Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Human Chain and “The Human Headline”

While today in Catalonia (or Catalunya as I think it should be called in English) there is a human chain being attempted along the "Catalan Way" from the Valencian border to the French border, in support of Catalan independence on their national day, across Spain there is continuing outrage.

But this outrage is not against Catalunya this time but is instead being directed towards a woman called Ana Botella.

As the highly-controversial PP Mayor of Madrid (and also wife of ex-Prime Minister Aznar) she gave a short speech as part of a presentation to persuade international delegates to support Madrid's candidacy for the Olympics in 2020.( See below...)

I know (from this article) that her political views and public statements are almost entirely objectionable but, after actually listening to it, I thought this short speech was actually OK, given the audience.

Yes, Botella speaks with an accent (who the hell doesn't) but I understood every word and she seemed to me to be sincere in her enthusiasm about the city.

She had to simplify things (which the PP is particularly good at doing) and her statement that Madrid is "full of welcoming people" is a bit of an exaggeration but she has a good point about the rich culture of the city.

I'd give her 6.5 out of 10. It was no disaster but could have been quite a bit better, of course.

I'm sure she has a disgusting amount of privileges thrown her way, but getting plenty of practice with English was obviously not one of them, just as the average Spaniard or Catalan has few opportunities to use English unless they go out of their way to find them.

Much of the criticism of Botella is that she alone is to blame for Madrid not being awarded the 2020 Olympics, which have instead gone to Tokyo.

(There is even a satirical song about her called “A relaxing cup of café con leche.”)

I am always in favour of targeting individuals in power over their words and actions but I would think that her record as Mayor has a lot more in it to criticise than one average speech. In her time in public life she could easily be called a “human headline” because of her tendency to regualrly make ridiculous and poorly considered statements.

In my comments above I am simply trying to be fair to her because she is speaking a second language in a public forum, but it seems Ana Botella isn't fair to anyone except herself.


thecatalanway said...

Thanks for this and for the little video. All this had completely passed me by as we were travelling for a couple of months but I came back to see puzzling cartoons about cafe con leche and didn't understand them until now. I agree she seems to say nothing contraversial, In fact the speech is rather boring. and who am I to critisize her accent as I am sure I sound less fluent and more silly. Happy September 11 whatever you are doing! Kate

Brett said...

Thanks for the comment, Kate. I too had missed the early part of the controversy because I had relatives staying with me but this obsession with accents, as you mention, is absurd. As if anyone speaks without some kind of regional accent. we all do. I just thought she should be attacked for her past words and actions rather than this speech, which for her, was probably one of her better efforts!