It's been 10 days since the Trump White House launched a Spanish-language Twitter account, and the results so far have been rather dismal for an administration led by a compulsive Twitter user.
A tweet on Tuesday, January 31, at 5:20 p.m. marked the inauguration of @LaCasaBlanca, the White House's Spanish-language communications channel. But at the time of publication of this article, it had published only four Tweets – including two re-tweets in English.
The account was launched the day President Donald Trump announced his nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. That night, account managers re-tweeted messages about the nominee from @GorsuchFacts, created by the White House to promote the candidate, and @POTUS, the president's official account. The last of the four Tweets, praising Trump for selecting Gorsuch, was published February 1. Since then, @LaCasaBlanca has been silent.
Univision Noticias emailed the White House press office asking about the account, but had received no answer by the time this article was published.
New presidential administrations always need time to organize themselves, and Trump was sworn in as president only three weeks ago. Sean Spicer actually holds two jobs that were held by two different people in the Obama administration – press secretary and director of communications.
But the lack of activity on the Spanish-language Twitter account was perceived as a bad sign for those who complain that Trump doesn't pay enough attention to Hispanics, particularly the more than 9 million who do not speak English well. That's in addition to the fact that Trump took action on issues of special interest to Hispanics, such as immigration, during his first three weeks in office.
REJECTION OF SPANISH
The concern over the White House's virtual abandonment of Spanish-language communications is based on Trump's statements during the campaign, when he once admonished Republican rival Jeb Bush to stop talking in Spanish.
Bush “should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States,” he said.
Trump did not use official Spanish-language communication during the campaign, breaking a 20-year-old practice by GOP presidential hopefuls. One of his closest advisers, Stephen Miller, has opposed the use of Spanish in public institutions.
Some Trump sympathizers also back the “English-only” restrictions on government. Conservative writer Ann Coulter told Univision she opposes the use of Spanish in ballots and other “efforts to prevent immigrants from learning the native language” but accepts the need for a White House Twitter account in Spanish.
“As long as there are millions of citizens who vote and don't speak English, it would be a good idea for Trump to communicate with them in the same way he communicates with his 25 million English-speaking followers on Twitter,” Coulter wrote in an email to Univision Noticias.
The Spanish-language sections of the White House web pages disappeared on the same day Trump was sworn in as president, however. They still have not returned, even though some estimates put the cost of reactivating them at just $11,000 to $40,000.
The Trump administration also has not created a Spanish-language Facebook page. The Obama administration's Facebook page was archived, and but the State Department's @USAenEspanol Twitter account remains active, with 74,000 followers.
The recent lack of activity on the @LaCasaBlanca Twitter account, compared to the activity in the current @POTUS and @realDonaldTrump accounts, shows the Trump administration's neglect for Spanish-language communications – at least during its first weeks.
What's more, here is a comparison of the activity in the Obama White House's English and Spanish-language accounts. The figures are from Jan. 4 to Jan. 13, the last day that the Obama White House used the Spanish-language account.
The Spanish-language account of the Obama White House was launched Oct. 13, 2009, during Hispanic Heritage Month, and published 20 original Tweets in its first eight days, all in Spanish.
One former Obama administration official told Univision Noticias that he understands the new White House is short on staffers. But, he said, it will be a lost opportunity if Trump does not pay more attention to Spanish-language communications.
“It would be a big setback, after all the progress achieved with Obama,” he said.
Obama's White House Twitter account in Spanish was created during his first four-year term. The Facebook account in Spanish was added during his second term. For a time, the administration also posted weekly recordings of declarations in Spanish by top U.S. officials, designed to parallel the president's weekly addresses to the nation.
The activity in those accounts also increased when Obama was engaged in issues of special importance to Spanish-speakers, such as his DACA and DAPA decisions on “Dreamers” and their parents, Obamacare and his trips to Latin America.
The administration also organized several Twitter forums with Cecilia Muñoz, Obama's director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.