Friday, June 16, 2006

Cuban Librarians Write to ALA

Havana, June 8, 2006

Mr. Michael Gorman
ALA President

Dear President Gorman:

The reason for this letter is to tell you, and for you to pass on to your colleagues meeting at ALA, the opinion this letter relating to our country which was sent by Mr. Steve Marquardt yesterday and which contains signatures of members and non-members of ALA, deserves. The letter in question is meant to demand the support of ALA delegates at the upcoming 72nd IFLA conference, being held in Seoul for an anti-Cuban resolution presented by two library associations from Latvia and Lithuania

We are writing you about the relationships of respect, collaboration and friendship that the librarians of our two countries have traditionally maintained, an expression which is in the agreement signed by our association in 2001 and still valid.

It isn’t an exaggeration to state that ALA has always had first hand information about the Cuban reality and, especially about our libraries and librarians, from the periodic interchanges of information, the mutual visits and the contacts between colleagues attending different international events. In June 2001, after the lies of the campaign of the so-called “independent libraries” in Cuba were confirmed by high-level delegations from ALA and IFLA, at the proposal of U.S. and Cuban librarians representing ALA and ASCUBI, IFLA’s council adopted the resolution in Boston about this topic, approved by 86.7% of the votes of the world’s delegates. As you know, this is IFLA’s official opinion about this subject which is still in force after five years, reflecting the opinion of the majority of the world’s librarians, including the United States, democratically and freely expressed at the appropriate place and moment.

This is the opinion that a small group of highly prejudiced and politicized people tries to manipulate and trick with the letter to which we object. These people are representatives of the ruthless war that the United States government carries out against the island, the same who fabricated the text of the lamentable anti-Cuban project now being presented IFLA; the same one who deceived uninformed colleagues from Latvia and Lithuania with it making them appear as spontaneous authors of a text written and sent in advance by Mr. Robert Kent the same way that he tried to do unsuccessfully last year in Oslo with our Polish colleagues; the same who organized the participation of Mr. Codrescu before the members of ALA in San Antonio, evading the most basic ethics in public matters, even the good faith of this association.

It is not a secret for anyone that thanks to the destabilizing work of the government of the United States, and with U.S. contributions of money (See: Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance for a Free Cuba Washington: United States Department of State, May, 2004. ( this scandalous fraud called “independent libraries” has been fabricated, described in the Boston Resolution as... “organizations ... who represent (in Cuba) the political interests of the United States.” It is not the place to discuss here the right of Cubans to read and share information and ideas. In order to guarantee this we work under hard conditions that the blockade has created in the country for more than 45 years. Nor is it the place to discuss the right which has been denied U.S. librarians to visit Cuba, interchange with their colleagues, and to know our reality at first hand. It is about a political campaign against the legal order and sovereignty of the Cuban people and against their constitution, which forms part of the psychological war and the destabilization plans which is combined with attempts to asphyxiate the Cuban people by hunger and disease. In it a very small group of Cuban counterrevolutionary activists participate who receive money and other lucrative items from the Interest Section of the United States in Havana: the so-called “independent librarians.”

I don’t think it is necessary to extend myself further about these topics which are well known by the international library community, only to comment, finally, about some of the points that Mr. Marquardt tackles in his letter:

1) It is false, as he states, that “two resolutions about Cuba” have been presented to the IFLA congress. The same project has been presented in the name of both associations.

2) It is false that this project has been thought of or written by Latvian or Lithuanian librarians. This project was written by Mr. Kent and sent by e-mail to several librarian associations of Eastern Europe where he solicited them to act as front men before IFLA and to present it as if it had been spontaneously drawn up by them. Mrs. Emilija Banionyte, Vice-President of the Latvian Librarian Association, in a letter to a Canadian journalist residing in Cuba, dated June 6 recognizes that the text of this project “was sent to them by Robert Kent.” We have a copy of this letter.

3) It is false that our Latvian or Lithuanian colleagues have acted this way because of sympathies towards the anti-Cuban politics carried out by Mr. Kent for several years, since the time that he was surprised by the Cuban authorities, as an undercover tourist, with a lot of money and spy equipment that he gave to a supposed “independent librarian.” This equipment was meant, according to his own words, to keep a watch on Carlos Lage’s house, Executive Secretary of the Council of Ministers, State Council of the Republic of Cuba (see: The leaders of the Lithuanian and Latvian associations do not have real or trustworthy knowledge about the reality of our country, much less of their libraries. Mrs. Banionyte has recognized, in the letter in question, that Mr. Kent approached them and the Latvians several times , asking for their support for the Cuban librians (sic)… and that they don’t know what is his trajectory or history.”

4) It is very worrisome the deceitful way in which a person known by everybody in our profession, as is Mr. Robert Kent making use of immoral methods, such as those already written, which you and ALA experienced personally experienced in San Antonio, carries out with impunity a slanderous campaign in the press with pressure and blackmail against who don’t think as he and who keep a fair and balanced position towards Cuba. It is more worrisome still that he tries to manipulate by means of lies and trickery the opinion of librarian associations and IFLA itself.

