Celebrating The Latin Heritage

Readers were thrilled with our July 12 report recognizing--"finally"--the Latino influence in the United States. "You captured the positive side of being Latino in the U.S.A.," wrote one. Another pointed out how spotlighting the Latin heritage helps build self-esteem in Latinos: "Reports like this one make Hispanics proud of their origin." A woman praised our report's value for young Latinos struggling to define their ethnic identity, and ended her letter with a hearty "¡Gracias!"

I really enjoyed your articles "Latino America" and "Generation N," on the growing Hispanic influence in the United States (U.S. affairs, July 12). Having grown up in southeast Texas, with non-Spanish-speaking Hispanic cousins who dyed their hair blond in order to hide their ethnicity, it is refreshing to see that many young people are no longer embarrassed to be Latino. I'm curious to know, however, if illegal as well as legal immigrants were included in your projections of the Hispanic population. Will the six Cuban refugees mentioned in your article, who were rounded up on the beach by the Coast Guard but later freed, eventually have the same chances of obtaining the American Dream as their acculturated, second-generation counterparts? California has the highest percentage of Hispanics in the United States, as well as some of the stiffest immigration laws. Will we eventually see a backlash of anti-Hispanic sentiment?
Christian Rice Diaz
Monterrey, Mexico

Salud to NEWSWEEK for being one of the first major English-language publications in the United States to portray accurately and honestly what it's like to be Latin in the United States. I'm a Generation N Latina, and my parents felt that teaching us Spanish would only lead to discrimination for their children. Speaking only English did help me to "fit in" with my Anglo peers in school. But, to this day, I have felt robbed of my heritage because of the overwhelming pressure I faced trying to "act white" to fit into American society during the '70s and '80s. Thanks to mainstream publications like NEWSWEEK that choose to celebrate the rise of the Latin population in the United States, there will be countless kids who will take pride in their heritage and not feel ashamed of their ethnicity. ¡Gracias!
Rene Agredano
Eureka, California

I liked your Latino story a lot. Reports like this one are important to Latin Americans because they make Hispanics proud of their origin and, more importantly, it provides Hispanics with examples to follow. But you forgot to write about Brazilians--we are Latin Americans too.
Matheus Goncalves Ferreira
Brasilia, Brazil

As a Latina who grew up in the United States, I was very disappointed with Christy Haubegger's article "The Legacy of Generation N" and her view it's us versus them--Americans versus Latinos. America is a garden with flowers that represent peoples from all corners of our planet. Slogans of vaunted Latino "Destino" should give way to a clearheaded approach to making the American Dream a reality for many of the Latinos and Latinas still struggling against poverty.
Nielsen Q. Fernandez
Bronx, New York

One does not base a society on salsa and tacos (or disco and hamburgers), but rather on social and economic philosophies. Although I'm part Cherokee Indian, I must say that Haubegger got it wrong. Latin food is good, Latin music is OK, but Latin heritage is questionable. What do Latinos, who trace their heritage to countries with social traditions of dictatorship, widespread corruption, racism and arrogant sexism have to teach the American society? American governmental and social norms are imperfect--but far better than those of any Latino country.
Carl Alan Key
Vienna, Austria

Congratulations on your article "Latino America." You captured the positive side of being Latino in the United States today. But I thought it was a shame that in your overview of popular Latinos ("Critical Mas: 20 for 2000"), the NASA astronaut John D. Olivas was described as "a fourth-generation Mexican-American." I can't believe that someone whose family has been in the United States for four generations has not achieved "American" status. It didn't seem to take that long for the Europeans.
Raul Jorcino
San Isidro, Argentina

I'd like to congratulate you on, finally, opening the eyes of the world to the Latin talents in the United States, which we have enjoyed for years.
Alejandro Maldonado Sandoval
Monterrey, Mexico

Fighting the Thai Stereotype

I, together with many thais, was shocked by your article on Thailand's recovery after the collapse of the Thai baht two years ago ("Beyond Sex and Golf," Asia, July 12). In the article, a Western diplomat is quoted as saying that "Thailand has two comparative advantages: sex and golf courses." We Thais didn't know about these advantages. It's true that the selling of sex has increased after the collapse of the baht. However, sex is not Thailand's promotion or emphasis--Thailand's rich and attractive culture is.
Atichart Yossa
Ayutthaya, Thailand

