The Great Divide

Correspondence from our readers

I was afraid for my safety and that of my neighbors on the night of March 29, and couldn't understand how the police might stand by and let us be victimized by the crazed mob-rule mentality the exile community is notorious for. Who was going to protect us in the event of a real riot? And who was going to answer for this when people were injured or killed and our city was destroyed again?

Just what kind of message is that to the people who voted for someone they trusted and in whom they believed? What kind of behavior is that for an elected public official? In effect Mayor Penelas was asking us to take sides, pitting us against each other instead of guiding us toward peace and proving he had the leadership qualities to control this crisis. He should be arrested for inciting to riot. I think he not only owes Miami an apology but resignation from his position. If he really was ready to act according to his emotions and flout the rule of law, then clearly there is no place for him in public office. He is not worthy of our respect or of being addressed as mayor. He's shown himself to be a hotheaded punk with self-serving interests. I'm sure the citizens of Miami-Dade County would never have elected a traitor. I only hope they remember this blatant abuse of power when they return to the polls this fall. I certainly will.

Elena Marin

I read with great interest Jim DeFede's and other journalists' attacks on Alex Penelas and their pompous defense of the "rule of law" in Miami. Frankly I would have laughed if not for the horrible thoughts that came to mind.

I wondered if those journalists from prestigious papers were idiots or just ignorant, because every major atrocity visited upon the human race was firmly grounded in the "rule of law." Stalinist Russia's murder of 20 million of its own citizens, the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany, and apartheid in South Africa were all committed in conformity with the "rule of law."

Closer to home we have had the institution of slavery, the genocide of Native Americans, the imprisonment of innocent Japanese Americans, and the oppression of women -- again, products of the "rule of law." When civil-rights marchers were brutalized in the Sixties, it was done with billy clubs, fire hoses, attack dogs, and guns held by defenders of the "rule of law."

These arrogant journalists compared Mayor Penelas to Gov. George Wallace, who similarly defied the feds. What they didn't tell you was that Wallace was defending Alabama "rule of law." Finally I remind you that the "rule of law" and its cousin, "following orders of the chief executive," were featured defenses at the Nuremberg trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

These episodes also remind us of other "rule of law" violators, people like Schindler, Mandela, Martin Luther King, and the nameless thousands who gave haven to and refused to return runaway slaves, contrary to the "rule of law."

Don't get me wrong, the rule of law is a great thing, but it can never replace plain old morality and a fundamental respect for what is right and wrong. Although Mr. Penelas did not express himself properly, sending officers from the Miami-Dade SWAT team to storm the Gonzalez's house to remove Elian and send him back to totalitarian Cuba would have been a wrong he could never live down, no matter how justified legally. Next time you journalists get caught up in righteous indignation over the rule of law, remember that during the sad events described in this letter, you and your brethren supported those committing the atrocities and ignored your responsibility to the human race, who needed you to stand up for what was right.

Juan de Jesus Gonzalez

I am one of those few patriots who stand with the Cuban American National Foundation and Mr. Lazaro Gonzalez as they struggle against the power and might of the American government. Determined that Elian shall not be condemned to life in Cuba's gulag, my brothers have truly come to the rescue.

But there also is frustration at my brothers' lack of genuine militancy, their failure to take fullest advantage of this opportunity. You see, Juan Miguel Gonzalez has another son! We've all seen him since he arrived in the United States, the smiling little bundle on Juan Miguel's hip everywhere he goes. You could look upon little Hianny as a communist prop, fattened up by Castro's security forces. But I see a precious child condemned to life as a slave in Cuba.

And so my outrage at myself, at CANF, even at the very busy Lazaro Gonzalez family. Why in God's name has there been no operation mounted to abduct Hianny! The best defense is a good offense. We cannot be satisfied with saving only Elian. Hianny no se va! Paul A. Moore
Miami Lakes

I am Cuban American (born in Cuba) and I think it is time someone in a leadership position in this city make the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez accept full responsibility for the so-called "excessive force" used in the removal of Elian from that home. Can someone please remind that family that they were the ones breaking the law? That they basically gave Janet Reno no other alternative. I think it is time that this sector of the Cuban-exile community be reminded of how this country has opened its doors to us all for the past 41 years. Is this the way one shows respect and gratitude?

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