellectual Freedom

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

"Sometimes certain books have been published, the number does not matter. But as a matter of principle not a single book of such kind should be printed, not a single chapter, not a single page, not a single letter!"
 - President Fidel Castro, speech before the National Congress on Culture and Education,  April 30,1971



                                                         "...No Books Prohibited"
                                                         A sign in the Félix Varela
                                                        Independent Library, Las
                                                        Tunas, Cuba


               LATEBREAKING NEWS


Police ban library conference
HAVANA, Oct. 7, 2011 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez/CihPress) -  On Oct. 6 the police repressed a group of independent librarians attempting to hold a conference. The conference was scheduled to take place... in the home of Evidio Emilio Ulloa, a veteran guerrilla fighter of the Revolution....

Librarian in clandestine video
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 14, 2011 (Capitol Hill Cubans) - Cuba's Hope, an underground video, is featured on the Capitol Hill Cubans blog... The clandestinely filmed documentary is hosted by Lilvio Fernández, an independent librarian....

Jail threat over children's program
REGLA (Havana), August 14, 2011 (Iván Sañudo Pupo/Agencia Libre Asociada) - Librarian Aini Martín Valero was threatened today in the doorway of her home in Regla by two agents of the State Security police....

Eliades Acosta exits Cuba
NEW YORK, July 28, 2011 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Dr. Eliades Acosta, the former director of Havana's National Library and chief spokesperson for the persecution of Cuba's independent library movement, has left his homeland for the Dominican Republic....

Cuba Debate Roils Academic Conference
NEW YORK, April 30, 2011 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - At the conference, Rhonda Neugebauer was asked why she testified during an ALA investigation that she has been unable to find any evidence of censorship in Cuba during her visits to the island over the past twenty years. Visibly annoyed, she first tried to stonewall the issue by declaring, "This question does not deserve an answer!"

Library leader threatened, harassed
HAVANA, April 25, 2011 (Ana Aguililla/Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez) - When library leader Omayda Padrón Azcuy complained to State Security agents that they were harassing her, one of them answered: "No, if I was really repressing you, I would break down the door and drag you outside right now."

Library Raid in Pinar del Río
HAVANA, April 9, 2011 (Mario Hechavarría Driggs/www.miscelaneasdecuba.net ) - José Ramón Rivera, the director of an independent library in Pinar del Río Province, complains that a State Security officer entered his house at #655 Garmendia St. and took away four boxes of books....

New secret agent-librarian revealed!
NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2011 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On Feb. 25 Cuba's official TV network aired a documentary on two members of civil society groups who revealed their true identity as underground agents of the secret police. One of the agents, Carlos Serpa, identified himself as the director of the Ernest Hemingway Independent Library....

Nat Hentoff: "Endless shame of the spineless ALA"
NEW YORK, January 13, 2011 (Nat Hentoff/Galesburg Register-Mail) - In the many columns I've written..., I've cited the ALA's refusal to demand the release of these librarians.... As my documented stories on these and future imprisonments went on, I was targeted by the director of Cuba's National Library Eliades Acosta: "What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?" My public reply: "I know that if I were a Cuban, I'd be in prison."

Another gay library raided
HAVANA, Nov. 17, 2010 (by Aliomar Janjaques Chivaz, Cuban LGBT Foundation) - On November 10 the Arenas Independent Library... was confiscated by State Security and officers of the National Revolutionary Police, when leaders of the Reinaldo Arenas LGBT Memorial Foundation were meeting to show a documentary film....

At Book Institute, panicky informers working overtime
HAVANA, Sept. 22, 2010 (www.cubanet.org/Adolfo Pablo Borrazá) - At the Havana publishing house of the Cuban Book Institute, workers are wasting no time in denouncing each other for whatever reason, with the goal of keeping their jobs following the announcement by Raul Castro that half a million Cuban workers will be laid off....

Librarian in Palma Soriano threatened with imprisonment
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Sept. 1, 2010, (Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez/Hablemos Press Agency) - On August 25 independent librarian Rolando Reyes Brin was threatened with imprisonment by the [police] chief of the sector, according to the librarian's wife, Yuleisis Garcel Pérez....

Gay Foundation libraries seized by police
HAVANA, May 25, 2010 (LGBT Cuba News Today/Mario José Delgado González) - Last Monday, May 17, at approximately 11:23 A.M., the complete LGBT book holdings of Henry Sol
ís Estévez, coordinator of the Gay Freedom Party, Dunia Ortega, lesbian activist, and Aliomar Janjaque were confiscated by the State Security police...

Independent library raided in Cienfuegos
HAVANA, May 19, 2010 (www.periodistas-es.org/Aini Martin Valero) - The Mario Chanes de Armas Independent Library was raided by the political police on Friday, May 14. The director of the library provided information by telephone that agents of the State Security police carried out a search of his residence and confiscated 360 books....

ALA candidates speak on Cuban library issue
NEW YORK, March 16, 2010 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Sara Kelly Johns and Molly Raphael, candidates for ALA president, spoke on March 8 at the office of New York City's METRO library organization. Both candidates affirmed their respect for intellectual freedom... but a specific question from the audience about the Cuban independent library issue identified their contrasting views on intellectual freedom as a matter of policy....

