US Intervention in Guatemala Overrated

In the Opinion page article "Behind Guatemala's `Miracle'," June 23, the author suggests that United States intervention played a decisive role in restoring democracy to Guatemala. He argues that the threat of US trade sanctions caused conservative sectors in Guatemala to end their support for ex-President Jorge Serrano's seizure of dictatorial power, forcing his resignation.

Subsequent events belie this conclusion. After Serrano was deposed, the Guatemalan Army tried to perpetuate the coup by installing Vice President Gustavo Espina, a Serrano prot, as the new ruler.

Washington publicly acquiesced, saying that it would accept Mr. Espina for the sake of regional stability. Had local conservatives been responding mainly to US signals, they would have presumably backed Espina, having done the minimum to escape foreign pressure, but most did not. That the nation's former human-rights ombudsman, Ramiro de Leon, assumed the presidency instead shows that domestic forces for change were far stronger than any supplied by Washington. David Longtin, Washington

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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