The view of a President




Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, ex President of the Government of Spain from the years 2004 to 2011, doesn’t need a very long introduction. Graduated in the University of Leon in the degree of Law, Mr. Zapatero aged 55, still has an important position inside the political party PSOE. Expert in foreign policy due to his presidency, Mr. Zapatero has a great knowledge of all the conflicts happening nowadays around the world and the interests regarding North America region and Spain.

As my region is North America, including United States, Canada and Mexico, we discussed different topics from today and from the past years when he was the President regarding this region. “80% of my work during my legislature was on terms of foreign policy,” said Mr. Zapatero at the beginning of the interview. This was very helpful because he really knew what he was talking about, I could spend hours with him talking about foreign policy and international conflicts.

We started talking about the principal topics that concerned Spain and North America while he was President. He stated that Spain had great relations in all aspects with Mexico and United States, but with Canada the relations were less intense, but great as well. “ There is a special relation between Mexico and Spain, we have many intellectuals living in Mexico and the country is totally compromised with the Ibero-American program”. Mr. Zapatero also said that Mexico was one of the top 5 countries regarding Spain´s interest in terms of investment, trade relations, exchange students, etc. United States has many common interests with Spain, as we are both members of NATO. “United States always counts with Spain´s opinion regarding topics of Latin America,” emphasized Mr. Zapatero. Other important topics that concern Spain and United States are climate change, removable energies and Middle East. Regarding Canada, “ On my opinion, Canada has the best think tanks of the world, especially in the University of Toronto” argued Mr. Zapatero.

Regarding today´s relation of North America and Spain, Mr. Zapatero emphasized the good relations Spain has with the US. We have good partnership and relations with the country especially on the economic, social and cultural fields. We also have a lot of exportations to United States. Again, relations with Mexico are excellent, just as good as when he was the President, and relations with Canada are also good, but less intense.

Immigration was another topic that we discussed since it is a big problem in Spain and in United States. “ It has many common factors, people migrate looking for a better place to live. In America, Mexicans go to United States and here North Africans look for an opportunity in southern European countries, and Spain with Ceuta and Melilla is the best way to enter,” argued Mr. Zapatero in order to compare both regions. He also talked about how United States, with Obama as president, copied the 2006 Spanish immigration policy because it was having a good result. Mr. Zapatero also stated that the people who migrate to a more developed country is not always because of poverty, but because they have an entrepreneur mind and they want to improve their lives and specially help their family to live better. This is a very interesting point because we tend to think that immigrants come to Spain because they have nothing to eat, and it is more about finding a better way of living and helping their families and ensuring a better future for them.

Another important aspect that we discussed was the role of United States in the international relations, especially in the huge problem that we have in Middle East and in Syria. “The international politics of the United States is conditioned by the fail of the Iraq war and the mistakes of the past administrations”. Another huge issue that he emphasized is the Palestine problem and the Israel-Palestine conflict. “Another added problem is that Western countries consent what is going on in Middle East,” argued Mr. Zapatero. He also stated that nowadays violence, terrorism, conflict and war are created in Middle East due to poverty, culture and conflicts.

Regarding relations between United States and China, “ They have a healthy competition of being number 1 country in the world, with mutual collaboration but not with great trust”. Regarding Russia, we talked about the relations of European Union and Russia, being good relations because it is interesting for both parts. “ The European Union and Russia relations are good, but Germany leads this relations, and the relation between Russia and Germany aren’t that great,” added Mr. Zapatero.

By: Miguel Carmelo

“We try that parents feel confortable with us because, after all, everything is based on an matter of trust”

Last weekend, I had the pleasure to talk with Miguel Fernández Cuenca. He works as an Executive Director (CEO) of the companies Friends English Courses and Northwest English Centres. Father of two children, he also works as an English teacher. He studied the English career of Philosophy and Letters – philology in the University of Valladolid and also the Master of Translation and Interpretation and other one of Methodology of the Education of Foreign Languages for the University of Extremadura, apart from other diplomas like Certificate of Proficiency (CPE) or Business English Certify (BEC) of the University of Cambridge.


Miguel´s job is very meticulous; he first visits the places to see  if it is necessary to contract and to come to agreements on the possible courses with the suppliers. After that, they elaborate the information leaflets of each course and they coordinate his presentation in the web page. They do the promotion of the courses and they study possible dates to organize them.

