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Economic and Political Rights For All

The article ''Cleanup of 'Dirty Little Wars' Demanded in Latin America,'' Aug. 30, leaves two terrible assumptions unchallenged.

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First, that today's human rights standards are different than those of 10 or more years ago. Dictators need to be reminded that, in moral terms, torturing and killing people have been considered abuses for centuries.

Prior to military coups, countries such as Chile and Uruguay had democratic constitutions protecting civil and political rights.

Second, that economic stability came without a high price tag. The military and its supporters conveniently forget the Pinochet negatives: the depressions of the 1970s and early 1980s caused by the government's ''free market'' policies.

Governments in Eastern Europe used to assert wrongly that political and civil rights didn't matter as long as economic growth occurred and social needs were met.

It is ironic that, six years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, apologists for right-wing dictators make similarly dangerous arguments. True democracy and lasting development cannot occur without the guarantee of both economic and political rights for all.

Erich D. Mathias New York

NATO's bombing in Bosnia

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The NATO bombing campaign against Bosnia's Serbs represents a major victory for Bosnian Muslims and Croat propagandists. From the beginning, the Muslim objective has been to draw Western forces to their side of the conflict. The last exodus of 50,000 Serb refugees indicates that the Muslims and the Croats are now going to achieve a Serb-free Bosnia.

It's unfortunate that the American plan for Bosnia's partition wasn't put forward three years ago. Thousands of lives would have been saved and airstrikes would have been unnecessary.

It is unlikely that the latest peace plan will succeed. With NATO on its side, the Bosnian Muslim ruling clique has less incentive to negotiate than ever before.

George Tintor London

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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