April 16, 2004

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Letting Pedro Pietri speak appreciated

I write to express my deepest gratitude to both La Prensa and journalist Raymond Beltran for having the vision and heart to interview poet, playwright, and civil rights activist

Pedro Pietri (published February 6, 2004) during his last hospital stay at the holistic clinic Oasis of Hope in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico.

I had the privilege of knowing Pedro Pietri my entire adult life-over twenty years now. In addition to his place as one of the greatest Puerto Rican poets of the last thirty years, Pedro was truly a one-of-a-kind-original. Pedro also has a permanent place deep inside my own heart. Of all of the interviews and articles that I have read about Pedro since his death, Mr. Beltran demonstrated the keenest journalistic instinct in knowing exactly how to write about Pedro-step aside and let Pedro speak for himself.

As this was the last article written about him during his life, I am so grateful that Mr. Beltran let Pedro tell his own story, without reinterpretation, about his life, his work, and his quest to recover from the illness that ultimately took his life. Pedro dedicated his entire life to the skillful use of words for the purpose of awakening the world. For anyone to put words in his mouth would have sent him reeling.

In this one final glimpse of Pedro before he left this earth, it warmed my heart to see that he was truly present, speaking his own truth in his own way, and that people who were not aware of him, would come to know him accurately from this final interview.

What is most amazing to me is that Mr. Beltran seemed to know intuitively exactly which quotations to use to shape the narrative that Pedro provided. The quotations that he selected were the exact pieces of information that communicated to me that Pedro was fully present, despite what was a painful and debilitating illness, and that Pedro recognized it was important to speak the truth from his own mouth, for someone to capture, for what would be the last time. I instantly recognized this, as soon as I read the article. Pedro, true to his spirit, led the way. And Mr. Beltran received the blessing of being the angel of communication for this great man.

I can’t thank you enough for doing this. As Pedro’s illness only lasted 12 weeks from diagnosis to death, there wasn’t much time for people who loved him to see him-particularly since he spent half of that time in Mexico at the clinic. This article, this last snapshot of the real Pedro Pietri, will live on as perhaps the most important interview he ever granted. It is, in fact, the last time anyone will get to hear from Pedro in his own words.

This means the world to me. I will miss my old friend dearly. I encourage all of you to get to know Pedro Pietri. You can do this in two very important ways. First of all, yes, read his poetry and his plays. That would make him happy. And secondly, but perhaps most importantly, if you want to honor the true spirit of Pedro Pietri, do battle against injustice everywhere you see it.

Adiós mi buen amigo. Yo lo veré cuando llego a allí.

Tess Foley
Monroe, Connecticut

Social Secureity and Medicare

I went through a 5 year period of poverty when my FICA payments were horribly burdensome because of the increased FICA payments which Greenspan convinced Congress to enact. I could not believe how much money I was having to pay out of my tiny income. Now Greenspan says that the Bush deficits mandate that many benefits will be cut to pay tax breaks for much better well off people.

The recently passed medicare plan will drain those resources leaving me with nothing when I retire although I have paid taxes and FICA all my adult life.

Chief Medicare analyst Richard Foster testified that top Bush officials threatened to fire him if he told Congress the truth about the cost of the Medicare deal before they voted on it. Foster’s estimate - nearly $150 billion higher than what Congress was told - became public just weeks ago - after George Bush signed the deal into law. The government is now investigating possible illegal activity in this case.

A Republican congressman alleged that he was promised $100,000 in special interest money for his son’s upcoming congressional race if he voted for the deal. The government is now investigating illegal activity in this case too.

A top HMO lobbyist has been hired by the Bush team to sell the Medicare deal to the public. The Bush team’s multi-million dollar ad campaign (paid for by taxpayers) has been ruled to be deceptive by one government agency and is now being investigated by another agency.

We all need to tell Congress to take back the $46 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money that was secretly promised to HMOs and use it instead to strengthen Medicare and bring down the price of prescriptions. We also need to push to have Alan Greenspan fired.

Ruth Miller
San Diego

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