Letters from the Issue of March 20, 2003

Trading with Cuba and dying in the ocean's depths

You Can Call Him Shlmiel, Shlub, Shmo, or Shnook

Just don't call him Pancho! Francisco Alvarado's article "MIA: A User's Manual" (March 13) was excellent, with the exception of the curious fact that only one individual, Norman Abril, was identified by religion -- in my opinion unnecessarily so.

Furthermore when Mr. Abril "growls," "Why are so many spaces roped off?" -- a very reasonable question for anyone who has ever tried parking at Miami International Airport -- Alvarado says Mr. Abril had "a shtupped look on his face." What is a shtupped look, pray tell? According to Leo Rosten's Hooray for Yiddish, "shtup" has two meanings: 1) as a verb, to push or to press; and 2) to fornicate. Mr. Abril's observations about the user-unfriendly nature of MIA seem to be quite supportive of Alvarado's main thesis. But there appears to be no evidence that, in the context of their discussion, Mr. Abril was either pushing or being pushed, or engaging in any sexual activity that his face might reflect. If Alvarado doesn't know how to use Yiddish words properly, he would be better off not using them at all.

For someone so sensitive to slurs about Hispanics, "Pancho" needs a bit of sensitivity training to refine his approach to other members of our multiethnic and multicultural community, especially when he goes out of his way to mention them by name.

Marsha Cohen

South Miami

As a Cop Bill Hames Made Mistakes and Paid a Price

Despite that, he's a good guy: I want to thank Tristram Korten for his fair and accurate column ("A Cop Comes Clean," March 13) concerning former Miami police officer Bill Hames, one of my best friends [and a cooperating witness in the federal trial of eleven Miami police officers]. We grew up together in Homestead and graduated from high school together in 1966.

Several of us from those days, including Bill, have remained very close. I am forwarding the article to them. Bill has admitted to his mistakes and has paid a high price. But deep down he is a decent and courageous guy.

John Askins

Tallahassee

Shocking Discovery

Free weekly reporter allegedly writes evenhanded article: Tristram Korten did a great job with his story about Bill Hames. I found it to be very fair. May Mr. Korten keep up the good work. He has changed my opinion of reporters. He is making a difference, which is what it's all about.

Sally Campbell

Vero Beach

Not One Kernel of Corn, Not One Grain of Rice

Starvation would be preferable to dealing withel tirano:"The Cuban Kong" by Kirk Nielsen (March 6) demonstrates once again why Miami exists under the shadow of a perpetual blue moon. It should come as no surprise that the outdated Cuban hard-line position regarding legal trade with Cuba hurts not just hungry Cuban nationals but also the poor here in Miami. [By not aggressively seeking legal trade with Cuba, the Port of Miami will lose untold revenue to competing ports. Less county revenue means less funding for initiatives to alleviate local poverty.] If hard-liners had their way, not one grain of rice would reach the people of Cuba from American soil. Promoting hunger to punish Castro is an absurdity. South Florida government officials who support this position out of a fear of reprisal are a disgrace.

No doubt New Times's publication of this story will be criticized by some Cubans for what they believe is Cuban-bashing. Instead of dealing with the root cause of problems within their own culture, they lash out at others, which only compounds the misery of Miami's poor.

Everyone knows that Miami's Cuban exiles suffered great losses under Castro, but is that any reason to make life harder for friends and family still in Cuba, or for those living in poverty right here in the Magic City?

Clyde Cates

South Miami

Death: Nature's Way of Saying No

They test the extremes in the quest for knowledge: Kudos to Tristram Korten for an insightful look at human drive and the unquenchable search for pushing the limits of achievement. "The Last Deep Dive" (March 6) credibly explored the unwavering dedication of our modern-day pioneers who reach for the unknown with the certainty that the journey itself is its own reward.

Just like the astronauts of today, who are all too aware of the dangers confronting them yet are willing participants in the quest for knowledge, Audrey Mestre and Pipin Ferreras were driven to prove that the body is far more adaptive than scientists have believed. The price for their ambition: risking survival where no man or woman has gone before.

Tragedies like Audrey's drowning are the inevitable byproduct of the limits decreed by nature. Terrifyingly final but nevertheless understandable, the risk of loss is just one more consideration in the planning for the exploration of the unknown.

I am holding my breath for Pipin's success in honoring his wife's championship achievement. With the knowledge that Audrey died doing what was her life's ambition, Pipin is poised to mirror her record and thereby write their places into the history books for all time.

Shame on those who have criticized the painstakingly planned efforts to help Audrey succeed. Sitting safely at the surface is too easy a place to challenge a couple whose contributions as explorers will stimulate the desire to search for and map the unknown.

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