Myths: The Kids Got It Right
After being torn apart by the pain permeating Lynda Edwards's story "Myths Over Miami" (June 5), I had second thoughts. Ms. Edwards seems to think that the homeless children she wrote about are imagining a world of demons, angels, and war. But I think the children have a better grip on reality than most of us.
They are right. There is a war between good and evil, right and wrong -- many wars, in fact. And each of us needs to be a soldier every day. Our most powerful weapon is wisdom. The children's courage and faithfulness is so very important. They help us adults tremendously when they refuse to do wrong, when they go to a police officer or shelter worker for help, when they learn as much as they can in school. Of all the daily battles being fought in this world, many are being won by just such children.
The sides are not so clear to us adults. We don't see Bloody Mary or the Blue Lady. The demons we deal with don't have faces, but they do have names: addiction, abuse, ignorance, unemployment, illness, and despair. These wars are real, just as we soldiers are real. Are you in the trenches or are you a deserter?
Miami's homeless children have important work to do. They must stay as healthy as they can, learn as much as they can, teach younger children what they know, and stay true to their faith. Then, when they grow up, they will be expert warriors against evil. Some of them are already heroes. Life will be easier for them when they grow up; fighting evil will be easier because they will not need to fight for food, shelter, and safety.
Many battles are still lost, but with the help of these brave children, the side of justice and love is winning!
Myths: The Kids Are Being Ignored
It broke my heart to know that these poor, innocent homeless children in Lynda Edwards's article have gone through so much at such a young age. I just wanted to take them all and comfort them. They have endured so much that it seems they have given up on God's help. But there is a God.
Our country is so caught up in the problems of other nations that our own children are being ignored. They go through so much on the streets that they have nothing but negative thoughts about life. My prayers are with them all. I can only hope that one day our country will put more into helping them.
The People of Miami Beach Have Spoken (In a Language Apparently Not Understood by City Officials)
For the past few months Miami Beach officials did their best to thwart the will of the public. As Ted B. Kissell noted ("The Hale-Bopp Amendment," May 29), several openly lobbied against the Save Miami Beach charter amendment, despite the fact that it is unethical for city officials to take a public position on referenda. During the campaign, the city manager went on radio and television to lobby on behalf of Portofino, the company that was attempting to deceive residents at the time. The mayor excluded the public from the taxpayer-funded infomercial he staged for that same developer.
The most important issue now is that Murray Dubbin, the city attorney who opined that the amendment is unconstitutional, is charged with appointing independent counsel to defend it against a Portofino lawsuit. This is a blatant conflict of interest. If his appointee successfully defends the amendment, Mr. Dubbin will be diminished in the public eye for offering an opinion that was either incorrect or that was given as political cover for the commissioners who opposed the amendment. If his appointee loses, there will be questions about whether the selection process was as thorough as it should have been.
Mr. Dubbin should allow representatives of Save Miami Beach to participate in the selection of counsel. By doing so he would remove any question about the integrity of the process and would show himself to be above the political fray.
City officials have aligned themselves with Portofino and have turned against the people. Their efforts to clear themselves of this charge only draw them further into an unethical position. They should stop their bad behavior and start representing their constituents.
Bye, Bye Becky
I am writing because I thought New Times's readers should know what happened to Becky Labno, the "chubby-faced" girl in Kirk Semple's article about Dade Corners ("Right in the Middle of Nowhere," May 22).
Saturday, May 17, as Becky was finishing her shift, she was notified that that was her last day. This good employee with nine years at Dade Corners was terminated by the new owners. Becky was not the only one. Apparently the new owners do not know the value of employees with longevity.
Now it is clear why Becky was let go. She was replaced by a person who would work for less money and no benefits. The new owners could spend in excess of four million dollars for the business yet neglect the very essence of any retail business: the long-term employee, the friendly face that people had come to know. There is no replacement for employees who stay with you. Bob Dollar and his family knew it, and for that reason I have often thought Dade Corners was a very good place to work.
Becky is now employed full-time at Miccosukee Indian Gaming, where I believe she will be appreciated for her loyalty. She now works for a company that will reward her with good wages and benefits. The new owners of Dade Corners should take a few lessons from Bob Dollar and the Miccosukee Tribe about how to treat employees.
