The stereotypes of autistic people perpetuate a myth that they are socially inept. Yet non-autistics, also known as neurotypicals, portray ineptitudes on the basis of their susceptibility to body language, communication, and perceptual manipulations. How we learn these signals opens the debate for nature versus nurture, and the acquisition of social skill aptitude. Who is more socially equipped? The one who is capable of surrounding himself with pretentious body language, or the one who is mindful of her full spectrum of awareness? A neurotypical who communicates with learned body gestures is currently considered evolved, while the acquisition of those skills are a direct result of the inability to survive otherwise. The autistic who remains authentic in order to adapt to the current environment is potentially most equipped to function in society.
The cycle of life requires attracting a mate, reproduction, and adaptations for exploitation to those who threaten…
(No, I am not talking about seasonal affective disorder and I am not talking about the lighting equipment that is available for treating that.)
In the morning, light helps kick shut down our serotonin production and boost our adrenaline. They go through a daily cycle.
Our morning coffee helps – if you are the morning coffee type – but in midwinter, even my morning coffee is not enough to jump-start my day.
Switching on a daylight lamp in the morning makes me feel much more active – alive, no longer sluggish – from the get-go.
Some of us have another challenge throughout the entire year. My office space happens to get little daylight and I started noticing that I would often be off to a great start until I went from my kitchen into the office and sat down at my desk. So in the morning, I now always switch on a daylight lamp there. It helps a lot!
One word of warning. Although it can be tempting, certainly if you notice the boost in your energy level you get from a daylight lamp, do not leave such a lamp on too late in the day as a habit. Because that can end up making you very sleepy!
It’s a matter of balance. Like most things in life.
According to official estimates, the country will need more than 30 billion pesos (around US$2 billion) to rebuild. The resources required for Mexico’s recovery are almost double the country’s annual gross domestic product, according to World Bank figures.
Manpower, at least, has not been an issue. Search-and-rescue teams from several countries – including Chile, Colombia, Israel, Japan, Panama, the United States and Spain – arrived in the days after the earthquakes to dig survivors out of the rubble. Dozens of foreigners who reside in Mexico also joined the Mexican volunteers in their rescue efforts.
Among these international brigades was a group of undocumented Central American migrants who, interrupting their travel northward to the U.S., stayed in Mexico to help clean up debris and assist the victims.
Their efforts have been largely focused in two of the cities most impacted by the historic Sept. 7 quake, Juchitán and Asunción Ixtaltepec, in Oaxaca. But after the Sept. 19 Mexico City earthquake, some members also volunteered to help dig out survivors from the rubble of the nation’s capital.
The nearly 50 Central American migrants assisting in Oaxaca’s earthquake recovery effort are staying at Hermanos en el Camino (Brothers of the Road), a Catholic-run shelter in hard-hit Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Felipe González, a volunteer at the shelter, told me via telephone that after the urgent rescue efforts ended, they have continued their work, distributing aid among those who lost their homes.
The migrants who organized this aid brigade are from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and they have diverse backgrounds, but what they have in common – both with each other and with Mexican earthquake victims – is a history of hardship.
According to a May report from Doctors Without Borders, almost 40 percent of the roughly 500,000 Central American immigrants the organization surveyed in Mexico fled their countries after experiencing physical attacks, threats against themselves or their families, extortion or forced gang recruitment.
The Brothers of the Road shelter is located in Ciudad Ixtepec, one of the stops on the main route that Central American immigrants heading north used to follow through Mexico. Normally, the facility serves to provide relief to immigrants who ride atop “La Bestia” – that is, the Beast, the Mexican network of freight trains – to travel to the U.S.
Mexico has also stepped up deportations. In 2014, for example, Mexico “returned” 107,814 migrants, the majority of them from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In 2015, deportations rose to 181,163. In 2016, it was 159,872.
The Trump administration has kept up the pressure. In a letter sent to Congress and Senate leaders on Oct. 8, the U.S. president requested that the Department of Homeland Security be granted broad powers to assist “partner nations” in “removing aliens from third countries whose ultimate intent is entering the United States.”
Tough border enforcement isn’t the only reason that Central American migrants normally aim to hurry through Mexico under the radar. Nearly one-third of women surveyed by Doctors Without Borders in 2014 had been sexually abused during their journey, and 68 percent of all migrants were victims of violence.
Migrants are among the many victims of Mexico’s drug war. In 2010 and 2011, 265 migrants from Central and South America were murdered by the Zetas cartel in the northern Mexican town of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, just 55 miles from Texas.
