Welcome to Everglades National Parking Lot
Regarding Jake Bernstein's article "Swamp and Circumstance" (July 1), man is the animal who walks upright (when he's not driving), the creature whose survival depends not on fangs or claws but on his capacity to use hand and brain to manipulate the world around him. Man can't leave things well enough alone because man is anatomically configured to pick things up, examine things, reshape things, move things around. That's man's nature.

We don't need the Everglades. If we want recreation, we've got Jet Skis and concrete banyan trees we can walk past on our way to the movies.

We don't need biodiversity. We've got computer viruses, genetically engineered flowers, chemically impregnated vegetables, grow-house kryppie weed, steroid-enhanced livestock, cloned pets.

We don't need a recharged aquifer. We live next to the ocean, for God's sake! We can build bigger nuclear power generators and desalination plants and make all the damn fresh water we want.

"Everglades Forever"? The place is only a few measly thousand years old. The pyramids of Egypt are just about as old and, I might add, generate significantly more international tourism.

Saving the Everglades is unnatural; it's impossible; it isn't even definable. Still, the airboat rides are cool and everybody likes Indians. But let's get real here. Naples is sprawling wildly from the west. Pembroke Pines is being lauded for breaking national population growth standards. Miami's "leadership" is busy lamenting that they can't figure out how to turn Miami-Dade's SR 836 into Broward's I-75, while at the same time they plot to build a transit system for people who already have cars. Environmentalists drive SUVs. Concrete rocks! Sprawl rules!

A reasonably proportioned Central Park, for sentimental purposes, is really all we need from the Everglades (not too big, though, or it'll attract the homeless). Besides, if we subdivided and paved over more of the Everglades, we wouldn't have all those late-afternoon thunderstorms and lightening strikes.

Save the Everglades! It's a nice place to drive to.
Pablo Bezzo

Land of the Free Ride, Home of the Brazen
Jim DeFede's article "Alex Penelas's Rite of Passage (July 1), while seemingly on the money, was ironically premature. The entire nation caught a glimpse of the real Magic City this past week, when illegally smuggled immigrants ran to our shores while three mayors, especially Penelas, posed for the cameras (and their constituents) and rolled out the red carpet.

Never before has the mayor of an American city performed with such disregard for both federal and state law. But Miami-Dade County had no less than three mayors tripping over each other for the right to do so and for the media to capture. Although it's no shock that our elected officials would suck up to the exile community, it does leave the rest of the community with the gut feeling that they are indeed the exiles in a country of spoiled brats.

Anyone who doesn't believe that should please try explaining to us "outsiders" why, three hours after these "heroes" were allowed the privilege of staying in our country, we were not allowed the privilege of driving home via the MacArthur Causeway or the Palmetto.

As to Penelas, it wouldn't surprise many of us outsiders if he considered it in our best interests to have a ticker-tape parade for these zeroes, at taxpayers' expense. It's incredibly ironic that an exiled community, after leaving a country with a lack of basic human rights, now feels the need to shit all over everyone else's -- with mayoral approval, of course.

Glenn Suarez
Coral Gables

Old Lies in a Brand-New Package
In response to Alex Salinas's "A Mind in Exile" (June 10), Andres Orta's philosophies are neither new nor original. The idea that a group of Zionists and international Jewish financiers are plotting to take over the world is nearly a century old. Mr. Orta has simply stolen these notions from other hate groups and applied them to Cuba.

The Zionist-conspiracy idea was concocted in Russia around the turn of the century by supporters of the czar, who were threatened by the rising power of the Bolsheviks. To get the attention of the czar, his supporters played on his anti-Semitic beliefs by creating a document called "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," which purported to be documentation of a secret meeting of wealthy and powerful Jews in which they laid out their plans to take over the world through the spread of communism. As ridiculous as the idea sounds, it was accepted by the czar as authentic and was used as justification for the pogroms in which tens of thousands of Russian Jews were tortured and murdered.

Soon after this document spread throughout Europe, it was quickly proven to be a complete fabrication. Nevertheless it was proclaimed to be proof that the Jews were plotting to rule the world. One would like to think that after the Holocaust, the "Protocols" would have disappeared, but sadly today you can find them reproduced and declared authentic on hate-group Websites.

Now to Mr. Orta. He states that he is not against Jews, just the Zionists who allegedly are the cause of all problems in Cuba and the rest of the world, an argument that was used in both Russia and Germany. He also claims not to be the leader of a hate group, a claim also made by neo-Nazis and the KKK. History has shown that when social problems are blamed on a particular ethnic group, the inevitable result is violence against that group.

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