Appeal for hunger striker sent to ALA
 NEW YORK, March 11, 2010 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Today the letter appended below was sent to Ms. Camila Alire, the president of the American Library Association: "We write... asking for your urgent and compassionate aid in saving the life of Guillermo Fariñas. Mr. Fariñas, the director of the Dr. Roberto Avalos Library and the national coordinator of the largest group of independent libraries in Cuba, is on a hunger strike at his home in Santa Clara to win the release of 26 Cuban prisoners who are in poor health.  Mr. Fariñas has refused to consume food or fluids since he began his hunger strike on Feb. 24, following the hunger strike death of prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo...."

Library director disclaims knowledge of repression
NEW YORK, November 6, 2009 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Dr. Eduardo Torres Cuevas, the director of Havana's National Library, spoke today at a Forum on Cuban Libraries held at New York City's Hunter College. During his presentation, Dr. Torres Cuevas denied any knowledge of the existence of Cuba's independent library movement....

Cuba's independent libraries: books that refuse to die
SANTIAGO DE CHILE, Feb. 8, 2009 (El Mercurio/ VÍCTOR M. MANDUJANO) - "In a brave challenge to censorship, about 200 independent libraries operate throughout Cuba...." This panorama is reminiscent of the novel "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury and the movie "The Lives of Others" by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, which reveals the crude repression applied by the secret police against intellectuals in the former East Germany....

Police seize books donated by Spanish embassy
HAVANA, Feb. 11, 2009 (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net/Mario Hechavarria Driggs) - Books donated to Cuba's independent library movement by the Spanish Embassy have reportedly been confiscated by the police in Havana....

Eliades Acosta purged, reports claim
NEW YORK, January 9, 2009 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Two news reports offer additional evidence of former National Library director Eliades Acosta's fall from official grace, indicating he is the victim of a slow motion purge or may face legal problems related to funds allegedly missing from Havana's National Library....

Czech group asks IFLA to take action on Cuba
PRAGUE, August 5, 2008 (People in Need) - The Czech human rights organization People in Need has sent an open letter to IFLA president Claudia Lux, asking her to initiate a review of the world library association's Cuba policy....

Allard fails to cover up Eliades Acosta's "heresy"
NEW YORK, July 31, 2008 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - We in the Friends of Cuban Libraries are honored by the Cuban government's latest attempt to discredit our work.... Past attacks on us were usually confined to less prominent venues, so Jean-Guy Allard's error-filled article in Granma is another sign of the government's realization that it is losing ground....

Dowling's Cuba Update: more "invisible book burning"
NEW YORK, June 25, 2008 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) -
For ALA members, dedicated to defending intellectual freedom as the core principle of our beliefs, the only thing worse than burning books and persecuting library workers is trying to ignore it.... Michael Dowling's "Update" on the ALA's Cuba controversy is a continuation of a decade-long effort by a faction within the ALA to ignore, distort and cover up Cuba's grim reality....

"Invisible book burning" re-ignites ALA controversy
NEW YORK, June 22, 2008 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) -
 Cuba has once again been catapulted to the top of the American Library Association's agenda. On the eve of the ALA's annual conference in California, three members of the ALA's governing Council have introduced a resolution condemning Cuba's alleged repression of the island's independent library movement....

Eliades Acosta CENSORED
NEW YORK, April 17, 2008 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On November 29 Cubarte published a startling interview with Eliades Acosta, the former director of Havana's National Library. Until now, Acosta has vehemently denied the existence of censorship in his homeland.... But in an apparent turnaround, Acosta told Cubarte: "We aspire to a society that speaks openly of its problems without fear, in which the news media report on life as it really is..., in which errors are publicly ventilated in order to explore problems, in which people can express themselves honestly..." On the day following its publication, the article was removed from the Cubarte website....

War Declared on Library of Congress by Venezuela
NEW YORK, April 10, 2008 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Fernando Báez, the newly appointed director of Venezuela's National Library, has declared war on the Library of Congress.  Báez says his institution will "assume a leading role in Latin America and the world because the U.S. Library of Congress has been converted into one of history's greatest enemies of libraries...."

ALA censoring guest speaker, critics say
NEW YORK, March 7, 2008 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Critics charge the ALA is censoring criticism of the organization's Cuba policy made by distinguished guest speaker Anthony Lewis at the ALA's January conference in Philadelphia.
"I think there can't be anything worse than putting librarians in prison because of their being librarians and giving people books to read," declared Lewis to his ALA audience. "So please don't ignore the issue.... Cuban librarians who have been in prison are entitled to the utmost support from this organization...."

LEAKED MEMO: "Invasion of the Library Snatchers"
NEW YORK, Dec. 12, 2007 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Many fans of science fiction are familiar with a classic movie, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," involving a scheme by space aliens to take over a remote town by replacing the inhabitants with cloned replicas. A variation on this theme, which could be entitled "Invasion of the Library Snatchers," is unwinding in Cuba....

