Echoes from around the world

As one who works with Guatemalan refugees, I appreciate any truth about the brutal regime in that country. I am amazed that government officials think things have improved enough to encourage (or force) refugees to go back. We who work with ``illegals'' often compare our work to those who hid two Jews from the Gestapo, for we too would be proud to go to jail to defend our friends from the certain death of returning to their homeland. Arthur G. Krueger Weston, Vt.

The May 28 article [``Portrait of Stalin stirs mixed emotions among Russian''], describing how the Soviet Union is ``still coming to grips'' with Stalin, is an uncomfortable reminder of the deep-seated differences between Soviet and Western society. In Germany, the mention of Hitler (11 million victims) is forbidden; in the Soviet Union, the mention of Stalin (20 to 65 million victims) elicits ``sustained and enthusiastic applause.'' While this may be a testament to Stalin's impact on Soviet society, it also says something about the naive Western belief that ``the Soviet people are just like us.'' Ojars Kalnins American Latvian Association Rickville, Md.

I have just returned from Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, and some statements in the article ``Africa's image stalls Kenya tourism'' May 17 were not what I found to be true. The service in hotels and transportation was good. The airport tax was in line with other countries: $8 to $10. The custom officials' attitudes were politely bored, as they are in Los Angeles, Japan, or Russia. As to the ``imbecile mentality of drivers,'' if by this it is meant drivers of tourist vans, I protest. The vans we rode in were new and very comfortable. The drivers are chosen for their thoughtfulness to passengers' special needs. The article said the ``type of American that takes a safari is jet-setty, glamorous, has lots of money, and is highly educated.'' There were a lot of ordinary people traveling in these countries. I have seen a great deal of the world and I would put East Africa at the top of the list. Mrs. June Maland Santa Paula, Calif.

Hooray for Kara Swisher and her article ``Tiny countries roar'' [June 5]. It reminded me of a comment I heard from a small country in Asia: ``We feel like a mouse between two elephants.'' The US, a country that believes in democracy for everyone and rallied to the cry ``No taxation without representation,'' should acknowledge the more urgent cry ``No annihilation without representation.'' How unfair not to be allowed to respond to negotiations that will determine whether every man, woman, and child in one's country will be allowed to live. Helen F. Withers Alexandria, Va.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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