Dear Mr. President, we can’t stop being surprised, in the name of the Cuban people and the families of victims of terrorism in our country, upon reading among the signatories of Mr. Marquardt’s letter, the name of two people, originally Cuban (Ramón Humberto Colas and Bertha Mexidor) who state to be “ALA members”, and who are self-named “representatives of the Cuban Independent Libraries”. It surprises us that people who don’t have any real relationship with libraries, either in Cuba of the United States, are members of a respectable professional association like ALA. And it also alarms us, if it is true, because Ramón Humberto Colas is a salaried employee of the Cuban-American National Foundation in Miami, the very organization which has promoted terrorist acts in Cuba causing deaths and injuries to innocent citizens. In one such act, an Italian tourist named Fabio Di Celmo, nineteen years old, lost his life, product of a bomb explosion.

Finally, I bring to your knowledge that the real Cuban librarians will present a resolution before the IFLA council in Seoul, titled “The need to put an end to the negative effects of the U.S. blockade on Cuban librarians, based on a document from two researchers of the “José Martí” National Library, covering the period 2001-2005 (see: I am attaching the text of this project and asking you for a vote of support from the ALA delegates to the IFLA Congress in Seoul.

I say my goodbyes to you with the confidence that ALA will not let itself be dragged into this dirty war against Cuba; it will not allow itself be politically manipulated against its Cuban colleagues by the same government causing destruction to the National Library in Iraq, the same which imposed the Patriot Act, which maintain the jail in Abu Grahib and the concentration camp in Guantánamo; the same which wishes to end the self-determination and sovereignty of the Cubans and to erase their achievements in the sphere of health, education, culture, and social injustice.

Receive, dear President, all our appreciation and respect, the same which we feel for our colleagues and the noble U.S. people. With cordial greetings:

Margarita Bellas Vilariño
President of the Cuban Librarian Association (ASCUBI)

Other signers of this letter:

Mirta Botana Rodríguez, Presidenta de la Sociedad de Información Científica (SOCICT), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente (CITMA).

Marta Terry González, Directora de la Biblioteca “Dulce María Loynaz”, Miembro del Comité IFLA-FAIFE, MINCULT.

Eliades Acosta Matos, Director de la Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Rigoberto Fabelo Pérez, Director del Centro de Intercambio y Referencia: Iniciativa Comunitaria (CIERIC), UNEAC.

Bárbara Lazo Rodríguez, Directora de la Biblioteca Médica Nacional, Centro de Información Médica (INFOMED), MINSAP.

Francisco Lee Tenorio, Director de Informática del Ministerio de Educación Superior (MES).

Carlos Alberto Mejías Rodríguez, Profesor de Derecho de la Universidad de La Habana, Ministerio de Educación Superior (MES).

Rosa Báez Valdés, Editora de la Revista “Librínsula”, Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Miguel Ángel Ferrer López, Director de Bibliotecas Escolares, Ministerio de Educación.

Pedro Urra González, Director de Información Médica, Ministerio de Salud Pública.

Eduardo Orozco Silva, Director Instituto de Información de Ciencia y Técnica (IDICT), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente (CITMA).

Alina Aldama Innis, Especialista de Gestión Documental, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (MINREX).

María Elena Dorta Duque, Directora de la Biblioteca Científico – Técnica del Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales (ISRI), MINREX.

Abel Ponce Suárez, Jefe del Grupo BINANET, Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Teresa Sánchez Rivero, Directora Biblioteca Provincial “Rubén Martínez Villena”, Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana,

Marisela Corvo de Armas, Directora de la Biblioteca Municipal de San Antonio de los Baños, MINCULT.

René Roberto Valdés Muñoz, Coordinador del Grupo Cuba-IFLA, Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Olga M. Pedierro Valdés, Biblioteca del Archivo Nacional.

Lourdes María Quijano, Biblioteca Pepe Rodríguez (UNEAC).

Rita Pages, Biblioteca de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular.

Tania Gutiérrez Soto, Biblioteca del Ministerio de la Agricultura.

Carmen Sánchez Rojas, Biblioteca Nacional de Ciencia y Técnica.

Irina Gómez, Centro de Documentación CAP.
Dora Nisenbaun García, Centro de Información del Ministerio de la Construcción.

Mercedes García Arias, Centro de Información y Documentación del Ministerio de Cultura.

Odesa Suárez, Centro de Superación y Documentación de la Cuenca de Almendares.

Amparo Hernández Denis, Centro Documentación Instituto de Historia,

Marta Sierra Penot, Centro Información del CIERIC.

Sonia Reyes, Centro Internacional de Prensa- Unión de Periodistas de Cuba.

Ileana García, Centro Memorial Martin Luther King.

María Ofelia Prendes Vázquez, Centro Nacional de Superación Cultural.

Jonathan Bemúdez, Departamento de Documentación de Prensa Latina.

Gloria Ponjuán, Facultad de Comunicaciones, Universidad de la Habana.

Miguel A. García Alzugary, Biblioteca de la Fiscalía General de la República.

Tania Garcia, Biblioteca del Joven Club Nacional de Computación.

Belkis Garces, Unión Nacional de Juristas.

Yudeisy Pérez González, Biblioteca de la Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas.