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Does Debt-for-Nature Plan Encourage Destructive Development?

The editorial ``Reducing Debt, Protecting Nature,'' March 20, misses the point. Sure, converting Latin American debt owed to the US government into local funds for environmental projects is worthwhile, but not if a country must adopt environmentally destructive economic policies in order to participate. And that is exactly what is required of Latin American governments. To be eligible for the benefits of the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative (EAI), a country must embrace structural-adjustment and open-investment policies, measures that foster the rapid extraction of natural resources for export. The impact of these US-promoted policies on the third world's environment and local populations over the past decade has been devastating and many times more profound than that of the relatively small amou nts of environmental project funding and debt relief the EAI would generate.

This debt-for-nature proposal is little more than a hook to gain public backing for the continued restructuring of Latin American economies. Congress will likely once again support the EAI and administration adjustment policies without a meaningful debate on their far-reaching implications for out southern neighbors and their habitats.

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Stephen Hellinger, Washington

Thanks from abroad The brave men and women soldiers deserve our unforgetful love and thanks for putting their lives on the line in the Gulf. To those who made the supreme sacrifice we owe a special tribute.

But let's not delude ourselves that aggression has been terminated either in the Gulf or in other parts of the world. Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and continues its invasion and occupation of parts of southern Lebanon. Indonesia launched a similar unchecked aggression against East Timor.

The American government could make no greater contribution to world peace than to demand that illegal invasions of other peoples' lands cease whether these violations are in the Middle East, East Timor, or elsewhere. What greater tribute could we pay to our Gulf heroes and sheroes?

James V. Crotty, Parede, Portugal

Again the United States of America made and is making enormous efforts to preserve peace in the world. I and most of the people of the Netherlands are very proud of your country: really the home of the brave! I felt together with my parents the brutal occupation of my country for five years, and since then I do admire the US very much. Once again America could do as it had done in giving the Netherlands their independence back and demonstrate that no aggressor may flaunt the will of the United Nations. The courageous actions of the American soldiers, airmen, and seamen, as well as the courageous women of the forces show that America stands for freedom.

B.D. Cremer, Stadskanaal, the Netherlands

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