More than 50 major players in the U.S. publishing industry are petitioning the White House and Congress to end the Cuba trade embargo as it pertains to books and educational materials.
Calling the book embargo "counter to American ideals of free expression," the petition — endorsed by publishing companies, authors and agents — says "books are catalysts for greater cross-cultural understanding, economic development, free expression, and positive social change."
Publishers Weekly, which plans to run the petition on the cover of the magazine's March 14 edition, posted it on its website. It says that last month about 40 American publishing industry representatives met with their counterparts in Havana to "build bridges of understanding and explore opportunities for greater cultural and economic collaboration."
The petition also notes that Cuba's adult literacy rate of nearly 100 percent is among the highest in the world. It says there are plenty of commercial opportunities for American and Cuban publishers that could benefit "readers and writers everywhere."
The petition comes as the U.S. continues to work to normalize relations with the island nation and just ahead of President Obama's historic visit to Cuba on March 21-22. He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.