Serigne Mbaye, a Spaniard of Senegalese origin, a former spokesperson for the Manteros Union and now a member of the United We Can Assembly in Madrid, unwittingly became the protagonist of the investiture debate of Isabel Díaz Ayuso on Friday due to the attacks by the extreme right on His person. Vox, which has become Ayuso’s only government partner marking the president’s agenda from day one, pointed out to him directly in Friday’s session to accuse him of “skipping the queue” of foreigners who want to reach Spain on a regular basis. The powerhouse of the training, Rocío Monasterio, also highlighted her time in the manteros union, a job she practiced after arriving in Spain in 2006 on a boat, risking her life in the Mediterranean Sea.
For Mbaye, it is necessary to apply the current law against hate speech to end racism and relate the escalation of violence against migrants to the arrival of Vox to the institutions. “Vox’s racist speeches feed the violent on the street”. For the deputy of United We Can, Ayuso “is an accomplice” in agreeing and embracing the postulates of the extreme right.
When you arrived at the Madrid Assembly on Friday, did you imagine that you were going to be the protagonist of Ayuso’s investiture?
In no case. Many people say there is no racism and it was clearly demonstrated on Friday that it exists. The investiture had to be the most visible of the day, but in the end we saw what we always denounce and that comes out everywhere. Racism is an issue that is in society, about which you have to talk, like it or not, to eradicate it.
How did you feel when you were approached directly by the Vox spokesperson, Rocío Monasterio, at the Madrid Assembly?
I expected that I would see something like this from Monastery, but not to that point that was experienced in the investiture debate. Because we are here to work, and not to say things like ‘he has entered illegally’. These are issues that we are going to have to put aside in order to really work for the men and women of Madrid. Worrying about other issues that are not our personal life.
Did you feel singled out by the extreme right?
Always, this is not new. It has been a constant throughout my stage of activism [al frente de la portavocía del sindicato de manteros]. It started especially when we started appearing in the media to denounce certain things. Recently, during the electoral campaign and when my candidacy was announced, the official Vox account said directly that they were going to deport me.
What do you think about such racist comments and hate speech taking place in a parliament?
The institutions are there to combat racism and these behaviors that are disrespectful. They are speeches that later feed people who act violently in the street, as we have seen what happened a few days ago in Murcia or the stabbing of another person that occurred the same day.
Would you say that violence against migrants has increased since the arrival of Vox to the institutions?
What is said in the institutions is translated into the violence that is later practiced in the street. His supporters accept these speeches and ultimately believe they are true. You really have to fight against racism and those speeches. And for that the law has to be applied. Since Vox began his speeches, there are more people who are believing them. That is why the law has to be applied now. If applied firmly, this may go away.
It refers to the law against hate crimes.
Many times when physical violence is practiced against us it is said that it has been crazy. It is not comparable, but as a reflection, when someone kills another person in the name of Allah [el dios de la religión musulmana], he is classified as a terrorist and the group he belongs to is investigated. And what happened in Murcia the other day was done by saying “we don’t want Moors here.” Is this a madman? Is he a loner? What is behind all that? They are things that if they were investigated in the same way as the other, I think they would have where to cut from, and that is to start with those speeches.
Do you think then that those hate speech in the parliaments that Vox proclaims that are stipulated in the penal code that they are a crime, should they be investigated by the Justice?
Investigated, punished and banned. They do not have to have an open bar to say what they want about a person, a deputy about whom that hatred is encouraged.
How did you see the performance of the president of the Madrid Assembly, María Eugenia Carballero, when you asked Rocío Monasterio to withdraw those words, as you had previously requested?
He did the normal thing. Carballedo did not stop him, he let him say what he wanted and only when I asked Monastery to withdraw him, as is his duty or asked.What does not seem normal to me is that he leave Rocío Monasterio to say everything he wants, and then, when Alejandro Jacinta cut him off when he said things about Ayuso that they didn’t like. There should be no favor deals. Everything must be fair and it did not seem so to me.
You asked Monastery to withdraw in those words so that they do not remain in the session diary, but the Vox spokeswoman did not want to. Are you going to ask for it formally?
I will do whatever it takes against this racist speech. I expressed it there clearly. And the President and the people who have to make this decision will have to value it, and I think they will do the right thing. If they do not, I will ask for it to be removed because it does not have to be.
With that racist and hate speech against you, did you expect any support from the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who finally sided with the extreme right?
The truth is that if. First of all, it is shameful that the Government of the Community of Madrid is supported by an openly racist party. Mrs. Ayuso’s silence is an accomplice to everything that is happening. He is complicit in these hate speech and in the increase in violence in the streets.
Do you think Ayuso is going to give himself more to that speech of the extreme right, because this legislature depends on them?
It was clearly noticeable on Friday. At no time did he condemn Vox’s words, and he identified with what Monasterio said, he expressed it clearly. Directly or indirectly. Ayuso welcomes Vox’s hate speech.
What measures can be taken from the Madrid Assembly to eradicate this hate speech?
Not allow it. It is clear. Not allow it. And Act every time there is the slightest bit of racist speech. If someone is pushing the limits, get their attention and cut them off, and say that it can’t happen here. It is that the law has to be applied in what is racist speech.
What will your role be then these two years in the Madrid Assembly?
My role is like that of any deputy. Not only do I come to defend anti-racism, which is also a special and essential issue that I have to be on so that this does not continue to happen and that the diversity that exists in Madrid is recognized and that racism that happens in the streets every day is eradicated. days. The raids, the ethnic-racial police controls, have to disappear because they give a very bad image of migrants.
But I also come to defend employment, because I am also from the working class, like everyone else. So that there are quality public jobs, public services, public transport … We are from Madrid, we are all from Madrid and that is our role. Working to solve this is not coming to the Assembly to discuss whether you have entered illegally, or have not entered illegally. If they have chosen us to be here, our fundamental work is the well-being of the locals from Madrid.
What would you say to those who call you illegal or that you have arrived in Spain illegally?
The first thing is that there is no person illegal. Arriving in Spain without papers is an administrative offense, not a crime. I would tell Monasterio that signing architectural projects without a title is indeed a criminal offense. But what I have done to get in here is not. That they review the policies of Spain, the policies of the European Union towards the countries from which we have come and that they see how the multinationals are causing people to leave everything they have to enter Spain in this way.
And those who demonize for having been the spokesman for the manteros union?
The mantero is a person like any other. Condemned to this situation because there are no inclusion policies. The manteros union is not formed to support the boys selling, but to defend their rights, because they are trying to survive and thus be able to get out of that situation. Nobody sells because they like to sell. Everyone wants to have the papers to be able to work like I or anyone else did. And that’s what the manteros union is for: to rescue, support and help colleagues to stop selling and have a decent job. There are those who have studies, but what condemns them for the issue of papers.
How has your life been since you arrived in Spain until now?
I already knew when I arrived in Spain that I would not have rights because I would not be able to have the papers until I was three years old. I had to make a living for myself, but I couldn’t work and I dedicated myself to selling on the street. And being there, I began to realize how many people, I am not saying that all of them, treated me differently because I was from abroad and were racist with me and my colleagues. That motivated me more to be in this fight to show that this treatment is unfair and to tell about the things that happen in our countries so that we have to come. We come and we are condemned to that situation. That has made me what I am today and what I will be in the future. This decision to fight because a lot of things have to change regarding our lives.