Matera says she was surprised when Foundation officials contacted her late last year. "I got a call from the Foundation," she recounts. "They were very interested in this. I don't know if problems were escalating with the Herald or what. They told me that they had read the paper and were very interested in it and wanted to know if I'd update it because a lot had happened since then."

She says she agreed to the request because the subject was of continuing interest to her. Even though the Foundation was asking her for an updated and rewritten version of the study for publication in its magazine, Fundacion, she says she was not under contract and no money was involved. "I received nothing from the Foundation," she says firmly. "I even paid for the faxed material. That wasn't a concern at all. The only funding I ever received for this came from a University of Miami general research grant in 1988 at the School of Communication."

When Mayor Suarez and other defamation committee officials distributed material at the February 6 press conference, they included a draft of Matera's updated, rewritten research. Matera says she had no idea her new - and at that point unfinished - work, the one titled "An Ethnic Community at Odds with the Local Newspaper: The Miami Herald's Coverage on Cuban Issues," was going to be used as ammunition in the Foundation's battle against the Herald. "They didn't tell me," she says with annoyance. "They wanted to know could I put what I'd done in more a readable version. I said, `I'll try. I'll send it to you and see if that's what you want.' It was never meant to be circulated. I wasn't real pleased. I didn't appreciate it."

And who can blame her? If you're an intellectual butcher, you don't want people showing off your meat cleavers before they've been fully sharpened. I examined a copy of Matera's final draft after she'd sent it to Miami, and I can confidently say that readers of the Foundation's magazine are in for a special treat. Academic detachment? Scholarly precision? Stultifying explanations of content analysis? Get outta here! Freed from the constraints of hosting a dinner party for a bunch of stuffy academics, Matera has kicked off her shoes and is ready to boogie:

* The movement for dialogue with the Castro government "folds nicely into the liberal ideology, [so] it's not surprising that the movement has received extensive coverage in the Miami Herald."

* Cuban American National Foundation statisticians "cite an even more disturbing example of the Herald's editorial support for the activities of liberal Cuban Americans."

* "It appears the Herald spares no ink, space, or effort in chronicling negative comments about CANF. Whenever a renegade, disfavored, or disgruntled member airs a grievance, however baseless or contrived, he or she is afforded ample coverage."

* "The Herald's coverage of Cuban issues often seems purposefully slanted in order to irritate its Latin readership."

* Regarding the Herald's recent editorial criticizing proposed federal legislation to tighten the economic embargo against Cuba: "It was the left-wing rhetoric in the editorial, more than anything, that incited the exiles."

* "When a country's people are starving, and those who speak out against the strangling regime suffer torture, imprisonment, and death, what difference does it make if a crazed, murderous dictator makes yet another `denunciation of U.S. "conspiracies"'? And why is such outdated liberal ideology still being sold?"

* "The more the Cubans pushed for news that was important to them, the more the Herald appeared to resent the interference."

* When the Herald had an opportunity to replace the editor of its "Living" section, "common sense indicated that the new editor be, if not Cuban, then at least someone with a history of interacting with Cubans. Instead the Herald brought in a white, Anglo male from the Midwest - a man who, at best, was at a disadvantage in his grasp of Cuban issues."

In her closing paragraph, Matera reaches for the sort of emotional crescendo that brought fame to Reagan/Bush speechwriter Peggy Noonan: "More than 30 years have passed since the first Cuban immigrant came to Miami to escape communism. It's long past time for the Miami Herald to shed its insensitivity and embrace that singular freedom-seeker - along with his sons, daughters, and grandchildren, and the hundreds of thousands of countrymen and women who fled their island home to make a new life in America." (Obviously, no emphasis needed.)

If this is the sort of intelligent criticism Mayor Suarez and the Cuban Committee Against Defamation intend to trot out for public consumption, they'd better be prepared for a few questions. Such as: How can we be expected to swallow this stuff without gagging, when Jorge Mas Canosa is still in the kitchen

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