“I personally think that interviewing each of the parents and students who show interest in the courses is very important. We try that they feel confortable with us because, after all, everything is based in a matter of trust”

Mr. Fernández says that they select personally the future monitors, although  the majority of them have already been years with this company, and they teach them what to do in any situation.

After asking him how many hours he spends between his two jobs, he highlighted the next: “No matter how much work you have if you really love what you do”. He also says that one of the most important things of his work is that he encourages learning new languages at any age and he helps children to be more self-confident and independent as they live away from their parents in a period of time.

They offer summer camps and courses all over Canada, USA, United Kingdom and Ireland. Some examples of these are located in the zone of Muskoka’s Nature reserve and in Bruce’s peninsula in the Canadian province of Ontario. In the UK, they have a course in one of the most prestigious school, Harrow School. All this courses encourage sport, teamwork and fellowship as they have lots of activities to do.

The courses that Miguel works with are divided in two different types. The first type are more called as “summercamps” and they are aimed to children between 10-17 years old. This camp is focused on learning english and sport activities, but it doesn´t have any type of english classes. Groups don´t have many Spanish people so children are practicing the language 24 hours a day. They are located in beautiful natural settings and children can practice plenty activities (windsurfing, sailing, archery…).

There are other type of courses, such as courses on family with Canadian students in Toronto with english classes, for example, and others in university residences or working as a monitor…

At the time the courses start, everything has to be done properly. If any problems happen, Miguel likes to be on the ball. It is a job with no schedule and permanent work. His days have at least 12-14 hours of actual work for many months of the year.

After asking what agreements they have in every country he said that they have agreements with many suppliers in each country. Each course they do they have a different supplier, for example in USA they are working with a supplier for the residential course in New York and one for the Day Camp in Connecticut.

Miguel Fernández explained the kind of stuff they have to do to send any children abroad to a course: “In Canada any Spanish person can be up to 6 months in the country without any visa; they only need a passport in rule which does not expire in the following 6 months. In USA it is necessary to request the residence permission (ESTA) for Spanish tourists and, if the course that is realized has more than 20 hours of classes, a permission that is called i-20 which is necessary to ask for in the embassy. However, in the UK or Ireland you only need your passport and your parents permission if you are under age”.

In conclusion, Miguel foregrounds the importance of the word of mouth: “If the clients stays satisfied, they are the best advertising we can get”.

Nicolás Nogueira, 26-11-2015

The opinion of a consolidated Democrat about U.S’s politics



Michael Presiado in front of the place where the interview was conducted

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Michael Presiado. Mr. Presiado is an U.S citizen originally from Long Beach (California) who has been collaborating with the Democratic Party since the first Obama’s Presidential elections. Once he was old enough, he registered himself as a Democrat,  and later in college  he got to know better the U.S political system,  as he studied history and politics. He also supported Obama’s candidature in the 2012 Presidential elections, while he worked for the department of press and communication of the Democratic Party  in Wisconsin.

Currently, Mr. Presiado is the secretary of the organization “Democrats Abroad” in Madrid.  As he explained it to me, Democrats Abroad is a volunteer organization, part of the official Party, which main mission is to register democratic voters and help them through the voting process. They also organize events and political discussions in Madrid.

My first questions were concerning United States present politics. When asked about President Obama, our interviewee animatedly answered: “Obama has been an inspiration for me personally. He coincide with my interest for politics.” About his term in office, he argued that Mr. Obama had to face many challenges: when he first arrived to office, America was recovering from a recession and immersed in international conflicts, “Obama inherited a world that looked at United State really different from 20 years ago.”

As he is a democrat, and his affinity to the Democratic Party was implied, I was interested in his view of the Republican Party. In his opinion, Republicans have been in trouble since the Tea Party movement arose and began coopting the Republican Party. According to him, they represent: “a side of the republican party that really no wants want to see”.  He concluded by saying that: “the republican party needs to sit down and figure out what it is about.”

The following questions were (as could not be otherwise) related to Republican’s candidates like Donald Trump, about whom our interviewee said: “he hits a nerve that some Americans have about immigration but his rhetoric is offensive, to say those things it takes a suspension of disbelief.”

As a Democrat, it was compulsory to ask his opinion on the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates, more specifically about the “big three”’s strengths and flaws.

