His field is that of protocol and international relations. He has been in France for 14 years and lived another 10 in Latin America (Chile, El Salvador, Peru …). In total, 24 as an expatriate but with his ties to Spain intact: "Love for Spain is greater when one lives abroad," she says, paraphrasing the National Deputy Secretary for International Relations, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros. And he adds: "You become a citizen of every country in the world where you live and take Spain wherever you go." Today Belén de León is the coordinator of VOX in France, the second most populous country in the EU after Germany and in which, according to 2019 data, 303,245 Spaniards are registered.
¿When does France join the VOX Exterior project?
When Spanish affiliates or with an interest in supporting the VOX project want to get more actively involved. It is Madrid that applies the criterion of appointing a country coordinator and does so based on the demand of Spaniards who write from that country asking to collaborate, asking what they can do from where they are, wanting to join or be sympathetic. And well, not only Spaniards … In the case of France, there are many French citizens linked to Spain for different reasons that sympathize and are part of the V VOX community ’in an active way. If you ask me a date, since February 2019, when I am very honored, I assume the responsibility of coordinating; Then there were already affiliates and sympathizers began to approach – many now affiliated.
As of the April 2019 elections I start to receive emails asking for information about the VOX function here and requests to join the party from France. If I may be curious, I will tell you that many people who previously had not been affiliated with any party, have decided to take that step with VOX. Thus, VOX France today is made up of almost a hundred Spanish residents and French friends of Spain, an interesting number, since until now external VOX was not well known and now we have more presence. And that shows: more and more people contact wanting to join and eager to collaborate and work with enthusiasm and energy … What is VOX, in short.
What is your function?
First of all I want to make it clear that I am one more affiliate, but with the responsibility of coordinating VOX in France and with a clear mission: to be able to gather all the Spaniards who feel 'Spain Alive' even living here: previously affiliated, people who want to join or be sympathizers.
We all have a common factor and that is that Spain improves. I am the bridge between the ‘VOX France community’ with Madrid and Madrid with all of them. I try to transmit the vision that is given of Spain in France, stay up to date with the French news media and also communicate the difficulties that we can find from here, and that with political actions, from Spain could be improved. For the first time, a political party works directly with expatriates; All the coordinators will be able to tell you: “VOX is a party that understands Spanish expatriates, that does not leave us for later, that wants to know and considers us with the same rights and the same voice as a citizen who lives in the homeland. They want to work for us, they don't see us as second-rate Spaniards. ’”
What achievements has VOX France achieved?
The greatest achievement is undoubtedly that the V VOX community ’in France is growing and that we already have contact with some Spanish administrations, institutions and also associations in France. We have made ourselves known and increasingly know of our presence here. This is reflected in the fact that very recently a regional coordinator, Gonzalo Rey Arriaga, has been appointed in Strasbourg, a very important region in the country, where the European Parliament is also located and which receives our MEPs regularly.
Now we are working on a meeting of affiliates and sympathizers there, and as soon as the current situation allows us, we will move from all over France to meet on a day that – we hope – we can share with the four VOX MEPs and with Jorge Buxadé, who is also a spokesperson for the VOX Political Action Committee. We are organizing it with great enthusiasm since we, as expats, cannot easily attend events that take place in Spain. Also very recently I have appointed a person in charge of VOX Youth in France. It is an initiative that is established abroad, which gives me special satisfaction since there are several young people residing here who have contacted us. Alexandra Collado, a very young, brave and energetic woman of 24 years, will follow the guidelines of 'Young VOX' in Spain for all those of her generation -which is the future- who want to join us in France, whether they are permanent or temporary residents (students, young people in practices or work missions that are here). For specific events that we usually hold for the moment in Paris, I also have two people to whom I have delegated responsibilities to reinforce the work, another proof that we are growing.
What objectives do they have?
Keep growing; give visibility to a part of Spanish society that for different circumstances lives in France and that has a different vision of politics than the one that was taking place until December 2018. Living abroad we saw and see with less concern the political drive of our country and VOX is an alternative with a very transparent speech and many people recognize their message. That is why we are growing more and more abroad, and we work so that we are truly known, out loud, not through manipulated news or messages out of context.
It is necessary to be very informed of the political reality of Spain because, otherwise, for foreigners it is confusing, it has been many years in which different governments of Spain have consented to harmful discourses. We work on it. From France we will support VOX in its message and we will continue to make it known. One of my objectives, without a doubt, is that our leaders visit us and strengthen ties with the country, of course. During these days of confinement I have felt the ‘VOX community in France’ like a pineapple. Strong, very attentive to the current situation in Spain and supporting the party at every step.
What message do you want to send to whoever is reading this interview?
The strength of the team is in each individual member and the strength of each member is in the team. Each one of the members of VOX abroad is the driving force of the party and it does not matter neither age, nor condition, nor work environment … not even the country, since we are present on four continents with a team of forty people. All the expats that we live and feel from a distance to Spain; that we want improvements, clear messages, vote for a program that will remain the same after the votes, that what is wrong be pointed out and not be subject to pacts or amedrantos … all those people will find their party in VOX. The obstacles were created to stop the compliant and make way for the brave.