The idea was to sell Valencia, Spain, as European Capital of Innovation, in an event promoted by the European Commission, but the Mayor was not available. Carlos Galiana, councilor with the innovation portfolio, was the alternative, but did not speak English. The problem was solved through a ruse that ended up being easily unveiled and that already led the Valencian politician to apologize.
Galiana, the councilor who does not speak English, ended up participating in the said online event of the European Commission, with a hidden face behind an anti-covid mask. At the same time, a voice in English, other than Galiana’s, delivered a short introductory speech in the language of Shakespeare. And, while the interpreter was speaking, Carlos Galiana gestured and tapped his hand on his chest, when the English voice said it was “an honor” to be there to represent Valencia. It was nothing more than a theatrical performance. (Interestingly Galiana is also an actor by profession, as well as a councilor in the Valencia municipality.)
The online newspaper El Espanhol, citing local authority sources, says that the rules of the event at the European Commission did not allow the presence of an interpreter and that this turned out to be the solution found.
The interpretation lasted a few seconds and was successful, except for those who realized that it was not the voice of Carlos Galiana, whose English was not his forte.
The episode became a national joke in Spain, recalling other speeches in which the country’s politicians tried, without much success, to speak English. Former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy even said “it’s very difficult todo esto” and the then Mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, when she presented the city’s candidacy to the 2020 Olympic Games, spoke of the possibility of taking a “relaxing cup of café con leche ”in the Spanish capital.
However, Carlos Galiana has already come to say that he “deeply regretted” the case, admitting that his conduct “was not the most appropriate”. And the European Commission ended up naming Leuven, in Belgium, and not Valencia, as the European Capital of Innovation.