Letters from the Issue of April 22, 2004

Haiti of yore, more obsessions, posterior postmortems, and the S word

I Remember Papa Doc

And I can tell you something about Aristide: Tristram Korten's story about Haiti was well written -- and also accurate ("Guns and Haiti," April 15). I am a U.S. citizen who spent 35 years, off and on, living in Haiti. My family moved there in 1958 to take over a resort hotel about the time of Papa Doc Duvalier's inauguration. Subsequently my family bought a large parcel of beach property, which became a tourist destination and a place for locals to chill out, as they say.

I was there until mid-1962 when diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Haiti broke down, thanks to Papa Doc. I returned during the less violent years of Baby Doc. I also was there when the coup d'état removed Jean-Bertrand Aristide on September 30, 1991, and stayed throughout the embargo up to January 1994. My book Hot Times in Haitiwas published by a French company and released for a short time during that period. It will be rereleased by a Canadian publisher within the next several months as Hotel Haiti. In the book I describe a different Haiti, one that was beautiful, fun, and filled with warm, loving people and an extremely rich folklore.

As former Brazilian consul Paulo Carvalo said to me prior to his untimely death at age 36: "The Big Uncle has three hands: One goes one way, one goes in the opposite direction, and one reaches out and grabs you by the balls." He was referring to the Pentagon, the White House, and the CIA. Prior to Haiti, Paulo had been assigned to the Soviet Union, Austria, and Jamaica. Haiti during the embargo was his latest stop, and he perished there.

Although the Duvalier regime was brutal and most devastating to many innocent people, there never were the horrors that materialized under Aristide's democratically elected dictatorship. When Clinton brought back Aristide in 1994, the international community never insisted he build a proper infrastructure as a condition of his return. Instead he chose to make the drug cartels his partners in crime and profited greatly from his associations with them.

As a point of interest, Gen. Raoul Cedras was not directly responsible for the coup d'état that toppled Aristide; the chief of police at that time, Michel François, was responsible. Cedras was at home entertaining friends the night of the coup.

Anthony Hattenback

North Miami

Chronicles of the Dark Obsession

Note to self: Never turn your back on a "friend" with a knife: Unlike me, Nicodemus seems to think Rudolf Piper's letter (April 15) in response to "Dark Obsession" (April 8) was pretty funny. Oh, I too love Rudolf's entertaining diatribes, but when they turn into lies at my expense, I get pissed off.

Neither I nor Nicodemus ever told him our "lame grievances" "over and over again." I do remember a night in early October when Nicodemus, over the phone, asked Rudolf most sincerely and from his heart to talk to the owners of crobar, to try to help work things out. Although he promised to do so, he never did. Rudolf never asked us to "drop this nonsense" because if he had, I would have told him to fuck off, darling, it's only the bread off our table that's being taken away. "The obsession, the harassment" is from Carmel Ophir; he's been doing it since 1999. Does Rudolf really know anything about this? Obviously not. I would have respected him more had he taken the time to find out before engaging in, what is for me, a way too clever but uninformed commentary.

I am so disappointed in Rudolf. I thought he was a better person, but as is his style, he only wants to get publicity by riding on our backs, talking like a big shot. That's the easy way out and much less effort than doing something substantial in a situation that he might possibly, in some small way, by words or by actions, have helped heal.

All I can say is: Et tu, Brute? Go stab some other "friend" in the back and send the bill to crobar -- as usual.

Anitra Warren

Miami Beach

Erin Was Art

And obliterating her was censorship: Regarding the "Ass Good As It Gets" article in "The Bitch" column (April 8), my seventeen-year-old son and I loved to drive by and see Daniel Fila's Erin. It was a wonderful work of art, and we were so disappointed to see her whitewashed.

Though no one has the balls to admit to it, that act shows the depth of censorship being imposed on society. This mother who complained to building owner Chad Oppenheim because she drove by Erin with her children must be a closet sadomasochist. She continued to drive by and torture (or titillate) herself when maybe she could have taken Second Avenue instead of Biscayne Boulevard. Or just ignore Erin. No, she probably bitched at her husband for so long that the poor guy couldn't handle it and, like a thief in the night, killed an awesome piece of work.

Tommy Gonzalez

Hialeah

Erin Was Super Booty

And the whole family misses her: I can't tell you how happy I was to find Erin, or Super Booty (that's what my family called her), on the cover of New Times. Every time my wife, seven-year-old son, and I drove by, one of us would ask: "Who you gonna call?" and we would all respond, "Super Booty!" We had many a good laugh.

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