Putting a good face toward the bad weather

la habana
Anarchist Library in Cuba

I’d like to share a special note of interest regarding Cuba. In the text Our men and women in Havana (are requesting good, published material) it mentions a recent conference, Observatorio Crítico de Cuba, that took place on the island and was hosted by Cátedra Haydeé Santamaría. In the article above it mentions something that should be really interesting to see where it goes and how it works – an anarchist library opening in the capital of La Habana:

In other news from Havana, companeros have been spending the last few months preparing a space in which to open an anarchist library, and it is expected to be ready imminently. Within this space rests the hope that the memory of Cuba’s hugely influential libertarian workers’ movement in the first 60 years of the 20th century might be recuperated and rescued from the hands of erasure and manipulation at the hands of the state.

The companeros have requested more published material – especially in Spanish – to fill their shelves. If you feel that you might be able to send something, please PM me or email me via my Libcom profile. source

Of course, you have the Anarchist Library with an amazing amount of printable zines to pursue. However, having lived in Cuba for a while myself – I must say finding a decent printer can be really difficult. Maybe things have changed, but I’m guessing, unfortunately… no.

Anyways, just wanted to pass along this quick note. Saludos!

Viva la ilusion!


One response to “Putting a good face toward the bad weather”

  1. rocinante Avatar

    Perhaps, I should comment a little further about some of my experience there:

    Books seemed an oddity there. For example, there are tons of little old bookstores, selling tons of dirty dusty old books, located throughout La Habana. Many of the books were pretty inexpensive compared to average prices in the USA in these types of book bodegas. There are also some more touristy places near the hotels that sell a different kind of book altogether, I think I recall one on Sacco and Vanzetti in one of these stores. And of course, you have the 28 volumes from the ever prolific Jose Marti, who has some writings about anarchists as well (increasingly favorable over time, though still a critic). Anyways, these kinds of books are really that affordable for someone living in the Cuban system.

    Obviously, there is some censorship that goes on. For example, I’ve always been a huge fan of Jorge Luis Borges, and I was unable to find any of his writings while in Cuba. I asked an official bookseller and was told that his writings are a no go zone.

    Therefore, sometimes it may be wise to think about the type of book you are sending to Cuba. From my experience, sending a book to Cuba takes about 2 and a half months for it to intended recipient. That seems an awfully long time for a small package, but it seems to be about average. I think you have to be conscious about what kind of book you send otherwise, it may not make it through. I choose a book by Noam Chomsky, just because of all things, I thought this would be a no problem one. Anyways, it would just suck to spend some hard earned money and send a nice book along, and have it not make it, so just think about it – but, in the end perhaps, go for it, because it’s kind of any interesting experiment.

    Of course, you can always just visit Cuba instead of relying on the mail.

    One last small note, these kind of underground libraries seem to be something there. I’m not sure of the exact circumstances regarding the original posts mention of an @library, but every once in a while, being a obvious foreigner seemed to be the attractant for invitations to strange little “libraries”. I mention strange, because we never went for this kind of stuff – but, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to adventure.

    Saludos! I hope this helps in some way, please feel free to ask questions.