Baltimore's mayor continues to respect Ronald L. Daniel...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 22, 2000

Baltimore's mayor continues to respect Ronald L. Daniel

I must beg to correct two grossly inaccurate statements contained in The Sun's article "Delay in crime fight lamented" (April 14) by Tim Craig.

First, no crime reduction plan, however effective, can prevent or even halve homicides within 30 days after its implementation. Mr. Craig's reference to ". . . a new crime fighting plan that could have prevented the recent spate of killings" was simplistic and contrary to reason and experience.

Second, I have never and will never claim or insinuate that the former police commissioner was not "committed" to reducing homicides and other violent crimes.

I never used the word "committed" and Mr. Craig's bracketed insertion of this word into a chopped-up quote that was attributed to me, not only misled and unfairly maligned the motives and lifelong dedication to public safety of former police Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel, but also unjustly characterized a man whom I respect and admire.

Martin O'Malley

Baltimore

The writer is mayor of Baltimore.

A little boy's rights can't be sacrificed . . .

In the custody dispute over Elian Gonzales, his father has claimed an absolute right to his son, but there are certain rights that supersede this claim.

Our nation was founded on the bedrock principles that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even little boys from Cuba have these rights.

The responsibility to protect these rights falls on our government's shoulders.

It is well-established that rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness don't exist under Cuba's communist regime.

In America, Elian can follow his own dreams and talents. In Cuba, Elian will be working in the cane fields by age 12, regardless of his desires.

In America, Jay Leno can make fun of our president and watch his ratings go up. In Cuba, Elian would face imprisonment if he publicly speaks against Fidel Castro.

Are we as a nation going to be accomplices in returning an innocent child to such slavery?

Must we sacrifice this child's freedom on the altar of Castro's dictatorship?

Chris Prevas

Parkton

. . .. but what about others who yearn to breathe free?

As the drama over Elian Gonzalez plays out, it is evident that the poor boy has become the "baby seal" of the Cuban immigration debate.

But while one Elian fills our hearts with love and pity, thousands of Elians of all ages (and races) approaching our shores fill our hearts with fear.

Let's stay with (and improve upon) a rational, consistent immigration policy that is fair to Elian, his successors in tiny boats and the American people -- and follow the law.

Mark Weaver

Catonsville

The Cold War reduced to a domestic dispute

Once the Cold War held all of humanity hostage with its nuclear arsenal, demanding the sacrifice of our sons.

Now it divides a single family over the fate of a 6-year-old boy.

How the mighty have fallen.

William P. Jenkins

Bel Air

Snapshot reinforced outmoded view of Peru

The Sun's picture of an Indian mother with a child on her back and other villagers in line to vote in the village of Chinchero in the Peruvian Andes is likely to give a wrong, stereotyped impression of Peru ("Fujimori leads in Peru's presidential election," April 10).

The country is not populated only by the relatively poor highland Indians -- whose ancestors were part of the Inca Empire and built the incredible 8,000 foot-high citadel of Macchu Picchu among other monumental feats.

Peru is quite a modern country with many major cities, and a diverse and industrious population of 26 million.

It has a democratically elected government (at least the picture shows that), many natural resources and an economy that's among the best in Latin America.

Edgar Dianderas

Baltimore

The writer is a member of Club Peru of Baltimore.

Military model won't help civilians cope with drugs

In the Sun Journal article "Taking command of drug crisis" (April 16) Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey says that drug use is significantly down from 20 years ago.

Mr. McCaffrey's selective statistics are misleading. Despite an overall decline in drug use we have seen dramatic increases in drug-related emergency room visits and drug-related deaths.

More than 2 million people are incarcerated in this country, largely because we've emphasized drug enforcement rather than treatment and prevention.

And to use the U.S. Army as a model for solving our drug problem, as Mr. McCaffrey does, would be a severe mistake, because the underlying cultures of military and civilian life differ markedly. The army tries to select applicants who will not have drug problems. The United States cannot select its residents.

The army has a large amount of control over a soldier's life and actions. The country has minimal control over a civilian, courtesy of the Constitution.

A persistent drug user can be discharged from the Army. We cannot deport illegal drug users who are citizens.

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