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PEDRO SÁNCHEZ

Spain’s Prime Minister to star in his own documentary series

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will be the protagonist of a new documentary series which will look at the inner workings of the Spanish government and offer a glimpse into the daily and personal life of the head of government. 

Spain's Prime Minister to star in his own documentary series
Spain's Prime minister Pedro Sánchez, seen here talking with soldiers in Latvia during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, has not yet commented on his participation in the documentary. (Photo by Toms Norde / AFP)

Titled La Moncloa, in reference to the Spanish equivalent of the White House or 10 Downing Street, the four-part docuseries is reportedly in the middle of shooting, with filmmakers following Sánchez and his team of staff as they carry out their daily routine in government.

According to the two production studios behind the project, Secuoya Studios and The Pool, the documentary will “show two facets, the institutional side and the human side”.

It reportedly won’t consist of “purely political or ideological arguments” but rather be “an observational story, which will focus on the more personal and everyday aspects” of life for those in the Spanish government.

A release date for the docuseries has not yet been announced, nor the streaming platform or TV channel on which it will air, but the producers have advanced that the narrative and visual proposal will transit between documentary and factual cinema.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who is currently focusing on the war in Ukraine, has not offered any comment on his participation in the project so far.

The documentary will be directed by Curro Sánchez Varela, the son of famed Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucía, who has extensive experience directing short films, commercials and music videos.

His 2015 documentary about his father – La Búsqueda – won him Spain’s Goya Award for Best Documentary.

“We’re living through strange times, so having the possibility of having such transparent, free and honest access into the day-to-day of the Presidency of Spain’s Government makes us appreciate more than ever the fact that we’re living in a democratic country, in which its citizens are guaranteed their freedoms,” Varela is quoted as saying by radio station Onda Cero.

Sánchez and his wife María Begoña Gómez Fernández outside 10 Downing Street in London in 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE’N / AFP)

Even though Sánchez will be one of the main protagonists of the series, Varela says the project is also about “honouring and giving prestige to the team of workers who, in many cases, have been working for more than four decades at the service of different prime ministers in La Moncloa.

Sánchez, who was born in Madrid in 1952, is the head of Spain’s socialist PSOE party and has been Prime Minister since 2018. He is married and has two daughters.

Referred to as ‘Mr Handsome’ in the British and US press, Pedro Sánchez has won admirers around the world for his good looks, which may help the documentary series get some attention overseas.

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POLITICS

Why Madrid has become a haven for Latin American dissidents

Well-known faces of Cuba's protest have in recent years gone into exile in Madrid, which is rivalling Miami as a haven for Latin American political opponents.

Why Madrid has become a haven for Latin American dissidents

“Miami has always been the destination of those who suffered from Latin American dictatorships,” Cuban dissident and playwright Yunior García, who went into self-imposed exile in Madrid in November, told AFP.

But now “many Latin Americans are choosing to come to Spain,” added García, one of the organisers of a failed mass protest last year in the Communist-ruled island.

The Spanish capital is especially attractive for an artist and dissident fleeing a dictatorship because of its “bohemian” atmosphere, García said.

Spain has long drawn migrants from its former colonies in Latin America who have often sought work in low-wage jobs as cleaners or waiters — but in recent years prominent exiles have joined the influx.

Award-winning Nicaraguan writer and former vice president Sergio Ramírez and Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López, a former mayor of Chacao, an upmarket district of Caracas, are among those who have moved to Madrid.

“Madrid is the new Miami, the new place where so many hispanics come fleeing dictatorship,” said Toni Cantó, the head of a Madrid regional government body charged with promoting the region as the “European capital of Spanish”.

Many Latin Americans are able to establish themselves easily in Spain because they have double citizenship, in many cases because their ancestors came from the country.

Others like García arrive on a tourist visa and then request asylum.

Sometimes, especially in the case of prominent Venezuelan opposition leaders, the government has rolled out the welcome mat and granted them Spanish citizenship.

Cuban political dissident Carolina Barrero is pictured during an AFP interview in Madrid. Spain has long drawn migrants from its former colonies in Latin America who have often sought work in low-wage jobs, but in recent years prominent exilees have joined the influx. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

‘Good option’

Contacted by AFP, Spain’s central government declined to comment.

But shortly after García arrived in Spain, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told parliament that Latin Americans “share our values, they look naturally to Europe”.

For Cubans, getting a visa to enter the United States has been even more complicated in recent years since Washington closed its consulate in Havana in 2017. It only partially reopened in May.

“Spain is a very good option,” said Cuban journalist Abraham Jiménez, who fled to Spain in January when he finally was able to obtain a passport after years of being denied one.

Spain has received previous waves of Cuban dissidents in the past.

Under an agreement between Cuba, Spain and the Catholic Church, in 2010 and 2011, more than 110 Cuban political prisoners arrived in Madrid, accompanied by dozens of relatives.

There are now about 62,000 Cubans officially registered in Spain, with Madrid home to the largest community.

Cuba is “a pressure cooker, and ever time pressure builds” Havana eases it by forcing dissidents into exile, said Alejandro Gonzalez Raga, the head of the Madrid-based Cuban Observatory for Human Rights who fled to Spain in 2008.

Cuban journalist Mónica Baró is pictured at her home in Madrid. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

‘Lost everything’

Cuban independent journalist Mónica Baró said she left Cuba for Madrid in 2021 because she said she could no longer bear the “harassment” of Cuban state security forces.

Madrid shares the same language and has a “shared culture”, as well as a well-established network of Cubans, that has helped her overcome the “traumas” she brought with her, Baro added.

But not knowing if she will ever see her parents, who remained in Cuba, again saddens her.

“When you leave like I did, you have the feeling that you buried your parents,” said Baró, who faces arrest if she returns to Cuba.

García said he welcomed the absence in Madrid of the deep “resentment” and “rage” towards the Cuban regime found in Miami among its much larger community of Cuban exiles, which he said was “natural”.

These are people “who had to leave on a raft, who lost everything they had in Cuba, whose family suffered jail time and sometimes death,” he said.

Madrid on the other hand, provides “tranquility to think things through,” he added.

“I don’t want anger, resentment, to win me over,” García said.

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