Letters: Honduran military coup

Nothing democratic about Honduran military coup
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The Independent Online

I was astonished to read your editorial (30 June) in which you suggest that the Honduran army, with their coup, "might have actually done Honduran democracy a service". You show surprising ignorance and insensitivity concerning the past role of the military in the politics of Latin America.

Honduras is riven with classic Latin American differences of wealth and power, with all the accompanying inequalities of access to education, health, welfare and employment. President Zelaya was actually trying to do something to reduce these inequalities. Democracy is for a purpose, one of which is to correct the social imbalances of the past. In what sense were the military helping democracy in Honduras? Military intervention in Latin America to "save democracy" has invariably been led by upper-middle-class officers taking political power to prevent elected left-of-centre governments from actually passing measures to reduce inequalities and giving poor people the chance of a decent life.

At least Obama and Clinton are standing up for the President and democratic order – unlike The Independent.

Peter Jones


Your leading article in which you state that "it is possible that the army might have actually done Honduran democracy a service" is an uncanny echo of the Times editorial following the military coup in Chile in September 1973, which suggested that "the circumstances were such that a reasonable military man could in good faith have thought it his constitutional duty to intervene".

Shame on you, Independent – by an astonishing contortion of logic you hold that a violent military coup is preferable to a referendum and constitutional elections as a means of ensuring "the possibility of power peaceably changing hands".

Having been imprisoned by Pinochet's troops in the National Stadium in Santiago I have some personal experience of the democratic possibilities of military coups. General Pinochet remained in power continuously for almost 17 years and continued to manipulate Chile's "protected" democracy long after that.

Mike Gatehouse

Brecon, Powys

Anti-social face of the burqa

I should like to counter both letters printed under the title "Women should be free to wear the Muslim burqa" (30 June). They both miss the main point. I personally find many types of dress worn by all sorts of people "give me the creeps" as P A Mackay puts it, but I would strongly defend the right of anyone to wear whatever they want. The way we dress defines us and we are all different.

What I cannot defend is the right of anyone, man or woman, to cover their face in public. I believe this to be anti-social and unacceptable.

Penny Joseph

Shoreham-by-sea, West Sussex

It would be more appropriate for P A Mackay to ask if westerners would be prepared to disrobe if they were to visit a culture where total nudity was the accepted norm, and where the locals found clothing of any sort to be threatening.

Penny King


I don't like crowds. But if I am in one, I prefer to see the faces of the people. I feel safer if I can see from their eyes to their chin and so determine whether they are male or female, friendly or hostile. Some social interaction may be possible. It is not for nothing that terrorists, in their videos, only show the mouth and eyes. I'd ban motorcyclists with dark visors, burqas, masks, hoodies and similar apparel from any public concourse.

Margaret Mann

London NW2

I am 68 and wear a hearing aid, and work part-time at a checkout in a busy supermarket. When a veil-wearing customer comes to my checkout, I have great difficulty in hearing what she is saying – because I cannot see her face and lips moving. I told my manager of this. The reply, in effect, was: "Sorry, you'll just have to put up with it, there's nothing we can do."

John Burrows


I have no hang-ups about women wearing this garb in our society, but as an ardent feminist supporter I find it desperately unfair that Muslim men are not prepared to adopt the same disguise. I can see the point of view that an unveiled woman would cause unbridled lust in any male beholder, but what of the poor woman who is forced every day, to endure the sight of attractive men without any relief from erotic torment?

Pete Parkins


A man with cause to thank the NHS

Were I to generalise on the basis of my own experience, as does Bernadette Brooks (letter, 29 June), I would come to the opposite conclusion.

Nine years ago, troubled by nothing more than a vague discomfort, but mindful that my father had had prostate cancer, I consulted my GP, who decided on a PSA test. This came up with a figure of 5.1, only slightly above the acceptable figure. My GP considered leaving the matter for few months, but decided to refer me to a consultant as a non-urgent case.

The consultant considered that it was very unlikely that there was anything seriously wrong, but organised another type of test, just to be sure. The results were again just the wrong side of acceptable, and I was told that a biopsy was the only way to settle the matter. Half the samples taken showed signs of cancer.

Once the diagnosis had been made, things moved swiftly.

The specialists explained the possible types of treatment to my wife and me. I eventually opted for surgery. I was offered a choice of dates, and was operated on about two months after the diagnosis. There were some post-operative complications, and I was in hospital for about five weeks. Shortly after I returned home, one of the surgeons took the trouble to telephone to say that my PSA was now down to a very low level, adding: "You have had such a bad time, I thought you ought to have the good news."

All this was done under the NHS. Perhaps I was lucky, but perhaps a more significant factor was that I regarded my GP and the hospital doctors as people with whom to have a discussion, not a fight.

D W Budworth

London W4

However many rights you give patients or targets you set ("Six new rights for every NHS patient", 29 June), if the system is fundamentally incapable of delivering those rights or targets, then it will fail to do so. Presumably, now patients have rights and are therefore expected to fend for themselves, treatment will now be delivered on the basis of "he who shouts the loudest and complains the most".

