Letters to the Editor

Letters from the issue of March 9, 2000

Out with the Cuban Mafia!
The letter from reader Rob Boyte was headlined, "You Wouldn't Understand, It's an Anglo Thing" (March 2). I want to say yes, we do understand. And it is not only an Anglo thing. Many Cuban Americans like me are also fed up with the "Cuban thing." We did not leave our country, learn a new language, and start new lives and careers only to now find ourselves in a situation similar to the one we had to flee.

It is up to us to rid the governing bodies of our cities and counties of the Cuban Mafia. If they are all so brave and hate Fidel Castro so much, how come he is still in power after 41 years? Because they were a bunch of cowards who cared too much about their skin and bellies and did not oppose what happened in Cuba way back then. They took their money and what objects of value they could, and they fled. And now they are more Cuban than the royal palm tree. As the saying goes: "Que bien nada el pez fuera del agua" (How easy the fish swims out of the water).

Regarding the lack of information on issues other than Elian Gonzalez, do as I and many others do: Do not read those articles in the Miami Herald or New Times, or watch TV news that focuses only on the same "Cuban thing" over and over again. We are in the United States of America, a free country (even if some in Miami and elsewhere think otherwise). There are many sources of information.

Thank you very much, Mr. Boyte, for saying what many have been thinking and wishing to say but for one reason or another have not: " Basta ya!" (Enough!)

Alberto L. Mederos-Artigas
Miami Beach

A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, Miami Style
I know we are tired of Elian, but if you allow these Cubans to win, then tomorrow it will be the music you hear, the film you want to see, the lover you want to have, and so on. Think about Los Van Van, the Grammy Awards, La Vida es Silbar. Who is behind the Christian right in town? Think about who is hiding behind Elian's shadow. Tomorrow they'll take your child away if you do not play their game.

Miami is a very intolerant town. Maybe not all of Miami, but those who are in office misrepresenting us. The more you read about them, the wiser will be your vote next time.

Enrique Gutierrez
Miami Beach The Sound of Anglos Whining Makes Me Puke
Rob Boyte seems to have forgotten that there are African Americans and other ethnic groups inhabiting this city besides Anglos and Cubans. This is the biggest irony of his letter. He attempts to reprimand the Cubans, who make up 70 percent of Miami-Dade County, for controlling the news, the culture, and every other facet of life in Miami. Yet his only real concern seems to be that the Anglo point of view is being ignored. My reply: What type of cheese would you like with that whine?

When I hear complaints like this, I almost chuckle as I review the history of Anglos in this nation. Visions come to mind of everything from the slaughter of Native Americans to slavery. And as I think of these things I am tempted to remind complainers like Mr. Boyte that none of us "belong" here. Either by choice or by force we are all immigrants in this land. So what, pray tell, is an American? Perhaps Mr. Boyte would do well to crack open a few history books before he starts ranting and whining about the lack of Anglo representation here. You see, Mr. Boyte, just as your forefathers migrated from one place to another, you have the same choice. You don't need to stay here. There are places like Idaho where you could have a ball and hear nothing but the Anglo point of view all day and night.

You see, sir, I am an African American (whatever that is supposed to mean) and I too am sick of the Elian Gonzalez story highjacking the news. But I'm sick of it not because it's a Cuban story but because it's exploitative and politically motivated nonsense. Be that as it may, eventually the Elian story is going to go away, just like coverage of the hurricane, coverage of O.J. Simpson, and coverage of every other story of the moment. Any mature person realizes this and will simply deal with it.

Going back to the history of Anglos in the United States: Given the theft of land, the near genocide of Native Americans, and the sheer horror of the ideals behind slavery, to hear Mr. Boyte's weak-kneed whimpering about something as trivial as the Elian story makes me want to puke. He has no idea what realtrials and tribulations are. Complaining because you aren't the center of attention is pathetic. Or is that, perhaps, the Anglo point of view?

I've been reading New Times for more years than I can remember (I came down here from New Jersey in the Seventies), and nothing bothers me more than the subtly racist rants of people like Rob Boyte in the letters column, people who think the only culture that matters in the world is Anglo culture. The world is changing, and people who think like Mr. Boyte are becoming the new minority. So pack your bags or shut up!

Waiter, bring me a Cuban sandwich and a cold Dos Equis. And could you have someone mail this for me? Gracias.

