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Voice of America, 00-04-21

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: The long-running saga of the shipwrecked Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, and the custody battle over him, continues to be at the top of many editorial columns today/Friday. Newsapers are commenting on the latest Federal Court decision in his case, ordering the boy to stay in this country until his case gets a full hearing in court. The crisis of white-owned, commercial farms in Zimbabwe being taken over by black settlers is another popular topic, as is Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon. There is also debate on China's trade status and its threats toward Taiwan, while a tiny glimmer of progress in Haiti also draws comment. Rounding out the commentaries are thoughts on the next Balkan trouble spot and memories of the Oklahoma City bombing five years ago as a memorial to the victims is dedicated. Now here is ________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: A federal appeals court in Atlanta, which has jurisdiction over lower federal courts in Florida, ruled this week that Elian Gonzalez, the shipwrecked Cuban boy, cannot return home until his case has a full hearing in court. While celebrated in Miami's "Little Havana" neighborhood as a victory, the decision may also mean the U-S government could move quickly to return the boy to his father, who is waiting for him in a Washington D-C suburb. The case draws renewed editorial comment, like this in today's St. Louis Post Dispatch.

    VOICE: If Elian Gonzalez is to remain in this country pending the outcome of his Miami relatives' asylum appeal, he should do so with his father ... Attorney General Janet Reno can't allow Elian's Miami relatives to use [the] ... court decision to further obstruct the long overdue father-son reunion. /// OPT /// ... Let the Miami relatives play legal games. Let the demonstrators protest. But let Elian stay with his father until this madness is over. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette says the ruling "gives short shrift to Elian's father," and writes under a headline: "Justice denied."

    VOICE: Most disturbing about the ruling is its tone. The judges chastise the Justice Department for failing to interview the child and take into consideration his desires to stay in the United States. Young children are not equipped with the knowledge or ... perspective or the understanding to make good decisions. That's why they have parents. ... But these judges apparently believe, as does the Cuban exile community, that the natural order doesn't apply in this case... /// OPT /// If it is necessary, Attorney General Janet Reno or President Clinton himself should fly to Miami, take Elian by the hand and take that confused little boy to his father.

    TEXT: The Florida Times-Union agrees, writing from Jacksonville:

    VOICE: Attorney General Janet Reno's timidity is inexcusable. She should immediately send marshals to return Elian to his father. He is in this country, pending disposition of the case, and there is no reason for the boy to be with anyone else. Then she should ask either the full circuit court or a U-S Supreme Court justice to expedite the case. If the Miami relatives want to make a statement against Fidel Castro, that's fine. He deserves it. But they don't need to break up what's left of a family that already has lost a mother to do it.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to events on the other side of the world, the continuing, and increasingly violent occupation of white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe by black settlers draws the attention of several more dailies, including The Providence [Rhode Island] Journal.

    VOICE: This week is the 20th anniversary of independence from white rule for Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe, 76, faces the stiffest opposition in his 20-year rule. Many observers argue that his precarious political position explains his encouraging his followers among the black majority to illegally seize ... more than 900 farms owned by whites. ... Surprisingly, formidable black foes are speaking out against Mr. Mugabe's encouragement of the farm occupations ...[opposing] the illegality of the seizure, and [asking] fair compensation for willing white sellers.

    TEXT: Writing in agreement, The San Francisco Chronicle sums up Mr. Mugabe's presidency with these caustic words:

    VOICE: ...[President] Mugabe, like so many African leaders who have come to power on the crest of a popular revolt, has been a bitter disappointment. ... As Zimbabwe's economy has flagged, and along with it [his] support, he has become more and more unpredictable and irrational, lashing out at critics and quashing dissent at every turn.

    TEXT: Turning to the Middle East, the Chicago Tribune chides Arab leaders now criticizing Israel's pending pullout of its forces from its-long-maintained southern Lebanon security zone, after demanding such a pull-out for two decades.

