Friday, June 11, 2010

Gores’ Separation, World Cup, Honduras’ Lobo Declares Plot Against Him, Chavez as Songster, Cuba Again

A comment here on the Gores’ separation after 40 years of marriage, which is really none of our business, except that they are in the public eye. Maybe there’s a new secret squeeze on either or both sides, or maybe they just became bored with each other and increasingly headed in different directions. Long-term intimate relations do pose a challenge, especially these days, when we are living longer and are not so consumed by sheer daily physical survival, when mores are changing, and when self-realization, “happiness,” and independence are common personal goals. It’s all the more remarkable that some couples do manage to go the distance, like one in our little church group, Communitas, celebrating their 60th anniversary on Father’s Day. And happy Father’s Day to all my readers out there who are fathers.

The World Cup is dominating news elsewhere, if not so much here. It will be quite some time before the US hosts a World Cup, much less wins one. Three of my kids played soccer and daughter Melanie’s team even won a trophy. But soccer (called “football” elsewhere) doesn’t seem to have fully captured sports fans here, as in the rest of the world. In Honduras, from an early age, all boys—even blind boys and poor barefoot rural boys—kicked around whatever sort of ball or substitute (i.e. ball of string) they can find. In Peace Corps, we encouraged girls to play as well.

Honduras qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1982. They will play against Spain, considered the stronger team, on June 21. When I was in Peace Corps during an earlier World Cup, everyone, men especially, congregated around radios and TV sets, eager to watch, whatever the hour. This year, matches will start about 7 am DC time and even earlier in Honduras, where people get up at dawn anyway. Since they often have little or no electricity and afternoons may become scorching, their lives follow the rhythms of the sun.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, according to our local Spanish-language press, is saying that three members of his own Nationalist Party want to overthrow him. More details were not available. It would be ironic if Lobo were now ousted in the same manner that Zelaya was. The same article reports that Zelaya remains living in the Dominican Republic, while Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela oppose recognition of Lobo and the re-entry of Honduras into the OAS, although that body will be sending a mission to Tegucigalpa on June 25, to investigate that possibility.

Perhaps feeling snubbed by Hillary Clinton on her tour of Latin America, Hugo Chavez has come up with a ditty sung over the airwaves saying that Hillary doesn’t love him and he doesn’t love her either. Chavez is quite the clown and Venezuelans are his captive audience.

U.N. torture investigator says Cuba blocked visit
Wed Jun 9, 2010 9, Reuters
· U.N. torture sleuth says Cuba blocked visit
· U.N. envoy accuses rights forum of turning blind eye

Havana issued invitation last year
* Austrian lawyer known for tough talking
* Cuba seen as sensitive on political prisoner issue

GENEVA, June 9 - Cuba has told the United Nations special investigator on torture that he cannot visit the island on a fact-finding mission despite an invitation issued to him last year, the official said on Wednesday.

Austrian lawyer Manfred Nowak, known for his frank talking to both developed and developing countries on the issue, said Havana had told him it could not receive him before his mandate runs out at the end of October this year. "I regret that, in spite of its clear invitation, the government of Cuba has not allowed me to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the country by collecting first-hand evidence from all available sources," he said in a statement.

Cuba invited him to visit in February 2009, but since then had failed to agree on a date, his statement said. Diplomats at the council -- now holding a three-week session -- said Havana was showing special sensitivity over its jailing of dissidents, one of whom died in prison in February. Cuba says it has no political prisoners and jails only criminals.

Nowak has been six years in the post, formally titled special rapporteur to the world body's Geneva-based Human Rights Council, and has already made clear he will step down when his mandate is over. Earlier this year, he told reporters he had been frustrated by the lack of cooperation he had received in his investigations from many governments -- including some, like communist-ruled Cuba, who are members of the 47-nation council.

No comments: