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January 26, 1990 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-01-26

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OPINION
Page 4 Friday, January 26, 1990 The Michigan Daily

0

Life in Central America:
Waiting for

the

other

shoe

to

drop

by Mary Jo McConahay for
the Pacific News Service
Central Americans are beginning the
last decade of the century much as their
grandparents began the century itself: as
junior partners of Washington. The inva-
sion of Panama, say veteran observers
here, means the United States continues to
have the last word in regional affairs.
"Panama shows there is a limit to U.S.
patience and you don't know where the
line is," says a Western diplomat. "It
keeps other countries guessing."
Regional diplomats and analysts say
privately that since Panama they have
spent far more time examining the possi-
bilities for U.S. intervention - in the war
on drugs; to protect U.S. lives and prop-
erty; to defend democracy in the region.
State Department spokesperson Mar-
garet Tuttveiler has attempted to allay
Latin fears by saying that "Panama is a
unique situation," and diplomats in the
field keep reiterating that Panama is a spe-
cial case. But seen from here, Panama's
acknowledged special relationship to the
U.S. as a kind of 51st state doesn't set it
that far apart from its neighbors.
"All of Central America has a special re-
lationship with the United States called
geography," says a Latin analyst here.
"We're still in the U.S.'s back yard."
While the Bush administration seems to
pay more respect to Latin American than
its predecessor did, the Panama invasion
shows that respect has its limits - at the
point where Washington deems its inter-
ests are at stake. Observers here agree that
the United States will not allow critical
bases - the logistical heart of its struggle
against political insurgencies and the drug
networks in Latin America - to pass into

U.S.TOOP '6IMPA4AMMAA.
I - . _ { r f -

Rica President Oscar Arias, had success-
fully defused the threat of a generalized
shooting war in Central America spilling

heat again, using their new anti-aircraft
missiles-against an army which now de-
pends significantly on airpower, how far

US.TtROc*S SEt"r0t, AceKP 0.8 1iex* IN PANAMA~.

'Observers here agree that the United States will
not allow critical bases - the logistical heart of its
struggle against political insurgencies and the drug
networks in Latin America - to pass into the hands
of an unfriendly government, as it was headed to-
ward doing with Noriega and the requirements of
the 1977 Canal treaties.'

y!

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11

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U.S:.fbWP 6f.0 BAckUP U .:fRPSSEN 166ACKUPU.S.wioft SENA6f BACP U.S I
the hands of an unfriendly government, as would rather have seen him fall of his own
it was headed toward doing with Noriega weight, in the same way Ceausescu, the
and the requirements of the 1977 Canal Shah, Baby Doc, or Ferdinand Marcos did,
treaties. instead of being brought down by U.S.
For critical Latins, however, the most troops.
important point about the invasion is that The U.S. role as world police reemerged
it shows the United States has not given at a time when Central Americans were
up its role of international police. Noriega looking successful in resolving matters of
had virtually no friends left in Latin Amer- war and peace on their own. The peace
ica, but Latin American governments process, begun three years ago by Costa

over borders. In a series of summits Arias
and the presidents of El Salvador, Hon-
duras, Guatemala and Nicaragua slowly
recognized each other's legitimacy in the
face of insurgencies; forced democratizing
concessions from Sandinista Nicaragua in
return for a united call to disband U.S.-
backed contras; and invited in UN peace-
keeping forces which are now getting into
place.
The U.S. invaded within days of the
most recent meeting of the presidents, and
now observers sense a tug of war between
the forces represented by the summits -
slow moving, imperfect, but home-grown
- and the force represented by the inva-
sion: fierce, effective, but foreign.
"It may be that in our countries there are
mistakes, and even very grave mistakes,
but if we ourselves do not resolve our
problems without others who are going to
intervene, I believe that this is going to
complicate morethe solution to our prob-
lems," noted El Salvador Archbishop Ar-
turo Rivera y Damas.
Panama makes observers entertain ques-
tions about other Central American coun-
tries.
- If guerrillas in El Salvador turn on the