Laura Bush meets Cuban librarians in video conference
NEW YORK, Nov. 28, 2007 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On November 27 Laura Bush held a video conference with members of Cuba's independent library movement residing on the island. Mrs. Bush "spoke of her admiration for the work of the independent librarians in Cuba who provide a source of uncensored information to their countrymen at great personal risk, and expressed solidarity with them and their cause....

Gisela Delgado and Héctor Palacios arrive in Spain, ordeal described
NEW YORK, Nov. 6, 2007 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Gisela Delgado and her husband, Héctor Palacios, have arrived in Spain on a 3-month medical pass. Ms. Delgado is the director of the Independent Libraries Project....What did they do to him in prison?... For two years, Héctor was kept in a metal-and-concrete box, 5 feet 4 inches high, 5 feet 10 inches long.... When I saw him, I asked: "Did you think you would pull through?" Without boasting, he answered something else: "What's important is that they couldn't crush me...."

Thirty books seized in Morón
MORÓN, Cuba, Oct. 10, 2007 (Félix Reyes Gutiérrez/ Cubanacán Press) - On October 7 the secret police seized about thirty books from the William Morgan Independent Library in Morón, Ciego de Avila Province. Celina Casadebal Carabeo, the mother of the Morgan Library's director, Rolando García Casadebal, said that at about 6:00 P.M. three members of the secret police, dressed in civilian clothing, appeared at the family's home at 102 Margarita Street in Morón....

Nat Hentoff: Castro's useful idiots
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2007 (Nat Hentoff/Washington Times) - The agenda, Miss Krug, is freedom. "Every burned book," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "illuminates the world." But ALA's leadership refuses to bring light to the cages of these Cuban prisoners of conscience. The ALA's membership booklet proclaims "the public's right (everywhere) to explore in their libraries many points of view on all questions and issues facing them." An issue facing all members of the ALA is their leaders' shameful exception of the Cuban people's freedom to read....

Miami censorship opposed by Friends, Freadom
MIAMI, Feb. 22, 2207 (Ketty Rodriguez/El Nuevo Herald) - The Friends of Cuban Libraries and Freadom, organizations that condemn the "kidnapping" of the books Discovering Cultures, Cuba and Vamos a Cuba, will send a copy of each to the school library from which they were taken by an anti-Castro group, along with other books which, according to them, will serve as a counterweight to the challenged facts in the books being held by the Cuban exile organization in Miami....

Open letter: The ALA's book burning scandal
NEW YORK, January 17, 2007 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) -
From a letter to Ms. Leslie Burger, ALA president: "You did not create the current ALA policy toward Cuba, founded on lies and deception, but you are under no obligation to defend the ongoing cover up or to repeat the pro-Castro faction's lies as if they are the truth. On the contrary, you have not only a right but a duty to tell the truth...."

Photos: Librarians injured by mob 
NEW YORK, Oct. 31, 2006 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Reports have been received of a major campaign launched by the Cuban government to prevent a congress of independent libarians from taking place. Photographs of injuries inflicted on two people who attended one of the library meetings have been published on the Internet: http://bitacoracubana.com/desdecuba/portada2.php?id=3166

Swedish aid flows to Cuban libraries
STOCKHOLM, Sept. 11, 2006 (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net) - The power of literature consists of opening the eyes of people and making them aware of the situation in which they live. In totalitarian countries it is impossible to obtain uncensored books. For this reason, reading materials have to be brought into the country clandestinely. SILC, the Swedish International Liberal Center, helps to send books to Cuba clandestinely....

New wave of library raids in Cuba                     
NEW YORK, August 17, 2006 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - The Friends of Cuban Libraries have received information on a new wave of repression being directed against Cuba's independent library movement. Juan Carlos Gonz
ález Leiva, a librarian, lawyer and human rights activist in Ciego de Avila, provided information on the heightened repression to the Independent Libraries Project,

Library visitor threatened by police
HOLGUIN, Cuba, August 11, 2006 (Liannis Meriño Aguilera, www.cubanet.org) - One of the patrons who visits the Gastón Baquero Independent Library, located in the city of Banes, was intercepted by the police on August 5, according to the library director, Martha Díaz Rondón....

Cuba attacks Albright for ALA speech
NEW YORK, July 2, 2006 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - The June 30 issue of Librínsula contains an article by Cuban National Library director Eliades Acosta attacking Madeleine Albright for a speech she delivered on June 24 at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans. In her speech, former Secretary of State Albright defended the right of Cubans to open independent libraries....

Crisis among "Internet Police" revealed in video
NEW YORK, June 1, 2006 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) -A video filmed at Cuba's University of Information Sciences has revealed a crisis within the elite, including the branch of the security police which tries to suppress access to the World Wide Web.....

Cuba rebukes Gorman, makes "Dracula" charge against Codrescu
NEW YORK, March 19, 2006 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) -  "Librinsula" has attacked Andrei Codrescu for challenging Michael Gorman over the ALA's Cuba policy. While charging Codrescu with being a modern-day "Dracula," Librinsula also rebuked Gorman for failing to follow the party line in denouncing the independent librarians.....

