April 21, 2021

The Government of Spain and the city of Los Angeles negotiate to open a Cervantes Institute | Culture

The Government of Spain and the city of Los Angeles negotiate to open a Cervantes Institute | Culture



The Cervantes Institute He is in talks with the City of Los Angeles to open a center in the Californian city, which has the largest population of Hispanic origin in the United States. The agency has decided to give priority to the project of Los Angeles before Washington DC, which was the initial plan, for the interest it has found in the Californian city and also to respond to the "political pettiness" against the Hispanic culture in United States, according to said on Friday in Madrid the director of Cervantes, Luis García Montero.

García Montero appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Spanish Congress to present the priorities and an increase of 4.3% in the budget of the Cervantes Institute proposed by the Government. "The future of Spanish is played in the United States," Garcia Montero began. The plans envisaged the opening of a new center in the country's capital. "We have decided that perhaps the center of Los Angeles may be more convenient for Spain."

The Cervantes Institute is a public body for the cultural promotion and teaching of Spanish by the Government of Spain. It currently has 87 centers in 44 countries. In the United States, the main one is New York, with centers also in Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Calgary and Albuquerque. Downtown Los Angeles will be the first in California, the richest state in the country and the one with the largest Hispanic population.

In the county of Los Angeles, the most populated in the United States with 10 million inhabitants, 48% of them are Hispanic, according to the last census. The US census defines "Hispanic" as any person whose family is originally from a country where Spanish is spoken, regardless of race. In the public schools of the city of Los Angeles, 74% of the students are Hispanic.

Within his argument to explain the decision to bet on Los Angeles, Garcia Montero said that building one of these centers "costs a lot of work" and "depends on the facilities of local authorities." In that sense, the Spanish Government has found "a very positive reception in the authorities of Los Angeles".

Anastasio Sánchez, director of Cervantes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, confirmed in a telephone conversation that the idea took shape last September, during the visit to California of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez. The president held a private meeting with the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, in which he raised the possibility of opening this center. "Both were left in that commitment. Upon returning to Madrid, the president immediately said that Los Angeles had to be moved. Then I had a meeting at the City Hall to see the needs. "

From the office of Mayor Garcetti confirm that the two parties are in talks to find the location of the center, although they clarify that everything is in a very preliminary phase. "They are giving us many facilities to have their own building that would save many costs," said Luis García Montero in Congress. Garcetti, of Jewish, Italian and Mexican origin, speaks Spanish in all his public appearances.

The project is in charge of the person in charge of Migratory Affairs of Los Angeles, Linda López, since the center cervantes of this city is thought to serve all the Spanish-speaking communities of the city, where all Latin American countries have a broad representation and especially Mexico, the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. "The idea that Garcetti has is that the Cervantes agglutinate the Latino community," says Anastasio Sánchez. "We're going to have the entire Latino community in Los Angeles." The Pew study center estimates that in the Los Angeles region there are 4.7 million people of Mexican origin, half a million from El Salvador and a quarter of a million from Guatemala. 40% of Hispanics have been born outside the United States.

In his appearance, García Montero also cited political reasons to promote the Cervantes of Los Angeles. "Political meanness is making Spanish appear as a language of the poor, to despise, and we should use the cultural, cinematographic, scientific and technological prestige of Los Angeles to combat this strategy that is taking place in the United States against Spanish. We want downtown Los Angeles to be like a house of America to serve as protection for the entire Hispanic community. "

"I believe it is convenient to start Los Angeles to respond to the tradition of Hispanic culture in California, to respond to the petty policies that have led to insulting Hispanics in the supermarket queues for speaking Spanish, or that there are children, as they inform us from there, that they feel ashamed to speak Spanish in day care centers, as if it were a language of precarious people, "García Montero added.

The state of California has been erected during the Donald Trump administration in a true center of resistance to the president's nativist discourse, especially aggressive with immigrants on the southern border and the population of Hispanic origin, immigrant or not. The city of Los Angeles, with almost half of its population of Hispanic origin, and whose economy depends on immigrants and trade with Mexico and China, is a focus of systematic resistance to everything that comes out of the White House.

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