Skip to comments.Fahrenheit 451 in CUBA today
Posted on 10/01/2003 10:24:18 AM PDT by mandingo republican
Library books burned by court order
NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2003 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) - On April 5, after a one-day trial before the State Security Court in the city of Santiago, Cuban dissident Julio Valdés was convicted of conspiring with U.S. diplomats to commit "crimes against the national sovereignty and economy of Cuba" and sentenced to 20 years in prison. One of the accusations made against Julio Valdés was the founding of a "self-proclaimed Independent Library" to "ideologically subvert the reader with the clear purpose, by means of inducing confusion, to recruit persons for the counter-revolution..." After sentencing the defendant to 20 years in prison, the judges also condemned Valdes' library materials as "lacking in usefulness" and ordered them to be destroyed by fire.
These startling details are contained in leaked court documents on the case of Julio Valdés and other dissidents convicted during the Castro regime's spring crackdown on the island nation's emerging civil society. The voluminous legal documents relating to these trials, smuggled off the island and recently published on the World Wide Web by Florida State University, can be seen at: (www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu). The legal papers, in the original Spanish and in English translation, confirm Amnesty International's conclusion that the defendants arrested in the spring roundup are prisoners of conscience detained for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. The newly-published documents also contradict government denials that Cuban citizens are being persecuted for opening a network of independent libraries. Since 1998, approximately 200 independent libraries have been established across the island with the goal of challenging the Castro regime's system of censorship.
The court papers published on the Internet detail a March 19 raid on the home of Julio Valdés, during which he was arrested and the contents of his library were cataloged and seized, along with medicines, photographic film, an audio cassette and radios. Among the "subversive" library materials cataloged in the trial proceedings were copies of "Cuba's Repressive Machinery" by Human Rights Watch, issues of TIME magazine, pamphlets on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Catholic periodicals, "Letters from Burma" by Aung San Suu Khi, and the text of speeches made by various persons during the European Parliament's ceremony awarding the Sakharov Prize, in absentia, to Cuban dissident leader Oswaldo Payá. The court condemned Julio Valdés for "accumulating books, magazines and pamphlets by counter-revolutionary authors in foreign countries, principally in Miami, Florida, United States of America, which exhort civil disobedience, twisting historical events and the achievements of illustrious thinkers and revolutionary patriots..." in order to "provoke the destruction of the political, social and economic order now existing in Cuba...."
After sentencing Julio Valdés to twenty year in prison, the presiding judges in his case also decreed: "As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness."