So, Washington has a Human Rights scene. There are hearings, gatherings, of those abused and those defending. There are stop watches, speeches, and much clearing of throats.
Last week, I went to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission at the Organization of American States. It’s a twice-yearly affair. The same people offend, condescend, and proceed to file Claims in the System that never gives out answers.
These events, like the Lectures and the Symposia, are run by men in blue suits. (The Gentlemen.) If there is a central table in the room, they are sitting around it. Maybe eating. Discussing. Nodding.
Women, observers, reporters, and bystanders sit on the edges of the room. We listen, sometimes bored and sometimes awed when they utter things like, “There is a man in this room who has tortured one of my clients; he is sitting right across from me.” A collective gasp erupts: Civil Society accused the State! On the Record! The Blue Suit on the left beams with his administrative accomplishment while the Blue Suit on the right fumbles nervously.
“Sir! Please!” the Accused responds to the Judge. “I would like to emphasize that the Mexican government decries the use of torture against citizens, and furthermore, I would like to refer you to the referendum that the State of Baja California passed just last year, which details that…”
The hearing goes on. I can’t believe what I just heard. I am kind of stuck in my chair.
I slowly wander outside, where everyone in the entire building seems to have come to smoke. The Human Rights Lawyer takes a long puff, stares up at the sky, and sighs.
He then looks over his shoulder, and sees the exact person he accused of torture 43 minutes prior. This makes him smile. Widely.
“Gentlemen!” he grins. Wait, I think to myself - he knows them? And knows them well? And he…likes them? They proceed to pat each other on the back, and laugh.
“How’s it been?”