Letters

Apology Accepted
With regard to Jacob Bernstein's article on travel to Cuba ("Passport to Paradox," August 6), I am writing to clarify that the promise of money to begin a Website [devoted to scholars' travel concerns] at the American Association for the Advancement of Science came from the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation, not the Ford Foundation.

If the error was due to my misinformation, I apologize.
Elisa Munoz
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Science and Human Rights Program
Washington, D.C.

Baba's Simian Assault
In response to Jim DeFede's article about Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko ("Baba's Big Bucks," July 30), why didn't U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore look into what Sissoko owed the little people before letting him leave the United States? There are quite a few of us out here who got stiffed by Mr. Big Bucks.

I went from Miami to Banjul, Gambia, in May 1997 on Baba's Boeing 747 to work as a mechanic. When we got there, it was a total monkey fuck. All the aircraft mechanics and pilots left after eleven days, some sooner. The thing that hurts is reading about all the millions of dollars Sissoko spent here and there, while we poor people haven't seen a copper penny in well over a year. To date his company still owes me more than $1000.

Bill Beyers
Pensacola

Miami, We Love You Just the Way You Are: Noisy, Rude, Violent, and Dirty
I don't understand why they are closing the party boat La Rumba. As far as I understand from reading Kirk Nielsen's article "At Bayside, Ship Happens" (July 30), the meat of this case is that the city, or whoever is big and important, wants to close down La Rumba because it's loud and attracts a rowdy crowd. These big, important people want to make Bayside classy and rich, inaccessible to the Joe Schmos who are the majority of Miami's population.

The truth is, La Rumba exemplifies Miami: Noisy, rude, violent, dirty -- call it whatever you want. By closing down La Rumba and inviting all the stogy-puffing fat cats with full wallets, the city is printing a new tourist brochure. We don't need any more image brochures.

I'm tired of brochures. I'm tired of hearing that smoking is bad for your health. I'm tired of hearing that loud music is not welcome. La Rumba is fun precisely because it isn't a tourist brochure. It's real. It may not be what the fat cats want (fun things hardly ever are), but I'll be damned if I'll let them turn Bayside into yet another rich, private club. It's the only place we have left, and I won't let them take that away from me.

Gloria Argentina
Hialeah

DeFede Croaks, Finds Daryl Jones Manning Pearly Gates!
These comments concern Jim DeFede's most recent article about Daryl Jones ("Only Himself to Blame," July 30). Mr. DeFede wrote that Miami Herald political editor Tom Fiedler "appeared ready to nominate Jones for sainthood." The reality is quite different. Mr. Fiedler wrote, "And he seemed sincere, a man at peace." One does not need to be perfect, a saint, in order to be sincere and at peace, does one? Is Mr. DeFede sincere? Is he therefore a saint?

Mr. Fiedler was simply expressing his impression of Mr. Jones. Unlike Mr. DeFede, Mr. Fiedler doesn't condemn the whole person because one is not perfect. Mr. Jones would have had to have been a saint to be accepted by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The question is, would a saint make a good Secretary of the Air Force?

Mr. DeFede said the question that should have been asked of Mr. Jones was this: "Prior to resigning from your last job, were you told you were about to be fired?" But that question was not asked. Why should the answer have been what Mr. DeFede wanted when the question wasn't? Different question, different answer.

Mr. DeFede was not witness to any conversation between Col. Thomas Dyches and Mr. Jones, so how would he know what the question, or the answer, should have been? Mr. DeFede doesn't seem to understand that in the military one cannot be "fired" the way one can be in the civilian world.

If one does want to translate this business into civilian terms, the point is Mr. Jones was given the choice of resigning [from flying jet fighters] or being fired. He chose to resign. What's the problem? Committee members could have simply asked, "Why did you resign?" But they didn't. Such is life. But that's not good enough for Jim DeFede. Maybe he should consider dying and going to heaven (where everyone is perfect) -- and staying there.

Mr. DeFede also makes a big deal of the fact that Mr. Jones received a $90,000 fee for lobbying the Dade County Commission. Why shouldn't Mr. Jones take what he can get? Is it now a disgrace to make a profit? A sin? Aside from what Jesus said, is it not the American way? But it seems that some people are considered more American than others, like white people. Does not Mr. DeFede try to get the best price he can for his journalism? Why shouldn't Mr. Jones do the same?

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