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Praise Putin! Vaccine Geopolitics In A Small Argentine Town

Praise Putin! Vaccine Geopolitics In A Small Argentine Town

For a brief, strange moment this week, the geopolitics of the COVID-19 pandemic shifted from world capitals and pharmaceutical giants to a small town in Argentina.

That's where Juan Carlos Gasparini, district mayor of Roque Pérez, population 10,000, went for his second dose of the Sputnik V vaccine with the intention of sending a message to the world and ... Vladimir Putin!

To express his appreciation of the Russian-made vaccine, the 72-year-old official arrived for his injection carrying a large framed photo of the controversial Russian president, whom he credits for saving countless lives in Argentina.

"I brought the picture because I am proud of him," the Argentine daily Clarín cited the 72-year-old mayor as saying.

Photographs of Gasparini carrying the image of Putin made national news in a country known for its gaping grieta, as Argentina's deep political divide is called. While the previous government, under conservative president Mauricio Macri(2015-2019), kept close ties with the United States, the administration of current President Alberto Fernández, a member of the Peronist party, has shifted its focus to strengthening ties with Russia and China.

"I received the vaccine. Thank you!!" he wrote on Twitter, where he posted the photo of his vaccination. "They said they would poison us but they're saving our lives."

"For some time I've been wanting to pay homage to Putin," 72-year-old mayor told Clarin. "Today everyone wants to be vaccinated with the Russian vaccine. I said it three months ago: we'd all be fighting to get the Sputnik V."

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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