This article was translated by John R. Bopp
The Chilean daily 24 Horas has reported on a Basque driver who was arrested by French police for driving with a blood alcohol level of 4.75g/l last July.
While it’s may seem strange that they’re reporting in Chile about a drunk driving conviction on the road from Bordeaux to Lyon, given the unusually high blood alcohol level, it would seem that this is another curiosity offered by the press in recent years.
But that’s not the case: it’s rather to correct the information Madrid-based ABC published by Bilbao-based El Correo (both owned by Vocento), which in turn based its story on the French daily Sud Ouest.
The correction is kind of funny–it’s to remind the world’s press that the “world record for highest blood alcohol level” would actually seem to be held by a Chilean who was caught in a DWI control in Santiago with 6.1g/l.
But there was another bit of information in this chain of stories that caught our attention.
In El Correo, the headline adds a sense of doubt to the information reported by the French:
“Has a Basque motorist tested positive with a blood alcohol level of 4.75g/l in France?”
We really don’t know if the doubt is about the driver’s nationality, the location of the events, or whether the Gendarmerie’s meters are working correctly, or simply about the veracity of the story.
The headline printed by ABC, and the only change the Madrid paper did to the Bilbao paper’s story, removed the question mark:
“A Basque driver, world record for blood alcohol level at 4.75g/l”
We don’t know how ABC confirmed this world record, as El Correo, which ABC copied from, informs us that
“The French press reports that this could be the ‘world record’ of drunk drivers.”
For the two Vocento group newspapers, it seems rather difficult for them to make this Basque out to be French. The first paragraph is an example of mixing a deeply negative view of a country (we don’t know if the Basque Country or Spain) with their concept of what it means to be “Basque”.
It’s interesting to compare the style of information presented in the French paper with that presented by the Vocento papers.
Something similar has happened at the Chilean paper, where, since they consider a Chilean to hold the world record, have this incredible headline: “A Basque man breaks the Spanish blood alcohol level record when caught with 4.75g/l”
We can’t help but wonder what reason the Chilean daily has for calling it a “Spanish record” when we’re talking about a Frenchman committing the infraction on a French road.
The answer to all this accumulated nonsense is quite simple: it seems that for these papers (and unfortunately for many more people), “Basque” must be inseparably related to Spanish nationality, completely forgetting the fact that being Basque does not necessarily imply being Spanish.
It’s true that we don’t know where this Basque comes from–we don’t know which side of the Pyrenees he’s from; but we would be surprised that Sud Ouest wouldn’t have mentioned that he was from south of the Pyrenees had that been the case.
We’ll leave you with the information from the Chilean paper; the other papers’ links are in the text above.
24 Horas – 18/9/2016 – Chile
Hombre vasco rompe el récord español de alcohol al ser sorprendido con 4,75 gramos por litro
Un récord que no hay que imitar. La policía francesa sorprendió a un conductor vasco con 4,75 gramos por litro de alcohol en la sangre. Según informó Sud Ouest, se trataría de un hombre de 56 años, que fue interceptado en su camino por la autopista A-89, vía que une a las ciudades de Burdeos y Perigueux en Francia.