The idea was to sell Valencia, Spain, as the European Capital of Innovation, as part of an event promoted by the European Commission, but the mayor was not available. Carlos Galiana, advisor with the innovation portfolio, was the alternative, but did not speak English. The problem was solved by a ruse which ended up being easily exposed and which has already led the Valencian politician to apologize.
Galiana, the non-English speaking advisor, ended up participating in this European Commission online event, with a face hidden behind an anti-covid mask. At the same time, an English voice other than Galiana gave a brief introductory speech in Shakespeare’s language. And while the performer was speaking, Carlos Galiana gestured and patted his hand on his chest, when the English voice said it was “an honor” to be there to represent Valencia. It was nothing more than a theatrical performance. (Interestingly, Galiana is also an actor by profession, as well as a councilor in the municipality of Valencia.)
The online newspaper El Espanhol, citing local authority sources, claims that the rules for the event at the European Commission did not allow the presence of an interpreter and that this turned out to be the solution.
The interpretation lasted a few seconds and was successful, except for those who understood that it was not the voice of Carlos Galiana, whose English was not his forte.
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The episode became a national joke in Spain, reminiscent of other speeches in which politicians in the country tried, without much success, to speak English. Former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy even said that “it’s very difficult to do esto” and the then mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, when she presented the city’s candidacy for the 2020 Olympics, discussed the possibility of having a “relaxing cup of coffee con leche” in the Spanish capital.
However, Carlos Galiana has already come to say that he “deeply regrets” the matter, admitting that his conduct “was not the most appropriate”. And the European Commission ended up appointing Louvain, in Belgium, and not Valence, as the European capital of innovation.