Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Free the Librarians!

I've heard brief mention of the imprisoned librarians in Cuba, but not seen anything as comprehensive as the Village Voice article, Cuba Cages Librarians. Last April 10 independent librarians in Cuba were rounded up with 65 other pro-democracy dissidents. But that's not all:

The governing council of the American Library Association, an organization on the list, disgraced itself in January when it overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to a final report at its mid-winter meeting telling Castro to let the librarians out. Apparently there are members of the council who romanticize Fidel, as do some Hollywood celebrities.
Shame on the ALA! These people are being held in 3-foot by six-foot cells without running water, electricity or any "basic hygiene facilities," some of them are seriously ill. The International Red Cross is not allowed to visit and has been forbidden in Cuba by Castro since 1989. On the homefront, the ALA, among others, is supporting a petition drive to restore privacy safeguards to the USA PATRIOT Act. The petition is for amending section 215 of the PATRIOT Act which gives the FBI authority
to search business records, including the records of bookstores and libraries: the FBI may request the records secretly; it is not required to prove that there is "probable cause" to believe the person whose records are being sought has committed a crime; and the bookseller or librarian who receives an order is prohibited from revealing it to anyone except those whose help is needed to produce the records.
You don't have to be a member of the ALA to sign the petition. The goal is one million signatures by May 4th. Visit The Campaign for Reader Privacy and add your name.