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
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


                    Screening of Cuban films sets off firestorm 

      By: Kristin Boyd, Staff Writer (Princeton Packet, Princeton, New 

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
annual Human Rights Film Festival last weekend are "propaganda" and do
accurately reflect life in Cuba.

"I think it's outrageous to have a film festival at a public library
leaves out all the realities of Cuba, especially when you have thousands
witnesses to the human rights violations," said Maria C. Werlau,
executive director 
of Cuba Archive, an organization that collects information about the

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
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
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
because of the issues they addressed, not where they were filmed.

"They felt it was unbalanced because there were two films that were
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
and disaster relief."

The selection committee, headed by youth services librarian Pamela
followed a list of criteria that included: whether a film educates and
treats complex issues in a skillful way; is unlikely to receive wide 
distribution; and has the potential to inspire, motivate and stimulate

"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.
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, One 
Internet link led to another, and soon people nationwide learned of the
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
over who had nothing to do with this community were calling," Ms. Burger
"We could have made a decision to pull the films in light of the
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
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
objection to that," Ms. Wertz said. "The facts on Cuba are not the facts
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
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
violations - such as rationing food, jailing journalists and librarians
disseminating information and promoting a public health system they say
is based 
on apartheid in treating different citizens unequally - during a human
film festival.

"Where is the movie on that?" Ms. Werlau asked.

Ms. Burger said she recognizes the atrocities happening in Cuba, but she
believed it was important to include "Salud" and "The Power of

Still, she added, the films have caused more grief than she or the
committee ever bargained for.
"It's really a very polarizing topic," Ms. Burger said. "In retrospect,
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
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
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: 
( More
documentation on the ALA's violation of its basic 
principles can be found on the website of or our organization at: 

Comments may be sent to Leslie Burger at: ([log in to unmask]).


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