The Ground Underneath Peru's `New Democracy'

Regarding the Opinion page article "US Should Resume Aid to Fujimori's Peru," April 5: In his call for the United States and the international community to "abandon their opposition" to President Alberto Fujimori, the author fails to mention the troublesome facts that make his argument hollow.

Peru's "new democracy" is built on an all-powerful intelligence apparatus appropriately called the SIN (National Intelligence Service). Like the KGB, the SIN can order arrests without incriminating evidence and carry out secret detentions, torture, and executions.

Recently, information surfaced linking the SIN, military intelligence, and the head of Peru's armed forces with the 1992 kidnapping and murder of 10 students and a professor from a Lima university. With Fujimori's support, the SIN has stifled Peru's press and threatened political opponents.

Abimael Guzman, the Shining Path leader, was captured after patient police work, not a presidential brainstrom. In fact, the officer who nabbed Mr. Guzman was "rewarded" with a transfer to a dead-end job, and he now fears the vengeance of the SIN for highlighting their ineptitude more than that of the guerrillas. Far from crippled, the Shining Path appears to have rebuilt a clandestine leadership and continues to act as an agent of hate and extremism in Peru.

To hail Guzms summary court-martial as a sign of democracy demonstrates that the author has a lot to learn about fair trial. Fujimori's decrees have stripped Guzman and every other Peruvian of basic rights. Among others, they include the right to a lawyer and to habeas corpus privileges, and to protect themselves from torture, to have a civilian court, to mount a defense, and to know the evidence against them. Many of Peru's judges have been fired for political reasons, not reform.

That's not a democracy the United States should condone. Fujimori's popularity, although important, is no reason not to support the basic rights Peruvians also clamor for. The protection of human rights and government accountability, not midnight executions and stacked courts, will give Fujimori the credibility he needs to defeat guerrillas. Robin Kirk, Washington Americas Watch Turkey's strong ties

The Opinion page article "What Leverage in Central Asia?," April 8, makes selective use of quotations and misleading suggestions to imply that Turkey does not have significant influence in the new Turkic republics of Central Asia.

Obviously, today no leader of a country would openly admit to succumbing to any external pressures. Yet it would be absurd to deny that the close emotional, cultural, and linguistic ties between Turkey and the new republics have been translated into a strong Turkish impact on the current politics and economics of Central Asia. S. Daulet, West Palm Beach, Fla. The crisis in Armenia

Thank you for your recent coverage of the crisis in the Republic of Armenia. As an American Armenian, I am deeply concerned about the situation in Armenia, which is becoming worse every day.

There are an estimated 30,000 Armenians who will perish this year because of lack of heat, shelter, food, and medical care. Electricity in the capital of Yerevan is only available for one hour a day sporadically. Schools are closed for the second winter. Almost all of the hospitals are closed due to lack of electricity, heat, supplies, and food. The situation has passed crisis, and there is no end in sight.

The media have inundated the Armenian public with coverage of the events in Somalia and Bosnia. Don't my people deserve the same? Steve A. Baronian, Richmond, Va.

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