Tim Williams


South African rugby excesses

The ramblings of Peter De Villiers (report, 30 June) serve only to reinforce my fears. As someone born in Durban, I watched the two Lions tests with mixed feelings. I was happy to take a win but very unhappy of the attitude and the way it was achieved.

South African rugby is seriously losing the plot and while there were excesses on both sides, rugby in South Africa is becoming unworthy of holding the sport's greatest prize as world champions. If the attitude of winning at all costs continues then they will certainly lose it. Most disturbing of all were the public statements of both senior players and officials after the match, showing their inability to acknowledge the concerns put to them. If the ethos of the game is not upheld by the world champions then it will no longer be a sport.

Harry Cavilk

Camberley, Surrey

Tories' dubious European friends

That the Conservative MEPs are joining the dubious right-wing parties of Poland, Czech Republic and elsewhere comes as no surprise to me ("Tories embarrassed by their new friends from the east", 23 June). Despite David Cameron's stage management of the Tories, their voting record on equality measures in the European Parliament over the last 10 years has not changed one iota.

As recently as May 2009, they voted against or abstained on an Equality Directive which seeks to bring to an end discrimination in the provision of goods and services on grounds of age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability. There are many other examples. It is some relief that, at last, they are expressing the true values of the Conservative Party.

Michael Cashman MEP

Labour Spokesperson for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, west Bromwich, West Midlands

Schools fail to help dyslexic children

I have great sympathy for the parent who wrote of the damage that they felt had been caused to their son by dyslexia (Letters, 27 June), but I would suggest that it isn't dyslexia itself that is the problem.

My son was diagnosed with severe dyslexia at age nine, but of the four boys (now aged between 18 and 28) in our street who displayed dyslexic characteristics, only my son does not suffer from the crippling lack of self-esteem and problems with alcohol and holding down a job that the other boys have. Why? Because we removed him from school.

At home we encouraged him to play to his strengths (a great 3-D visualisation capacity and a terrific audio memory). He loved books, so we read to him well into his teens and subscribed to the Listening Books charity. At 15 suddenly he was able to read more than a few lines without it hurting his head, and while not a particularly good reader (still needing help with some words), nor a good speller, he has done several college courses and is well set up in a job he enjoys.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but school's concentration on reading and writing as the only things that matter leads children to believe they are rubbish if they haven't mastered these skills by a certain age, which then leads to life-long poor self-esteem. Dyslexia is only a problem if you perceive it as one - school is the real problem.

Name and address supplied

The heartbreaking side-effects of dyslexia would be much rarer, as would the need to train 100,000 teachers to give extra one-to-one tuition to all the 600,000 pupils estimated to be struggling with learning to read and write, if we did not have such a rotten spelling system.

The main difficulty dyslexics have is making the connection between speech sounds and the letters used for them. Because English spelling uses many different alternatives for identical sounds, making the link between English sounds and their spelling is much harder than in more consistently spelt languages such as Italian or Finnish.

The second problem of dyslexics is their relatively weak verbal memory. The fact that the English writing system necessitates word-by-word memorisation of spelling quirks for at least 3,695 common words makes learning to write extremely difficult for them.

In Finland, which has the most consistent alphabetic writing system of all, no child is ever diagnosed with dyslexia. Italians dyslexics tend to discover that they have the dyslexic brain wiring only when they begin to learn English.

Masha Bell

Wareham, Dorset



During Andy Murray's fourth round match at Wimbledon, the line judges, male and female, were all dressed in uniform white trousers and blue shirts with white collars. Can anyone explain why those poor men alone also had to wear ties – and with the temperature nearly 30C?

David Bond

Witney, Oxfordshire

Royal bargain

Tom Sutcliffe's article critical of the taxpayer being asked to pay more for the Royal Household (30 June) fails to mention the source of funding. At the beginning of every reign the sovereign surrenders the income from Crown estates in exchange for the civil list. The last figure I saw for the profit to the taxpayer was over £200m in a year. Doesn't sound like a bad bargain.

Michael Taylor

Stenton, East lothian


A residue of Jewish patrilineal descent, as existed in pre-Diaspora times (Letter, 29 June), still survives today in Orthodox Judaism, in the rule that the status of being a Cohen (a priest for ritual purposes) is passed from father to son.

Ken Cohen

London NW6

MPs' second jobs

There is obvious merit in our political class keeping in touch with the real world outside Westminster by holding a second, third or in some cases a fourth job. What rankles is the level of renumeration. In most cases, for a few hours' work, they are being paid what many are grateful to receive as an annual salary. The disproportionate sums received can only give rise to the suspicion that it is for the chance of favours or inside knowledge.

G Barlow

Knutsford, Cheshire

Verbal medals

I'm not sure at what point a winner of medals became known as a medallist, but since it was before the school years of your various correspondents who have difficulties with the use of "medal" as a verb, I dare say it didn't mark the end of civilisation.

David Woods