[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

English Definitely Spoken Here

A big issue of the anti-illegal immigration drive we've experienced in the past couple of years revolves around language, in particular the ability and willingness (or lack thereof) of immigrants to speak English. Many people who are anti-illegal immigration for all the right reasons (such as national security, respect for our laws) also point to a perceived lack of interest amongst illegals to assimilate, which largely depends on their English-speaking skills. As such, there are efforts out there championed by people such as Tom "Miami is Third World" Tancredo and Mitt Romney to make English the official language of the United States.

Before I get to my point, let me state that immigrants ought to make a concerted effort to learn English. Nothing unites us more powerfully than a common language.

As I've stated before, however, making English the nation's official language is unnecessary. First of all, who's going to actually FORCE people to speak a language? But that's irrelevant because as we all know, dominant cultural and economic forces take over. The end result is that children of Hispanic immigrants (second-generation) speak English in very large numbers, and by the third generation, Spanish is all but gone from the equation as this article published in today's Herald illustrates.

For those of us that live in a Hispanic-dominated area such as Miami, the results of the study aren't surprising in the least, nor should they be (unless you don't pay attention or believe in stereotypes). I am constantly amazed at the power English holds as a dominant cultural influence, even in Miami. I know of kids who arrived here from Cuba as 9 and 10 year-olds who couldn't speak a simple sentence in English who 4 or 5 years later speak English as well as any native. The ones that lag behind after spending several years here are the exception.

A myth regarding bilingual education is that it retards or severely impacts students' abilities to speak English. I have two younger relatives who have either gone through or are currently attending bilingual schools. Their English hasn't been affected one bit, and as an added benefit, they can speak Spanish. How about that?!

To make a long post short, the English-only folks who worry about Hispanics' lack of assimilation and English skills are worrying about nothing. In the end, it smacks of xenophobia, even if they don't feel that way deep down. Time and cultural pressures (not to mention economic ones) takes care of the language issue.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Like MIke

Here is my personal ranking of the Republican presidential candidates on their performance in last night's CNN YouTube debate.

First, the top 3:

1. Mike Huckabee
2. John McCain
3. Rudy Giuliani

Huckabee was solid as a rock last night. His answers, the steady and assured way in which he answered them and the resolute look in his face as he stated his responses looked like someone who's ready to take charge. His spanking of Mitt Romney regarding his Arkansas policy of making children of illegal immigrants eligible for merit scholarships was something to behold. His answer to the extremely hypothetical "what would Jesus do" about capital punishment was as honest and charmingly self-deprecating as it was sensible.

McCain and Giuliani were also very good. Actually McCain really surprised me last night. He made Romney look bad with the torture question, and he sounded like someone with nothing to lose, even if I don't agree totally with his answers. Giuliani didn't hurt himself at all with his performance, but he ought to be looking behind his shoulder at the hard-charging Mike Huckabee. His "sanctuary mansion" comment to Romney was rather shallow, which Romney inexplicably couldn't stand up to (more on Romney below). If he doesn't do better next week, we could be seeing a very close two-man race between Huckabee and the ex-mayor.

The middle tier of 2:

4. Fred Thompson
5. Duncan Hunter

Thompson didn't do badly, but I can't help to think that his star has peaked. I didn't see the fire and commitment in his eyes like I saw before he officially entered the campaign. Quite frankly, he looked tired last night. Hunter was good but didn't get enough chances to prove himself. Hunter could have easily overtaken Thompson in the ranking.

And now the last 3:

6. Tom Tancredo
7. Mitt Romney
8. Ron Paul

Tom "Miami is Third World" Tancredo did nothing to dispel the notion that he's a one-trick pony. Take away the immigration issue, and his answers are pedestrian and give the impression that he knows he has no chance to win.

Mitt Romney was by far the biggest disappointment of the debate. He stammered when challenged. He looked bad in one-on-ones with Huckabee, Giuliani and McCain. Basically, he was insecure when pressed, not a good sign for a potential commander-in-chief.

Ron Paul, of course, was last. He's also a one-trick pony, except he lives in La-La land with his isolationist "let's mind our own business and let the Middle East do whatever it wants" attitude. How some can take him seriously is beyond me.

I'm looking forward to next week's debate here in Coral Gables, and I'll provide new rankings
following that debate.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick note to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Thanks to all of you who stop by and read this humble blog.

