Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Adios Mexico

It's a travel day for me, so I have to throw this out early.

-- Demonstration of the week: It was a close call, and the die-in at Bristol-Myers-Squibb almost took it, but I'll give the nod to the takeover of the U.S. booth by a group protesting the strings attached to the U.S. AIDS relief program (called PEPFAR, for those who don't know, the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief). Yeah, it's money that's done some real good, but to get it, countries have to take an oath to condemn sex work (which can be counterproductive), to emphasize abstinence-only sexuality education (which does not work), not to use the money for HIV prevention counseling, treatment or care in family planning settings, and to abide by the so-called global gag rule, which prevents organizations that receive funding from providing abortion, consultation or referral to abortion services. Designing programs based on ideology and self-righteous concepts that are inconsistent with reality does not constitute "moral values" when it kills people.

-- Sad and disturbing observation of the week: The U.S. embassy is surrounded by concrete barricades, a welded steel fence with bars 4 inches thick, and guards wearing body armor and carrying automatic rifles. Signs warn against taking photographs and the lane of Paseo de la Reforma in front of the embassy is closed off by a steel fence and occupied by police cars. To permit entry, an armed guard swings open a door that belongs on a bank vault. This is in the country which is our immediate neighbor, with which we have close and friendly relations. Think about it.

Hope to have time to post tomorrow after I've had a chance to digest all this a bit more. The perspective of Americans is narrow, parochial, and self-centered. I've always known that, but this week really drives it home.

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