Mayor Eric Garcetti with Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto, per the mayor's office.
Mayor Eric Garcetti met President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City on Tuesday and also handled more than a dozen interviews. In Los Angeles, Garcetti is known to speak pretty decent LA media Spanish — early in their careers he was the one giving Spanish speaking tips to Antonio Villaraigosa. In Mexico City, people are apparently appreciative that the mayor of Los Angeles can converse in the local language. But, writes Richard Fausset in the LA Times, "Garcetti, like his predecessor, Antonio Villaraigosa, speaks a version of the language that, for lack of a more scientific term, might be called Funky American Business Spanish." He leaves out some words, invents others, sprinkles in some English connectors and does it all with an American accent. But nobody minds.
On Tuesday, Garcetti, whose paternal grandfather was born in Mexico, referred to his language skills as "good community meeting Spanish," much of which, he said, was refined while he was representing L.A.'s heavily Spanish-speaking 13th City Council District. It so happened that the Mexican press corps, fascinated by the new L.A. mayor with Mexican roots and an Italian name, was just as eager as his hometown constituents to chat him up.
"Yesterday I think I did 15 individual interviews" in Spanish, Garcetti said in an interview Tuesday morning. "At the end of the day, your head kind of hurts. But the next day, you're speaking it again, and it hurts a little less."
Garcetti's Spanish probably served him well Tuesday afternoon in a closed-door meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was criticized by some during his 2012 campaign for speaking limited English.
At a news conference Monday at the Industrial Club of Mexico, the mayor ably fielded questions in Spanish, holding forth on the two cities' shared challenges and his mixed Jewish-Latino heritage....Isaac Ajzen, a reporter for diariojudio.com, a website for Mexico's Jewish community, said that Garcetti, despite an American accent, had acquitted himself well. Garcetti's Spanish "is pretty good, it's pretty fluid," Ajzen said. "Obviously, he's lacking a few words."
Also: Conan Nolan's Tuesday report for NBC 4 talks about Garcetti's goals for the trade trip.