Friday, October 27, 2006

Why Castro Fears Independent Libraries

Freadom provides a link to pictures of two Cuban independent librarians beaten by pro-regime mobs. Radical left-wing Castro apologists such as Ann Sparanese have tried to justify the Cuban dictatorship's repression of independent librarians by arguing that the latter are agents of a foreign power because some of them have accepted funding from the US Government. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that this is true, how does this possibly justify the Castro regime's actions?

After all, if the Cuban regime is as popular and beloved as sympathizers such as Sparanese claim it is, how can the independent library movement possibly threaten it? If Cubans really do love their Maximum Leader, are they suddenly going to become tools of neocon imperialism just because someone lends them a couple books to read? If Sparanese and others are correct in arguing, in the face of both logic and common sense, that Cuba's official libraries do not limit access to anti-regime viewpoints, then what is the harm in the existence of independent lending libraries that further enhance intellectual freedom?

The answer, of course, is that the Castro regime is not popular; it is a brutal dictatorship that rules by fear. It fears independent libraries not because of who pays for them, but because it dreads any lessening of its control over Cuban society. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O'Grady outlines a new strategy of "non-cooperation" that Cuban dissidents have adopted to break this totalitarian stranglehold on their country:

Non-cooperation is a strategy aimed at whittling away at the most fundamental tool of every totalitarian regime: fear. The system can survive only if each Cuban believes he is greatly outnumbered by lovers of the revolution and that in speaking out, he is doomed. This is why the regime risked so much bad press to crush the dissidents in March of 2003 in a brutal island-wide crackdown. Intense, debilitating fear must be kept alive if the regime is to survive.

Opponents of the regime also understand the power of fear and it is why they are hopeful about the non-cooperation campaign, which provides a passive way for Cubans to quietly discover solidarity. Rather than calling on citizens to actively rebel against the government, "non-cooperation" asks them simply to refuse to participate in the oppression.

(Link courtesy of PajamasMedia)

Preventing the Cuban people from having access to independent sources of information and expression is crucial to maintaining this climate of "intense, debilitating fear". This is why the Castro dictatorship represses independent libraries and other forms of intellectual freedom.


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