Letters from the Issue of June 9 , 2005

Friends of Fidel, Miami Beach beatings, handgun chic

Kulchur and Castro: Simpatico

An obvious conclusion drawn from this slander against Luis Posada Carriles: I did not like the general tone of Brett Sokol's column about Luis Posada Carriles ("Terror Alert, Miami Style," June 2). He wrote, "Posada, who is believed to be the mastermind of the 1976 midair bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Imprisoned in Venezuela for that crime, he escaped in 1985." But he failed to mention that Posada was acquitted twice in Venezuelan courts, but even after the acquittals, he was unjustly kept in jail for eight years owing to bureaucratic red tape. Therefore I do not blame him for escaping.

Mr. Sokol also wrote, "Was one man's terrorist -- at least in the eyes of that crucial Cuban-exile voting bloc -- another man's freedom fighter?" That is indeed a matter of opinion. Some people think Richard Nixon was a good president, others don't. I personally think Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton shamed the presidency of this nation. I also think Osama bin Laden is a sadistic terrorist, but many of his fellow countrymen and comrades in arms think he is a great leader on a holy crusade (jihad) against the infidels (the U.S. and all of its citizens anywhere). According to my reading of the column, Mr. Sokol probably thinks Fidel Castro is "misunderstood" or in the (infamous) "worse-case scenario," just misguided.

He seemed concerned about the well-being of the New York Times's Miami bureau chief Abby Goodnough: "It wasn't a safety issue," she responded to a question from Mr. Sokol. "I wasn't worried about being kidnapped." He commented on the more positive attitude of the Chicago Tribune's Gary Marx, "[who] received the same offer from Alvarez but took a different tack," adding, "For Marx the experience was more surreal than menacing." Mr. Sokol seemed intent on portraying Cuban exiles as dangerous, but Goodnough's and Marx's attitudes did not help him.

He quoted ABC's Jeffrey Kofman as saying, "Yes, people were watching to see if this was going to be another Elian, but this is a different community now." And yes, it is a different community, which trusts this administration while it did not trust Clinton, Reno, et al. in 2000.

If Mr. Sokol had family in that huge concentration camp which is Cuba, he would think differently.

Armando Gutiérrez

Miami

Editor's note: Owing to a reporting error in Brett Sokol's "Terror Alert, Miami Style," the name of the New York Times's Amy Goodnough was misspelled. New Times regrets the error.

Memorial Day Tackiness

Why flee the Beach? I fully agree with The Bitch's column "Cracker, Please" (June 2). All of these Memorial Day "escape the Beach" parties are tacky. I myself have enjoyed the Memorial Day shenanigans in the past, but this year, being too lazy to go anywhere, I stayed at home on West Avenue and had a peaceful weekend.

If you're not into crowds, avoiding Washington Avenue for one weekend is not a big deal.

Emily Eisenhauer

Miami Beach

Intimidate: Hidden Truth

Beatings like Titus Berry's are not uncommon: I can't thank Francisco Alvarado enough for writing about Titus Berry's struggles with the racist Miami Beach Police Department in his story "To Serve and Protect and Intimidate" (May 26). Mr. Berry is a personal friend I got to know during the time he had his life back in order. He was continuing to make progress.

I highlighted the article in my blog www.chicotown.com. Another friend, Caliba, who is a rapper, is also going through a similar brutality case with the same Miami Beach police.

Beatings like that suffered by Mr. Berry are more common than you think. Thanks again for exposing a hidden truth.

Julio Linares

Miami

Intimidate: Grotesque Racism

So where's the outrage? I'm shocked and appalled that Mr. Titus Berry, the nicest, most down-to-earth teacher I've ever had, was involved in such a blatant and grotesque display of racism by the Miami Beach Police Department. It would be ludicrous and insulting to say Mr. Berry is a violent or unstable African American. He's no "gangster."

The Miami Beach Police Department, however, is a repressive gang of insecure Anglos attempting to come to grips with the notion that minorities, like all people, deserve respect. "Rap nigger?" How about inhumane, totalitarian, resentful, unhappy, unjust, and primitive?

Where is the massive media coverage? Where are the investigations backed by a vigilant community? Local news should be having loads of interviews on this issue. Michael Jackson goes on trial and the world reports, but an innocent man is beaten and the world turns a cold shoulder. I'm sure had it been a black police officer beating a white man or woman, the media would've gorged on such an important and obscene transgression.

A friend of mine used to be a bouncer on South Beach, where he witnessed some disturbing acts of "law enforcement." He tells me there were times when cops would search clubgoers for drugs, confiscate them, then turn around and supply the drugs to bouncers or other clubgoers they were acquainted with, who would either sell them for the cops or simply use them. To top it off, not only would the police commit such self-serving crimes, but when young drunk patrons of the opposite sex caught their eye, bouncers would escort the "chosen ones" to the officers, who would do as they pleased with their prey in alleys or dark parking lots.

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