Sunday, October 17, 2010

Egads! Forgot Work Assignment, Bereavement Panel, Bedbugs, Blacksburg, Cuba, Honduras, Sudan

Must be losing it or am just too overloaded. I forgot to check my calendar. So, for the first time on the 6 years that I've been doing interpreting, I FORGOT to go to an assignment! When I realized it, it was too late to get there! Not only did I forfeit what I (and my agency) would have earned, but it was a black mark on my record. I hope that agency (one of two I work for) won't avoid calling me again. I’ve never missed before, never even been late, despite snow, sleet, and dark of night--or of early morning--and having to go everywhere by public transportation, though if I need to take a taxi because of a missed bus connection, I will.

Last Tuesday, I was part of a panel on bereavement for a course for Howard University nursing students. The students will be confronting dying and death in their work, also in their personal lives. The professor for this course is a member of our support group for parents who have lost children, The Compassionate Friends. Other panel members were another professor of nursing originally from Egypt who had lost her brother and a young Howard University student who had lost her mother recently to breast cancer. Every type of loss and experience of loss is different and cultural factors also affect grieving styles and rituals.

The latest explanation I’ve heard for the recent bedbug infestation round the country is not that the critters have been brought in by folks from Latin America, as was suggested to me, but rather are arriving on linens and clothing manufactured in China and Indonesia, where bedbugs are common. So buyers might be advised to thoroughly wash new items manufactured elsewhere before using them.

Readers of this blog are captives of whatever is of interest to the writer, and that includes bedbugs, Cuba, and Sudan, the latter two countries because I’ve been there as well as to Honduras, though Honduras will always be first in my heart. Regarding the 2011 Sudan referendum (see below), which Bashir is trying to wriggle out of, it was clear to me in 2006 when I was in southern Sudan that support for secession from the north was near 100%. Bereavement, however, is not an interest I would have particularly chosen—it chose me.

At Eastern Market, when I’m out trying to chat up the Peace Corps (and my book), I avoid reaching out to people with small children or pregnant women, those who appearing very attached to their dogs (as they seem less willing to leave them behind than spouses or significant others), extremely overweight folks (PC won’t take them), and those with beards, nose rings, and lots of tattoos. Of course, beards and nose rings can be temporarily forgone for the sake of Peace Corps, which does not allow them, and tattoos can be covered (because of their gang connotations), but most people I’ve talked with these attributes have not been willing to consider giving them up, even temporarily.

Reminder: as mentioned before, I’ll be in Blacksburg, Va., Oct. 22-25 for a couple of talks on my book and Peace Corps, so you won’t hear from me again until after that.

According to Cuba’s official newspaper, Granma, Yusimi Campos, Director of Welfare, Cuba’s Ministry of Labor and Social Security, has said: "It will be necessary to rectify the policy of providing those benefits [health and education] equally to all people. We should assess the situation of the family to assume total or partial payment of such services, according to their abilities. "
Another way of getting relatives abroad to send money? I’ve already heard that Cuban-Americans visiting sick relatives in Cuba have gotten better care and obtained scarce medications by paying dollars directly to nurses and doctors. Do the latter pocket the money themselves or is this new policy, already in effect?

Someone shot a bullet into the chair in his study usually occupied by Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, but, fortunately, he was out of the country at the time. Apparently, whoever made the shot didn’t know his travel schedule.
This is hurricane season in Central America. Hurricane Paula caused considerable damage in northern Honduras.

Hurricane Paula forms, heads to Yucatan Peninsula
Associated Press, Oct. 12, 2010

Hurricane Paula smashed homes and forced schools to close in Honduras on Tuesday as it headed toward Mexico's resort-dotted Yucatan Peninsula. Paula formed Monday off the coast of Honduras and quickly intensified into a hurricane early Tuesday, said the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Heavy rains and high winds destroyed 19 homes in northeastern Honduras, said Lisandro Rosales, head of Honduras' emergency agency. Officials closed schools along the country's Atlantic coast and some airports were reported closed. Around dawn Tuesday, it had winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was centered about 190 miles (310 kilometers) south-southeast of the resort island of Cozumel in Mexico.

Paula was moving toward the northwest at nearly 10 mph (17 kph), bringing it near the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Tuesday night. The forecast track would have the storm a little offshore of Cancun, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres near the tip of the Peninsula late Wednesday night. The Hurricane Center said the storm was likely to gain force, though it was not expected to become a major hurricane.

Paula was expected to dump from 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of Honduras, northern Belize, eastern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and parts of western and central Cuba. The government of Mexico issued a hurricane warning for the country's Caribbean coast from Punta Gruesa north to Cabo Catoche, including the island of Cozumel. Warnings are issued when hurricane conditions are almost certain to occur.

