Re: [Videolib] Nobody Listened - imprisoned librarians in Cuba

Steve Fesenmaier (
Mon, 07 Jul 2003 11:08:39 -0400

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Nobody Listened

On July 4th, rather than go see fireworks, I watched for the second time

a 1987 doc on Cuba called “Nobody Listened.” During the month of June I
was interviewed by the NY Times about Cuban librarians who were arrested

and thrown in prison for up to 26 years. I am a member of an ad hoc
group of librarians called “Friends of Cuban Libraries” led by Robert
Kent, a NY Public librarian. The NY Times did a story one Saturday and
the next day the LA Times did another on the contradiction of the
American Library Assoc. fighting to defend Americans from the US Patriot

Act and other attempts by the Bush regime to compromise our First
Amendment rights. Why did American librarians stand up for their rights
and unlike Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and famous
leftists like Noam Chomsky not protest the arrest of a large number of
librarians, journalists, and other freedom fighters in Cuba? Most
unfortunately, a small group of activist librarians have traveled often
to Cuba, and have been allowed to block resolutions by the ALA Council
to protest. When Nat Hentoff, a freedom fighter for the Village Voice,
came out blasting ALA, both Sandy Berman and myself got involved. I
recalled this great film by the great Cuban filmmaker Nestor Almendros
about this issue. The film even has a librarian who was arrested, and
many others, including leaders of the 1958 Revolution against Baptista
who were imprisoned latter by Castro. Various European intellectuals, at

a presentation in Paris, point out that Leftists also looked away when
Stalin, Lenin, and other Communist dictators murdered and imprisoned
anyone whom proclaimed their rights. As Sandy Berman says, “ the
American leftist librarians use the same rhetoric that Bush does when
proclaiming the need to inspect public library records…” I would add
that they use the same words Castro has used for 40 years to maintain
absolute control over his people. Watching “Nobody Listened” was a
chilling as anything that came out about Saddam Hussein and his control
over Iraq. I supported the invasion despite distrusting Bush completely
because like Hentoff again wrote, it was time to liberate the victims of

one of the worst dictators of our age. I can see why Castro is worried
that he is next. I would support a total invasion – it is time to
removed Castro and his flunkies. And I will fight inside my professional

organization to get them to join the fight. It is indeed an evil
contradiction that librarians fail to support the removal of the worst
dictator in the history of the Western Hemisphere as he murders and
tortures our fellow librarians and freedom fighters. To check out more
on the Cuban libraries site, go to:

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