14ymedio, Madrid 23 July 2023 — about 250,000 Cubans, residing on the Island or in Spain, can vote in the general elections that take place this Sunday, July 23. Several weeks of debates, campaigns and tensions have kept the four great political forces of the country, occupied: the Popular Party (PP), the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) – whose leader, Pedro Sánchez, is the current head of the Government – the conservative Vox party and the left-wing Sumar coalition.
This newspaper interviewed several Cubans who will give their vote to one of these parties and asked them the reasons for their decisions.
Joaquín – a retiree who has lived in Tenerife (Canary Islands) for twenty years – is blunt: “I think Vox is the party called to largely solve Spain’s problems and to rescue a social ethic that is in sharp decline,” he says. However, his main reason is that the formation led by Santiago Abascal from Bilbao “will not allow even the shadow of communism. Only then will we be able to sleep peacefully,” he adds.
Despite his support for Vox, Joaquín believes that the winning party will be the PP, whose leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has high popularity ratings in electoral polls. In that, he agrees with Héctor, a 35-year-old engineer from Cienfueguero who works in Barcelona. “It’s better to keep away from anything that smells of the left, like Pedro Sánchez. Any Cuban will tell you this,” he says.
“Although I agree with Vox on many things,” says Hector, “in others I don’t. In that sense, I prefer the PP project.” The only argument that Cuban émigrés could have in favor of socialists, he reflects, is that the Law of Democratic Memory has facilitated the emigration of many descendants of Spaniards. “But here, on the Peninsula, the Law has done a lot of damage and caused a lot of division,” he says.
Alina, a caregiver of patients in Salamanca, has participated in several campaigns to support Vox and is affiliated with the party. “This Sunday we will vote for Abascal. Cubans who live in Spain cannot betray Vox or its ideology. We have to give them the opportunity to show what they can do, even if they don’t come out on top in these elections,” she says. ” Coming from the country we come from, a country that sponsors terrorism, it’s impossible for us to vote for any party that’s not on the right.”
The Cubans’ sympathies for Vox are understandable, argues Ignacio, a lawyer who arrived in Madrid more than forty years ago, “but the only adult party that Spain has is the PP, and the only mature politician that this country has is Feijóo.” The PP neglected the Cuban issue, he concedes, and that is why many of the emigrants from the Island now see in Abascal the “strong man” that the PP did not offer them.
“Cubans see Vox as the ’bravo’ party, brave – I won’t say ’macho’ – that faces up to the communists of the Spanish Government. In addition, Abascal’s group has known how to cultivate the vote of Cubans.” But, in short, “Vox is not to be trusted,” says Ignacio, for “its ways, the violence, with which it deals with the issues.”
An example, he offers as proof, is emigration. Vox proposes a “hard line” to achieve a regular flow of migrants, but it doesn’t usually reflect on the causes of emigration. “It comes close to being inhumane,” he points out, speaking about the way in which Vox intends to control borders. “You have to look for the origin. Nobody leaves their country because they want to. You have to think about how to change the situation from its starting point, but not by dialoguing with dictatorships or mafias – as the Spanish Government has done with the Havana regime – but by proposing development projects. If not, whatever fence you build, thousands will still break through to come in.”
Ignacio defines Vox and Sumar as “adolescent parties,” as were other political formations at the time – such as Podemos or Ciudadanos – that have ended in failure.
However, in democracy you have to know how to dialogue, summarizes Ignacio: “Vox is a constitutional party. It is not a cavern or fascism. It has no murderers in its ranks, and it wants the unity of Spain. The PP will have to learn how to work with it.”
Ignacio’s biggest concern, however, is not so much Vox’s proposal as the ease with which Cubans assume its postulates, just because of its radical opposition to communism. “Cubans are passionate,” he explains, “and we run the risk that, coming from authoritarianism, we end up copying it ’the other way round.’”
Finally, Ignacio notes, “and as strange as it may seem,” there are also Cubans who will vote tomorrow for the leftists, PSOE and Sumar. “They are a new, varied generation. But the ’old’ Cubans, who have been here for decades, will never vote for a Spain where a psychopath like Sánchez commands.”
Among the Cubans interviewed by 14ymedio, opposition to Sánchez is the only common factor. Although some opt for the stability promised by the PP or follow the radical line of Vox, the current head of government does not enjoy the slightest popularity.
“Pedro Sánchez has made a pact with the communists; he has laundered money for Basque terrorists and Catalan independence fighters. He has been shown to have an authoritarian, manipulative and harmful personality. How could Cubans vote for a man who wants to break up Spain?”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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