The Government, through the Embassies, hired communication consulting companies in seven countries in Europe and America to reinforce and enhance the image of Spain for a period of one month, in October 2019, precisely coinciding with the publication of the ruling of the Supreme Court on the independence process.
The contracts were signed by the Spanish Embassies in France, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Mexico and the United States, as the Government reveals – without giving details or linking them to the ‘procés’ – in a parliamentary response, collected by Europa Press .
Until now, the one signed by the Spanish Embassy in Washington was known, because in the United States foreign agents must publish them, and Ambassador Santiago Cabanas explained it to the press. That contract, with Glover Park Group, amounted to $ 15,000 (13,400 euros), awarded by the Embassy on September 27 and it was established that it would be activated at the request of Spain throughout the month of October with a one-week notice .
After this information was published, EH Bildu deputy Jon Iñarritu asked the Government the reason for this contract, and if similar actions had been taken in other countries.
The Executive’s response is that “similar contracts, more or less simultaneously, of equal duration and with the same purpose” were signed, through the Spanish Embassies in France, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Mexico.
In the United States, Ambassador Cabanas had explained to the press that the objective of the contract was to strengthen the communication policy at a time that was already foreseen “complicated”, and had cited among the challenges the need to counter secessionist narrative and revisionism historical against the Spanish and – acts against the figure of Columbus are also redoubled every October.
IDENTIFY PROJECTION CONTACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Thus, “the work of the communication consultant focused on the identification of interlocutors and opportunities for projection of Spain in the media,” explains the Executive.
Another consultant, in this case one of those who collaborated with an embassy in Europe, did in those days of October negotiations directly related to the independence issue, contacting journalists from that country to offer contacts and experts, as you have learned Europa Press
In its response, the Government clarifies to the deputy that the mission of the consultant in the US was not “to improve the image of Spain”, because the work of “protecting and promoting” the country’s reputation corresponds to the Embassy and Consulates.
It was, rather, to “strengthen the dialogue” of the Spanish Embassy in the US with the media of that country and with “prescribers” (influential personalities) from various sectors, to “update and enhance the perception of the strengths of Spain ” in United States.
The Government considers that the image of Spain in the United States is “very positive”, as can be seen from the opinions of the public and private sectors, but justifies the initiative in which “logically, for this sustained effort of public diplomacy to succeed it is necessary to strengthen the relationship with the media and with the most influential voices. “
FRAMED IN THE GLOBAL SPAIN TASK
Also remember that these actions are part of the “broader strategy for the promotion and protection of the reputation of Spain” deployed by the Secretary of State of Global Spain, newly created in 2018.
In addition, the Government ensures that the signing of contracts of this type, “of limited duration and of a minor amount, are not uncommon” in the external action of the State in different fields, such as commercial, cultural or educational.
However, he acknowledges that he does not know that, until that moment, similar agreements had been signed in the US, “limited to the area of public diplomacy and communication”, in that or another country.