CAR letter

July 13, 1996

Dear Friend of the CAR:

As you surely know by now, events in the CAR have recently taken a turn for the worse. This past May, a mutinous band of Central African soldiers rebelled against President Patasse and troops loyal to him, resulting in pockets of indiscriminate looting and fighting throughout Bangui. After evacuating most foreign nationals (including Peace Corps), French forces reasserted control of the capital through a fierce display of military aggression. An ominous calm returned to Bangui, but the fundamental causes behind the insurgency remain unresolved.

The uncharacteristic intensity of the conflict placed CAR, for a fleeting moment, at the forefront of the global media stage. The rare coverage, however, was analytically shallow and limited to back-page columns or thirty-second sound bites which emphasized, for the most part, unrelated or peripheral issues such as Emperor Bokassa's excesses or melodramatic expatriate evacuation stories.

Dissatisfied with this portrayal of events, as well as with the apathy of the international community's response towards the situation in the CAR, a small, but committed group of U.S.-based Central Africans and Americans familiar with the country decided to collaborate. The initial result of our modest efforts are the enclosed two letters.

From an international perspective, our consensus regarding the contemporary predicament in CAR and the overall lack of external assistance (either before or after recent events), is that the country suffers from, among other things, a severe problem of perception. To the outsider, CAR is viewed as a distant, surreal entity, far from significance in the global context. For those of us who have 1ived there, however, we know a country filled with vast potential, both in human and physical terms, but one which vitally needs the support of the international community to have any hope of realizing its dreams.

As a first step in attempting to improve the image of the CAR, we have taken the time to enclose two letters, one written as a one-page editorial letter for a newspaper column, and one written as a more lengthy historical and political overview of the country. We have sent these letters to you, peeple who know the country well, in the hopes that you will use them to help educate and/or improve the imape of the CAR.

Using these letters effectively will require creativity on your part. Send them to local or national newspapers, Congress, or relevant organizations. Use them as tools for formal or informal education opportunities. Pass them on to interested readers or other African connections you may have. Our primary goal is to enhance awareness about the country, so that in this time of decreasing aid flows, CAR may be spared from its anonymity.

On behalf of our group, I thank you for your attention to this important matter, and would appreciate hearing your feedback and/or results. I can be reached at:
Neil Kromash
11514 Bucknell Dr., Apt. #3
Silver Spring MD 20902
(301) 933-6548


Neil S. Kromash

Date created: 7/24/96
Last modified: 7/26/96
Maintained by: 
Alan Saul