About Mrs. Clinton he praised her good organizational skills and experience, “she is a very accomplish woman”, he said. On the other hand, Mr. Presiado commented that she is a politician who has been in the public life for so long, that have been forced to change her mind from time to time to get votes, and so what people might dislike about her is her lack of authenticity.

To him Bernie Sander candidature was unexpected: “Donald Trump isn’t really a surprise in the good way, but he is a surprise in the good way.” He argued that Sanders represent a young, vibrant side of the Democratic Party, but: “his obvious problem is electability. He is explaining socialism to democratic people, and it might be a problem if he does not explain it well.”

O’Malley is according to Mr. Presiado, “a mid- point” between Sanders and Clinton. He is an experienced politician with good credentials in liberalism, gay marriage and climate change, whose biggest problem to win the Democratic nomination is name recognition: “he is not pooling very high right now, he has the tools to jump, but the media is not paying attention to him, just to Sanders and Clinton.”

Later, we commented Sanders’ proposal of Marijuana’s depenalization. He argued that though he was not sure about the Democratic Party view on that issue, “it does not makes sense you go prison for life for a few ounces.” He explained to me that another problem related with drugs’ offences in United States is racial injustice, since statistics suggested that black people are more often detained for this crimes. He told me that the other two democratic candidates have similar opinion, “if you put the three candidates together they have similar views for changing to a system more fair.”

When asked about Democratic candidates health care proposals (an ongoing debate in United States), Mr. Presiado commented that Obama’s reform have made health care affordable for more people, but wasn’t as ambitious as the Democratic Party would have liked due to the opposition in the House. In his mind, “you shouldn’t have to pay to live.”

Mrs. Clinton good results in pools point at her as the Democrats’ favorite nominee, so my last question to Mr. Presiado was if he believed Mr. Clinton term in office could influence her, if she were to become President. He answered that she would not be conditioned by his husband’s term, but because of her role as first lady, as she did have a very active role in politic: “We forget she fight for a better health care back them”, and that if anything, the time near Mr. Clinton in office, “it qualifies her.”

 By: Maria Prada

Fulbright Program is not just a grant

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Hiram Aparicio, a member of the Fulbright program is working in a school of Madrid for the US Department of State in colaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Both Governments work together in order to make the best for the program, fulfil the aims of it and let young people learn different cultures and acquire more competences.

As the founder of the program, J.William Fulbright: “The Fulbright Program aims to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.”

The Fulbright Program covers 160 countries worldwide, Spain being one of them from years ago, with several different programs in each country, from English teaching to International Scholarships to study abroad. For example, Hiram´s program does not only consist on English teaching, as he said: “my program is not only to teach, it is also a volunteer project; all I do is to provide free English classes for students and free conversation classes outside of school, apart from the Global Classroom.”

I have selected this interviewee, because I feel that the Fulbright program is an interesting opportunity for students from the countries which have signed and get the compromise to be part of it, due to the fact that it provides new skills and experieces to develop all over the globe. In order to be a fulbrighter, you need to cover some requirements such as demonstrate academic excellence, pass an English interview, have academic experience or a degree, but these requirements can be modified depending to which program do you apply for. When I asked him about his application, told me that “the process is rigurous” because is very competitive and “it is not easy to have a grant for the Fulbright”, there are a lot of applicants and the organizers “only select the bests ones.”

According to Hiram’s experience, apart from the English classes that he gives at the school in Madrid, he has to participate in a Global Classroom project, which consists of selecting a group of thirty students who are going to be prepared to represent a determined country member of the United Nations. As Hiram explained to me, each student has to pick one country, and “discuss the relief and reforms of their bording policies behind the topic of the International Monetary Fund.” After that, they are going to discuss their topics at a conference that first is going to be held in Spain, in order to select the best candidates, and then those ones are going abroad.

Hiram insists on the importance of this program, due to the fact that is so beneficial for the students, because apart from improving their English skills, “they are going to live a new experience and learn more about the different cultures in the world”, and it is a way “to see the world from the eyes of someone else.”

Regarding to the next United States elections in 2016, when I told him about if the aids that are given to the Fulbright Program, he answered that might not change, in spite of which political party is in the power, because there is an established amount of money given each year, and cutting back this type of grants is not beneficial for young people who need to grow on the field that every country must have the same international rights and asume different obligations on the international arena.

