Letters from the Issue of August 11 , 2005

Evil condo developers, Cuban city builders, and more about Art Teele

Behind Every Condo Tower

Real people made real decisions to destroy the West Grove: Initially I was excited to see the New Times had decided to report on the deconstruction of the black community on the west side of Coconut Grove in Kirk Nielsen's story "Fables of the Reconstruction" (July 14). After reading Mr. Nielsen's article, however, I felt that all he had contributed was a 3000-word pity party, an ineffectual shaking of his head at the tragic "tale of doom" that has befallen the residents of this neighborhood. He did not even try to reveal how the agreements reached by Miami's power players -- politicians, urban planners, and developers -- directly undermine the quality of life in the West Grove. He also chose not to address the various activist organizations that have made it their mission to keep the West Grove in black hands.

So what Nielsen described for his readers was a battle that had already been lost, a battle in which blacks are victims, incapable of challenging the process of gentrification. Based on Nielsen's story, blacks can only complain: "There goes the neighborhood (insert deep sigh)."

He did nothing to suggest how West Grove residents could unite to fight. Fight who? Who is to blame? According to Nielsen from the very first line of his article, it is the condominium boom that is butchering the black Grove. Stop blaming condos for the demolition of a community! Real people created this boom. Real people decided to butcher their neighbors in the West Grove. When will someone have the guts to throw the political curtain open and reveal the actual people who are butchering the Grove?

Jasmine Naylor


Sleepy Old Miami

It's gone forever, for which you can thank the Cubans: In his letter "Voting Republican Can Induce Delusions" (July 21), Ronnie Fox is all over the board in attacking Cubans living in South Florida, so I'll take his assertions one at a time. He seems to take issue with another reader's statement that Cuban Americans helped turn Miami into a vibrant, thriving city. He mentions overpopulation as if all of our city's troubles have to do with Cuban immigration. Miami is a magnet for people from all over the world and all over the nation. That is nobody's fault. It's ridiculous to deny the role Cubans had in transforming Miami from a seasonal resort town into a viable metropolis.

As far as politics go, Mr. Fox seems to think Cubans have a monopoly on corruption. Sure there have been corrupt Cuban-American politicians, but the truth is that Cubans did not create or perfect political corruption in South Florida. As far back as the days when Meyer Lansky and organized crime ruled, there were corrupt politicians down here. Before any Cubans had any real positions of power, we had scandals like that of schools superintendent Johnny Jones and his gold plumbing. The ongoing list of non-Cuban corruption among local politicos is a mile long.

Mr. Fox denies that the Cuban-American vote was instrumental in the election of George W. Bush in 2000. Let me remind Mr. Fox that Florida's electoral votes went to Bush by virtue of 537 votes out of almost 6 million. That means if only 269 Bush voters had voted for Gore or stayed home, he would have been president. Let me also remind Mr. Fox of the news reports, during the late Nineties, before Elian, that the monolithic Cuban-American vote was beginning to warm to the Democratic Party. Even if he doesn't believe that, he must recognize that the Elian Gonzalez affair surely induced a high voter registration and turnout effort among Cuban Americans. Perhaps Gore opposed sending the boy back to Cuba, but his ties with the Clinton administration, the failure to do anything about the Brothers to the Rescue shootdowns, and the catastrophic "wet foot/dry foot" policy all left Cubans with a nasty taste in their mouths.

Mr. Fox doesn't understand why Cuban Americans are overwhelmingly Republican. He says that "if it weren't for Kennedy, both Cuba and South Florida would have been reduced to a smoldering radioactive ruin." Let me give him a history lesson. Forgetting the fact that Kennedy abandoned the 2506 Brigade by pulling its air support at the last minute, we would have never had a Cuban Missile Crisis if Kennedy had not stopped the U2 flyovers of Cuba; instead he proved what Khrushchev already thought, that he was weak and inexperienced. Here a Soviet satellite state was being set up 90 miles away and we were completely surprised there were missiles in Cuba, even though "those crazy Cubans" had been saying it for some time. So President Kennedy got caught with his pants down and negotiated away U.S. missiles in Turkey and agreed to never invade Cuba or allow an invasion to be launched by others from the U.S.

The few Democratic administrations during the past 46 years have all been catastrophic for the U.S. regarding Cuba policy. Castro played Carter like a cheap fiddle, and I've already mentioned the disastrous Kennedy and Clinton administrations. The reason we're hearing more and more about lowering the embargo lately is because Castro is finally running out of lifelines. Cuba's credit rating is garbage; the regime owes money to every country with which it does business. Cuba is currently able to buy all the food and medicine it wants from the U.S. on a cashup-front basis. But embargo opponents want Castro to have credit, a farm subsidy boondoggle in which he and U.S. farmers win and Cubans and American taxpayers lose. No thanks.

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