THE FRIENDS OF CUBAN LIBRARIES
Los Amigos de las Bibliotecas Cubanas
[ Español ]
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
"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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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 Solís 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
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...."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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....
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
Open letter: The ALA's book burning
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:
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 González
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....
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
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
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
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
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
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
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....
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
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
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
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
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
New library defies
HAVANA, March 2, 2005 (Roberto Santana Rodríguez / www.cubanet.org) - The
Ibrahim Carrillo Fernández Library was inaugurated last week. The day before the
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
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
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
LIBRARIAN RELEASED: "We're not going to
retreat a single millimeter..."
MATANZAS, 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
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
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
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
NEW YORK, 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
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....
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.
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
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
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
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
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
CUBA CAGES LIBRARIANS
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
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
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
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
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
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....
"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
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
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?....
CUBA'S JAILED LIBRARIANS GET NO SUCCOR
FROM THE ALA
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
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
OUTRAGE: librarians sentenced to 196
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
List of convicted librarians and their
Víctor Rolando Arroyo, Reyes Magos
Library (Pinar del Río): 26 years....
CRACKDOWN: Librarians targeted in
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....
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
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
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:"
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
BBC program features
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...' "
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005-2010 Robert Kent. All rights reserved.