Tourists may make travel decisions on the basis of entertainment offerings, but businesses don't establish offices and make investments based on the presence of sex workers and golf courses. If they did, they would all be located in Las Vegas. Also, prostitution in Thailand is actually on the decline. It will admittedly be a slow process, but the trend is encouraging and hopeful.
Stephen Mills, Associate Director
Family Health International, Asia Regional Office
Bangkok, Thailand

Amaret Sila-On's article on how Thailand needs social reforms, is timely. Thailand must look ahead if it is not to repeat the mistakes that led to the financial crash. And this must begin with education for all, not just for those who can afford it. How many of Thailand's poor could have reached far higher if they had the opportunity to be well educated?
Nigel Hywel-Jones
Bangkok, Thailand

The article on Thailand accurately pinpoints some of its weaknesses, such as low investment in education and research and development. But the headline and the quote on Thailand's comparative advantages being sex and golf courses are in bad taste. Obviously this quote is nothing but a crude party joke and should have remained as such. It would have been advisable to rely less on quotes from unnamed diplomats in your research, as--with all due respect--bureaucrats are not widely known to be the world's foremost business experts.
Stefan Buerkle
German-Thai Chamber of Commerce
Bangkok, Thailand

To Thailand's credit, the business community, in conjunction with the government, has not stood still after the Asian economic crisis, but has been actively positioning itself as a more competitive and more transparent arena for companies and foreign investors to do business in. One example: the "Best Practice On Corporate Governance Awards," the first of their kind in Asia, which are being organized by the Internal Auditors of Thailand and backed by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and the Ministry of Finance to promote greater transparency and better internal processes in all business sectors. It's time for Thai companies to come out of the shadows, stand tall and put themselves forward for these awards to prove to both domestic and international audiences that the Thai business community is ready for the new millennium.
Khun Supat Tansathitikorn
Executive Director
Institute of Internal Auditors of Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

As a Thai, I truly love my country and I wish the majority of my fellow countrymen would have a better life. I keep working toward this goal, even though it may never happen in my lifetime if corruption continues to prevail in every government sector. I agree with your report "Beyond Sex and Golf": we do have far too many golf courses. Even Thai Airways uses golf courses as a selling point. We should work hard to get rid of this label. And yes, we do have a peculiar way of thinking: we collect money from the people and give it to the government to help fight foreign debt, although everyone knows that the government is corrupt. If only today's corruption practices in Thailand were reduced by half, we wouldn't have to borrow money from abroad.
Chompunoot Jitti
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Kashmir: Coals Still Smoldering

Sudip Mazumdar's article regarding the fighting in Kashmir, was generally factual and eye-opening ("They Don't Call It War," Asia, July 5). However, the issue of Kashmir as a whole, not just the Kargil/Dras hostilities, has not been given due attention. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost, be they Indian, Pakistani or Kashmiri. There is still a considerable amount of daily fighting between Indian security forces and militants, and there is a great yearning for the Kashmir dispute to be settled involving the Kashmiris in negotiations, not rigged, meaningless elections installing puppets such as the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. Please do not insult the blood of thousands of Kashmiris, Indians and Pakistanis by declaring that rebels have been wiped out, thus implying that a state of normalcy exists--because it doesn't. Recent reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirm the reality on the ground.
Waqas Javed
London, England

I found your reports on Kashmir rather one-sided. For weeks a mere 800 Kashmiri mujahedin held their own against the might of the Indian Army. The Indians can hardly gloat over pushing back the Pakistani "infiltrators"--they need to thank Bill Clinton for bailing them out of a difficult situation. They still have to contend with the festering 10-year insurgency in Indian-occupied Kashmir, which troops have failed to quell and which has claimed thousands of lives. It's time the international community made India realize how important it is to sit down and resolve the core issue of Kashmir--before the whole region is engulfed in a deadly war that nobody really wants.
Mustafa Kamal Pasha
Islamabad, Pakistan

