Letters to the Editor

From the issue of May 31, 2001

 West Perrine Paradise
A grateful resident extols the benefits of millions in public money: Susan Eastman's article about Ed Hanna and the West Perrine Economic Development Corporation ("With Enough Money," May 24) is just what we have been saying for so long to county government or anyone else who would listen. Hanna's organization should be forced to pay reparations to our community. Some homebuilding has occurred in the past few years, but other funding has been provided for programs that never achieved their goals or were never even started. For example at community meetings we were promised a computer center. A center was built and fully equipped -- but never opened to the public.

Where is that money, the millions of dollars allocated in past years? I have lived on Homestead Avenue in Perrine for 35 years. As a matter of fact my home is around the corner from the one shown on the New Times cover. True, the place has improved, but real economic development has only occurred in Ed Hanna's pocket.

Ed Hanna should be banned from receiving grant money. He can't justify his salary, despite his boasting about architectural and plan-processing skills. He sits in an office paid for with our tax dollars and writes proposals for grants by exploiting the West Perrine community. All his records should be opened and carefully, closely looked at. Changes need to be made.

Otis Armstrong
West Perrine

Belén: Reassuring Reminder
Article shows free weekly to be fair, harmless: I want to congratulate Gaspar González on the fine article he wrote about Belén, where I teach journalism ("Class Act," May 10). We were reading it this morning and were very pleased. New Times is often criticized for having a bias against citizens of Cuban ancestry. I have never believed this to be so. As a regular reader of the paper, I find that it seeks to expose the truth.

"Class Act" should be reassuring to those who think New Times is out to get anyone who is Cuban American.

Cristina Casero

Belén: Leadership Incubator
And only a few felons among the hatchlings: I must say that an article like "Class Act" was overdue. It was well written, presented both the good and the bad, and managed to describe almost perfectly some of the reasons why so many leaders, both famous and infamous, graduated from Belén.

Frankie Ruiz, class of 1996

Belén: Far Afield
These guys are everywhere! I know Gaspar González's article about Belén had a strong local angle, but the school's influence reaches far outside Miami. Belén graduates can be found all over the country. One need only point to the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, or the impressive ascension of class of 1985 valedictorian Xavier Briggs, handpicked by former President Clinton at the tender age of 28 to become deputy assistant secretary of HUD under Andrew Cuomo, and who can now be found on the faculty of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

And these are just the ones I can think of right now.

Aurelio Salas
Brooklyn, New York

Belén: Pride Aplenty
A rogues' gallery of alumni: Fidel, Aruca, Bert Hernandez, and the pole! I've never been as proud as I am today. De pinga.

Alberto C. Imperatori, class of 1987
via the Internet

Belén: Poetic Justice
Bert gets busted: Gaspar González missed a wonderful bit of irony in his story about the ubiquity of Belén grads in the corridors of power. Here it is: The judge who sentenced Humberto Hernandez (class of 1980) and administered a scathing tongue-lashing was Roberto Piñeiro (class of 1972).

J. Alfredo de Armas
Coral Gables

Belén: Color Blind
That is to say, blind to any color but white: Coming from Cuban guajiro stock, growing up in Hialeah apartment buildings, and attending the local public schools all my life, I read Gaspar González's "Class Act" and now wish to toast the pretty-boy cubanito alumni of Belén Jesuit Prep: Thanks to you, gentlemen, South Florida politics has achieved levels of probity and civic-mindedness last seen only in the staunchly democratic institutions of our pre-caballo island republic.

What was of real interest in the article, however, was not its summation of Miami Cuban ruling-class pretensions but the fact that historically such pretensions, both Miami Cuban and Havana Cuban, have always been white. Yet Gaspar González does little to disturb Belén's exhausting, continuous narrative of white Cuban clout.

In this sense it just won't do for González to quote an anonymous administrator on the difficulty of increasing "the number of black [read African-American] students above a handful." What we really want to know is whether Belén's pre-Miami, Havana incarnation was ever desegregated. And how about what today's alumni, so identified with Cuban roots, feel is their link to the island's majority (in numbers, if not power), Afro-Cuban citizens?

In other words to breeze over the school's arguably embattled experience with Cuban race relations is to produce another version of the Miami Cuban success story, which, consistent genre that it is, nearly always assumes Cubanness and whiteness to be one and the same.

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