Castro Clutches Free Weekly to Bosom, Shouts, " Mi Amor!"
Fidel Castro loves Miami New Times! First an article by Jacob Bernstein ("Fine Young Cannibals," February 10) that seems like an unbiased account of the Elian case but is full of opinions about why the kid should be returned to Cuba. Second we have Jim DeFede's articles about Jorge Mas Santos's interest in the case ("Leave the Driving to CANF," February 17) and about the "crazy" nun ("The Flighty Nun," February 24).
Last but not least we get Granma's account of the story ("According to Granma," February 24) so readers can have "unfiltered" information about the case. Well guess what? That article backfired on you. This is what gets fed to the Cuban people every day. I am certain the American public will see that it is full of propaganda, innuendo, and slander. And it neglects to mention the reasons why anyone would want to flee Cuba, legally or illegally.
The propaganda: U.S. policy, as well as the Cuban exile mob (particularly the Cuban American National Foundation), is guilty of causing Cuba's woes. Castro's regime educates its people, feeds them, gives them free medical attention, et cetera.
The innuendo: You are a good person if you are a revolutionary and a bad person if you are not. The "bad" persons are described with innumerable adjectives: counterrevolutionary, gusano, criminal, traitor to the country, mob, whore.
The slander: Elian's stepfather was the worst criminal in the world and practically pushed Elizabeth to the water to leave the country through intimidation.
The neglect: The government documents every moment of people's lives through means such as neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. People have to take their own pillow (if they have one) and sheets to the "free" hospitals. Food and other basic necessities are strictly controlled and rationed. You cannot speak your mind, you cannot show a sign against abortion or human rights, you cannot travel freely to other parts of the world. Should I go on?
Would you send a Jewish kid back to his father in Nazi Germany? An escaped black kid to his father on a Southern plantation? Surely the answer is an emphatic no. Please spare me the boasting about what people have suffered most in the world. One injustice is not better than another. America must stop playing ball with Castro and start defending the rights of all people, even if they are minors.
I pray that God awakens the public's conscience so people will see the reality of Cuba. And I pray that God awakens the conscience of the people of Cuba so those who call themselves revolutionaries, as well as the rest of the population, find strength to bring down the dictator, who is the true cause of their suffering.
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You Wouldn't Understand, It's an Anglo Thing
Enough already with Elian Gonzalez! It's bad enough that we don't have an American-oriented, English-language daily in Miami. Now we're losing our most popular English-language weekly to the Cuban interests.
I only have local broadcast television but may soon be forced to get cable so I can watch newscasts from some American city up north because local news reporting has focused entirely on this one Cuban custody case to the exclusion of all other news. Why can't Channel 23 and Channel 51 be the sources for this nonstory and let us Anglos watch the news that might be of interest to us? Why can't El Nuevo Herald carry all the Elian Gonzalez coverage and let us Anglos enjoy American news in an English-language Miami Herald?
As an American living in South Florida I take particular umbrage that this is no longer an American metropolis. Has anyone else noticed that many news reporters have dropped the hyphenated American and now just say Cuban when referring to local exile politicians, activists, and causes?
Here's an analogy: Your brother is beating up your sister-in-law. You do the right thing and take her into your home for her protection, hoping your brother gets his act together. Well, he doesn't, so your temporary act of decency turns into a long-term commitment to your sister-in-law, who has now invited her mother and brothers and cousins to come stay at your place. They've taken over the bedroom, the kitchen, and the remote, so now you can't even decide what you want to watch on TV because the in-laws dominate your household. You seriously consider moving in with your crazy brother because you're developing a mutual dislike for his pushy in-laws.
I am not a xenophobe. I sincerely enjoy the variety of nationalities and cultures that surround me in South Florida. I even have numerous Cuban-American friends, and I hope we remain amigos after they read this. But this is no longer an American community with a diverse population. It has become a Cuban-dominated community that dictates the political and social climate.
Artists who are sympathetic to the Cuban government, or who have found a way to survive under it, are censored and banned here by the fascist elements of this town. The persecuted Cubans we Americans took in have now become quite bold in their majority. They dare local law enforcement officials to protect hard-won American principles of dissent and tolerance of opposing views by not only taunting, threatening, and intimidating opponents, but by throwing things at them. They assert their new power by blocking major traffic routes at rush hour, inconveniencing thousands of commuters and endangering lives, while the cops stand around fearful of opposing the Cuban community. And why shouldn't they be afraid? The Miami-Dade County government itself has endorsed the Cuban exile agenda at the expense of free expression.
