Research in Cuban Archives – what you need to know in advance.
It is no secret that the more than 55 years of confrontation between Cuba and the United States has affected almost every possible sector of life on the island. The subject of documentation, where libraries and archives play such an important role, is marked by this conflict.
Above all, the financial, economic and trade restrictions against Cuba have markedly damaged the country’s capacity for conserving its documents and reference materials. Despite the efforts that Cuba has made to preserve historical memory, invariably this is a matter that is affected by the country’s financial possibilities and its access to technical resources.
Furthermore, the ideological, political and military confrontation has generated a syndrome in Cuba of protectiveness of information that corresponds to the need for it not to be used against the country by its powerful enemy. As a result, information that in any other country might be considered open and public, takes on a more secretive character in Cuba, or in some cases is simply classified beyond public access.
All of Cuba’s main information centers (libraries, archives, information centers), require authorization in order to access the archives held within, and that authorization varies depending on the character of the request.
Cuba’s public libraries, where books and periodicals are kept are the only places with free access.
While a path has opened recently to re-establish relations between Cuba and the US, the process is very far from having resolved the differences between the two. On the one hand, the measures for re-establishing relations must overcome multiple obstacles and that is something that will be difficult to do very quickly. On the other hand, a huge level of mistrust has built up over the years between Cuba and the US., and this means that Cubans will not rapidly change the rules under which they’ve operated until now.
The experience of many foreigners in Cuba is that recovering information here is particularly difficult, whether due to an inability to conserve the documents, or because they are denied access.
We believe that by offering this service, we can help to alleviate that burden.