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July-Aug. 1998 Issue

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Jesse Jackson on U.S. Africa Policy

The Rev. Jesse Jackson visits victims of Sierra Leone's civil war.
Photo by Marie Nelson

The Rev. Jesse Jackson knows all too well the social, economic and political devastation of apartheid. In his native Greenville, S.C., he grew up under the laws of racial segregation--not unlike the racial apartheid he witnessed during his first trip to South Africa in 1979.

"I learned early on what it meant to look at two sides of a wall," he said. "On one side the sun was shining; on the other side there were shadows." Those who lived in the sunshine flourished, he said, not because they were better or more capable, "but because they got the most light"--the most education, the most travel experience and the most opportunities. "And those in the shadows, they floundered," he said.

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San José

Costa Rica has enjoyed a peaceful existence in the midst of the turmoil in Central America during the past few decades. Its military was abolished in 1949, and Costa Rica is the region's most stable democracy, boasting a literacy rate of 93 percent. The Costa Rican people, known as "Ticos," are warm, friendly and caring. They demonstrated that compassion last fall during Hurricane Mitch, when they responded generously to frequent calls for donations of food, clothing and money for hurricane-devastated Nicaragua and Honduras. Employees at the U.S. Embassy in San José became involved in these efforts, too, working at the airport to load planes with necessities.

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USIA's Information Bureau

In an earlier era, information was treated much like any other scarce commodity: Those who possessed it held a measure of power and influence over those who did not. That's no longer the case, because we now swim in a sea of information, gathered and shared by individuals and organizations of every possible description.

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1999 State Magazine, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Personnel

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