Friends respond to Gorman's "defamation" charge
NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2006 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - "The same goes for nonsensical claims that Cuba's independent libraries are somehow not real libraries, even though the ALA's own mandate defends the legitimacy of 'all libraries.' Is there some aspect of the phrase 'all libraries,' Mr. Gorman, which is ambiguous?"   

U.S. librarians fail to speak out for oppressed peers
SAN ANTONIO , Feb. 1, 2006 (Jonathan Gurwitz/San Antonio Express-News) - Michael Gorman, the president of the ALA, was mugged recently in San Antonio. Gorman was in town for the ALA's annual midwinter meeting. Ordinarily, I would be horrified.... But in this case, it's the ALA that's committing the crime and the truth that fittingly mugged Gorman.

ALA convention shocker: Keynote speaker Codrescu slams Cuba policy scandal
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, January 22, 2006 (Andrei Codrescu) - "The ALA councilors have remained silent on the issue to this day. Am I hallucinating? Is this the same American Library Association that stands against censorship and for freedom of expression everywhere? ...Cuba today is the Romania of my growing up."

Secret prison libraries flourish in Cuba
MADRID, Dec. 14, 2005 (El País/Theresa Bond) - When Fidel Castro ordered the jailing of 75 of the most active Cuban dissidents... he dealt a harsh blow to the opposition movement. But the wives of the "75" discovered a form of internal resistance that was unprecedented... by taking in books during prison visits to create clandestine libraries....

Labor library confiscated
HAVANA, Dec. 14, 2005 (Víctor Manuel Domínguez, Lux Info Press / www.cubanet.org) -  "We will obtain multiple copies of the books that were confiscated," declared Gabriel Díaz Sánchez, "....and independent trade unions will flourish in Granma Province with a degree of success beyond the wildest expectations of the authorities of this country who want to make us disappear.""

Cuba, Iran lash out at Internet freedom
TUNIS, Tunisia, Nov. 18, 2005 (Declan McCullagh/CNET Networks, Inc.) - In Cuba, only people with government permission can access the Internet, owning computer equipment is prohibited, and online writers have been imprisoned, according to Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based free speech watchdog group....

Two libraries raided, librarian sentenced for "dangerousness"
HAVANA, Oct. 27, 2005 (Assembly to Promote a Civil Society) - At 7:05 A.M. on Oct. 26, three members of the political police arrived at the house of Pedro Castellanos.... They confiscated 130 books, which made up the collection of the José Antonio García Tablada Independent Library. They said the books were subversive....

Saving a life: Open letter to ALA President
NEW YORK, Oct. 20, 2005 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Dear Mr. Gorman: On October 3 I made an emergency telephone call to your office to request support for saving the life of an imprisoned Cuban librarian, Victor Rolando Arroyo, who was near death as a result of a prolonged hunger strike.... Sadly, as of today, no return telephone call has been received....

Radio interview: Official defends imprisonment of independent librarians
NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2005 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - In an interview today hosted by Amy Goodman on the "Democracy Now!" radio program, Cuban official Ricardo Alarcón defended his government's policy of raiding libraries, burning library books and imprisoning librarians....

The child-bully as victim
MADRID, Sept. 15, 2005 (Raúl Rivero/www.cubaencuentro.com) - A child who was shouting slogans this week at a rally in front of the house of the blind lawyer Juan Carlos González Leiva cried out on the high stage of collective hysteria: "If I catch him, I will kill him." Not satisfied with traumatizing three generations of Cubans, the regime is now trying to poison the soul of the next generation, in order to leave a grim legacy of hatred in the consciousness of children who today are still innocent....

Oslo: Secret documents inspire librarians' revolt on Cuba policy
NEW YORK, August 10, 2005 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - As the world's librarians gather in Norway for the IFLA conference, Estonian representatives declared: "Estonian librarians join other Eastern European librarians in support of the independent library movement in Cuba  and... protest against the persecution and repression of independent librarians by the anti-democratic [Castro] regime." "

Ray Bradbury warned of bookburning cover-up in Chicago
NEW YORK, June 20, 2005 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - As Ray Bradbury, the renowned author of Fahrenheit 451, prepares for a live video interview on June 27 at the Chicago conference of the American Library Association, he is being warned of a reported effort within the ALA to cover up bookburning and the repression of librarians in Cuba....

Polish librarians add Cuba to IFLA agenda
WARSAW, June 5, 2005 (Polish Librarians Association) - A resolution of the PLA denounces the persecution of Cuba's independent librarians, demands their release from prison, and calls on IFLA to take action....

Librarians convicted of being "dangerous"
NEW YORK, May 6, 2005 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Sensitive to growing international concern over reports of human rights violations, in late April the government of President Castro conducted a secret trial of two Cuban librarians and sentenced them to prison on a charge of "dangerousness."

Che Guevara's grandson endorses uncensored libraries
STOCKHOLM, April 26, 2005 (www.cubanuestra.nu) - "You enjoy a privileged position...," writes Canek Sánchez Guevara in an article addressed to another child of high government officials, "and you must have noticed the obsession [in Cuba] with surveillance, control, repression, etc. And freedom is something entirely different."

