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How Can Colombia's President Petro Still Sympathize With Russia?

Colombia's leftist president claims Russia and the United States act in "much the same" way in the world, disregarding the fact that only one of those states poisons or throws critics out the window.

Colombian president Gustavo Petro in Bogotá, Colombia, June 26, 2023.

Colombian president Gustavo Petro in Bogotá, Colombia, on June 26

Héctor Abad Faciolince


BOGOTÁ — Life is full of silly little things that barely merit an argument, let alone a row. Yet people will knife each other for a soccer team. It happens the world over, in Manchester, Barcelona and Munich, as if humans had a vital need for antagonism that must, in the absence of war, find an outlet in sports.

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As long as these fans (or "fanatics," like those in politics and religion) whistle and scream and shake their fists without hitting anyone, I'm happy for people to drain their primitive urges this way. If violence is to be physical, let it remain at the level of gestures, and we can thank these matches for helping defuse, in broadly "peaceful" terms, our hidden ire and beastly instincts.

For thousands of years, humanity massacred itself for far bigger motives than soccer, even if they too were often the toxic fantasies and vile imaginings of somebody's mind. Wars over race and religion — with apologies to any racist or zealots among our readers — were inexcusably trivial, though not of course in their calamitous consequences.

I meant in their motives and justifications, like soccer violence. It is and always was crass to declare one race to be superior to another, as it is to attribute singular qualities to a soccer team. If one team is better, it is very likely for its generous finances, track record and organization, and there is nothing intrinsically superior in a team called the Barça, Real Madrid or the Kiev Dynamo.

The real difference between freedom and autocracy

We can always talk and discuss the relative merits or hypothetical superiority of Catholics over Buddhists, of Islamic values over those of Hinduism or animism, or of Orthodox over evangelical Christianity. As long as we live in a tolerant society where no denomination can forcibly impose itself, I can as a skeptic remain freely indifferent to all cults.

On one of those sides, dissent and doubt are forbidden.

Talk religion and afterlife all you like if that is your fantasy, for let me add, we all have a right to fantasize. I am no militant atheist, finding militancy absurd. But as I say, as long as nobody, on any side, forces their beliefs on others: turning Russian cathedrals into Soviet museums of atheism was as unacceptable as citing the Koran as the one-and-only depository of truth.

An offensive, non-democratic position

I say all this after hearing our president's shocking declarations in Brussels, in mid-July. Colombia's President Gustavo Petro told a gathering there that "really, I couldn't tell you if it's better to back the United States or Russia. It seems to be the same thing." This, I thought as the non-partisan person I have just described, was an offensive position for a democratic leader to take.

And not, I stress, because I think the United States is right over Ukraine, and Russia wrong. It is because on one of those sides, dissent and doubt are forbidden. There is only one truth in Russia — the state's — and anyone saying otherwise can expect to be jailed and silenced, if not poisoned. In the United States and here in Colombia, you can say Russia was wrong and live. In such cases, I know which side I'm on: the one that lets you think and speak as you please.

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How Parenthood Reinvented My Sex Life — Confessions Of A Swinging Mom

Between breastfeeding, playdates, postpartum fatigue, birthday fatigues and the countless other aspects of mother- and fatherhood, a Cuban couple tries to find new ways to explore something that is often lost in the middle of the parenting storm: sex.

red tinted photo of feet on a bed

Parenting v. intimacy, a delicate balance

Silvana Heredia

HAVANA — It was Summer, 2015. Nine months later, our daughter would be born. It wasn't planned, but I was sure I wouldn't end my first pregnancy. I was 22 years old, had a degree, my dream job and my own house — something unthinkable at that age in Cuba — plus a three-year relationship, and the summer heat.

I remember those months as the most fun, crazy and experimental of my pre-motherhood life. It was the time of my first kiss with a girl, and our first threesome.

Every weekend, we went to the Cuban art factory and ended up at the CornerCafé until 7:00 a.m. That September morning, we were very drunk, and in that second-floor room of my house, it was unbearably hot. The sex was otherworldly. A few days later, the symptoms began.

She arrived when and how she wished. That's how rebellious she is.

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