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Madagascar Quip In Poor Taste 

Your attempt to be clever in response to the recent coup in Madagascar was in extremely poor taste (Upfront, March 19).

There has already been a bloodbath, with over 100 people being killed by government troops, and thousands injured. As someone who has family there, we have been extremely worried about the situation.

The former President appropriated funds for his own use (e.g., a $60 million airplane) and made numerous deals with other countries and companies that did not benefit Madagascar at all. Then when demonstrators came too close, he ordered his troops to shoot them.

The country is in turmoil still--not everyone supports the young leader who has been installed (Andre Rajoelina, who does not resemble an animated Disney character), and there are continuing protests and demonstrations. The U.S. State Department still has a travel warning urging Americans not to go to Madagascar.

Virtually all tourism has stopped (we had to cancel our own trip), seriously hurting the economy of one of the world's poorest nations. Most people in Madagascar live on less than $1 per day, and now there are even fewer ways to earn money.

Making a joke of another country's catastrophe is the height of insensitivity. It highlights one of the world's (especially America's) serious problems: thinking that events happening somewhere else don't affect us and are only worth viewing as entertainment. These were real people who died; families were left without their fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers. It's not funny at all.

Please think a little more next time before treating a serious episode such as this with so little consideration for those involved.

Kelly Smith


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