    VOICE: ... with Israel poised to withdraw by July ... in the absence of a comprehensive peace deal with Syria and Lebanon -- the cries of outrage from many Arab leaders ring hollow, hypocritical and wrongheaded. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak did the right thing when he prevailed on his cabinet to approve [it] ... The move has broad-based support in Israel.

    TEXT: To Asian affairs now, and this comment on Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt's attempt to block passage of a bill granting China normal trade relations with the United States. The Omaha [Nebraska] World Herald suggests:

    VOICE: ... [Mr.] Gephardt and other opponents are getting it wrong. Foes of the proposal point to China's lamentable human-rights record, and their perception of it is accurate. But it makes better sense to think that Beijing will improve its record more quickly as a recipient of the benefits of open trade than it will as an international outcast ...

    TEXT: Now onto the issue of Beijing's threats to Taiwan, and the Clinton administration's decision this week to scale back military arms sales to Taiwan in response: The Wall Street Journal is unhappy. The big financial daily calls it "a bad strategic decision, even if the military rationale was reasonable."

    VOICE: Coming as it does after a series of political moves to appease china on Taiwan, it raises doubts about American willingness to take even mild risks to defend a young democracy. This will hurt morale in Taipei and increase the chances of miscalculation in Beijing. ... //OPT

    /// So far, Beijing's more rational leaders have prevailed because they can point to the U-S commitment to Taiwan's defense. If that commitment wavers, the calculus changes. Korea should have taught the U-S that the fastest way to bring war is to cause potential aggressors to miscalculate the odds. But then maybe they don't read history anymore in the White House.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Washington Post glances southward and says it sees a glimmer of hope in Haiti's dismal political situation, with an announcement of new legislative and municipal elections May 21st and June 25th.

    VOICE: The question remains, however: How free will the elections be? ... The United States took an appropriately tough stance when violence, fraud and media manipulation threatened the recent presidential election in Alberto Fujimori's Peru. A similar approach is called for in Haiti.

    TEXT: Today's New York Times, among other issues, is worried about what it calls "The Next Balkan Crisis," and expresses fears for a Serbian armed take over by Slobodan Milosevic, of increasingly independent Montenegro.

    VOICE: To hold him off, Montenegro needs more financial and political help from the West. Although the republic has only 650-thousand people, it is strategically important. A democratic and prosperous Montenegro would show Serbia's residents that life in Yugoslavia does not have to be miserable. /// OPT /// If Mr. Milosevic takes over a region that was the focus of so much Western attention and rhetorical support during the war, he will gain a significant symbolic victory and further destabilize the Balkans. /// END OPT ///.. Unless America and its allies make clear that they still care about Montenegro, Mr. Milosevic will move to gain control of the republic.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: As regards Russia's expansion of its international arms merchandizing, The Sun in Baltimore is concerned.

    VOICE: The lucrative business of arms sales, which accounts for a huge chunk of U-S exports, has now captured Moscow's imagination. It is currently the world's number four weapons merchant, but within the next three years hopes to bypass Britain and France and begin to move in on the United States. ... India was among Moscow's big arms clients in Soviet times and continues to buy cut-rate weapons. China also sees value in Russian-made fighter-bombers (and a license to manufacture them), submarines and destroyers, plus air defense systems. And recently, Malaysia announced it would replace its aging U-S naval helicopters with modern Russian choppers. ... The United States is in a poor position to lecture Moscow about the dangers of arms proliferation. But as sales rivalry increases, so do risks and tensions.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Finally, the dedication of a memorial park in Oklahoma City where the Murrah Federal Building stood before the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people, draws this comment from The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World.

    VOICE: It was a time to remember on a date that no one can forget. And in the end, dedication of the Oklahoma City National Memorial became the only spot in America Wednesday where a standing-room only crowd of thousands looked out over 168 empty seats and moved not a muscle. Each of the bronze chairs, permanently placed on a grassy slope, represents someone lost on April 19th, 1995. ... The sense of loss created by the bombing can never be erased. But those who lost so much can take great solace from the memorial

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 21-Apr-2000 11:59 AM EDT (21-Apr-2000 1559 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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