The Feb. 10 article, " 'New populists' vs. the West," suggests that presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, both flush with oil money, are trying to forge a new international counterweight to the West.
But the article neglects to point out that their ability to offer such leadership is handicapped in a way that most Western democracies are not: Their governments' curbs on rights and liberties at home are actively resisted by nonviolent opposition groups representing women, workers, students, and other key parts of these societies.
As happened in countries as diverse as South Africa, Chile, and Ukraine, this resistance may eventually disrupt these rulers' plans to remain at the helm. There have been few if any meaningful, sustained alliances between authoritarian leaders in the past half-century, partly because most such governments have eventually been dislodged from power by their own people.
President, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Thank you for the Feb. 6 article, "Democracy's 'special forces' face heat," revealing US government attempts to interfere with the democratically elected and very popular government of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.
I just returned from three weeks in Venezuela where I talked with people from all walks of life. Even those who wish that Mr. Chávez weren't so abrasive in his rhetoric agree that they are better off now than they ever have been.
What I witnessed in Venezuela was people organizing communities to apply for unused land and assistance to build their own houses, people having medical care for the first time in their lives, small businesses flourishing with encouragement and small loans from the government, and young people going to university. I saw people excited about having been involved in the creation of their Bolivarian constitution that guarantees equal rights for men and women, the indigenous and the poor. Many people carry around a pocket-sized edition and quote it, proud that "Now, Venezuela is for everyone."
I believe it is not the business of the US to tell the Venezuelans how to spend their oil revenue. For the first time in decades, it belongs to the people.
Professor of education and human services, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
The Feb. 9 article, "Darwin was right - again," tries to bolster Darwin's evolutionary hypothesis regarding macroevolution (dinosaurs to birds, or apes to men).
But the article commits the simple fallacy of overgeneralization. You cannot assume that the particular examples of microevolution (in this case the variation in the feeding habits of fish, or the flowering times of certain trees) give evidence of macroevolution as is required in Darwin's hypothesis.
The article does rightly allude to the fact that the question of creationism vs. evolution is more religious and philosophical than scientific. None of us witnessed life's beginning, and the interpretation of the fossil record is highly subjective and depends on the presuppositions of the person investigating the remains. Historical evidences are not very helpful because they can't be fully tested by the scientific method. Finally, evolutionary thinking is downright dangerous when applied in social and political orders.
St. George, Utah
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