By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Castro Is Bad, Not Cuba
Last Thursday my children called to tell me that I was featured in New Times ("Overthrow on the Radio," February 13). Later that day I saw myself in the photograph, but when I read Kathy Glasgow's article, I did not recognize myself or my friends from [the shortwave radio program] The Voice of the Resistance. I respect your right to see me as you see fit and to write as you feel. That right, the right to self-expression, is one of the motivating factors of my struggle.
In our brief conversation, I told Ms. Glasgow that the war in Cuba has not finished. That was the gist of our conversation. It has not finished because Castro betrayed the Cuban people -- abolishing rights, executing Cubans, and entrenching himself in power. I wonder what her life would have been like had she had been a Cuban who grew up under the system. She would see her parents whispering in fear, then falling silent when they saw her, for in Castro's Cuba, children are encouraged to squeal on their parents.
She would have to wear the red kerchief of the Cuban Youth, scream slogans, and ask for executions for "traitors." Perhaps she would have learned the reality of oppression and decided to struggle against it. For speaking out she would face prison and torture in the dungeons of state security, where an officer would warn her with sadistic smiles of all the dangers she would face if she continued her rebellion.
After the initial shock, she would be faced with doing nothing or struggling against the system and facing the consequences. Should she continue, she would find herself naked in a cold room without toilet facilities, with water up to her ankles, being told that she must sign a "confession" as a CIA agent or suffer the consequences of jail, torture, and anger that state security unleashes upon its prey. Worst of all, there would be the knowledge that she would face this alone, an individual against the system, a system entrenched in absolute power.
I objected to the tone of the article because the subheadline stated, "With a vengeance born of extremists ...," giving the worst impression that we are irrational radicals bent on revenge. In reality, our programs stress the fact that we forgive the majority of the Cuban military and the political structure, holding only the Castro brothers and a small group of henchmen responsible for the present plight of our nation. We stress in all our programs that those learning our methods should apply them with care and not hurt civilians or innocent bystanders.
We do not want random destruction or acts of terrorism. We seek to mentally free those who are enslaved by the tremendous repressive machinery of the system. The robot zombies the system has attempted to create can only free themselves by standing up to that system, by acts of rebellion, by an individual choice of struggling for rights guaranteed by the United Nations. We advocate legitimate resistance that will paralyze the Cuban political and economic structure.
We see ourselves not as vengeful extremists but as Cubans who have suffered the pain of the system and who see resistance as the only solution against a totalitarian dictatorship. Were members of the French Resistance terrorists? Was Menachem Begin a revenge-oriented radical when he forged national pride in the creation of Israel? Was the Boston Tea Party an act of terrorism?
What we demand is no different from what the United States government asks of the Cuban government -- that the Castro brothers disappear from the scene and that the nation be rebuilt on the basis of suffrage and respect for human rights.
Sadly, Ms. Glasgow's article dwelled on the methods of resistance that we teach but did not dwell at all on the reasons why we struggle. I wonder if she would have portrayed Martin Luther King, Jr., as a rabble-rouser who advocated strikes and confrontations with police without explaining the reasons for the civil rights struggle in America?
Dr. Armando A. Zaldivar
You Think Castro Is Bad? Try Batista
Kathy Glasgow's article "The Phone Is Mightier Than the Sword" (February 6) made me laugh. The headline should have read, "Phony." You people got suckered.
Yes, Ninoska Perez is anti-Castro. The question is, Why? The answer is obvious: She and her husband lost all the goodies they had as children of colonels under Batista. Those national police colonels were not exactly Boy Scouts. As a matter of fact, they were downright nasty, every bit as nasty as Castro's police. It is almost like a child of the KGB saying that SS troopers were nasty people.
Most of the leaders of the uprising against Batista were not acting for altruistic reasons or for the good of Cuba. They simply wanted to throw the bums out so they could take over the money pits -- the gambling, prostitution, and all the other rackets. Hell, there isn't a Cuban alive who can remember an honest government in that country, which makes it no different from any other Latin American country.
