Censorship of Cuban Libraries

Steven
Williams
of Global Learning Outreach fame (http://www.glo.org).
sent in this News Bulletin from the Friends of Cuban
Libaries

MORE ARRESTS FAIL TO STOP LIBRARY
EXPANSION

Despite a flurry of repressive actions by the Cuban
government in recent months, it appears likely that the
fiftieth independent library will soon open its doors in
the island nation. Since the first independent library was established in
1998--dedicated to the goal of offering access to
uncensored books--the government has tried to
suppress the expanding library movement though a
campaign of threats, harassment, evictions, arrests,
confiscations and at least one act of violence. This
campaign has been the subject of protests by Amnesty
International, the International Federation Of Library
Associations (IFLA), the International P.E.N.
association of writers, Index on Censorship and a
growing number of library organizations and human
rights activists.


In recent developments, the Havana coordinator of the
Independent Library Movement, Ruben Camalleri, was
arrested on February 13 by the State Security police.
Before being released from custody, Mr. Camalleri was
warned that the establishment of any new libraries was
forbidden. In defiance of this ban, Ruben Camalleri has
continued to organize new library openings and was
briefly arrested again on May 15. These events were
reported in the February 14 and May 16 issues of the
CubaNet database (http://www.cubanet.org)
.
The May 18 issue of \"Carta de Cuba\" magazine
reports that the State Security police raided the
inaugural ceremony of the independent Aurora Library,
located in Havana, in early April. The director of the
Aurora Library, Jorge Santacana, was arrested and
detained overnight. During this raid a number of books,
a printer and a computer were Also seized. Access to
personal computers, the Internet and e-mail is illegal in
Cuba, with the exception of government agencies and a
limited number of individuals considered trustworthy by
the government.

Despite ongoing arrests and other acts of intimidation,
however, the fact that all of the libraries have not been
shut down may be a sign of the Cuban government\'s
reluctance to offend the growing number of people
around the world who have expressed support for the
independent libraries and intellectual freedom in Cuba.
An example of this trend can be seen in recent
comments by Ariel Dorfman, the renowned Chilean
writer and human rights activist. In a recent essay on
Elian Gonzalez and the U.S. trade embargo [about
which the Friends of Cuban Libraries take no position],
Ariel Dorfman asked: \"If the Cuban government were to
allow every and any book to circulate freely in the
country and, moreover, to stop harassing and
intimidating the independent librarians who have been
working against censorship, wouldn\'t this be a
wonderful gift to Elian and the other future citizens of
Cuba?\"

BACKGROUND: The Friends of Cuban Libraries,
founded in June, 1999, is an independent,
non-partisan, non-profit support group for the
independent librarians of Cuba. We oppose
censorship and all other violations of intellectual
freedom, as defined by the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, regardless of whatever administration
may be in office in Cuba. We are funded entirely by our
members and do not seek or accept contributions from
other sources. For more information, contact Robert
Kent at rkent20551@cs.com. Telephone: (USA)
718-340-8494.

Mailing address: 474 48th Avenue, Apt. 3-C, Long
Island City, NY 11109 USA.

Comments on the situation of the independent
librarians may be sent to: President Fidel Castro,
Consejos de Ministros y de Estado,
Havana, Cuba. \"

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