Miami Terrorism: See It Like a Native
Emiliano (The Man from Another Planet) Antunez attacked me personally in his last letter to New Times (May 8). He said I was a "hired gun." What an original thought! Worse than that, however, was his statement that my "accusations of terrorism can't be backed by proof." Well, Mr. Antunez, here is just a sampling of that proof:
*1975: Luciano Nieves was slain by assassins from the so-called Pragmatista organization, which had previously been unsuccessful in stalking Replica magazine publisher Max Lesnik. Nieves was a lawyer who had spoken out for peaceful co-existence and dialogue with Cuba.
*1976: After Emilio Milian completed a radio broadcast critical of bombing and assassinations in the exile community, a bomb exploded in his car, blowing off his legs.
*1981: Omega 7 planted a bomb outside American Airways Charter, a Hialeah travel agency involved in facilitating federally authorized trips to Cuba. The FBI said the bomb was designed to kill, not just destroy property. Ramon Saul Sanchez, the current "leader" of the freedom flotilla to Cuba, spent four years in prison for refusing to testify about a suspected Omega 7 attack in New York City.
*1986: Members of the South Florida Peace Coalition were attacked and stoned by city officials and members of Alpha 66 while peacefully demonstrating against the Nicaraguan contra war.
*1987: Five bombs exploded in separate incidents at businesses that either send packages to Cuba or arrange for travel to Cuba.
*1988: A bomb exploded outside the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture following an auction of paintings. Also that year, a bomb exploded at the home of professor Maria Cristina Herrera, organizer of a debate over U.S.-Cuba relations.
*1989: Two bombs went off at Marazul Charters, which operated federally authorized flights to Cuba.
*1990: Another bomb exploded outside the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture, this one much more powerful than the first, causing nearly $20,000 worth of damage. The FBI released this statement: "The individuals believed responsible for these actions have targeted businesses, museums, and individuals who the subjects believe have advocated a better relationship with Castro's Cuba."
*1992: Three men broke into the radio station where Radio Progreso was aired and beat and tied up one of the employees and damaged the station's equipment.
*1993: Radio station WAQI-AM (Radio Mambi), through Armando Perez-Roura, helped to instigate a riot on Coral Way against people who were lawfully demonstrating against the Cuban embargo. The City of Miami Police Department's "after action" report specifically placed the blame for the violence on the radio station as well as others.
*1994: Replica magazine offices were hit with two fire bombs. Also that year Emilia Gonzalez, an attendee at a conference in Havana, was assaulted in the presence of her two grandchildren when clients and employees of a beauty salon locked the doors and restrained her while two employees hit her. Other conference attendees were assaulted and harassed in Miami upon their return from Havana.
*1996: Centro Vasco, a well-known restaurant, was fire-bombed because it hired a singer who had not renounced the Cuban government. The restaurant, an institution in Miami for years, was forced to close. That same year people attending a concert by respected jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba were spat upon, pushed, shoved, and otherwise assaulted. Rubalcaba's crime: He maintained a home in Cuba.
Each of these events was well publicized in the Miami press, particularly the Spanish-language press, so the message was clear: If you oppose the most militant point of view toward Cuba -- in any form -- you will be harassed, assaulted, or killed. It is no wonder Miami is the only place in the United States that has been the subject of two America's Watch reports for its blatant violations of human rights. Mr. Antunez's remarks that there isn't "any proof" reminds me of the people who say the Holocaust never happened.
Ira J. Kurzban
Miami Terrorism: Outrageous but True
If Emiliano Antunez had been living on this planet, he would have realized that his thoughtless accusations are precisely the kind that (in Miami) could cost a person his life. Antunez's claim about "unfounded" acts of terrorism in Miami is embarrassingly naive.
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Terrorism and the violation of human rights, in Miami or in Cuba, are violations of human rights. Period! It is hypocritical for people who benefit from and live in a country founded on democracy to believe it is okay to haphazardly threaten the lives of men, women, and families based on information printed by irresponsible reporters and radio stations with political agendas.
It is outrageous that people should have their lives threatened or businesses destroyed because they play music by Cuban artists or display contemporary Cuban artwork. Such violent censorship does not reflect a respect for the principles of democracy. It reflects knee-jerk reactionary behavior that only results in injury, not change. In fact, such intolerance undermines democracy. Worse, however, are people like Antunez who want to pretend this does not happen.
I'm sorry, Mr. Antunez, but I'm still not convinced that you've been living on this planet.