Letters

Congo's conflict receives minimal media coverage

In his June 14 Opinion piece "In Congo, 1,000 die per day: Why isn't it a media story?" Andrew Stroehlein is right to decry the media's indifference to the Congo.

Data from a recent content analysis published in Foreign Policy magazine show that less than one story is done for every 10,000 Congolese dead. Using evening news network transcripts from NBC, ABC, and CBS, I calculated that these networks have devoted an average of one minute of TV time to the conflict for every 300,000 dead.

But Mr. Stroehlein may be a little optimistic about how to resolve the conflict. If the ex-genocidaires still roaming the Congo were to disappear overnight, Rwanda would invent other excuses to justify its incursions.

Recommended: New trouble in Congo

The Rwandans are motivated, as are the ever-multiplying number of rebel movements, by the relentless looting of the Congo's Midas-sized natural resources.

To play a productive role, the West needs to help the Congolese install an honest, legitimate government, and help them put a stop to these predations.

Neither of these tasks is simple. But both are doable - if the political will is there. And it will be, with the media's attention.
David Aronson
Washington

Bolivia's key challenge: overcome racism

Regarding the June 9 editorial "Bolivia: Tiny Nation, Big Troubles": Kudos to the paper for addressing the real issue in Latin American development, which is indeed racism.

I am an American and lived in Bolivia in the early 1990s, working on microcredit development projects. Bolivia has it all, from wealth to poverty. My view is that microcredit projects make the real difference.

I take issue with the Tulane professor you referenced in your editorial, who claimed that the Bolivian situation paralleled South Africa's emergence from apartheid, as I do not believe Bolivia is like Africa.

In Bolivia there is indeed poverty, but not misery as in Africa. People eat in Bolivia, and they do have shelter and they do have clothes - even in the poorest segments. Bolivia has immense resources.

But embedded racism is the real evil eating away at this Andean nation. New elections are fine, but the protesters can't forget that all those who protested against President Carlos Diego Mesa and his predecessor Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada had indeed the option to vote then and before.

In some way, all segments and political parties in Bolivia need to find creative ways, themselves, once and for all to admit, name, and talk about racism - the main impediment to development in a place like Bolivia.
Brian Berkopec
Amsterdam

Energy bill could tarnish areas

In the June 14 article, "An odd couple and the energy bill," there is no mention of the destruction that the energy bill will cause. Some of the most beautiful and pristine areas in the country will be opened up to oil and gas development.

In New Mexico, the home state of both Republican Senator Pete Domenici and Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman, the Valle Vidal and Otero Mesa are targeted for development by the energy bill.

A responsible energy bill would cut US dependence on oil, increase the use of clean, renewable energy, and protect special places from the destruction of drilling. Instead, the existing energy bill lets polluters off the hook for cleaning up their messes and funnels billions of dollars to dirty oil and coal industries at the expense of the environment.

Senators Domenici and Bingaman ought to engage in a bipartisan process to protect America's natural heritage and should not be putting it at risk.
Ray Shuck
Albuquerque, N.M.

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