Jay A. Mack
via the Internet

Leisure Lives of Smart-Mouthed Bigots
As a pensioned military retiree who has lived in diverse parts of the country, from Colorado to New York to New Mexico to Arkansas and now Florida, I feel I am uniquely qualified to make certain observations. First of all, people, corruption and misuse of office are not uniquely Latin traits. You'd be surprised how old corruption is and how well it survives in non-Latin environments.

Second, those "Cubans" (and other Latins mistakenly saddled with the term) work at many jobs no "self-respecting" Anglo would even consider. They also pay taxes and disproportionately serve in the armed forces while native sons preserve their "political viability." In other words they occupy the lower pecking order so that smart-mouthed bigots can have free time to launch derisive comments at them through talk radio and local letters columns. In particular reference to Rob Boyte, his letter's headline just about says it all: "You Wouldn't Understand, It's an Anglo Thing." That kind of mindset is a dangerous sword that cuts both ways.

Those who zero-in on recent immigrants and delight in finding fault are truly ignorant of their own country's history. From the ingratitude of the English Pilgrims in their genocide of the very people who helped them survive and endure, to the Irish-American riots of New York when that city was nearly burned down in protest over how "Anglos" were able to buy their way out of Union Army service (no doubt preserving their political viability) while the Irish were drafted in disproportionate numbers, to the refusal of German immigrants to attend American schools and stop speaking their own language, to the dramatic rise in crime following the increased arrival of certain anarchists from Russia and certain bootleggers from Ireland and Italy, to the abuses committed against African Americans over hundreds of years and against Asian Americans during World War II -- and so on ad nauseam.

No one in this country is in any kind of position to be hurling derision at anyone else. We must find out what are our commonalties and build on those. They do outnumber our differences. Hate poisons. Hate kills. It destroys the immigrant as it destroys the native. And it destroys the innocent much more often than the guilty.

Chad Joseph
Miami

Creative Nepotism
How did Miami commission candidates spend their excess campaign funds? On family and friends, of course.
By Jose Luis Jiménez

Memo to Self: Miami Is Part of USA
I am truly appalled by the photograph that appeared with Jose Luis Jiménez's article "Creative Nepotism" (February 24). In this picture, featuring Miami City Commissioner Tomas Regalado in his office, a framed Cuban flag hangs on the wall. Therein lies a large part of the problem facing Miami.

These elected officials spend more time dealing with issues involving Cuba than they do with the real issues they were elected to deal with concerning the City of Miami. As a result you get what we have in Miami today, a derelict, bankrupt, pathetic trash-strewn city that is the laughingstock of the United States. (Yes, it's hard to believe but Miami is actually a part of the USA.)

To Mr. Regalado and the rest of the Cuban-flag-waving officials such as Mayor Carollo, Mayor Penelas, and Ileana Ros(anna-Danna)-Lehtinen, I say stop wasting taxpayers' time and money and get busy dealing with the issues involving the offices to which you've been elected. Either that or get your pathetic asses back to your beloved Cuba.

I'm pissed off as fucking hell and tired of the bullshit.

Mike Scott
Miami

Sister Jeanne: Doddering Old Fool?
I knew it! I predicted before Jim DeFede's article "The Flighty Nun" (February 24) that New Times would cover this obviously senile old woman's interview with the Miami Herald, in which she claimed to have talked privately to Elian's grandmothers, asserting that one of them wanted to defect. It seemed strange how little coverage there was after Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin denied her previous statements to reporter Meg Laughlin. As far as I could tell, TV coverage was noticeably absent, and I looked for it. Even the Miami Herald seemed to want to let her off the hook with a small article stating only that the paper stood by its story.

When I mentioned to friends that no one was exposing her for what she is, I predicted there would soon be something about it in New Times. Sure enough, Jim DeFede came through. Of course, even he was kind to her, describing her merely as a "flake." A malicious flake would be more accurate. I saw from the beginning of her involvement that she loved the attention of the cameras and the reporters who were sticking microphones in her face, asking her questions.

She had a chance to help the community by offering a neutral position and site for the parties to meet. But her credibility went downhill fast when she wanted more of the limelight and chose to side with the Miami relatives. Her trip to Washington to further influence one side over the other by imposing on her friendship with Attorney General Janet Reno was another sign of her wanting celebrity status.

