Is Morales affair about human rights or about politics...


June 27, 2000

Is Morales affair about human rights or about politics?

Frank Calzone is not a human rights activist but a political operative and fanatical adherent to the policy of isolation against Cuba.

His column on Andy Morales' failed defection was a late hit against Peter Angelos for his exchange gesture with Cuba in 1999 ("Go to bat for Morales," Opinion

Commentary, June 20).

If it were up to Mr. Calzone and the Cuban American National Foundation, Cuba would be in quarantine, the better to bring about the chaotic collapse of the regime of Fidel Castro, from which the Cuban-American enclaves in Miami and New Jersey hope to benefit.

This is Jurassic Park politics, not Camden Yards gamesmanship.

If the U.S. embargo on Cuba was relaxed, Cuban players could play here and travel back and forth and live on the island, as other Cuban performers and artists do in other parts of the world.

But this is unthinkable and scary. Mr. Calzone and his allies prefer to keep the lid tight, hope that there are no more games with Cuba, and go on exploiting for propaganda purposes the occasional arrival of a defector from a system propped up and kept in isolation by the embargo.

If I were Adelso Morales, I would tell Frank Calzone to contribute to my human rights by promoting contacts with Cuba and calling for the relaxation of the U.S. policy of virtual blockade against Cuba.

G. Castillo, Baltimore

Why embrace the lottery but keep slots out of state?

Maryland's attitude toward slot machines in racetracks can be summed up in one word: hypocrisy ("High stakes between tracks," editorial June 18).

It's hard to turn on the TV or radio and not be besieged by commercials inviting us to throw money into the lottery, the Big Game, Scratch Offs -- you name it.

This is gambling, in a form which gives players only the most remote odds of winning.

But Maryland won't permit slot machines that are available in neighboring Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia.

Thousands of Marylanders daily leave our state to enjoy a few hours or relaxation -- and leave untold dollars behind to be used to benefit residents of these states.

Wake up, governor: As a form of gambling, slot machines are no different than the lottery.

Let the tracks have slots. Let the tracks prosper and keep Marylanders from leaving their money in other states.

It is rank hypocrisy to do otherwise.

It's a no-brainer.

Jerry Weiner, Baltimore

Texas had to be conquered before slaves were freed

After reading the article "Honoring strength, survival and spirit," (June 18), I was surprised to learn that there existed a mystery concerning why word of the Emancipation Proclamation took two years to reach slaves in Texas.

The Emancipation Proclamation was enacted by President Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War on January 1, 1863. It declared free all African-Americans in those parts of the South that were still in rebellion. This included the state of Texas.

But slaves in Texas, or anywhere else, could not be freed until the Union re-established federal control through military occupation. The last area to come under Union control was Texas in 1865.

The article mentions that on June 19, 1865, Gen. George Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told slaves they were free. You can bet he didn't ride in alone.

Robert Mack, Baltimore

Creativity should reign on West Side

I read with great interest Ed Gunts' "Rethinking the West Side" (June 18) because the assortment of historic buildings on the west side is one of our city's most precious commodities.

Constructed over numerous years using an array of materials, the area's buildings are a unique and wonderfully varied collection of structures built to a human scale. It is definitely the real thing.

The Weinberg Foundation says its plan can only be successful by changing the area's character and demolishing 80 percent of the historical structures in the 100 and 200 blocks of W. Lexington St. But it is precisely the character that makes the area so unique and valuable.

One only has to look to Fells Point as well as other historic districts worldwide to see that preservation is good business.

The city must let creativity reign in plans for the west side.

If the city rushes to satisfy the demands of a glass box retailer, which might be out of business in five years, will we be lamenting the loss of our demolished architectural heritage forever?

Richard R. Cole, Baltimore

Lexington Street has the potential to be one of the most exciting streets downtown. A street with so much architectural variety is rare - and the buildings' diversity in size and style makes the space funky and fun.

It has the potential to contribute to Baltimore's "coolness factor," which already exists in O'Donnell Square in Canton and in Fells Point. The city should bring in residents and fresh paint, wall murals and fountains, cafM-is and galleries.

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