Letters to the Editor

Letters from the issue of June 1, 2000

Another case in point was Jim Mullin's excellent Miami New Times article "The Burden of a Violent History" (April 20), which listed 68 episodes of exile violence that occurred from 1968 to 2000 in Miami alone. Included were assassinations, bombings, acts of physical intimidation, and so forth. Not included were the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of bomb threats, death threats, and scores of violent acts inside and outside Miami against people who merely expressed a different view about Cuba. These actions only reinforce a growing national perception, at times unfair, of Cuban exiles as irrational extremists.

What Ms. Angeles Torres, et al., seem unwilling to face is the fact that a majority of Americans, including a growing minority of Cuban Americans, reject the fossilized Cold War politics of the Cuban-American exile majority. Ms. Iriondo wrote that "[those] in our community and nationwide intent on silencing our voices with slanderous labels and epithets -- in an attempt to discredit us -- only make evident their intolerance and intransigence toward views contrary to theirs." Wow! This is what psychologists recognize as "projection." Laymen know it as "the case of the pot calling the kettle black."

A new red herring has replaced the discredited accusation of communist sympathies: Welcome the race card. Those who do not share the right-wing views of the Cuban exiles are now branded as racist bigots. But this will not fly either. Most Americans, when adequately informed of the facts, will spurn racist, anti-Cuban stereotypes and grotesquely idiotic generalizations. No minimally intelligent, rational American can deny the contributions, patriotic sacrifices, and solidly loyal allegiances of the overwhelming majority of Cuban Americans. However, no intellectually honest Cuban American, unafraid of self-criticism, can look at the history of political intolerance in Cuban Miami and walk away satisfied that this is the best we can do.

There is a way out of the current morass. Cuban Americans must lead a huge, multiethnic march that celebrates the First Amendment while it simultaneously condemns exile violence against those who lawfully and peacefully express alternative views or attend performances by visiting Cuban artists. This march will clearly state that while a majority of Cuban Miami does not agree with the views of its opponents, it will, like Voltaire, defend to the death their right to express them. Until such a march occurs -- one that would be a first in this community -- all the lugubrious complaints about being stereotyped and vilified will amount to little more than a rusty bucket of rancid crocodile tears.

Michael Lopez-Calderon

The Good News: Javier Souto Has Learned How to Use E-mail
After reading Jim Mullin's "The Burden of a Violent History," I sent it to several county commissioners. This is one of their stories.

Commissioner Javier Souto wrote: "Yes, as I have every right to do under the Constitution of the United States, I as a private citizen facilitated the transportation in a private van, through my staff, for one elderly man and one elderly woman who expressed a desire to exercise their constitutional right to protest [a 1996 performance by Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba] and did not have the ability to attend the event.

I was not in town when the event took place, but I personally spoke to the elderly gentleman when I returned and he confirmed there were only two people who were transported in that van, not 200 as you state in your e-mail. Get your facts straight before making such bold assertions in the future. These are the facts, but it is more sensational to spread lies than to confirm the truth with a couple of telephone calls.

I forgot that these days it's become fashionable to disregard the Constitution and the right to protest and disagree."

Apparently Javier is pissed.

Angel Orr
Miami Beach

Did Not Arrive with Suspicious E-mail Attachment
As someone on the CNN message board said, "The Miami Herald gets wimpier by the day, but the Miami New Times keeps on slugging!"

Peter Mirren
Manila, Philippines

In Loving Memory of Sr. Batista
There were two primary groups that fled Cuba as a result of Castro taking control of the Cuban government in 1959: those who supported the corrupt Fulgencio Batista regime and those who supported Castro and others in overthrowing that government. This, I believe, is the main cause of the chaos we are now experiencing in Miami-Dade County in the year 2000.

Why has so little been said about what became of Batista's supporters and their families who fled to South Florida? We know what happened to some of them. They became the force behind the hard-liners against Castro. They set the beat that the majority of Cubans march to, at least in public.

The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba is one area in which we see the split between the Batista hard-liners and the majority of Cubans whose families would not have supported these far-right types in Cuba. The hard-liners support of an embargo that punishes the people of Cuba is met with indifference by the majority of Cuban Americans, who together send their families and friends hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Lifting the embargo will eliminate the ability of these Batista types to harm the people of Cuba from American soil. Their hopes of returning to Cuba as lords and masters will be greatly diminished as the people of Cuba are exposed to American values and the goodwill of the American people.

Miami will then continue on its long-delayed path toward greatness.

Clyde Cates
South Miami

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