Furthermore, taking into account the positive appearances of the program, as Hiram agreed, “for students make a cultivation on cultural understandings and raise awareness of other countries, because it let you see that everyone is not the way that you percieve them,” so being part of the project let you achieve a global view of the current situation that countries worldwide are experiencing in a certain period of time. Moreover, the negative aspects of the program from his point of view are that the selected fulbrighters have little experience on the field that they are selected to develop, regarding that from the experecience of Hiram he is not an expert on Global Classroom, but as he claimed, “this point can be positive because it is a new situation for me, and also for the students, so together we can learn more and I hope to get a long better understanding in this field.” As we can notice, many negative aspects of any field can be turned into a good experience, and learn about each negative situation and contribute to make a profit of whatever we are doing.

To conclude, the Fulbright program from Hirams´ view, is not only a grant, it is an experience to learn from each other and live among other cultures.

María Fernández Gómez

Is one of them really going to represent the USA?


Photo by Andrew Harnik

Taking a look at how much criticism there is within the Republican Presidential candidates’ ranks, there is no wonder the Republican Party is going through an internal crisis. Is it because of the different sectors of the Republican Party they represent? Or is it because Republican politicians do not convince people any more? This last answer seems the closer to reality, since a study from Pew Research Centre, shows that six-in-ten (58%) Republicans voters said they wanted the next president to be someone “outside the existing political establishment” compared to 24% of Democrats. Well, running for President with proposals as retrograde as Donald Trump’s “if I win they are going back” (referring to Syrian refugees) or Carly Fiorina “I oppose the federal government mandating paid maternity leave to every company out there”, once can doubt on the wits of Republican voters for having such an opinion.

For instance, after the recent terrorist attack on Paris, the question about allowing refugees entrance or not in the United States has become a hot topic in the electoral debate. In the New York Times we can find a summary of each candidate position regarding that issue, and whereas Jeb Bush, a career politician, is in favor of allowing some refugees entrance (only the Christians ones) the big three outside politics (Carson, Fiorina, Trump) are not afraid of determinately declare that refugees’ entrance should be banned. Ben Carson, who Gallup rates as the candidate with better image among Republicans, said: “To bring them here under these circumstances is a suspension of intellect”. However, not only non-career politicians are the ones to blame for outrageous radical statements, the Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told in an interview with Hugh Hewitt that not even Syrian’s orphans should be admitted in U.S, arguing that “we need appropriate vetting, and I don’t think orphans under five are being”.

So, maybe it is not the lack of political experience what makes public opinion to go crazy about Republican candidates’ offensive policies, but the internal decadence the party seems to be experimenting in the last decades. According to Mr. Presiado, the secretary of Democrats Abroad in Madrid, among Democratic candidates we can find common roots: guns control, health care reforms or immigrant integration. But for Republicans that does not seems to be the case, they appear to have lost their common path and “need to sit down and figure out what it is about”.

After these offensive policies, this party built on racism should ask themselves the next question: what has happened to Lincoln´s Republican Party? Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was the Republican Party´s first president and he implemented an epoch-changing liberal reform with the Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery. Do you imagine Donald Trump doing the same? Of course not. The Republican Party used to fight against racial discrimination and was the party that protected the environment. Nowadays, republicans are the only climate-denying conservative party in the world according to a paper published in the journal Politics and Policy by Sondre Batstrand at the University of Berben in Norway. Definitely, the Republican Party is no longer the party of Reagan, Lincoln or Nixon.

Marijuana depenalization makes its way to the U.S Presidential debates

Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has proposed Marijuana removal from the federal Controlled Substances list.


Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has recently announced, at a campaign stop in Virginia, his intention to propose in a close future a new legislation that will remove Marijuana from the Controlled Substances list. The Washington Post remarks marijuana depenalization would make possible for States to legalize Marijuana without any impediment from the central government. Sanders’ proposal comes in the right time, as a study from Pew Research Centre shows, the public opinion in this topic has changed drastically since 1969, while only the 12 percent of the population supported Marijuana legalization back them, now the 53 percent does.

Bernie Sander has been for 16 years a congressman in the house of representative and is now serving his second term in the US senate. He is the first candidate to the U.S presidency who publicly support removing this drug from the federal government’s list. By doing so, he aims to prevent Americans to have criminal records due to the use of this substance. We could see clearly his position on the topic in his twitter account “It is obscene that people are getting arrested at near record rates for smoking marijuana, but not one Wall Street CEO has been prosecuted”.

