The Greatness of “Small Things”

Note that quotations marks appear on each side of small things in the title. The point is that as for greatness and small things everything is just relative for all cases, and in the case we approach in these lines, I believe is particularly noticeable.

This article will approach what Whitman, the poet, called “the people, the crowd, the mob”, and not in a pejorative fashion. He claimed to be that and he was proud to be.

This remembrance becomes relevant - many, many more could come handy today- in these days of energy issues that Cuba is going through, it has been evident the true worth of the people and how much they can do.

Since the taking office of President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez - giving continuity to a whole government practice that preceded him – it became evident the importance of citizens in the building of this society.

Either when tackling with the havoc caused by hurricanes and tornadoes, when voting for the side of justice, when rejecting and denouncing negligent or corrupt behaviors, when tackling the most recent restrictions imposed to Cuba by the Trump administration.

Every time that Díaz-Canel in his messages recalls that "We are Cuba", in the social networks as in his speeches and other public activities, the President is corroborating how much each and every one of Cubans are worth.

No wonder the pleasure the Phd. In Philosophy, Associate Professor and scholar of the National Center for Scientific Research at the University of Havana, Carlos Jesús Delgado Díaz, in his essay The political importance of small things he first pointed out that in several areas of the social political thinking small things were considered as “what is despised, that which no attention is paid because it’s considered insignificant, casual or residual; the small as that which remains in the shadows, the invisible, what is not seen, what for social science does not exist ».

The researcher also added "If something characterizes the productions of the dominant political science nowadays, that would be its inability to distinguish and deal with diversity, which is constantly suppressed as smallness."

Therefore, it’s sometimes contradictory when someone in a managerial position, whether a company, a workgroup, a large ministry or at a political organization, speaks of "touching the people" or "guidelines sent to us from above" .

As if that people, that mass, were a shapeless crowd whose own names and personal stories didn’t matter.

As if the one in charge were a step higher, among constellations where no dust or heat reach. They forget that they occupy a responsibility, precisely because that mass want them and allow them.

Luckily, these expressions are slowly decreasing, which generally are just echoes of stereotypes and coined phrases. But for those who still use them, these days of saving and coming together have ratified, once again, that there is nothing less shapeless and anonymous in this country than the mass, the people.

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Trump Gov't Separated 'Thousands' More Immigrant Children Than Originally Reported: Watchdog

The administration of President Trump implemented a 'zero tolerance' policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers even those traveling with their children.

The U.S. government may have separated "thousands" more immigrant children from their parents than previously known but inadequate record-keeping means the exact number is still unclear, an internal watchdog said on Wednesday.

RELATED: US Authorities Blame Parents For Migrant Kids’ Deaths

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the agency had identified many more children in addition to the 2,737 that were included as part of a class action lawsuit challenging the separations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union last year.

The administration of President Donald Trump implemented a 'zero tolerance' policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers even those traveling with their children, leading to a wave of separations last year.

But the auditor said in a report that prior to the officially announced policy the government had ramped up separations for other reasons related to a child's safety and well-being, including separating parents with criminal records or lack of proper documents. Those separations were only tracked informally, making it impossible for the auditor to know the exact number.

The policy sparked outrage when it became public, and the backlash led Trump to sign an executive order reversing course on June 20.

But separations have continued since then, the report said. HHS, which runs the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is responsible for the children's care, told the auditor that at least 118 had been separated between July 1 and Nov. 7, 2018.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that 65 of those 118 children were separated because the parents had a criminal history but in some cases, the agency did not provide the details of that history.

The auditor raised concerns that the government is still not adequately counting separation cases.

"It is not yet clear whether recent changes to ORR's systems and processes are sufficient to ensure consistent and accurate data about separated children," the report said.

The news comes at a time when a new migrant caravan has left Central America including many families with children as they flee violence and drug wars in their countries, which has been made worse by decades of U.S. policies and interference in the region, seeking a better life and safety in Mexico and the United States. 

The Migrant Exodus as its members calls it is the second wave of migration north this year.

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US Paying Undercover Informants to Spy on Migrants

The practice, while not illegal, raises questions on the Trump administration's priorities. Trump has dehumanized the migrants, calling them "an invasion."

Paid undercover informants are gathering information on the migrant caravan through Whatsapp group messages for the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), NBC News reported Tuesday.

RELATED: US District Court Blocks Trump From Asylum Ban

The migrants, currently in the Mexican border town of Tijuana, have been using WhatsApp group messages to coordinate their journey. According to the report, DHS officials have joined the messaging groups as a way to monitor the caravan’s size and activity.

The practice of monitoring non-U.S. citizens’ communication is not illegal. However, former acting undersecretary of intelligence for DHS, John Cohen, told NBC that it raises concerns about how resources are being allocated.

