Close SchoolI commend The Sun for its excellent coverage...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 10, 1995

Close School

I commend The Sun for its excellent coverage of the Central Intelligence Agency operative's role in the murders in Guatemala of an American citizen and the husband of Baltimore-born lawyer Jennifer Harbury.

I have been following Ms. Harbury's two hunger strikes to learn the fate of her husband.

Your stories make clear the reason that neither our government nor the government of Guatemala has been forthcoming with information about his torture and death: The murderer is a colonel in the Guatemalan army and was on the CIA payroll at the time of the murder in 1992.

In addition, Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez was trained at the U.S. School of the Americas, whose graduates, as your article pointed out, include "Roberto D'Aubuisson, leader of death squads in El Salvador; 19 Salvadoran soldiers named in the 1989 assassination of six Jesuit priests and three soldiers accused of the 1980 rape and murder of four U.S. church workers; Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras and other leaders of the military junta that ran Haiti from 1991 to 1994; . . . and Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega of Panama."

I have a personal interest in Guatemala because my former pastor and his wife have moved there to live and work with Guatemalan citizens displaced by the Guatemalan Army's war against its own people.

My daughter is serving her third stint with them there, as a volunteer. They all see first hand the pain caused by the repressive and brutal government, especially to Guatemalans of Mayan descent who have been forced from their villages to live in squalid conditions in squatter settlements in the "ring of misery" that surrounds Guatemala City.

I pray that this new information that our own government, our own taxpayers' money, supports this reign of terrorism prompts many of us to urge our president and representatives to dismantle the School of the Americas and to end all support to the repressive army in Guatemala.

Linda Wiley

Columbia

Excellent Article

I wish to commend you for publishing John B. O'Donnell's excellent March 19 article, "Social Security, a retirement pot stuffed with IOU," and giving the real facts about the Social Security trust funds.

Politicians and most of the news media have been bombarding us in the last few years with contentions that it is necessary to reduce benefits or the fund will run out of money. This is clearly not the case.

In fact, reducing the benefits without also reducing the payroll tax by the same amount would increase the deficit.

The extra money saved by reducing benefits would be spent by Congress. It would cause even more IOUs to be placed in the Treasury, to be redeemed by the taxpayers when income finally falls behind payouts.

The truth of the matter is that if we increased the amount of payouts to the retirees, Congress couldn't get its hands on it and would write fewer IOUs, thereby reducing the deficit. The problem is the U.S. Congress, not the Social Security trust fund.

In 1950, there was a surplus of $1.7 billion in the trust fund. That surplus steadily grew to $355.6 billion at the close of FY 1993. According to Mr. O'Donnell, that surplus increased by more than $20 billion in FY 1994.

However, the money is not there because our benevolent congresspersons have already spent it, and the taxpayers owe it to the system.

If Congress really wanted to solve the problem, it would allow the Social Security Administration to invest the surplus every year.

A very simple fix would be to use the surplus to finance home mortgages. In addition to making money with the interest, you would have a positive cash flow as the home owners made their monthly payments back into the system.

But what do I know? I am just a taxpayer, not a tax spender.

Fred M. Glazier

Laurel

No Understanding

Jeff Zenger, in his letter "Too Many Lawsuits" (March 29), personifies the type of individual who has little personal knowledge of Maryland's (or another state's) legal system.

If Mr. Zenger were killed by some foul, negligent drunk (usually a repeat offender) or any other bad driver, his loved ones would be lucky to receive compensation over and above the $500,000 cap on non-economic losses.

That includes the value of his life reduced to an economic analysis by some expert, any "pain and suffering" his loved ones went through upon his death and, if he were married, for the loss of consortium.

His economic losses -- medical bills, funeral bills and other related costs -- are not capped in Maryland. Yet, realistically a lot of insurance must be present for the collection of all the "damages" he may win.

If not, he gets little or zero. That is, if he's not found even 1 percent at fault. For his own death or disability, no less.

His own insurer would get mighty unfriendly if the other person were under-insured too.

And winning an award, particularly for gross injuries or death, is not guaranteed. Ask any reputable, skilled and ethical attorney . . .

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