New library defies censorship
HAVANA, March 2, 2005 (Roberto Santana Rodríguez / www.cubanet.org) - The Ibrahim Carrillo Fernández Library was inaugurated last week. The day before the opening, an agent of the State Security police appeared and asked why the library possesses children's books. Ramona Rivas, the library director, answered that the books would not be withdrawn because they are much needed by the children in the community. The agent said he would come back again....

Benjamin Franklin Library raided
HAVANA, Feb. 28, 2005 (Lux Info Press/www.cubanet.org) - Two officials of the Department of State Security appeared at the home of María Elena Mir, where the Helen Martinez Library is located; they seized several boxes of books, copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 25 portable radios. Afterwards, they went to the home of Reinaldo Cosano Alén, where the Benjamin Franklin Library is located, and they confiscated books and a photocopier....

New York Times: A Cuban revolution, in reading
NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2005 (New York Times/David Gonzalez) - At the beginning of this year, members of the Cuban Cultural Center... adopted an independent library in Cuba.... "It's not just about sending whatever books we can, but we want the people in Cuba to know they are not alone and that someone here recognizes what they are going through," said Rafael Pi Roman....

Freedom To Read! - A new movement to send a caravan of uncensored books to the people of Cuba
NEW YORK, Feb. 14, 2005 (Village Voice/Nat Hentoff) - [O]ne U.S. public library, in Vermillion, South Dakota, has sponsored and begun to send books to a sister independent library in Havana. That decision has been hailed by library associations in other countries. This reverberating act of simple decency was started by one person, Mark Wetmore, vice president of the Vermillion library's board of trustees....

Czechs join protest against library repression
 NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 2005 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Following upon similar recent actions taken by organizations in Poland and Latvia, the national association of Czech librarians has condemned the persecution of librarians in Cuba....

LIBRARIAN RELEASED: "We're not going to retreat a single millimeter..."
, Jan. 13, 2005 (www.PayoLibre.com) - "We're not going to retreat a single millimeter, and they know it." These are the words of Miguel Sigler Amaya on Jan. 12, one day after being freed from prison upon completion of a sentence for "disrespect" and "resistance...."

Regime enraged by Latvian backing for independent librarians
HAVANA, Jan. 12, 2005 (FAIFE-L listserv) - The Cuban government has responded angrily to a Latvian resolution calling for the release of Cuba's imprisoned librarians. Here is a Jan. 12 letter to Anna Maulina of the Librarians Association of Latvia from Cuba's "official" library organizations: "We know how a letter such as yours is fabricated.... We are long accustomed to struggling with 'democrats such as yourself...' It is too late, Madame Maulina, to attempt to trick the world in this manner...."

Wall St. Journal: Cuba's jailed librarians
NEW YORK, December 25, 2004 (Wall St. Journal Editorial) - At their trials, these librarians, journalists and peaceful political activists received sentences of up to 28 years. Now a loosely connected international movement of librarians is refusing to forget their Cuban colleagues....

Polish librarians demand release of jailed Cuban colleagues
NEW YORK, Dec. 15, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries)- The Polish Librarians Association has issued an "Appeal for Cuban Librarians" calling for the release of their Cuban colleagues imprisoned during the Castro regime's 2003 crackdown on dissidents and human rights activists....

Vermillion, South Dakota, Library sponsors a Cuban library
VERMILLION, SD, Dec. 7, 2004 (Mark Wetmore/Vermillion PL Board of Trustees) - The Vermillion, South Dakota, Public Library Board of Trustees took a stand for intellectual freedom on November 18 when it voted to sponsor the Dulce Maria Loynaz Library in Havana, Cuba....

Nat Hentoff: Castro’s Gulag and American librarians
, October 10, 2004 (Nat Hentoff/Free Inquiry, Aug./Sept. 2004) - Because I have joined a growing number of American librarians who strongly disagree with the [ALA] Governing Council’s disinclination to offend the Cuban dictator, I have been targeted by Eliades Acosta, director of Cuba’s National Library... Acosta asked accusingly, “What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?” My answer to him: “I know that if I were a Cuban, I’d be in prison....”

Librarian accused of espionage and terrorism
NEW YORK, September 28, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - As the world library community increasingly focuses on Vaclav Havel's historic August 10 letter to IFLA, containing an appeal for IFLA to condemn the heightened persecution of Cuba's independent librarians, the Cuban government is trying to distract attention from this key issue.... The Cuban regime is now trying to change the subject away from the repression of Cuba's independent librarians by making false charges of "espionage" and "terrorism...."

East Europeans protest library raids in Cuba:
call on world’s librarians to challenge Castro

NEW YORK, August 10, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On the eve of the world’s largest library conference, prominent ex-dissidents from the former Soviet bloc issued a sharp rebuke to President Fidel Castro for jailing librarians and called on the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) to condemn human rights violations in Cuba....

Text of letter to IFLA signed by Vaclav Havel, Elena Bonner et al
PRAGUE, August 10, 2004 (People in Need Organization) - "We warmly support Cuba's independent librarians, their historic challenge to censorship, and their brave defense of the democratic values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which FAIFE/IFLA is also dedicated to upholding...."

