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Letters to the editor

November 16, 2001 | Page 4

SW should oppose the Taliban regime

Dear Socialist Worker,

While I agree that U.S. foreign policy causes many of the problems in the Middle East and must be changed, SW hasn't addressed the reality of what I would call Islamic fundamentalist fascism.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban have an agenda that is about more than attacking U.S. foreign policy. They are against the equality of women with men and hate the separation of church and state.

Many Afghans, especially women, support the U.S. attacks on the Taliban, at least for the time being, until the destruction from U.S. bombing becomes too great.

We have seen the destruction of Buddhist statues by the Taliban, large-scale massacres by fundamentalists in Algeria and Indonesia and the slaughter of tourists in Egypt by Islamic fundamentalists.

Women in Afghanistan–and they're not much better off in Saudi Arabia–cannot work or attend school (except clandestine ones) and must be completely covered at all times.

This is not representative of Islam. It is the most regressive religious fundamentalism. And it sure as hell isn't socialist.

M. A. Gamble, San Francisco

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U.S. tramples democracy in Nicaragua

Dear Socialist Worker,

U.S. pundits celebrated the victory of businessman Enrique Bolanos over Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua's elections last week. Ortega was a leader of the Sandinista revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

The Sandinistas tried to redistribute land to peasants, raise workers' wages and educate the poor–and the U.S. government responded by unleashing a wave of terror against the Nicaraguan people. The CIA armed right-wing paramilitaries–known as the contras–who slaughtered thousands of Nicaraguans.

A war-weary population voted Ortega out in 1990. But the failure of successive conservative governments to deal with the plight of Nicaragua's poor made Ortega a contender again in this year's elections.

Ortega, however, went to great lengths to moderate his platform, pledging to adhere to the free-market policies endorsed by the IMF and World Bank. This muddled the distinction between the Sandinistas and their more conservative opponents.

Early polls showed Ortega in the lead. But flagrant intervention by the U.S. government helped seal the election's outcome.

The U.S. increased its supply of food relief, which was given to Bolanos to dole out in photo ops. And State Department officials pressured Conservative Party candidate Noel Vidaurre to withdraw from the presidential race to prevent a split of the anti-Ortega vote.

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and several other U.S. lawmakers proposed bills to cut aid to Nicaragua in the event of an Ortega win. And in a letter circulated by Bolanos's party, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush compared Ortega to Osama bin Laden.

"Daniel Ortega is an enemy of everything the United States represents," wrote Bush. "Further, he is a friend of our enemies. Ortega has a relationship of more than 30 years with states and individuals who shelter and condone international terrorism."

Politicians talk about a "war against terrorism" to defend democracy. Meanwhile, they're trampling on basic democratic rights at home and abroad.

Matt Nichter, Chicago

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