National Geographic : 1986 Feb
Members Forum Usumacinta Your otherwise excellent article on the Usuma cinta River (October 1985) was marred by lack of perspective on Guatemala's political problems. The Rebel Armed Forces, self-important as they may sound, are a militarily insignificant faction of Guatemala's 2,000 guerrillas, who pose no real threat to the nation's well-trained 30,000-man army. The real danger stems from the utter pov erty and despair of the majority of citizens in the midst of prolonged economic depression-itself partly the result of military mismanagement. The military forces remain not only more feared than the guerrillas, but also, according to the nation's Catholic archbishop, the main per petrators of a continuing wave of murders and disappearances. The army continues to forcibly resettle thousands of Indians in so-called new towns and has regimented 900,000 in military style civilian patrols. Brian J. McGinn Alexandria, Virginia Your article implies that Guatemala's military regime has eliminated previous human rights abuses. In fact, seven months after General Me jia Victores assumed power, the U.N. Commis sion on Human Rights reaffirmed its "profound concern at the violations of human rights" in Guatemala. Evan Hadingham Cambridge, Massachusetts Bravo! An explanatory pronunciation of foreign place-names! Usumacinta River (oo-soo-mah SEEN-tah). In this troubled world we need to know all we can about our neighbors, which en tails the need to pronounce their names correctly. Leonard G. Robinson Petersburg, New York After two President's Pages dealing with geo graphic ignorance, it is ironic to find an example in the October 1985 issue. Wilkerson states "the Usumacinta flows northward (an oddity among rivers in North America)." Most Canadian rivers flow northward, definitely not an oddity. 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