Even bookworms go hungry in Castro’s Cuba

That’s because books Castro doesn’t like get thrown into the fire. Literally:

From kangaroo-court records I have seen, when independent librarians are sent to the gulags, certain confiscated books — and sometimes all books in their libraries — are ordered incinerated by the presiding judge. A biography of Martin Luther King was sent to the flames because, said the judge, it “is based on ideas that could be used to promote social disorder and civil disobedience.” And the nonviolent King’s own books have been burned.

Even works by Jose Marti, the 19th-century organizer of Cuban independence, have been incinerated. Maybe because of the pamphlet he wrote during his exile in Spain, planning the liberation of his homeland. Marti’s pamphlet was about the horrors of political imprisonment in Cuba under a pre-Castro dictator.

Among thousands of other incinerated “subversive” books and pamphlets are those books by George Orwell, Pope John Paul II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (particularly dangerous) and reports by Human Rights Watch.

When I found these court records by Castro’s judges, I called Ray Bradbury, whose classic novel “Fahrenheit 451” — still reverberating among readers around the world — tells of a tyrannical government destroying “disloyal” books by fire — and the resistance by courageous citizens memorizing those forbidden books to preserve them for future generations. Ray Bradbury authorized me to circulate his response to these real-life bonfires of free thought in Castro’s Cuba:

“I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison and send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people.”

This is a really good piece, penned by Nat Hentoff. I urge you to read the rest here.