The Ballad of the Oppressed Is Not Sung to the Rhythm of the Oppressor
Judy Cantor's article "Isla de la Musica" (May 28) is both misleading and myopic. It subtly attempts to obscure the fact that the isla is grossly deficient in basic civil liberties owing to the rule of a ruthless regime that now caters to unscrupulous foreign business investors.

She cites the Cuban government as granting musicians "free agent" status, thereby allowing them to keep the fees they earn while performing abroad and being subject only to an "income tax." To any novice on the Cuban issue, that could be appallingly misleading. The regime's laws and system impose the subordination of the musician to the state, and that includes the remuneration aspect. Castro's version of an income tax is only a semantic alteration of the previous policy. The state continues in practice to retain the bulk of the fees received.

Ethical priorities are profoundly misplaced when the greatest sense of loss the article implies is that of the Americans missing out on Cuban music and financial opportunities. In Cuba, musicians (as well as the rest of the population) are not free to speak or sing their minds. Ideological adherence is required. Possible deviators from the revolution's drumbeat are not allowed to leave the island. Any minute toleration is targeted and calculatedly permitted. This selective forbearance is limited and makes a mockery of the notion of free expression. It is Madison Avenue a la Castro.

The sounds that come loudest from Cuba are those of the repression the people on the isla (including musicians) are suffering. It is their agony I hear. Cuba's divorce from modernity, her isolation, is the result of the quarantine imposed on the Cuban people by a 39-year communist tyranny. No matter how loud Castro turns up the music, Cuba's pain and plight will not be silenced. It is a shame when one hears only the rhythm of the oppressor and not the ballad of the oppressed.

Julio M. Shiling

Step Right Up for Bruno's Political Circus!
The headline for Jim DeFede's story about the county's District 5 election ("Prestige Politics," May 28) unfortunately has become an oxymoron in our society, not a reference to any of the candidates' mental capacities. Having been an extremely long-shot candidate (million-to-one odds would have been an understatement) for the District 5 seat in 1993, and having held the highly coveted Republican Party's District 19 committeeman seat, I have on many occasions dealt with this cadre of Machiavellian clowns.

What choices: Janitza Kaplan, whose husband we all know so much about; and Bruno Barreiro, Jr., the nicest guy in politics with the intellectual capacity of a lemming. (That's a compliment, Bruno.) As a matter of fact, these individuals are worthy of pity, for they will give up anything (including their dignity) to join the other clowns and puppets who inhabit the circuses called county hall, city hall, the state capitol, or Washington, D.C.

The truly sad part of all this is that these circuses and their clowns have the power to drain our wallets, so much so that even a thousand-dollar ticket to Ringling Brothers would seem like a bargain.

Emiliano Antunez

Hey Bruno, Wanna Go Fishin'?
Is it just me or does Bruno Barreiro remind you of Fredo in The Godfather, Part II: "I'm smart, Mikey. I'm smart!"

Errol Portman
Coral Gables

And May Your Rent Never Rise
I am writing in response to Ted B. Kissell's article about Anton Philipp ("From Bad to Wurst," May 21). I have been a tenant of Mr. Philipp for two years, and my experience with him has been in no way similar to what was mentioned in that article.

In the time I have lived in his building, Mr. Philipp has continually improved it. He was always show a willingness to work with me in arranging financial details and fixing/ replacing things in the apartment. I am very pleased with him as a landlord and a person. It also gratifies me to be able to say this about a gentleman from Germany, which is proof that the healing between our people has truly begun.

Rabbi Bradley Dick
Miami Beach

I Lost It at Blue Lagoon
Regarding Blue Lagoon Lake receiving Best Place to Jet Ski in your "Best of Miami" issue (May 14) and the letter you published that condemned the award, I have been on Blue Lagoon almost every day since 1988. As president of Fun Watersports of Miami, Inc., a water-ski and Jet Ski rental operation located since 1989 at the Miami Airport Hilton Hotel (and recommended in a past "Best of Miami"), and as a water-sports safety consultant and concerned citizen, I would like to say the following:

I was the person who, in 1997, found what appeared to be a small sick manatee in Blue Lagoon. I called the proper authorities. We were not using that part of the lake, nor did we see anyone come in contact with the manatee. Using our ski boat and my staff, we took the animal to a truck, which I was told would take it to the rescue facility at Miami Seaquarium. I was told it later died, but I did not attend its autopsy.

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