Letters to the Editor

Letters from the issue of January 27, 2000

If the Cuban government claims to have mobilized its people out of humanitarian concern that a boy be reunited with his father, then how can it explain the confiscation of toys obtained legally in Cuba for distribution to economically disadvantaged children?

On Saturday, January 8, Victor Rolando Arroyo's residence was searched by Cuban state security and 150 toys confiscated. He was immediately arrested. His home was being used as a distribution center in Pinar del Rio for the Three Wise Men project. He had already distributed more than 100 toys. Arroyo was tried and sentenced to six months in prison for "hoarding toys."

We demand that justice be done, that an act of charity by people of goodwill on both sides of the Florida Straits not end in such an ugly manner. Free Arroyo and return the toys and clothing so they can be distributed to those in need.

Elian: Don't Generalize About My Neighbors
Allen Smith
Coral Gables

It's easy to spread hostility about Cuban exiles, as Martin Lee did in his letter to the editor (January 13), in which he generalized about them as if he knows them all. But those Cubans protesting for Elian are not the only ones in our community.

In fact there are many good, decent Cubans who would never jeopardize our community or cause any inconvenience, people you'll never see stopping traffic, who would never exploit anyone, who would never harass others, who came to the United States to make it their home and to honor it. On the other hand, those Cubans who have been protesting have a valid reason, and they also have the right to do so, just like any other resident of the United States. They pay taxes like everyone else in this community.

I believe people like Martin Lee need more information about Fidel Castro and his political tactics before generalizing about all Cubans. He also needs to remember that this is a free country composed of immigrants. My neighbors for more than twenty years are Cubans, and I love them. They are excellent people. They are good workers. They have united families. They are good friends. To me they are the best and I would not change them for any other.

Elian: Don't Generalize About My People
Amneris Pedroso
via the Internet

For years I enjoyed reading New Times. It was upbeat, had really interesting stories, and the ads were pretty cool, too. But over the last year or so I have found myself getting more and more aggravated. Now I expect each issue to contain another pack of stories (sometimes four at a time) about how bad we Cuban Americans are. All the bad guys seem to be Cuban American.

To add insult to injury, most of the letters to the editor are usually from people like Ira Kurzban or others who seem to know us so well they feel free to generalize about us in a way that mimics what Fidel Castro keeps saying about the exile: We are all right-wing Mafia. Cuba today is a paradise. We were all wealthy and left to come here to be politicians and rip off our neighbors. We are all measured by the Mas family.

It's obvious these people know nothing about us and never really cared to know. I was neither rich nor poor in Cuba. I have worked in this country since I was sixteen years old. I have been a citizen since I was able to become one. Yet to these people, I am a right-wing Mafia Cuban American.

To those who claim that Elian Gonzalez has been commercialized, I say this: It is incredible you still don't see how some politicians (regardless of background) take an issue and use it for their own benefit. So don't tell me that Castro all of a sudden cares for families, in particular for this kid's family. Don't tell me you can separate politics from family in a country like Cuba.

No reasonable person who has two cents for a brain thinks Elian would be better off in Cuba, where a tyrant has ruled for 41 years, where there are no elections, where kids don't get milk after they are seven years old, where there is no hope for a future (and that doesn't mean money; it means living life with some dignity).

If you really want to know, this is the bottom line of what we think:

•Castro must have nuclear weapons the United States is afraid of; otherwise why would we go around the world to make wars against tyrants and do nothing against this jerk who is 90 miles away?

•If we complain enough, maybe someone will hear us. It's funny, I see movies about Hitler from 50 years ago so it will never happen again, yet something that is happening right now is okay and we are just nuisances.

•The United States has denounced Cuba thousands of times for human rights violations yet it's okay to send back this kid because he had a good relationship with his father.

•We are alone. Cuba is only important to Cubans.

•As far as Castro goes, we are intransigent.

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