Wednesday, July 8, 2009

With friends like these...continued

The unofficial Honduran government is also blessed with one of the least diplomatic ministers of foreign affairs ever appointed. Right before being named to his post, Enrique Ortez Colindres gave an interview with a Honduran TV news program. Among his remarks:

On President Barack Obama: "Ese negrito que ni sabe dónde queda Tegucigalpa." Several sources have translated this as "That pickaninny who doesn't even know where Tegucigalpa is." and I'm inclined to concur with this translation, instead of the more diplomatic "that little black man."

On Spain's José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero: "Que vuelva a sus zapatos". This is a play on Zapatero's last name, which means "shoemaker". Ortez is telling him to "go back to his shoes". This is also an idiomatic expression in Spanish that means "mind your own business."

On El Salvador: "No vale la pena hablar de un país tan chiquito, en el que no se puede jugar al fútbol porque la pelota le cae a otro país." ("It's not worth talking about a country that is so tiny, one in which you can't play soccer because the ball falls into a neighboring country.") This "tiny" country is having a very good showing against a number of the soccer powerhouses this season.

On the Organization of American States: Ortez said that Micheletti would be president of Honduras "with or without the OAS", and he wasn't giving any more importance to the organization than "a esos otros grupitos que andan por ahí" ("to the other little groups around here.")

The United States ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, issued a statement: "As the official and personal representative of the president of the United States of America, I convey my deep outrage about the unfortunate, disrespectful and racially insensitive comments by Mr. Enrique Ortez Colindres about President Barack Obama."

Ortez then wrote a letter of apology which he shared with the media:

036-DFMJulio 2, 2009

Excelentísimo Señor Presidente
De los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica
Barack Obama
La Casa Blanca

Señor Presidente:

Por este medio, deseo expresarle mi honda preocupación acerca de una desafortunada expresión que hice durante una conferencia de prensa en la televisión local de Tegucigalpa, unos días antes de que me juramentaran como Canciller de la República.

La expresión que dije en esa oportunidad, no tiene la más mínima intensión de ofensa ni la interpretación que los medios nacionales e internacionales han querido hacernos, tratando de dañar las relaciones internacionales que ahora oficialmente representó.

Deseo, asimismo, reciba nuestras más sinceras excusas y mis expresiones de solidaridad y amigo de ese gran país que son los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, y son nuestros fervientes deseos, contribuir con ustedes para una mejor relación y comprensión entre su gran nación, Estados Unidos de Norteamérica y nuestro
democrático país, que es Honduras.

Con muestras de más alta y distinguida consideración

Enrique Ortez Colindres

The Foreign Minister manages to be both disingenuous and obsequious, saying that he did not have the least intention to offend and blaming the media for misinterpreting his remarks with the intent of damaging international relations. He goes on to express his desire for friendship between the "great country" that is the United States and "our democratic country", i.e. Honduras.

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