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Letters from the Issue of April 4, 2002

A Window to the World

We at Radio Martí are proud to provide an opening in a closed society: Every year Kathy Glasgow rakes Radio Martí over the coals. I'm not sure what her deal is, but no matter who is in charge of running the station, Glasgow feels the place isn't worth the money, and with the aid of disgruntled employees she spews forth her poisonous venom. What's sad and ironic about Kathy's muckraking is that while she's free to do this, the people we serve are not. According to dissidents on the island of Cuba, they've never experienced as much repression as they have this past year, and they've never needed Radio Martí more.

For the past fifteen years I've dragged my ass to work, and when I'm lucky I get to talk to those Cubans on the island who are shocked over the possible dissolution of the Martí stations. They use us as their own sounding board, a respite from the embargo, and see us as a source of strength, a place to go and speak freely of their troubles. When a guy like Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, someone many extremists have claimed is "soft" on Castro, tells me that the dissidents have never experienced repression of the kind they've seen this year, and that Castro's Cuba offers no such thing as freedom of expression, it kills me. When a woman like Tania Diaz Castro, after her internment, offers her own take on Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" by defiantly declaring, "I know no fear. We know no fear. He can't hurt us any worse than he already has," it emboldens me and I don't want to give up the fight.

To a lot of us it's not so much about making sure our rhetoric is right in the eyes of Kathy Glasgow as it is about keeping hope alive and the information flowing to some very brave dissidents and 12,000,000 damned souls. That's the irony of old faithful Kathy: She's free to dis us all she wants, but the people we serve are free to do nothing. I wish I could get them here to dispute her claims. I'm very proud when we can report about blind dissidents in Oriente responding to government hecklers dumping garbage on them by saying, "That's okay. Garbage from garbage does not bother me."

Contrary to some claims, the people on the island are not stupid. They can sift through what we offer and decide for themselves quite easily what's worthwhile and what isn't. But the main thing for them is that we offer what many view as their own personal radio station, and through it a window to the world. In our own surprisingly functional and nonhostile way, we try to offer the people of Cuba life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What can possibly be wrong with that?

Hector Carrillo, producer

Radio Martí

Miami

Government Broadcast Station Lost

Radio Martí missing, Washington bureaucrats shocked: Regarding Kathy Glasgow's article about Radio and TV Martí ("Incessant Static," March 28), I would have included that the "Mambízation" of Radio Martí arrived with former radio director Roberto Rodriguez-Tejera. Readers of "Incessant Static" might assume it was current Office of Cuba Broadcasting director Salvador Lew who initiated this. On the contrary, the unabashed criollo trend started when Rodriguez-Tejera arrived at Radio Martí in the fall of 1997 and swiftly employed choice friends and followers to fill the juiciest slots and assignments.

Sadly even veteran journalists with an institutional memory as to our broadcasts and policies while the Martí stations were in Washington, D.C., were complacent as Mambí transformed Martí.

Ms. Glasgow's article is most important in that it sheds light on the institutional indifference to and abandonment of Radio Martí by supervising agencies in Washington.

Carmen-Maria Rodriguez

Staten Island, NY

Obsessive Behavior Signals Serious Mental Disorder

Can't let go, can't let go, can't let go, can't let go: Can Kirk Nielsen please explain his motive for continuing to push for University of Miami football player Andre Johnson to receive a harsher penalty for academic dishonesty? He and New Times seem determined to not let this issue go away ("Punt," March 21 and "End Run," March 7).

The most recent article seems to imply that the UM football program soon will be out of control. That is not true. I can't understand why Mr. Nielsen cannot enjoy the success of the team on the field and allow the university administration to handle issues like this as they see fit. I know of other students who have been caught plagiarizing papers and none of them has been kicked out of school for an entire year. Is New Times going to begin printing stories on a regular basis about the penalties students are receiving from UM? This issue has been handled. New Times just needs to let it go. You are only trying to create a story where there simply isn't one.

Issues such as this are supposed to be confidential. I believe the people commenting or writing about Andre Johnson are being very unprofessional in that respect.

Anthony Leahy

Coral Gables

College Cheating Widespread and Colorblind

United States president cited as example: There is a very evident slant in Kirk Nielsen's reporting of the Andre Johnson affair at the University of Miami. I applaud him for fleshing out the story, but as he points out, the honor-council apparatus at UM has disciplined similarly situated students in myriad ways. Some students were reprimanded while others were expelled for essentially the same act of dishonesty that Johnson is accused of committing. Suppose I received a "light" sentence after an honor-council appeal. Would Kirk write a story about it? Or did Kirk simply use this occasion to highlight an issue he finds distasteful?

More important, one of the quotes he chose to include in his first story was an indictment of college sports with respect to the treatment of poor black kids as indentured servants who are breezed through their classes. That was a sweeping generalization. Could he be so kind as to fill me in on what relevance it had to the subject? Was race a necessary part of the equation? It amazes me that there are so many smart white people protecting the interests of poor misguided black kids.

Do me a favor, Kirk. Write a piece about majority-white fraternities sharing answers to tests, sharing papers, getting preferential treatment because their dads and their professors or deans belong to the same exclusionary social clubs. After all, they are in effect getting breezed through their classes. And that problem is probably much more widespread than problems with student athletes. Just look at George W. Bush.

Johnny Kincaide

Miami

History of Education 101

A survey course covering approaches to teaching from the Rosetta stone to the Rose Bowl: In response to Kirk Nielsen's articles about Andre Johnson and cheating at UM, I say hurray for New Times!

With apologies to the late Ambrose Bierce and his book The Devil's Dictionary, I offer the following definitions: "Academia, n., 1. In antiquity, a place where morality and philosophy were taught. 2. In modern times, a place where football is taught."

Juan Lucas

Coral Gables

Memories of a Deadly Storm

Hurricane Mitch spread grief far and wide: Regarding Mike Clary's story about Windjammer Cruises founder Mike Burke ("One Last Cruise," March 14), I followed the path of Hurricane Mitch on Internet weather sites and television, and I read all advisories because my family lives in La Lima, Honduras. The path of the storm was so erratic none of the predicted outcomes came even close. It was a tragedy for the whole region. The map of Honduras was literally altered as a result of rivers changing course. It was sad for everyone who had an interest in the area.

Mike Burke, whose cruise ship Fantome went down in Hurricane Mitch, is genuinely grieving the loss of those lives. No captain would want to lose lives or a vessel. My sympathies to him.

Iris Verdial

Miami


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