Ray Bradbury appeals to Fidel Castro....
Nat Hentoff chats with Ray Bradbury about Castro.
I was recently talking with one of my heroes, Ray Bradbury, a persistent, lively defender of the essential individual rights of conscience, free speech and, most famously, in his novel "Fahrenheit 451" the right to read — especially in a country whose government burns dissenting books.
We were talking about Fidel Castro's recurring crackdowns on those remarkably courageous Cubans who keep working to bring democracy to that grim island where dissenters, including independent librarians, are locked in cages, often for 20 or more years. Bradbury knew about the crackdowns, but until I told him, was not aware of Castro's kangaroo courts (while sentencing the "subversives") often ordering the burning of the independent libraries they raid, just like in "451."
For example, on April 5, 2003, after Julio Antonio Valdes Guevara was sent away, the judge ruled: "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." Hearing about this, Bradbury authorized me to convey this message from him to Fidel Castro: "I stand against any library or any librarian anywhere in the world being imprisoned or punished in any way for the books they circulate.
"I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people."
Among the books destroyed through the years by Fidel's arsonists have been volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Constitution, and even a book by the late Jose Marti, who organized, and was killed in, the Cuban people's struggle for independence.