Peruvian presidential candidate is not just another populist

The April 7 article, "Peru looks set to elect region's next populist," claims that "[Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta] Humala's friendship with Venezuelan president [Hugo] Chávez ... helps his image as an anti-establishment figure." In fact, Mr. Chávez's endorsement of Mr. Humala - along with human rights abuse allegations - actually hurt Humala in the polls, forcing him to distance himself from Venezuela. Moreover, the reflex labeling of Humala as just another populist does a disservice to the threat he actually represents.

Unlike Evo Morales in Bolivia, who spent time as an opposition senator and lost his first bid for the presidency, Humala has no experience with the negotiations and consensus building that politics normally requires. Unlike Chávez in Venezuela, who has not engaged in systematic physical repression of his opposition, Humala has experience violently dispatching his opponents outside any legislative or judicial framework. There is some hope that Morales and Chávez will contribute to the improvement of their desperately poor countries through new mechanisms of political participation. But there is no doubt that Humala's potential victory will represent a significant step backward for democracy and respect for human rights in Peru.
Julián Casal

Immigration debate marches on

Regarding the April 10 article, "US immigrants mobilizing for major 'action' ": I own a house. I choose not to allow just any person to walk into my house, set up housekeeping, tell me how to live my life, and demand we feed and take care of him or her.

If I choose to take a person in, that is my choice, and I have done that in the past. However, I insist that the person live by my rules. I would imagine that those who endorse letting illegals into the country would not appreciate those people moving into their homes, setting up housekeeping, and demanding to be fed and taken care of.

America is my home; I pay a big portion of my wages to support the upkeep of my American home. All I require is that those who want to live here follow the laws that make up this country. Just as you would remove an unwanted intruder in your home - no matter what the need or reason he was there - we should throw the illegals out and welcome those who ask to be here legally.
Michael A. Smith
Yazoo City, Miss.

Regarding the April 10 article, "Breakthrough on Senate immigration bill breaks down": As I watch the activities surrounding immigration bills, I sometimes wonder why this issue has developed the way it has.

The US is supposed to be a leader in the free world and a defender of democracy. Instead, I am hearing about measures such as putting a fence up to keep people from crossing the border, or deporting millions back to their countries. This isn't the kind of democracy I learned in school or practice in life; it sounds more like a dictatorship.

I sometimes wonder what we Americans are doing in Iraq, and I hear senators and our president stating that they are bringing democracy to Iraq. On the other hand, people who are seeking democracy in the US are being threatened with deportation.

If we all look very closely at who we are, we will find that we all have some immigrant blood in our systems. And if we realize this, we would not be so quick to raise the fences and give a one-way ticket to so many who seek freedom for their future.
Lawrence D. Pierce
Austin, Texas

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