Cuban librarians in need - where's ALA?
ORLANDO, June 24, 2004 (Orlando Sentinel/Myriam Márquez ) - Ramon Colas will set up his booth at the American Library Association's annual reading-fest today in Orlando.... One would think the ALA would embrace Colas' agenda of free speech for all. Certainly for the sake of consistency one can't rail against the Patriot Act's potential excesses here at home and then look the other way when it comes to the real threats to freedom to read in Cuba.... If America's premier organization for defending free speech can't make that connection, it loses all credibility on the Patriot Act. detained...."

Imprisoned librarian RELEASED
NEW YORK, June 9, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Yesterday the Cuban government released Leonardo Bruzón Avila from prison for reasons of poor health. Mr. Bruzón Avila, a human rights activist and the director of the 24th of February Children's Library, has been diagnosed with a case of paraplegic muscular dystrophy....

Colás and Mexidor receive People for American Way award
MIAMI, June 3, 2004 (People for the American Way/www.pfaw.org) - Among the winners of the 2004 "Celebrate Free Speech" awards are Ramón Colás and Berta Mexidor, "for their bravery in establishing a network of independent libraries in private homes throughout Cuba, wherein censored literature was available to the public...."

"Digital apartheid" - Cuba tightens access to the Internet, e-mail, telephones
NEW YORK, May 19, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - In a new effort to limit its citizens' contact with the outside world, the Cuban government is quietly introducing a new Information Security Law to centralize and restrict access to the World Wide Web, e-mail and telephone service. The new regulation also bans access to Internet-based "chatrooms" and popular free e-mail services such as Hotmail and Yahoo....

Jailed librarian reported near death
NEW YORK, April 9, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Leonardo Bruzón Avila, the director of the 24th of February Children's Library, is reported to be at the point of death after being transferred to a hospital from Combinado del Este Prison. He has been on a hunger strike for 40 days....  Mr. Bruzón Avila now weighs approximately 80 pounds (36 kilos) and suffers from weak vital signs....

Paris sponsors the independent libraries of Havana
PARIS, March 26, 2004 (Independent Libraries of Cuba/www.bibliocuba.org) - A support group has just received a letter from Mr. Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor of Paris, associating the city of Paris with the development of Cuba's independent libraries.... "I accept with great pleasure the principles of this sponsorship which will allow the City of Paris, by means of this cultural link, to send to the Cuban people testimony of our friendship and sympathy...."

French city sponsors Cuban libraries
STRASBOURG (France), March 19, 2004 (AFP) - The mayor's office of Strasbourg announced on Friday a decision to sponsor a twinning program between its municipal libraries and the independent libraries of Pinar del Río Province, in western Cuba, which are being persecuted by the Cuban authorities....

Pinar del Río family besieged: mother, child require medical care
HAVANA, March 5, 2004 (Moisés L. Rodríguez / www.cubanet.org) - Radelis Rodríguez Soto was intercepted on the street by a State Security agent who goes by the name of "Mario." He told the young woman that "angry mobs could attack you and your [6-year old] daughter because dissident activities will not be tolerated...."

NEW YORK, March 5, 2004 (Village Voice/Nat Hentoff) - During National Library Week (April 18 to 24), I hope rebellious rank-and-file American librarians, ignoring their governing [ALA] council, will speak for the release of their brothers and sisters in Castro's three-feet-wide and six-feet-long cells. The International Red Cross is forbidden to visit, as it has been by Castro since 1989....

CENSORED: the Havana Book Fair, Cuban officials and German "dissidents"
BERLIN, Feb. 13, 2004 (Freitag/"Christoph Links") -  I could notice a drastic contrast between a facade of openness and the hidden monitoring that took place... On the opening day, Cuban officials demanded the removal from the German exhibitors' stands of books by critical Cuban authors [living abroad].... After we rejected this demand, the Cuban State Security police ordered Cuban colleagues at neighboring stands to secretly steal these books....

Two more libraries raided: "They aren't going to get away with it"
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, January 29, 2004 (NPC/Haydeé Rodríguez) - Yesterday a search was made [by the secret police]... So I'm also being threatened with jail if I tell what happened.... But as long as I am alive, while a minute of life remains, I am going to keep on speaking out, nobody is going to stop me. And if they cut out my tongue I'll keep writing, and if they cut off my hands I'll keep writing with my feet; I don't know what I'm going to do, but they aren't going to get away with it....

Nat Hentoff renounces ALA award in Cuba protest
NEW YORK, January 29, 2004 (Village Voice/Nat Hentoff) - As I've been reporting in this column, there has been a fierce civil war within the American Library Association as to whether that body will help free the 10 librarians locked up in Fidel Castro's gulag... Karen Schneider's amendment was overwhelmingly voted down.... It is the leadership I accuse of hypocrisy.... In the ALA's final report, there is a classic sanctimonious, Uriah Heep expression of "deep concern..." So much for the ALA leadership's devotion to "free speech everywhere." I now publicly renounce the Immroth Award and demand that the American Library Association remove me from the list of recipients of that honor. To me, it is no longer an honor....