Observers now believe it is the
Nicaraguan elections which are key to
keeping the Central American peace pro-
cess on track. If the elections are certified
generally free and fair by the army of in-
ternational observers already moving into
place, and if results are respected by both
sides, all the region will breathe a sigh of
relief. The accords will hold and the presi-
dents will be able to tackle the ten-year-old
civil war in El Salvador.
If the elections are derailed or their re-
sults are disputed by Washington, the ef-
forts of Latins to resolve their own prob-
lems will be set back; consternation over
Panama will be dwarfed; eyes will turn
north to Washington; and as one observer
notes,"People will be waiting for the other
shoe to drop."

would the U.S. be prepared to go to res-
cue a threatened government of President,
Alfredo Cristiani?
- If Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega
takes elections February 25 amid cries of
fraud from the U.S.-backed opposition,
would the U.S. intervene? "It's like we're
crossing the Niagara on a bicycle right
now," says Reynaldo Payan, a Nicaraguan
diplomat and Sandinista party activist.

k.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Commission

speaks

back

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Vol. C, No. 80

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

.
-

;O
x

Buying out Poland

THESE days of leveraged buy-outs
(LBOs), not even nations are immune.
Poland appears to be the first of the
Eastern Bloc countries to fall victim to
the LBO strategy for "democratization"
at the hands of Western economic
powers.
-What is an LBO? Traditionally ap-
pfied to the takeover of one company
b :another, the LBO is a process by
Wl4ich the buying company rounds up a
huge supply of ready cash, building a
mAssive debt in the process, and con-
vitices the stockholders of the "buyee"
that the takeover will make the com-
pAny more profitable, more efficient,
apd so on. This promise constitutes the
security on the loans.
Safter the buy-out is achieved, the
barer usually sells off all of the less-ef-
feeient (or more marketable) divisions
o fthe company, consolidates opera-
tidns (laying off many workers in the
process), and generally streamlines the
company for the process of furthering
it's capital accumuiation.
The similarities to the Polish situation
ar striking. Poland was "npe" for a
buy-out. A weak economy and repres-
sive managerial structure had produced
discontent among workers and stock-
holders, and a general decline in prof-
ifability. As Polish workers organized
to overthrow the regime which had
oppressed them for years, Western
economic powers - including the
United States - took advantage of an
unstable economic situation and moved
in.'

The buy-out, in this case, comes in
the form of massive economic "aid"
programs, or investments, by great
economic powers. The investment, of
course, comes with conditions, and it
doesn't come cheaply. As the takeover
takes shape it's becoming clear that the
"reforms" insisted on by the buyers
will include all of the standard changes
on the part of the buyee: anywhere
from 400,000 to five million workers
will lose their jobs as the economy is
"streamlined," prices soar as supports
drop, and management is once again
consolidated.
The United States, creator of the
LBO, is ironically only a junior partner
in the current buy-out; Japan and vari-
ous European countries have topped
the U.S. investment in Poland, while
the Bush Administration has had to
balance the weight of its national debt
against the sumptuous prospect of the
investment opportunity.
The reforms are largely designed by
the infamous Jeffrey Sachs, the same
Harvard consultant who broke the back
of the Bolivian economy in order to
save it. Hyper-inflation, unemployment
and over-dependence resulted, as in
Poland.
As is the case with many LBOs in the
United States, the euphoria in Poland
appears to be shortlived. Thousands of
miners and other workers have already
gone on strike to protest the
"improvements" which their newfound
government have sold to foreign inter-
ests in exchange for dependency and
foreign debt.

by Walt Scheider
The Daily owes its readers considerable
clarification of the charges against the Ann
Arbor Housing Commission that appeared
in an article in the January 18 issue.
We, the five members appointed by the
mayor and city council to the Housing
Commission hold our staff to high
standards. We hired them and we keep
them because they work zealously to
provide the very best housing service with
a shrinking budget and under great
difficulties. They work aggressively to
seek out and win grants and mobilize
volunteers and other resources. They are
scrupulously fair both to our present
residents and to those who need housing
and who are on the list.
To do their job right they sometimes
have to take actions that don't sit well
with some people, but they do it to
protect the rights of all and by rules that
are clear and in the open, and which
promote fair play and the best housing
situation attainable. They deserve better
than the kind of uninformed bashing that
you reported.
You'd have to search far and wide to find
a housing director more dedicated, fair and
effective in improving low income
housing than Bonnie Newlun. She has
fought for and won HUD grants for
renovation and for new construction, at a
time when such funds are increasingly
scarce as a result of the priorities in
Washington. Since 1981 the national
HUD low income housing budget has
shrunk from $33 billion to $8 billion.
The Housing Commision has recently
obtained more than $3 million in
renovation funds under HUD's
Comprehensive Improvement Assistance
Program. No other comparably-sized
housing authority in the midwest had

