I agree with Catherine Bertini of the World Food Program that Angola, which has not known a day of peace for more than 25 years, should receive as much, if not more international media attention and aid as tiny Kosovo ["The Worst Country to Grow Up In," op-ed, Sept. 1]. However, her analysis paints a one-sided view of the Angolan crisis.
Certainly, there is enough blame to pass around, not the least the West's callous indifference. One could also point a finger at the United Nations: It failed in 1992 to fully disarm the belligerents and then went on to conduct a skimpily funded multiparty election that resulted in renewed conflict.
However, the main responsibility for the continuing carnage and destruction must be placed on the ruling political and economic elites of Angola itself -- the government, UNITA and some members of the business community. They have nothing but disregard and contempt for the average Angolan who, despite formidable obstacles, struggles to survive. Awash in oil and diamonds, Angola could feed the African continent, but the wealth is being systematically looted by corrupt government officials and UNITA leaders.
For every deprived victim such as Cristina Gassova, there is a wealthy Angolan whose children eat three meals a day, attend the best schools abroad, don designer clothes and drive expensive cars. Angola will be saved only when the educated, wealthy elites start to care more about their own people than the size of their foreign bank accounts. Ms. Bertini would do well to extend her appeal to these elites as well.
CAROL SAMUELS CASTIEL