Cuba says ban on Internet deters "satanic cults"
NEW YORK, January 27, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Cuba has responded angrily to worldwide protests of its tightened ban on Internet access... In a letter to a newspaper, Cuban ambassador Miguel Ramirez described Amnesty International's protest of the ban as "totally biased" and defended Cuba's new law as a reasonable measure to "regulate access to [the] Internet and avoid hackers, stealing passwords, [and] access to pornographic, satanic cults, terrorist or other negative sites...."

IFLA protests Cuban Internet crackdown
NEW YORK, January 19, 2004 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On January 16 the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) expressed "deep concern" over the Cuban government's latest effort to restrict Internet access on the island.... "IFLA and its worldwide membership urge the Cuban Government to respect, defend and promote basic human rights... We urge the Cuban Government to eliminate all obstacles to access to the Internet imposed by its policies."

U.S. librarians 'fail' jailed Cubans
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 16, 2004 (Guy Taylor/Washington Times) - The largest U.S. library association this week opted not to demand the release of private Cuban librarians jailed by Fidel Castro's government.... "Today marks a tragic date in the history of the American Library Association..."

Call to conscience: Library group is shamefully silent on Cuba
SAN DIEGO, January 9, 2004 (Union-Tribune Editorial) - The American Library Association, officially pledged to promote freedom of information and expression, begins its midwinter meeting today in San Diego shamefully silent on just that issue. The ALA has a chance to correct this disgraceful silence. If the ALA cannot manage that, its moral and political credibility on
human rights issues will be irrevocably damaged.

The ALA: "Castro's favorite librarians"
PROVIDENCE, RI, December 24, 2003 (Providence Journal Op-Ed) - The American Library Association is concerned about Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.... How, then, to explain the ALA's attitude toward the freedom to read in Cuba?...  Ten librarians now languish in a Cuban prison for encouraging their fellow citizens to "read freely" -- and the American Library Association seems to think that's just fine.

Nat Hentoff: The ALA's "shameful silence"
WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 8, 2003 ("A Brave New World," Washington Times Op-Ed/Nat Hentoff) - Yet, here is the ALA with its rallying cry, 'Free People Read Freely,' abandoning these extraordinarily courageous Cuban librarians.... The ALA will have its next Midwinter Meeting from Jan. 9 to Jan. 14 in San Diego. Those in attendance — ALA officials, including officers of libraries around the country and rank-and-file members — will have a chance to rescind the shameful silence of the ALA....

Identity of "terrorist" library video revealed
NEW YORK, November 30, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - During its March crackdown on dissidents, the Castro regime justified arresting members of Cuba's independent library movement on the grounds that they owned "terrorist" library materials....  An investigative report by David Rennie in the London Telegraph has identified one of the alleged "terrorist videos" in the collections of Cuba's independent libraries.... 

Library books burned by court order
NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On April 5 Cuban dissident Julio Valdés was convicted of "crimes against the national sovereignty..." and sentenced to 20 years in prison. One of the accusations made against Julio Valdés was the founding of a "self-proclaimed Independent Library" to "ideologically subvert the reader..."  The judges also condemned Valdes' library materials as "lacking in usefulness" and ordered them to be destroyed by fire....

Le Monde: "If you travel to Cuba, take a book"
PARIS, July 24, 2003 (Le Monde/Paulo A. Paranagua) - In Cuba, a love of reading can be dangerous.... Because of a European Union directive, French authorities will no longer train Cuban police. Will flamboyant French diplomacy now support the embryo of civil society by training librarians rather than policemen?...

The forgotten 14: The American Library Association embraces Castro
NEW YORK, July 22, 2003 (National Review Online/Duncan Currie) - Has the American Library Association (ALA) become Fidel Castro's latest "useful idiot"? After all, a champion of open expression can't be indifferent to Castro's persecution of free thinkers, right? ...Amidst this controversy, it's easy to forget the jailed librarians themselves..... Their only crime was to challenge the regime's intellectual Berlin Wall. The ALA, meanwhile, won't even admit that such a wall exists.... 

ALA hypocrisy slammed: "It's always 1984 in Cuba"
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2003, (Los Angeles Times Op Ed/Charlotte Allen) - The "right to read" is dear to the heart of the ALA, which has a history of hyperalertness to the smallest hints of censorship at U.S. libraries....  It is thus ironic — although perhaps telling — that the very same ALA refused to issue even the mildest condemnation of Cuba's harsh treatment of some of its own librarians who were targets of Fidel Castro's sweeping crackdown on dozens of dissidents in March....

ALA leaders to New York Times:  Repression in Cuba? What repression?
NEW YORK, June 28, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - A press campaign to draw attention to the ALA's failure to take action on Cuba was highlighted in today's New York Times ("A Library in Cuba: What Is It?")
... ALA president Mitch Freedman insisted that "the facts on Cuba are still murky."  Michael Dowling, director of the ALA's International Relations Office, said "there has been no definitive evidence that books are banned and librarians harassed...."

