Asking about Vox in the Canary Islands has become a complicated task in recent months. The far-right party has lost a significant mass of affiliates and supporters who denounce the lack of internal democracy and the concentration of power in a few hands. Former members of the formation emphasize that this “conscious” and “intentional” drift is no coincidence, and that the Madrid leadership, led by Santiago Abascal, Javier Ortega-Smith and Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, is interested in purging the dissidents so as not to suffer retaliation. It happened, without going any further, with Carmelo González, Canarian and leader of the critical sector within the group that left the party in November due to “the intramural dictatorship that, [la de Abascal], some have organized. “And the same has happened with other militants who have left dissatisfied and disgruntled with other alternative platforms, turning Vox in the Islands into a skeletal satellite of what is dictated from Madrid, where the most authoritative voices reside .
Vox is not represented in any administration in the Canary Islands. Neither in the autonomous Parliament, nor in the seven island councils and neither in any of the 88 municipalities. The party in the Archipelago only has two deputies in Congress, one for each province. In Las Palmas is Alberto Rodríguez Almeida, a 42-year-old lawyer and businessman linked to ultra-Catholic movements and Opus Dei. And for Santa Cruz de Tenerife there is Rubén Darío, of whom rather little is known and on whom multiple complaints from former affiliates fall due to his incompetence and lack of communication.
The sources consulted by the Canary Islands Now emphasize the difference, especially in organization, that exists between Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas, given that the eastern province does present more established bases. But they do not deny the reported irregularities, the finger appointments and many other dantesque scenes that have occurred in both provinces, which has led Vox in the Canary Islands to be a hollow party that seeks to profit from the migratory crisis and establish your anti-immigration discourse without lifting a finger.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, unoccupied land
In the westernmost province of the Canary Islands, and specifically in Tenerife, the image is of an empty party without militancy. “It is a brutal decline that they do not want to see. Vox had the need to come to power. Now they do not need affiliates. Dissidence is not accepted,” says one of the sources consulted.
There have been several chapters that have caused this disaffection. One of them occurred shortly after the general elections of November 2019. The provincial president, Alejandro Gómez, was invited to resign voluntarily by the so-called “men in black“: Tomás Fernández Ríos, National Deputy Secretary for Organization, Marcos Cruz, Territorial Director, and Jaime González Canomanuel, Coordinator of the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. Gómez had a gray and uncharismatic image weighing on him. But even the people who were not convinced that was the ideal man to lead the project in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he faced that decision. “He gave a lot for the game when nobody here knew him,” adds one of the sources.
The problem, they say, was not only the lack of leadership, but also the little fit that Gomez had in the new directions of Vox. The party attributed his dismissal to a “redefinition” that, although it has had little success (because the drip of affiliate losses is constant since then), it has helped to extend the most ultra argument applied by the Santiago Abascal formation since the rostrum of Congress. “The news reaches Madrid that he is not the right person. That he does not match the new party structure,” they explain.
Nor did he like the election of Rubén Darío as first on the list for the Congress of Deputies. They stress that the decision came by surprise. That nobody knew who he was. And that the option to vote for Vox in the Islands was motivated by Abascal, not by the adventures of this captain of the Merchant Navy, with a doctorate and seven published books, all of them related to maritime activity or the meteorology of the Canary Islands.
Darío was suspended from employment and salary for three years (from 2015 to 2018) for irregularly combining his public work as a professor at the Instituto de Formación Profesional Marítimo Pesquero, an entity dependent on the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Government of the Canary Islands, with the exercise of his private activity in a company dedicated to aquaculture, Pardal Cultivo de Peces, of which he was a partner, administrator and attorney-in-fact. Some do not understand how a party that knew it would have high representation in the Congress of Deputies pulled Darío off its sleeve, a politician who the few times he has spoken has removed the chair of Vox supporters. For example, as one source recalls, when he declared in the newspaper El Día that his priority in the Lower House was “the interest of the chicharreros and, later, that of the whales and the harassment they suffer.”
With the intention of putting a little glue, Jaime Canomanuel arrived. He introduced himself as the territorial coordinator of the Canary Islands and Ortega-Smith’s henchman in the Archipelago. His position did not exist within the party statutes, something that did not sit well with the rank and file. Just as the formation of the last two managers was not applauded, the first chaired by Almudena Viota, accused of being very authoritarian and dismissed a few months after taking office, and the last, led by Manuel Concepción. All of them put to finger. “There is no internal democracy within the party. That falls flat,” adds one of the sources consulted.
