Thursday, January 6, 2011

In the End We Will Remember Not the Words of Our Enemies But the Silence of Our Friends

"...No Books Prohibited"
A sign in the Félix Varela
Independent Library,
Las Tunas, Cuba
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and Cuban librarians, please read the following from Steve Marquardt, Ph.D., South Dakota State University Dean of Libraries Emeritus, International USA Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota, and American Library Association [ALA] member since 1974.

See how the ALA is described by Dr. Marquardt while keeping in mind the words of Dr. King:  "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Also, see how Alfred Kagan reaches back five years to quash Robert Kent's effort to speak out for gay Cuban librarians and their supporters.  Mr. Kagan's attitude is not surprising in light of his statement about American armed forces in Iraq: "There was a lot of destruction and the military couldn’t have cared less."  We already know the ALA ignores Afro-Cuban civil rights.  Now we see it ignoring gay Cuban civil rights.  Remarkable for an organization that asserts its authority in local communities—just why is there a "pro-Castro faction within the ALA" as quoted below?

From: Steve Marquandt
To: Alfred Kagan [and various distribution lists]
Date: Tues, Jan 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM
Subject:  [ifforum] Re: [srrtac-l] Mr. Kent's recent open letter on Cuba to the ALA GLBT Round Table

Like Al Kagan, I am a member of ALAWORLD and SRRTAC-L, but not these other lists, so please pass this message on if you can.

Note that the Michael Dowling IRO report about Cuba devoted fewer than seven percent of its words to events that had taken place in Cuba.  Given the imprisonment of 26 non-violent library managers (out of 75 dissidents arrested in March 2003) and the documented destruction of at least six entire library collections, it's no wonder that 93% of Dowling's report is concerned with the actions of ALA, USA, IFLA and other bureaucracies.  The Dowling IRO report contains no mention of court-ordered book burning in Cuba.  Why doesn't ALA want to talk about that?

Note that the January 2004 joint ALA IFC and IRC report accepted by ALA Council contains no protest or even mention of these library destructions ordered by Cuban courts, despite the ALA joint task force members having studied the trial court sentencing documents available at the Florida State University Rule of Law and Cuba website -- documents also used by Amnesty International, the Organization of American States and Human Rights Watch to call for the release of the prisoners.

Note the demands for release of the imprisoned librarians and others, issued by a vast array of international organizations and human rights groups, ranging across the political spectrum from the French Communist Party to Freedom House, whereas the ALA Council overwhelmingly voted down an amendment that would have called for the freedom of these prisoners of conscience.

The annual ALA Midwinter Sunrise Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr Day is coming up at 7:00 AM next Monday, January 10, at ALA's San Diego conference.  The Cubans burned Dr. King's biography, too, as well as confiscated it at customs point when it was shipped in from Spain were it was published.  Another copy, presented personally by President Jimmy Carter to the Dulce María Loynaz Library in Havana, was later confiscated in a police raid, along with more than 1,000 other books.

ALA finds nothing to protest in Cuba's destruction of library collections, confiscations of books, and does its best never to mention any of this news.  Why?  Apparently the leadership believes the independent libraries to be a creation of the USA.  In fact, the network and the movement have received donations from many nations.  The ALA -- allegedly a champion of the freedom to read -- remains isolated from international human rights opinion on this issue.

Steve Marquardt, Ph.D.
ALA member since 1974
South Dakota State University Dean of Libraries Emeritus
Amnesty International USA Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota
[Address elided.]

On Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 10:46 AM, Alfred Kagan [address elided] wrote:

For those who are new to these lists, please see the comprehensive report issued by Michael Dowling at the ALA International Relations Office in 2008.

(I am a member of ALAWORLD, but not these other lists, so please pass this message on if you can.)

Note especially the joint ALA IFC and IRC report that was endorsed by the ALA Council in 2004.

Also note that at the time of the 2008 report, Michael Dowling wrote that Mr. Kent was not a member of ALA.  And also please note the following quote from Michael Dowling's report:

In 2006, the Latvia and Lithuania library association pass resolutions, but the Lithuania leaders retract their resolution, sending out a message that they were duped by Mr. Kent into passing the resolution.  Mr. Kent had tried to use the Lithuanian resolution to convince the Hungarian library association to also pass a resolution.

