Update from Friends of Cuban Libraries
The following is a press release from Friends of Cuban Libraries:
CUBA ATTACKS ALBRIGHT FOR SPEECH TO LIBRARY GROUP
The June 30 issue of Librinsula, a weekly magazine published in Havana, contains an article by Cuban National Library director Eliades Acosta attacking Madeleine Albright for a speech she delivered on June 24 at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans. Acosta serves as Cuba's spokesperson on library issues.
In her speech at the New Orleans conference, former Secretary of State Albright called on libraries to be "laboratories for freedom" and defended the right of Cubans to loan books and to open independent libraries free of government control.
Some observers believe Albright's June 24 comments implicitly criticized the ALA for failing to condemn the Castro government's repression of a citizens' movement to establish libraries offering public access to uncensored books. Many of the independent libraries founded in Cuba have been raided by the secret police. According to Cuban court documents, the existence of which has not been acknowledged in ALA reports on the situation, among the library books seized and ordered to be burned in Cuba are classics such as George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. About a dozen of the Cuban librarians, condemned to 20-year prison terms, have been named as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
Critics of the ALA, such as the Friends of Cuban Libraries organization, charge that the ALA's governing Council has inattentively approved reports by ALA committees, allegedly controlled by a pro-Castro faction, which ignore library repression and book burning in Cuba. Some ALA members accuse the independent librarians of being agents of the CIA.
When Madeleine Albright's turn to speak came at the New Orleans conference, "this bitter and elegant woman" charged Eliades Acosta, spoke in a manner she had allegedly cultivated during her period as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, where she reportedly delivered speeches with a "scornful grimace, in the style of Betty Davis [sic]."
Albright's speech before the ALA, Acosta charged, was intended to "convince American librarians, traditionally friendly toward their Cuban colleagues, that they should 'convert their institutions into laboratories for freedom.'" While discounting Albright's criticism of the Bush administration, dismissed by Acosta as "a hypocritical fig leaf designed by Versace," the author said Albright then "launched directly toward her objective: a call to support the misnamed 'independent libraries', a delicious euphemism with which the CIA has denominated this particular version, in the Imperial style, of the battle of ideas [to overthrow the Castro government.]"
Acosta also charged Albright with a commercial motive for delivering her speech at the ALA conference in New Orleans: "Waving her pedigree as an anti-Communist Czech emigre, Ms. Albright concluded her performance by making astute propaganda for her latest book [on religion and politics] before an audience which has, among its other functions, precisely the task of acquiring books.... I leave it to the readers' sagacity," continued Eliades Acosta, "to imagine the manner in which this pious personage concluded her speech, elevating her eyes toward heaven, as if her well-coifed head, the pride of Washington hair stylists, were surrounded by the divine splendor of a halo, exactly as appears in the paintings of El Greco."
"Ms. Albright failed to achieve her objective," concluded Eliades Acosta, which was allegedly "to poison relations between Cuban and American librarians, despite having employed all of her histrionic skills in the New Orleans theater. There was no change whatsoever made in the traditional position of the ALA toward Cuba." Outside of the hall where Albright delivered her speech, Acosta noted approvingly, members of the ALA's "Radical Reference" group handed out leaflets denouncing the Clinton Administration's ex-Secretary of State as a war criminal.
References: Librinsula, June 30, 2006 (Click here)
Friends of Cuban Libraries, (http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org)