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
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:
11514 Bucknell Dr., Apt. #3
Silver Spring MD 20902
Neil S. Kromash
Date created: 7/24/96
Last modified: 7/26/96