Despite Election of Civilian Government, Guatemalan Army Still in Control

Regarding the article ``Guatemalan Election Digs Deeper Roots for Democracy,'' Nov. 14: The vitiated candidates in the Guatemalan presidential elections have not only failed to challenge the power of the Guatemalan army and its terror tactics, but have also ignored the large-scale forced relocations of hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples to reservations because powerful landowners desire more land for agricultural and mineral production - a policy which has continued unabated during the tenure of the outgoing civilian government. This policy promotes a disintegration of centuries-old communities, possible labor exploitation, and a military which regulates and controls the behavioral, political, and economic activity of residents. Matthew J. McGuire, Washington

The author states that the election in Guatemala was the first time in a century that one civilian government followed another without interruption by the military. Juan Jose Arrevalo, a civilian-elected president, turned over the Guatemalan government to Jacobo Arbenz, elected in 1952. Not until the CIA-sponsored revolt ousted Arbenz did the country enter the long period of military rule. R. Shaw, Waverly, Ohio

The author says, ``Guatemalans are proving democracy is possible here.'' He then acknowledges that the military is ``politically dominant.'' The media seems to promote a belief that voting qualifies a country for the esteemed characteristic of ``democracy.''

Yet, few believe that a country controlled by the military and their death squads, in which journalists have been asassinated, and the current president sits under the thumb of the military, is entitled to use that term. Karl W. Hess, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Demilitarization in Asia The article ``US Aims to Fulfill `Balance Wheel' Role in Asian Security,'' Nov. 6, quotes Richard Solomon, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who says that the US must preserve its military facilities and troops in Asia since it is the only ``stabilizer'' of the situation in that region.

This assertion runs counter to the the statements made by US Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in Irkutsk last summer when they said they no longer considered themselves military adversaries in Europe or Asia and were determined to cooperate with other countries.

The Paris Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe ushered in a new era of partnership on the European continent. The Soviet Union believes that the European experience might well be used in Asia. The establishment of a new world order requires demilitarization of all continents, including Asia.

Mr. Solomon may be guided by the old tactic of seeking parity with the Soviet Union on the land while maintaining superiority in the seas. This approach is a vestige of the era of confrontation.

Moscow is not alone in its thinking. At a meeting of the Asian and Pacific Economic Council in Singapore, Canada and Australia recommended a conference on security and cooperation in Asia to initiate a process similar to the CSCE process.

The conditions for this are favorable. The Soviet Union has unilaterally cut its armed forces in the Asian regions of the country by 200,000 men and drastically scaled down their military capabilities. It will soon complete the withdrawal of its troops from Mongolia and is dismantling its military presence at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam. The US is not the only ``stabilizer'' in Asia and the Pacific. Valery Neyev, Moscow, Novosti News Agency

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