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Letters to the Editor

March 19, 2008

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SIGN ME UP

In the past eight years, I have lost four uncles and three aunts, all born in Cuba but living in the U.S. And I have witnessed the devastation it has brought to my family and my sole remaining aunt. She sobs over the fact that she is not able to travel to the island and see nephews and other relatives and share in the pain for our loss.

I also traveled to and was married in Cuba and feel that in the next couple of years all connections with our relatives will be lost once my aunt is gone. For years I have been advocating for such an action.

Where do I sign to be part of this lawsuit ["Havana Dreams Deferred," March 5]? I also know of many more Cuban-Americans who would like to share in this fight. Who do we contact, since none of our senators or representatives listen to our continued requests to discuss this matter?

Miguel Guzman

HARRISBURG, PA

Editor's note: The lead attorney on the Cuba case is Mark Schneider of Plattsburgh, NY. He can be reached at 518-566-6666.

WANTED: MORE PEOPLE

Brian Wallstin's article on March 5 entitled "Is Vermont Disappearing?" is troubling and not for the reasons he so lopsidedly imparts. I am sure there are plenty of people both in the community and academia that will argue that asserting Vermont's population growth is a problem is absolutely ludicrous.

The reality this state faces is not that the population is growing too fast; from 1990 to 2000, Vermont's population grew a of 8.19 percent - hardly a figure of concern. In other words, Vermont is the 12th slowest-growing state in the union.

[George] Plumb argues that population is of vital concern, citing a 40 percent increase in population since the 1970s. This evaluation disturbs me. First of all, it is increasingly evident that the state's lack of population growth is the reason why I must look elsewhere for employment. With people come opportunities, jobs and growth.

Whether you believe in growth or not, it is disquieting when I read an article that discourages business development. Secondly, presenting the growth of the population in terms of a percent over 30 years unfairly overstates reality. Vermont was the 39th most populated state in 1900, 47th in 1950, and 49th in 2000, second only to Wyoming, and is currently the 20th least densely populated state.

When Seven Days chooses to cover an issue like this in the future, please remember that it is one thing to present opinions. It is another to apply their personal biases and present such opinions as facts.

Jesse Bragg

BURLINGTON

DISPLACED PRIORITIES

Vermonters for a Sustainable Population ["Is Vermont Disappearing?" March 5] defines the problem of more people showing up on Vermont's doorstep as overpopulation, which invariably leads them to advocate for racist solutions, like family planning in Africa and stricter immigration laws.

The problem is not overpopulation; it is the population mal-distribution caused by land-ownership patterns. The world's largest transnational corporations displace millions of families from their land worldwide by hook or by crook, consolidating millions of acres for agribusiness farming.

The wholesale displacement of thousands of families, villages and towns who once farmed to feed their families and barter or sell their crops, is caused by corporate greed and disregard for environmental decimation. Consumption patterns in the U.S. feed this phenomenon.

Rather than advocate for land reform that would reverse the environmentally and socially damaging patterns of land-ownership consolidation, the good folks at the Rockefeller Commission officially named the problem "over-population." Once this label is affixed to reports, grassroots organizations like Plumb's and Ryerson's seize the social-engineering solutions that seek to interfere with private family decisions around the number of children to bear.

Interesting how the Rockefellers themselves own large tracts of land not only in Vermont but across our nation's countryside. In fact, settlement patterns and the lack of land-use planning in Vermont and nationwide exacerbate the lack of affordable land and homes for regular working people. Next time you eat a soyburger or McDonald's hamburger, think about how many livelihoods have been destroyed through displacement.

Liz Curry

BURLINGTON

'MUSLIMS ONLY' BENEFITS ALL

Concerning the article on the Islamic Society of Vermont and the city of Burlington's agreement on a burial section in the Lakeview Cemetery for Muslims only [Local Matters, March 5], I totally agree with this idea.

In this great country of ours, we have many religions that have their own cemeteries. If Catholics (which I am) can have our own cemetery, there is no reason for the Muslim community not to have the same chance to follow their religious practices.

America has been called a melting pot for many years. We have so many different ethnicities and religions that are still American. Letting all these different people bring a part of their homeland to their new home enriches our society. The different foods, dances, and even the different ideas, are what make America so great.

Letting people observe their own religion and practices in their "new" home brings new ideas and understanding of their society to others who might not have had this contact otherwise. This is a win-win situation. The Muslim people get to bury their dead according to their religious beliefs, and we get exposure to a different ethnic society. How else will people get to know and accept each other and their differences unless there is contact?

Paula Pray

JOHNSON

CORRECTIONS

Due to a source error, our review of Three Days of Rain ["Pour Relations," March 12] noted the play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. In fact, it was 1998.

VPIRG - the Vermont Public Interest Research Group - was referred to incorrectly in the February 27 "Letters" section.

Finally, a couple of corrections to "Third Vermont Composer Honors Chandler's 100th," ["State of the Arts," March 12]: Jonah Sirota's father, Robert, is a composer, not a clarinetist, and he did not play in the premiere of Erik Nielsen's quintet. Although he has been composing professionally since the 1980s, Nielsen has only been a full-time composer since 1999.

We apologize for the errors.

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