Since the conflict started between India and Pakistan in the Kashmir region, the financial burden to both the governments for each day was growing over billions of rupees. If the two Southeast Asian governments could spare budgets large enough to finance the cost of the war, why couldn't they use these same financial resources to alleviate poverty and uplift the standard of living for their less-privileged citizens before the conflict arose? One might wonder which is the better use of resources: to fight poverty or to make war?
Kokil K. Shah
Mombasa, Kenya

Our Daily Stress

I'd like to compliment you on the wonderful report relating to ("Stress," Society & the Arts, June 28). It was definitely highly informative and useful, as stress has become an inherent part of our daily life--personal as well as professional.
Deepak Punjabi
Mumbai, India

Your article on stress was excellent. But in the test questionnaire called "Stressed Out?" you included a result overview only for people 18 years old and up. I'm a 15-year-old NEWSWEEK reader--what about us? Don't we fit in?
Jonathan Lustgarten
Caracas, Venezuela

Garage Envy

Daniel Pedersen's article "The Garage That Ate Tucson," about Americans' new, gigantic garages, is a telling insight into the U.S. lifestyle (Society & the Arts, June 28). Four- to six-car garages! Not to mention "air-conditioned bike workshop." Now we understand why the United States is the filthiest polluter on earth.
A.R.T. Kemasang
London, England

After reading the article I must say I share Bob Alexander's sentiment--the "fortysomething" man quoted in your article as saying "I'm enjoying life and it's short." However, my question to him and others like him is, "Why then waste it on four-, five- and six-car garages?"
Samara Joldersma
Lytham-St. Annes, England

Not a 'Russian Problem'

The threatening outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) in Russia cannot be considered a "Russian problem" ("The Prisoners' Plague," Europe, July 5) and developed countries should take the lead to contain it. It is estimated that an infectious person will spread TB to 10 to 15 people a year. With 10 percent of the 1 million Russian prisoners infected with active TB--and half of them being infected with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB)--it is estimated that death rates from TB in Russia will reach a total of 1.75 million by the year 2000. It can cost more than $200,000 to treat MDR-TB with uncertain outcomes, whereas curing regular TB costs about $100 per patient.
Nawal Atwan
Princeton Project 55 Tuberculosis Initiative
Washington, D.C.

An Emotional Experience

I had a new emotional experience this morning. For the first time, I began to cry after reading a news article. touched me so deeply that there were tears running down my face by the end of the first page ("'Daddy, They're Killing Us'," Special Report, June 28). Now that the war in Kosovo is over, and the truth about the horrors that took place is being revealed to the public, it embarrasses me to think that not too long ago I was doubting the wisdom of NATO's involvement. The tragic story of the Berisha family proves that the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, although on a far smaller scale, was in its own way as horrendous as the genocide that took place in Europe during the Holocaust.
Jessica Fain
Providence, Rhode Island

Standing Up to the NRA

In you say that it's hard to blame vulnerable Democrats for taking cover from the National Rifle Association ("Caught in the Cross-fire," U.S. Affairs, June 28). Whom should we blame for the senseless slaughter of our children and friends? Recently proposed stiffer gun-control laws have garnered support from a majority of the population. We put people in office to protect us and our rights, and they repay us by cowering in fear of the NRA? Who cares if standing up to the NRA means losing your seat in Congress? Wouldn't these elected representatives rather go to sleep at night knowing they've done their job, not to mention what's morally right? If not, they've chosen a career in politics for all the wrong reasons.
Dawn Canady
Arlington, Vermont

A Man of Abdullah's Caliber

I was surprised and disappointed by your article in which Mustafa Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, refers to King Abdullah II as "the kid who came from nowhere" ("Crowning Indignities," World Affairs, June 28). A Hashemite, the eldest son of the late King Hussein and Crown Prince of Jordan from 1962-1965, Abdullah can hardly be described as coming from nowhere. Abdullah is a statesman who served his country many times in the official capacity of regent in the absence of His Majesty King Hussein, represented Jordan and his father on visits to many countries, is a sportsman and, most of all, a genuine friend with dignity and compassion. It's ignorant to describe a man of his caliber as "a kid who came from nowhere."
Hussein O Toga
Amman, Jordan

Celebrating The Latin Heritage | News