Someone stated that she chose to side with the Miami relatives because she has to live in the community. I think she is just so senile she was easy to influence. For years I have heard of Sister Jeanne, the respected head of Barry University. Now she has shown it is time to put her out to pasture before she does more damage. Thanks to Jim DeFede for having the courage to say that. I know he'll take lots of heat in letters to the editor. And I can't wait to read them.

Richard Behrendt
Miami

Sister Jeanne: Hysterically Flustered Schoolmarm?
Jim DeFede's "The Flighty Nun" pretty well summarized my feelings about Sister Jeanne. She has revealed herself to be a flustered, emotional old woman who lacks the good judgment to be neutral in this matter, and she never should have yielded to the invitation to make a public statement following the meeting. That's kind of like a priest holding a press conference after hearing your confession.

Her subsequent trip to Washington to help Elian's Miami relatives clearly shows a lack of compassion for Juan Miguel Gonzalez and Elian's grandparents. She seems to have been caught up in the exile hysteria that makes anything okay as long as it can be rationalized as fighting Castro. Fidel will pass on when his time comes. Keeping Elian from his rightful family will not expedite Castro's demise.

Sister Jeanne should mind her school and promote the completion of the repaving of North Miami Avenue alongside the university. Those barricades have been up a long time, sister. How about a trip to county hall?

John E. Brown
Miami

Sister Jeanne: Manipulated Mortal?
Judas's kiss comes to mind when I think about Sister Jeanne revealing that one of Elian's grandmothers allegedly wanted to defect. To reveal matters that might endanger another is contrary to my understanding of the Catholic Church's teachings. While not a Catholic, I attended a Catholic school as a boy and was taught that when I spoke to a nun or priest in private, it was kept private. It was a matter of sanctuary, so to speak, a safe haven in times of trouble.

I find it difficult to believe this woman of God would compromise herself and the church had she not been manipulated by outside forces. Were Sister Jeanne the "flying nun," she could easily rise above the storm clouds. As it is, being earthbound, she is subject to the same condition that afflicts us all: being human.

Clyde Cates
South Miami

Goon Over Miami Part 2
Clubland king Chris Paciello ain't exactly a Mafia don. But it sure seemed he was headed that way.
By Tristram Korten

Not to Worry, It's Just a New Yorker Talkin' Trash
In reference to Tristram Korten's article about Chris Paciello ("Goon Over Miami, Part Two," February 17), I ask you to name the club owner who wouldn't pay to have knowledge of which nightclub is going to be raided. They lose thousands of dollars. If you should learn anything about people from New York, it is that they have big mouths. They get angry and they have a lot to say. It's their way of releasing steam. Do we believe them when they speak this way? Hell no!

Chris may have had a lot to say. What would you expect? His right-hand man left him. He's hurt and angry. Even if he was tape-recorded making threats, that's no big deal. He's from New York. New Yorkers are known for their stupid threats. And even though there was round-the-clock protection, no one was hurt.

If there was a mistake made, it was to trust a [former] New York cop. (Not exactly a credible source.) This cop probably took the dinners, gifts, and money and got caught with his hands in the cookie jar. The feds then used him to tape anything they could get on Chris to save his own ass. And the rat gets a medal.

Chris established himself as a businessman on the Beach at a very young age. That made a lot of people very jealous. The trouble he's in now has nothing to do with his affairs here but with whatever happened in New York. That happened years ago. Let's let justice serve as the judge. Remember, we are all innocent until proven guilty.

Leslie Supernor
Miami

Play Ball (Anywhere but There)
I believe Jim Mullin's intentions are good in opposing a Marlin's baseball stadium in Bicentennial Park ("The Marlins Had a Party and You Weren't Invited," February 10). Having said that, I'll also say I'm a big sports fan and I believe that local politicians should try to find a home for the team somewhere in downtown Miami -- but not at the expense of selling out parkland, which would be absolutely ludicrous and unfair.

It's amazing how planners talk about great views of the water when fundamental architecture states that the view to the water belongs to the public. Developers also talk about the "dump" that currently is Bicentennial, but it is mainly the result of the city's inability to provide a real park. It looks like a prison from the front. And then there's the issue with the stupid racetrack still there from the days of the Miami Grand Prix.

I would like to see the Marlins play somewhere in downtown Miami, but not at Bicentennial Park.

Albert F. Carreno
Miami

Play Ball (and Beware Being Suckered)
A very entertaining column by Jim Mullin: Marlins bigwigs discussing favorable camera angles, no problems with gridlock (yeah, right!).

