Cuban Libraries

Endless shame of the spineless American Library Association

Nat Hentoff is really not happy with the ALA. I don't know enough about the situation to have an opinion and certainly not one as curiously strong as his.

Read more about it here.

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A Glimpse At First Amendement Issues in School Libraries

UCLA law professor and freedom of speech scholar Eugene Volokh recently posted at his legal group blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, a post about a school libraries matter. The post, What May a School Board Do When It Concludes an Elementary School Library Book Omits Important Information?, takes a look at a recent case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. An opinion has been released in the matter.

Librarians and Bibliophiles Cuba Tour

We've just launched the website for the official "Librarians and Bibliophiles Havana Book Fair Tour" in Cuba from Saturday 14 to Saturday 21 February 2009.<!--break--> It takes place during the 18th Havana International Book Fair where dozens of countries and scores of publishers exhibit their works. It's a rare opportunity for professionals in library sciences, booksellers, educators and book lovers in general to get an unprecedented look into issues of freedom of expression directly from Cuban intellectuals, writers, librarians, publishers and curators. If

One of the Biggest Sinners to Play in Sin City

Jose Manuel Vigoa Perez, one of thousands of refugees who fled Cuba on the Mariel boatlift, arrived in Las Vegas on a blistering hot afternoon in July 1980. The bright lights and the hectic atmosphere came as a shock. “I felt like I had walked through a time tunnel and was in another world and dimension,” he later recalled.

The feeling passed. In time Mr. Vigoa was terrorizing the Strip, leading his own commando team in a series of brazen attacks on armored cars and, in his final caper, robbing the main cashier’s desk at the Bellagio. His reign of terror in 1999 and 2000 is the subject of “Storming Las Vegas,” John Huddy’s lurid, foot-to-the-floor account of the life and career of the master criminal the Las Vegas police code-named Tony Montana, after the character played by Al Pacino in “Scarface.”

Full article in the New York Times.


Anthony Lewis Urges ALA Not to Ignore Jailed Librarians

Now anyone can hear just what famed-author, Anthony Lewis, said at his speech for a Freedom to Read fundraiser at the ALA Convention in Philly. His remarks begin at minute 34:40 on this podcast from the National Constitution Center.

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Library responds to accusations that Human Rights Film Festival distorts conditions in Cuba

I'm sure I don't need to tell you who sent in this Princeton Packet article. The Princeton Public Library has inadvertently set off a firestorm of criticism involving Cuba, health care and human rights.
According to some critics, two of the 15 films shown during the library's annual Human Rights Film Festival last weekend are "propaganda" and do not accurately reflect life in Cuba.
"I think it's outrageous to have a film festival at a public library that leaves out all the realities of Cuba, especially when you have thousands of witnesses to the human rights violations," said Maria C. Werlau, executive director of Cuba Archive, an organization that collects information about the country.


Nat Hentoff's Second Column on ALA and Cuba

Steve Fesenmaier writes "Although the American Library Association proclaims its commitment to the "Freedom to Read" everywhere, its leadership abandons Cuba's independent librarians whom Fidel Castro had locked into his gulags, under brutal conditions, because of their courageous insistence that the people of Cuba should also have the freedom to read books the dictatorship has banned. A majority of the ALA's rank-and-file members disagree with their leadership.
To read the complete story — 9r.htm"


Hentoff Urges "Read a Burned Book"

Author and cultural commentator Nat Hentoff writes about FREADOM's Read a Burned Book campaign in this week's Jewish World Review. Writing about Cuba's persecuted independent librarians, Hentoff says:

From kangaroo-court records I have seen, when independent librarians are sent to the gulags, certain confiscated books--and sometimes all books in their libraries--are ordered incinerated by the presiding judge. A biography of Martin Luther King was sent to the flames because, said the judge, it "is based on ideas that could be used to promote social disorder and civil disobedience." And the nonviolent King's own books have been burned.

Library activists encourage reading Cuban books

Steve Fesenmaier writes "Spurred by events in South Florida, a national group is urging students to read books that have been burned in Cuba.

The organization, FREADOM, launched the project last month to bring attention to documents and books, such as the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and George Orwell's Animal Farm, that the Cuban government has banned and set afire. The project is a takeoff on campaigns encouraging people to read banned books.

"Banning a book is the intent to kill," said Walter Skold, co-chairman of FREADOM, a group of librarians, authors and human rights activists. "Burning it is the crime of murder."

Here's The Story"


Amnesty: Cuban harassment of libraries continues

Steve Marquardt writes "A Press release on the severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association affect thousands of people across Cuba.

In Cuba, all print and broadcast media are under state control. Also, access to the internet is severely limited outside governmental offices and educational institutions....

During 2006, there was a rise in the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and librarians....

Prisoner of conscience, Julio Cesar Lopez Rodriguez, Vice President of the Frente Linea Dura and Director of an independent library, was arrested on 22 July 2005, whilst he tried to participate in a peaceful demonstration in front of the French Embassy. He has been campaigning for many years for political reform and the defence of human rights, and kept anti-totalitarian books in his library. He has been held without charge or trial...."


