Submitted by ub on


Dearest Niece,

Now that you’re old enough, I’m going to tell you a small story about the banning of books in Cuba that led me to love books and is the reason I read all the time and became a teacher.

In 1960 a series of collectible, trading cards began to pop up everywhere in Cuba. They chronicled the seven years it took Fidel Castro and his army " to win their jungle and urban war against the previous Batista government."

I sought and collected and read everything those cards said. But instead of being informative, those cards told a story that was pure blandness. They edited previous stories and history, thus never offering the complete picture of Cuba. Purposely or not, Cuba’s past was being censored. So with my grandfather’s encouragement, I started looking at books to find some truthful information. I started reading everything and everyone’s opinion so I could decide for myself what had really happened. Then in 1962, the year my parents sent me out of Cuba alone with your aunt. I was 14 and she was 9 years old. All books that did not agree with the current Cuban government’s point of view started to be banned in Cuba, and later President Castro began jailing writers and artists who disagreed with his ideas of just about everything, resembling what Hitler and the Nazis had done in Germany. Entartete Kunst was the term used by the Nazi Party in Germany to describe art that did not support the ideals of Nazism.

In life, one has to struggle against the base instincts of people who would deny others the right of researching other people’s points of view in order to arrive at one’s own personal ideas about truth and falsity.

Currently, I see rearing its head in Florida that same base instinct of not allowing others to freely seek their own truth in schools and libraries.

You will be beginning your journey for a balanced education in Florida, but I’m troubled by the banning of books now being mandated by the government of Florida under penalty of law. This sad happening may eventually infect all of Florida’s universities. In fact, that has already happened at New College in Sarasota, an institution that historically has had a close affiliation with USF where you’ll be going.

Although there may not be an immediate remedy to what’s happening in Florida now, one can contribute somewhat by trying to inform oneself by reading and understanding literature, history, and artworks little-minded people want to ban. Please keep that advice in mind as you begin your university studies. Tía and I hope you will love books as much as we do and that you will befriend them for the rest of your life. Books are so inspiring!

Therefore, following my text to you, I’m sending you information to acquire a Brooklyn Public Library Card:

" In New York, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is launching a new campaign today, titled Books UnBanned, to help teens combat the negative impact of increased censorship and book bans in libraries across the country. For a limited time, young adults ages 13 to 21 nationwide, will be able to apply for a free eCard from BPL, unlocking access to the library’s extensive collection of eBooks"

We encourage you to access this unique offering and to use it to read books that may be denied to you in our State of Florida. I hope you make good use of this service when necessary.

Love and kisses from Tío and Tía.