I can well imagine Ninoska and her husband being ticked off at the guy who took all the goodies their parents obviously stole from the peasants. I'm sorry, but I just can't shed a tear over these two. Tell me if I'm wrong. Tell me about the goodness of the KGB, the SS, or Batista's colonels.
Fred C. Hammer
You Think Castra Was Bad? Try South Florida
It has been 40 years since I moved to South Florida from my hometown of Philadelphia, and in all those years I had never experienced the pleasure of observing a local newspaper tear into the comically inept and dangerously destructive city and county governing bodies that control our lives and livelihoods in the Miami and Dade County areas. Never, that is, until I read Jim DeFede's hard-hitting and well-researched articles in recent issues of your fine publication.
Both New Times and Mr. DeFede should be held in high esteem for their courageous efforts at enlightening us on the truly frightening circumstances that prevail under our current leadership. That a city with the worldwide appeal of Miami could find itself on the brink of bankruptcy is reprehensible and is a direct reflection of the inability of our elected officials to properly legislate on our behalf. Or are the politicians even interested in us?
Other than through political chicanery, how could people like Charlie DeLucca and Nat Moore be squeezed out of the group overseeing operations at the Golf Club of Miami ("You Call This a Fairway?" January 23)? In all of South Florida, who could have been more qualified to operate a golf course than Mr. DeLucca, a man whose name is synonymous with Florida golf? And one would be hard-pressed to find a more recognizable name than Nat Moore, former University of Florida and Miami Dolphins standout. How could anyone in his right mind fail to recognize the value of having individuals of their caliber and experience running a golf club and ensuring its financial success?
I'm sure I'm not alone in applauding Mr. DeFede's informative reporting of a truly deplorable situation, one that can be rectified only by more articles such as DeFede's and courageous newspapers such as New Times. I sincerely hope you will remain on top of this cancerous situation and keep us informed as to what, if anything, is being done to improve things.
I can accept the fact that we live in a multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual area, and that we certainly don't all think alike. But decency, honesty, respect, and consideration are basics that should be emphasized in everyone's demeanor -- even that of politicians. It really doesn't demand a great deal of effort to abide by these principles when dealing with one another.
Again, my heartfelt appreciation goes out to Jim DeFede and New Times for having the intestinal fortitude to tell it like it is. I shall look forward to many more such articles in the hope that eventually our city and county fathers may be made to see the errors of their ways and to amend them.
Okay, So Try This: An Ode to Badness
Kudos to New Times and your staff writers -- more specifically, your investigative reporters -- who have contributed so much public awareness and knowledge regarding the follies of the City of Miami and Metro-Dade governments over the past year. As the Herald becomes less informative and reliable, your paper shines in contrast, with insight and diligent reporting regarding local government's state of malaise.
I recently came upon a story by Robert Andrew Powell dated more than a year ago titled "The Graduate" (January 18, 1996). This story was revealing enough to seriously place in doubt the character as well as the educational qualifications of then-Miami city manager Cesar Odio. This was followed by another story by Mr. Powell about Odio's "slush fund" giveaways to political cronies of the commissioners ("Petty Cash," August 22, 1996), eventually cited by the Herald when the scandals of mismanagement and corruption were revealed (prematurely, as you have also revealed).
More recently your paper has focused on County Manager Armando Vidal, whose appointment, as we know, was a bitterly fought, strongly ethnic issue. Recent articles by Jim DeFede -- "You Call This a Fairway?" and "Bounty Manager" (February 13) -- reveal doubts about Vidal's character and integrity similar to those about Miami's former manager. As far as qualifications are concerned, I know that at least Vidal has a bachelor's in civil engineering from the University of Miami.
But I would seriously ask what qualifications are required to properly run a government that is bigger than those of several states. The recent choice by the manager of a "local" firm (controlled by Cuban exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa) over nationally renowned organizations to supervise construction of the forthcoming performing arts center brings into focus the issue of patronage over qualifications and our future destiny following this path.
