Letters from the Issue of November 20, 2003

FTAA: The Apocalypse Approaches

Meanwhile, free weekly frolics in frivolity: As I scanned through New Times's tongue-in-cheek delineation of the upcoming FTAA ministerial meeting ("Free Trade Miami: Your Essential Guide to the FTAA," November 13), the frightening question on the minds of many thoughtful people occurred to me: Does anyone really care?

As the American people rush headlong (like lemmings to the sea) toward a social and economic apocalypse brought on by the crimes of capitalism, it is "lite" reportage such as yours that aids and abets the blind march to frivolous diversions and placating addictions.

Even as the disease of capitalistic greed devours all but the corporate-political elite, I fear most of New Times's readership was frantically looking for the week's installment of "Savage Love." Sadly, after a few pages of reading, so was I.

Russell Hones


FTAA: Smart and Sassy

Free weekly cuts loose, leaves dailies dizzy: While having breakfast this past Saturday morning at Einstein's on Miracle Mile, I grabbed a copy of New Times out of the rack because of my interest in the FTAA ministerial meeting this week. I am not a regular reader of the paper, although I enjoy it occasionally.

I want you to know that I read every article in "Free Trade Miami" and found the coverage informative, comprehensive, and entertaining. I think New Times has done a better job in one issue than some of your better-known daily newspaper competitors. Congratulations.

Peter Quinter

Fort Lauderdale

FTAA: Caution -- Keep Away from Open Flame

America's Poorest City is ready to blow: Having lived in Seattle during the 1999 WTO riots, I have to ask Miami: What were you thinking when you agreed to host the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit?

There are many protest groups who disagree with globalization and free trade, and many other groups who will use this platform to voice their opinions. Expect to see everything from Greenpeace, women's rights groups, and Free Tibet, to the NRA and Save the Manatees. If they have a cause they will be in Miami this week. There will also be outlaw groups such as the now-famous anarchists, who are just waiting to feed off the first inevitable sign of police aggression. Then there will be the thousands of "neutral" onlookers.

What happened in Seattle and what will likely happen in America's Poorest City is that these neutral thousands will tend to justifiably sympathize with the victims of one or more global injustices; you would have to be heartless not to. Combine that with the already abhorrent class division in Miami-Dade County (one of the few places you can see a Lamborghini swerve to miss a homeless person), and you have a very passionate combination of anger, frustration, and rebellion.

Miami is a powder keg, more so than Seattle was. One wrong move by law enforcement and it won't be the anarchists who shut down Miami, but the thousands of "normal" people who will turn against everything they think is wrong in the world.

A.J. Perko

Miami Beach

FTAA: Chaos Busters

Provocateurs in the house -- who you gonna call? On November 13, the Miami City Commission approved a restrictive new law aimed at protesters who plan to express their opinions at the FTAA summit. Commissioner Tomas Regalado stated, "This will send a message to those groups who want to come here and create chaos." Question: Why didn't Regalado and the other commissioners enact a similar law aimed at hard-line Cuban protesters before or even after the Los Van Van concert of October 9, 1999? Some of us who attended the concert had rocks, broken glass, and bottles of urine thrown at us.

At an antiwar rally I attended before the start of the war in Iraq, city police told protesters anyone who was using an object to hold up a sign or flag had to separate the two and discard the wood or metal extension. I asked one police officer who was standing near me: "Why aren't the same rules applied to right-wing Cuban protesters?" His response: "Their protests are too large to enforce the rule."

So in Miami, if you can produce a large number of protesters, restrictions that apply to others don't apply to you. The ACLU needs to see to it that all protest groups are treated alike, regardless of size. That's the American way.

Clyde Cates

South Miami

Exile Without End

We thought it'd be temporary, but many books later we see we were wrong: Great article about Miami authors by Brett Sokol ("In Search of the Great Miami Novel," November 6). If you wonder why the theme of exile is ever-present among Cuban writers, consider this: 800,000 of us have come here over 40 years. We hadn't expected to leave Cuba and didn't expect to stay in Miami. We were just buying time to save our lives from firing squads, lynchings, and jails. Now it turns out we've been here for a whole lifetime, the longest exile in the history of the Western Hemisphere. We're still trying to figure the whole thing out!

In those 40 years, some 800,000-plus exiles have written and published more than the 11 million people we left behind in Cuba. And the Cubans claim to have such a fabulous educational system under Castro!

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