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The White House speaks Spanish again… on Twitter

But website of Donald Trump’s official residence remains an English-only zone, for now

The Spanish language has made a partial return to the White House of Donald Trump, in the form of a new Twitter account – for now at least. Eleven days after the new president took office, the official Twitter account of the White House on Tuesday night posted its first tweet in Spanish using the handle @LaCasaBlanca.

This is how the new Spanish-language White House Twitter account looks.
This is how the new Spanish-language White House Twitter account looks.

By noon Wednesday, Central European Time, this brief welcoming message had been retweeted over 800 times, while the Spanish-language account on the social media site had already garnered more than 116,000 followers.

The tweet comes after Spanish-speakers in the United States expressed outrage over the disappearance of Spanish from the White House website after the arrival of the Republican president, an exile from which the language is yet to return.

Hello! Welcome to @LaCasaBlanca. Follow us to keep up to date with all the latest news about @POTUS Trump and his administration!

Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer found himself having to say it would “take a while” to get Spanish back as voices with the Latino community in the United States accused the White House of discrimination.

“The fact that we’ve been deleted from the website does not mean we’ve been deleted as Americans,” said Nannete Díaz Barragán, a Democratic congresswoman for California born to Mexican parents.

Across the Atlantic in Spain, there was surprise and indignation, with Alfonso Dastis, Spain’s new foreign minister, saying “we regret the removal of the Spanish version [of the White House website]”.

Víctor de la Concha, the director of the Instituto Cervantes, which promotes Spanish culture and language teaching around the world, also weighed in, saying: “Trump is president of all Americans and 18% of the population speaks Spanish and 95% of them consider that it is important for them, their children and their nephews to continue speaking Spanish.”

The current greeting message at www.whitehouse.govespanol.
The current greeting message at www.whitehouse.gov/espanol.

Under the Barack Obama administration, the White House website provided a route to a Spanish-language version of the White House website, and there was also a Spanish-language blog that discussed topics of special interest to the country’s Hispanic community.

But Trump, whose campaign included anti-immigration rhetoric – particularly toward Mexicans – has been criticized for announcing a Cabinet with no Latinos in it, the first time this has happened in three decades.

“We have a country where, if you want to assimilate, you have to speak English… I am not the first to say this…This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish,” he said during a debate with other Republican hopefuls in September 2015.

More than 50 million people in the United States speak Spanish, while that number tops 700 million worldwide, according to the the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE).

English version by George Mills.

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