05 February 2005

Cuba's libraries

Jessa at Bookslut alerts us to the campaign of A U.S. Library vs. Fidel:

Fidel Castro, I'm sure, never heard of the small town of Vermillion, South Dakota, until late last year, when the Vermillion Public Library—founded in 1902, on the eve of the Progressive era in American politics—began to gain international attention by becoming the first, and only, American library to call attention to Castro's imprisoning of 10 of Cuba's independent librarians to sentences of more than 20 years. [...]

In March 2003, Castro's State Security police arrested 75 Cuban dissenters: journalists, human rights workers, and labor organizers, along with independent librarians who provided access to books excluded from Cuba's censored library system. These "subversive" independent public librarians were sent to Castro's foul prisons, along with the other dissenters. [...]

The Vermillion Public Library is now sending books to its sister independent library in Havana. The first two shipments included Spanish-language editions of George Orwell's
1984 and a collection of the works of that formidable freethinker Mark Twain.

What has made this signal of solidarity against repression most notable is that this small town in South Dakota has not only defied Castro but has also shown the hypocrisy of the national American Library Association—the largest organization of librarians in the world—whose governing council last year overwhelmingly defeated an amendment from one of its members to demand that Castro immediately release the 10 independent librarians, along with the other 65 "prisoners of conscience," as Amnesty International has described them.

No comments: