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Ethical Diversity; Burmese Day Trip

Subject: Ethical Diversity; Burmese Day Trips

                                 In These Times

                       April  14, 1997  /  April  27, 1997

SECTION: ET CETERA; Vol. 21; Pg. 8

HEADLINE: Ethical diversity;
Burmese day trips

   The Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation

   Society of New York are working closely with the Burmese State Law and Order 
Restoration Council, or SLORC, to establish nature reserves in  Burma.  The
Observer of London reported on March 23 that the sites for the reserves, one of 
which will be the largest in the world, are being cleared of all humans through 
the "systematic slaughter of the Karen ethnic minority." According to the
Observer, "The ruling Burmese junta is delighted to have the support from such
prestigious organizations. They hope the reserves ... will attract millions

tourists and improve  Burma's  appalling international image, shaped by one of
the worst human rights records in the world." At the Wildlife Conservation
Society, Josh Ginsberg, the group's science director, told the Observer: "We do 
not sanction forced relocation or killings, but we have no control over the
government. We are in  Burma  because it is one of the highest biodiversity
countries." As for the Smithsonian, it issued this statement: "We are there to
do important conservation work. We may disagree with a regime, but it is not our
place to challenge it." --Joel Bleifuss

   Corporate America has come up with a new, behind-the-scenes way to lobby
members of Congress: A company gives lots of dollars to a tax-exempt foundation,
which in turn takes members of Congress on foreign educational junkets that
promote the company's business. Jim Drinkard of The Associated Press reports
that last fall, four Republican House members--Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas,
Dennis Hasert of Illinois, Bill Paxon of New York and Deborah Pryce of
Ohio--went to  Burma  courtesy of the Asia Pacific Exchange Foundation in
Washington, D.C. Once in  Burma,  the four representatives went on a
fact-finding mission to the oil pipeline being built by Unocal and  Burma's 
military dictators. Asia Pacific Exchange did not set up meetings with
opposition leaders, however, because the Republicans expressed no interest in
doing so, according to foundation President Richard Quick. The visit was
front-page news in the junta-controlled press. While the foundation refuses
todiscuss which corporations give it money, Unocal admits it contributes, though
it won't say how much. Last year, the foundation sent a group of congressional
aides to China to visit an auto factory and the Boeing-China airplane plant.
Boeing and Ford both contribute to the Asia Pacific Exchange Foundation.  --J.B.


LOAD-DATE: April 8, 1997