Jewish World Review August 18, 2005/ 13 Av,
Book burning in Cuba
For example, on April 5, 2003, after Julio Antonio Valdes Guevara
was sent away, the judge ruled: "As to the disposition of the
photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books,
magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be
destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness."
Hearing about this, Bradbury authorized me to convey this message
from him to Fidel Castro: "I stand against any library or any
librarian anywhere in the world being imprisoned or punished in any
way for the books they circulate.
"I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their
hands off the independent librarians and release all those
librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to
inform the people."
Among the books destroyed through the years by Fidel's arsonists
have been volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Constitution,
and even a book by the late Jose Marti, who organized, and was
killed in, the Cuban people's struggle for independence.
Whether or not the Cuban dictator ever heard of Bradbury's message
to him, Castro is resolute in his repression of his people. As Human
Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights)
reports: "In a renewed government crackdown on dissidents in Cuba,
authorities arrested at least 57 peaceful democracy and human rights
advocates," between July 13 and July 22. Three of those still
imprisoned will be prosecuted under Castro's notorious Law 88, which
mandates up to 20 years in prison and possible confiscation of
Meanwhile, Nebraska Gov. David Heineman conducted a trade mission to
Havana in August that, as the Aug. 10 New York Sun reported, "is to
negotiate the purchase of Nebraska-grown dry beans one of the
state's largest exports by the Cuban government."
Republican members of Congress Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario
Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote Gov. Heineman, telling him
his mission would be "sending the appalling signal that the cash of
tyrants is more important than the lives of pro-democracy leaders."
These members of Congress asked the governor to at least meet with
leaders of the pro-democracy movement, as well as some of the
Heineman's spokesman Aaron Sanderford told Meghan Clyne of The New
York Sun one of the few American newspapers keeping tabs on the
story of this heroic resistance to Castro that the governor would
not meet with any dissidents, and would "certainly not engage in the
politics of the day."
Replied Lincoln Diaz-Balart: "It's like saying politics is not part
of a trip to Hitler's Germany in the 1930s. It's not a question of
politics it's a question of elemental human decency."
Now that China has become a strong supporter of Robert Mugabe, the
tyrant of Zimbabwe, and is bolstering the economy that Mugabe
shattered, maybe Heineman can lead a trade mission to that
brutalized nation, and sell more Nebraska-brown dry beans. How about
a side trip to the Sudan government in Khartoum?
The governor could take a world tour, boosting sales to Iran, North
Korea and other totalitarian countries whose politics are of no
concern to him.
Boyce writes: "We are going to be putting together a very small
display of banned books for the fall of 2005 Nebraska Library
Association Conference in late September," and he wants to include
some titles forbidden in official Cuba libraries.
This will be a significant reaching out to Cuba's imprisoned
librarians by an individual American library state association
the first time it's happened. Yet, the national Governing Council of
the American Library Association continues to refuse to ask Castro
to release the independent librarians in his prisons. Admirers of
Castro on that governing body have blocked that clear support of the
freedom to read the very credo of the ALA.
Perhaps, in tribute to free trade if not free ideas, Gov. Heineman
will send a supply of Nebraska-grown dry beans to the governing
council of the ALA.
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