Bulgaria's Progress and Cultural Heritage Amid Years of Military Domination

The editorial ``(Not So) Hard Liners,'' Nov. 27, calls Bulgaria ``a Slavic nation once more Stalinist than Stalin.'' Bulgaria has always been under either some sort of military domination (Turkey for five centuries), or influence (Germany before World War II and the Soviet Union afterward). Despite these circumstances, Bulgarians have learned to keep their identity and culture.

Stalinism was never enforced in Bulgaria to the same extent as in East Germany, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia (after 1968), and Romania. The Bulgarians have always been allowed to travel to the West if they can afford it.

The ``repressed Turkish minority'' is free to leave the country. However, ``Bulgarian repression'' obviously felt better than ``Turkish freedom,'' for at least one-quarter of those Turks who managed to escape returned to Bulgaria.

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Many elements of socioeconomic perestroika existed in Bulgaria before the era of Gorbachev. In Sofia, nearly all taxis and many cafes are private, all churches have always functioned under free and normal conditions, and even get subsidies from the government.

According to US estimates, life expectancy in Bulgaria is the second highest in the East bloc. Living standards have constantly increased since World War II. The reason for the lack of substantial dissident movement in Bulgaria is not so much the ``political backwardness'' as the relatively more liberal economic, cultural, and everyday life. Vladimir N. Stoyanov, University Park, Pa.

The culture behind illegal aliens Regarding the article ``Stalking Illegal Immigrants,'' Nov. 30: Since the Mexican War ended in 1848, Latin Americans who once considered our southwestern states their homeland have attempted resettling in this region. A common trend has developed involving hundreds of such people entering the country illegally each day. While it is vitally important to stop the great influx of illegal aliens, it is also vital that North Americans are presented with a balanced picture of Mexicans and Central Americans.

Can we not focus more of our attention on the fascinating Latino culture rather than monotonously writing about problems with border control? If journalists in major publications continue their limited reporting of a group we tend to know little about will North Americans be anything but biased against Latinos? Margaret Fox, Amherst, Mass.

Illegal aliens and illegal drugs Regarding the article ``Gang-Drug Violence grows in L.A.,'' Nov. 21: Illegals are flooding past our inadequate border patrols. These illegals can easily turn into drug-related gang members; they need not be hardened criminals, just hungry.

The simple options for dealing with Los Angeles's drug problem are: provide illegals with welfare and jobs so they won't have to turn to drug dealing; stop the flood of illegal aliens coming across the US-Mexico border with an adequately staffed border patrol; and in the long-term, assist Latin American countries in stopping their population growth. Robert M. Norman, Glendale, Calif.

A troubling visual image The page-one photograph of a white police officer and black trainees in South Africa, Nov. 29, is at least three years old. It appeared on the cover of the book ``Apartheid In Crisis,'' edited by Mark Uhlig and published by Vintage books in 1986. What prompted you to use this picture since it has little relevancy to the article it accompanies? Why point out that the officer is white? Why bother with white and black labels at all? K.M. Knox, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

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