My congratulations to New Times must also include the direct inspiration that prompted this letter: Robert Andrew Powell's humorous story "Life Sentences" (February 6), about the Herald's police reports and the reference to their poetics in the form of Japanese haiku. I offer a three-stanza haiku to summarize and close my letter. It is not pretty, but at least it is in correct syllabic form (which is hard enough to do):
The spider spinning
A plundered city sleeping
under ... Odio
The New Times raking
a scattering of black ants
to the written word.
to cloudy days on fairways
now calling Vidal.
School of Architecture
University of Miami
A Seriously Bad Attitude
J.L. Plummer is my 40-year friend and an exemplary commissioner. Jim DeFede, on the other hand, is a jerk/asshole! When he addresses J.L. Plummer ("Miami's Undertaker," January 2), he says "Mister" or Sir." When he is addressed, he should be happy with "Hey you."
Paul H. Buhler, Jr.
Denchfield: Liz's Hubbie #8?
Having perused Pamela Gordon's excellent piece on playwright Edward Albee ("Edward Albee's Mindscape," January 23), I have a few observations I want to share. I met actress Elizabeth Taylor six years ago at the Marshall Fields department store in downtown Chicago. She was in the process of selling her White Diamonds designer perfume, and she also introduced her latest husband to fans.
I asked her what her favorite movie was and she said Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I thought the film adaption of Albee's play was much better than the original road show with Shelley Winters, possibly because, as a team, Elizabeth Taylor and the late Richard Burton were such great performers.
Robert Stewart Denchfield
Todd Man Out
What happened to Todd Anthony? And why don't you have the decency to inform his faithful followers? Is he gone from your staff? Did he die? Is he ill from celluloid poisoning? Did he go on to bigger and better things (I hope)? Todd was unique because he had the temerity to develop and express his own opinions about a movie rather than to paraphrase some self-serving news release. He was brilliant because he succeeded in engaging the reader by juxtaposing fantasy and realty -- defining each without blurring intellectual boundaries, while enhancing the reader's perspective. In someone else's words, Todd went "undaunted by the garbled syntax of the apocalypse." In my words, Todd was a great writer and a good person. Your loss.
New Times Misfires
Mr. Entertainment here, writing you about the disappearing act of some really good writers. Where is Todd Anthony? What happened to Greg Baker?
I'm going to miss these guys. I'm a local street performer and independent-movie fan, so these two were very important to me when it came to local news about my interests. I knew about Baker when I first started playing about town; I did not know him as a friend. He was always supportive of the local music scene and always gave me a fair shot, even if I was nobody. Even though his replacement has done a swell job (and whenever I'm in Memphis, the folks up there want to know how John Floyd is doing), I must say a local paper should rely on local writers or it's not a local paper any more.
As for Todd Anthony, here's a person I did not know at all until I read him in your publication. Through his writing, I found someone I knew I'd be friends with when I finally met him. I didn't always agree with him, but I knew what movies I would want to see at the Alliance on any given week. He made me want to go out and see a movie. Someone else writing about movies from Tinseltown cannot do that for me. Separating the writers from the community separates the community from the paper.
"They Owe It All to Odio," last week's story by Robert Andrew Powell about unclassified employees who work for the City of Miami, contained this question: Who ensures that city employees actually work in exchange for their pay?
The question, asked in reference to an unclassified employee named Ramon Conte, was addressed to Angela Bellamy, director of the city's Department of Human Resources. Bellamy's reply: "Ultimately it would be the responsibility of the person who signs the paychecks, don't you think?"
Bellamy, Powell wrote, is the person who signs the paychecks.
In fact, city paychecks are not signed by Angela Bellamy, but by an official in the finance department. Further, Bellamy says she meant to say "payroll," not "paycheck." Payroll records (logs of employees' hours) are signed by department heads; Conte's boss is Elbert Waters, director of the Department of Community Development.
New Times regrets the error.