Summer 2001
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TCU Magazine "Letters"
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Proof of Life

I read the article "The Real Proof of Life" with much interest. My family has worked within the same organization that Tom Hargrove did for close to 20 years. However, I feel that I need to defend the organization's position.

The first and most vital point is that the location where Mr. Hargrove was taken had been deemed a forbidden area to the scientists due to the lack of security. Mr. Hargrove was in that area, with the full knowledge that there had been information that the guerillas were there. The second point is that CIAT refused to pay the ransom.

CIAT is merely one center in a conglomeration of 58 public and private sector members that support 16 centers. The group is called, The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR. In each of these centers, there are at least 200 employees, all at the mercy of their environment and therefore targets for kidnapping.

Many are in dangerous areas in order to improve the lives of the impoverished, such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan and Colombia. All of these centers were to share $340 million in 1998. First, given the mission and vision of these centers, they cannot afford to dole out money each time a person is kidnapped. There is a greater good to consider.

Second, if one person is kidnapped and the pattern is set for the paying of ransoms, then the immediate danger to thousands of scientists and their families is multiplied.

Third, if Hargrove's family had not interfered in the negotiations, the situation may have been resolved in a more timely fashion. However, as it was, the guerrillas had more power since they could get one deal from CIAT and another from the Hargrove family.

The CGIAR association has had other people kidnapped. In fact, two scientists were kidnapped in Colombia this past October. However, the proper channels were followed and the scientists were only held for two days.

Although I sympathize with the hardships that the family and Mr. Hargrove went through, they understood the challenges and dangers of living in a foreign country. There are security issues and protocols that are given and should be followed. Violation of those warnings, like Mr. Hargrove did when he took his shortcut, open a person up to the distinct possiblity of harm.

CGIAR could not allow the entire organization to become a feeding ground for economically disadvantaged terrorists who find it easier to bargain for foreigners. There is a mission to help the world, and that is through scientific breakthroughs and research, not paying off thugs.

Lisa Dowdy-Fitzhugh 95
Fort Worth

Summer of dinosaurs?

The "Summer of Frogs" article in the Spring 2001 issue caught my eye. It was fascinating and very enjoyable. My husband is from West Texas, but a friend who moved here from Louisiana was planting some spring bulbs when she encountered her first horned frog.

She grabbed her children and ran in the house to call her husband at work. She said she was leaving because this land had small dinosaurs!

Barbara Master Byars
Midland