WikiLeaks: Mob Attacks Librarians

NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2012 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - INTRODUCTION: In 
2006 the Friends of Cuban Libraries webpage published a brief article on a mob 
attack directed against Orestes Suárez Torres and Nancy González García, 
independent librarians living in rural Ranchuelo, Villa Clara province.

A Google search of WikiLeaks documents has now disclosed a lengthy 
confidential memo on this subject by Michael Parmly, the chief U.S. diplomat in 
Havana. The confidential 2006 memo, an excerpt of which is published below, 
discloses grim new details on the government-directed attack on Suárez and 
González and the injuries they suffered.

So far as we know, this press release by The Friends of Cuban Libraries is 
the first article drawing attention to this WikiLeaks memo.

To see the diplomats' photos of the facial injuries inflicted on Suarez and 
Gonzalez, go to:

Here are excerpts from the newly-discovered WikiLeaks disclosure, with a 
link to the full text at the end of the memo: 

"Origin: U.S. Interests Section Havana (Cuba)
"Cable time: Thurs., 10 Oct 2006
"Classification: CONFIDENTIAL...

"Summary: Cuban communist militants brutally attacked two dissidents in 
Villa Clara province on October 10, the opening day of an extended 'Congress' 
of independent librarians. The attack, which lasted more than an hour... left 
a man of 53 and his wife, 39, with black eyes, deep bruises and cuts. The 
man also suffered broken ribs; his wife had her trousers virtually ripped 

"Orestes Suarez Torres, a welder whose dissident views cost him his job, 
and his wife Nancy Gonzalez Garcia, a cigar roller, met with Pol[itical] 
off[icer] on October 18 and described a vicious October 10 attack that left them 
both bruised and battered. Suarez and Gonzalez... operate an independent 
library (illegal, in the regime's eyes)... [When Orestes Suarez and Nancy 
Gonzalez left the Oct. 10 librarians' congress in Santa Clara] a large crowd of 
communist militants stood outside and staged an 'act of repudiation'... 
[A]round 12 militants grabbed Suarez and Gonzalez and forced them into two cars. 
Inside one, three female militants yanked on Gonzalez's long hair and rained 
blows on her face, chest and legs... Inside the other car, five male 
militants took turns pounding Suarez...

"The militants then drove the victims toward Ranchuelo... Stopping en route 
beside a stream, the attackers splashed water on the dissidents, removing 
some of the blood that had discolored their clothing.... Finally, the couple 
was driven home - only to find a crowd of some 80 people outside their home, 
staging an act of repudiation and yelling 'Viva Fidel.' 'All Party 
militants,' explained Gonzalez. After confiscating the victims' notebook, shoes and 
lighter, the militants let the dissidents enter their home."

While writing this memo and viewing the "clearly visible wounds" inflicted 
on the two librarians, diplomat Michael Parmly noted that Orestes Suárez and 
Nancy González "vowed to continue their peaceful opposition to the 


       Kindle Users Arrested in Havana

HAVANA, Aug. 24, 2012 (Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez/Hablemos Press) - On 
Friday the Cuban secret police pursued and arrested librarians who had 
attended a technology workshop at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

[Note by the Friends of Cuban Libraries: the Obama administration recently 
enacted a program to donate hi-tech equipment such as Kindle e-book readers 
to Cuba's independent librarians and other activists. This move greatly 
expands Cubans' access to banned materials and evades the occasional seizure of 
bulky printed materials carried in the baggage of volunteers arriving at 
Cuban airports.]

The arrests occurred in the streets adjacent to the Interests Section when 
the librarians, about 20 in number, were returning to their homes.

"The workshop in which we were participating was on how to use an Amazon 
Kindle," commented Lázara Mijan, who was able to escape the police roundup, 
together with Magaly Norvis Otero and Julio Beltrán.

Among the detainees are Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, Julio Rojas Portal and 
Mario Echevarría Driggs. Two Kindles were confiscated from each of the latter 
two persons, in addition to cameras, personal documents and user manuals 
for the Kindle DX....

"The police operation was big, very big. Many State Security agents were 
scattered in Ladas [Soviet-era cars] and motorcycles everywhere in the streets 
near the Interests Section; it was a miracle that some of the librarians 
were able to evade arrest," said Driggs, after he was released from 

The Cuban regime classifies the independent librarians and dissidents as 
counterrevolutionaries at the service of the U.S. government. In 2003, more 
than 20 librarians were arrested and sentenced to prison terms of between 5 
and 20 years, and their library collections were confiscated and burned.

POSTSCRIPT: In a related incident, Alejandro Tur Valladares reports that on 
Sept. 4 independent librarian Eduardo Ramos López, while using a public 
telephone in Cienfuegos,  was forced into a police car (license plate number: 
FDD 154) and taken to the local State Security office, where the two Kindles 
in his possession were confiscated. He was booked on a charge of "subversive 
activities" and released. Ramos López rejects the charge made against him 
by the secret police and said he would demand the return of the seized 


       Indie Libraries: "An Exercise in Obscurity, Persecution"

BOSTON, July 3, 2012 (Public Radio International) - With travel 
restrictions easing, more Americans can go and see Cuba themselves....

[Officially-approved used booksellers in Havana's Plaza de Armas] are part 
of Cuba's state-controlled book world. There are no independent 
bookshops.... Books are curated by the government....

But there is a flip side: a small literary underground, led by defiant 
Cubans with private libraries and e-books swapped on flash drives....

In another part of Havana, Gisela Delgado, a computer technician [and 
director of Cuba's Independent Library movement], runs a private library from her 
small apartment. In 2003, the government cracked down and jailed 75 of the 
island's dissidents, including independent librarians. Delgado was spared, 
but remains monitored....

For the government, the sore spot is how books get here: through 
foreigners, from exiled Cubans and sympathetic diplomats....

And what the Cuban government deems inappropriate is arbitrary. When state 
police raided her library during the 2003 dissident crackdown, Delgado 
remembers asking agents how a book by Gabriel García Márquez could be 

They said, "The problem isn't the title of the book. It's you," she 

"Cuban publishing houses would like to have more titles," [said Rafael 
Hernández, a government official.] "The main problem is the money."

Delgado, the librarian, doesn't buy that. Money will not put books critical 
of the Cuban government on the shelves, she said.

At issue is what her books surely symbolize: a thorn in the government's 
side, dissent - and support from the outside world.


      Internet Radio Interview: Cuba's Indie Libraries

HOUSTON, March 17, 2012 (Silvio Canto) - For an online blog radio interview 
with Robert Kent on the subject of Cuba's independent library movement, go