It makes me angry

El Mundo is a broadly centre-right paper, El País broadly centre-left, both based in Madrid, and I’ve been looking at their Spanish news coverage today to compare how they tackle the big stories of the day. The problem is, they’ve been leading on different ones.

The headline article in El Mundo is a report that Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, along with some other Catalan politicians, will be boycotting an official reception for King Felipe at the World Mobile Congress, in protest at the violence meted out by police and security forces to voters in last October’s Catalan independence referendum, and the “complete lack of empathy” which she said was shown by the King in his televised address shortly afterwards (Colau no recibirá al Rey con motivo de Mobile en Barcelona). The report also highlights calls by pro-independence groups for Catalan citizens to hoot their horns and bang saucepan lids in protest at the King’s visit.

The paper was also running a story about demands from the Basque police for restoration of their right to use rubber bullets, following the recent death of a policeman in violent clashes with football hooligans (Los ertzainas exigen al Gobierno vasco volver a las pelotas de goma: “No podemos entrar en el cuerpo a cuerpo”). Then I got sidetracked onto a story about Queen Letizia and speculation that she has had some kind of cheek augmentation injections to her face (El último y evidente retoque estético de la Reina Letizia).

In El País, my eye was caught by the latest instalment in a long-running story – the court appearance of Juana Rivas from Granada, on trial for taking her children back to Spain without the consent of her Italian partner who, she says, subjected both her and her children to numerous instances of abuse during their life together (Juana Rivas acusa a su expareja de hacerle pasar “momentos aterradores” a ella ya a sus hijos). If found guilty, she could face a prison sentence of five years for child abduction, plus loss of parental access rights.

The lead in El País, however, is another story about Catalonia, this one based around publication of a survey by the CIS, an official research and polling organisation, that shows that for the first time since 2012, public opinion in Catalonia seems to be swinging behind autonomy rather than independence as the preferred option for the future (La opción autonomista se impone por primera vez desde el inicio del “procés”). Not a huge lead (36% in favour of autonomy as opposed to 32% for independence), but significant nonetheless, according to the paper. The same survey indicated that over 40% of people in the region identified as both Spanish and Catalan. Asked what feelings they associated with references to the independence referendum and the declaration of independence that followed, most people ticked the box that said “anger”.


Changing times

I have been doing some practice translations of articles over the last few months to prepare for my Dip Trans exams and there are a few pieces that have really stuck in my mind …

… Jordi Amat in La Vanguardia in December, calling for a new middle way in Catalan politics (Gobierno de transición). He argues that parties across the spectrum need to rediscover the art of politics by negotiation and compromise, but underlines just how hard it will be to pull this off in an environment which, while calmer on the surface, is still deeply polarized: Catalonia, he says, has undergone a profound change and everyone needs to recognise the implications, even though that will involve swallowing some very unpalatable truths …

… a report in El País in November reporting on a ground-breaking new trade agreement between Chile and Argentina (Argentina y Chile firman el más ambicioso acuerdo comercial en 20 años). The journalist Federico Rivas Molina sees this as part of broader progress towards a free trade zone in Latin America, long an aspiration but held back by political differences; other reports draw the link to concerns about US protectionism under Trump. The Argentinian foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, is quoted as comparing the agreement to the historic crossing of the Andes by the liberation army of General San Martín in 1817, an iconic event in South American history …

… and a wonderful, allusive and very difficult article in El País Internacional by Mexican writer Jorge Hernandez (Al filo del Agua).  Published on 30 December, it is a reflection on the approaching new year which takes in some of the key transitional moments in Mexican history, takes a swipe at the current political establishment and presidential candidates for their failure to address the epidemic of violence in the country, and concludes with the hope that real change may be, just about, possible.