Letters to the Editor

Readers write about youth movements in Cuba and declining foreign tourism in the US.

Cuban youth movements stay politically active

Regarding the July 25 article "Cuba's youth: restless but not often political": The article claims that the boldest public confrontation to date came from students at the University of Information Sciences who asked challenging questions to National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón. This leaves out that there was another direct and open challenge to the system that took place last winter with the presentation of the University Students Without Borders petition demanding academic freedom and the return of independent universities.

Students engaging in political action on campus are often expelled. For example, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on Sept. 23, 2003, Roger Rubio Lima was expelled from the University of Camagüey for having signed a petition known as the Varela Project.

Cuban youth want both economic and political liberty, not just iPods.

John Suarez

Member, Free Cuba Foundation

Foreign perceptions affect US tourism

Regarding the July 29 article, "Tourism rises globally, but not to U.S.": We always had to deal with surly border guards when visiting the United States. In recent years, this has degenerated into outright aggressive demeanors and procedures. Our border crossings diminish every year, and might reach zero this summer.

Robert Soly
Laval, Quebec

In response to the article on the slowdown of tourism from abroad: Many Europeans and Canadians view the US as dangerous, due to multiple shootings.

They do not understand a culture that permits and encourages an armed citizenry and still maintains capital punishment. Personally, I am very embarrassed about the country's jingoism, its gun-owning mentality, and the arrogance of our administration that have made us very unpopular.

Louise Luke Rohde
Dublin, N.H.

Regarding the article on declining foreign tourism in the US: I am a senior-citizen Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. I deal with university students. They are enthusiastic about the US and dream of getting over for a visit – maybe a permanent one. Older people do, too, but among them I sense resentment and anger.

It has a lot to do with our loss of prestige, but it also has to do – and I hate to say this – with envy and jealousy. They think, "How come Americans have been so favored? How come we have to struggle so hard?"

To be blunt, I think it all has to do with the mind-set that all Americans are rich and our country is a paradise – despite the fact that millions of Ukrainians watch TV and do get to see that we have big problems. What's ironic is that our country does so much to be helpful here. We have nearly 300 volunteers serving here and we have a USAID office that gives out millions.

John Guy LaPlante
Deep River, Conn.

Regarding the story on the drop in US tourism by foreign visitors: One element that was either overlooked or obscured is the direct antipathy that most foreigners have to the United States government as run by George W. Bush. Preemptive wars, torture, environmental neglect, treaty abrogations – the list goes on. In my travels in Europe and Central America, I have run into many fellow tourists who have sworn off visiting the United States while Mr. Bush is in office. Good news? Tourism may rebound quite nicely next year.

Matthew O'Brien
Milpitas, Calif.

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