Just days into the job and Trinidad Jiménez, Spain’s new foreign minister, is coming under flack in the Spanish press because she apparently doesn’t speak English.
I find this very amusing as nobody questions whether a British Foreign Secretary speaks French, Spanish, German or any other tongue. Whether David Miliband did or William Hague does has never been an issue – being British means you presume people on the international stage speak your language.
French used to be the language of diplomacy and by all accounts Miguel Ángel Moratinos spoke it well and could get by in English. Indeed it was said that Zapatero left much of the international liaison to his foreign minister because he is not gifted in the language department.
Poor Trinidad - there have even been those in Spain who have questioned whether she could speak Castilian having tagged her as pure Andaluz in accent and phraseology.
What is sure is that when she sits down with the chief minister of Gibraltar she will have no problem communicating as he of course like all Gibraltarians speaks Spanish. I have even heard it whispered he too has an Andaluz accent. William Hague can always rely on Caruana to translate for him when the three meet – which opens up the possibilities of all kinds of mischief if the chief minister was to twist what Trini was saying – and visa versa. As if!
It has been suggested by one publication that Trinidad Jiménez is an example of Peter’s Law – that a person is promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. It goes on to say that many of those in Zapatero’s government weren’t sufficiently qualified for the job.
I am curious that the Spanish media believes it foreign ministers and indeed premiers should be able to speak English, especially given that Spanish has long overtaken French as the second international language after English excluding Chinese.
However Zapatero was ridiculed for having gone to the Davos Conference in January where he had to have a translator at his elbow to translate what was said in English – the international language of all the politicians and business leaders gathered there. Indeed not only was Zapatero ridiculed it was said Spain had been humiliated.
It is obvious that the media have been digging in to Trini’s past as El Confidencial Digital has unearthed the fact that she twice suspended taking the exam to be admitted to the diplomatic school in 1986 and 1988. Well whether that is fact or fiction has yet to be established – but the minister’s press team have so far remained silent on the matter.
Previous blog on Jiménez and her Andaluz accent:
PS: the government reshuffle also saw the exit from the ministerial ranks of Bibiana Aído. I wrote about her in February when she allocated over 26,000 euros to a project designed to explore the delights of a woman’s clitoris. I was tempted to say that now she is no longer a minister she will have time to put her own finger on it. Prospero, who is older and wiser than me said I shouldn’t, so I won’t!