Cubans And Spaniards Are a Family

Atahualpa Amerise

Havana, Nov 9 (EFE) .- If the state of ties between Spain and Cuba had to be described on social networks, it could be said that after centuries of "it is complicated" it has become "stable relationship" thanks to the strong family, personal and cultural ties between both peoples.

"The goal of Fernando Torres in the final of the European Championship against Germany in 2008 was the final blow to fall in love with Spain," recalls Raydel Núñez, who at 27 years presides over the Peña del Atlético de Madrid in Havana and last year was one of the thousands of Cubans who took to the streets in a red shirt to cheer on the Spanish team during the World Cup in Russia.

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Raydel has a colorful red flag printed on his chest. "I tattooed it as a symbol of union, because I am very pissed that some autonomous communities are struggling to become independent," he says. He feels as Spanish as a citizen of Albacete, Mérida or Teruel, and claims to know in depth the idiosyncrasy of the Iberian country even without having set foot in it or having met his great grandfather, a Galician who emigrated to Cuba in the first half 20th century

If the marriages between people from one country and another country and the tens of thousands of Cubans who have obtained Spanish nationality through the Law of Historical Memory are added to the historical emigration, it is clear that Spain and Cuba join them more than tradition, language or culture: family unites them.

Paula, a 19-year-old medical student with Spanish ancestors she didn't know, is one of the more than 120,000 Cubans who acquired second nationality under the Historical Memory Act, while another approximately 50,000 cases are still being processed.

His Spanish passport gives him "an immense facility, because in Cuba if you don't have the possibility of being a citizen of another country it is very difficult to travel. With Spanish citizenship I don't have to apply for a visa, I can go to any destination and I just have to buy the ticket and now, "explains Efe.

Paula, who belongs to a wealthy family in Havana with incomes well above the Cuban average, has traveled to Spain for pleasure on several occasions.

"There I feel at home and I want to live there in the future. I feel closer to Cuba than any other country. For everything, for customs, the way they live, how they treat you, because it is very close to the way everything is done here, "he summarizes.

Cuba is the country with the most nationalized Spaniards after Argentina and Venezuela. The holders of this dual nationality, known on the island as "Cubans", include such famous names as actor Jorge Perugorría, writer Leonardo Padura or composer Edesio Alejandro, as well as numerous medical and scientific eminences.

On the other hand, about 4,000 marriages between Cubans and Spaniards are formalized each year, mostly nationalized "Cubans."

The visit of the Kings Felipe VI and Letizia next week, which will be the first state trip of the Spanish monarchy to Cuba in five centuries of shared history, has aroused curiosity and expectation in Cuban society.

"For those of us who live in Cuba, the king is somewhat different, because there is no monarchy in Cuba. He is a beautiful figure, that people love. The previous kings had great charisma," said Maria Antonia Rabanillo, president of the Council of Spanish residents (CRE) of Cuba, an organization with three decades of history that advises this growing community.

Rabanillo, 85 and the daughter of a Castilian-Leon emigrant, explains that "in Cuba everyone has a Spanish link on one side or the other, Spanish blood runs through the veins of Cubans and Spain for Cubans represents a second homeland".

In Cuba, which achieved its independence later than other Latin American countries, the expression "the mother country" is often used to refer to Spain.

Some Cubans, even, have ventured into the bizarre process of requesting the vote in the face of the general elections of November 10 to be able to elect a president, even if he is from his second homeland.

However, most run into the slow bureaucracy: "We cannot vote, I have suffered it. Since there is a begged vote I have only been able to vote once. I request the vote and I never have the answer. I do not get the ballots "laments the president of CRE. EFE

aaf-lcl / rml

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