Here's an idea of what I'll be having for Thanksgiving dinner today. Hope yours is as enjoyable!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Immigration Solutions

Henry left a comment in my last immigration post detailing his 4-step plan to solve our immigration issues that deserves its own spot in a post. I must admit that, aside from a few points I've made in scattered posts here and there, I haven't actually sat down to drawn my own plan to solve the illegal immigration issue. Henry's plan is a very good one and mostly agrees with my views. His plan is below with my comments after each point.
My 4 point plan for solving the immigration problem.

1. We must build the security fence and stop the flow of illegal immigration to a trickle if not completely. Absolutely.

2. An amnesty for all illegal aliens that don't have criminal records. We have to get these people in from the shadows. This one made me pause. Jonathan noted in another comment that an amnesty makes him nervous because he doesn't trust Congress to know where to stop. I have to agree with Jonathan, although simply rounding up 12 million (or whatever the number is these days) illegals and shipping them out of the country is not a realistic solution. Henry's suggestion of amnesty for otherwise law-abiding illegals sounds like a more realistic proposal, one that I believe President Bush was seeking in his failed immigration bill earlier this year.

3. A radical increase in the number of visas offered to Latin Americans, so they can migrate here legally. We need the population as the non-Hispanic population in the US is aging and contracting. Latin Americans generally share the same values (Judeo-Christian) and contrary to what many believe, do want to learn English and live the American dream. Yes. Yes. Yes. And Yes. There are some ingrate immigrant jerks out there who don't appreciate this country despite the fact that they have a better life here that they could have dreamed back in their home country. Nevertheless, they are in the minority despite what some far-righties may suggest.

4. Free trade agreements with Latin American democracies. It's not our obligation to make improve Latin American economies but we have to recognize that a vital and viable latin America can only be good for the U.S. I also agree that free trade agreements are important and necessary. We can all agree that a prosperous and stable Latin America is good for everyone, but as always the devil is in the details. Just throwing money at the problem won't solve it, we must encourage sensible solutions such as free trade agreements and hope that Latin America jumps on board.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Hand Wavers

Andres Oppenheimer is getting pretty good at hand-waving himself through the illegal immigration issue. In a column he wrote 2 weeks ago, he warns us of an Hispanic "intifada" if the United States doesn't begin to grant legal status to illegals. Pretty strong words, and he has received a strong reaction from people such as Bill O'Reilly.

The O'Reilly reaction to Oppenheimer's threatening column prompted our esteemed Herald columnist to write a counter-column which appeared in today's Herald.

In his latest piece, Oppenheimer defends himself against what he quotes Bill O'Reilly and guest Laura Ingraham stating on the O'Reilly Factor on Nov 8th:

On Nov. 8, O'Reilly said in an on-air conversation with Fox News analyst Laura Ingraham that ``there is a crazy columnist in Miami, Miami Herald, who says that the Hispanics are going to rise up.''

Ingraham said I was ''intimating something akin, Bill, to a race war . . . It's insane.'' He responded, ''He's a nut. He's a nut, this guy.'' She added that I am part of ''a crazy far-left anarchist wing'' of the immigration debate.

As much as Oppenheimer may not want to admit, his use of the term "intifada" and his not-so-veiled threat that illegals would take to violence left him wide open for attack. Ingraham is correct in stating that Oppenheimer intimated to a race or class war. Intimated doesn't mean supporting, it means hinting at or vaguely suggesting the possibility. I believe Oppenheimer missed that one, big time.

I will say this: I don't consider Oppenheimer to be an anarchist or someone who wants illegal immigrants to rise up and start a revolution of sorts. As commenter jblanco brilliantly noted on Oppenheimer's blog, Mr. Oppenheimer is someone with a pro-Hispanic and liberal view on immigration, one at odds with the views of most Americans. He laments that people such as O'Reilly don't have "realistic solutions" to illegal immigration. Actually, they do. Put a fence up? Sounds pretty realistic and logical to me. Enforce current immigration laws? Penalize companies for hiring illegals? We can do this tomorrow if we had the will. It's people like Oppenheimer whose solutions to illegal immigration are too "pie in the sky" and costly to the average American. Take a look:
If we want to reduce illegal immigration, we will have to allow greater legal immigration and at the same time increase economic ties with Latin America to help our neighbors grow and reduce their people's pressures to emigrate.
Ah yes, the "let's throw money at inept Latin American countries" theory. Does anyone really believe that's going to work? I sure as heck don't want my hard-earned dollars going to a corrupt government. How about fixing Latin America's problems from within, Mr. Oppenheimer. As a fellow Hispanic, it should be as embarrassing for you as it is to me to realize that present-day Latin America is largely a cesspool of corruption and ineptitude.

