Al Kamen's article "Reagan-Era Zeal for Central America Fades" {news story, Oct. 16} looks back and neglects the present and future situation in the region.

I concede that we are no longer the subject of an acrimonious political debate and that the press is not focused on Central America as it used to be. Nevertheless, the region continues to be of interest to the United States.

There is little doubt that, although the problems are still related to the conflicts of the past decade, the emphasis on geopolitical considerations has dissipated. Democracy and economic development are today's main issues.

In that sense, the United States has an interest in seeing the conflict in El Salvador finally resolved, to ensure the continuity of the democratic process in Nicaragua, to strengthen the rule of law and civilian institutions throughout the region and to encourage and support economic reforms that lead to economic growth and social development.

We can hardly succeed in those endeavors without four conditions: direct financial support, debt relief and reduction, expanded private investment and increased access to foreign markets.

Last June President Bush proposed the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative. Trade, private investment and debt reduction are its main components. Somehow they are designed to progressively make up for reduced U.S. economic aid resources.

Also in June Secretary of State James Baker proposed to the Central American presidents gathered in Guatemala the integration of a group of donor countries to channel additional resources for the recovery and development of the region.

Congress approved in May a supplemental appropriations bill for Nicaragua and Panama. In August, it also passed the enhancement of the Caribbean Basin Initiative. As recently as last month, Sen. Terry Sanford (D-N.C.) and Rep. Dante Fascell (D-Fla.) sponsored legislation aimed at founding U.S. policy toward Central America on human rights, regional cooperation, democratic institutions and sustained development. And this month legislative measures concerning reduction of concessional debt under the PL-480 Program were approved within the farm bill.

The effectiveness of these actions will be subject for debate, but they all reflect the interest that prevails in the Bush administration and Congress in the future of Central America.

JORGE HERNANDEZ-ALCERRO Ambassador of Honduras Washington