In Spanish Election Debate Opposition Criticizes Royals’ Visit to Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, November 5, 2019 — The televised debate held this Monday in Spain ahead of the elections of November 10 brought to light the opposition’s harsh criticisms of Pedro Sánchez’s Government for its policy toward Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. The head of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) heard reproaches for the position he has assumed toward Nicolás Maduro and for organizing King Felipe VI’s visit to Cuba for the celebration of the 500-year anniversary of Havana.

The visit has been very controversial and has generated strong criticism in Spain, among Cuban exiles, and in civil society on the Island. It is considered the first official visit of a Spanish king and queen to the old colony and will happen on November 11.

“Where is Sánchez’s Government in Venezuela? The last in line and always dragging its feet,” the president of Citizens (centrist), Albert Rivera, reprimanded. “It’s necessary to defend democracies, in Latin America as well. We cannot look the other way in face of dictators, not only dead dictators, we also have to be brave in face of living dictators, while you hide from Maduro and his like,” he added, in reference to Moncloa’s procedure last month to exhume the remains of Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen.

Rivera reproached Sánchez for not looking up from the podium and challenged him to have “a quarter of the courage that he has with dead dictators*” to treat “living dictators and their dictatorships.”

The leader of the Popular Party (righ-wing), Pablo Casado, lamented that Sánchez was sending the king and queen “to the dictatorial gerontocracy of Cuba” and remaining silent in face of the situation in Nicaragua, governed by the Sandinista couple Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo and victim of a wave of repression that claimed hundreds of dead.

“I felt ashamed when the United States of America was considering sanctioning Spain for its collusion with a dictatorial regime that according to Bachelet, not suspected of being on the right wing, has committed 7,000 summary executions,” declared Casado.

“Mr. Sánchez is not leading the response to put an end to the financial and real estate assets of the Chavista bigwigs,” he added. According to several journalistic investigations, Spain has been one of the preferred places for the big Chavista leaders to plunder the state-owned oil company PDVSA and invest billions of dollars.

Santiago Abascal, candidate for Vox (right-wing), also declared himself against the trip. “The Government has sent the king to Cuba and will force him to take a photo with the Castrists, Maduro, and Daniel Ortega,” he lamented. “I would appreciate it if the Government of our homeland and especially our Majesty, the king, could avoid that photo,” he said.

Vox also solicited from the Permanent Delegation the suspension of the Spanish king and queen’s trip to Cuba. “We urge the Government led by Pedro Sánchez not to use the Crown as a tool in favor of of its shady and partisan policies,” the leader of that party proclaimed.

Pedro Sánchez, who visited Cuba in November of last year and appeared alongside the designated leader Miguel Díaz-Canel, defended himself from the criticisms with the argument that Spain’s links weren’t with the Cuban Government, but rather with the people.

Spain is one of the principal investors in Cuba and has strong interests in tourism. Its companies were complicit in the Cuban Government’s apartheid policy that prohibited Cubans from accessing the same facilities as foreign tourists until 2008.

Cuba imports more than $1.2 billion in merchandise annually from Spain and exports to it products to the value of $180 million, according to official Cuban statistics.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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