Library Association excludes Cuban independents from meeting
WASHINGTON, June 20, 2003 (Georgie Anne Geyer/Universal Press Syndicate) - Betty Turock, a former ALA president was quoted as saying.... "I have never known the ALA not to take the side of intellectual freedom..." [T]hese words should bring shame to even the most cynical men and women....  Why do American librarians -- at least as interpreted by their own professional organization -- allow these things to be said and done in their name?....

NEW YORK, June 20, 2003 (Wall Street Journal/Mary Anastasia O'Grady) -At the American Library Association annual meeting in Toronto this weekend there will be a Cuba program. But there won't be any panel debate about intellectual freedom in Fidel's tropical paradise.... I thought the ALA's 64,000 dues-paying members might like to know who's setting policies in their name....

Nat Hentoff blasts ALA on persecution of librarians in Cuba
NEW YORK, June 5, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - In a stinging rebuke to the American Library Association, one of the nation's foremost defenders of civil liberties, Nat Hentoff, has criticized the ALA for failing to take action to defend volunteer librarians in Cuba who are being subjected to a brutal crackdown. "It would be astonishing - and shameful," said Hentoff, "if the American Library Association does not support - and gather support for - the courageous independent librarians of Cuba...."

Angry Cuba expresses contempt for FAIFE critique
NEW YORK, May 10, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On May 9 FAIFE released a statement expressing the "deepest concerns" regarding the "arrest, trial and long prison sentences given to Cuban political dissidents...." Citing reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, FAIFE noted that directors of independent libraries are among the victims of the crackdown....

OUTRAGE: librarians sentenced to 196 years
NEW YORK, April 30, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - After one-day summary trials which provoked a worldwide outcry, 78 members of Cuba's dissident movement have been condemned to lengthy prison terms.  Among the prisoners are 10 members of the island's pioneering independent library movement....

List of convicted librarians and their sentences:
Víctor Rolando Arroyo
, Reyes Magos Library (Pinar del Río): 26 years....

CRACKDOWN: Librarians targeted in massive sweep
NEW YORK, April 6, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - Beginning on March 18, the Cuban State Security police staged a series of raids directed against the island's dissident movement.  Included in the roundup have been members of Cuba's rapidly growing independent library movement.  The Friends of Cuban Libraries have learned of raids on 22 libraries and the confiscation of their book collections.  Fourteen independent librarians have been arrested....

Librarian identified as secret police agent
NEW YORK, April 6, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - A surprise prosecution witness in the trial of Marta Beatriz Roque was Aleida Godínez, a labor activist who served as the defendant's secretary.  Aleida Godínez is also the director of the William Le Sante Independent Library.  In her court testimony against Roque, Aleida Godínez identified herself as an undercover agent of the State Security police, codenamed "Vilma."

Cuban book seizure furor continues
NEW YORK, March 9, 2003 (The Friends of Cuban Libraries) - There has been no decrease in the Cuban government's embarrassment over its seizure last month of 5,000 books intended as donations for the island's independent library movement.  Pat Schroeder, the president of the Association of American Publishers, has weighed in with a condemnation of the Cuban regime's efforts to suppress intellectual freedom....

Librarian assaulted, others threatened
NEW YORK, February 22, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - The New Year has witnessed an increase in the repression of Cuba's independent librarians... In Las Tunas Province, a jeep driven by Lt. Colonel Héctor Monteagudo intentionally ran down a bicycle taxi being operated by Oreste Ginebra... Magdalena Prado and Magalis López, two women in their 60's who operate independent libraries in their homes, are also being harassed by the secret police....

Internet is "instrument of the devil:" student leader
February 5, 2003 (by Alcibíades Hidalgo/Encuentro en la Red) -  Hassan Pérez, the leader of Cuba's organization of university students, told a startled group of students in Caracas that they should be wary of the Internet because it is an 'instrument of the devil....'

Uncensored reading: the 2002 Annual Report of Cuba's independent library movement
HAVANA, January 16, 2003 (Miriam Leiva/www.cubanet.org) -  The Independent Libraries in Cuba Project now has 103 branches.... and there are 182,715 registered readers.  With enthusiasm and dedication, Gisela Delgado (the national director of the independent library project) and the six members of the project's Executive Board look forward to the year 2003....

Bookburning in Havana: another chapter
NEW YORK, September 21, 2002 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - An excerpt from Roberto Ampuero's recent memoir/novel of Cuban university life: "Every month an official of the Cuban [Communist] party's Directorate of Revolutionary Orientation appeared in the library... with a list of texts that had to be removed....  Lázaro had told us that the prohibited books were being sent to a library with restricted access that collected the texts of 'bourgeois' authors such as Ortega y Gasset, Octavio Paz or Arthur Koestler....  But one afternoon... Lázaro confessed to us that he had discovered something at work that was truly a nightmare...."

BBC program features Cuban libraries
NEW YORK, August 27, 2002 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On May 1 the Meridian Writing program of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a program on the growth of Cuba's independent library movement.   "The Argentine journalist Jacobo Timerman wrote that 'if it's true that every Cuban knows how to read and write, it is likewise true that every Cuban has nothing to read and must be very cautious about what he writes...' "

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