About 40 of the USA’s major publishers have joined with Smashwords founder Mark Coker and Publisher’s Weekly and have set up a petition on the White House’s website demanding that the embargo on books and educational materials being exchanged between Cuba and the USA be ended at once.
This embargo, which is part of the more general embargo that the USA imposed on Cuba about 50 years ago is still in force, in spite of the easing of relations between the two countries of late, and is obviously wrong and in dire need of being rescinded at once.
This idea was first mooted at a recent visit by a contingent of major players in the USA publishing industry during an international book fair in Havana, where these visiting Americans took part in a number of panel discussions, where the idea of free exchange of ideas, literature and books was discussed.
It is worth noting that Cuba has almost 100% literacy, as compared to the USA with about 80% adult literacy, and much as I saw in China while I was working there a few years ago, young people devour books like there is no tomorrow.
Basically all that this petition is demanding is that the USA recognise one part of their Constitution and realise that book embargoes are a denial of free speech and a very clumsy form of censorship – neither worthy of the USA I feel.
There is a huge hunger in Cuba for American books, both in English and in Spanish, and apart from those Cubans who had to flee Cuba when Castro took power owing to their unsavoury relations to the extremely unpleasant and criminal regime that Castro overthrew, most Cubans living in the USA are also keen to have normal relations with Cuba again.
So there is a desire on both sides to normalise relations again, and for books and all manner of educational materials to be able to flow unhindered back and forth between the two neighbours once again.
If you wish to know more about this petition, and its background, here are a couple of links that might well help you:-
And should you wish to add your name to the petition, here is the direct link for that as well: White House Petition
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What do you think about the idea behind this petition? Do you agree with it or do you think it is a bad mistake?