US removes reference to possible Spanish police racism
A red-faced State Department said Tuesday it removed a passage from its website about possible Spanish police racism after calls from Spanish media covering First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to Spain.
Spanish news organizations made many calls about an incident last year in which Spanish police detained two US government employees, both of them African-American, for no apparent reason, a US State Department official said.
The official told AFP the reference to the incident was lifted on Monday from online travel information for Americans traveling to Spain after "we were notified by the Spanish media" calling about the First Lady's visit.
The State Department deemed it no longer relevant as the incident happened 18 months ago and "since then there have been no other reports," according to the official in the consular affairs bureau who asked not to be named.
The reference removed from the website said "racial prejudice could contribute to the arrests of African-Americans who travel to Spain," the official said.
It referred to "the February 13, 2009 incident during which two US government workers, both African American, were interrogated by the police in Barcelona for no apparent motive."
The Spanish Mediterranean resort of Marbella geared up Tuesday to welcome Obama and her youngest daughter Sasha, nine, who are due to arrive on Wednesday for a holiday.
The trip is a private mother-daughter holiday with long-time family friends, the White House announced last week, denying Spanish news reports that President Barack Obama, who celebrates his 49th birthday on Wednesday, would join them.
The couple's oldest daughter, 12-year-old Malia, is attending a summer camp in the United States.
© 2010 AFP