To the editor:
Mr. Gorbachev, in looking over the Armenian disaster, was vocal in three aspects:(1) The crumbled buildings had been poorly designed; (2) equipment was lacking, or inadequate; (3) rescue operations were poorly organized and late in functioning. For which he blamed the people of his realm.
It's good he looked around. My wife and I just returned from nearly a month roaming the Balkan countries, including Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Hungary.
We were constantly amazed at the primitive conditions under which the people lived and worked. Their new apartments were stacked everywhere - the Soviet system of putting people on shelves, so they are on constant file . . . and under perpetual supervision.
Machinery? It was alarmingly sparse. In a day's time, we might see one or two pieces of farm implements - and many which were non-serviceable and under roadside repair.
In Bucharest, the president is building himself a majestic palace, night and day labor, fronted by a street with marble-faced apartments and elaborate water fountains for a mile or more. While not far down the countryside, people are starving, or freezing to death for want of coal or fuel. A few days before we got into Romania, people assembled to break open a warehouse to get food. Police and military and party card holders had it locked up for privileged patrons.
I'm reminded of my first trip to Samarkand, up the country a piece form Armenia. The Samarkand Hotel was being built, but we could not stay there. Two years later, we could not stay there because it was in bad condition - the fronts and sides were crumbling so that wire nets were placed to keep the debris off our heads. That was 1970 and 1972.
Later in France, I was driving the Isere River vineyard country. We noticed many broken-down tractors in the fields and vineyards. In a French newspaper that week, we read where France had refused to pay Russia for more than 1,000 tractors because they didn't work and there were no replacement parts for them.
After four trips behind the iron curtain, my wife and I have found no improvement over 18 years.
It would seem sporting if Mr. Gorbachev would look to himself as head man, and to the system he espouses before he blames the people who must exist under that system.
Salt Lake City