In fairness I must point out that there have been Cuban Americans who bravely oppose the near-monolithic exile agenda. I have seen them being taunted on the local news. I was here in the Seventies and Eighties when they could have expected to have their houses bombed. As I write this I am aware of the fanatical element that may target me for being outspoken, but I insist on my right as an American to critically oppose the dominant view, and I admire those Cuban Americans who are taking such risks by asserting that same right.
Sorry about the rant. It has been building for years under a façade of polite political correctness. But now that I am a minority in Miami-Dade County (native-born, English-speaking American), I feel I have a right to assert my complaints against the oppressive majority now dominating my home.
Peace, Unity, Love, and Marley's Money
As Brett Sokol noted in "Kulchur" (February 17), the yearly Bob Marley "One Love" concert has gone from being a unique, heartfelt tribute honoring a great humanitarian and artist by his surviving family members and contemporaries to being a money-making machine. In the process it has lost its original message and meaning.
Each year as the price of tickets goes up, the quality and atmosphere of the show is diminished. At its inception seven years ago, the event was geared toward keeping alive the memory of Bob Marley and his Rastafarian philosophy, while increasing awareness of the homeless by requiring patrons to bring cans of food as payment for admission to the event, food that would help feed the residents of Camillus House. Over the past four years, however, this "event" has turned into an all-day "concert" geared toward exploiting Bob Marley's legacy for maximum profit. It seems that more and more control has been given to (or taken by) white promoters and producers who are mainly interested in exploiting a very profitable enterprise.
I have attended the event since its inception and I have noticed that attendance has increased each year, not as a result of the lure of Bob Marley's music and philosophy of life but because of popular contemporary artists like Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Erykah Badu. We patrons must now wait up to twelve hours before finally seeing a member of the Marley family perform or come onstage to speak. That's unlike the first few years, when the Marley family seemed to have more control and participated throughout the event. We were able to see the love, admiration, and gratitude they felt for him, and we also felt Bob Marley's spirit and wanted to keep that alive. Now the Marley family has been relegated to making a cursory appearance during the last half-hour of the concert, a real insult.
Personally I plan to boycott future Bob Marley "One Love" concerts, although I've been one of its most loyal supporters. It has been enslaved and adulterated by greedy, unloving, uncaring, money-grubbing promoters who care more about the bottom line than about unity, love, peace, compassion, and brotherhood, concepts the great Bob Marley lived and died much too soon to realize.
We Drove All the Way to Miami for This?
As I was cheated of ever seeing Bob Marley himself, my family and a friend's decided to drive down from north Florida for the "One Love" show. We were excited by the lineup and also the prospect of seeing Ziggy Marley and Jimmy Cliff. As it was a daylong event lasting late into the evening, we decided to devote the weekend to it, especially since our respective five- and seven-year-old daughters' stamina would be tested anyway.
I understand the show was for a good cause, but after seeing very little of Ziggy and less of Jimmy Cliff and Lauryn Hill, it was easy to come to the conclusion that the $1000 we donated to the local economy could have been better spent elsewhere.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Screwing up the Center
Years behind schedule and way over budget, the performing arts center is another Miami miracle
By Jose Luis Jiménez
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As Curtain Rises the House of Cards Collapses
I found Jose Luis Jiménez's article on the performing arts center ("Screwing Up the Center," February 10) both interesting and disturbing. It appears no one has ever seen an accounting of who has spent money where, and for what purposes.
The article failed to mention all the people already hired and on staff, for a center not even out of the ground. What are these people doing and what are they being paid? And why? Additionally it seems it's going to cost the major performing-arts companies substantially more to perform there than at their current venues. Who is going to help them pay? The fundraising conducted by the performing arts center has substantially cut into the fundraising capabilities of the majors over the past few years.
And then, of course, there's the fact that there is no covered, connected parking. How many Miamians do you think are going to attend performances when it's pouring rain, 90 degrees, and necessary to walk through unfamiliar neighborhoods?
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