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Let's Make 2021 The Year Of Social Justice

This new year may be one of greater justice and better social conditions, but only if people fight for them.

Colombian police and military guard in Bogota, Colombia
Colombian police and military guard in Bogota, Colombia
Reinaldo Spitaletta

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — We are more time than dreams, and we tie ourselves to physical spaces, even shamefully small and inadequate ones. Besides opening a new calendar, what really changes when the last day of one year becomes the first of another, the so-called new year? Perhaps nothing of significance. Does a new year mean a change of systemic structures just because the date has changed? Some may want changes more ardently or, posing as psychics, discern in some random bird's flapping the augury of another year of stultifying conformity.

Of course everyone wants to leave the bad and the even worse behind, to start afresh. We'd like to see the end of the constant misfortunes dogging a country like Colombia. No more massacres or community leaders murdered, no more degrading social inequities or the sight of assassins and crooks parading as caring politicians, with their meek gaze and vicious intentions. But for such profound changes to happen, you need more than a new page on a calendar. As the 1970s song No basta rezar went, "It's not enough to pray, you need so much to achieve peace."

What could be better than a "new world order" without outrageous profits for a minority, and despotism and inequalities for the rest? If only we were living in a land of plenty, with beautiful nymphs luring us to happiness and games, and Epicurean gardens to shelter us from all that is hurtful. But we aren't. Dreaming is fine, but we need to do it with our feet firmly on the ground, as anyone on a tightrope would affirm.

Perhaps what the withered last page of the calendar suggests, more than a conspiracy of desires, of painless wants (an impossible one, because love hurts) is what Faust announces to us, yes, that of Goethe: "Tonight too, Earth, you remained firm. / And now you are reborn again around me. / And you encourage again in me / the aspiration to fight without rest / for a very high existence". Let us agree that this change of time needs us for the infinite walking on the edge of the abyss, for the continuous challenge to fight for justice and against oppression.

"Dreaming is fine, but we need to do it with our feet firmly on the ground" — Photo: Daniel Garzon Herazo/ZUMA Wire

If only the close of one pestilent year was enough to usher in a world where the earth is not battered at every turn, nor nations reduced to begging as they are robbed of the riches they possess. Perhaps, when the curtain falls on a dramatic year, dreams will be revived, utopias will be strengthened, and a new resolve to change the environment and power will be awakened. We should harbor such wishes.

Changing the world to favor those who are exploited by the predatory economy, discarded and pummelled into the ground will require a fight. There is nothing wrong with wanting social relations rid of exploitation, but this won't happen just because it is 2021. There is nothing preventing this from being an even worse year.

There is nothing preventing this from being an even worse year.

We are time. I cannot remember which poet said "the only truth is time." It might be a hyperbole but there is truth in it. There is continuity in our concocted notions of time, relativity, the finite and infinite, time of clocks, atomic time, history's "timeline" or time in our dreams. Tremendous changes can happen in a day, or there may be no changes for a long time — allowing power to pursue its tyranny naturally and with impunity.

Let us hope and strive so 2021 will be a year of social struggles, more civil resistance and interrogation of the bosses of this world and our little corner of it.

In this changeover, people have shared some beautiful poems, like Fernando Pessoa's "New Year," which says in one verse that "nothing begins: everything continues," as if it were an eternal flow. Ah, and in a more intimate way, perhaps we still need "old wood to burn," as the old English philosopher Francis Bacon wrote: "Old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read."

Happy new year, in spite of everything.

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Society

A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.


Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?


The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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