The Great Divide

Correspondence from our readers

Brett Sokol doesn't perform much better. In his "Kulchur" column ("How to win friends and influence people, el exilio style"), he targets Juan Carlos Espinosa (a Cuban featured in Ted Koppel's Nightline). Sokol: "While Espinosa's playing of the race card is a welcome step up from the usual ploy of labeling anyone who dissents from exile shibboleths a communist, it also serves as a sad reminder of just how debased academia in South Florida has become." He compares the attitude of the typical intransigent exile who cannot discuss issues without the tempting ad hominem ploy. Unfortunately Sokol re-enacts the same ploy when (in the same column) he accuses Espinosa the person, not the issues Espinosa raises. Sokol: "We also saw the prattlings of Juan Carlos Espinosa, who, thanks to the funding largess of Jorge "Baby Mas" Santos and his Cuban American National Foundation, is just one of a growing number of right-wing ideologues masquerading as objective academics." That seems to be a tirade against the person, not the issue, something like: "If you agree with me, you're good; if not, you're corrupt." Sorry, Mr. Sokol, but don't you think you may have to take a bit of your own medicine when referring to el exilio?

I find this kind of journalism highly questionable. New Times should make an effort to mend and to change this type of questionable journalism in order to bring more balance to discussion of the issues affecting all of us -- Cubans as well as other communities in South Florida.

Peter Tedras
Miami Beach

I have become a greater fan of New Times in the past few weeks because its writers have the fortitude to present our ugly, sordid, and distorted Cuban dilemma as it truly is. More specifically, I send a well-deserved thank-you for "The Burden of a Violent History." It not only unmasks people like Joe Carollo, Gloria Estefan, Jorge Mas Santos, and Ramon Saul Sanchez, it clearly points to what most of our exile leaders refuse to admit and most of the press is simply ignorant of: A faction of the Cuban exile community is too closely linked with terrorists.

This makes it very difficult for people to express themselves in our Cuban community, a community so obsessed with its version of history that it suffers from a most perverse form of selective perception. How can we peacefully co-exist with people who do not know the meaning of the word tolerance?

While it doesn't amaze me that any Cuban can stand in Little Havana with signs criticizing the president of the United States or the attorney general, calling them the worst kind of obscenities, I cannot abide in the fact (as evidenced by Mullin's article) that anyone who does not cater to this brand of right-wing Cuban demagoguery is not only branded a communist, a spy, an infiltrator, but is terrorized and intimidated and threatened with violence. Yet these local politicians and celebrities and self-appointed exile leaders get on television and call the Cuban community "peaceful." It is beyond hypocritical.

I cannot accept that I live in a community that collectively subscribes to the notion that violence is a form of free speech. What kind of community do we live in when intimidation and the threat of violence is such an integral part of the Cuban exile's right-wing? It has gotten to the point that people with varying points of view do not speak up for fear of retaliation. I am not exaggerating when I say I am afraid to commit this to paper because Cuban-style demagoguery has gone way beyond name-calling. Perhaps that is the irony of exile. Right-wing Cuban exiles have mistakenly confused freedom with totalitarianism. They simply do not know the meaning of the word tolerance.

The article captured the right-wing Cuban community at its darkest. What is most disturbing is that it is 100 percent accurate. There are many Cubans in this community who, like Orlando Bosch, believe that violence will give them back what they have lost: a sense of place, identity, and a country that, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists. Worse yet, they will continue to do what they have always done -- intimidate the opposition or eliminate it. Ironic, isn't it? Right-wing Cuban exiles slam Fidel for his tactics, while theirs smell and taste the same.

Alexa Rae

I am basically a newcomer here in Miami (from Connecticut) and was wondering why all the fear. "The Burden of a Violent History" made it understandable. I have sent it to all the Cuban radio stations I listen to and to Attorney General Janet Reno.How are we as a community going to begin healing when a powerful organization such as the Cuban American National Foundation is running the show in Miami? It is involved in everything from electing our politicians to, recently, trying to write U.S. law. Will it succeed? Should I just sell my new home and move to Broward?

Leyda I. Wagner

Thanks for the article on the history of violence attributed to the so-called Cuban exile community. By the way, using the "exile" tag to describe their situation is all wrong. Most of them left Cuba of their own accord. I don't recall reading about Castro "exiling" anyone from the island, not even during Mariel. His men helped load the boats!It is high time the Cuban Adjustment Act be revisited by the appropriate government agency. After 41 years it ought to be adjusted.

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