However, Hillary Clinton claimed that she is not in favor of the legalization of this type of drug, but she agrees with Sander of the need to modify the criminal justice punishment for pots. Though Mrs. Clinton refuses to legalize recreational marijuana, she is in favor of its use for medicinal aims.

Not only Democrats seem to favor this measure, 52% of Republican voters agree on legalizing marijuana. When looking at the voter’s ages we can see that millennials (1981-1996) are the ones more in favor of legalizing marihuana, with a 63% of yes. But if we look at what people from other generations think, percentages are much lower. Still, many republicans think that legalizing marijuana is not a solution, even though, they admit that it gives great revenue to all states that have legalized it.  The Republican candidate Donald Trump says that states should have their own laws regarding marijuana use and that no federal laws should be applied. Republicans know that by legalizing marijuana, the state gets a good amount of money due to taxes. In Colorado, $150 millions were collected in one year in taxes due to marijuana sales. The marijuana market also creates jobs and increases the state´s income per capita.

There are four states in the USA where marijuana is legalized for recreational use: Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Colorado legalized marijuana last November 2012, by passing Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution. Looking at Colorado example, we can see that Marijuana legalization does not means free access to this drug. There are several restrictions imposed to regulate its use, for instance: one must be over 21 years old to buy it and only licensed stores are allowed to sell it.  Regarding the impact of this measure in Colorado’s criminal records,  the number of arrests for marijuana possession have continually dropped since 2010 and are now down roughly 84 percent.

Liberals Come Back to Power After Ten Years in The Shadows

After almost ten years of being Canadian Prime Minister, Conservative Party leader, Stephen Harper, lost the election to Justin Trudeau, leader of Liberal Party.

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 21: TLiberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks from the podium. Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is the focus of a tribute at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel in Toronto for A-list crowd.        (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks from the podium.  ( via Getty Images)

Lead by Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party defeated the Conservative Party by wide majority, last Monday, 19th October, on the Canadian federal election. Stephen Harper was the Canadian Prime Minister since 2006, being reelected in the 2008 and 2011 elections. The Conservative Party got the majority of votes in 2011.

The current Conservative party was formed in 2003 as a merger between the two right wings of the main parties in Canada; the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party, choosing as Canadian Alliance leader, since 2002, Stephen Harper, who remain as the new party leader. Harper long term in power has been criticized by many sources, mainly due to the hard economic reforms he implemented that have cut many social services such as health, and the imposition of strong security measures. Harper has also been recently criticized due to his reluctance to admit Syrian’s refugees into Canada (an important matter on the last election campaign), he agreed to admit 10,000 in January, but according to the New York Times, in August only 1,074 have entered the country.

Justin Trudeau was elected as leader of the Liberal Party in 2013, counting with the support of the 80% of his party. He is the son of the former Liberal leader, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Being son of a well-known politician made things a little bit easier, but Trudeau’s popularity with his scandalous reveals about other politicians from the oppositions, his promise to practice “positive politics”, his intentions to legalize marijuana, and showing himself more concerned with problems as environmental care – something that Harper seemed to ignore. As Canada is currently in a recession Trudeau intends on accepting funding to major infrastructure investments which will ultimately boost the economy. Justin Trudeau election campaign consisted mostly of criticizing Stephen Harper. Another strong aspect of his campaign was his emphasizing on a multicultural and plural Canada, in which he stressed his support for immigrants and all cultures now present on Canada. In contrast to his opponent Harper, Trudeau has a less harsh policy regarding the Syrian refugee’s problem, his intentions are to receive 25,000 individuals and invest around $100 million to make the process quicker.

In the field of Foreign Policy, Trudeau has declared his intention to promote Canadian soft power by focusing on humanitarian actions, such as the entrance of Syrians refugee into Canada and engaging with development goals. While Harper was known for promoting Canadian hard power, working on strong finances and sending Canadian military forces to combat the Islamic State. As we can see on Foreign Policy, a think tank, it is expected that this change in Canadian politics, encourage better relations with United States as Obama and Trudeau are both liberals and share common objectives toward major international issues, like the Islamic State, and the refugee crisis. In fact, Liberals attitude toward Canadian International relations can be summarized in Trudeau words “I want to say to this country’s friends all around the world, many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years”, as shown on U.S. Today.