Guilford seeking compromise with church plansJamal E...

Letters

June 06, 1999

Guilford seeking compromise with church plans

Jamal E. Watson's May 21 article, "Church cuts scope of expansion plans," mischaracterizes the "negotiations" between Guilford residents and the First Baptist Church of Guilford as never getting off the ground because of community insistence on a seating capacity of 900.

To the contrary, community representatives proposed compromise, suggesting 900 seats as a starting point.

This figure is the church's own, which it gave the community in 1996. (First Baptist never bothered to tell the community that the figure had more than doubled when it applied for a zoning exception last year.) Having rejected compromise, it was the church's insistence that ground down negotiations.

First Baptist claims that its new proposal is scaled back, yet the size of the building complex is identical to last year's: 1,938 seats. Seating and parking reductions are due in part to wider parking spaces and, according to First Baptist representatives, a wider parishioner seating metric.

First Baptist makes a show of declining state funding for its community center, with its senior pastor, Rev. John L. Wright, exclaiming, "We don't need the money." This indicates no reduction in scope for its plans, only an unwillingness to deal with the strings attached to the money.

Guilford residents are on record as supporting First Baptist's growth to a size harmonious with its residential setting. Residents continue to seek and will support such a compromise.

Oliver Edwards, Guilford

Food, medicine aren't policy tools

The Clinton administration recently announced the end of sanctions on the sale of food and medicines to Iran, Libya and Sudan.

According to the White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, the president had decided that "food should not be used as a tool of foreign policy."

While this is welcome news, the administration did not include Cuba among the countries to be exempted.

For almost 40 years, the United States has maintained against Cuba what amounts to the harshest sanctions imposed on any country. Even in the case of Iraq, the sanctions have not been as severe as for Cuba.

Yet, after all these years, the embargo against Cuba has failed to achieve its main goal, which is, in the words of Sen. Jesse Helms, the North Carolina Republican, "to force Castro out of Cuba either vertically or horizontally."

However, prohibiting the sale of food and medicines has harmed the health of the Cuban people and caused considerable damage to the infrastructure of the Cuban health care system.

Regardless of what one may think about Fidel Castro and his government, one fact stands out above all else: Cuba has done more to improve the health of its citizens than any other country in Latin America.

This is evident to anyone who visits the island. Everywhere in the world, especially in nonindustrialized nations, people look to Cuba as a guide to solve their health care issues.

Recently, a delegation of physicians from Baltimore visited Cuba. Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, Baltimore's health commissioner and leader of the delegation said, "For a country that's basically quite poor, their health statistics are tremendous" ("Health system in Cuba praised," The Sun, May 15).

On April 29, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd and Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, along with House colleagues, New York Democratic Rep. Jose E. Serrano and Louisiana Republican Rep. Jamed A. Leach introduced the Cuban Food and Medicine Security Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to end restrictions on the sale of food and medicine to Cuba, as well as remove obstacles on the trade of agricultural products.

The time has come to end the use of food and medicine as weapons of foreign policy. People need to voice your concern about this issue.

Leslie P. Salgado, Columbia

The writer is chairwoman of the Howard County Friends of Latin America.

Capitalism's darker history

It is currently fashionable to cheer the advantages of individualism and market forces over collectivism (which is democracy) and government regulation. But the truth is it has been our government that has made our society better, not unregulated capitalism.

Before our government's intervention in our economy, unregulated capitalism brought us economic depressions instead of recessions (during economic downturns), sweatshop-working conditions instead of middle-class working conditions, child-labor atrocities instead of educational opportunities, and poverty for aged working-class people (and the disabled) instead of guaranteed Social Security and Medicare.

It was not unregulated capitalism that won at the Berlin Wall, but a very socialized capitalistic economy (driven by effective Democratic polities) that defeated communism at the Wall. So I would guess our effective socialized Western economies are not as bad as the government-bashers say, huh?

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