- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Selective free-market principles

I am curious if Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Texas Republican, would be in favor of removing any and all tariffs on imported cars, or is he only in favor of free market principles when they help companies that extract oil and gas from under the 19th Congressional District of Texas?

Mr. Neugebauer’s Op-Ed “Energy options” (Tuesday) ignores the demand side of the energy market, including basic steps that would enable American citizens to buy as many Japanese hybrid cars and as much Brazilian ethanol as they want.

MICHAEL SULTAN

Alexandria

Don’t whitewash Armenian genocide

Tulin Daloglu’s attempts to demonize the tsunami of support favoring the passage of H.R. 106 recognizing the Armenian genocide and her desperate attempt to create a rift between Armenians by leveraging Archbishop Mesrob II Mutafyan as a propaganda tool for Turkey’s campaign of denial are patently ludicrous (“Being heard on campus,” Op-Ed, Tuesday).

The bogus conjecture that the archbishop caters to “an unheard split within the Armenian community” concerning the passage of H.R. 106 is merely another attempt to ignore the real and vile threats that Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code poses against those who counter the official Turkish line.

The assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, who fell victim to Turkey’s increasing intolerance of freedom of expression, can attest to that fact. Although the murder of innocent civilians is indeed considered a crime in Turkey, justified skepticism over how a crime is “treated” is evident in a telling report from Amnesty International that states: “Torture, ill-treatment and killings continue to be met with persistent impunity for the security forces in Turkey. As a result justice for the victims of human rights violations in Turkey is delayed or denied.”

Allowing amnesty for suspected military, police and law enforcement officers so they escape justice for their suspected roles in planning such crimes is not consistent with European Union standards and does not bode well for Turkey’s track record of human rights abuses.

Similarly troublesome is the false contention that the Armenian National Committee of America blocked Archbishop Mutafyan’s speech. This is preposterous.

The historical veracity of the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust are indisputable. The freedom of speech that all democratic societies cherish cannot be exploited by the Ernst Zundels and Mahmoud Ahmadinejads of this world to foment hate. I suspect those same misguided individuals who allow the demented to preach xenophobic fundamentalism and denialist propaganda from Western lecterns also would welcome Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong-il of North Korea to Columbia University to share their views.

MIRAN G. TERNAMIAN

Waterloo, Ontario

Puerto Rican statehood

The editorial “Puerto Rican statehood” (Monday) accurately reflects the colonialist views of the minority Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico as espoused by its K Street lobbyists. It promotes a second-class American citizenship for the residents of Puerto Rico, denying them full participation in the responsibilities and benefits of statehood.

As a result of its colonial status and contrary to your position, Puerto Rico is in the midst of a severe economic crisis that has lowered the Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating of its government bonds down to almost junk level. The only way out of this financial morass is to merge the island economy with the national economy through statehood and by doing so help eliminate its dependence on federal funds for its financial survival.

Failing to do so will force more Puerto Ricans to vote with their feet by moving to the mainland, where 4 million of us already have made our home, depriving the island territory of needed manpower and professionals and thus worsening its economic crisis.

Let’s put an end to this exodus. After 509 years of colonial status, Puerto Ricans want a change. Constitutionally or by international law, there are just two solutions: statehood or full independence.

DR. ANTONIO M. LONGO

Alexandria

The editorial “Puerto Rican statehood” concludes that nothing is broken on the island, so there is nothing to fix.

More than a century ago, the United States invaded Puerto Rico and took the territory as war booty. Unlike in the Philippines, Congress did not unilaterally grant its people independence but rather conferred U.S. citizenship unilaterally in 1917 to the more than 1 million Puerto Ricans. That number has blossomed to 8 million U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico, half on the island.

In the most recent plebiscite (1998) just .06 percent voted for the status quo. More than 99 percent voted for a change. The Puerto Rico Democracy Act (H.R. 900) has 129 bipartisan sponsors in the House. What the markup and a successful House vote for H.R. 900 would do would be to recognize that 4 million U.S. citizens on that island have a right to political self-determination in a political system that adheres to the U.S. Constitution.

If the choice is between statehood and independence in a deterritorialized Puerto Rico, the overwhelming choice would be statehood. That makes the issue completely different from the District of Columbia’s one-vote-in-the-House issue.

What is broken in the Puerto Rican issue is none other than the consent of the governed, the bedrock of our American way.

President Bush was right in his Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status recommendation in December 2005, which would have made Puerto Rico a state. Congress would just be following the president’s appropriate insight.

MAURICE A. FERRE

Mayor

Miami

Once again you devote editorial space to the question of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States well done (“Puerto Rican statehood,” Editorial, Monday). That said, it is to be regretted that the information the editorial contains is well off the mark and in conflict with the reality of what our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico face and instead adopts the opinion of a few.

The editorial asks: “Where is the crisis?” How about in the economy, which is on the verge of tanking; or in the Education Department, which, through mismanagement and separatist-inspired policies part and parcel of commonwealth doctrine such as the absent teaching of English continues to lose sorely needed federal funding; or in an administration that is openly hostile to the United States and wastes no opportunity to belittle it from one side of the mouth while rapaciously demanding more Yankee dollars from the other.

Then there’s the lack of job opportunities, which, coupled with a brutal tax burden imposed on the average citizen by the incumbent administration, has resulted in the largest emigration to the mainland since the 1950s. Or enormous increases in the cost of basic services, utilities included, that at times exceed 300 percent. You say there is “no crisis.” Try saying that in San Juan.

Contrary to your assertion, the present arrangement is not working. The overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans realize something has to change. Even the governor seems to agree, judging by his call for a change of status to one that would give the island full sovereignty. Some call it “associated republic”; others call it “enhancing the Commonwealth,” which, translated to everyday language, means, “We don’t want the gringos here; we will accept only those federal laws we approve of; we will have our own international persona, but we will keep our American citizenship, and, oh yes, keep those green dollars coming.”

Sadly, Puerto Rico and the United States are headed for a confrontation of cataclysmic proportions that can be resolved only by bringing the island into the union or by setting the colony free to join, figuratively, our anti-American neighbors to the south.

LUIS GUINOT JR.

Former U.S. ambassador

to Costa Rica

Shapiro, Sher, Guinot and Sandler

Washington

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