To make matters worse, the disgust outside the game multiplied last October, when a group of ultras linked to Vox rebuked a young man for being recorded carrying a Franco flag in La Laguna. Antonio Rodríguez, Francisco José Hernández and Antonio Bueno, who have entered local lists on behalf of Vox, either for the Parliament of the Canary Islands or the City Council of La Laguna, appear in the video that Canarias Now uncovered. There is also Merchines Zerolo Álvarez, Vox’s number one candidate for the Senate for Tenerife, who can be heard shouting “let’s see if you have an egg [de retirar la bandera franquista]”and yell” fag “at the young man.
“They sent us to the Canary Islands”, says Pepe López, presenter and owner of the Canarian channel My land known for his praise of the extreme right, “a delegate, a coordinator named Jaime. A useless (…) He does not know anything about the Islands. He has appointed several managers, each one more useless. Each one more rebenque. each with less ideology. If this manager is still here, we will lose the deputy for Tenerife “. Pepe López reiterates in a video that he has nothing to do with Vox. But there are images in which you can as a proxy in an election. However, the last known is a letter from the Secretary General of Vox, Ortega-Smith, thanking “the management and great work that the manager has been doing in the province [Santa Cruz de Tenerife] since his appointment “.
Las Palmas and Carmelo González, leader of the critical sector
The crisis has also taken shape in Las Palmas. The national direction of Vox decided in February 2019 to end the executive chaired by Ricardo Braña when it was discovered that he was subject to a judicial conviction for tax fraud. The other senior party official in the province at that time, José Luis Moyano, was also expelled after publishing this newspaper that he had threatened a national policeman, with whom he maintained discrepancies in his performance as a property manager, with falling on him with the weight of the Public Ministry when it is occupied by Vox.
Then came Nicasio Galván, the current leader of the Provincial Executive Committee. “Politically he is a zero to the left. He has always been criticized. He has never played a party, he has not promoted,” explains one of the sources. “The party in a planned way chooses to have the least possible structure and the greatest possible power [concentrado en Madrid]. They have not gone wrong. Of course, the current board of directors in Las Palmas is unknown to anyone. The Committee never meets. There is no affiliate presence. People are very disenchanted. “When the party decided to demonstrate against the central government in October, It did not gather more than 10 cars in the capital of Gran Canaria. But when the concentration turned under the slogans “let’s stop the migratory invasion” and “let’s defend tourism and hospitality”, yes, more followers joined driven by the months of blockage in migration management that have fueled tension in the Islands, especially in Gran Canaria. “They are not moving to gain strength because the speech is packaged from Madrid. Without moving from their office, they are getting a significant number, not of affiliates, but of voters. Without doing anything.”
The deputy for Las Palmas, Alberto Rodríguez, reached the top of the list for Congress after the resignation of José María Vázquez, who alleged “personal reasons” upon his departure four days before the elections. “Nor did anyone know him,” add the sources consulted about Vázquez. “Those kinds of conflicts, plus total inaction, have caused a lot of people to leave.”
The clearest example of the decomposition of VOX in the Canary Islands is the departure of Carmelo González, the visible face of the critical sector of the party. Doctor and atheist, González appeared in a primary for the national presidency of the ultra-rightist formation last March, before the pandemic broke out. His candidacy was excluded for not meeting the minimum number of endorsements, although there was no transparency in this regard and it was not reported how many he had harvested. He responded to Abascal with a letter denouncing the alleged blow, also, in the primary elections to the provincial committees.
“I suppose and assume, dear Santi, dear president, that in free and fair elections you would win me nine times out of ten. (…) Why then so much manipulation? Why so many irregularities and so much contempt for some affiliates who love Vox and Spain as much as you? “.
The recurring complaints about the lack of internal democracy and authoritarianism have caused former members of Vox to decide to form new political projects on which to settle. At the regional level there are TúPatria, a bet “liberal economically and conservative socially”; Spain Suma, the split of Vox in Andalusia that has Stolen the brand to the PP-Ciudadanos coalition; and the civic association España Habla, which could soon be configured as a party. “We would like to have an option of what Vox was at the time,” concludes a source. We will see what happens in the next electoral appointments in 2023.