WASHINGTON (AP) – Nada de nada – nothing at all.
A year into the Trump administration, the White House website still has no Spanish-language content, unlike during the two previous administrations and even though nearly 1 in 5 people in the United States speaks Spanish.
Even Iran and reclusive North Korea have made efforts to reach out to the Spanish-speaking world. In the U.S., meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and his plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico are alienating some Hispanics.
A year ago, then-presidential press secretary Sean Spicer said the new administration had deleted Spanish content on the White House webpage but its information technology folks were “working overtime” to develop a new site. In July, the White House director of media affairs, Helen Aguirre Ferre, said she expected a Spanish website to launch at the end of 2017.
Now, Aguirre Ferre declines to say whether there are still plans to have a Spanish-language website.
“We continue to work on improving the White House website providing important content in English pertaining to the initiatives and policies the Trump administration is undertaking,” she said in an email.
Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the absence of a White House webpage in Spanish “sends a very troubling message.”
“There are over 4 million Hispanic-American entrepreneurs and businesspeople in this country, many of whom are receptive to the administration’s pro-business agenda,” Palomarez wrote in an email. “If they made even a little effort to communicate and engage with the Latino community, perhaps they would win a few of them over.”
As Latinos became the largest minority in the U.S., President George W. Bush’s administration added Spanish-language content to the White House website for the first time.
Luis Miranda, director of Hispanic media at the White House under President Barack Obama, said the Spanish-language site during Obama’s tenure included information geared to Latinos on topics such as immigration, health issues, banking and veterans affairs.
During his presidential campaign, Trump criticized GOP rival Jeb Bush for answering a reporter’s question in Spanish, saying the former Florida governor “should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.” Trump also turned off many Hispanic voters with his harsh anti-immigration rhetoric, referring to many Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists.”
The Trump White House does keep a Spanish Twitter account, @LaCasaBlanca, but it is not very active. Created the same month, January 2017, as its English equivalent, @White House, it has about 200 tweets compared with almost 3,200 on the English version.
The U.S. does provide news in Spanish and 40 other languages through the government-funded news outlet Voice of America. Also, the official guide to government information and services runs gobierno.usa.gov, and other agencies – including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security – offer information in Spanish in their websites.
The current White House website offers a clear contrast with efforts of other countries to communicate with Spanish speakers, who number at least 572 million worldwide, according to The Instituto Cervantes, created by the government of Spain.
In North Korea, the government’s Korea Central News Agency, the only news agency in the communist country, offers content not only in Korean but also in English, Russian and Spanish.
Alejandro Cao de Benos, a Spanish citizen who says he’s been a special delegate for North Korea’s Committee of Cultural Relations since 2002, told The Associated Press that Spanish “is a very important language to share Korean reality from Korea.”
Cao de Benos said North Korea shares its message in Spanish because it wants to foster relations with Latin American nations. The North has embassies in several capitals in the region, including Brasilia, Brazil; Caracas, Venezuela; Havana; and Mexico City.
In 2012, Iran launched Hispan-TV, a 24-hour Spanish-language TV station based in Tehran.
The foreign ministries of China and Russia offer abundant content in several languages, including Spanish.