Past is prologue
Harris discusses immigration in visit to Mexico | June 9
Those of us rather long in the tooth recall the Kennedy Administration’s effort to foment economic growth among the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, which had been somewhat neglected in the post-World War II era, via an Alliance for Progress. The program offered $20 billion in U.S. government assistance (about $175 billion in 2021) paired with a promised investment of $80 billion by the countries of the Western Hemisphere, excluding Cuba. But the program ended in 1973 having achieved only mixed results.
Sixty years later, Vice President Kamala Harris has been charged by President Joe Biden with overseeing a program that is scheduled to provide $310 million in aid to the three countries that make up the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America — El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — from which tens of thousands of migrants have recently crossed the southern U.S. border. She has just visited Guatemala in pursuit of the U.S. objective of stemming the surge of migrants. Her trip did not include the other two countries as their elected leaders have been accused of blatant corruption, which together with a lack of jobs, gang violence and impunity from justice among high-ranking government officials regionwide, impel those seeking a better life to head north. Clearly, Vice President Harris has been served a full plate whose contents may in the end prove indigestible, if the failed results of past reform efforts are any indication of a successful outcome.
Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center
Survival of the fittest
If anyone questions whether evolution exists, just look around or read the newspaper. There are those who fear taking the COVID vaccine and die from the disease as a result. And the “he-men” who refuse to use a seat belt in a car or wear a helmet on a motorcycle. They believe that “real men” don’t wear seat belts or helmets. Yet, every race car driver and jet fighter pilot does, and there is no question of their manhood. Those who won’t are the ones you read about who die when their seat-belted passengers survive with only minor injuries. How about the folks who just won’t quit smoking despite all the evidence that proves it causes lung cancer and heart disease? And finally, there are the guys who do wheelies on their motorcycle on U.S. 19. Yes, evolution is real. You can see it in action every day.
Alfred D’Amario, Hudson
Learning from history
Racial theory, election reality | June 9
I find that the apprehension among our leaders about the teaching of critical race theory preposterous. Apparently there are those who fear that teaching unfairness and discrimination as part of our nation’s history will cause our kids to hate each other or the country itself. On the contrary. The essence of our system is that we can be critical of our country. We need to know about injustices that have taken place so that we can take steps to prohibit or ameliorate them in the future. Delving into past injustices permits us to evolve into a better place. Our kids will learn to identify problems and to take action to fix them. A head-in-the sand attitude, which omits confronting our past or present problems, is a big step toward the blind discipleship of stupidity. I taught many students who were frustrated and confused that their parents had racist ideas, which they did not share. One of life’s biggest lessons is that you can still love those who are wrong. We can still love our country even though it has been wrong a lot. Let’s get to work with knowledge and understanding and make it better.
Bruce LeBaron, St. Petersburg
Food for the summer
Hunger in Florida’s children
For the one in five kids who may face hunger today in Florida, summer is usually the hungriest time of year. This summer, however, may be a different story because new benefits and temporary waivers are helping to reach even more kids with the food they need. For example, they allow parents to pick up meals for the week or allow organizations to drop meals off at a child’s home. In fact, because of these types of flexibilities, summer meals programs in Florida served nearly 6 million more meals to kids in need last year. But these measures are temporary. It’s time for Congress to update and modernize the summer meals programs by permanently implementing policies that have fed so many kids during the COVID crisis, like additional summer grocery benefits and meal service options that overcome transportation barriers. Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio have an opportunity to support proven solutions like a nationwide Summer EBT (electronic benefit transfer) program and non-congregate meal options through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process or the American Families Plan proposal. Hungry kids in Florida and across the country can’t wait.
Sky Beard, West Melbourne
The writer is director of No Kid Hungry Florida.