I feel offended, doubly offended. First, as a person; second, as a subject of His Spanish Majesty, the King Philip VI. Well, and also, since we are here, as a citizen of the Spanish-speaking world.
Why Vladimir Putin Do you despise me – despise us – that much? Why do you discriminate against us? How is it that you consider us second-class people, inferior to the inhabitants of English-speaking countries?
I am referring, of course, to his blacklist of undesirables, almost all of them from the United States and Great Britain, including several journalists for whom I feel a bursting envy.
On the list are Joe Biden, Boris Johnsonthe vice president kamala harristhe new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, actors Morgan Freeman, Ben Stiller and Sean Penn and more than a thousand famous and not so famous figures from the so-called ‘Anglosphere’. The punishment: Putin has banned them from entering Russia indefinitely..
Among the British journalists, 41 to date, are the directors of the BBC, the Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent and a couple of my former colleagues. But Spanish and Latin Americans, not one.
We are not important, we are not worthy of your attention. It reminds me of a phrase from the movie ‘Casablanca’. A character says to the protagonist, played by Humphrey Bogart: “You despise me, Rick, don’t you?” Rick answers: “If I ever thought of you, probably.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry has explained that the measures against British journalists are the response to “anti-Russian hysteria” and the “unbridled dissemination of information in a London political campaign that seeks to isolate Russia”. It is understood. But what pain it causes me that they do not include me, I who have done almost everything in my power to stir up the aforementioned unbridled hysteria against Putin!
I have written that it is a madman, a butcher, a self-conscious, an amoral narcissist that he seeks glory like his ancestors, the tsars, in outdated notions of imperial expansion, that what Vladimir the Short yearns for most is to be remembered as Peter the Great, the Russian conqueror of the 17th century. But never mind. Neither me nor the many Hispanic journalists who have written similar things.
The humiliating thing for all of us is that if I continued to publish regularly in media outlets I worked for at less illustrious times in my career, like the Times or the BBC, I’m pretty sure I would have the honor of being able to say to everyone the world i was in Putin’s blacklistthat I would not be allowed to enter Russian soil.
I hope that the Russian embassy in Madrid, or the one in Buenos Aires, interprets my words for what they are, a formal complaint about the impolite treatment of me. But, speaking more seriously, what concerns the international Hispanic community now is, at a minimum, threaten to withdraw its ambassadors from Russian territory until this injustice is corrected.
Okay. It is done. I have said it. I have vented my anger and feel better. Now it’s time to take a deep breath and try to see the bright side of this misfortune. Total, there is no evil that for good does not come. And the thought that comes to mind is that if you can’t beat your enemy, join him.
As a result of a 53-second video I just saw on YouTube, it occurs to me that I should take advantage of the unfortunate circumstance of not being banned from entering Russia and contemplate moving there.
I explain. The video, a Russian production broadcast (of course) in English, is a kind of advertisement whose purpose is convincing foreigners to emigrate to Putin’s homeland. With admirable economy, beautiful pictures and soulful music, we are given a list of the supposedly unique attractions that Russia possesses.
A solemn voice details them: “delicious cuisine, pretty women, cheap gas, a rich history, great literature, fertile land, cheap electricity, ballet and cheap taxis.” At first I thought it was a joke, a parody of a tourist advertisement, especially when I saw that the phrase “beautiful/pretty women” was accompanied by an image of a couple of blonde girls, about six years old, running through a meadow. What?” I asked myself. “Is this a joke in bad taste about pedophilia?” But not. I did some digging and it turns out the video is serious. It has been issued with the approval of the Russian authorities.
Oh, and I almost forgot: in those intense 53 seconds, he offers even more reason to move to Russia. “Traditional values, Christianity and vodka”, plus “an economy capable of withstanding thousands of sanctions.” This being Putin’s Russia, the announcement ends with a threat: “Winter is coming”, winter is coming. In other words, a message addressed to Europeans to whom Russia is closing access to electricity and gas. Come to Russia now, before you all freeze to death.
I don’t know whether to accept the offer. I suspect that in winter I will bear less cold here in Barcelona without heating than in Moscow with, and that our cuisine may even be more delicious than yours. The thing about cheap taxis attracts me, like vodka and pretty women. But the traditional values thing makes me think that in order to integrate into Russian society I will have to learn to live with homophobia and, as for how I am supposed to relate to women, it reminds me of the time that Putin congratulated that Russian prostitutes were “undoubtedly the best in the world”. Accuse me of an excess of political correctness, but that does not suit me.
I am aware that a decision will have to be made now or never, since Putin is losing his war, he may fall and the gracious offer of asylum may disappear with him. But still, on second thought, I think not. Better not. No offense to me, Vladimir, but I will not accept your invitation. Thanks but no. Nyet. Nope