THE WHITE HOUSE RESPONDS
By Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (*)
São Paulo — According to the principles that I am honored to have professed and practiced during my life, I consider myself obligated to pay special attention to the situation of the heroic Vietnamese who are on boats in the China Sea and exposed to hunger, thirst, bad weather, and risks because they have not conformed to life under the Communist club. I dedicated a special article to them in the Folha de São Paulo, "The Epopee of the Noble Non-conformists," (July 3, 1977) and further, I mentioned the tragedy of these heroic non-conformists more than once in other articles that also appeared in the Folha de São Paulo.
Giving voice to the anguish of soul of the thousands of Brazilians who think and feel as I do in this respect, I sent a telex to Paul VI and President Carter asking them to exercise all the power corresponding to the high offices they hold on behalf of these glorious and unfortunate "boat-men."
My appeal moved the highest magistrate of
Here are the essential parts of the communication that I received:
"Since the fall of
"We are working closely with the United Nation's
High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in order to give assistance to those
refugees who must remain in camps and in order to support the efforts of the
UNHCR by way of obtaining a greater degree of international involvement in the
program aiding the
"Until now, eighteen other nations besides the
"Much progress has been made in recent months towards alleviating their suffering, and I hope that much can be done with the help of men and women everywhere who are concerned with this question. Respectfully, Etc."
Gratefully acknowledging the courteous tone of the answer, I turn now to analyze several points that this reply makes to me.
We all know that the
A long time ago, the
In this respect, there cannot be the least doubt.
The special person instructed by President Carter to
write to me appears to mention the number of refugees with a confidence
bordering on presumption. "Indochinese," she says, and therefore not
merely the Vietnamese for whom
I confess that I don't perceive the motive for this presumption.
Absolutely speaking, the number of these refugees is
considerable. But given the prodigious capacity of the
Indeed, the extent of the obligations assumed by the
Untied States, upon accepting this leadership responsibility, cannot be
measured merely by the number of refugees already accepted in American
territory. One needs to know the total of specifically Vietnamese refugees, and that of their companions from other nations of
Above, I said, " all
that it can and should." I specify: All that the
Along this line of thought, permit me to recall that some months ago President Carter was acting with all the Latin-American countries of the South American continent to urge them to respect fully the human rights banner which he had raised in the world arena. Well understood, the direct beneficiaries of his action were the Communists, or those suspected of being Communist, who were indicted or convicted in these various countries.
On that occasion, casting his eyes over Latin-America,
Mr. Carter had in mind the human rights which, like all rational beings, the
These are the same rights belonging principally to those who, in one country or another, are unjustly suspected.
But Mr. Carter should not lose sight of the fact that,
in the majority of instances, these are the aggressors against the sovereignty
of the Latin-American countries so tenaciously attacked in the last decades by
Now, it would be very logical if President Carter,
looking towards the Latin American world, had remembered the human rights of
the anti-communist refugees. Why didn't he request an estimate from these
governments as to the number of refugees they could receive in the still
uninhabited vastnesses of
These are some of the questions that came to my mind when I read the White House answer. Later, I will say something about the other questions.
“Folha de S. Paulo”,