Readers React
Letters to the editor and readers' opinions.
Lift the embargo, but don't destroy Cuba's heritage

To the editor: News of the U.S. government opening talks with Cuba on normalizing relations and ending the 54-year embargo is long past due; indeed, it recalls Ronald Reagan's "blue jeans and Coca-Cola" strategy in prying open the Iron Curtain that kept much of Europe under communism until the early 1990s. ("Obama's historic shift on Cuba," Editorial, Dec. 17)

My only fear might be a small one, but as an architect, urbanist and professor of architecture, a thought that unsettles me about this new stage of relations between the two countries is the potential destruction of Cuba's architectural and urban heritage. One need only look to the havoc caused by China's rush over the last few decades to "modernization" — the people displaced, the history plowed under — to foresee a future Cuba looking like just another Florida hotel and shopping mall "development."

The U.S. embargo of Cuba is a textbook-quality failure by any standard, right or left. Let us hope that in opening the diplomatic...

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Don't let North Korea have the final say on 'The Interview'

You might have heard there's a film out there so offensive to North Korea's dictator that hackers connected to his regime spooked a major Hollywood studio into scrubbing the movie's Christmas Day release.

Sony Pictures, listen up: Free-expression fans have ideas for rescuing "The Interview."

Sprinkled in with readers' denunciations of Sony for either kowtowing to cyberterrorists or green-lighting the assassination-depicting comedy in the first place are several mostly implausible but highly entertaining proposals for heroically releasing the film in spite of Pyongyang's characteristic bellicosity. And since we're talking about Hollywood, it's entertainment that matters.

Michael Sanchez of New York City takes a swipe at President Obama before suggesting a coordinated response by the studios:

No one should be surprised by the Obama administration's weak response to North Korea's cyberterrorist attack. It's par for the course. But Hollywood's weak response is a huge surprise because its...

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The Times' important series on produce from Mexico

To the editor: When growers do not adhere to labor rules, it suppresses production costs. Those costs are carried throughout the entire produce process (from farm to table). Not only does this result in very poor labor practices, as we have seen in your series, it causes our food prices to be artificially low in the United States. ("Product of Mexico," four-part series)

Tomatoes should never cost 50 cents per pound after being grown, harvested, shipped from Mexico and stocked in a U.S. grocery store.

There are many wonderful people involved in farming in Mexico who respect their employees, but most farmers are struggling because of Americans' expectations of low prices. When a pound of Mexican produce is sold in the U.S., the average return to the farmer is disproportionally low compared to the retail price.

Face it, we need to pay for the value of a human being and a tomato.

Roxane Mancini, Morro Bay


To the editor: We worked and lived as medical missionaries for 16 years in Mexico....

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No sympathy for exiled Roman Polanski

To the editor: Your article asks about Roman Polanski, "Was he a sex offender skipping town to avoid facing justice? Or was he a victim of a corrupt judicial system that wanted to make an example of an acclaimed film director?" ("Roman Polanski's lawyers open new front against L.A. County D.A.," Dec. 15)

After 42 days of confinement for admittedly sodomizing a 13-year old child, Polanski fled the country, supposedly believing that he had "already served his punishment" after he learned that the judge might sentence him to serve an additional 48 days.

Was he a sex offender skipping town? Yes.

Ninety days' imprisonment for his admitted rape (which is what sodomizing a 13-year-old child is)? Was the justice system also corrupt? Yes, but not in the way Polanski claims — he was its beneficiary, not its victim. And even that wasn't enough for him.

Edward A. Ruttenberg, Rancho Palos Verdes


To the editor: As the Los Angeles Police Department commander in charge of the detectives who...

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'The Interview' pulled: Sony let the bad guys win

To the editor: While I understand concern for public safety, to allow anyone or any country to dictate through threat is a huge mistake. Giving in to bullies hurts all of us, and as we all know, it opens the door to more of the same. ("Sony scraps 'The Interview' release; North Korea blamed for hack," Dec. 17)

I offer a suggestion: Sony Pictures, which canceled the Christmas Day release of "The Interview" after threats to theaters showing the movie, should allow the film to be shown on all major networks and on cable — all on one night. That should be our response to someone who tries to limit our right to free expression.

Steve Flatten, Los Angeles


To the editor: I'm certainly no fan of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and I can't defend any cyber hacking, but this whole incident is indicative of something even larger and, in my view, more important: the attitude in American society and especially in the entertainment industry that nothing is sacred.

Kim is not to be admired, but...

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John Yoo's tortured logic on torture

To the editor: I am appalled that The Times provided a forum to John Yoo, who drafted the Bush administration memos that enabled torture. He is unrepentant in his defense of the torture memo that allowed the pain, degradation and humiliation of human beings, many of whom were ultimately found to be wrongly detained. ("Dianne Feinstein's flawed torture report," Op-Ed, Dec. 13)

It was reliance on Yoo's narrow definition of torture — that it must cause serious physical injury, organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death, and that prolonged mental harm must last for months or even years for it to be of concern — that allowed the CIA and its contractors to perform acts in my name that cause me irrefutable shame as a human being and as an American.

As I lawyer, I find Yoo an embarrassment to my profession and a curse on the America we stand for.

Barbara H. Bergen, Los Angeles


To the editor: Yoo writes, "For us [at the Justice Department at the time], as I think for most...

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