received such sizable support. These funds
did not just drop out of the sky.
The first site to be renovated is on
South Maple. The renovation there is not
yet complete. It is the first of a five year
plan, for which the first three years have
been funded, in which all sites will be
renovated at an average cost of $20,000
per apartment.
The charge that the Housing
Commission provides "unaffordable
housing" is, like most of the other
charges, irresponsible'rhetoric.
The rent formula is determined by HUD
in Washington, as are many of the
policies we implement. The rent is based
on the resident's income. Public housing
tenants pay 30 percent of their income,
and this includes an allowance for utilities
for those who pay their own. In fact,
residents whose utility costs are greater
than 30 percent of their income pay no
rent, but instead receive a check from the
Housing Commission for the difference.
The Housing Commission had a
responsibility not only for its present
residents, but also to those who are on the
waiting list for housing. The need is
greater than we can supply.
This is why Bonnie Newlun fought for
a share of the small amount in the HUD
budget avaiable for new construction. She
was successful; we are the only housing
authority in Michigan to have received
new construction money for 1990. 25 new
untis may not seem like a lot, but it's 25
more units than anyone else is building in
Ann Arbor, and it will be home to 25
families.
Our responsibility to those on the
waiting list is also the real issue in the
eviction case featured so prominently in
your story. One can certainy sympathize
with the desire on the part of the resident
involved to want to take advantage of her

transfer back to her renovated artment to
try to hold on as well to the temporary
lodging she had during the renovation, and
to turn this over to her mother and sister.
Legally it is perfectly obvious that one
cannot, during a transfer, turn one lease on
one apartment into two leases on two
apartments simply by occupying both
units and refusing to move out of either. It
is perhaps understandable that some
tenants will sympathize with the relatives
of one of their members, and overlook the
rights on a family unknown to them who
is next on the waiting list.
Understandable, but not right.
Our Housing Commission staff cannot
play favorites in this way. We cannot do
something for some tenants which denies
others their fair entitlement.
Our staff is scrupulously fair in
administering the admissions and residency
rules, most of which come to us from
HUD; some additional local rules were
written in cooperation with and in
response to tenants who sought protection
of their neighborhoods against disruption
and crime. The rules are there to make the
best and most equitable use of the
increasingly limited support for low
income housing from Washington.
Our operations are open to anyone who
is interestred, including the residents.
Everything we do is routinely inspected by
HUD and by the city of Ann Arbor. Two
auditors from HUD have been in our office
full time for the past two months doing a
periodic review.
It is ironic that while the kind of
charges you reported are flying about,
HUD'S most persistent audit finding has
been our too-great hesitancy to deal more
firmly with residents who have fallen in
arrears in their rent.
Walter Scheider is chair of the Ann
Arbor Housing Commission

e

0
0

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1990s:
Decade of
diversity
To the Daily:
The 1990s will be celebrated
as the Decade of Diversity this
weekend in a function hosted
by the International Student
Affairs ('nmmisrinn MTAC)-

Opinion Page Letter Policy
Due to the volume of mail the Daily cannot print all the letters and columns it re-
P.VPo 1thnno~h an effrwt i eo i nt the moi'rtu f materoian on awier nf

undergraduate level. They The Decade of Diversity
represent a startling diversity of dance will be held in the
backgrounds and perspectives. Pendleton Room on Saturday
Meeting these representatives
of different cultures is an
excellent way to round out the R
traditionally euro-centric
education that this university,
provides us. There are a host of
different attitudes and ideas in
world outside the U.S. which
are just as legitimate as ours,'
and in future, we in the west

the 27th, at 8 p.m.
-Aditya Dave Sood
January 22
'4;

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