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IFLA Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression


IFLA calls on US allow visits and information to and from Cuba

MEDIA RELEASE
12 June 2003
IFLA HQ
The Hague, Netherlands

"IFLA again urges the US government to eliminate obstacles imposed by its policies on access to information by Cubans", says the Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee Mr Alex Byrne.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and its Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (IFLA/FAIFE) expressed their deepest concerns today about the effects of US policies on access to information in Cuba.

News that Marcia Medina Cruzata of the Biblioteca Nacional JosÚ MartÝ has been denied a visa to participate in the XIIIth General Assembly of Acuril (The Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries) in Puerto Rico has heightened IFLA's concern about US policies to isolate Cuba. Previous policies allowed professional interaction but recent tightening has made that more difficult.

This adds to the longstanding embargo on trade with Cuba which has had a marked effect on the capacity of Cuban libraries to offer the range of resources needed by the Cuban people. IFLA has previously called on the government of the United States to share information materials widely in Cuba and to address the systemic effects of the embargo. A resolution of IFLA Council, when meeting in Boston in August 2001, stated its strongly felt concerns about the effects of the US embargo and urged the US Government to eliminate obstacles to access to information and professional interaction imposed by US Government policies.

Obstacles include:

  • bureaucratic difficulties with the export of information materials to Cuba despite their formal exclusion from the embargo
  • a severe reduction in the capacity of Cuban libraries and citizens to purchase information materials and related technologies due to the economic effects of the embargo
  • indirect disruption of access to information by Cubans and Cuban libraries caused by the effects on power supply, telecommunications and other aspects of life in Cuba
  • inhibitions to professional interaction and exchange caused by the restrictions on travel to the US by Cuban nationals and to Cuba by US nationals.

The Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee, Mr Alex Byrne, urged the US government to eliminate obstacles imposed by its policies on access to information by Cubans.

- ENDS -

Contact information

Mr Alex Byrne
Chair
IFLA Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression
Sydney, Australia.
Tel: +61 2 9514 3332, Fax: + 61 2 9514 3331.
Email: alex.byrne@uts.edu.au

Mr Ross Shimmon
Secretary General
International Federations of Library Associations and Institutions
The Hague, Netherlands.
Tel: +31 70 3140884 Fax: +31 70 3834827
Email: ross.shimmon@ifla.org

Ms Susanne Seidelin
Director
IFLA FAIFE Office
Copenhagen, Denmark.
Tel: +45 3258 6066 ext 532, or +45 32 58 70 77 dial 532, Fax: +45 32 84 02 01.
Email: susanne.seidelin@ifla.org or sus@db.dk

Links:


    IFLA

    IFLA and its worldwide membership support, defend and promote intellectual freedom as expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This intellectual freedom encompasses the wealth of human knowledge, opinion, creative thought and intellectual activity.

    IFLA is an independent, international, non-governmental organisation representing the interest of

    libraries, librarians and the users of libraries worldwide. Founded in 1927, it now has members in over 150 countries, representing hundreds of thousand of library and information staff. IFLA is accredited by a number of United Nations agencies, including UNESCO with whom it enjoys Formal Associate Relations.

    FAIFE - an IFLA Core Activity

    FAIFE is an initiative within IFLA to defend and promote the basic human rights defined in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The FAIFE Committee and Office further freedom of access to information and freedom of expression in all aspects, directly or indirectly, related library and information services.

    FAIFE monitors the state of intellectual freedom within the library and information community worldwide, supports IFLA policy development and cooperation with other international human rights organisations, and responds to violations of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression.


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