The North American dream
Even knowing the dangers presented by both the state and the drug lords, the guests at the Brothers of the Road shelter risked everything to pitch into the rescue effort after the quake that hit Oaxaca and Chiapas, two of the poorest states in Mexico, in September.
“We’re immigrants in search of the American dream,” Denio Okele, an Honduran migrant, explained to NBC News. But, he continued, “we arrived in Oaxaca, and an earthquake occurred. We are thus helping the people who need assistance.”
Their reasons for helping range from solidarity and compassion to gratitude. “We have received a lot support from people, so we want to help them,” Wilson Alonso, also from Honduras, told the Spanish newspaper El País.
The sacrifice of this migrant humanitarian aid team has earned them hero status in Mexico. Like other volunteers who dug their neighbors free from the rubble with their bare hands, they have been lauded on social media and interviewed by reporters. And for once, the legal status of a group of Central Americans was not the story.
As José Filiberto Velásquez, a Catholic priest at the Brothers of the Road shelter, told one Mexican reporter, these migrants have shown Mexicans through their actions that, quite simply, “immigrants are good people.”
Pact of the defeated
The Central American migrants’ story is just one example of the spirit of national solidarity that carried Mexico through the days after the two killer September quakes.
The solidarity on display recalls what Argentinian writer Ernesto Sábato calls “the pact of the defeated.” In a world full of “horror, treason and envy,” Sábato writes in his memoir, “Antes del Fin,” it’s often “the most unprivileged part of humanity” that shows everyone else the path to salvation.
Right now in Mexico, earthquake-impacted locals and undocumented migrants alike are working together to rebuild their futures. In facing the years of hard recovery and U.S. antagonism ahead of it, a “pact of the defeated” may be as good a starting point as any.
Three-quarters of all abortions in Latin America are performed illegally, putting the woman’s life at risk. Together with Africa and Asia, the region accounts for many of the 17.1 million unsafe abortions performed globally each year, according to a new report in The Lancet, published jointly with the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group.
Though worrying, this fact is unsurprising in a region where six countries ban abortion under all circumstances: the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Suriname. Such complete criminalization, even when fetal termination is necessary to save a woman’s life, exists in only two other places in the world: Malta and the Vatican.
Not so in Central America, home to three of the eight countries in the world with total abortion bans. As I am a Costa Rican lawyer and feminist, to me, it’s no small matter that women in many neighboring countries lack access to this basic health service.
Why does this region so studiously avoid recognizing women as full individuals entitled to their own human rights? In my view, there’s a clear link in Latin America between the state of a country’s democracy and the reproductive rights of its female citizens.
In some ways, this is not surprising. In post-coup Honduras, human rights violations – ranging from violence and poverty to impunity – are routine fare for the entire population. Rampant gender inequality is just another symptom of this dismal situation.
In 2010, for example, a pregnant woman who went by the pseudonym of “Amelia” was refused treatment for metastatic cancer because the state ruled that the regime of chemotherapy and radiotherapy – which her doctor had urgently recommended – might trigger a miscarriage.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ultimately issued injunctions for Amelia, but the damage was already done. She died in 2011.
This legal argument is now used to uphold a full criminalization of abortion, even under the most extenuating circumstances, such as when a woman’s life is at risk, the pregnancy is the result of rape or the fetus is severely malformed.
In 2016, Sweden offered political asylum to a Salvadoran woman who was sentenced to 40 years of prison for the aggravated homicide of a fetus miscarried before she even knew she was pregnant.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women has requested that El Salvador decriminalize abortion, saying that the fact that most women prosecuted and sentenced for this crime are among the country’s most vulnerable citizens – young, uneducated, jobless and single – represents a powerful social injustice.
Though there are great economic, cultural and political differences between these three countries, across Central America the connection between the lack of rule of law and women’s restricted reproductive rights is noteworthy.
That’s because denying women the ability to make decisions about their own bodies means that a woman’s life matters only to the extent that she is the custodian of a potential future life, rather than as a life worthy of protection.
The Constitutional Court of Colombia agrees. In 2006, it stated in its legal justification for decriminalizing abortion, “The dignity of women does not permit that they be considered mere receptacles.”
In Chile, which recently legalized abortion after nearly a half-century of its total prohibition, history shows a similar relationship between democracy and women’s rights. In 1931, the Chilean Congress approved the voluntary interruption of pregnancy for medical purposes if the woman’s life was endangered or the fetus was not viable.
What’s at risk in the Latin American regimes where abortion is still forbidden, then, are not only women’s lives but also the political systems of Central American society itself. Can democracy exist in places that don’t recognize women as people?