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Writer's View of Cuba, Harrelson Spurs Kudos, Anger

April 03, 1999

Valdes-Rodriguez's First Person column was her fourth report on the "Music Bridges" event. The other articles ran March 23, 27 and 29.

What was the editorial reason for printing Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's slur of Woody Harrelson in Cuba "(An Accidental Island Tour," March 30)?

Like a well-polished mirror, this bilious account gave an illuminated reflection of its author, the jaded anti-Castro expatriates she exemplifies and the increasingly smug, trivializing reporting of some of the L.A. Times' art and cultural writers. Some Calendar critics seem more interested in the neck twitches, neuroses, faux pas and hygiene of their subjects than in their cultural contributions.

In the hyperbolic style of the most recalcitrant Cuban expatriates, Valdes-Rodriguez filters every perception of Cuba through a pugnacious and opportunistic hatred. Did Times editors think that her account of obscene and macho encounters, her trashing of Woody and her portrayal of Havana as a dystopia give a fair accounting of the "Music Bridges" cultural exchange?

The reason Woody Harrelson is liked is that he is an unpretentious and sentient person. I'll take him and the gravy stain on his T-shirt on my team.

The violently intolerant elements within the Cuban and Vietnamese expatriate communities need to decide which is their country of residence and realize that the United States has a Neutrality Act and a Bill of Rights protecting free speech. Democratic elements within those communities know and respect the right to express dissident opinion.

Thanks to all the American cultural artists and to the Baltimore Orioles for helping to ease the fruitless animosity between the U.S. and Cuba.

GERARDO MADRONE

Costa Mesa

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