With the latest crisis in Cuba, a trend that is now the norm returns to Spanish politics: to use conflicts that occur outside the country to stoke the rival. Interest in foreign policy is low in Spain, which is probably a reflection of citizens’ priorities. But as a blunt object, it is always there available. The right attacks with Venezuela. The left strikes back with Colombia. The right attacks Cuba. The left responds with the US embargo on Cuba. The politics of these areas of the world are seen as a battlefield for their own wars. The work of extras is almost always reserved for Latin Americans.
It is not rectified even when certain models crash down. After the economic and social collapse in Venezuela starting in 2014, a part of the left lost interest in talking about that country. Another decided that any criticism of the Government of Caracas was unforgivable. The right wing has not stopped attacking United Podemos since then. He goes on to say that they are a “Bolivarian” force. Pablo Iglesias did not want to refer to the issue, but he responded when asked: “The Venezuelan government has made many mistakes, which have to do with the situation of institutional confrontation between the legislature and the executive. We are part of that feeling of disappointment that there is respect to the disenchantment of Chavismo, which was exciting at first and then has been disappointing, “he said in an interview in 2016.
In the Senate, he described the situation in Venezuela in 2018 as “dire.” However, not many leaders of Podemos or Izquierda Unida have chosen to continue in that line. Not a step back, seems to be the watchword, lest they concede a victory to the adversary.
On the right, they have not been fazed by the thunderous failure of Mauricio Macri in the Argentine presidency until 2019. He was not able to control inflation or clean up the financial situation of the State, tasks that his supporters took for granted. A few days ago, Macri participated in Madrid in a conservative conclave organized by Mario Vargas Llosa, where he was entertained as if his had been a triumphant administration. Macri is the first Argentine president to stand for reelection and lose. The Peronist Alberto Fernández, among whose virtues is not a certain type of charisma that is associated with many leaders of his party, won two million votes and eight points of difference.
Sunday’s demonstrations in Cuba against the Government and the dire economic conditions that the country is now suffering have once again placed it at the forefront of Spanish politics, as will be seen in the coming days or weeks. The PP and Vox demand that the Government make a more “forceful” statement and that it “condemn the repression of the Cuban people”, in the words of Teodoro García Egea.
As the statements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not usually a prodigy of clarity, the new minister, José Manuel Albares, wrote on Twitter that “Spain defends the right to demonstrate freely and peacefully and asks the Cuban authorities to respect him. We defend human rights without conditions. “Albares also demanded the immediate release of Cuban journalist Camila Acosta, who is an ABC correspondent on the island and who was arrested on Monday when she left her home. This is the kind of public statement that the Government Cuban always angrily rejects. According to Amnesty International’s Americas director, there have been 140 arrests since Sunday.
These criticisms are not enough for the right wing, which is calling for the Cuban regime to be classified as a dictatorship and for Spain to force the European Union into a policy of active opposition to that government. Some European countries have distinguished themselves along these lines, such as the Czech Republic, but there has never been a real attempt by the European Commission to apply to Cuba the same sanctions medicine that the US has had in place for decades.
On Tuesday night, Pedro Sánchez had the opportunity in an interview on Telecinco to answer the question of whether Cuba is a dictatorship. He did not use the cursed word, but his opinion was clear: “It is clear that Cuba is not a democracy. That said, it has to be Cuban society that finds that path (of prosperity) and the international community that helps it find that way”. As long as the government continues to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba – and that has happened with all the governments of the PSOE and the PP – it will be necessary for a Spanish president to measure his words.
You don’t have to be a dictatorship to be responsible for terrible crimes. The left accuses the right of ignoring human rights violations committed by Colombian governments for decades. The most atrocious episode is the case of the so-called “false positives” in which the Army killed thousands of civilians and made them pass as guerrillas killed in combat to add to the statistics and increase their financial rewards. One of the favorite Colombian leaders of the PP was Álvaro Uribe, under whose presidency many of these massacres were committed.
In any case, the question of whether a certain country is a dictatorship or not is legitimate, if the opposition is persecuted for criticizing the Government. They asked Aina Vidal, spokesperson for En Comú Podem in Congress, at a press conference, and she replied that she does not believe that Cuba is a dictatorship, although she stressed that it is fundamental that the right of demonstration be respected in any country. When it doesn’t, it’s hard to call that a democracy.
Later, he wrote a Twitter thread – a very popular tool among politicians to clarify or complete statements – to insist on the idea that the Cuban government it is obliged to respect “the rights of assembly, protest and free political participation.” Also the message about what others do not do in Spain: “The silence of those who forget to demand them in countries such as Colombia, Saudi Arabia or Qatar is striking.”
The same did Idoia Villanueva, MEP and head of Internacional de Podemos. He demanded respect for the right to demonstrate, but dedicated most of his messages on Twitter to denounce the embargo that the US He has been subduing the island for decades. In the last vote in the UN Assembly, only the US and Israel opposed a resolution contrary to Washington’s sanctions, Villanueva recalled.
In the last decade, there is only one Middle Eastern country whose government came to power in a coup, killed thousands of people and imprisoned tens of thousands. That country is Egypt. Human rights groups estimate that 60,000 political prisoners have passed through their jails. However, the governments of Rajoy and Sánchez have maintained good relations with that country due to its strategic position and its economic value. Egypt has also not sparked furious debates in Congress. That is, it does not exist in Spanish politics.
There should be the ability to identify as a dictatorship a country that prohibits demonstrations against the Government and that persecutes opposition organizations regardless of the area of the planet in which it is located and what rivals in your country think. Apparently not in Spain. In domestic politics, parties can show pragmatism, especially if they are in government. On foreign policy, and as Fidel Castro said, not a single step back or to gain momentum.