British and American people, usually, don’t learn other languages. They think that they don’t need it, because English is the most used language around the world.
I don’t know the reason, but in the last few years, the person who is in charge of the Spanish government, the President, can never speak English, and, as many of you will know, English is the language used in business.
It is funny because If English is the most useful and used language in the world, then, the Spanish President will not be able to communicate with the representatives of the other governments.
I’m going to give you some examples:
The former President of Spain, José María Aznar, was invited by George W. Bush to his house in Texas. I think that the former President of the United States spent a nice time with his friend “Ansar“
In that pleasant environment, during a press conference, Aznar said: “Estamos trabajando en ello; y hemos dedicado tiempo ayer por la noche y esta mañana a trabajar en ello exactamente”
He spoke with a Texan or Mexican accent. Why? Did he think that he was speaking English? Did he expect to be understood by those who just speak English?
Some years ago, In London, at number ten Downing Street, during a press conference after a budget negotiation between the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, and José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former President of Spain, Zapatero was asked by a British journalist: “Mr Zapatero, are you able to tell us in English a little bit about how the talks went?”
He answered (after a long silence): “thank you”
Then, the journalist asked again, “Mr Zapatero, can you tell us how the talks have gone?”And he answered: “en español, hablo en español”
More recently, the current Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, attended a United Nations summit in Rio de Janeiro.
The presenter made a mistake and introduced another speaker rather than Rajoy. It went exactly like this: “And now I have the honour to invite his excellency Gordon Darcy Lilo, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands to address the conference.”
It was Rajoy’s turn but, Mr Rajoy, who was not able to understand that mistake, suddenly, went directly to the lectern and started to speak: “Gracias señor presidente. Hoy 20 años después de la cumbre de la tierra que se celebró en este mismo escenario”
The presenter apologised “I am sorry I made a mistake, this is not the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, this is the Prime Minister of Spain, Mr Mariano Rajoy“
To make matters worse, Rajoy, again, not understanding the presenter, walked to his seat smiling, maybe thinking “que bien lo he hecho, les he dejado estupefactos (I have done a good job)“.
It could be funny but, when it comes to the president of our country, it is not. The country can look foolish.
While in Spain, If you apply for a job as administrative, just to earn a thousand euro per month, you will have to speak English, but if you are the chairman of the government, you will not need speak any other language.
A good leader or a good politician must be able to communicate with the others at every moment, even when he or she does not have a personal translator.