Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

The Refugee Convention entered into force on 22 April 1954.

In the above text, we look at the word particularly. We note that it does not mean exclusively. Even if the head of the family (which we should consider an outdated term, but can still understand) has not fulfilled the necessary conditions for admission to a particular country, the Convention “recommends” governments to take the necessary measures.

But what are the “necessary measures” if such measures are perceived to conflict with “national safety interests”. And what precisely means “recommends”? The dictionary states “to push for something”.

Listen, this is no match for Trump, the Artist of the Deal. Why is the verb here not “obligate”?

The United Nations now urges the US to stop separating children from their families at the border. According to a spokesperson, “The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles.” She asks that Washington adopts non-custodial alternatives that allow children to remain with their families. Fair enough.

The human drama is terrifying and I don’t see no political solution soon. Trump supporters, and indeed Trump himself, are quick to blame Democrats for passing the original laws that led to this catastrophy. I am worried that Trump defenders are reluctant to change their opinion and speak up to their peers, fearing to be ostracized. It is easy to get on the Trump Train, but you can not jump off.

A slippery slope and ‘Gazafication’ of the US – Mexico border looms over the current events. What if people approaching the border would be shot at sight (admittedly an unlikely scenario, despite extremist toads who demand so)? I can already hear the propaganda claims: It is the right of the US to defend itself. Illegal immigrants are criminals. I already see them quoting dubious crime statistics produced by the Cato institute. And I see hordes of American citizens accepting these claims. The ‘fire and fury’ of such violent border protection measures would translate into laudable toughness and a sense of ‘something is finally being done for our safety’, at least in the feeble indoctrinated minds of Trump’s following. Any critique of Trump’s actions will become increasingly harder as it will be dismissed as unpatriotic. This small step tactics has been adopted by other dictators (dixit Fox news) before.

I don’t apologize for the Godwin, if you have perceived one, dear reader.

Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: Pieces of Shadow by Jaime Sabines

Today I found a poem by the Mexican poet Jaime Sabines (1926-1999) in a translation by W.S. Merwin. According to Octavio Paz he was one of the greatest. The original Spanish poem can be found here.

I don’t know it for certain, but I imagine
that a man and a woman
fall in love one day,
little by little they come to be alone,
something in each heart tells them that they are alone,
alone on the earth they enter each other,
they go filling each other.

It all happens in silence. The way
light happens in the eye.
Love unites bodies.
They go on filling each other with silence.

One day they wake up, over their arms.
Then they think they know the whole thing,
They see themselves naked and they know the whole thing.

(I’m not sure about this. I imagine it.)

The first strophe sounds fresh, yet mysterious. Did they come to be alone (‘se van quedando solos’) after they fell in love, realizing that they have to act on their love? And acting they do: they penetrate each other (not just the man penetrating the woman, but reciprocal) and then ‘go filling’ each other. In Spanish it says ‘se van matando’. ‘Matarse’ also means to exhaust oneself, if I’m not mistaken. The ‘filling’ is a creative find but I had to read it thrice before realizing that other meaning: filling as if filling an animal.

So far, it’s a pretty standard description of ferocious love. But it all happens in silence, like the way light happens in the eye. I imagine mute lovemaking. After the superfluous ‘love unites bodies’ the poet repeats the filling. This time, the Spanish original also uses ‘llenarse’. The act of lovemaking must be repeated, lest the silence and the spell of love be broken.

Then they wake up ‘sobre brazos’. Perhaps they have slept on their arms so they have become numb? So they can enact a distance to their naked bodies and ‘know the whole thing’. The added phrase, repeating the opening line, frames the poem quite brilliantly. The I is not a voyeur, but perhaps the other way around: The couple who knows the whole thing also knows that they are imagined by the poet.

Reading: Pieces of Shadow by Jaime Sabines was originally published on Meandering home