The fact is, when you boil this issue down to the bare-bones basics, we have those who want our immigration laws enforced, and we have those who don't care as much about our laws as they should. Oppenheimer fits into the latter. Being lax on immigration will only encourage more illegal immigration, or "undocumented workers" as many liberals put it. The pro-illegal immigration crowd realizes this deep down. That's why they often resort to hand-waving in order to defend what is indefensible.

Oppenheimer is right in believing that U.S.-raised illegals should earn a path to citizenship. The operative word here is EARN. Bills such as the DREAM Act had potential but eventually became mired in ancillary garbage that made the bill unsupportable. We should be sensible enough to think about those who didn't have a choice in entering the country illegally, but we should do so responsibly.

Lastly, for those of you who think my position on immigration contradicts my views on Cubans who wash up on our shores, please allow me to state the following: the day, the moment, the second Cubans are free to elect their leaders and have a say in their country's future as many other Hispanics do all across Latin America, that's the time that the United States should close the door to Cuban migration as we know it today.


Ricky's Back

It's hard to determine who's more desperate, Ricky Williams or the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins' decision to bring the talented but suspension-happy running back to the roster once again isn't as much shocking as it is amusing in this train-wreck of a season.

I say the Dolphins have the most to gain out of the deal. Have Ricky play a few good games, and use him as trade bait. Ricky, of course, needs the money. For what? Well you can fill in the blanks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Fallacy of Designating Leaders

Those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis know that I'm often very critical of Leonard Pitts' columns. More often than not, they leave me scratching and shaking my head.

Having said that, his latest column decrying America's knee-jerk reaction to appoint certain people to be "leaders" is right on the money. There. I said it. I agree with Leonard Pitts. This one time.

The first sentence sets the tone perfectly:
Beg pardon, but who died and made Al Sharpton president of the Negroes?
Pitts continues:
I don't begrudge (Jesse) Jackson or Sharpton their fame. Jena, La., might have gone unnoticed had they not used that fame to direct public attention there. Still, I question whether we ought not by now have grown beyond the notion that one or two men can speak for, or offer absolution in the name of, 36 million people.
But beyond the strengths and weaknesses of the men who seek to be charismatic leaders, there is a sense that the job itself has grown obsolete. Who, after all, are the nation's white leaders? To what one man or woman do you apologize when you insult white folks? Doesn't the very idea that there could be one person deny the complexity and diversity of the population?

Similarly, African America is served by dozens of magazines, websites, television networks and media figures that did not exist when King was killed. So it's about time news media -- and those who will insult us in the future -- get past this notion that one or two people are annointed to speak for 36 million. That is a simplistic, antiquated, and faintly condescending idea.

I speak for myself. Don't you?

The column brought back immediate flashbacks to the fracas in Little Havana in January of this year involving Vigilia Mambisa and a group of young pinhead agent provocateurs. The left side of the Cuban-American blogosphere demanded a public apology from the "Cuban-American leadership", whereas my response was that there need not be a public apology from anyone since the actions of Vigilia Mambisa spoke for themselves and no one else.

I eventually wrote a post about this in which I asked readers to chime in and tell me who the Cuban-American leadership is/should be in South Florida. As I expected, I got no clear answers, which was the correct response to such an ambiguous question. Pitts' argument that no on person speaks for all African-Americans easily applies to any diverse community, including Cuban-Americans.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Honoring Cuban-American Veterans

(Cross-posted from Babalu Blog).

Veterans Day has always held a special place in my heart. I'm far from being alone in feeling this way, and my situation is anything but unique. The reason for this is that my father is a veteran of the Vietnam War. For me, Veterans Day is about ceremonies, parades and tributes to those who sacrificed so much for their country.