"Those resources have to come from someplace. They are not being devoted to thwarting terrorist threats, mass shootings, mailed fentanyl coming into the country or cyberattacks," said Cohen.

An exodus of around 4,000 migrants from Central America, the majority of which are asylum seekers, have been traveling from Honduras to the border between the U.S. and Mexico since mid-October.

The journey has been dangerous as they crossed zones controlled by drug-trafficking cartels, slept rough at night, faced harsher weather conditions in the north of Mexico and encountered precarious security conditions along their way. "I find it hard to believe that the highest risk facing this nation comes from this caravan," Cohen said.

They have been fleeing poverty and violence at home, the result of decades of U.S. foreign policy and unstable political climates in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala

“Three countries that have been under harsh U.S. domination,” Noam Chomsky told Democracy Now. “People are fleeing from the misery and horrors for which we are responsible... from severe oppression, violence, terror, [and] extreme poverty.”

The amount of funding the DHS is using to perform their information gathering scheme inside the caravan is unknown.

DHS Spokeswoman Katie Waldman said the U.S. has an obligation “to ensure we know who is crossing our borders to protect against threats to the Homeland.”

"While not commenting on sources or methods, it would be malpractice for the United States to be ignorant about the migrants — including many criminals — attempting to enter our country,” Waldman said in a statement.

Despite Waldman's claims of "many criminals," there have been no reports of violence occurring from the group.

U.S. President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Nov. 9 declaring anyone crossing the southern border ineligible for asylum.DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denounces U.S. federal judge's decision to block Trump's asylum ban in a press conference. | Efe

However, a federal judge temporarily shut down the presidential decree and ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they enter the United States.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen criticized the judge's decision saying that the migrants "will not succeed in skipping the line in violation of the laws."

In the run-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections, nearly 6,000 U.S. troops were sent to the southern border to allegedly “protect” the region and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents stationed along the frontier.

Some 2,000 National Guard members have been patrolling the border since the most recent exodus last April.

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Federal judge bars Trump Administration from denying asylum to people who enter the US informally

San Francisco, November 20 (RHC)-- A U.S. federal judge has temporarily stopped an order by US President Donald Trump's Administration that would block asylum for people who enter the United States informally.

President Trump issued the rule in a November 9 proclamation, saying it was necessary to deal with the expected arrival of thousands of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order late Monday against the asylum rules to take effect immediately, applying nationwide.

The measure will last at least until December 19, when the judge has scheduled a hearing to consider a more long-lasting injunction.

Trump cited an overwhelmed immigration system for his recent proclamation that officials would only process asylum claims for migrants who present themselves at an official entry point.

Civil rights groups sued this, arguing that Trump's November 9 order violated administrative and immigration law.

Tigar said if allowed to go into effect, the rule would put asylum seekers "at increased risk of violence and other harms at the border, and many will be deprived of meritorious asylum claims."

He wrote that the government in its arguments "offers nothing in support of the new rule that outweighs the need to avoid these harms."

About 3,000 migrants have arrived in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, and more are expected to make their way there soon.

They join what was already a large group waiting for their chance to seek asylum at the San Ysidro border crossing, the main port of entry to the U.S. city of San Diego

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
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White House threatens to suspend CNN reporter's pass again when order expires

The tug-of-war between the White House and CNN over correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass and fierce arguments over the US constitution and a free press are set to go on this week.

CNN reported on Sunday night that the White House has sent a letter to Acosta informing him of that planned action.

“The White House is continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution,” the statement declared. “These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the President,” he wrote.

Acosta had a stand-up argument with Donald Trump at a White House press conference last month after the president tried to shut down further questions from the correspondent and Acosta insisted on asking follow-ups. The confrontation resulted in a tugging match with a White House intern who tried to take the roving microphone from the journalist as he determinedly hung on to it – all captured on live television.

The row escalated after the White House then suspended Acosta’s pass. The administration initially argued that Acosta had inappropriately made physical contact with the intern, and released a video clip of the confrontation, which turned out to have been speeded up. Now the White House says Acosta was not behaving appropriately generally and that it is within the White House’s discretion who gets a “hard pass” that allows them into the White House and grounds unescorted.

“Lawyers were already expected to be back in court this week to discuss the timeline for further proceedings. Unless there’s some sort of resolution, CNN will be arguing for a preliminary injunction,” Stelter wrote late on Sunday, adding: “Expect to hear more about this on Monday.”

The feud is just the latest episode of a difficult relationship between Trump and the media in which he oscillates between criticising and threatening the press and basking in its spotlight.

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Trump administration plans crackdown on protests outside White House

The administration has suggested it could charge ‘event management’ costs for protests and close 80% of the sidewalks

Donald Trump has frequently and falsely crowed about the idea of so-called paid protesters, including most recently the sexual assault survivors who confronted senators in the lead up to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Now his administration may be trying to turn that concept on its head, by requiring citizens to pay to be able to protest, among other affronts to the first amendment.

