Between the commotion that Rubiales' kiss has caused and the aerial assassination that Putin has ordered this week, we haven't paid much attention to other issues, details like the nine most dead people on the Russian plane, like the report of the killings of migrants that Saudi Arabia carries out on its borders, such as the invitation to Argentina to join – with Saudi Arabia – the BRICS, the anti-Western bloc led by China and Russia.
In case anyone hasn't been paying attention, Rubiales is the president of the Spanish Football Federation, today under enormous pressure to resign for kissing one of the players who won the World Cup last Sunday. The victim of the aerial assassination was Yevgeny Prigozhin – the Russian mercenary chief who led a mutiny against Vladimir Putin in June. His plane was shot down last Wednesday.
The contrast between the two events is revealing because of the difference it demonstrates between the values of democratic and authoritarian countries. In Spain there is a clamor to punish an offense against the dignity of women; in Russia, where women's dignity is taken for granted, not only is murder not punished, it is state policy.
In democracies, the highest value is the defense of the life of the individual; in authoritarianism, everything, life itself, is subordinated to the perpetuation of the leader in power. Today in Argentina there is a debate on whether to accept the invitation to join the BRICS. It is a question that should interest us all as it summarizes the global battle that is being fought between those who defend democracy and those who do not support it.
The choice that Argentines have to make is between remaining faithful to the democratic current for which so many people have fought for so many years or change course and join a club of countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, which represent mafia tsarism or the hereditary monarchy. In other words, 21st century democracy or medieval tyranny.
More data, for those who are not quite clear. The Prigojin case, a chronicle of an announced death, comes to us in the context of a Russian regime that murders political enemies, or even perfect innocents, without blinking an eye. With all that has been written about Prigozhin's death, it strikes me that very little has been commented on the lightheartedness with which the lives of the nine other people on the plane, including a flight attendant, were sacrificed named Kristina Raspopova, a typical girl of our time who entertained herself by uploading photos of herself on the networks assuming suggestive poses in a bikini. That is, the value of life? Zero when what is at stake is Putin's power.
It is as if Donald Trump, whose power is also at stake, imitates his Russian idol and liquidates political enemies or prosecutors who pursue him. Only Trump can't because he has the misfortune of living in a democracy where the law applies to everyone equally, not excluding President Biden's son. Can you imagine something similar in Russia, or in Saudi Arabia?
Let's move on to the desert oil monarchy, which also murders Putin-style. First, look at how the governments of European countries are struggling to respond to the wave of undocumented migrants arriving on their shores from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. What if rescuing them at sea, what if putting them up in hotels, what if deporting them, what if – in a curious British case – send them all to Rwanda. And now look at a detailed report published this week by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch.
The Saudis, we read, do not complicate their lives. They kill them all. According to the report, Saudi Arabia's border guard systematically fires machine guns at Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers. Hundreds, "possibly thousands", have died in recent years, all unarmed, including women and children.
Groucho Marx released the famous phrase: "I would never belong to a club that admitted someone like me as a member." The question now is whether Argentina wants to belong to a club that admits murderers and tyrants as partners. Better to do us all a favor, define ourselves as a country that aspires to democratic decency and decline the invitation. And maybe Leo Messi, as a national and international hero, will show the way by resigning from his position as Saudi Arabia's tourism ambassador.