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Boycotts and Apartheid

July 28, 1997

Berkeley justifies its silly use of multiple boycotts based upon its "success" in helping to end apartheid in South Africa (July 22).

I've got some news for the Berkeley City Council. As an L.A. native who lived in Johannesburg during those boycott years, I can say that U.S. economic sanctions did little if anything to contribute to the fall of apartheid. If anything the boycotts made South Africa more self-sufficient. When U.S. corporations divested, they simply sold out--at fire-sale prices--to rich South Africans who kept the businesses running.

Plain and simple, the swift and unexpected end to white minority rule came soon after the equally unexpected fall of the Berlin Wall. President F.W. de Klerk released Nelson Mandela virtually the moment it became obvious that a communist takeover of South Africa was no longer viable.

Contrary to media reports, white South Africans weren't particularly racist then and they aren't now. How else to explain the fact that President Mandela is today more popular among South African whites than President Clinton is among his own countrymen?

KERRY WELSH

Manhattan Beach

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