Under the proposal introduced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in August, the administration is looking to close 80% of the sidewalks surrounding the White House, and has suggested that it could charge “event management” costs, for demonstrations.

Currently the National Park Service is able to recoup costs for special events, but not spontaneous protests like the ones that typically take place in Lafayette Park across from the White House. These charges could include the cost of erecting barriers, cleaning fees, repairs to grass, permit fees and the salaries of official personnel on hand to monitor such demonstrations, all tallied at the discretion of the police.

Naturally, civil liberties groups consider the proposals an affront to the rights guaranteed under the first amendment. As the ACLU notes, such fees “could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr’s historic 1963 March on Washington and its ‘I have a dream’ speech too expensive to happen”.

During the Vietnam War the federal government attempted to impose similar barriers to citizens freely assembling in protest and were sued by the ACLU. In their ruling the courts reasserted the fact that “the use of parks for public assembly and airing of opinions is historic in our democratic society, and one of its cardinal values”.

The White House sidewalk, Lafayette Park, and the Ellipse were unique sites for the exercise of those rights, they ruled, and therefore they could not “accord deference to an executive approach to use of the White House sidewalk that is rooted in a bias against expressive conduct…”

"If you have to pay for free speech it's not free" The is considering fees for demonstrations in D.C.. is against the proposed plan, calling it an attack on free speech. WATCH: Public comment on proposal --->

The National Park Service has attempted to justify the proposal by pointing out that large protests, like the Women’s March, overtax their abilities, and place a heavy cost on the government. One might argue when it comes to preserving our right to protest no cost is too high.

The public has until 15 October to comment on the plans.

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UN human rights chief: Trump's attacks on press 'close to incitement of violence'

Exclusive: Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who steps down this month, says US president’s rhetoric echoes that of the worst eras of the 20th century.

Donald Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is “very close to incitement to violence” that would lead to journalists censoring themselves or being attacked, the outgoing UN human rights commissioner has said.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and diplomat, is stepping down this month as UN high commissioner for human rights after deciding not to stand for a second four-year term, in the face of a waning commitment among world powers to fighting abuses.

Zeid said the Trump administration’s lack of concern about human rights marked a distinct break with previous administrations, and that Trump’s own rhetoric aimed at minorities and at the press was redolent of two of the worst eras of the 20th century, the run-up to the two world wars.

In an interview with the Guardian, he singled out the US president’s repeated designation of the press as “the enemy of the people”.

“We began to see a campaign against the media … that could have potentially, and still can, set in motion a chain of events which could quite easily lead to harm being inflicted on journalists just going about their work and potentially some self-censorship,” Zeid said. “And in that context, it’s getting very close to incitement to violence.”

He said it would be up to a court but determine whether Trump was actually guilty of incitement depending on the circumstances, if say, a journalist was stabbed while covering a rally. He said Trump’s example was already being followed elsewhere, giving license to authoritarian leaders to crack down on the media in ways they had not previously dared to. Zeid pointed to the Cambodian leader, Hun Sen, who he said had used similar language when he closed down independent media organisations.

“The US creates a demonstration effect, which then is picked up by other countries where the leadership tends to to be more authoritarian [in] character or aspires to be authoritarian,” he said.

Zeid has also taken on the Trump administration over its policy of separating children from their parents in migrant families arrested at the border, and Trump’s own long history of rhetoric aimed at minorities.

“When language is used in a way that focuses on groups of people who have traditionally suffered a great deal from bigotry and prejudice and chauvinism, it harked back to a period not too long ago in the 20th century when feelings were stoked, directed at a vulnerable group for the sake of political gain,” he said, adding that he was referring in particular to the 1930s and the period before the first world war.

Zeid began his tenure as UN human rights commissioner in 2014 during the Obama administration and said his contacts with the state department dropped off significantly after Trump took office in January 2017.

“The Trump administration seems to have separated itself from previous administrations in its upholding of human rights globally,” Zeid said. The administration’s failure to appoint an ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, before withdrawing from the council altogether, he added, was “illustrative of the lack of any deep commitment to the human rights”.

Zeid has been an unspoken critic of governments around the world for their human rights records, but his tenure as high commissioner has coincided with the catastrophic failure of the UN Security Council to halt mass killings in Syria or Yemen, and the relegation of human rights as a priority at the UN in general, where it accounts for just 3% of overall spending.

A pivotal moment came in March when Zeid was blocked from even addressing the Security Council on human rights in Syria, where more than half a million people have been killed in seven years of violence.

Russia and China were adamantly opposed but the French delegation was confident it had the nine votes necessary for the session to go ahead.

