Native Spanish Speakers Pan Biden Campaign’s Cringe-Inducing Translation Efforts on 2024 Re-Election Website

For many, it appeared as if someone in the president’s campaign office simply typed all of the English sentences into Google translate and regurgitated them.

AP/Andrew Harnik
President Biden at Washington, April 25, 2023. AP/Andrew Harnik

Cringe. Unnatural. Pitiful. Shameful. Embarrassing. An absolute disaster.

Those are just some of the first impressions among native Spanish speakers in America to the launch of the Spanish-language version of President Biden’s re-election website this week. For many, it appeared as if someone in the president’s campaign office simply typed all of the English sentences into Google translate and regurgitated them without running the copy by a native speaker.

“This reads like it was written by the Latinx edition of ChatGPT,” a GOP communications strategist, Giancarlo Sopo, said. “It’s very unnatural. No one talks like this.”

Mr. Biden must have hired a company that failed to appreciate the nuances of his campaign messages and translate those messages accurately, according to the president of an organization that mobilizes Latino voters on behalf of Republican candidates, the Libre Initiative, Daniel Garza. 

Being careless with stereotypes, negligent with translations, and failing to recognize Latino priorities “is a check-the-box approach that is not going unnoticed by our community,” Mr. Garza tells the Sun. Although it can happen to anyone, he says, it occurs more often with Democrats “affirming the growing sentiment in Latino communities that they take us for granted.”

Some of the inaccuracies on Mr. Biden’s website pointed out by the Latino community have been modified since the website was launched. In the translation for, “Together, we can finish the job for the American people,” the website initially said: “Juntos, podemos terminar el trabajo para el pueblo estadounidense,” which translates literally as, “Together, we can end work for the American people.”

Another inaccuracy is the Spanish translation of the signature, “America is back!” The Spanish version says: “¡Los Estados están de vuelta!,” which translates to, “The States are back!” In the original version, the word están did not have the accent, but it was modified later. 

It’s not the first embarrassment that the Biden administration has faced in its interactions with the Latino population. The first lady, Jill Biden, came under fire last year after she said that Latinos are “as unique” as San Antonio’s breakfast tacos, during a speech at the annual conference of Latino civil rights and advocacy group, UnidosUS. 

“As distinct from the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in Sant Antonio,” Ms. Biden said in July. She was also criticized for mispronouncing bodegas, pronouncing the word as “Bow-degas” instead of “Bo-Day-Gas.”

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists released a statement saying that using breakfast tacos to talk about the uniqueness of the Latino community “demonstrates a lack of cultural knowledge and sensitivity” to the diversity of Latinos in the country. 

They also encouraged Ms. Biden and her team to take the time to understand “the complexities of our people and communities” in the future. “We are not tacos,” the statement said. 

In another cringe-inducing moment in 2021, the first lady butchered the pronunciation of the phrase “Si se puede,” a rallying cry for the United Farm Workers Union, during a speech in California. Many likened the incident to a scene out of HBO’s satirical comedy, “Veep.” 

Latinos are now the second-largest voting bloc in the country and Republicans and Democrats are battling to woo them ahead of the 2024 presidential elections. 

The 2022 midterm elections showed that Latinos still primarily vote blue, but it also demonstrated that Latinos saw the second-largest shift among minority voters. Support for Democrats dropped nine points since the 2018 elections, and five points since the 2020 elections, according to Politico.

According to political analysts, the Latino population in America is diverse, and parties must understand the complexity to attract their votes. The parties must be cautious about making assumptions regarding the Latino population, the director of civic engagement research at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Dorian Caal, told the Associated Press. 

“It really comes down to not taking the Latino vote for granted,” Mr. Caal added.

The New York Sun

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