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Bilingual briefing at the White House a historic first April 14, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
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Everyone said Barack Obama would be embracing languages, but I don’t think anyone ever expected it would happen so soon. When the White House announced it was loosening restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba Monday afternoon, the news was delivered in Spanish and English – a historic first. After White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs read a statement about the changes to reporters, he stepped aside while Dan Restrepo, Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council, read the statement in Spanish. How cool is that? I think it showed an unprecedented amount of respect for the Spanish-speaking citizens in the U.S. Bravo, Mr. President!

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1. Kevin Lossner - April 15, 2009

Way to go, Mr. Obama! Let’s see more of the same 🙂

2. Amelia - April 16, 2009

Am very excited about these changes, and so many other recent ones. However, a Latin American communications professor pointed out this week that the “wetfoot/dryfoot” dichotomy persists that anyone from Cuba is automatically welcome here–and can now travel back to Cuba, indicating it’s not life-threatening for them there–whereas people from Haiti are deported and actively hassled even though they would probably starve at home.

I can’t help thinking that we can still trust Obama on this. He’s starting out by introducing some, but usefully not all, U.S. tourism money and, especially, U.S. cell phone technology to Cuba. This will whet appetites and increase knowledge, after which there is little turning back. I want to bet that the Haitian AND Cuban situations will definitely and intelligently improve in the next four years. I’m definitely hoping it!

3. Mohamed Idris - April 22, 2009

I don’t know whether the speech was directed at Spanish-speaking citizens or at Cubans in Cuba? Most Cuban Americans speak English and, according to Wikipedia, have assimilated into the American society. So, I think the speech was directed at Cubans in Cuba. Don’t you think so?


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