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."
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 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
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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