Former PP Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo used the duck test on Wednesday to qualify the Cuban regime: “If it walks like a duck, nothing like a duck and blinks like a duck, it’s a duck. If there are no human rights, no separation of powers, no multi-party system, or freedom of the press, it is a dictatorship, ”he stressed on Telemadrid.
Margallo never referred to Cuba as a dictatorship while he directed Spanish diplomacy, between 2011 and 2016. On the contrary, as a minister he made two visits to Havana: the first time, in November 2014, he gave a conference in which he put the Transition Spanish as a model for Cuba. His hosts did not like the simile and Margallo returned to Spain without being received by Raúl Castro, the island’s strongman. In May 2016 he returned, and this time he was received by the youngest of the Castro brothers. On neither occasion did he meet with the dissidents, since, had he wanted to, the visits would not have taken place.
Margallo was in charge of applying the realpolitik (the policy of détente with the communist bloc during the Cold War) to the stormy relationship of the PP with Havana. He had to swallow more than one toad for the Cuban authorities to accept that the PP militant Ángel Carromero, convicted of driving the vehicle in which the dissident Oswaldo Payá died, would serve his sentence in Spain.
Under his mandate, the EU’s common position on Cuba, imposed by José María Aznar in 1996, which conditioned dialogue with the Castro regime on its democratization, was dismantled. A decade later it was clear that not only had it been useless in weakening the dictatorship, but it had left Europe without a voice over the future of the island. After the main leaders of the world (from Pope Francis to Obama) had visited Cuba, Margallo opened the way for the King’s first trip, which took place in November 2019, already with Pedro Sánchez in La Moncloa.
“Repeat with me: Cuba is a dictatorship,” the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, summoned the Prime Minister on Wednesday. Casado knows that Sánchez would have a very difficult time doing so, unless he wants to risk the release of the collaborator of ABC detained, the possibility of providing assistance to the 150,000 Spaniards residing in Cuba or of protecting the important economic interests on the island, especially in the tourism sector, according to diplomatic sources. “That without taking into account what it means to lose the ability to dialogue with the Cuban authorities in the face of the times that lie ahead,” they add.
If the leader of the PP seeks to open a crack in the coalition government between the PSOE and United We Can, linked through the PCE with the Cuban revolution, for the moment he has punctured the bone. On Wednesday, the ministers Ione Belarra and Irene Montero avoided entering the debate on whether they are greyhounds or hounds. And they emphasized the problems caused by the US embargo, which draws almost unanimous condemnation from the international community, as seen last month at the UN. Hours after United We Can Deputy Aina Vidal said that “Cuba is not a dictatorship,” Sánchez tried to settle the debate by declaring that “Cuba is not a democracy.” Consensus is thus based on what it is not, rather than what it is.
Felipe González brought with him from his first trip to Beijing, in 1985, a saying by Deng Xiaoping that synthesizes Chinese pragmatism: “Black cat or white cat, what matters is that it catches mice.” If the so-called reason of state can justify this philosophy, it is more surprising that party reason does: in 2013, the then secretary general of the popular, Dolores de Cospedal, traveled to China to sign a collaboration agreement between the Popular Party and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which, like its Cuban counterpart, runs with an iron fist a country that is not a democracy either.