Issues of Democracy Now Facing Chile's Congress and Constitution
The article ``Pinochet Pulls Strings as Polls Near,'' Nov. 24, is a partial account of Chile's electoral process. I offer another point of view on the issues raised: Granting autonomy to the Central Bank. This issue has been around since the 1980 approval of the new constitution. Both the opposition and government agree on its soundness since it limits the power of the government to print money for financing deficit spending. The issue is how to elect the Central Bank board of directors. A bill is currently under debate.Skip to next paragraph
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The ``special law'' cutting civilian authority out of military affairs. This simply doesn't exist. As in the United States, Chile's armed forces have to submit to Congress a military budget for approval every year. All officers are promoted only by presidential decree. The secretary of defense, a person chosen by the president, is in charge of the armed forces - as is explicitly stated in the constitution.
The allegation of a future lack of civilian control of the military cannot be substantiated. The law being considered at the moment updates a previous law that regulates affairs within the armed forces - rank, requisites for promotion, etc. - and has little to do with civilian control.
Selling of the state television and official newspaper. Chile has few government enterprises; the government has been selling state enterprises, including telecommunications, airlines, and energy, for the past 16 years. This is one reason for its economic success. Further, retained state control of the media is hardly in the interest of democracy.
The other issues - long-term appointments in the state copper companies, job guarantees for high-ranking civil servants, and amnesty for all Pinochet-era government functionaries - might be floating around. But how do you implement such measures in a democracy where laws are approved by a Congress that, according to this article, will sweep to a decisive victory? Andrew E. Gibson, Newport, R.I., US Naval War College
National teacher certification Regarding the article ``Plan Offers Upgrade for Teachers,'' Nov. 24: The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards never explains how their program of ``national certification'' will address their three identified policy issues - teacher recruitment, continuing teacher development, and effective school environments. Nor does it explain how it will ``upgrade'' the profession.
The board's means of evaluation are not explained either - ``various methods of testing are being considered.'' It wants $50 million to do research. On what? Another test?
The Educational Testing Service already offers National Teachers Exams. States certify and local school principals evaluate their teachers. National certification of each state department of education seems more logical that this proposed ``nationwide certification.''
The teacher in this article, Josephine Bernard, speaks eloquently when she says improvement measures for teaching ``should be completely inclusive, not exclusive.'' I predict the individual cost for a teacher wishing to apply for the board's certification will be ``exclusive.'' Joseph Thomas Jannuzi, Fairmont, W.V.
A villainous mismatch The article ``Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Blames the Public for Tasteless Films,'' Nov. 17, mismatches the cast and characters of the film ``The Prisoner of Zenda.''
The part of the villainous Black Michael was portrayed by the late actor Raymond Massey. Mr. Fairbanks took the role of the equally villainous and treacherous Rupert of Hentzau. Paul Entress, South Windsor, Conn.