Obama in Spain: ‘We’re seeing a global rise in nationalism’

Former US President Barack Obama warned in Madrid on Friday (July 7) of "a rise in nationalism" and the potential of new media to accelerate social divisions.

Obama in Spain: 'We're seeing a global rise in nationalism'
Obama also had time to meet Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Photo: AFP

“We're in a difficult time, politically, socially … people feel very anxious,” said Obama, who left office last year.

“Change is happening very quickly. People are wondering can I adapt to these changes? People are fearful,” the former president told an audience of 2,000 people at a conference in Madrid on technological innovation and the circular economy, which minimises waste.

“We see a rise in nationalism” Obama told his audience.

The world needs to consider how to use the new technology to improve lives and ensure that it “does not accelerate division”, he added.

“Today because of the internet, and because of the multiplicity of media what we see more and more is that we don't agree on the same reality.”

The former Democrat president highlighted in particular the US Fox News network,.

“If you watch Fox News you see a different reality than if you read the New York Times, he said. “Climate change is not happening at all” in media like Fox.

This phenomenon “has been “exploited by some forces internationally”, which “feed their biases”.

The solution, according to Obama, is to train young people”to think differently”..

Obama, who was to travel on to Porto in Portugal on Friday to attend a climate change conference, has criticised his successor President Donald Trump for failing to consider scientific research on the subject.


Obama backs ‘strong and unified’ Spain amid Catalan breakaway bid

The US President made reference to Spain's political struggles at a meeting with King Felipe VI at the White House on Tuesday.

Obama backs 'strong and unified' Spain amid Catalan breakaway bid
King Felipe meets President Obama at the White House Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday told Spain's king he wants to see the country “strong and unified,” amid a strong independence drive in Catalonia.

Hosting King Felipe VI at the White House, Obama waded into a fierce political and constitutional row that has put Spain's borders of almost 600 years into question.

“As a matter of foreign policy, we are deeply committed to maintaining a relationship with a strong and unified Spain,” Obama said, sitting beside the young monarch.

“We think that Spain's presence is important not only in Europe, but also in the United States and also in the world.”

Catalans will vote in a regional election on September 27th that local politicians are billing as a de facto referendum on independence.

Felipe did not comment on the issue.

It was Felipe's first visit to the White House since taking the throne just over a year ago, when his father Juan Carlos abdicated.

At the end of the meeting, Obama added also said he wanted to “travel to Spain before the end of my presidency.”