Letters to the Editor

Letters from the issue of February 24, 2000

Screwing up the Center
Years behind schedule and way over budget, the performing arts center is another Miami miracle
By Jose Luis Jimťnez

A Leisurely Stroll Through Biscayne Boulevard Traffic
Jose Luis Jiménez's articles on the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami only scratched the surface of this fiasco ("Screwing Up the Center," February 10). Why not go into how the scale model showed Biscayne Boulevard tiled and part of "the great oval," where couples would stroll hand in hand as they stopped at sidewalk cafés to sip lattes? They even compared this oval to Lincoln Center in Manhattan, a world-class piece of deception.

The center was sold to an unwitting public (and probably to an unwitting board and sponsors) as something entirely different from what it is: two large buildings on too small a site. Twice I've written to Knight Ridder with a simple solution to save the project: Relocate the Miami Herald and use all the land east of Biscayne Boulevard to the bay as the site.

If built as planned, the performing arts center will make Miami the laughingstock of the world. We'll have to close it down anyway after the third incident in which a patron exiting an event becomes a traffic fatality.

Jim Tommaney, artistic director
Miami Beach

From Those Wonderful People Who Brought You the Omni Mall ...
I must admit to being exhausted after reading Jose Luis Jiménez's dissection of the terminally new performing arts center. Miami-Dade County officials and friends have created a maze that would dumbfound the most clever mouse, not to mention Miami-Dade County taxpayers.

Let's face it, when it comes to Miami development north of NE Seventh Street, most city and county government leaders should be pronounced brain dead. If you doubt this, there is an arena called Miami and a black hole named Omni they'd like to sell you.

Clyde Cates
South Miami

Fine Young Cannibals
The reporters providing us coverage of Elian Gonzalez seem to recognize they're taking part in a shark feed. And they just keep chomping.
By Jacob Bernstein

Working Out Frustrations in Print
In his article "Fine Young Cannibals" (February 10), Jacob Bernstein ridiculously describes the media covering Elian Gonzalez. He must be frustrated being part of the profession. But without media attention, the INS would have sent the boy back to Cuba arbitrarily, without taking into account other laws or Elian's rights. Therefore I'm very thankful for those who have given their time and skills to this cause.

Those American journalists who think the boy should be returned have been able to say that because they live in a democratic society. Their Cuban counterparts do not have that possibility at all. Neither do the Cuban people, who are forced to go to demonstrations and comply with the system.

Estela Delgado

Editor's note: Owing to a reporting error in "Fine Young Cannibals," Channel 4's call letters were misstated. They are WFOR-TV.

Call Me Sasha
I read the series of articles called "Captains Outrageous," by Kirk Nielsen, Tristram Korten, Ted B. Kissell, and Jim DeFede (February 3), with great interest, as I spent more than three years on cruise ships working as a waiter for six different cruise companies, including Carnival Cruise Lines. Even after four years ashore, I still can't believe that in the United States, cradle of democracy, floating bastions of medieval exploitation and brutality are allowed to exist.

Every time I see a cruise ship pulling into Miami's seaport, I sigh with relief: "Sasha, you made it. You didn't get addicted to the druglike 'easy-money' lifestyle and got out to be free." I don't regret the years, though. I earned and saved money (and later successfully invested it), saw many exotic lands for free, met many colorful people, and most important, I passed a great "life university" in which physical exhaustion sometimes went hand in hand with mental humiliation.

I know that clerks at cruise-line offices are going to doom me for jumping from one boat to another and for bringing up these memories. Every company tries to nurture a devoted, faithful crew and keep them obedient for years. Fortune seekers and mental rebels are unwelcome and discouraged. But at least you can give me credit for fulfilling contracts with the major cruise lines and for not molesting my female passengers.

Yes, authors of "Captains Outrageous," female passengers might be assaulted sexually on a cruise ship as anywhere else, but what percentage of female passengers consciously and deliberately lure their waiter to their cabin? I'd be more concerned about the naive, pretty, honest, and decent waitresses from Third World countries who have to deal with not-so chivalrous ship's officers from First World nations.

I wish I knew the statistics about the number of crew members who have committed suicide by jumping overboard. Cruise ships are floating cities where there exists no law. "Just shut up and do it. Or if you don't like it, go home." That phrase I've heard a thousand times in my cruise-ship career.

Sasha Linus Moscowisch
Miami Beach

From One Slave to Another
As a former cruise-line worker-slave, I enjoyed your brave attempt to tackle the billion-dollar industry of modern-style slavery. But haven't you tried in the past to shine a light on these outrageous work conditions on cruise ships?

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