The Spanish Electoral Hangover Seen From Latin America

Members of the Popular Party greet supporters at the popular headquarters in Madrid after the results of the elections were known. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 29 July 2023 –The days have passed since the voters went to the polls on July 23 in the elections for the General Courts of Spain. However, the fact that the negotiations to reach a majority to govern will continue for several weeks is keeping millions of citizens on edge on this side of the Atlantic as well. The Popular Party won, but insufficiently, and it is most likely the Socialist Party will retain power. In any case, the Iberian country, now holding the rotating presidency of the European Union and with strong ties to Latin America, is committed to a more active position with our hemisphere, but its internal fractures hinder that role.

The recent summit of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), held this month in Brussels, showed that Madrid is unable to concentrate on structuring a solid and long-term strategy for Latin American countries. With a common past and a community of Spanish citizens that is growing every day in this part of the world, thanks to the Democratic Memory Law, popularly known as the new Grandchildren Law*, the European nation should play a much more active diplomatic, economic and political role in the region. However, its internal partisan fights prevent it from realizing, in all its dimensions, the importance of paying attention to what was formerly called the New World.

Faced with a presidency in the Moncloa Palace that is weak in the Latin American arena, regional authoritarianisms are gaining a voice on international stages. The EU-Celac Summit made it clear that Spanish firmness or lukewarmness is decisive for the confluence between the 27 European countries and the 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries. When Madrid is immersed in its own affairs and fails to realize the importance of its leadership beyond the seas, all of old Europe resents its links with this continent. Spain is key, and the grudges of the past — from colonialism to slavery — should not dissuade it from its leadership in America. If it does not assume that role,  China and Russia are eager to dispute it and area gaining ground.

Local dictatorships rub their hands when Moncloa becomes invisible and self-censors. Right now, while the formation of a government is unknown in Madrid and many fear that there will be a repeat of the delay after the 2019 elections, each day of indecision is a gift for those in Latin America who prefer a weak, distracted and apathetic Spain. On the list of those interested in a context in which uncertainty continues are the regimes of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. They know that while Madrid is staring at its navel to define and form a cabinet, it will not have the time or energy to denounce the violations of human rights suffered by millions of people in this part of the planet.

A weak Spain, incapable of raising its voice in international forums so that the freedoms of Latin Americans are respected, is the one that suits the great civic predators of this continent. Madrid must know, and act accordingly, the fact is that it is not just a question of diplomacy, but, essentially, of internal politics given the large number of its citizens who live in these lands. Its distractions are our pains. Its lack of leadership, our condemnation.

*Translator’s note: The law defines provisions under which descendants of Spanish citizens in Cuba and elsewhere can apply for and receive Spanish citizenship.


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