Letters to the Editor

From the issue of August 3, 2000

The Chief's Retreat
Rolando Bolaños lied and got away with it, but stay tuned
By Tristram Korten

Snacking on Raul
Pump more lead into progress city:
Think Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez is going to do or say anything to punish his partner in crime, Police Chief Rolando Bolaños (“The Chief's Retreat,” July 27)? Don't hold your breath. This dog-and-pony show has been going on for a number of years now. It's going to take more than just some allegations to put the skids on this. Just ask Raul ... he's a veteran when it comes to dodging bullets from Tallahassee. Looks to me like the kids are just following in Dad's footsteps. Won't be long now until they will be able to take their rightful place in the dictatorship known as Hialeah.

Susan Nuñez
Ohatchee, Alabama

The Return of Litigious Joe
Miami's mayor is a fool for loot
By David Villano

We're a Local Rag, Professor
So cut us some slack,
por favor: Yep. I agree with the mayor. You guys have “attacked enough Cuban Americans ...” of late. Your post-Elian coverage of city government has been lurid. The tone of David Villano's piece on a forgotten lawsuit of the mayor (“The Return of Litigious Joe,” July 27) strains the limits of journalistic ethics. Villano seems to be carrying on a New Times vendetta against Miami Mayor Joe Carollo that is decidedly tinged by a smirking anti-Latino tone.

Contrary to the carping of the white minority around office water coolers, and of oppressed blacks in front of sports venues, Miami is not a banana republic but a typically troubled democracy. (As distinct, say, from the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. ... Miamians, unlike D.C. residents, have the right to elect congressional representatives.)

I am African American and I am dismayed by the strange coalition of South Florida whites and blacks who seem to have found common ground, post-Elian, on the issue of hostility toward Latin power. Miami is a Latin, Spanish-speaking city. (Get used to it.) There is corruption here. There are things I don't like about Carollo (actually I still consider Mayor Suarez to be my mayor). Yet, when you guys stoop so low as to impugn Carollo's sexuality through the scoffery of implying he is impotent, the transparency of your racism becomes all too noticeable.

I am a freelance journalist as well as a professor with a large number of Cuban-American students. My journalistic instinct leads me to ask: why doesn't New Times spend as much energy digging through the activities of Governor Bush or on the military's dropping of chaff on us, as it does on digging through the mayor's dirty laundry? What would Elian say?

Professor Rayfield Waller
Florida International University

A Sign of Victory
New Times' jihad to scrub the skyline rolls onward
By Kirk Nielsen

The Gulag I-95ago
What happened to pretty pictures of Siberian tundra?
I support Kirk Nielsen in his very commendable undertaking, “A Sign of Victory” (June 20). Billboards are a matter not only of aesthetics but also of content. To wit: A few days ago, I was startled to see Joseph Stalin staring down at me on I-95. While I was getting over the shock, I must have literally stopped in my tracks. The furious horn-honking of irate motorists didn't even penetrate my consciousness until a few moments later, when I found myself slowly drifting across four lanes of traffic. Two days later my husband suffered a similar experience on State Road 826. I wonder how many Floridians of Russian origin are creating hazardous situations on the roads right now as they raise their eyes to this kind of monstrous insensitivity! I also wonder who will be the next “celebrity” brought up on the crest of the creative wave of billboard advertisers.

Dolly Aizenman
Miami Beach

What's Next? Smog Monster Ads
New Times
didn't say it best: “One billboard can put $180,000 per year into sign company coffers,” stated a recent version of your paper. A better read would have been been: “One billboard can put $180,000 per year into sign company coffins.” These companies care little about burying Miami in a state of mediocrity. Rumor has it that companies have a theory suggesting their billboards are placed in a geometric pattern similar to the Nasca lines of Peru. They are in reality acting as a homing beacon for space travelers. This may best explain why City of Miami elected officials turned a blind eye to the proliferation of Godzilla advertising. They were spaced out.

Clyde Cates
South Miami

Memo from Miami
The Latin film conference brought out the best and the worst about town
By Ronald Mangravite

Strength in Differences
Les' talk, Ronny boy:
"Memo from Miami" (July 20) focused on the recently held conference of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), but failed to provide an accurate picture of key aspects of what went on. Writer Ronald Mangravite, acknowledging the article was borne of “some amusement and some anger,” seems to have projected the frustration of many among the local film community onto the out-of-town participants, highlighting “the lack of unity among the Latin filmmaking community nationwide” and the “deep fissures within,” which are further described as “glaring.”

In all fairness NALIP's conference was a tribute to the empowering possibilities of working through regional, ethnic, and aesthetic differences to challenge discrimination and create opportunities. In only a year, NALIP managed to transform a possibly self-destructive argument over the defunding of the Latino public television consortium by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting into a process of consensus building with a commitment to respect differences, yet focus on common problems. As residents of post-Elian Miami, I am sure we can all attest to how difficult, albeit essential, this process of dialogue and action is to the well-being of any complex community.

Mr. Mangravite conspicuously and repeatedly refers to differences as “problems” for NALIP, implying that our diversity is a handicap. Yet, what is perhaps lost in translation is that while differences often pose challenges, they are an undeniable part of the Latino community's vitality, strength, and power. As the only Latin producers' organization that does not cater to exclusive interests, diversity is not only inevitable for us, it is desirable. The binary thinking that often dominates local debates, however, got the best of Mr. Mangravite when he miscast West Coast filmmakers as “left wing” and New Yorkers as Hollywood wannabes. Of course there is a bit of everything on both coasts. But if prominent west-coasters appear passionately critical of the industry, it's because Hollywood is, after all, the industry's home and there is much at stake for those who work there. Regardless NALIP is partially about contesting simplified representations of our community and this is a brand-new one to add to the list.

As both a Miami-based producer/director and conference co-chair (not cohost as noted in the piece), I consider this article a valuable contribution to a much-needed discussion on transforming Miami into a viable entertainment capital. The article's last thought -- that an industry based on “fashion,” “Latin culture,” and “tropical drinks” is laughable -- implies nonetheless that the totality of “Latin culture” is at the same level as some of its parts, including iced purple water under a miniature umbrella and queerly clad tall people looking blankly at the horizon. If Miami has any future at all as an international media center, one of its most substantial assets is that it is a bilingual and creative Latin community. Miami-Dade is unlikely ever to become Hollywood East, but it could well become a hub for U.S./Latin and multicultural entertainment at a scale that could realistically rival New York and Los Angeles. Florida's NALIP chapter currently is in formation and this effort could be part of assembling a bigger puzzle. Well-focused action can make the difference. Let's go for it.

Frances Negron-Muntaner
NALIP Steering Committee

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