Guatemalans Seek `Effective' Aid Amid Human Rights Abuses
Thank you for the articles ``Guatemala Army Killings Raise National Debate,'' Dec. 11, and ``Activists Honored for Risky Work in Human Rights Field,'' Dec. 12, about the human rights award to the Council of Ethnic Communities ``Runujel Junam'' (CERJ). As one who had an opportunity to travel last month in Guatemala and speak with people representing all elements of society, I am distressed that the US government and taxpayers continue to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a government and army whose members are immune from prosecution for blatant civil rights violations, whose justice system is paralyzed, and where nonmilitary aid seldom reaches the areas for which it is given because of corruption. The people I spoke with said the only effective aid to the Guatemalan people is through international agencies that have their own internal systems for distribution.
(The Rev.) Thomas Whelan, Gold Hill, Ore.
United States of Europe Regarding the article ``British Prime Minister Will Be in the Spotlight at EC Summit,'' Dec. 12: The idea that some Britons are ``pro-European'' and others ``anti-European'' is ridiculous. The argument is between close cooperation and actual federation.
To most Britons, the thought of a United States of Europe imposed on 12, and soon perhaps 15, different countries without genuine popular support is frightening. The US thrives because everyone speaks the same language and salutes the same flag. The German federation works for the same reason. The Soviet Union, where federation was imposed, is breaking up.
Until the many peoples of Western Europe speak with one voice demanding a ``USE,'' a drive toward political union is dangerous. Close cooperation within an economic union - with progress masterminded by the Council of Ministers - would, however, be welcomed by virtually everyone. That's not anti-European.
John Allan May, London
Exporting democracy The opinion-page column ``What Should Washington Export,'' Dec. 12, asserts that ``However one appraises American popular culture, it is perhaps America's chief global export. It represents the style, if not the content, of US social democracy.''
Though the term ``US social democracy'' is used loosely, it rings false to those familiar with domestic politics and the general meaning of social democracy. It stems from democratic socialism, a form of government found mostly in Western Europe and typically scorned in the US.
Social democracies are theoretically countries such as Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and Britain (particularly before Margaret Thatcher). They are marked by the usual freedoms of a democracy, yet the state plays a fundamental role in equalizing wealth, providing for the general welfare, and guiding the economy. In such a conservative era of US politics, where welfare, government economic involvement, and taxation are anathema, the term social democracy is inaccurate in depicting the current state of American democracy.
Mike Lyster, Fullerton, Calif.
The author asks what Washington should export and his answer, democracy, carries interesting ramifications. With modern communications allowing universal access to news, even Mideast cultures are changing. Education opens the door to democracy. We must anticipate that ancient rivalries will not continue and should empower Mideast countries to be responsible world citizens by leaving the war/peace decision to them. It's more difficult than the superpower way, but the road is paved with gold. Paul H. March, Seattle