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Cuban Librarians Associations' Press Release

Cuban Librarians Salute American Library Association

by Maribel Duarte González

On January 9-14, 2004 the American Library Association (ALA) held their midwinter meeting in San Diego. This is an important association of information professionals, with which the Cuban librarians maintain historical ties of friendship and cooperation.

Among the subjects discussed by ALA's Council was that of Cuba, and more specifically, the subject of information access in Cuba.

The growing interest of the world professional community about subjects connected to the free access to information is understandable and justified, in a world where the cover-up and the hiding of truth on behalf of the information transnationals at the service of neoliberalism and hegemonic power is of first priority and where millions of human beings, harshly enough, don't have access to education, science and culture, a product of poverty, inequality, and underdevelopment.

Even in the case of the United States, members of ALA, with the support of their colleagues around the world, have fighting a tenacious battle against the application of the repressive "Patriot Act" in the libraries of that country.

The ferocious campaign of misinformation against the reality of what happens in Cuba, stimulated by the U.S. government's agencies charged with total war against the Revolution, has provoked an understandable interest and an eagerness for reliable information among people in the world, among them, ALA's members.

The Cuban library and information worker's associations, as well as the institutions and librarian systems have frequently welcomed colleagues from all over the world to the country, among them, the highest authorities of IFLA (International Federation of Librarian Associations) and ALA, with whom they maintain in permanent contact, interchanging information about common topics of interest and about the reality of the island.

As was appropriately denounced by us, ALA arrived at its midwinter meeting in San Diego, under the effects of a brutal campaign of pressures and blackmail designed to provoke the end of their traditional relationships of friendship and collaboration with their Cuban colleagues, and to force them to join with the hostility of those who work to subvert the Cuban constitutional order and laws, encouraging counter-revolutionary subversion under the supposedly denied vestments of the defense of liberties and rights.

The April 2003 trials and the convictions against elements, some of them disguised as "independent librarians", on the payroll of the U.S. government in their war against the Cuban people, was the pretext used to increase this campaign against ALA, utilizing the important media of the U.S. press in the days prior to the meeting in San Diego.

Despite such pressures that went to ridiculous extremes, ALA's Council didn't approve a resolution against Cuba, as an amendment that was presented at the last minute attempted to do. In the middle of the debates good sense prevailed. Over all other considerations, the members of the Council opted to continue the collaboration with their Cuban colleagues, to continue sorting out any disagreement or discrepancy based on mutual respect and the defense of the ethical principals that we share.

It is in that sprit that the Cuban librarians and information workers, numbering twelve thousand and who are represented by the associations and institutions signed on this press release, consider it necessary to make public the following position about the document about Cuba that was approved by ALA's Council in San Diego:

1) To appreciate the position adopted by ALA's Council in San Diego, California dealing with the subject of Cuba and for not giving in to, faced with the campaign of pressures of those who are interested in joining this organization to the hostility against our people.

2) To reaffirm that the real Cuban libraries and information workers, as well as the vast majority of the Cuban people, support and defend the goals of the Revolution, for what they mean for the dignity and the entire development of all citizens, independent of their social origin, sex, race, religion, and even, political opinions.

3) To emphasize that the Revolution, eliminated illiteracy, created schools, libraries, made possible the free access to culture, education and science for all Cubans, and put within the reach of all Cuban families the guarantee of freedoms and rights that previously had been denied to them, and that today continue being denied to the great masses of the dispossessed of the world. These rights and freedoms are enjoyed by the Cuban people, and must be demanded with redoubled vigor in the unjust world in which we live. We make a repeated call to our colleagues of ALA to join to this struggle.

4) To reiterate that our condemnation that those Cuban citizens who were subjected to trials and sentenced to penalties of the loss of freedom based on what is established with the Protection Law of Cuban independence and economy (Law 88, March 15, 1999), have not been tried and convicted for some separate activity other than what has been reliably shown and punished in Article I of this law. "to support, facilitate or collaborate with the objectives of the Helms-Burton law, the blockade and the economic war against our people, directed to weaken the internal order, destabilize the country and destroy the socialist state and independence of Cuba."

5) To ask ALA's Council for an inquiry and pronouncement about the violation of the most element of human rights, among them the right to a fair trial, the right to information access, and the right to freedom of expression for the five Cuban citizens sentenced to life imprisonment and to the long prison terms of writers and professionals in jails of the U.S. for struggling against terrorism.

6) To reiterate our deepest condemnation against the genocidal blockade of the U.S. government against the Cuban people, causing innumerable sufferings and difficulties for the life and exercise of our profession, for our freedoms and rights, and the main obstacle that impedes the free flow of ideas and interchange among colleagues and citizens in both countries.

7) To emphasize our condemnation of the repressive applications of the "Patriot Act" against our colleagues and the users of U.S. libraries and against any other measures of this type, under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism which reduces and represses the constitutional civil rights and freedoms of the citizens of that country.

8) To express our will to strengthen, broaden and develop the relationships of collaboration and friendship with ALA and the librarians from the U.S., based upon mutual respect and shared principals, as have been traditional until now.

Council of ASCUBI (Cuban Librarians Association)
Council of SOCICT (Cuban Society of Information Sciences)
Leadership Council of the Jose Martí National Library
Leadership Council of the National System of Information and School Libraries
National Council of the National System of Public Libraries.

 

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