PRESS RELEASE

                               The Friends of Cuban Libraries
                For Immediate Release                Date: April 22, 2001


      Following a three-day visit to Cuba, a Swedish member of the European
Parliament, Cecilia Malmstrom, has urged the European Union (EU) and the
government of Sweden to provide aid to the independent library movement in
Cuba.  On April 4 Ms. Malmstrom, a representative of Sweden's Liberal Party,
issued her findings in a report entitled "For a Common Policy Toward Cuba in
the European Union."  In the report, distributed by the European Liberal
Democrats,  Ms. Malmstrom and co-author Peter Isling urge active support for
the growing number of Cubans, including independent librarians, who are
striving to establish a civil society in their country.  The report also
recommends European and Swedish aid for a variety of other Cuban activists
involved with human rights organizations, social democratic political
parties, and independent journalism.

      After describing visits to two of the independent libraries in Havana,
Ms. Malmstrom and Mr. Isling comment in their report that "[t]he independent
libraries perform an important role as a bridge between the democratic
movement and the rest of the population.  Here Cubans can obtain books that
are prohibited or not available in the official libraries...."  Noting that
the book collections of the independent libraries are frequently confiscated,
 the authors state that "to support and actively assist the independent
libraries would be an important element in Swedish cooperation for democracy
in Cuba.  Considerable help could be offered toward the development of free
libraries in the form of books.  The population desires to read materials
other than the propaganda issued by the regime; thus exists a need for
literature, children's books and [places to hold] debates regarding social

    "In conclusion," declare the authors of the report, "we should strive so
that the European Union enacts a coherent and effective policy toward
Cuba....   The Swedish Liberal Party will raise this question in the European
Parliament, among other things taking the initiative for a resolution on the
Human Rights situation in Cuba and the importance of supporting and working
with the democratic opposition."   Ms. Malmstrom is organizing a seminar at
the European Parliament to promote a more assertive policy toward Cuba.
Cuban human rights activists, including presumably independent librarians,
will be invited to attend the seminar scheduled to be held in the autumn.

      Information on Cecilia Malmstrom's visit to Cuba and her report to the
European Parliament was published in the April 11 issue of the CubaNet
database (

      BACKGROUND:  The Friends of Cuban Libraries, founded in June 1999, is
an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit support group for the independent
librarians.  We oppose censorship and all other violations of intellectual
freedom, as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, regardless
of whatever government may be in office in Cuba.  We are funded entirely by
our members and do not seek or accept funds from other sources.  For more
information, please send e-mail to: ([log in to unmask]).  Telephone (USA):
718-340-8494.  Mailing address: 4-74 48th Avenue, Apt. 3-C, Long Island City,
NY 11109 USA.