On June 21, a book for 5 to 7-year olds entitled “Vamos a Cuba,” and its English counterpart, “A Visit to Cuba,” were banned by the Miami-Dade School Board because of pressure from right-wing Cuban expatriates. The school board, pressured by a right-wing Cuban American parent, voted 6-3 in favor of the ban.
Right-wing opponents of Cuba ultimately want to keep people from understanding that the hardships in Cuba result from the 45-year-long U.S. blockade. They want to keep people from learning that about Cuba’s ideas, its freedoms and how it is organized to meet people’s needs, rather than for profits. Cuba’s socialist planned economy provides full employment, housing, food and free healthcare to all Cubans.
Cuban librarians criticized the Miami-Dade’s school board action. “It’s outrageous the Miami school libraries would prohibit the presence of the book ‘Vamos a Cuba’ because it shows the truth about how our children live,” librarian Margarita Bellas Vilarino told the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde. Libraries in Cuba are organizing protests against the Florida book ban.
The opposition to this censorship is not limited to Cuba. Miami activists are also speaking out. “I think the book banning is clearly an attempt by the right-wing anti-Cuban minority to censor any description of Cuba that does not explicitly denounce the government. They are meddling with public education, wasting scarce education dollars and using their political agenda to hurt public school children,” said Sonja Swanson, a Florida International University student and organizer against the banning of the children’s book.
On June 28, Miami-Dade school district’s own Student Government Association joined with the American Civil Liberties Union in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the School Board’s decision. This legal action is a step in the right direction.
However, the president of the ACLU’s Greater Miami chapter, Virginia Rosen, made an unfounded, anti-communist appeal in arguing for reversing the book ban. She shamelessly stated “this is what happens in communist Cuba.” Miami anti-book banning activists all agreed that Rosen should learn the facts before presenting her arguments against the school board. No books are banned in Cuba.