What Cuban Exiles Really Want

In the Opinion page article "Treat Castro as Irrelevant," Feb. 6, the author misrepresents the views of Cuban exiles to make his point. It is patent nonsense - but still no less insulting - to claim Cuban Americans want to return Cuba to the 1950s or that somehow exile aspirations for freedom and democracy for family members in Cuba are an impediment to a better future for Cuba.

The author has fallen into the "us vs. them" trap laid by Fidel Castro. Cuba is one nation, but it has been forcibly divided by this dictator. Exiles aren't driven by power or greed, but only by the desire to reunite the nation under freedom and democracy. Many exiles - who realized their dreams in this great country - are economically disposed to assist their brothers on the island to rebuild what communism has destroyed. How many Eastern Europeans have told us how much they would have appreciated a pro sperous exile community willing to come back and help.

As for United States policy, instead of treating Castro as "irrelevant," he should be treated as the problem. With the collapse of his Soviet lifeline and his rejection of democracy and human rights, now is the worst possible time for the US to initiate some wooly-headed process of engagement with him.

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All freedom-loving persons should dedicate their efforts instead to calling for his unconditional departure from power so that we then can not only begin helping Cubans on the island to rebuild, but also restore US-Cuban relations. Then all could reap the economic and regional security benefits of a stable, market-oriented Cuba. Jose R. Cardenas, Washington Research Director, The Cuban American Nat'l Foundation Deep-set environmental concerns

In the column "Green Conservatives," Feb. 4, the author quotes Thomas Kean and John Shanahan deriding their fellow conservatives for allowing the left to capture the issue of the environment. They are under the illusion that they can treat environmental protection as an issue that is separate from militarism and economic justice. The left has understood that connection for a long time.

To suggest that "the environmental challenge represents vast new opportunities for far-sighted companies," and that this is a reason for conservatives to embrace environmentalism, still clings to the notion that the best reason for supporting a policy is profit margin. This allows our priorities to remain skewed.

As long as the policies of this and other rich industrial nations remain wedded to rigid economic orthodoxy based on exploitation of the many by the few, any attempt by conservatives to make environmental protection their issue will be seen by most people as just another cheap political ploy.

What is needed is not just a shift to more environmentally benign consumer products, although that's part of it, but a deeper understanding of the connectedness of all life and the right of all people to share equally in the earth's resources on which we all depend. Lois Gagnon, Belchertown, Mass.

The author of "UN's 'Earth Summit' to Seek a High Price From Rich Nations," Jan. 28, is off the mark when he heaps scorn on this June's United Nations "Earth Summit." Doesn't he realize that the interlocking problems of global poverty, population growth, and environmental destruction threaten the future habitability of this entire planet? Avoiding this disaster will require not only a substantial chunk of the global peace dividend, but also some significant changes in international business-as-usual. Daniel M. Everett, Athens, Ga.

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