Readers Forum

Lessons from Cuba

I totally agree with your ideas about Cuba. In 1988, I had the privilege of traveling to Cuba with a group of 12 through the World Affairs Council of Oregon. Most of us were educators, so we spent a couple of days on the Isle of Youth visiting schools.
We also spent much time looking at medical facilities. The United States could take a few lessons from what Cubans have done with and for their people.

- Bruce Richards (via email)

Crossing Barriers

Last week, we received the Latin America issue with the article about Evo. We indigenous people of Bolivia are very happy that we were able to share our history as a people and to overcome the language barrier. Thank you for everything. Here in my workplace, the magazine is very welcome, especially this recent issue.
(translated from Spanish)

- Jubenal Quispe (Cochabamba, Bolivia)

Dictatorship in Venezuela?

Your Latin America issue was informative and inspiring, as always. I want to add one point.

The United States raised alarms when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied the renewal of a TV station's license because the station backed the coup d'etat that temporarily removed him from office in 2002. Under the right-wing dictatorships that governed most of Latin America for decades, funded by U.S. military aid in exchange for favoritism toward U.S. corporations, participants in such a coup would have immediately disappeared—into prisons, graveyards, or simply into thin air. I commend Mr. Chavez for taking a more civilized course.

Meanwhile, up North, the present U.S. administration seems to behave more and more like a Latin American dictatorship. I foresee a time when YES! readers will dig out their copies of this magazine to follow the inspiring example of our neighbors to the South.

- Stephen Wing (Atlanta, GA )


I have a question about the Latin America issue: What does the term “neoliberal” mean? I see myself as a liberal and am proud of it. I can't for the life of me understand how sucha negative image can be associated with liberal.

- Katie Moore (Los Angeles, CA)

We agree that “liberalism” has been unfairly maligned. “Neoliberalism” is something else; this term refers to the set of policies that align economies and governments to the interests of giant corporations and their financial backers. It is based on the theory that deregulation, privatization, tax cuts for the wealthy, reduction in government investment in human capital and infrastructure, and the dismantling of trade barriers will result in economic growth that will eventually trickle down to ordinary people. The actual result of neoliberalism is more wealth and power for the few, lower wages and fewer services for middle class and poor, and social and economic decline for society as a whole. The summer issue of YES! examines how Latin America is moving in a different direction.


The Governator's Health Plan is not the Solution

In your Spring 2007 issue, Sarah Kuck wrote about Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal for “near-universal” health care for California's 36 million residents. Schwarzenegger's plan (largely written by the insurance industry) is seriously flawed.

Like the failed Clinton health care plan, it is a complicated, indirect way of achieving what a single-payer system would accomplish simply and directly.

In your excellent, comprehensive Fall 2006 issue—Health Care for All—Doug Pibel and Sarah van Gelder showed us that single-payer systems (such as SB 840, the California Universal Health Care Systems Bill) can cover their entire populations at half the per capita cost of other plans. This is the direction California—and the nation—should be moving in.

- Marion Vittitow, PhD (Santa Cruz, CA)

Remember the Polar Bears

Here's an action almost everyone can do to help reduce global warming: drive slower. By driving 55 mph, as we did during the oil crises of the 1970s, our cars will use 10 to 15 percent less gas per mile. Every time the needle creeps up to 60, I remember polar bears and slow down. It makes me feel good.

- Jenny Deupree (Franconia, NH)

I was filled with hope and gratitude beyond words when I read Peace is Possible in Iraq, your interview with Medea Benjamin.
I plan to fax a copy with the reconciliation plan to key government officials, media outlets, and my rather large circle of influence.

What a service you've done! As a long-time subscriber who has been inspired time and time again by your work, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

- Mary Mann (Cumming, GA)
Read the interview at

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