Cuban library activists won't be speaking at ALA

Radames Suarez wants us to know that the ongoing controversy regarding the ALA and oppressed librarians in Cuba has reached the pages of the Washington D.C. Examiner. An excerpt:

Librarians attending the American Library Association's conference in Chicago this week will hear a speech from that great man of letters Henry Winkler (a.k.a. "The Fonz"). But a bigger story involves who won't be appearing at the podium: Ramon Coles and Berta Mexidor, the co-founders of Cuba's independent library movement.

The ALA claims they did not apply to be speakers through the proper channels. But critics say the group's refusal to accommodate this brave husband-and-wife team is part of a broader hypocrisy on Cuba.


NY Times Features Cuban Library Adoption

Friends of Cuban Libraries writes "The New York Times has a lengthy article on the adoption of an independent Cuban library in New York City. This article demolishes the ALA extremists' contention that librarians should be thrown in jail because Cuban law says it is a crime to read uncensored books."


Hentoff Slams ALA; Urges More Library Adoptions in Cuba

Friends of Cuban Libraries writes "Nat Hentoff has issued a new blast in the Village Voice (,hentoff,610 76,6.html) entitled 'Freedom to Read: A New Movement to Send a Caravan of Uncensored Books to the People of Cuba.' An excerpt:The letters to Castro from American librarians - who cannot understand why their national governing [ALA] council has abandoned their fellow librarians in Cuba - have not been answered. And one... U.S. public library, in Vermillion, South Dakota, has sponsored and begun to send books to a sister independent library in Havana.... This reverberating act of simple decency was begun by one person, Mark Wetmore..... Wetmore keeps on keeping on. He has now written a guide, 'Sponsoring an Independent Cuban Library,' that lays out 'the steps a library board in this country' can take to join the freedom caravan...."


An American public library versus Castro

An Anonymous Patron writes "Nat Hentoff Has This One In the small town of Vermillion, S.D., the century-old Vermillion Public Library has become the first, and only, American public library to stand up to Fidel Castro who, in 2003, imprisoned for at least 20-year terms a dozen independent librarians in Cuba — part of his crackdown on 75 dissenters to his ruthless dictatorship."


Czechs Join Protest Against Cuban Library Repression

Kent writes "Following upon similar recent actions taken by organizations in Poland and
Latvia, the national association of Czech librarians has condemned the
persecution of library colleagues in Cuba. Since 1998, approximately 250 independent
libraries have been established throughout Cuba in an innovative challenge to
government control of information. Many of the uncensored libraries have been
raided by the Cuban secret police, their books have been seized or burned, and
about 15 of the independent librarians are serving lengthy prison terms. All of
the jailed librarians have been named as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty
International, which is demanding their immediate release.


Librarians Worldwide Remember Jailed Cuban Librarians sends this "opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal.

It wasn't the Santa Clauses and candy canes decking the halls of the U.S. diplomatic office in Havana that prompted Fidel Castro to order the Christmas decorations dismantled there. It was the light display forming the number 75.That's how many political dissidents Castro rounded up in March 2003 and threw into Cuban jails. 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

Robert Kent writes "

The Friends of Cuban Librarians
Dec. 15, 2004

Contact: Robert Kent
Phone: 718-305-9201
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: (

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. In a message to the Friends of Cuban Libraries, Piotr Bierczynski, the Vice Chair of the Polish Librarians Association, wrote: "We would like to ask you to acquaint everyone interested in the ending of persecution of the Cuban librarians with our appeal."

Below is the text of the Polish appeal, which marks a new stage in the worldwide campaign to win the freedom of the brave people in Cuba who are enduring persecution because of their innovative effort to defend intellectual freedom, the most cherished principle of librarians.



Poet-Librarian Released from prison

Friends of Cuban Libraries writes "In Slate Paul Berman ("Free at last! What Raul Rivero's release from prison means for Cuba") comments on the liberation of the renowned Cuban journalist and poet who is also an independent librarian. Excerpt: "Havel has written that every meeting, every conference, every protest on behalf of the Cuban dissidents is a step toward freedom in Cuba. Apparently there have been enough of these steps to get Rivero... out of jail. That leaves merely 62 other imprisoned dissidents to go, not to mention the cause of the independent librarians in Cuba (who have just now opened 14 new independent libraries - a bold thing to do....)""


Nat Hentoff: "Castro's Gulag and American Librarians"

Friends of Cuban Libraries writes "From Nat Hentoff's new article: '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."'For the text of Nat Hentoff's article, refer to the Recent News section of"


Librarian Accused of Espionage and Terrorism

The Friends of Cuban Libraries writes "As the international library community increasingly focuses on Vaclav Havel's August 10 appeal 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 the independent librarians by making false charges of "espionage" and "terrorism."For more details, please refer to the Recent News section of the Friends of Cuban Libraries website ("

Update: 09/29 10:32 EST by B:Took "Cuban" out of the title to match The Story.



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