Al Kagan

On Jan 4, 2011, at 8:46 am, [Robert Kent] wrote:

An Open Letter to the ALA GLBT Round Table

The Friends of Cuban Libraries
January 4, 2011

Call for new Stonewall Revolt at library conference

Dear colleagues:

Since 1998 the attention of the international library community has been fixed on a small country, Cuba, where the police and government-directed mobs have threatened, assaulted and jailed volunteers who are founding libraries to challenge government control of information.  Despite repression, twenty-year jail terms and the court-ordered BURNING of entire library collections, Cuba's independent librarians continue their work on behalf of intellectual freedom.

Now the repression of library workers has been extended to Cuba's GLBT community.  In defiance of threats, independent gay groups in Cuba have dared to organize gay-oriented library collections open to the public.  These libraries are now the target of secret police raids.

Nat Hentoff - Click for
"American Library Association Shamed"
Printed below are news reports on the repression in Cuba. Will the members of the ALA GLBT Round Table allow these outrages to go unchallenged?  Anyone aware of the ALA's recent history knows that a small faction within the ALA, which flatly denies the existence of censorship and human rights violations in Cuba, has dominated the ALA International Relations Committee and other key posts, resulting in paralysis on the part of the ALA Council, despite appeals on behalf of Cuba's independent librarians by such icons of freedom as Ray Bradbury, Anthony Lewis, Madeleine Albright and Nat Hentoff.

The ALA midwinter conference in San Diego offers an opportunity for GLBT activists to take bold and principled action in defense of Cuba's gay libraries and the island's entire free library movement.

The pro-Castro faction within the ALA, which may include some leaders of the GLBT Round Table, is counting on YOU to be timid conformists, afraid to defend intellectual freedom, the key principle of librarians in all free nations.  It is up to YOU to disappoint them by rising up at the San Diego conference to take principled action against injustice, censorship and repression.


The Friends of Cuban Libraries

Another Gay Library Raided

[ INTRODUCTION:  This article details a second wave of police raids on gay libraries in Cuba in 2010.  Access to the Internet is effectively criminalized for non-elite Cubans, leading to the seizure of banned materials surreptitiously downloaded from the Internet.  Three of the gays arrested in the raid on the Reinaldo Arenas Library were deported to their home provinces because Cuba, like South Africa during the Apartheid era, requires government approval for citizens from the interior to reside in the capital, or to visit it for more than a brief period.]

HAVANA, Nov. 17, 2010 (by Aliomar Janjaques Chivaz, Cuban LGBT Foundation) - On November 10 the Arenas Independent Library, located in East Havana, was confiscated by State Security and officers of the National Revolutionary Police, when leaders of the Reinaldo Arenas LGBT Memorial Foundation were meeting to show a documentary film.

"We were together, watching the documentary 'A Force More Powerful,' when René said the whole block was occupied by State Security officials; we barely had time to shut the door when two officials, accompanied by two armed policemen, entered by pushing their way in.  They insulted us, shoved us around, and took away the literature that we had, in addition to CDs and the DVD," said Henri Solís Estévez.

They took away a lot of materials printed from the Internet, many were printouts from the Web de Colegas [a Spanish-language gay Internet resource], stated Lucia Acosta, an art history student, who noted that 19 gay youths were attending the meeting, and all of them were arrested.

Virtudes Linaza, José Luis Sánchez and Oscar Benítez were deported by train to the interior of the country on Monday morning because they do not have legal residence in the City of Havana.  The deportees were fined 300 pesos in Cuban currency.


Translation by the Friends of Cuban Libraries

Gay Foundation libraries seized by police

HAVANA, May 25, 2010 (LGBT Cuba News Today/Mario José Delgado González) - Last Monday, May 17, at approximately 11:23 A.M., the complete LGBT book holdings of Henry Solís Estévez, coordinator of the Gay Freedom Party, Dunia Ortega, lesbian activist, and Aliomar Janjaque were confiscated by the State Security police during raids of their homes.

According to Dunia Ortega, "The first thing they did was to dismantle our libraries.  Many gays and lesbians would ask us to loan books.  We had all kinds of books, but the ones that caused the most annoyance [to the police] were the collected works of the emblematic author Reinaldo Arenas.  Each of us had built up a mini-library in our houses which were collected with great effort.  They [the secret police] respect nothing; the only thing that interested them was messing us up and being a wet blanket.  But we will reconstruct [the libraries] again, little by little...."

Source: (

Al Kagan

African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration
[Address elided.]

Steve Marquardt, Ph.D.
South Dakota State University Dean of Libraries Emeritus
Amnesty International Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota
[Address elided.]


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