Letters from the Issue of October 10, 2002

Poor Miami is the talk of the town

Poor Miami: No Tears

Don't just sit there -- do something substantial: Thanks very much to New Times for the special report on poverty in Miami ("We're Number One!" September 26 and October 3). We must all do better for our community and its people. Conviction and education are the essential ingredients for action.

In that spirit, ACCION USA is poised to launch a significant expansion of microlending in Miami. The organization brings with it more than 30 years' experience and some $1.7 million in private capital to help our legions of small entrepreneurs. Not only does ACCION USA provide new opportunities for $500 to $10,000 loans to small businesses, it also brings hands-on technical assistance that helps ensure that businesses can be successful and eventually move into the traditional banking system.

This effort has been spearheaded by the Coral Gables Congregational Church and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, along with support from a number of other sources in the community, including, potentially, the City of Miami.

We all could sit on our hands and shed tears about the poverty in our community. That is too easy. We need to join hands, develop new and creative approaches to making substantial change. I look forward to a day -- soon I hope -- when we can read a story in New Times about the progress we've made by working together to help each other.

Paul C. Hunt

South Miami

Poor Miami: Invisible Neighbors

Don't just sit there -- raise the floor: Kudos to New Times for the "We're Number One!" series on the plight of the poverty-stricken and the working poor in Miami. All too often our most vulnerable citizens, who toil away at minimum-wage jobs, are invisible from the public debate. New Times has done a real service to the community with this timely series.

In the meantime, concerned citizens, organizations, and workers can take part in "raising the floor" for low-wage workers in Miami and most of South Florida by joining the Community Coalition for a Living Wage. Call 305-576-5001, ext. 28.

John Ise, volunteer

Community Coalition for a Living Wage

Biscayne Park

Poor Miami: Mostly Black

Stand up, take charge, and assert your rights: While the New Times report is a good one, it fails to mention the overriding issues that confront poor cities: They have large black populations that are mostly isolated, like a prisoner in his cell. PoMi, as New Times calls it, is mostly BMi (black Miami). There are reasons for this, some self-inflicted and some not.

First and foremost, blacks have had to deal with institutionalized racism for decades, and that is not their fault. They have had to endure denigration and insult without much ability to respond because they haven't been in power to do anything about it. But a large part is also their own fault, as they elect leaders who are ill-equipped or downright corrupt. Former schools superintendent Johnny Jones comes to mind, as do others currently in the system. Black leadership needs to say enough is enough, or they will forever be in this mess.

American blacks need to stand up and take charge, to stop demanding rights and instead begin changing their lives by asserting them. Black Americans can do anything they set their minds to. They have never been poor at heart and I cannot believe they are poor in spirit. Most of the poor are black, but I have faith they can overcome this if we all work together as Miamians.

Why is this such a difficult thing to do? Perhaps a start would be to get rid of all the politicians, regardless of race or ethnicity, and start anew.

Carlos Navarro


Poor Miami: Hidden History

You want to place blame? Blame the feds: I read all the articles regarding Miami being the poorest city in America. They were very informative but I believe several historical components were missing. For example, back in the late Forties and Fifties, city leaders gave the airport, the seaport, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and the water and sewer department to the county. The articles did not mention the state decision to build I-95 and SR836, which destroyed Overtown and Park West. All this was done long before immigrants arrived.

Since the articles seem to lay the blame for the city's problems on its diversity, it is important to mention, for history's sake, that Miami was also a hostage of U.S. foreign policy. Nowhere did the articles mention that after President John F. Kennedy took the blame for the Bay of Pigs failure, he gave blanket approval for Cubans to obtain visas at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Nor did they note that President Lyndon B. Johnson created the Freedom Flights and brought 265,000 Cuban exiles to Miami. The articles did not mention that President Jimmy Carter, during the Mariel boatlift, said, "We welcome them with open arms." They also did not explain that Carter created the status of "entrants" for Cuban and Haitian boat people. The articles did not report that it was the Caribbean Basin Initiative of President Ronald Reagan that cost 13,000 jobs in local clothing factories because their owners moved them to the Caribbean and Central America. They also failed to mention that President Reagan said, "I am a contra too," and invited to the U.S. freedom-seeking Nicaraguans who were fleeing the Sandinistas. Nor did they recount that the U.S. Attorney General in 1994 said, "The 34,000 rafters at the U.S. base in Guantánamo will never enter the U.S." and that three months later they were all here.

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