Despite the 2010-2011 release of all the librarians imprisoned in 2003, government agents continue to raid, confiscate and infiltrate the independent libraries and librarians. See stories below (with my apologies for some duplication.)
Steve Marquardt, Ph.D.
South Dakota State University Dean of Libraries Emeritus
Amnesty International Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota
9383 123rd Avenue SE
Lake Lillian, Minnesota 56253-4700
Library leader threatened, harassed
HAVANA, April 25, 2011 (Ana Aguililla/Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez) -
Ms. Omayda Padrón Azcuy, the national coordinator of the Reinaldo
Bragado Bretaña Library Network, complains that she is being threatened
and harassed by the State Security police. Every Wednesday her library
hosts literary discussions with intellectuals and neighborhood
residents. The library, located in her home at #5 18th St. in the Vedado
district, holds about a thousand volumes, many of them by authors
censured in Cuba, including Álvaro Vargas Llosa, Guillermo Cabrera
Infante, Reinaldo Arenas and Carlo Alberto Montaner.
In a phone conversation with reporter Roberto de Jesús Guerra, Ms.
Padron said her home was visited by two police agents on April 13. "They
told me they knew all about the meetings, and that they were not going
to permit them any more. They said they knew everything about the
foreigners who come to visit me, that I am involved with them." She said
the police "want the world to see that we are mercenaries for receiving
visits from foreigners." She was warned of unspecified "consequences"
if she does not cease her activities.
The next day, she said, a group of vigilantes in civilian clothes
"controlled her movements and harassed her wherever she went." On April
19 police agents visited her house again. When Omaida Padrón reportedly
complained that they were subjecting her to repression, one of them
answered: "No, if I was really repressing you, I would break down the
door and drag you outside right now."
Ms. Padrón told reporter Ana Aguililla that on April 20 the police
seized her identity card when she was traveling with a librarian
colleague to attend a film debate at another independent library in the
Capdevila district of Havana. [Editor's note: ID cards are essential for
Cubans because they must be presented during such basic activities as
buying rationed food or tickets for trains and inter-provincial buses.]
Compiled and translated by the Friends of Cuban Libraries
Library raid in Pinar del Río
HAVANA, April 9, 2011 (Mario Hechavarría Driggs/www.miscelaneasdecuba.net
) - José Ramón Rivera, the director of an independent library in Pinar
del Río Province, complains that a State Security major named Rafael and
two police agents entered his house at #655 Garmendia St. and, without
showing a warrant, took away four boxes of books, a tape recorder and an
unconnected fax machine. The event occurred when he was not at home.
According to the librarian, this action, which took place on Thursday,
March 17, was an abuse of authority and a robbery because the
authorities are required to present a judge's order [before conducting a
raid], with two witnesses to the confiscation and in the presence of
the homeowner, which did not happen in this case.
José Ramón Rivera, the director of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes
Library, was summoned to appear before Lieutenant Ricardo at the local
police station at 9:00 A.M. on March 19.
Translated by the Friends of Cuban Libraries
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, May 1, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Subject: [srrtac-l] New Secret Agent-Librarian Revealed!!
To: srrt...@ala.orgFor the full text of additional news articles, please see the Recent News section of our website at:
New secret agent-librarian revealed!
NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2011 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On Feb. 25 Cuba's official TV network aired "Pawns of the Empire," a documentary on two members of civil society groups who revealed their true identity as underground agents of the State Security police. One of the newly unveiled agents, Carlos Serpa Maceira (AKA "Agent Emilio"), identified himself as the director of the Ernest Hemingway Independent Library, located on the impoverished Isle of Youth, south of Cuba's main island. The documentary and Cuba's official newspapers emphasized Serpa's infiltration of independent press agencies and the Ladies in White, an award-winning group of women who hold public demonstrations demanding the release of imprisoned family members. Worldwide publicity for the Ladies in White is credited with pressuring the Cuban government to release, and send into exile, numerous prisoners of conscience, including independent librarians sentenced to 20-year terms in 2003.
Serpa is the fourth member of Cuba's independent library movement to unveil his true identity as an agent of the secret police. Describing his infiltration of civil society organizations, Serpa declared: "There are those who continue to underestimate us, but one thing is very clear. The organs of Cuban [State] Security have been, are, and will be present at the right place and time. The enemies of the Revolution [...] have just not learned the lesson." Some observers believe the Cuban regime's infiltration of the independent library movement, which continues to expand despite ongoing police raids and persecution, is a tribute to the "danger" presented by this pioneering effort to oppose Cuba's once airtight system of censorship.
Inadvertent testimony for the influence of the expanding library movement was rendered by Serpa himself during his undercover career. In a 2006 interview with an independent reporter looking back on the Hemingway Library since its founding in 2003, Serpa declared: "Our greatest merit in these three years of work is that the people know that the Library exists; they visit it, they ask us for books and magazines; the readers have received threats from the Political Police and from supporters of the government to keep them from visiting the Library, but the visits have not diminished; every day they increase...." The Ernest Hemingway Library is one of twelve independent libraries serving the public on the tiny Isle of Youth.
On Feb. 27, two days after the TV extravaganza revealing Serpa's true identity as "Agent Emilio" of the secret police, the official government website Cubadebate highlighted Serpa's return to Nueva Gerona, the capital of the Isle of Youth. The article praised what it termed the "apotheosis" of the townspeople as they greeted Serpa: "Hundreds of inhabitants, waving [placards] with slogans, singing revolutionary songs and with eyes wet with emotion, congregated in C Street... to pay heroic homage to this combatant who, during many years, has risked his life in an anonymous form to destroy the empire's plans against the Cuban Revolution...."
According to dissidents, the fervent and apparently spontaneous welcome given to Carlos Serpa in Nueva Gerona was stage-managed by the government in a part of town inhabited largely by Communist Party officials and other relatively affluent government supporters. At press time, the leaders of Cuba's independent library movement had no comment regarding Serpa's infiltration of their project, but a leader of the Ladies in White said she pitied him and forgave his transgressions.
Compiled by the Friends of Cuban Libraries from press reports in Cubadebate, the Miami Herald and Cuban Colada.
Library leader threatened, harassed
HAVANA, April 25, 2011 (Ana Aguililla/Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez) - When library leader Omayda Padrón Azcuy complained to State Security agents that they were harassing her, one of them answered: "No, if I was really repressing you, I would break down the door and drag you outside right now."
Library Raid in Pinar del Río
HAVANA, April 9, 2011 (Mario Hechavarría Driggs/www.miscelaneasdecuba.net ) - José Ramón Rivera, the director of an independent library in Pinar del Río Province, complains that a State Security officer entered his house at #655 Garmendia St. and took away four boxes of books....
Nat Hentoff: "Endless shame of the spineless ALA"
NEW YORK, January 13, 2011 (Nat Hentoff/Galesburg Register-Mail) - In the many columns I've written..., I've cited the ALA's refusal to demand the release of these librarians.... As my documented stories on these and future imprisonments went on, I was targeted by the director of Cuba's National Library Eliades Acosta: "What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?" My public reply: "I know that if I were a Cuban, I'd be in prison."
Another gay library raided
HAVANA, Nov. 17, 2010 (by Aliomar Janjaques Chivaz, Cuban LGBT Foundation) - On November 10 the Arenas Independent Library... 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....