Spanish newspaper apologizes for racist Omicron cartoon

A Spanish newspaper and its cartoonist have apologized after being criticized for printing a cartoon with racist undertones and a factually incorrect portrayal of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The cartoon by Javi Salado, published in the newspaper on November 28, shows brown viruses on a boat with the South African flag heading for Europe.

The newspaper La Tribuna de Albacete and salad said the cartoon printed in the opinion section wanted to apologize to readers who may have felt annoyed or offended.

“There was no intention on the part of the cartoonist to link the transmission of the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to positions that deviate from the principles of equality and non-discrimination,” said the newspaper.

The cartoon in question has not been published on the newspaper website or was withdrawn after the controversy.

But Salado’s early responses backed claims that the image had racial undertones, saying his intention “was quite the opposite.

“Immigration is the result of the oblivion that Africa has suffered for centuries. Now we’ve done it again, leaving them to fend for themselves with the vaccines, ”Salado said.

He later changed his tone and apologized, accusing stereotypes and delivery times.

“The use of stereotypes in the cartoon has been very unfortunate. The haste to send for publication without letting it sit to detect other interpretations that might be given does not make me proud of the result. It only remains for me to ask – again – for an apology again, ”he tweeted in Spanish.

Salado’s design has sparked much criticism and anger on social media.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela tweeted at the Spanish Embassy: “Dear Excellencies @EmEspPretoria, This cartoon from the Spanish newspaper La Tribuna is racist & very offensive. #Omicron is NOT a South African variant and there is not a single case of South Africans trying to cross Europe on boats. I will write to them. Repugnant!”

A leader of the movement, Mmusi Maimane, criticized the cartoon, saying: “This is nonsense. A virus that most likely came from Europe to Africa is described as black and South African. Omicron’s response from the international community revealed a deep-rooted anti-African sentiment that must be combated.

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