Librarians Injured by Mob

I'm sure you can guess who sent this one in: "On October 10 the Assembly to Promote a Civil Society (APSC), a dissident organization in Cuba, began a series of meetings at independent libraries. The Friends of Cuban Libraries have received reports of a major campaign launched by the Cuban government to prevent the APSC library meetings from taking place. Actions to block the meetings have included acts of violence. Photographs of injuries inflicted on two people who attended one of the library meetings have been published on the Internet.

See the Recent News section of our website for suggestions on how librarians can take action to protest this cruelty.


Albright Supports Cuban Independents at ALA

Walter Skold writes "Madeleine Albright spoke of Communist and Nazi repression in her native Czechoslovakia and then, quoting Jose Marti, defended the right of Cubans to start and maintain libraries independent of State control. She reminded the ALA, which is considering the issue of Cuba in Council, that "Cuba is a country where basic freedoms are denied."

The Times-Picayune covered the story in NOLA


ACLU to Challenge Miami Schools 'Cuba Book Ban

MIAMI -- The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to stop the Miami-Dade County school district from removing a series of children's books from its libraries, including a volume about Cuba which depicts smiling kids in communist uniforms.

The ACLU and the Miami-Dade County Student Government Association argued in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on Wednesday that the school board should add materials with alternate viewpoints rather than remove books that could be offensive....

The book, by Alta Schreier, targets students ages 5 to 7 and contains images of smiling children wearing uniforms of Cuba's communist youth group and a carnival celebrating the 1959 Cuban revolution. The district owns 49 copies of the book in Spanish and English.


Miami-Dade School Board Votes to Ban Cuba Book

The Reader's Shop writes "A report from Miami says the Miami-Dade School Board voted on Wednesday to remove the book, "Vamos a Cuba", as well as it's English translation, "A visit to Cuba", from Miami-Dade school libraries. Twenty-three other books in the series will also be removed although they were not contested. In a 6-3 vote the board overruled two review committees and the Superintendent. The American Civil Liberties Union is prepared to file a lawsuit challenging the decision.

CBS report

NBC report

Cuba Issue Heats Up at ALA Conference

Robert Kent writes "Walter Skold at the Freadmo blog has news on a members' petition just submitted to the ALA leadership. The petition asks the ALA to direct ALA delegates at the August conference of IFLA to vote in favor of a resolution condemning the Castro regime for persecuting members of the island's independent library movement."


Cuban journo on hunger strike for rights

mdoneil writes "A Cuban independent journalist is on the verge of death after a ten day hunger strike in an attempt to force the repressive Castro regime to allow a right to free expression and the right to Internet access.

Guillermo Farinas has been on a hunger strike since the end of January according to Reporters without Borders. He was rushed to the hospital upon losing consciousness. However after regaining his strength he ripped the IV from his arm.

Cuba as you will recall is one of the dictatorships that prevents independent librarians from distributing books. The ALA fails to grasp the importance of these independent librarians in their quest to bring freedom to the island nation. Michael Gorman who as head of the ALA holds Cuban librarians in such contempt by calling them 'not real librarians' must also hold Farinas in contempt as well for being an independent journals - would Gorman call him not a real journalist? Would he call him that on his deathbed?

One of the prohibited documents in Cuba is the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Article 19 of the UDHR requires that everyone - independent Cuban journalists and librarians - have the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

RSF knows that information can bring freedom, IFLA - the international body of which the ALA is the US representative knows it. They know that independent librarians and journalists must be free to share their views and opinions. When will the ALA get it?"


Library Bust Nabs Two Reporters

The Friends of Cuban Libraries writes "According to news agencies such as EFE and ANSA, on Dec. 2 two foreign reporters were arrested in Cuba while visiting an independent library in the town of Sancti Spiritus. The Polish and Swiss journalists have now been deported. The Committee to Protect Journalists quickly protested their arrest."

Extensive story on Castro and his imprisoned librarians

Steve Fesenmaier writes "Walter Skold, a librarian and journalist, profiles the long history of Castro and his imprisoned librarians at Front Page"


Radio Interview: Official Defends Jailing Librarians

The Friends of Cuban Libraries writes "On the "Democracy Now!" radio program Amy Goodman interviewed a Cuban official about the repression of the island's independent library movement. Excerpt from the Democracy Now backgrounder: "Columnist Nat Hentoff among others has written extensively about this. Hentoff recently quoted author Ray Bradbury... [who] said he had a message for Cuba. He said "I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all the librarians in prison....""


Ray Bradbury condemns Cuban book burning

GregS* writes "'Fahrenheit 451' author takes stance while U.S. librarians ignore counterparts by Walter Skold at WorldNetDaily"

Bradbury is quoted as saying, ""I stand against any library or any librarian anywhere in the world being imprisoned or punished in any way for the books they circulate. I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people."



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