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Economic Recovery for Indonesia

I read with interest opinion columnist David Newsom's assertion in "Indonesian Crisis: Shared Blame" (Oct. 14) that the success of the IMF-led economic bailout in Indonesia depends on "how soon private outside capital will return." Such an assessment reflects a perspective that is dismissive of the varied, and often negative, impacts of multinational capital in Indonesia.

One particularly disturbing example is that of Freeport McMoRan, a US-based mining company in West Papua. Freeport, with the aid of the Indonesian military, has mined the sacred mountains of the indigenous West Papuans, contaminated the environment, and dispossesed the inhabitants of their lands, while profits flow to Jakarta and Freeport. Is it any wonder that there is an armed rebellion in this province?

What is truly amazing is that there is so little critical assessment of what "private outside capital" means to Indonesians outside of the Jakarta-based banking and business sector. While all multinational investment is not undesirable, the failure to analyze closely the varied nature of such investment (across the more than 13,000 islands of Indonesia and around the world) does not bode well for the longterm success of efforts directed toward economic recovery.

Coleen Fox

Eugene, Ore.

Treasure Island

Regarding "US, Haiti Face Off Over a Tiny Island's 'Green Gold'" (Oct. 20): It would be imbecilic, but not uncharacteristic, of the Clinton administration to give up Navassa Island. American claims to the island are longstanding and until recently unchallenged. The biggest question surrounding the island is not territorial but scientific: How could we have overlooked Navassa's treasures for so long?

Almost without knowing it, America owns Treasure Island. It would be ironic if the pusillanimous policymakers of the Clinton White House were to relinquish this jewel to a dysfunctional, and environmentally catastrophic, nation.

Craig Brelsford


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