Printed below are excerpts from a powerful Feb. 22 article in the New
York Times, which marks a new stage in the worldwide recognition of Cuba's
independent library movement and their global network of sponsors. The full text of
the NY Times article may be seen at:
To read another article about the independent libraries by NY Times
reporter David Gonzalez, written during one of his visits to Cuba, see:
New York Times: A Cuban Revolution, in Reading
NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2005 (New York Times/David Gonzalez) - ...But a group of
these Cuban-Americans - whose politics range from liberal to conservative -
decided to make their own statement. At the beginning of this year, members of
the Cuban Cultural Center... adopted an independent library in Cuba.
They chose one in Las Tunas, Cuba, the Felix Varela Independent Library.....
The library itself, like some 100 others that have been founded since 1998,
offers Cubans an alternative to the official media or state-run libraries. They
carry newspapers and magazines from around the world or books considered taboo
by the regime - like "Animal Farm" by George Orwell....
"It's not just about sending whatever books we can, but we want the people in
Cuba to know they are not alone and that someone here recognizes what they
are going through," said Rafael Pi Roman, an anchor on Channel 13 who belongs to
the cultural group....
The main advocate for the independent libraries is Robert Kent, a reference
librarian at the New York Public Library.... He visited Cuba often in the
1990's, and began taking books there, ultimately with the aid of some exile
organizations. His work recently led the Cuban government to accuse him of being
"Roberto X," a spy conspiring to assassinate a high-ranking official.
"I'm still trying to figure out who's cashing all my C.I.A. paychecks," he
He is earnest, however, in insisting that librarians must defend intellectual
freedom or risk tarring their reputation....
Mark Rosenzweig, [an ALA] library association member who directs the
Reference Center for Marxist Studies, an archive of Communist Party documents, said
those arrested were political partisans in cahoots with the United States
"I can't say they got what they deserved [said Rosenzweig], but they ended up
violating the laws of the Cuban state. They were tried in trials which to the
best of my knowledge conformed to the principles of Cuban legality."
Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - which
for years have been denied entry into Cuba - have no doubts about what
happened in 2003 and have repeatedly called for the release of people they consider
prisoners of conscience....
"I have no idea what the politics are of anybody is in this room," Mr. Pi
Roman said. "But none of us would say there should be human rights for Cuba but
not for those people who are on the other side. None of us would have supported
apartheid. One thing is sure: There is no hypocrisy. If you are for human
rights for some, you have to be for human rights for all."
For more information on Cuba's independent libarians and their historic
challenge to censorship, and on how YOU may sponsor one of these innovative
libraries, please refer to our website: (www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org).
The Friends of Cuban Libraries