However, with less than a minute to go and Zeid primed to speak, the ambassador from the Ivory Coast informed his French counterpart he had changed his mind and would abstain. The session was called off. The Ivorean government insisted that its diplomat, Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue, had acted without its permission. Western diplomats became convinced that Tanoh-Boutchoue, who had previously served as ambassador to Moscow, had come under pressure from Russia to switch his vote, but the mystery was never resolved. The 67-year-old diplomat died in New York of a sudden illness, said to be a heart attack, a month after his controversial abstention.

Zeid said he never understood the machinations behind the vote, but said it reflected a broader trend.

“It tells me more about the weakening influence of the western powers that they could not secure nine votes for a briefing on human rights in Syria,” he said. “If you are discussing Syria in the security council and you are not discussing gross human rights violations, what are you discussing? The latest arts and crafts fair in Damascus? It’s ridiculous.”

Zeid’s has often been a lonely voice. Hopes that the current secretary general, Antonio Guterres, would be more outspoken on human rights than his predecessor, have been dashed, a western diplomat at the UN said.

“There is a complete separation of what Zeid said and what the secretary general says, and his impact has been reduced because of that,” the diplomat said. “And there a broader problem of the ability of human rights abuses to shock and lead to a change of policy. That link has been broken. Actors who should have listened to Zeid, have not.”

Zeid said he came to the decision early on in his tenure to speak out on human rights abuses irrespective of the political circumstances. He attributed his approach in part to his first major foreign mission as a UN official in his early 30s, when he witnessed first hand UN dithering and timidity during the fall of the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, and the subsequent slaughter of some 8,000 men and boys by Bosnian Serb troops.

“We felt that there were periods of silence and that was painful for the UN and the UN was not respected ultimately by the parties to the conflict and therefore we saw the disasters that came from it,” Zeid said. “And … if the UN is not respected, the UN is rolled over to my mind. You don’t earn anyone’s respect by being silent.”

Zeid’s advice to his successor, Michele Bachelet, who has been both a political prisoner and president in her native Chile, is to stay courageous and not to run for a second term.

“I would be very suspicious of any commissioner seeking a second term because I’d wonder what deals are being struck and if they’d been struck they’ve been struck on the back of victims,” he said.

The job of bearing witness to crimes against humanity also takes an emotional toll. Zeid recalled a trip to Mexico to speak to the families of 43 students who were abducted and presumed murdered by a criminal gang in 2014.

“I was listening to mothers and fathers, siblings, speak of those who were disappeared and presumably killed. After that, I had a series of interviews and I wasn’t in the right emotional state to actually give the interview because there was something deep within me where I felt I was a fraud,” Zeid said. “That given the enormity, the colossal nature of their suffering … with us they wanted salvation … they want an end to suffering. They want us to do something that is many respects almost impossible to do. That is where most of the pressure comes from in this job.”

 

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United States: Diplomatic crisis too?

In order to increasingly aggravate the situation of the current US government, the case of the explosive resignation of its ambassador to Panama broke out now.

According to Miami’s journalist Franco Ordoñez, John Feeley’s resignation, “sent shock waves through the State Department, where this diplomat was seen as a rising star and even as a possible undersecretary”.

He added that “more than a dozen of state officials said it made them question their own commitment with an administration, which they feel is undermining the work of that department and the influence of the U.S. in the world”.

A US official who works at the State Department quoted by Ordoñez, stated that “After what happened recently, people wonder who they can be effective in an environment that this".

Others consider in Washington that Feeley, was also one of the main specialists in Latin America, served as a mentor for many of the diplomats who are specializing at present.

The State Department confirmed he would leave his post next March 9th. Pretext? Personal reasons.

The information coming from Miami and amplified in Washington added that John Feeley, resigned because he was not willing to work under Trump’s presidency”.

On the other hand, the American Association of Foreign Services, professional organization of the diplomatic corps of the United States announced the resignation happens when 60 percent of the senior professional diplomats have left and new applications have fallen by half.

Journalist Ordoñez adds that, according to his colleagues, Feeley reflected in his resignation letter “the collapse of morale of a diplomatic corps that has lost confidence in the Trump administration’s focus on diplomacy”.

Observers reiterate that John Feeley sent his controversial letter last December, but his acquaintances say that the essential thing of his retirement were Trump’s recent "slaps" to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.

Benjamin Gedan, former director of the National Security Council for Latin America during the Obama administration, said that “he was the most respected expert in Latin American affairs in the Foreign Service and that without a doubt, he was heading to high-ranking positions”.

Mark Feierstein, head director of the White House National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere Affairs under President Barack Obama, said “Trump has given the ambassadors many reasons to resign last year”, that was just one. There were many more. And there will be more”.

In addition to Feeley, last November state official Elizabeth Shackelford, who worked in Nairobi for the mission of the United States in Somalia, resigned too, after criticizing the head of state for abandoning human rights policies and for his “lack of respect” to the diplomatic service.

So, the image of the current government of the United States increasingly darkens.

 

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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