The conservative National Action Party (PAN) is facing criticism from within its own ranks after some of its senators met with the president of an ultra-right Spanish political party.
About 15 PAN senators met privately with VOX party chief Santiago Abascal at the federal Senate in Mexico City on Thursday to endorse the Carta de Madrid (Charter of Madrid), whose rallying cry is to halt the advance of communism in Spain and Latin America
Their meeting with the leader of the far-right party, which became Spain’s third political force after the 2019 election in that country, and endorsement of Abascal’s Carta de Madrid, which states that “the advance of communism poses a serious threat to the prosperity and development of our nations,” drew criticism from other PAN lawmakers and the party’s secretary general, who sought to distance the PAN from the Spanish party.
“A pluralistic group of senators, mainly from the PAN, met to endorse the Carta de Madrid in favor of democracy and freedom and against populism. The PAN doesn’t share with VOX its proposals that violate human rights,” said Héctor Larias, who is leading the party while national president Marko Cortés is on leave.
“The PAN has fought to obtain and broaden freedoms and rights. Moving closer to an ultra-right party like VOX doesn’t support that objective. Our own ideas and history are the best weapons to continue building democracy. More center, less extremes,” said Laura Rojas, a PAN politician who previously served as the president of the lower house of Congress.
Senator Gustavo Madero said he regretted the PAN’s apparent shift to the right at a time when “we need to be a democratic alternative committed to human, economic, political and social rights in order to close gaps of inequality and exclusion.”
He wrote on Twitter that the party should position itself in the “inclusive center,” not on the “radical right.”
Senator Xóchitl Gálvez indicated that she didn’t want anything to do with VOX, asserting that she wouldn’t even take a stroll to the corner of the street with its representatives, while Senator Roberto Gil said that he couldn’t see any similarities in the principles of the two parties.
“To imitate or import strategies of polarization only reflects a chronic identity vacuum, or at least an absolute lack of creativity,” Gil charged.
Senator Julen Rementería, the PAN’s leader in the upper house, went into damage control, calling a press conference on Thursday night at which he said that he and other senators were representing only themselves, rather than the party, when they met with Abascal and endorsed the Carta de Madrid.
“It has nothing to do with the party, it’s a personal matter,” he said.
The meeting with the VOX chief doesn’t mean that the PAN has entered into an alliance with the party or supports far-right views, Rementería said before defending the content of the Carta de Madrid, which also states that part of the Spanish-speaking world is “kidnapped by totalitarian regimes inspired by communism, supported by drug trafficking and allied countries.”
The senator highlighted that the charter also offers support for principles such as the rule of law and freedom of expression.
“… I don’t feel deceived, I know what I signed, … because they are things in which I believe,” Rementería said.