Wednesday, July 6

The flag and the anthem: the obsessions of José Ángel Antelo, former basketball player and strong man of Abascal in Murcia

Much has happened since José Ángel Antelo (Santiago de Compostela, 1987), president of Vox in Murcia and spokesman for the party in the City Council of the capital, took the reins of training in the territory. His promising basketball career as a power forward was cut short by two Achilles tendon tears – one of the worst injuries for an athlete – that forced him to retire in his thirties. He had developed most of his professional career in LEB category clubs and in the ACB League. In 2012 he signed with CB Murcia, the club of the San Antonio de Murcia Catholic University (UCAM), and after his second injury in the summer of 2019 he retired from professional basketball. The president of the (UCAM), José Luis Mendoza, would then place him in his sports marketing department. At the same time – April 2019 – the offer to be part of the Vox lists for the Murcian Consistory fell into his hands. “Mendoza appropriated Vox in Murcia through Antelo, who is his employee, and his son-in-law, Rubén Martínez Alpañez, who is also part of the Regional Executive Committee,” explains a close source who prefers to remain anonymous.

More than two years later, Antelo survives a crossfire that does not seem to end until the next elections in the Community. The resounding success of Vox in the general elections of November 2019 in the Region, which left it as the first force with 28% of the votes, translated into a drain on organic positions that caught more than one off guard. There were two versions of the event: an “excess of functions” among the members of the board that resulted in a voluntary departure, or a beheading ordered from Madrid and orchestrated by the strong arm of Santiago Abascal in Murcia, Luis Gestoso, national deputy of the far-right formation.

“In Vox they have always been obsessed with avoiding regional baronies and they put Alberto Núñez Feijóo and his language policy in Galicia as an example of what not to do. De Antelo valued his obedience and loyalty to the party without any questioning”, add the font.

At that time, a manager was created that Antelo led for “his ability to manage teams, his work capacity and his commitment to Vox,” the party said at the time. In September 2020, Antelo was proclaimed president by leading the only candidacy with sufficient endorsements, a process that will be challenged – unsuccessfully – by another of the candidates, Alfonso Pérez Galdón, who accuses him of “serious irregularities” during the elections in favor of the winner, among others.

Months before Antelo became president, Vox faced his biggest conflict in Murcia and that, to this day, continues to bleed him: the three deputies of his party in the Regional Assembly expelled from the formation for removing from the accounts banking institutions from his parliamentary group to national leaders. The lawsuit of the ‘unruly Vox’ regional deputies –Juan José Liarte, Francisco Carrera and Mabel Campuzano, current Minister of Education and Culture– continues in court number four in Cartagena. The expelled parliamentarians are asking for their membership status to be restored after being removed for denouncing alleged irregularities in the funding of the parliamentary group.

“The largest flag in Spain”

“In the corridors he is very friendly, but in the political platform he is very obtuse and never leaves his four mantras,” says a councilor from the Murcia City Council. “He never defends any motion on the municipality as spokesman for his group in the consistory. In his speeches he usually refers, instead, to regional or national issues. He is on other issues. I do not know how many times he has been able to repeat that the Government from Spain is a Bolivarian Social Communist and wants to raise taxes to spend on prostitutes, cocaine and prawns, “he adds.

From the first moment that he became the spokesperson in the Murcian capital City Hall, the former basketball player showed great concern for the flag and the anthem of Spain. Already in the first motion he defended at the end of July 2019, Antelo requested that a national flag of 300 square meters be implanted in the Circular square of the capital. […] making it the largest flag in Spain. “” And if it can be a Sunday of each month or on the day that best suits us all to sound the anthem while the flag is raised and that it can be carried out by the military command , as happens in other cities like Melilla, “he added.

In the last plenary session last May Antelo proposed that in all the educational centers of the Murcian capital a flag of Spain should be hung at the entrance, a portrait of the head of state in each classroom, and also that the anthem of Spain be sounded first thing in the morning. the morning. Finally, he obtained the favorable votes of the Popular Party and Citizens for the national anthem to sound in the schools of the capital, with the modification that it is the educational centers that can request it when they want to “give relevance” to solemn acts. “Faced with the attacks suffered by the unity of Spain in some territories, we must value the elements such as the flag, the crown or the anthem that give unity and coherence to all Spaniards,” he repeated two years later.

“Another thing that strikes me is his political naivety, like when he proposed that the municipal elections be brought forward,” warns a colleague from the council. Municipal elections do not have the possibility of being advanced by the mayor, they must be held every four years and the date is set by law.

“Coming from the world of competitive sports makes him more aggressive,” says a source who knows him well. “He is a politician in training,” he adds. The far-right representative abhors any motion that has to do with issues related to gender equality, LGTBI or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the UN. On June 11, all municipal groups observed a minute of silence in front of the City Council for the case of sexist violence in Tenerife, with the exception of Vox.

“Much standard deviation”

“In the surveys we carry out, we see a lot of standard deviation when we ask about Antelo”, says Juan José García Escribano, professor of Sociology at the University of Murcia (UMU) and co-director of the Center for Murcian Studies of Public Opinion (CEMOP); that is, many respondents do not know it, but whoever does it gives it a very high or very low grade. If in October 2020, 12% of those interviewed by the barometer of this organization knew about it, last May the percentage had only increased to 14.3%.

In the last spring barometer carried out, CEMOP awarded Vox 6 regional deputies, one less than in the previous winter one. “You see a downward trend in political formation,” says the sociologist. Antelo, for his part, has always obtained the worst assessment as a leader in the Region, with a 4, with the exception of the last survey, in which he was surpassed by the regional coordinator of Citizens in Murcia, Ana Martínez Vidal, after the motion failed censorship against the PP.

“We will be vigilant and supervise all the policies of this Frankenstein government. They will feel our breath on the neck,” Antelo said at the press conference after the triumph of the motion of no confidence against the PP, which had been ruling the capital for 26 years without interruption. Murcia, last March thanks to the votes of the councilors of PSOE, Ciudadanos and Podemos.