Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blogger Features My Honduras Book, Honduran Lawyers in Danger, Amnesty Demonstrations, Hunt for Kony, Mexican Immigration Halts, Interpretation Vs. Translation, Miami Radio Interview, DR Election May 20

Although most folks commenting on my blog already do so via e-mail (my e-mail address is shown) or on Facebook or LinkedIn, please continue doing that as I don’t often check comments made directly on this blog.

OK, guys, a blogger named David asked me to put a summary of my book and Peace Corps experience on his blog, which I did, and I would welcome any further comments there from any of you,

According the Spanish-Language press here in DC, the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner, Ramon Custodio, reports that 25 lawyers have been murdered there in the last 15 months, indicating that it’s a risky profession there.

On April 27, our local Amnesty International Group 211 held demonstrations at the embassies of China, Congo, Indonesia, Iraq, and Zimbabwe--on behalf of prisoners there. Iraq and Zim embassy employees came out to talk with us, so that's progress. Subsequently, we had a public showing of a documentary on the fight of residents of the Niger Delta in Nigeria to get oil companies, principally Shell—a Dutch-based company—to clean up land and water, stop flaring gas, and compensate residents for damage to their health, land, and water supply. Despite court cases in their favor, residents have had no relief and Shell has fought back, even in past years probably participating in assassinations. Now there is a Twitter campaign under way asking Shell to “Own up. Pay up. Clean up. Also, don’t buy Shell gas.

Now, as American military join the search for Joseph Kony, Ugandan leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, I am reminded of stories I heard in South Sudan when I was there in 2006 from young women raped, impregnated, and infected with HIV by members of the LRA. Kony is very clever and knows the jungle well, so we shall see. What motivates someone like him is hard to tell, but I imagine that he enjoys the chase and feels energized by trying to outwit his would-be captors.

Now that Mexican immigration to the U.S. is showing a net outflow, maybe that can become a less contentious issue for now. Of course, much of that is economic as well as due to unwelcoming laws and attitudes and could well change if the economy picks up. Seems like Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio, understanding the Latino mood, is desperately trying to conjure up a compromise, letting people brought here at kids stay, but without citizenship—maybe something like TPS, the temporary protected status, afforded some Central Americans and Haitians after natural disasters. While certainly not as good as allowing a path to citizenship, it may be a compromise that Republicans can live with. They need to do something. By not allowing citizenship, they would prevent such people from becoming voters, probably Democratic voters.

As my friends and readers know, I work part-time as a Spanish interpreter in DC-area hospitals and schools. I enjoy interpreting, as, with few exceptions, clients are very grateful, it’s interesting, and I always learn something new. It’s also quick-and-dirty and when it’s over, it’s done. However, lately, one of the two agencies I work for has been giving me written translations, which one can continually ruminate on and reword, though usually I don’t have that luxury as these are always rush jobs. They often involve very complicated medical terminology because most are medical records from Spanish-speaking countries containing words unfamiliar to most of us, even in English, words like cholangiographic and colectomy and pyriform, just to take three words from one sentence of a document I’ve been working on right now. I feel sorry for the patients, as their maladies sound even worse and more mysterious when rendered in such technical language. Here is the beginning of one sentence: Extended cytologic hypo-cells consisting of a few and isolated plaques of epithelial duct cells with a papillous appearance with a slight architectural “honey comb” pattern without significant atypias, abundant cytoplasm intermixed with mucin…

A few pages of that and my eyes glaze over. However, records that I have translated do indicate that patients can obtain sophisticated and technically advanced care in private clinics and university hospitals in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Venezuela, to cite some of the countries where medical documents I've translated have originated, but apparently the patients have come here for even more advanced treatment.

In any case, when I had finished translating the first long, very complicated document, which took me hours, it suddenly vanished, poof! Maybe it was because I had about 3 on-line medical dictionaries open at once. I couldn't resurrect it. It was 11 pm and I hadn't even started on the second, shorter translation. I was in despair until I was able to locate someone who entered my computer remotely and found the missing document. Whew!

Then I started on the second translation and at 8 am, had a live interview on a Spanish-language Radio  station, Actualidad Miami, about threats to journalists in Cuba and Honduras related to my Amnesty volunteer work. I tried to get a word in edgewise, without much success, about our concerns in Amnesty International in the Dominican Republic, which has presidential election coming up on May 20. We have a list of recommended human rights reforms which has been submitted to all the presidential candidates, but only two have responded, Hipolito Mejia and Danilo Medina, not front-runners. The probably winner will be either Max Puig or Guillermo Moreno, neither of whom has answered our inquiries.

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