Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Basque-phobe of the Week : Juan Andrés Melian

I've heard many outlandish excuses to attack the right of the Basque people to speak their own language, but this one by Juan Andres Melian besides being idiotic is plain childish.

This note comes to us via AFP:

Spain's regional languages trouble tourists: lobbyist

7 hours ago

MADRID (AFP) — The increasing use of regional languages such as Catalan and Basque in parts of Spain instead of Spanish is making life difficult for tourists, the head of a Spanish tourism lobby group said Tuesday.

Juan Andres Melian, the director of the Tourism Panel which groups about 30 major Spanish tourism-related companies, said that in some regions local languages had totally replaced Spanish on signs at airports and on roads.

"Bilingualism is not respected in several regions and this creates problems for national tourists who only speak Castilian (Spanish) and for foreigners," he said in a statement.

Melian said a plan by local authorities in the Balearic island of Majorca to set up a "language police" whose role would be "to impose the Catalan language in restaurants" was "terrifying".

Spain has three main regional languages. Catalan is widely spoken in the Balearic islands as well as in Catalonia whose capital Barcelona is a top tourist draw. Basque is spoken in the northern Basque Country and in neighbouring Navarra, while Galician is spoken in northwestern Spain.

At the end of June a group of intellectuals, including Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa and Spanish philosopher Fernando Savater, published a "Manifesto for a common language" in a bid to goad the government into defending people's right to use Spanish anywhere in Spain.

So far 133,000 people and institutions have backed the manifesto, according to the centre-right daily newspaper El Mundo which backs the initiative.

Melian's Tourism Panel announced Tuesday that it backed the manifesto.

Spain's socialist government has been reluctant to take steps to defend the use of Spanish.

The issue is sensitive as under the right-wing dictatorship of General Francisco Franco the use of Catalan and Basque, and to a lesser extent Galician -- which is more similar to Spanish than the other two -- was repressed.

"The Spain which exists as we know it for hundreds and hundreds of years, is one which speaks in one language and in several," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Sunday at the party's annual congress.

Now, the news outlet caters to an US audience, so the author that penned the article (who remains anonymous) decided to ride the wave and go after Zapatero reminding the readers that he is an evil "socialist" when he is no more than a pinkish social-democrat.

The lure presented by the call by Francisco Franco's worshiper Fernando Savater to ban the usage of Euskera, Catalan and Galician is quickly becoming an excellent way to measure Spain's intolerance towards the most basic human rights. More and more members of the Spanish establishment are showing their disdain towards the languages spoken in the nations within the Spanish state, which demonstrates what many NGO's and human rights organizations have been pointing out, that Spain acts as a colonialist power with complete disregard for international law and agreements.

And this is why Juan Andrés Melian is the Basquephobe of the week.

.... ... .


  1. Also read this article - what a joke. What proof do they have that these languages trouble toursits? I love them!

    We have similar challenges from the same colonialist, monoglot types here in Ireland.

  2. RG, what they can't stand is the fact that tourists find out about the cultural identities of the peoples from nations like Euskal Herria, Corsica, Ireland and such thanks to those signs in our own languages.

  3. It's idiotic, in fact. I wonder how would an australian tourist in basque Country be pleased by hearing and reading everything in spanish instead of in english. Of course, for an australian ear, as for almost every foreign tourist, Spanish is as strange as Basque is.

    Perhaps tourists should express their disappointing feeling when operators tell them one story and reality shows them another quite different one. Shouldn't they?