I want to thank Nat Hentoff for writing the truth in his article "Fidel Is Afraid" [Liberty Beat, June 8-14]. As a Cuban American I am often astounded by the lack of information released by the mainstream media about what really goes on in Cuba. I am infuriated, if not wounded, by people like Charles Rangel, who wants to give the Cuban government respect. Respect for what? Forty-six years of oppression? Just a few facts for you: Cuba's literacy rate before Castro was already among the best in Latin America, very few people did not get health care, and agricultural workers' wages were as high as virtually any country but the United States.

The entire myth of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara is built on lies romanticized by The New York Times and other mainstream media whores. Yes, there was poverty, and corruption was rampant in the Batista government, but there is poverty and corruption in every country. I bet there were more poor people in the U.S. than there were in Cuba before Castro. These days if you're in Cuba you are poor unless you are a high-level government official. Maybe Fidel is afraid, maybe not. One thing's for sure, though: The dissident movement will only grow.

Jorge X. de Tuya
Miami, Florida

Dancing king

Les Ballets Grandiva was wonderful, and so was Tobi Tobias's review of the all-male troupe [June 1-7]. Many years ago, as a boy, I convinced my parents to let me take ballet. I spent 14 years dancing and don't regret it for a minute. Yes, there's a place for boys in ballet.

Michael Nicastro
Arlington, Virginia

Listen to the record

I was very unhappy with the comments made by Nat Hentoff regarding Janice Rogers Brown ["New York Times v. Janice Rogers Brown," Liberty Beat, May 18-24]. I fail to understand how anyone can defend this person's judicial record, which speaks for itself. Janice Rogers Brown has time and again proven that her ultra-conservative ideology dictates her judicial decisions. Must she be defended because she is a "minority judge," or can we look beyond her ethnicity and concentrate on who she really is?

Now that she has unfortunately been confirmed, it will be interesting to see what her impending judicial decisions are, and the impact those decisions will have.

Linda Jean Edwards
Petaluma, California

Doing Brown justice

I really appreciated Nat Hentoff's rational and, in my view, more accurate view of Janice Brown and the careless (or worse) attacks on her. I am a criminal defense lawyer in California and have appeared before the State Supreme Court several times during Justice Brown's tenure. My reaction on hearing of her appointment was that I would miss her. I agree that she's outside the mainstream of our judiciary: She's smart and honest.

Stephen Gilbert
Santa Monica, California

Chief concern

Re "Simmons vs. Foxman" by Aina Hunter [May 25-31]: Malik Shabazz is not the "chief organizer" of the Millions More Movement, but he is one of many who have responded to Farrakhan's call to build a diverse, unified movement for personal and social transformation and to work diligently to end poverty and ignorance.

Russell Simmons


Congratulations to Voice writer Tom Robbins, who won the New York Press Club's Political Coverage award for his 2004 series on former state senator Guy Velella.

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