The US embargo on trade with Cuba and ban on American travel to the island except under license continues. This summer Pastors for Peace will again challenge the blockade with a friendship caravan to Cuba. Books for Cuba equals Libros para Cuba, a California-based group organised to support Cuban public libraries by donating materials, will take a fully stocked bookmobile on the caravan. The bookmobile will go into service in rural Granma Province. Cuban librarians chose the location and worked with Dana Lubow and Rhonda Neugebauer to develop the collection criteria used to stock the bookmobile. Dana and Rhonda, the American librarians behind the project, have met with librarians in Cuba on several occasions. In January 2007 Dana visited libraries in Granma Province. Despite great progress to date, they need our help.
The literacy rate in Cuba is an astonishing 97%. Cubans are avid readers and life-long learners who rely on their libraries. Before the revolution there were only 32 libraries in the Cuba. In 2002 there were 400 public libraries and 6000 school libraries. These libraries struggle to obtain the materials they need. Cuba is a still-developing country long handicapped by an illegal and immoral US-imposed economic blockade. As a result, it has little money to support its nonetheless highly valued libraries. While it is possible to work around the blockade, the costs of doing so are prohibitive. Moreover, a paper shortage in the 1990s paralyzed the Cuban publishing industry, which is only now recovering.
Many people outside Cuba do not realize that, while Cuban librarians must use the most creative means to even marginally meet the needs of their clients, US operatives generously support a network of "Independent Libraries" and pay their dissident "librarians" for "services rendered." The Independent Libraries Project is just one of many tactics used by the US State Department in its effort to destabilize the revolution and otherwise interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign Cuba. For more information about Cuba's public libraries and the so-called Independent Libraries see "'Payment for Services Rendered': US-funded Dissent and the 'Independent Libraries Project' in Cuba" by Rhonda Neugebauer. You can read it on-line at http://www.pit.edu/~ttwiss/irtf/cuba.payment.html.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Donate money for the bookmobile and its maintenance and repairs.
To ensure the lowest transfer fees and best possible exchange rate, we need to pool the donations for transfer to the US. If you want to contribute to the fund, please make your cheque payable to Cuba Solidarity Oxford care of Carol Stavris, 120 Loyd Road, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 8JR.
Donate books in Spanish to help fill the bookmobile.
You may purchase new and used books at http://www.alibris.com by clicking on "Donate a Book" at the top. Then search for the bookmobile Wishlist by entering firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a simple and efficient way to donate books as they will go directly to Dana in the US. The list of books is long and impressive. It includes titles for all ages, and covers all topics and price ranges.
If you have books in good condition in Spanish that you want to donate please let us know. Two Oxford CSC members may be traveling to Los Angeles in June. If so, they can hand deliver a limited number of books that meet the collection criteria. The bookmobile also needs a few books in English suitable for language learners. If you think you may have suitable books, please contact any of the people listed below.
Spread the word.
This is a worthwhile endeavour in its own right. But it also illustrates clearly both the means used by the US State Department to destabilize the Cuban government and how the blockade impacts ordinary Cubans. We can use this opportunity to build wider support for Cuba and foster critical discussion of American foreign policy. The exterior of the bookmobile will feature design elements contributed by Gerardo Hernández, one of the Miami Five. Gerardo now awaits justice in a southern California prison. His artwork should provide an opening to expand public awareness of that compelling issue.
Dana has given us an excellent A4 leaflet for use in our campaigning. To get a copy, email Carol at email@example.com or Debb or Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. All three can answer your questions.
You can contact Dana at email@example.com and Rhonda at firstname.lastname@example.org.