President Bush and the State Department are quite right in stating they want to come here for economic, not political, asylum! Their main objective is to get on welfare and food stamps right away.

Taxpayers are hurting now under the tax burden with so many homeless and jobless here - how could they expect jobs? We have a "Little Haiti" here now; we cannot absorb any more. They are trying to bring us more problems, especially here in South Florida. They should be discouraged from making further attempts to get here. We have been too lenient with them. Some other country would certainly not be.

S. Powell

In regard to Kirk Semple's article, "Deep Trouble" (February 26): it would seem that rising expenses and the draw of the "last great frontier on earth" have persuaded the scuba tour industry to relax training and certification standards to the point that the inherent dangers of diving have been trivialized.

I completed my National Association of Underwater Instructors and YMCA certifications in early 1984 while in college in the Northeast. My instructor was outstanding, making my class do dives in a zero-visibility silty lake and from a rocky ocean beach into open water prior to certification. Before we were allowed to dive under uncontrolled conditions, we had to complete "ditching and donning" in the pool, using snorkels and scuba separately, simulate a free ascent, and buddy-breathe a full tank. Before that, we went through underwater pressure responses of equipment and physiology, thermal protection, buoyancy and weighting, decompression tables, navigation, and marine life. I didn't know at the time that anyone went through a lesser course of instruction, figuring that a "C" card was a "C" card, regardless of where you got it.

In 1987 I attended the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida. Before we were allowed to dive with any equipment, we were required to know it, the conditions, ourselves, our buddy, and possible emergencies - cold. We also underwent solo and buddy harassment (known vaguely as "problem solving"). Granted, we were training to be deep water salvors, not sport divers.

The fact remains that there are myriad ways to kill yourself or allow yourself to be killed underwater. The time to be confronted with your various underwater phobias is before that big dive trip with the girlfriend/boyfriend/buddy, not during.

I was always amazed by the signs on the local shops in Panama City, offering certifications for $60 to $70, and I couldn't figure out how they could charge so little. Now I can.

Mr. Allen and the Figuerola family have my deepest condolences.
Jim McCaffrey

Upon reading Rafael Navarro's review of the film The Mambo Kings ("Beautiful Sangria of My Soul," February 26), it appears he has a serious chip on his shoulder regarding the casting of non-Cubans in the lead roles. This attitude is unwarranted, as the director is entitled to select those actors he feels most capable of the job and those who will draw the widest audience to the film.

Despite Navarro's harsh criticism of Armand Assante's portrayal of Cesar, I'm sure many share my view that Assante was the life of the film. Navarro's grasping-at-straws description of Assante's name as sounding "like low-grade perfume" has absolutely nothing to do with the actors' acting ability, or the film's quality. I must add to the negative press Navarro is attracting and ask what purpose these musings, which hit below the belt, serve.

Incidentally, as a Greek, I enjoyed Quinn's portrayal of Zorba and its greatly inspired sense of "philotimo."

E. Svolos
Coconut Grove

Rafael Navarro should calm down! He needs to take a couple of Valiums before attending anything that has to do with the Miami Film Festival ("Reel Stuff," February 5 and 12). I enjoy his reviews immensely, and I agree with him that most of what was shown in the last festival was subpar. But subpar doesn't mean that it was all crap. There were some good films, and most of the bad ones had some good qualities in them. This was the only chance for Miamians to see most of the films and be able to make our own judgment as to their quality.

Navarro reached his apex of vitriolic rhetoric with his trashing of The Mambo Kings. The movie is pretty bad and Assante is awful and nobody sounds Cuban (not even the Cubans); but to leap from there to "the most indecipherable mess of Cuban barriospeak ever committed to film" is to ignore decades of sorry (and insulting) spectacles. Perhaps he is too young to remember, or mercifully, he has been able to forget. Either way, I hope he regains his bearings. So he did not get invited to the Mambo Kings screenings. Enough of the bitching.

Eugenio M. Santiago
Coral Gables


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