September 9th, 2013 07:48 PM
MADRID — Spaniards still wiping away a tear after Madrid’s shock first-round rejection in the 2020 Olympics race have found relief by mocking the English-language bid presentation by the capital’s mayor, Ana Botella.
Despite her apparent linguistic difficulties, Botella made the effort of delivering her speech in English to Olympic chiefs in Buenos Aires on Saturday night.
But the Madrid mayor’s unmistakable Spanish accent and some surprising phrases set off a storm of mostly light-hearted criticism, in particular her assertion: “There is nothing quite like a relaxing cup of cafe con leche in Plaza Mayor”.
By Monday, T-shirts were on sale at 18 euros ($24) each with a parody of the Starbucks logo, featuring a profile of Botella and the logo: “Relaxing Cup of Cafe Con Leche in Plaza Mayor”.
On YouTube, a video of the mayor’s speech with mocking, phonetic subtitles of her English drew tens of thousands of views. Her first words “Dear IOC (International Olympic Committee) members, ladies and gentlemen”, for example, were subtitled: “Diar Allosi Menbers, Leidisan yentelman”.
On Twitter, hashtags that identify conversation topics such as #relaxingcup or #AnaBotella, drew huge numbers of comments. A fake Twitter account, @Relaxingcup had more than 11,000 followers by midday Monday.
Some videos on YouTube had mixed the speech with music into “dance” or “dubstep” songs.
But among the jokes, some commentators criticized the linguistic abilities of Spanish leaders in a country with a 26.26 percent unemployment rate.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy spoke to the Olympic chiefs in Spanish. Only Prince Felipe addressed the Olympic committee in English, French and Spanish.
Botella, 59, was appointed mayor of Madrid by the city councilors without the need for an election in December 2011 after her predecessor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon left to become justice minister.
The mayor, who has been married since 1977 to former right-leaning prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, has been subject to criticism before for apparent linguistic gaffes.
She famously declared in 2004: “Homosexual marriage will never be equal to heterosexual marriage in the same way that two apples produce another apple, but an apple and a pear will never produce another apple.”