I think John Henry is jumping the gun. There hasn't been any type of public discourse on the subject of Bicentennial Park and it seems he's really trying to ram this one through. I hope the citizens of Miami-Dade won't get suckered.

Matt Striner
via the InternetPlay Ball (and Hug Your Local Bureaucrat)
Bicentennial Park is public land. It belongs to me. It does not belong to John Henry, and it certainly does not belong to any self-serving Miami politician to dispose of as he or she wishes. The mental retards in the Department of Transportation haven't the slightest idea how they are going to control the traffic generated by the American Airlines Arena, not to mention the specter of a future Performing Arts Center up the street. Are they all suffering from the final stages of insanity?

And while we're at it I suggest a full-scale grand jury investigation of all operating procedures exercised by Miami's building and zoning department -- a contemptuous, subversive, autonomous group of self-perpetuating individuals who not only undermine and destroy our neighborhoods but also decimate the entire democratic process here in the City of Miami.

Charles Travaglio
Miami

Mango's: Your Destiny, My Paycheck
Celeste Fraser Delgado's article on Mango's Tropical Café ("Disneyland with a Libido," February 3) was intelligently written but contradictory, abrasive, inflammatory, and gender-biased. Mango's is a veritable melting pot of multicultural diversity with many Latin-based cultures and many different ideas about what the Caribbean should be. Every cast member brings to the table a different flavor and a different background. This is what makes Mango's unique -- the fact that you have almost 200 staff members and they all care for one another as if they were from the same family.

When you walk through the front gate, you are immediately transported into an environment with which most people are unfamiliar, an environment that boasts art, dance, music, entertainment, and cuisine in the atmosphere of one of the hottest places in the world today: South Beach. We are proud to say that Mango's has done much for the cabaret district and in turn we have all flourished.

The most troubling part of the article was the portrayal of [Mango's owner] David Wallack. A certain amount of respect needs to be paid to a person who envisions something so beautiful and so unattainable, then makes it work night after night. He has provided the public a sort of getaway to a place many have not experienced. Yet Delgado labels his vision of the Caribbean as "a primitive playground designed for Europe's pleasure." Well, if this is the case, then we here at Mango's are all guilty of helping David "get away with murder," as she put it.

I say that because this same man single-handedly gives away more than $100,000 annually to well-known local charities. He anonymously furnished scholarships to people who would otherwise not be able to attend college. This year he showed his gratitude to the staff for their efforts with the millennium party by distributing over $20,000 in bonuses. This same man makes stars out of unknowns, and makes it possible for the people he employs to send a portion of their income to their not-so-fortunate families. It is for these reasons that David has built a loyal following that extends from the hearts of his devoted staff right down into the masses who visit Mango's every day. It is this following that will keep the fire burning at Mango's for a long time.

Alex T. Brugger, executive chef
Mango's Tropical Café
Miami Beach

Mango's: Hypnotic Reverie Under the Black Lights
Celeste Fraser Delgado missed the proverbial boat on the essence of Mango's. It is a place where an individual or a couple can let down their hair and have a truly exotic experience. The combination of black lights and vivid jungle paintings, live Latin rhythms and songs of longing and desire, sexy dancers and willing partners can transport a participant into a kind of hypnotic joie de vivre. Add a South Beach iced tea and a spicy entrée and you can dance the night away. That is the magic of Mango's.

Barbara Green
North Miami Beach

Take Me Out to the ... Parking Lot?
Open spaces: check. Sewer runoff: check. Locked gate: check. Yep, this is indeed a Miami park!
By Jacob Bernstein

The Greening of the Grassroots
In response to Jacob Bernstein's article about Miami parklands and sprucing up the City of Miami Cemetery ("Take Me Out to the ... Parking Lot," January 27), reader Robert Fournier suggested that the city needs to invite grassroots volunteer groups to landscape it and make it a jewel for residents and tourists to enjoy.

In point of fact, that is exactly what is taking place. Two and a half years ago members of the City of Miami Beautification Committee, working with Penny Lambeth and the Miami City Cemetery Task Force, planted 123 native and flowering trees there. And last year members of TREEmendous Miami, a volunteer group I head, made a number of maintenance forays. Plus students from Miami Edison High School fertilized every tree in the cemetery, old and new, and a local Eagle Scout led a group that also did a planting project there.

Such grassroots activism pays important dividends in a tough urban neighborhood that challenges people to care.

Robert C. Ross, president
TREEmendous Miami
Miami

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