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Information for Social Change

Information for Social Change

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ISC 16. National Cultural Award of Cuba

By John Pateman

On 29 August 2002 John Pateman, Head of Libraries and Heritage for the London Borough of Merton, was given the National Cultural Award of Cuba. The ceremony took place at 10am at Cuba's National Library, the Biblioteca National Jose Marti, in Revolution Square, Havana. The flags of Cuba and the United Kingdom were present. The ceremony, which started with the playing of the Cuban and British National Anthems, was presided over by :

Ismael Gonzalez Gonzalez - Vice Minister of Culture

Mayte Vigoa de la Uz - Cadre Director of the Ministry of Culture

Marcia Medina Cruzata - National Library Vice-Director of Promotion and Development Teresita Morales - National Library Vice-Director of Services to General Public

Also present was a group of workers from the National Library, Annette Pateman, family and friends. The award was announced by Mayte Vigoa de la Uz :

"The solidarity and the fraternity with the people of Cuba have been developed for the world in the heart and in the work of men like John Pateman whose activities are being recognised at this ceremony today.

John Pateman chairs the Cuban Libraries Support Group in England. He has got both a BA degree in History and Politics and a Masters Degree in Business Administration. He is a member of the Library Association (now called CILIP) and the Society of Chief Librarians.

He created the Cuban Libraries Support Group in England in order to counteract the defamatory and counter-revolutionary campaign generated by the Independent Libraries Movement.

He launched an important international campaign through his organisation. It also included the United States where he sent documents - specifically to the American Library Association - accusing counter-revolutionary groups that were linked to unpatriotic Cubans who live in that country.

He has also organised several solidarity campaigns with the Cuban people and especially with our librarians, providing support to our National Reading Programme, urging people to send books to Cuban libraries.

Important links have been established between Cuban and UK libraries because of his efforts. Through his articles he has been the spokesman of the work developed by the Cuban Revolution in the creation of libraries giving Cuban people access to reading. The Ministry of Culture has decided to award this distinction to John Pateman because of his tireless work of solidarity with Cuba, promoting the Cuban Revolution achievements at international level and because of his contribution to our people and especially to the Cuban librarians."

The award was presented to John Pateman by Mr Ismael Gonzalez, the Vice Minister of Culture. John Pateman then made a short acceptance speech.

"Vice minister, Senora Eliades Acosta, staff and workers of the National Library Jose Marti.

I would like to thank Eliades Acosta, Director of the National Library Jose Marti, for recommending me to the Ministry of Culture for this award. I am sorry that Eliades could not be here today, due to his attendance at a library conference in Mexico. I am very honoured to receive this award.

Since my first visit to Cuba in 1993, I have worked to build links between libraries in Cuba and the UK. In 1999 I established the Cuban Library Support Group. The aims of this Group are to support Cuban libraries, Cuban library workers and the Cuban Library Association (ASCUBI).

The Cuban Library Support Group will continue its tireless efforts to support the achievements of the Cuban Revolution, in the fields of information, publishing, libraries, literacy and education.

I am proud to have played my small part in assisting the Cuban people and its government, under the leadership of Comrade Fidel Castro, in developing Socialism in Cuba.

"Long Live the Cuban Revolution!
Long Live Comrade Fidel Castro!


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