Forecasters warned of possible flooding and landslides and suggested residents avoid fishing trips or water sports. Forecasters said the storm would produce heavy rains that could cause flash floods and mudslides, especially in the mountains of Nicaragua and Honduras. It said isolated, mountainous areas in Honduras could get as many as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain. Coastal flooding from heavy waves was also expected along the eastern coast of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula.
Dead Cuban Hunger Striker's Kin Can EmigrateThursday, 14 Oct 2010, (Agence France Presse)

Cuba has authorized the family of dissident Orlando Zapata, who died in February after an 85-day hunger strike, to emigrate directly to the United States, Zapata's mother told AFP Thursday.

"They told me that the government had authorized the departure of the whole family and that we are going directly to the United States, but I'm not going until they give me my son's ashes," said Reina Tamayo, the dissident's mother.
In a related development Thursday, opposition leaders said five other dissidents had been granted approval to go the United States.

Tamayo said the government's offer was communicated to her October 11 by Roman Catholic Bishop Emilio Aranguren of the eastern province of Holguin, where she lives. Aranguren was traveling and unavailable for comment, while officials at the U.S. Interest Section in Havana had no immediate comment. Tamayo said she had received no information from the U.S. Interest Section. Tamayo, 62, was in Havana Thursday to meet with officials in the office of Cardinal Jaime Ortega to learn of the details of the offer. Ortega held a high-level meeting with President Raul Castro in May that resulted in the government agreeing to release 52 of the 75 political prisoners it jailed in a widespread 2003 crackdown.

Tamayo's four adult children -- three sons and a daughter -- along with their families were also authorized to travel to the United States. Church officials agree that they should leave "because we are being harassed, we cannot live here," Tamayo said.

The slow process of releasing Cuba's political prisoners is supported by Spain, which has welcomed 38 prisoners of the released prisoners and their families. One ex-prisoner traveled to Chile, and another traveled to the United States.
Orlando Zapata, a 42 year-old laborer who was single and had no children, died on February 23 after an 85 day-long hunger strike. His death unleashed a wave of criticism in the United States and European Union.

Cuba denies it holds any political prisoners and calls dissidents "mercenaries" funded by the United States and a conservative Cuban-American "mafia."

Meanwhile, Elizardo Sanchez, a key leader of the Cuban opposition, said five other dissidents who had been released from prison in recent years from the same group had been granted permission to go to the United States. He said Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Jorge Olivera, Carmelo Diaz, Roberto de Miranda and Margarito Broche, who were released from prison for health reasons, were contacted because "apparently there is a tendency by the authorities to permit the emigration of those released." Espinosa and Olivera reportedly rejected the offer, while Diaz, Miranda and Broche accepted.

October 15, 2010, NY Times (Editorial)

Sudan’s Threatened Peace Deal

Time is running out on efforts to avert another civil war in Sudan. A United States-backed deal in 2005 ended two decades of fighting between the Arab Muslim north and the largely Christian south that killed two million people. That deal is now in danger of unraveling if two referendums set for early January do not go forward.
After neglecting the problem for far too long, President Obama and his top aides are pushing both sides to fulfill their commitments to ensure a credible vote and to accept the results. We hope it is not too late.

Voters in the south, which produces most of the country’s oil, are expected to choose to become independent. In the second referendum, voters in the border district of Abyei must decide whether to ally with the north or the south.
Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has dragged his feet on election preparations. Voter registration is months late. Election officials still must be trained and ballots printed and distributed. The two sides must put up their share of the election costs and resolve an impasse over who gets to vote in Abyei. Other critical issues remain unresolved. South Sudan also has to get serious about creating the structures of a new state.

Mr. Obama and his team vowed to end Mr. Bashir’s rampage in Darfur and to do all they could to ensure peace between north and south Sudan. The president quickly appointed a peace envoy and replaced a punishment-heavy strategy with one that leaned more toward incentives. When Mr. Bashir showed little interest, the policy was allowed to drift.

With activists warning of impending disaster, the administration finally beefed up its diplomatic mission in south Sudan and named a veteran diplomat to help mediate talks that ended without a deal this week and are supposed to resume later this month. President Obama headlined a United Nations meeting last month in which all the major players committed to respecting the “outcome of credible” referendums and holding them on Jan. 9. But a senior official with the Sudanese government said on Thursday that the Abyei referendum would either have to be delayed or the issue decided in negotiations rather than a vote. This reneges on the 2005 peace agreement and is unacceptable.

The Sudanese government should be able to make a deal with south Sudan — including on sharing oil revenues — that both sides can live with. What it can’t afford is another civil war or more international opprobrium if it is found stealing or stymieing this vote. Mr. Obama has offered more explicit incentives if Sudan lives up to its commitments — including help with food production, increased trade and eventually an end to all economic sanctions. He and his aides have also threatened more punishments if Sudan does not.

Mr. Bashir has thumbed his nose at an International Criminal Court indictment for war crimes in Darfur. We are not sure what will change his behavior. We are sure that China and the African Union, which have enabled Mr. Bashir for years, need to press a lot harder.

1 comment:

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