As a youngster, I heard many of my father's stories of being in Vietnam and of his Army service before and after the war. I heard him and his fellow Cuban-American vets share many war stories. Needless to say, I have always felt an immense sense of pride for those individuals. There is no higher honor than serving your country and being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

What makes my father and his group of veterans even more special is that they weren't even born in the United States. They were born in Cuba and escaped the island prison in the same way that so many did back in the early years of "the revolution". They were teenagers and young adults, their futures suspended because of exile. These folks eventually chose to serve their adopted country against a foe much like the one they and their families fled from just a few years before. While many Americans protested and even left their country, these foreign-born men embraced the opportunity to defend freedom.

As I mentioned above, there is no higher honor than serving your country. There is one exception, however: serving your adopted country.

In Miami, there are at least three organizations of Cuban-Americans who have served the United States of America in the Armed Forces. These are:

- Veterans of Foreign War Jose Marti Post 10212
- American Legion Capt. Felix Sosa-Camejo Post 346
- Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 620
- Cuban-American Veterans Organization.

I'd like to bring special attention to the name Felix Sosa-Camejo. Here's some information on Capt. Sosa-Camejo courtesy of this statement read before the Senate Committee on Armed Services in 2006:

(Felix Sosa-Camejo) came here, to Miami, as a 20 year-old refugee from Castro’s regime and enlisted in the Army in 1963. Serving for five years, Captain Sosa-Camejo earned 12 citations, including the Bronze Star, three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. On February 13, 1968, in the heat of the Tet Offensive on the streets of Hue, his platoon was pinned down by enemy fire and unable to reach a wounded comrade. With disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran through the intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded man to safety. This action would earn Captain Sosa-Camejo his second Bronze Star and would cost him his life.

None other than Humberto Fontova wrote this about Capt. Sosa-Camejo back in 2006:

“On February 13, 1968, the lead platoon was hit by an enemy bunker complex manned by approximately forty North Vietnamese Regulars. Upon initial contact the point man was wounded and lay approximately 10 meters in front of the center bunker. The platoon was unable to move forward and extract the wounded man due to the heavy volume of fire being laid down from the enemy bunker complex.

“Captain Sosa-Camejo immediately moved into the firing line and directed the fire against the enemy bunker. With disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran through the intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded point man to safety. After ensuring that the wounded man was receiving medical treatment, Captain Sosa-Camejo returned to the fire fight and again exposed himself to the intense enemy fire by single handedly assaulting the center bunker with grenades killing the two NVA soldiers manning the bunker. As he turned to assault the next bunker an NVA machine gun opened up and he was mortally wounded. Captain Sosa-Camejo’s valorous action and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

Next time you hear someone complain about Cuban-Americans' lack of devotion for their adopted country, next time you hear an immigrant complain about this country, you might want to share these stories with them.

Here is a speech by former U.S. Representative Dante Fascell in commemoration of the VFW Jose Marti Post's 20th anniversary back in 1991. I posted this at Babalu back in November 2005, and this is another good opportunity to remind everyone of the sacrifices made by Cuban-Americans. Please take the time to read it, it's well worth the time.

To all veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, and especially to our Cuban-Americans vets, my deepest gratitude and respect for what you've done and for what you stand for.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Last Farewell

Hello everyone, back from my mini-hiatus. Unplanned, but I guess you can chalk it up to life getting in the way of my blogging schedule.

Now to the topic at hand:

The Orange Bowl hosts its last University of Miami game this evening. As I've written in several previous posts, I am personally saddened to see a 70-year-plus tradition come to an end.

As I stated in those previous posts, it's truly an embarrassment for all self-respecting Miamians that a building where so many great and significant games have been played was allowed to deteriorate and become the shell of what it once was.

Instead of focusing entirely on paving the way for developers to build huge condominiums that are 50 percent full at best, you would think that the powers-that-be in Miami would have spent just a little time showing some much deserved love and care for a national sports treasure. Nope. The folks who allowed this to happen ought to be embarrassed not only for their incompetence, but also for their lack of regard for a significant piece of Miami tradition.

City of Miami politicians, I'm pointing my finger right at YOU.

Arguments that the Orange Bowl has seen better days, that it should be razed, etc. etc., make sense from a practical, pragmatic perspective. Yes, the OB is in terrible shape, and perhaps it was past the point of no return.

