American librarians sympathetic to Fidel Castro’s communist regime are battling to prevent their national organization from responding to a plea from independent librarians imprisoned in Cuba for up to 26 years.

Fidel Castro

As WorldNetDaily reported, 14 members of Cuba’s Independent Library project were swept up in a crackdown last March on charges that included making available the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and books such as George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

Meeting in San Diego this week, the American Library Association is scheduled to vote on a resolution today to demand Castro release the prisoners.

ALA leaders fought hard to prevent the resolution from ever coming to a vote. It is based on a plea from Cuban independent library leader Gisela Delgado Sablon, whose husband is among the prisoners.

One of the ALA leaders opposed to the resolution is Ann Sparanese, a member of the policy-making council who maintains the Cubans are not “professional librarians.”

Sparanese, who also belongs to the Venceremos Brigade, a U.S. group that has supported Castro’s revolution for three decades, wrote in a Dec. 9 letter to a colleague:

“Despite the fact that we as librarians prize them highly, political rights – for instance, intellectual freedom – is only one of a constellation of human rights, some of which Cuba respects in greater measure than the United States.”

One of those rights she said, is “free education.”

The issue arose last June when Ramon Colas, a founder of the Independent Library Project of Cuba, came to the ALA’s conference in Toronto with Gablon’s request, searching for “solidarity,” but went away disappointed.

Colas said a delegation of five officials sent from Cuba’s state-run libraries swayed ALA members.

“The behavior of the ALA in Toronto showed the level of its complicity with the Havana regime,” said Colas, who left Cuba in December 2001 with his wife, Berta Mexidor, and now lives in Miami.

The ALA decided to pass off the issue to a task force that would prepare a report for the San Diego conference. But the panel’s report ignored the Cuban prisoners’ plea, according to a U.S.-based group called Friends of Cuban Libraries.

A member of that group who attended the task force meeting, however, managed to ensure the issue is included in the report.

Last year, Eliades Acosta, Cuba’s national libraries director, accused the independent book lenders of being tools of the United States to topple Havana’s communist government.

“The independent libraries have … demonstrated they are receiving money to subvert the institutional order of Cuba,” Acosta said in a speech at a book convention in Toronto.

Colas insists his peaceful movement has no weapons or plans to overtake military bases, but focuses on opening the minds of “people so they can choose the culture they want.”

“The one who is subverting the cultural order of Cuba is Fidel Castro,” he said. “While Castro is imprisoning civilians, the librarians are opening their homes to allow Cubans to read things they wouldn’t be allowed to see otherwise.”

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