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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Listener Letters

Air Date: Week of

Audience members weigh in on our recent coverage of land use practices in Central America.


CURWOOD: And now it's time to hear from you, our listeners.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: Our discussion about how land use practices worsened the impact of Hurricane Mitch prompted a call from Mary Robinson, who hears us on KUOW in Seattle. She thought we neglected an important element in the story.

ROBINSON: Peasants are forced up the hillsides because the better, flatter land is occupied by agribusiness. Bananas in Central America are grown unsustainably with herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, and a labor force paid dollars a day. Please show us the whole picture. Your story left an impression that the people brought this on themselves and that returning bananas will save them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

CURWOOD: And a listener to KSMF in Ashland, Oregon, who asked us not to use his name, says it may be an unpopular time to look at the historical actors responsible for the devastation in Central America. But with the disaster still in the news, he says, it is in fact the most critical time.

CALLER: There is nary a mention made of the fact that for 100 years the United States has been pushing the people of that area to this situation and condition. Why do you think they're called "banana republics"? These people are not farming vertical hillsides for the fun of it or for their health or because they're too ignorant to know the difference. We have insisted that these countries exist to farm bananas and coffee for us.

CURWOOD: We welcome your comments on our program. Call our listener line any time at 800-218-9988. That's 800-218-9988. Or send us an e-mail at LOE@NPR.ORG. Once again that's LOE@NPR.ORG. Our postal address is 8 Story Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138. And you can find our Web page at www.livingonearth.org. That's www.livingonearth.org.



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