Still, that's no excuse for letting it get to that stage. Frankly and simply, the City of Miami politicos allowed it to happen. All I'm asking for is a little care for our local traditions. Someone please tell me why the Miami city commissioners and Mayor, most of whom were born and/or raised not only in the city of Miami, but near the shadows of the old bowl itself, let this happen? Don't they care about the history and tradition of their city, of their OWN history? How many fellow Miamians haven't been to the Orange Bowl and been mesmerized by the electricity in the building?

Those who coldly and pragmatically state that the OB must be razed with little thought for its history and significance see this as a case of "water under the bridge". Perhaps they have bad memories of the place. They accuse those who wanted the OB to be saved as being too nostalgic and stuck in a past that no longer exists.

If care and respect for local history and tradition is such a bad thing...then I'm guilty as charged. What's next: tearing down the Freedom Tower because Cubans don't get processed through there any more? What are we teaching our children and grandchildren when we explain to them that a local landmark was torn down because no one cared about it any more?

OK, enough complaining.

I'm not going to the game tonight because I have other plans. Still, I wouldn't have gone even if I had no plans. I'm not big on celebrating farewells. I don't want my last memory of the Orange Bowl to be one of sadness. I want to remember the Dolphins and Hurricanes games I attended as a child, when lifetime loyalties were formed. I want to remember the OB rocking with glee when, as a 14-year-old, I sat in the west end zone and witnessed UM beating heavily-favored Nebraska to win their first national championship. I want to remember my first Dolphins Monday Night Football game against the Patriots back in the late 70s in that same west end zone. I want to remember Vinny Testaverde stomping all over Oklahoma in 1986. I want to remember sitting in the west end zone and watching cocky and self-righteous Notre Dame get their heads handed to them back in 1989. I want to remember watching the U.S. women's soccer team tie China in front of 55,000 wildly-cheering fans during the 1996 Olympics (yes, I sat in the west end zone for that game too).

I want to remember the open east end zone with the one-and-only view of the palm trees and Miami skyline.

Those are my memories of the old Little Havana bowl.

If there's any solace, it's that it's entirely possible that a new baseball stadium will be built on the same grounds. While not a true replacement for the Orange Bowl, at least it could be place where new loyalties, memories and traditions will be made for future generations.

Let's only hope that the new stadium will be treated with more consideration than its worn-down but noble predecessor.

Good-bye Orange Bowl. You will always have a proud place in history.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Get in Line, NAACP

I tipped Henry Gomez about this article in today's Miami Herald about racist reader comments left to the Herald site on an article about the case involving the boot camp employees from Bay County up in the Panhandle.

The comments were derogatory towards blacks, obviously. I agree that the Herald needs to do a much better job of watching the comment threads and not allow that kind of anonymous, chicken-shit crap from being published. The local NAACP's complaints, led by Bishop Victor Curry, have merit. However, derogatory comments are nothing new at the Herald site, nor do they stop at targeting blacks.

As Henry noted in his latest Herald Watch post and letter to Herald ombudsman Edwin Schumacher-Matos, Cubans get bashed after practically every Herald article involving Cuba, Cuban-Americans or Cuban refugees.

Here's a snippet from a recent comment thread:

Well, here is another boat load of cuban lobster trap poachers that wil (sic) be added to the welfare rolls-- but then the US Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cuban Amer. National Foundation.

Whatever. Brave Jim from Marathon may be some bored 30-year-old resident of Boca Raton for all we know. It's gotten to the point where I just shrug and say exactly what the first word of this paragraph says. Still, the Herald, just like any blog-owner, IMO, must watch over the comments being made and make sure that offensive garbage like that not get posted. At least, the people leaving behind these comments need to be kicked the hell out.

Bishop Curry, we know how you feel.

You just saw the evidence. Do you now believe Gyllenhall's quote that the Herald routinely monitors and removes offensive comments? I sure don't.

The Miami Herald. A once solid newspaper going further and further down the drain every day. And I've just reached my limit with them.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Letters to the Editor - Bush/Hiaasen Edition

(Cross-posted from Babalu)

Here is a collection of letters to the editor compiled by The Miami Herald regarding Bush's speech and Herald comedian-slacker-Jimmy Buffett-wanna-be Carl Hiaasen's rebuttal column.

