By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
Brawling Altar Egos
While I enjoyed John Lantigua's article "Holy War, Inc." (April 9) about Santeria in Miami, the men interviewed are not indicative of all practitioners. These high-profile men -- the Pichardo brothers and Rigoberto Zamora -- have been at each other's throats for some time and will continue to speak out against each other. They have reduced the religion to petty bickering, rivalries, and race issues.
What is lost here is the beauty and richness of Santeria and its practice. It is sad that the public should read an article that should have been titled "Ego Wars."
Mainstream America, Here We Come
As a babalawo, I think publishing a story about the war between Zamora and the Pichardos only serves to isolate our religion from society. This is exactly why I never responded to Mr. Lantigua's phone call. He called me because Zamora gave him my telephone number. In the past, I have reported for a couple of local papers in Washington, D.C., and in a couple of instances also was part of interviews by the Washington Post and Hispanic magazine. I have always given positive information on our African religion, never anything to isolate it from society.
It seems that as a reporter, Mr. Lantigua is interested in the negative aspects of our faith, not in the integration of our religion into mainstream America.
Fagbemi Oniko Melli
Sixties Cuba Was Definitely Not Fifties Cuba
After reading Judy Cantor's article "!Viva Los Zafiros!" (April 9) and after watching an extremely lousy copy of the film Zafiros: Locura Azul, I felt sad and depressed. This mediocre attempt to present a subject matter that would be acceptable to Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits should please only Cubans suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Cubans would have to have very bad memories to believe that the period represented in the movie, the mid-Sixties, was glamorous and carefree. The mere rise to fame of Los Zafiros in those years should warn people of the sad state of things in Cuba. Here was a talented group of singers becoming the rage by trying to Cubanize and capitalize on the sound of the Platters, a sound that, by that time, had become obsolete worldwide thanks to the Beatles, the British invasion, Motown, and other musical influences.
Only in the impoverished, backward, and isolated Cuban musical and cultural environment created by the communist schizophrenia of the Sixties could a group like Los Zafiros succeed and thrive. But leaving that whole issue aside for the moment, we must now deal with a film that presents Havana nightlife in those tormented mid-Sixties as if it were in the Fifties; a film that wants its audience to believe that Los Zafiros were the utmost expression of Cuban musical creativity and excellence (the constant references to the Platters are particularly embarrassing); a film that portrays Berry Gordy, Jr., founder and president of Motown, as a "Mr. Jackson" who wants to sign these heroes to his label (they are as great as one of his groups: the Platters -- but the Platters were never on Motown!); a film that takes for granted that all Cubans are or should be nostalgic for the most destructive decade in the history of its people.
The historical errors of this film are so appalling that its success in Cuba and its pretended acceptance in Miami should be another blot on the conscience of Cubans everywhere. Yes, Zafiros: Locura Azul saddened me and depressed me, but most of all it has made me feel guilty for sitting through it.
Mark O. Martinez
There's a Downside to the Upbeat
While I would like to congratulate Judy Cantor on the special attention she constantly gives to Cuban music and musicians still living in Cuba, let me point out that many other Cuban musicians who have made this country their home have had a difficult time playing Cuban music -- not in Miami but in places where discrimination and absolute disregard for that style of music prevail.
These musicians are hard-working individuals trying to make a living in sometimes the most difficult environments. Once in a while, Ms. Cantor, please show New Times readers the struggles that Cuban musicians encounter trying to spread their music in this country.
DeFede: Unprecedented Pettiness
Shame on Jim DeFede for his attempt to twist the late water bill payment of Brian May, chief of staff to Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, into a political news story ("The Check's in the Mail," April 9).
Without question, Mr. DeFede's brand of advocacy journalism has made a significant impact on this community. His columns have influenced policy, sparked investigations, and exposed ethical breaches by our public officials. In recent weeks, however, DeFede appears to have diverted his attention away from advocacy journalism to make increasingly personal attacks on Penelas and May. With his story about May's missed water bill payment, he hit a new low for pettiness and invasion of a government employee's privacy.