Letters Feature

The Cuban exiles have been kid-gloved by immigration and the State Department as no other ethnic group (not because they love Cubans but because they hate Castro). My people are Italian and Native American Indian. The Italians were disdained as "greaseballs" by those already here. And the Indians, America's only true aristocracy, were almost exterminated. Jews, Poles, Irish - all have been through the wringer but they made it out of the ghettos without benefit of government patronage. The greatest sin of all, besides the treatment of Indians, is the suffering inflicted on the elegant African dragged in chains to the "promised land" and used as chattel. To this day the chain (now invisible) remains. Blacks and Indians have had their rights denied and culture smashed, but you haven't, Freddy, and neither have other Cubans. You've had it easy, so give it a rest. Stop being a crybaby. It's time after 30 years to start thinking of America as home and not an exile motel. Stop silencing the culture of other Cubans. Let's see and hear the full spectrum of the Cuban soul, not just this male-dominated, hard-ass, right-wing shallowness that hogs the spotlight.

James Martin, Miami Beach

In respect to and in response to Freddy Rodriguez and his view toward the United States, I am satisfied. But let's clear up a definition here. English is not just the "popular" language of the United States; it is the "official" language of the United States. All of the laws which govern this great country of ours are in English, as well as our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, thus making English our "official" language.In respect to wanting to speak your native tongue, that is fine, but imagine the United States if everyone spoke his native language! This country surely would not be where it is today. This is a country of immigrants (as I am sure you know) and everyone would love to speak his native tongue, but we need to communicate with one another, so English (as it always has been, and will continue to be) is our "official" language of communication.

Communication is the problem in Dade County. Immigrants coming to the United States must remember that they came here. Americans should not have to assimilate to anyone's culture, nor should it be forced upon them. We should focus our attention on living with one another, not separated from one another.

I hate to be slanderous or personal toward Mr. Rodriguez, but two other issues must be questioned or clarified. First, why is it so important for Americans to be bilingual and not for Spanish people? (After all, who is in whose country?) And second, I like how quick he is to cite the African-Americans' "rape" in the U.S. Surely he must not have forgotten the atrocities performed by the Spaniards on black slaves, as well as the even worse treatment of the indigenous people of the Caribbean and South America. Let's end this American and Cuban bashing now. If someone does not like our language or culture in the U.S., he should immigrate somewhere else!

A. Vivino, North Miami

After reading Freddy Rodriguez's letter, I felt compelled to write my own response. Mine is a viewpoint seldom heard by anyone.Let me begin by agreeing with Mr. Rodriguez: Americans should learn Spanish and partake of Hispanic culture, as well as those of other peoples. One can only be enriched by the introduction of new ideas and means of expression. But sadly, although many Hispanics stress these virtues, few are willing to accept Americans who actually fulfill them.

I admit that this is the reaction of one gringo, but I believe that it is representative of others. The explanation that my Spanish is not good enough is invalid, as most Hispanics acknowledge my command of the language. Many are surprised that I am not Hispanic (these people speak Spanish to me until they find this out).

The answer is simple discrimination. People do not speak Spanish to me because I do not have la sangre. Occasionally some are bemused by the gringo who speaks their language, but this interest is of short duration. Most who do speak Spanish to me have difficulty with English, and they prefer that I speak English to them so that they may learn it. Virtually all American-born Hispanics refuse to speak Spanish to me. In fact, they become angry and resentful when I speak Spanish.

In conclusion, if more Americans learned Spanish, both the American and Spanish communities would benefit. On the other hand, why should Americans learn Spanish if they cannot use it?

Name Withheld by Request, Miami Beach

I was born in Miami in the year 1966. I went to elementary, junior high, and senior high all right here in Miami. Amongst people who predominantly speak Spanish, I have lived here for 24 years, and I can speak and understand a small amount of Spanish. I have spent a lot of money on Spanish classes and I have found it is too difficult for me, academically and monetarily. Though after the fact that I have tried to learn "your" language, I really try to use what I learned whenever I need to, but I still get disappointed.Whenever I try to use what I know, I receive three common responses from the people who only speak Spanish. One is a hostile stare, as if I should not be speaking in their faces if I cannot speak fluently. Second is a loud, belligerent reaction like I have some nerve for even trying. Last but not least, the third response is a nice, caring attempt to cross the language barrier with me. The first response included no service, and name calling in Spanish in the second instance. I have been called names in Spanish, gossiped about in my face, and frequently employed on condition that I can speak some Spanish. I feel, as an average Anglo-Saxon, that I am getting my face kicked in, instead of the respect that my forefathers earned for me by pioneering this land, so that you can speak your language in freedom. I cannot reveal my name, but I will let all of you know that I do live near Little Havana.

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