First - I was not aware this list was intended for political discussion, right-left or - in between. Second - after more than 40 years, my advice for our US colleagues obsessed with Castro, Cuba, & Communism in the backyard - GET OVER IT. If diplomacy and common sense had been used over these many years instead of blockade and denial of reality, then we probably wouldn't be discussing this; and Cuba and Cubans would probably be in a better situation today. Hopefully, end of discussion . John Tagg Librarian Health Disciplines Library West Park Healthcare Centre 82 Buttonwood Avenue Toronto, ON M6M 2J5 (416) 243-3600 x2048 FAX 243-8947 [log in to unmask] -----Original Message----- From: Medical Libraries Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Kent Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 7:52 AM To: [log in to unmask] Subject: Health Film Causes Library Furor in Princeton (http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org) Screening of Cuban films sets off firestorm By: Kristin Boyd, Staff Writer (Princeton Packet, Princeton, New Jersey) 05/18/2007 (http://www.pacpub.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18356815&BRD=1091&PAG=461& dept_id=425695&rfi=6) Library responds to accusations that Human Rights Film Festival distorts conditions in Cuba The Princeton Public Library has inadvertently set off a firestorm of criticism involving Cuba, health care and human rights. According to some critics, two of the 15 films shown during the library's annual Human Rights Film Festival last weekend are "propaganda" and do not accurately reflect life in Cuba. "I think it's outrageous to have a film festival at a public library that leaves out all the realities of Cuba, especially when you have thousands of witnesses to the human rights violations," said Maria C. Werlau, executive director of Cuba Archive, an organization that collects information about the country. Ms. Werlau and Princeton Township resident Fausta Wertz raised issue with the documentaries "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" and "Salud! What Puts Cuba on the Map in the Quest for Global Health Care." Ms. Wertz attended the festival; Ms. Werlau, a Summit resident, did not. "To have a film that is clear propaganda and that is far removed from the reality of the average Cuban seemed pretty outrageous," Ms. Werlau said. "And to have a film festival that doesn't address the blatant and egregious human rights violations in Cuba seems really unbalanced."] Leslie Burger, library director, said the film festival committee had no intentions to glorify Cuba. "Salud!" and "The Power of Community" were chosen because of the issues they addressed, not where they were filmed. "They felt it was unbalanced because there were two films that were holding Cuba up as a model, and that really wasn't it," Ms. Burger said. "It wasn't a Cuban film festival. It was a human rights festival. The conversations we were trying to have were about education and energy and health care and immigration and disaster relief." The selection committee, headed by youth services librarian Pamela Groves, followed a list of criteria that included: whether a film educates and informs; treats complex issues in a skillful way; is unlikely to receive wide distribution; and has the potential to inspire, motivate and stimulate meaningful dialogue. "What we were trying to do is focus on things that we think are the rights of human beings versus the human rights violations in the world," Ms. Burger said. Ms. Groves could not be reached for comment. Fallout began after the library posted the film schedule on its Web site, and Ms. Wertz discussed the festival on her blog, www.faustasblog.com. One Internet link led to another, and soon people nationwide learned of the library's plans to show "Salud" and "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil." Ms. Burger received a flood of phone calls and e-mails urging her to pull the films and exclude Ellen Bernstein of Pastors for Peace from a discussion about Cuba's public health system, she said. "It's really interesting how the word got out in a snap, and people from all over who had nothing to do with this community were calling," Ms. Burger said. "We could have made a decision to pull the films in light of the reaction, but we feel it's important for people to practice free expression." Ms. Wertz and Ms. Werlau said they respect the committee's right to show films of its choosing. However, they add, the committee should have included films to counter the positive light "Salud" and "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" cast on Cuba. They suggested films such as "Before Night Falls," "Children of Paradise," "A Patriot's Path to Democracy" and "The Torture in Castro's Cuba." "The thing about the two films is not that they're being shown. I have no objection to that," Ms. Wertz said. "The facts on Cuba are not the facts that were shown." Ms. Bernstein agreed Cuba "is not a perfect place," but that does not discount the country's "exemplary health-care system." If films about persecution and poverty are being told, then "Salud" also deserves to be told, she said. "I think it's a shame that such a simple message has to be so controversial," said Ms. Bernstein, who lives in northern New Jersey and visited Cuba in April. "The point was to talk about health care as a human right." Ms. Wertz and Ms. Werlau said it's inexcusable to ignore Cuba's human rights violations - such as rationing food, jailing journalists and librarians for disseminating information and promoting a public health system they say is based on apartheid in treating different citizens unequally - during a human rights film festival. "Where is the movie on that?" Ms. Werlau asked. Ms. Burger said she recognizes the atrocities happening in Cuba, but she also believed it was important to include "Salud" and "The Power of Community." Still, she added, the films have caused more grief than she or the selection committee ever bargained for. "It's really a very polarizing topic," Ms. Burger said. "In retrospect, I might make a different decision than three months ago. The controversy is not worth it. I'm not sure what's been accomplished here except a whole lot of people are angry." [POSTSCRIPT: Sadly, Leslie Burger is also the president of the ALA, and during her term in office she has refused to oppose, or even acknowldedge the existence of, the repression of Cuba's independent library movement and the court-ordered burning of thousands of confiscated library books by the secret police. In the only membership poll conducted of ALA members on the Cuban library issue, 76% of the respondents voted to condemn the Castro regime. For images of the kind of attacks on librarians which the ALA's pro-Castro faction is ignoring, denying and covering up, see: (http://bitacoracubana.com/desdecuba/portada2.php?id=3166). More documentation on the ALA's violation of its basic principles can be found on the website of or our organization at: HTTP://WWW.FRIENDSOFCUBANLIBRARIES.ORG ) Comments may be sent to Leslie Burger at: ([log in to unmask]). Sincerely, The Friends of Cuban Libraries (http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org) This e-mail may contain confidential and/or privileged information for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any review or distribution by anyone other than the person for whom it was originally intended is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please contact the sender and delete all copies. Opinions, conclusions or other information contained in this e-mail may not be that of the organization.