Dozens of people protest during a rally against the "Viva 24"

Dozens of people protest during a rally against the "Viva 24" event in Madrid, Spain on May 19, 2024.

(Photo: Diego Radames/Europa Press via Getty Images)

'We Must Fight Against Fascists': Protests Greet Far-Right Summit in Spain

"We are not going to allow them to take even one step back," one protester said as far-right political leaders set their sights on the European Union elections.

As European Union voters prepare for June elections, far-right leaders gathered in Madrid for a weekend rally hosted by Spain's Vox party—a gathering at the Palacio de Vistalegre that drew protests and warnings about their plans for the continent.

Rally speakers delivered "strong messages against illegal migration and the bloc's climate policy while declaring their support for Israel in its war against Hamas," according toThe Associated Press.

France 24reported that the audience at Europa Viva 24 "jeered at every mention of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the United Nations' 2030 Agenda, feminism, or socialism."

Participants included French National Rally party President Marine Le Pen, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and Portuguese Chega party President André Ventura, with some joining by video.

"Dear Spanish friends, we patriots must occupy Brussels," Orbán claimed in a video message, according toEuractiv. He framed the upcoming elections as a "great common battle" against those who he said are "unleashing mass illegal migration" and "poisoning our children with gender propaganda."

Right-wing Argentine President Javier Milei traveled to Madrid for the event. During a speech, he suggested that Sánchez's wife is "corrupt," which led the Spanish government to recall its ambassador to Buenos Aires.

"Political freedom, prosperity, social cohesion based on fiscal redistribution, respect in public debate are pillars of the E.U.," declared Josep Borrell, a Spanish politician serving as the bloc's top diplomat. "Attacks against family members of political leaders have no place in our culture: We condemn and reject them, especially when coming from partners."

The Party of European Socialists Secretary General Giacomo Filibeck similarly condemned the "totally unacceptable attack by Milei on PM Pedro Sánchez and his family."

"Death and poverty—this is what fascism brings, as Spain knows all too well. That's why voters reject the far-right and embrace Pedro Sánchez and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party," Filibeck continued, also calling out Meloni and Alberto Núñez Feijóo of the Spanish People's Party. "We know where we stand for a democratic and respectful society, we can't be so sure about them."

As The Guardiandetailed:

Sánchez himself said Sunday's far-right summit was indicative of an "undercurrent" vehemently opposed to social justice which denies both science and women's rights.

"Why have all these people chosen Spain as the place to meet?" he said in a speech in Barcelona on Saturday. "It's no coincidence. They've chosen Spain because we, as a society—not as a government; as a society—represent everything that they hate and detest: feminism; social justice; dignified employment; a strong welfare state; and democracy."

"In democracy, as in life, forgiveness is far stronger than bitterness, coexistence is far stronger than confrontation, and union is far stronger than division."

Opponents who demonstrated against the far-right also took aim at Argentina's leader. One toldEuronewsthat fascism "is growing,'' and "with Milei's visit we are seeing the grouping of a lot of sectors of politicians and the business world, which is quite worrying and I think that has to raise the alarm a little."

Another demonstrator said, "Somehow, we have to go ahead and tell them that we are here and that all the rights we have achieved, we are not going to allow them to take even one step back."

Some critics—including Polish activist Frank Erbroder, who joined a protest against the conference in Madrid's city center—have compared the trajectory of Europe's current far-right movement to that of German Nazis under Adolf Hitler nearly a century ago.

"I am here because in Vistalegre we have a summit of hate and we must fight against fascists," Erbroder told the AP. "I am worried because Hitler won because of democracy, and I think that maybe we'll have the same situation."

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