(A quick warning: the first letter is from none other than one of our favorite Miamian castro-appeasers: Silvia Wilhelm. Make sure you haven't had your breakfast before reading this).

I was in Cuba on a humanitarian mission while President Bush delivered his latest Cuba policy address.

There are no words to express the disbelief, sadness and, in many instances, laughter I saw in so many sectors of Cuban society in reaction to the speech.

As a Cuban American who made the difficult decision to visit the country of my birth and the land of my ancestors, I was appalled that Bush could be so detached from Cuban realities and could deliver such a misguided and arrogant speech. If the administration's goal was to try to influence or facilitate Cuba's evolution into a more-democratic society, this rhetoric at a crucial juncture was counterproductive and damaging -- not only to the process but to the image of America abroad.

Having read national and international responses to Bush's speech, I feel a sense of relief that this new Bush policy continues to be rejected by thinking and caring people all over the world and by the majority of Cuban Americans living not only in South Florida but around the globe.

SILVIA WILHELM, Puentes Cubanos, Miami

Speak for yourself, Ms. Wilhelm. Because that's pretty much what it is. Thank God.

Here are the rest.

In his Oct. 28 Issues & Ideas column, Bush on Cuba: Same old macho speech, Carl Hiaasen takes a cheap shot at President Bush's announcement of ''creating an international fund to help rebuild a democratic Cuba.'' Hiaasen's belief that no other government is interested in helping the Cuban people is simply not true. The
president mentioned the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, nations that suffered under Communism and support Cuba's courageous opposition.

When Harry Truman announced the Marshall Plan, many criticized him. But the Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe. Shouldn't we wait to see if the international fund proposed by the United States gets some nations' support? It is true, as Hiaasen says, that Bush's support for freedom in Cuba is not new. If ''newness'' is an issue, what about Hiaasen's old and tiresome hostility toward the president?

MARIA C. CRUZ, Coral Gables

Cuban Americans should be concerned about proposals for abrupt change in Cuba. Abrupt change was deliberately engineered in Iraq and post-Katrina New Orleans to create enormous profits for Halliburton and Blackwater.

These companies, which are big contributors to the Republican Party, prey on the unstable conditions inherent in such disasters at the expense of the interests and lives of the common people.


If it had been a soccer match, it would have been Castro's Cuba 1,United States 0. But it was a self-goal. On Oct. 14, President Bush gave a ringing anti-Castro speech at the State Department.

Castro's media actually broadcast and printed large portions of it for the public. The reason they did so was perfectly clear. They knew that in less than a week, on Oct. 30, the U.N. General Assembly would, for the 16th time, pass a Cuban resolution strongly condemning the almost 40-year-old U.S. embargo of Cuba, the centerpiece of U.S policy.

It did so by a vote of 184-4, with one abstention, in a session replete with supporting statements from delegates representing U.S. allies. What can we learn from this? Either that the president's handlers have no sense of world public relations and should be sacked or that his administration does not give a whit about the United
Nations anyway.

AMBLER MOSS, professor, international studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables

How does Carl Hiaasen know that, ''It is safe to assume that RaúlCastro isn't exactly shaking in his boots,'' and that, ''There are no signs that Cuba's armed forces will suddenly turn on him, or that the citizens will spontaneously stage a revolt'' (Bush on Cuba: `Same old macho speech,' Issues & Ideas, Oct. 28)?

It is impossible to make such predictions, just as it was impossible to predict the collapse of Communism just before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Cubans, like Americans and others around the world, want to live in freedom.

Hiaasen's message is, as usual, simple: President Bush is always wrong, Cuban Americans are out of line for defending freedom in Cuba and the Castro dictatorship is a minor nuisance that will be around for a long time.

We have heard it before and can recognize bigotry when we see it.

AIDA BRANA, Boca Raton

Carl Hiaasen should get acquainted with what other world leaders besides Bush have said about Castro's Cuba.

Hiaasen seems to believe that after a certain time it is no longer appropriate for the world to pay attention to Cubans' suffering.

Former Czech president Václav Havel, who spent time in Communist jails, disagrees. Havel has said that the democratic world must support representatives of the Cuban opposition as the regime clings to power.

Havel's views on Cuba merit at least as much attention as Hiaasen's.

LAIDA CARRO, Coral Gables