I Used to Get Wasted, but Now It's My Life That's Wasted
Twenty years as an addict taught me a few things: Regarding Kathy Glasgow's article "My Name Is Victor, and I'm a Jailbird" (April 5), I can speak from experience. I have twenty years' experience as an active addict, eleven years' as a recovering addict, and eight years' as a substance-abuse counselor. She writes that drug and/or alcohol abuse contributed directly to 80 to 95 percent of the crimes for which the nation's 1.8 million prisoners are now locked up. If that's true, and if it is mandatory for us to serve time, it should also be mandatory for our jailers to offer recovery programs, and it should be mandatory for us to attend them.
How else do we even begin to put a dent in drug-related crimes? How do we reduce my sisters' and brothers' chances of returning to drugs and/or crime when released from jail? If the public and politicians weren't so quick to condemn us for life because of our criminal records, I would volunteer the rest of my life to forming such programs.
As it stands now, at the age of 41 I'll most likely die without ever being allowed to let my talents shine, all because I made mistakes under the influence of drugs. What a waste.
All the taxpayers' money spent to lock us up time after time? What a waste. Oh, and I can't leave out the public, against whom I committed those crimes. What a waste. And my talents as a public speaker and substance-abuse counselor? Wasted.
Dear Mr. Shriver: Don't Do It
Go for the commission and hope the press doesn't trash you: I wrote to Anthony Shriver two years ago, asking him to run for mayor of Miami Beach. We needed him then. Neisen Kasdin was up for re-election; Marty Shapiro, a bona fide reformer, couldn't make up his mind; and this town was firmly in the grip of megadevelopers and their city hall allies. Unfortunately Shriver politely declined.
After reading Juan Carlos Rodriguez's recent article ("The Camelot Factor," March 22) about Mr. Shriver's interest in this year's mayoral election, I wrote to him again, this time asking him not to run. The situation has changed drastically. David Dermer, a sitting commissioner and a true-blue reformer, is running for mayor. Although he's very popular, there's no doubt the special interests and high-rise developers will fight against his candidacy tooth and nail.
Mr. Shriver's best bet would be to run for the commission. There are two empty seats up for grabs, plus another commissioner is running for re-election. I think he would be an excellent commissioner.
In the meantime I hope New Times won't do what it did in 1999, when the paper did the work of the special interests and the Miami Herald by trashing reform candidate Shapiro at the last minute, with the Kasdin campaign obviously having advance notice of the article.
Basulto Squeamish About Taking the Stand?
Not likely, as this week's cover story reminds us: In Kirk Nielsen's article "What Spies Beneath" (March 15), there is an error in connection with my client's response to a subpoena by the defense attorneys for the accused Cuban spies now on trial in federal court. My client is José Basulto, president of Brothers to the Rescue.
The article stated that "Basulto challenged the subpoena McKenna issued to force him to testify." This is incorrect. The defense subpoena requested Brothers to the Rescue to provide all correspondence, audio and videotapes, tax returns, et cetera pertaining to the organization from 1991 to the present. Mr. Basulto objected to the breadth, scope, and timing of the requested documents, not to the request that he testify.
Mr. Basulto filed a motion to quash the subpoena. It was granted in part. The judge agreed that the defense attorneys had to specify a more realistic time frame for the records produced. The time period was narrowed to the years 1994 to 1996.
Surely They're Not All Nut Cases, Right?
Diabolical free weekly screens correspondence, distorts reality: Please tell me that all those ignorant and biased letters from Anglo-American readers are not representative of the letters New Times receives from that segment of the community. I cannot believe those letters, full of hate and envy directed at the Cuban community, are representative of South Florida Anglos. I am Cuban, and a significant number of my friends are Anglos. They do not share those paranoid and ignorant views. So please tell me you're publishing just the outrageous ones.
To all those ignorant people out there, I say please come to grips with the Cuban community. I know you have been accustomed to feeling superior to Hispanics, and I know that because the Cuban community outperforms all other Hispanic groups, and even Anglo Americans, that you are threatened by our success and prosperity. I know you have traditionally been accustomed to Hispanics of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American, and South American descent underachieving in society, economics, and the classroom. Apparently before the Cubans arrived, you liked your Hispanics somewhat dumb and docile, inferior to you economically, educationally, and culturally. For the most part, you were correct. Hispanics underachieved in every way. We Cubans haven't, however. Second-generation Cubans have prospered with higher levels of education, income, business ownership, and home ownership than any other minority group -- even than Anglo Americans.
If reading this offends you, then again, please get a grip. We will continue to prosper and help others to prosper as well. It's no secret why today there are more non-Cuban Hispanics in Miami than Cubans. They want to achieve the same success we have. I hope that in the near future Cubans begin to invest in the black community as well, and help them achieve the prosperity that has eluded them long before there was ever a Cuban in Miami.
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We do not have to apologize for our success, for our heritage, or for our language. We have proven that one can retain a great deal of heritage and still succeed here. There is nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with speaking Spanish. Accept that we are successful and will maintain our heritage and still be productive members of this country.
And please accept our right to protest. Sure we blocked a couple of streets. But that disruption was minor compared to most protests that take place in this nation and involve millions of dollars in destruction. Check out Seattle and Washington recently. In fact check out every time a college or professional sports team wins a championship. There is more property destruction and violence at these events than when the Cubans protested and blocked a couple of streets -- or worse, set fire to a couple of Dumpsters. Wow. Big deal.
Remember, it is not a crime to speak Spanish. It's not a crime to get ahead. It's not a crime to have protested the Clinton administration. It's not a crime to be a Republican. And it's not a crime to be proud of who you are and where you come from.