To the Editors:
In recent months and years, the lives of Latin American people have been profoundly affected by a level of violent repression that is among the highest in the world today. The populations of, in particular, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Colombia have been terrorized by a wave of arbitrary detentions and arrests, murders and “disappearances,” rape and torture. These atrocities are often perpetrated under the guise of a “national emergency” or “state of siege” under which military and government officials exercise virtually unchecked power to enforce their policies and suppress all criticism by, especially, peasants, intellectuals, workers, and the clergy. The regimes of these countries, largely in breach of their own constitutions, systematically violate the following fundamental human rights:
—the right to physical and mental integrity, freedom from assassination, torture, and other cruel and humiliating treatment;—the right to fair trials and due process, freedom from (fear of) arbitrary punishment.
In addition, liberty of conscience with freedom of thought and speech, the right to peaceful assembly and petition, political liberties, and freedom of the press are being denied. The information relayed by Amnesty International, other human rights organizations, and indigenous church groups consistently indicates that the overwhelming responsibility for this suffering lies with the regimes in question, on account of their use of, and acquiescence in, violence.
We are deeply concerned by the conditions in these countries. We urgently call upon the new Administration to refrain from supporting any regime which is responsible for systematic violations of fundamental human rights. Specifically, we believe that the United States should not provide
—military aid, lethal or “non-lethal,”
—counter insurgency training or equipment,
—diplomatic support or respectability for such regimes.
We appeal to our colleagues in philosophy, scholars in other academic disciplines, and citizens at large, individually or within their respective professional associations, trade unions, churches, etc., to join in the attempt to secure basic standards of humanity and dignity for the Latin American people.
Rogers Albritton, UCLA; George Boolos, MIT; Hector-Neri Castaneda, Indiana University; Stanley Cavell, Harvard; Noam Chomsky, MIT; Arthur C. Danto, Columbia; David Hall, University of Texas; Jaakko Hantikka, Florida State University; Isaac Levi, Columbia; Thomas Kuhn, MIT; Sidney Morgenbesser, Columbia; John Rawls, Harvard; Amelie Rorty, University of Rochester; Richard Rorty, Princeton; Samuel Scheffler, University of California/ Berkeley; Wilfred Sellers, University of Pittsburgh; Barry Stroud, University of California Berkeley; Judith Jarvis Thomson, MIT; Daniel Dennett, Tufts; David Rosenthal, CUNY (and 67 other philosophers)
February 19, 1981