- Letter to The New York
- Response to "A Cuban Revolution, in Reading"
- Opinions expressed in this letter
do not necessarily reflect the views of IRTF, SRRT, or ALA.
- How disingenuous is David Gonzales' article of
Cuban Revolution, in Reading."
- On one hand, he lauds the action by those Cuban
Americans members of the Cuban Cultural Center for adopting an
independent library in Cuba, that, together with other independent
libraries there, are designed "to offer Cubans an alternative to the
official media or state-run libraries" carrying material "considered
taboo" by the regime. Yet the article ignores the evidence of the
ongoing activities of the American government in undermining and
eliminating Castro's Cuba, and the role of our government in using
these libraries as part of this goal.
- How has the United States been involved?
- Aside from the millions and millions of American
dollars spent through recent years under the mandate of the Helm-Burton
Act of 1962 and its goal of "regime change," the Cuban Democracy Act of
1992, (the Torricelli Act) and the subsequent creation of the Cuban
Dissidence Task Group, was designed to support dissident groups in
Cuba. Under the fine sounding goals of supporting the free flow of
ideas, organizations such as the Center for a Free Cuba and Freedom
House funneled funds and resources, both overtly and covertly, to these
"independent libraries," with the help of the Robert Kents and other
"defenders" of intellectual freedom. The Cuban American National
Foundation (CANF), based in Miami, typical of the lot, is one of the
most authoritarian organizations of its kind.
- The goal of these libraries, ostensibly, is to
provide the Cubans with the fresh air of freedom through books and
periodicals censored by the government. What is the evidence?
- The resources of these so-called libraries
increasingly are stocked with shiny, new publications, often with
visible evidence of having been donated by the United States Interests
Section in Havana. Representatives from the Interests Section
personally deliver such donations on a regular basis. Trained
librarians are not to be found. Indeed, the individuals who are in
charge do not identify themselves as librarians but rather, as
political opponents of the Cuban government. They have a long history
of involvement in and ties with opposition groups, both in and out of
Cuba. Since no records of borrorers are kept, it is impossible to
evaluate the extent of the use of these libraries. Yet these are the
voices that claim to be the guardians of liberty and independence,
while supported by the propaganda of the United States and American
taxpayers' dollars. What, then, does "independent" mean??
- Do the Cuban public libraries lack resources? There
is no question that they suffer from a shortage of materials. But is
this a result of censorship or the consequences of American hostility
and the embargo? The evidence supports the latter. As Dr. Eliades
Acosta, National Librarian of Cuba, has said, "There are no banned
books, only those we don't have the money to buy." Can one accept the
words of a man in his position? In fact, library collections reflect a
wide range of thinking and perspectives. There is a broad diversity,
including critics of the Cuban revolution and its policies, represented
most importantly by the well-known critic, Guillermo Cabrera Infante,
April 22, 1929 - 24/02/2005. Books by George Orwell, Mario Vargas
Llosa, Octavio Paz and others cited by Robert Kent as "forbidden
books," and not to be found on public library shelves, are readily
available. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate funds as part of the
result of the American embargo, not only limits the ability to purchase
books and periodicals, but also hinders the exchange of information and
materials between Cuban libraries and other libraries throughout the
world, detrimental to everyone.
- For the New York Times to herald these
"independent libraries" as upholders of intellectual freedom is a
- For the New York Times to revert to the
blatant red baiting of the McCarthy days is a sad commentary for a
newspaper that professes to uphold responsible journalism.
- Sylvia Lubow
Professor Emeritus, History
Los Angeles Valley College
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- Page last modified March 3, 2005.