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Acosta’s Latest

I received another letter from Acosta, which I’ll simply post verbatim, as I believe it speaks for itself.

I’m rather flattered that this humble blog is worth even a nanosecond’s time of any national librarian, let alone lengthy, scolding messages at fairly regular intervals. Once again, I haven’t censored any comments about Cuba on this blog, even (and particularly) those I disagree with (and as noted earlier, the press release he refers to is right where it always was). Let a thousand flowers bloom, even when it’s skunk cabbage.

While I don’t feel any obligation to respond to the particulars of his e-mail–why would Mr. Acosta set my writing agenda?–he has inspired discussion topics for future entries–particularly about what I learned from living and working abroad, and how this relates to why I feel so strongly about the 75 dissidents suffering prison terms for their actions.

And remember this: Mr. Acosta and I will both wake up tomorrow in our own safe beds. Not behind bars, not in prison, not facing decades of bleak living conditions for what we said or wrote. There are 75 people who need our attention, right now. These are the people we need to be thinking and writing about, not two librarians parked behind their computers.

Mr. Acosta, will you join me in acknowledging that Cuba can and must release the 75 dissidents arrested in the spring 2003 crackdown? Or can you at least agree that their prison conditions should be improved?


Dear Ms. Schneider:

This is the second letter that I am sending to you, and, as with the first, I am not hoping for anything different than its being “written up” in the Free Range Librarian with as much objectivity as what you had said this last January 15.

I don’t believe I need to tell you that we, the real Cuban librarians, don’t agree with you in your appraisals about the reality of our country. Maybe this will make you laugh, but thousands of Cuban librarians, despite everything that your country’s government has done to impede the development in education and culture in our country, do an excellent job with its communities. In fact, these librarians seem to make no difference to you.
Our real Cuban librarians, those that don’t receive a monthly salary from your government for conspiring against the Constitution and current laws in the country, don’t exist for you, or for Mr. Hentoff, Kent, Marquardt, Jorge Sanguinetty, or IFLA’s FAIFE.

This doesn’t surprise us, or worry us. In fact, neither does the luck of those who serve prison sentences which the law established for those that collaborate for money, not for ideals, in following the suggestions of your government’s agencies charged with total war against the Cuban people for the past 45 years, just as it doesn’t appear that you, Ms. Schneider, or your co-thinkers are much concerned with the plans of Bush’s neoconservative government which is disposed to bombing us and massacring us in order in order to make us “free and democratic.”

All of you utilize those people while they are convenient for your campaigns, but when you keep a complicit silence or express only symbolic condemnations against the genocidal blockade which affects every Cuban, you show that your “extraordinary zeal” for the future of our nation will have as short a life as such had for Nicaragua, Haiti or occupied Iraq. After those historic experiences, nobody can believe in your repeated democratic and liberated statements, least of all the Cuban people, who have an elevated political and general culture.

Which of those countries has enjoyed justice, peace, development and freedom? In which of them, after the dirty war of the 1980s as in the case of Nicaragua, or the U.S. invasions in the case of Haiti and Iraq, are freer, more peace loving, more cultured, more developed, less corrupt, or more democratic today?

With complete frankness, it seems to me tremendous hypocrisy to say that the destiny of the Cuban people interest you all while you organize and direct part of the war of lies and slanders against that same people, with the intention of isolating them, thus preparing the road for an aggression. You, who have eight years service in your country’s Air Force, where you attained the level of Captain with three missions abroad, maybe you can clarify for us which countries of the world are more cultured, more democratic, freer, and happier. I hope that your answer isn’t measurable in tons of bombs or by the number of missiles launched, but by schools and libraries constructed or by the number of illiterate people rescued from ignorance.

When and at the request of whom were you enlisted in this new war?

Whomever reads your resume is amazed that you consider yourself so well informed about the reality of Cuba , that you had felt prepared to present a resolution to ALA Council about a country in which you have never been; that you hardly know except though the kind of tales of terror of Mr. Robert Kent (employed by the government of your country, and for whom Freedom House paid for ten trips to the island as a subversive, clandestine courier, with a disguise as ‘perfect’ as Inspector Closeau), and Mr. Jorge Sanguinetty (specialist in “neoliberal transitions”, employed by USAID, or rather, to the government, that just allocated 26 million dollars to overthrow a sovereign government, which before had diplomatic representation.) No reading room, and much less the tales of tricksters like Mr. Kent and company, will give the Cuban reality, or what the Cubans think and feel, nor will come to understand why this Revolution, which you have decided to enlist a military-style campaign launched from you own web page has endured and will endure, surviving invasions, wars of every type and many terrorist aggressions.

Your resolution against Cuba in San Diego scarcely received the support of four people beside yourself. It didn’t achieve its goal with which you had been entrusted: it didn’t divide Cuban and U.S. librarians, united beyond any difference, by ties of professional and collaborative respect. I can’t stop but note, as a consequence, that a fierce campaign against Cuba, from the Free Range Librarian, has acquired a seemingly mean vengefulness from rage and rancor, disguised as pity for other librarians, devotion to freedoms and right, and good humor from the unpunished, a campaign which has unfolded ever since the San Diego conference..

Before choosing Cuba as an objective of your new campaign plan, you enjoyed professional respect. I want to think that you will reflect and will rectify your course while there is still time. But less time remains each day. A bad sign for your prestige, for the honor of a librarian who talks about defending freedom of speech and the right to information, is that you have CENSURED what we have sent to Free Range Librarian and the opinions of those who don’t think like you.

You know very well that I responded to Mr. Marquardt’s criticisms about the existing differences between embargo and blockade last January 16, and I sent the message at 10:19 P.M. From that date, only the comment by Mr.
Marquardt dated Jan. 15 has appeared on your web page.

You know very well that days later I sent the English text of the press release from the Cuban information community, who represent twelve thousand in-the-flesh Cuban librarians, about the text passed by the ALA Council to the Comments on your web. This text was on your web for some days, as I could verify, until you discovered it (it had been attached thanks to an automatic program that allows it), and in a surprising fashion, eliminated it.

How can you and your friends present yourselves as defenders of freedoms and the right to dissent, when all of you ferociously censor our Cuban dissent against your position?

How can all of you maintain the professional prestige in the eyes of your colleagues of which you all boast, when you lack the most elemental ethics in censoring our opinion and the right to be heard by others in response to your allegations?

How can you try to give lessons to the world when all of you lack moral objectivity for it?

The Cuban librarians, like our people who fought only 30 years in the 19th century for freedom and independence, we will carry on defending the justice won, the schools and libraries that we have constructed alone, with out own hands, without donations of millionaire corporations. We will continue defending, to its logical conclusion, the elevated, comprehensive general culture that the Cuban people — all Cuban people freely including those that aren’t in agreement with the Revolution.— have achieved and enjoy.

In the name of the principles which you say you defend I challenge you to open Free Range Librarian to all opinions, and not only those that have asked you to be received, and that you replace the Cuban Press Release which was censured.

Again, I invite you to get to know the real Cuba. Take advantage of the opportunity in March when an important professional event will be held (INFO-2004). Several U.S. librarians will participate. Don’t shut your door to the real Cuba, and remember the saying of the great Mexican President, Benito Juarez:

“The respect for the rights of others is peace”


Eliades Acosta Matos

Havana, February 2, 2004

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