U.S. embargo hurts Cubans without causeIt is...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

U.S. embargo hurts Cubans without cause

It is a great puzzle to me why the United States of America, a great country and supposedly world leader, chooses to persecute the peoples of Cuba.

A tight trade embargo in addition to business and travel restrictions impose severe hardships on that country in an attempt to topple its government and depose Fidel Castro.

Why all this, when the tiny country presents no possible military, economic or political threat to the U.S.? Yet our government continues to harass Cuba with a fanatic and unexplainable fervor.

I cannot find any rational explanation for this policy, other than an anti-communist obsession carried over from the Cold War on the part of a few influential legislators.

It is an effort initiated and strongly supported by wealthy Cuban ex-patriots in the U.S. who want to re-establish their control of the Cuban government.

Certainly, with the Cold War over, the American public has little further interest in battling socialism in neighboring countries.

Those promoting the embargo claim they are working for the "freedom" of Cuban people. Visitors returning from Cuba, however, report that most people remain loyal to Castro and do )) not yearn for "liberation."

Most Cubans feel that their government has provided many benefits, including good education and health care systems, and established a society free of class and race discrimination.

They do criticize the economy, but there appears to be little likelihood of a rebellion or other drastic change -- the prime objective of the embargo.

Actually, the continued U.S. harassment appears to enhance public loyalty to Castro.

The U.S. policy of persecuting Cuba is a puzzle to other nations as well.

The policy is obviously inconsistent with that toward China, a Communist country guilty of serious human right violations. This contradiction makes U.S. foreign policy appear erratic if not ludicrous.

The world community's disapproval was clearly expressed in the 1992 United Nations resolution entitled "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of America Against Cuba."

Likewise, our policy is repugnant to large sectors of our own citizens. Public statements denouncing the embargo have been issued by most mainline religious denominations.

In addition to moral issues, there are many practical drawbacks to our policy.

The poor Cuban economy, largely a result of the embargo, results in many Cubans coming to this country, imposing severe burdens on the U.S. Restriction of travel to Cuba violates our right to freedom of movement. The ban on trade denies us a good market for American goods and services.

The embargo is not logical, practical or morally justifiable. For the United States of America to continue to punish the Cuban people is unreasonable. It presents a very public and uncomplimentary picture of Americans to the world.

Yet Congress is proposing even harsher restrictions in the near future. American citizens want a more enlightened and mutually beneficial policy toward Cuba -- one worthy of a world leader.

elson B. Tharp

Ellicott City

NASCAR track

The proposed NASCAR racetrack in Middle River might be a good idea. We need jobs in eastern Baltimore County. I applaud the developers of this racetrack for sharing information with the public and allowing input from the people.

However, I have some serious concerns about this project. First, the speedway would be located in the center of a residential area.

Eastern Baltimore County already has a high cancer rate. To me, a racetrack will increase air pollution, noise pollution, traffic congestion, etc. Noise pollution has already been an issue with Martin State Airport.

Second, the land for this development is zoned for light industry. If Baltimore County wants to improve the economy in our community, let it bring in manufacturing jobs. The United States is losing its industrial base. Our country is becoming a Third World economy.

Fifty years ago, the United States was an industrial giant. Bethlehem Steel built Liberty ships, General Motors built automobile parts, Glenn L. Martin built airplanes, etc.

We won World War II because we had a strong industrial base. Smokestack industries are history. We need high-tech jobs if the United States is going to compete with the rest of the world. Also, high-tech jobs are better for the environment.

Baltimore County should encourage computer chip, circuit board and software program companies to locate to our area.

Manufacturing jobs pay a lot better than service-related jobs coming from a racetrack. Manufacturing jobs would also employ more people on a regular basis than seasonal jobs generated by a tourist attraction.

Paul Michael Blitz

Essex

Destroy them

What becomes of the lethal weapons such as the AK-47s and other items seized in drug raids as shown to the public on TV?

The public should be able to witness the complete destruction of these instruments of death before they can be recycled into our society.

Robert A. Belschner

Parkville

'Militia'

A letter May 2 said the writer was bewildered by the use of the term "militia" for groups of extremists such as those who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City.

The reason the word is used is that it is the word the extremists give themselves when they form groups.

All that is necessary to negate the implication of legitimacy is to enclose it in quotation marks.

Lem Hall

Jessup

Grand benefactor

I read with great interest the article about the Elan Vital Center ("Through Discipline, a New Life," May 5). I was pleased to learn that the program seems to be succeeding under the direction of Sandy Stewart.

Nowhere, however, did I see the name of Willard Hackerman -- without whom this project would never have come to fruition. It was Mr. Hackerman who rebuilt, converted to apartments and furnished the two buildings now occupied by the residents -- all at his own expense.

Mr. Hackerman has been a pioneer in the state and perhaps in the country in establishing transitional housing for homeless women and children.

His concern and generosity have resulted in the conversion to 72 apartment units in two abandoned schools in Baltimore City, the Jessup Blair House in Montgomery County, Sarah's House at Fort Meade, the Transitional House in Caroline County and, most recently, the Elan Vital House in Baltimore County.

He does this with little fanfare, wanting no publicity, and for that reason many people are unaware of his generosity and the role he has played in starting, fostering and helping finance housing for the homeless.

Providing shelter for those in need, however, is just one area to which Mr. Hackerman has made a contribution. His concern and philanthropy have benefited the culture, health, education and business of our community, and for all of this we can be most grateful.

Shirley Cohen

Baltimore

City streets dirty

Why is it that the area just south of Oriole Park at Camden Yards that is bounded by South Sharp Street, West Ostend Street and West West Street is always littered with broken beer and whiskey bottles, trash and syringes? Can it not be kept clean by city sanitation workers?

Thousands of tourists walk these streets en route to and from Orioles games. This blight, unfortunately, is too often their first impression of our home -- "Charm City."

Our mayoral candidates speak eloquently about the need to attract tourism to Baltimore. Their rhetoric -- at least based on their indifference to this important section of the city -- is just that.

Melvin E. Tansill

Baltimore

Cut the deficit

Balancing the budget and getting rid of the deficit are the most important things facing our country today. It must be done.

Doing so requires sacrifice, and that means everyone has to give up something.

Although Republican Rep. John R. Kasich has made strong arguments for this necessity, conspicuous has been the

absence of any mention of the members of Congress.

Certainly they are entitled to some perks, but they should not ask the American people to make sacrifices and give up nothing themselves.

Jane Hutzler Wolf

Baltimore

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