The Great Divide

Correspondence from our readers

L. Doural
Miami

New Times does not present the news fairly and unbiased. All your stories relating to the Elian case and most of its players are unbalanced. Locally you are at the top of the list of those engaged in bashing Cuban Americans simply because they do not share your views. Has it ever occurred to you that you have greatly contributed to the splitting of this community by throwing jet fuel in the fire? You do this in exchange for more readership from a part of the community that, for whatever reason, is extremely opposed to anything the Cuban-American community does or says. Is this underlying racism? This bashing may now be the politically correct thing to do, but your freedom stops when you tamper with mine.

I strongly believe that Cuban Americans have a point for one simple reason: They have lived it. They know what Cuba is like. Just see their predictions coming true in front of your eyes. "Doctors," "teachers," and of course "schoolmates" of Elian are making sure he gets "readjusted" to life in Cuba. Why hasn't the media been allowed to see him, as was the case in Miami? Yet New Times insists that this is a matter of reuniting a son with his father, and that a six-year-old doesn't know the difference between communism and capitalism. I have a funny feeling he will know what communism is when he gets forced to work in the fields and gets enlisted in the young "pioneers" in Cuba.

You should be looking at why this situation occurred and educating people rather than entertaining the masses with your ignorance and ill-intentioned opinions. Whenever you use force, you must admit that you failed somewhere.

I doubt that without demonstrations and civil disobedience, slavery would have been abolished or the Vietnam War would have been stopped. But it is the responsibility of government to prevent demonstrators from being tear-gassed in their faces. Why didn't the Miami police simply arrest those demonstrators who were causing havoc, rather than using pepper spray even on the news media?

Good newspeople should be asking these questions instead of complaining about a "banana republic." New Times shouldn't be behaving like a "banana republic" publication and should instead strive to be in the leagues of the Wall Street Journal.

Amneris Pedroso
Miami

Although I understand that some people are upset over the manner in which the INS retrieved Elian Gonzalez, the truth is there was no other way to transfer custody to his father. I applaud Janet Reno for having the courage to take firm action after having given the Miami family plenty of time for a peaceful transfer.

Regardless of the larger political issues that corrupt politicians like Penelas, Carollo, and Castro have tried to insert into this situation, the fact is this remains a federal immigration matter. I also applaud New Timesfor its coverage of issues in this unfortunate Elian episode. It is very hard to find news coverage in Miami that is not heavily biased in favor of the Miami relatives. New Times is one of the few exceptions.

It was regrettable that this poor child had to witness a law-enforcement action by armed federal officers. However, his distant Miami relatives were intransigent and openly defied the federal government for weeks. They are the ones who should be held ultimately responsible for the forceful transfer. It was not a pretty sight, and people have the right to be disturbed by the images that have been published. They should also assess blame in the appropriate places, not with the attorney general or the president.

Cuban Americans who vilify Janet Reno and Bill Clinton should keep things in perspective. They live in a country of laws that has given them extraordinary immigration privileges enjoyed by no other immigrant group in the world. They have the right to express concern and frustration, but they should do so with restraint and respect.

I am a federal officer with the Department of Justice and I applaud the manner in which our attorney general acted in what has been a very difficult situation. She has the integrity and honesty lacked by many in Miami and Cuba who have taken advantage of this poor child's misfortune. Janet Reno, you are welcome at my Miami home anytime.

Gons Nachman
Miami

Uncle Sam's response to the "Forgive Us for Being Cuban" letter from Jorge Benitez Sagol (April 27):

I'll forgive you of all you've asked if you'll forgive my people for actually expecting immigrants to their country to make an effort at adapting to American society. Forgive them for expecting that they actually be addressed in English, the language adopted and used by their fathers and forefathers over the course of 224 years as an independent nation. Forgive their immigrant ancestors for adapting to the same linguistic culture.

Please forgive American capital and American, African-American, and Bahamian workers for building Miami. Forgive my people for then inviting Cuba's disenfranchised "Spanish-speaking Caucasians" to make a new home for themselves in Miami. Forgive them for expecting that in so doing, these invited guests would actually become a part of Miami's community rather than an enclave.

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