Letters to the Editor

From the issue of April 26, 2001

Two Countries, Two Flags, One Oppressor
Close but no (Cuban) cigar:The flag depicted in the background of Kathy Glasgow's cover story last week ("Voice of a Nation," April 26) is that of Puerto Rico, not Cuba. The flags are identical in design except that the blue and red are reversed.

It goes back to the struggle for independence from Spain, when both islands were still colonies. The story I have heard is that revolutionaries from Cuba and Puerto Rico were collaborating in their plan to overthrow the Spaniards. The design of the flag was intended to demonstrate their solidarity with each other's cause.

Angel A. Menendez
via Internet

Ah, to Be Young and Stupid Again
What a kick got out of destroying reputations: Rebecca Wakefield's piece on the Vizcaya dinner for the king and queen of Spain ("You Are Cordially Invited,"April 26) gave me a great rush of nostalgia. I was carried back to my days in the late Sixties, working at a precocious Boston weekly paper called Avatar (predecessor to the Boston Phoenix, which New Times hopes to one day grow up and become).

At Avatar writers were identified by their astrological sign (done with an absolutely straight face) and the masthead somberly noted: "Throughout history men have organized change, to alter the confines of the existing order, and to bring light into the dark places by sweeping away blindness, confusion, and fear. Long ago these tasks were begun by our greatest universal reformers -- Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Lycurgus, the Buddha -- and carried to this century by countless visionary philosophers, political men, theologians, and revolutionaries.... Avatar is the symbol of community revival. Our goals are high, yet we are certain they will come to pass. For a long time we have remained convinced of the rightness of our task -- now it is time to bring our message to the world."

Having compared the paper's leaders to the greatest men who ever lived, we happily went about the business of smoking pot and peeing on the legs of anyone we thought was insufficiently like us.

God, it was great to be young, stupid, and free to treat journalism like a written version of a snuff film.

It was in this spirit that I read Ms. Wakefield's article calling me and several other attendees of the Vizcaya dinner "the grease" of Miami.

It's been years since I've been able to sling slime like that! In my day, of course, I could assassinate character with the best of them. Hell, I once called a local college professor a racist with absolutely no evidence and ruined his career. But the years and the grudging accumulation of knowledge and manners have slowed me down. I just can't do it anymore.

So Rebecca, enjoy this while it lasts. The ability to judge those you do not know. The assumption of moral superiority. The childlike belief that words are toys that may be manipulated and tossed about without consequences. These things do not last. You too will one day become weighted down with accumulated knowledge, judgment, empathy, perspective and -- if you are very lucky -- maybe even wisdom.

But this is clearly not an immediate threat.

Seth Gordon
Coral Gables

I Was Invited, but I Did Not Attend
And I stayed away with a vengeance: Please be advised that I did not attend the dinner at Vizcaya honoring the king and queen of Spain. "Luis Penelas" appears at table thirteen of the guest list as published in Rebecca Wakefield's article. Although I received one of the much-coveted invitations, I felt it would be hypocritical as a Cuban American to honor a man who refuses to denounce the human-rights violations occurring in Cuba today. On the contrary his Majesty Juan Carlos I helps to finance Castro's totalitarian reign by investing much of his personal wealth in Cuba.

How can we expect to be taken seriously when we do not practice what we preach? We demand that everyone else respect our feelings and impose sanctions against the Cuban government.

Luis Penelas
Miami

Editor's note: As reported in Rebecca Wakefield's article, the guest list was provided by Mayor Alex Penelas's office.

There's High Culture and There's Miami-Dade Culture
Which one might be fit for a king? I think Rebecca Wakefield missed the point. This was a reception for the king and queen of Spain thrown by the Mayor of Miami-Dade County celebrating Miami-Dade's (political) Hispanic culture. And so you expected what? Diverse, intellectual, articulate, and sophisticated?

Carlos Moya
Pinecrest

Beautiful Downtown Allapattah
Believe it or not, it was true: The decline of the downtown area of Miami Springs, which Rebecca Wakefield wrote about in "Don't Harm the Charm"(March 29), has been matched by a decline in the downtown areas of Miami Shores, Little River, Lemon City, Allapattah, and many other areas since I was a child 50 years ago.

All these areas used to have charming, flourishing downtowns. Miami Shores has since become a haven for doctors' and lawyers' offices. The other areas mentioned have simply become slums. Little River was destroyed way back in the Fifties with the creation of a shopping center at 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. It became a slum long before the Haitians arrived.

Miami Springs basically has only two options: It can either go the way of Coconut Grove and South Beach with a trendy scene, or it can go the way of Miami Shores with the offices in place of shops.

Stephen W. Foster
Coral Gables

Free Weekly Mission Statement: More Embarrassment More Often
Could Miami residents be shamed into action? I wanted to express my pleasure at reading Kirk Nielsen's article "Enough Billboards Already!"(April 12). To me it is amazing the crap people get away with because the community is not paying attention. I hope New Times can do more to embarrass the Miami City Commission and other local government officials and employees over issues like this. Wake people up!

The lack of community involvement around here is so sad. Miami residents and (more important) city officials do not even know the definition of "quality of life." No parks, overdevelopment, bad zoning, and Miami is notorious for its lack of commitment to code enforcement, which really shows. The majority of the city is a ghetto, a ghetto in paradise. So billboards all over the place would be just another step in the wrong direction.

I think articles such as Mr. Nielsen's help in exposing problems, which can lead to positive results. Keep up the heat and the good work.

Glenn Amorusco
Miami

ErrataOwing to an editing error, the caption accompanying a photograph of former county Commissioner Joe Gersten ("The Gersten Affair,"April 12) incorrectly reported that it had been taken at the New South Wales Supreme Court. The image was captured by a WSVN-TV videographer elsewhere in Australia. Also owing to an editing error, a reference in Jim DeFede's column "Stop the Press!" (April 12) incorrectly stated that a computer problem caused the South Dade News Leader's Website to malfunction. The reference should have been to the Homestead Sun and its Website. A reporting error in Jacob Bernstein's article "The Reboredo Files" (March 29) led to the incorrect statement that Adelfa Perez-Cruz's county payroll checks were directly deposited into a bank account she shared with Norma Reboredo, wife of county Commissioner Pedro Reboredo. The checks were deposited into a separate account. New Times regrets the errors.

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