Rebels Threaten Mozambique; West Watches

Having just returned from development work along the Zimbabwean-Mozambican border, I must add an even more dour note to your recent assessment of the repatriation process in the article ``UN, Mozambique Begin Massive Repatriation,'' Aug. 11.

The security situation in Mozambique remains tenuous, largely because of the refusal of the the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (Renamo) to abide by the terms of the peace negotiations. The withdrawal of Zimbabwean troops has enabled rebel groups to reclaim control of many areas, and now they are demanding ``taxes'' from returning residents. An estimated 2 million land mines also threaten local villagers - not just along roads and footpaths, but also hidden near springs, fruit trees, and gardens.

A brisk border trade certainly does exist between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Unfortunately, much of this activity is fueled by corruption and organized crime. It is disturbingly easy to purchase stolen food aid, poached elephant ivory, or AK-47 assault rifles, thanks to enterprising capitalists. Mozambique's long nightmare is not over yet, and the West's continued complacency towards a bloody conflict it foolishly created hardly helps. John E. Peck, Madison, Wis.

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