- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2000

Metropolitan Police Department's job well done

Being new to Washington and representing a business that is affected in many ways by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference, I want to recognize the extraordinary efforts of our law enforcement officers over the past week.

With the images of the Seattle World Trade Organization conference foremost in mind, most of us in the local business community were concerned about how the IMF protests would affect our business.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey prepared local businesses for what to anticipate well in advance of the conference. The state of readiness by law enforcement was reassuring on all fronts. To see firsthand District police officers being provoked by protesters, yet officers remaining non-confrontational through long hours and inclement weather was a testament to the training and preparation overseen by Chief Ramsey.

At no time during the conference did our guests, local patrons and 450 employees feel as though their safety or security was threatened. The level of professionalism by police and federal officers was beyond reproach from our vantage point. In addition, the cooperation between the various law enforcement agencies and our hotel was positive. We are most appreciative of the sensitivities shown by the officers toward our guests by allowing them to go about their business.

While Washington has in years past occasionally received a "black eye," it is on this occasion that Chief Ramsey and our law enforcement officers should be commended for an extraordinary job in difficult and challenging circumstances.

CHRISTOPHER HUNSBERGER

Regional vice president and general manager

Four Seasons Hotel

Washington

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I want to commend you for your editorial concerning the way the Metropolitan Police Department handled the International Monetary Fund protesters ("The District's thin blue line," April 18).

As a District resident, I watched and was extremely proud that this was not a repeat of what happened in Seattle. D.C. residents, local lawmakers, Congress and the president should feel proud of the superb way that Chief Charles H. Ramsey and his men performed in this very delicate situation.

As I watched the protests on television, I saw a lone policeman hold back a crowd from a car filled with dignitaries. It was an awesome sight. That was strength, dedication and determination to do his assigned job. He should be commended for that fearless feat. Nevertheless, his fellow officers were there quickly to assist him. They all should be commended for a job well done.

GRACE COFIELD

Washington

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In reference to the protests of the past few days, Chief Charles H. Ramsey and the Metropolitan Police Department deserve a pat on the back for a job well done.

Chief Ramsey is truly a leader. He was down on the front line and wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. We can sleep better at night knowing he and his department are on the job. What a difference from previous administrations.

JOE SOUTO

St. Charles, Md.

Few 'Pillars of prosperity' on the border

I must respond to Linda Chavez's uninformed column "Pillars of prosperity" (Commentary, April 7). Mrs. Chavez tells us to thank the immigrants for our booming economy. I live about 50 miles from the border in Arizona. I would like to tell you about some of the bountiful economic harvests we are reaping from illegal immigrants.

Our schools are overcrowded and complain of shortages of teachers and supplies. We are educating the children of illegal immigrants and paying for it through our taxes. In fact, there are school programs that my children are not eligible for that are offered to the children of illegal immigrants. Our local hospitals are picking up the tab for hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on treating illegal immigrants. The taxpayers ultimately pay for that, too.

Our once-quiet roads are now dangerous with the constant flood of speeding "coyotes" (alien smugglers), who sometimes literally run the locals off the road in their haste. A popular trick of the coyotes to escape Border Patrol agents is to jump out of a moving vehicle that is aimed at oncoming traffic. That way, the Border Patrol must prevent a potentially fatal accident while the illegals escape into the desert.

The desert is filled with trash from the aliens. I know better than to waste time cleaning it up. There will be more tomorrow. Our delicate riparian areas are being trashed by the constant flow of people unconcerned with the environment. Some say these areas already are damaged beyond repair.

I pay too much in taxes. As much as I hate paying, I consider it an obligation as an American. I am angry and resentful that I am paying taxes for people who are here illegally. I am not impressed that produce prices are lower. The negative impact that illegal immigration is having on our country far outweighs the benefits of cheaper strawberries.

"Pillars of prosperity?" Mrs. Chavez should pay a visit to my neck of the woods. I think it would be an eye-opener.

CINDY HUMPHRIES

Elfrida, Ariz.

A selective plan for IMF and World Bank debt forgiveness

The Jubilee 2000 organizers and participants could have made a more realistic argument and offered more pragmatic policy options to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank on ways to reduce the debt burden on developing countries than the argument and options they chanted at the meetings in Washington.

There is the issue of stability of the world financial system. If debt forgiveness becomes a standing policy for dealing with international debt, what is the incentive to repay sovereign loans? What prevents any country from racking up huge loan debt and dragging its feet to repay the loan, in the belief that sooner or later, the debt will be forgiven? What impact did the IMF and the World Bank Brady Plan in the 1980s have on debtor nations? Most of the countries that benefited from that policy are back to being heavily in debt.

Some debtor nations would benefit from debt forgiveness, but, clearly, not every heavily indebted developing country deserves its debts forgiven in part or whole by the IMF or the World Bank. However, there has to be concrete criteria for evaluating which debtor nations are able to repay their loans, which have merited debt forgiveness, which would make the best of debt relief, and which have not merited debt forgiveness and would not make the best of the relief.

Countries such as Nigeria where almost every current and former senior military officer is a multimillionaire, and where the government has been reckless and foolish in its expenditure priorities and has failed to set up more effective controls and accounting systems to stem the widespread looting of the national treasury clearly have not demonstrated that they have merited forgiveness of their international debt. Countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and others, which waste their scarce resources by waging wars against their neighbors as millions of their people die of hunger, starvation and disease, have not merited their debts being forgiven.

Let us not forget that the billions of dollars owed by these countries came from the hard-earned taxes paid by working people in the creditor nations. As a working-class American, imagine your tax dollars being siphoned by some corrupt military or political leader in these countries into their private bank accounts around the world. Also, imagine the taxes you paid to the U.S. government being used to buy weapons and to arm child soldiers in wars.

The modality for the debt-forgiveness initiative that would have real, positive outcomes for debtor nations should be linked to initiatives by debtor nations to improve human rights, participate and accept international dispute resolution, and cooperation with the IMF/World Bank to repatriate illegally acquired money in foreign banks, back to the debtor nation.

IGNATIUS ANYANWU

Sacramento, Calif.

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