The Downside of US Aid and Intervention

The line between opinion and propaganda is admittedly nearly transparent, contributing to the insidious nature of the latter. Your opinion-page article "Celebrating - Cautiously - a Year of Peace in Guatemala" (Jan. 29) straddled that line.

Touting the achievement of converting 2,940 (of a total Mayan population of perhaps 7 to 8 million) former guerrillas to new careers and relocation does not speak to the problem of US monetary and military intervention. Every dollar sent by the US supports the horrific and genocidal status quo that has enslaved and tried to exterminate the Maya for 500 years.

In 1993, while standing on a street corner in Guatemala City, my family observed the landing of one of three US Army transport planes. Two months later, at a New Hampshire Pizza Hut, we met a waitress from the National Guard who had been in one of the planes on a "humanitarian mission" (military aid had been cut off by Congress at that point.)

She commented that they had vaccinated a baby or two, but their real purpose was to study the securing of a port and an oil-rich region of the mountains. The concerns of my Guatemalan friends began to make more sense in light of the underlying self-interest of any aid sent by the US.

Later, facts surfaced of CIA involvement in the deaths of Michael Devine, Efraim Bamaco, and the husbands of countless widows who begged to sell us their used huipiles (blouses) on the streets of mountain villages. US training at the School of the Americas of the war criminals responsible for the attempted genocide of the 1980s came to light as well.

I wonder if the US Agency for International Development would be willing to spend some administrative time tallying the damages our foreign policy has inflicted. Then they might weigh the real effects of 2,940 "rehabilitated" people against the net effect of US aid: support of the status quo.

Julie Levy

Perkinsville, Vt.

Nuclear waste - we told you so

Regarding the editorial "Waste Watching" (Feb. 10): you claim that "no one knew what a job this would be decades ago when the nuclear plants started going up ..."

I beg to differ. The entire anti-nuclear community predicted that decommissioning and waste-handling would be vastly more than the sanguine cost estimates given by nuclear boosters.

Why is it that environmental activists are either ignored or branded as "doomsday prophets," but when the prophecy is fulfilled, we are told that we never existed?

Will Bonsall

Farmington, Maine

Getting the work of the country done

Opinion-page columnist David D. Newsom in "The Senate's Distaste for Treaties - a Perennial Problem for US Diplomacy" (Jan 14) addresses the Senate's challenges in considering expansion of NATO. It impelled me to recall my graduate studies: My master's thesis was based on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's introduction of the use of executive agreements on a grand scale.

In view of America's strong isolationist stance at that time, this tool permitted him to initiate and expand US assistance to European countries in their growing conflicts with Nazi Germany, without the delays he was certain to encounter had it been necessary to face the constitutional requirement for Senate advice and consent.

These memories brought forth my question as to whether the present administration has considered a possible rebirth of executive agreements as a means to expedite crucial international treaties caught in the logjam - some "70 treaties signed by the US and submitted to the Senate in the last 50 years [which] remain unratified."

Le Roi L. Elliott


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