Ibarguen: Nice Boy, Fine Adult
This is in response to Jacob Bernstein's article about [Miami Herald publisher] Alberto IbargYen ("Hatchet Man," October 15). Alberto and I trained in the same Peace Corps group. We lived and studied in close quarters at the YMCA in Tucson. Out of 56 people, 36 were selected to serve in Venezuela. Under these conditions, one's character and compassion were regularly tested. Alberto came across as a positive and giving individual, always willing to help others, create new ways of approaching problems, and explore new avenues of personal growth.
Once in Venezuela we seldom saw each other. In the middle of our service, another volunteer and I decided to explore the area around the Orinoco River, a long waterway snaking through the jungles of Venezuela and eventually emptying into the Amazon River. When we unexpectedly appeared at Alberto's doorstep in Puerto Ayacucho at the mouth of the Orinoco, he welcomed us with open arms, bestowing mi casa es su casa hospitality. But his generosity of spirit was even more manifest upon our return. We were exhausted from two weeks of jungle living and a trip (guided by an Indian high on yopo) during a driving rainstorm in an unstable dugout canoe on a raging river replete with piranha and other anxiety-producing carnivores. Alberto took us in, gave us dry clothes, fed us, coddled us, and let us hang our hammocks in his house for as long as we wished.
Life moved quickly for Alberto and me after that, and I haven't seen him since. But if the character of the man can be found in the soul of the boy, I know Alberto IbargYen has turned out to be a fine person.
It's easy to criticize when one views the world from his or her limited perspective. I recall vocally condemning the policies of a law firm where I worked as an associate, and then adopting many of the same policies when I was the founding partner of my own firm. Until one actually runs a major enterprise and deals with all the issues necessary to make a venture successful, he is often like the blind man who, feeling only the tail, describes an elephant as a coarse, stringy beast.
Some employees who enjoy a regular paycheck balk at management decisions necessary to keep an enterprise going. In a capitalist society, a business that does not make a decent profit ceases to exist. If Mr. IbargYen's critics think they can run a better newspaper and can ignore the need to be profitable, let them try. They may well wind up on unemployment. And who will they have to blame then?
Messing with New Times? Surely It's Just Your Imagination, Chris
I always find it interesting that whenever I pull a New Times paper from a rack situated close to a Miami Herald rack, the New Times papers have been tossed around and generally been made a mess of. Is this my imagination or just more Miami Herald bullshit?
Old Enough to Wreak Havoc
I am writing in response to "South Beach: Tomorrow's Kid-Free Zone," a letter from Claire A. Stefan (October 1). I couldn't disagree more with Stefan's praise of consultant Rob Tier. Stefan actually asks, "Why shouldn't we be able to clear youngsters and the homeless from the streets after a certain hour? Neither group is contributing to the economy." My response: Do constitutional rights in South Beach end after a predetermined hour? Why should we be able to select who can stay and who should be removed from public areas? The Declaration of Independence (a formerly highly regarded document now used primarily as toilet paper) clearly reads, "We the people ..." It never said, "We the people who contribute to the economy ..."
On the topic of the teen curfew, I find it ridiculous that the punishment is imposed before the infraction occurs. The curfew should work on an individual basis, with limitations set depending on criminal background and school performance.
I disagree wholeheartedly with Tier's recommendation to raise the legal age for nightclub admission to 21. We need to establish a single age that differentiates juveniles from adults. State-by-state statutes are twisted and confusing. For example, in Florida: driving, age 16; smoking, 18; fornicating, 18; criminally tried as adult, 18; voting, 18; drinking, 21; death penalty eligibility, 21. In essence, a twenty-year-old male can wake up in his own place, get his girlfriend pregnant, vote someone into the White House, drive himself to a Beach nightclub while smoking an entire pack of cigarettes, be given a hard time at the door, and then be denied access.
The upside is that he can kill the bouncer, beat up the whining club owner, rape some of the girls, and even though he can't plead intoxication, he can surely avoid the electric chair.
Orlando A. Menendez
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