- A country that matters
History, culture, politics, language and, above all, human relations form the basis of close ties between Spain and Latin America. A bilateral relation, based on respect for diversity, has been further strengthened over the past decade, marked by the emerging economies and their high rate of growth.
As a key liaison between Ibero-America and Europe in this new context characterized by the consolidation of democratic values, Spain tries to foster international dialogue, business relations and mutual benefit on both sides of the Atlantic.
The idea of holding Ibero-American Summits was a joint initiative of Spain, Mexico and Brazil in the context of the 5th Centenary of the Discovery of America, in order to give a new boost to Ibero-American relations. 1992 was the year of major international events for Spain: Barcelona Olympic Games, Universal Exposition of Seville and Madrid European Capital of Culture.
The 1st Ibero-American Summit took place in Guadalajara (Mexico) in 1991. A total of 21 countries participated, with a spirit of unity and the aim of moving forwards in their political, economic and social processes.
During the annual diplomatic meeting, education, health, culture, employment, integration, immigration, terrorism, disarmament, globalization or democracy is debated.
Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB)
The Ibero-American General Secretariat, the permanent support body of the Ibero-American Conference and the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, was founded in 2003 and its headquarters are in Madrid. Since then, it has programmed and coordinated the preparatory work for the Summits and has acted s a link between the 22 Governments that make up the Ibero-American Community of Nations.
SEGIB also fosters historical, cultural, social and economic ties between Ibero-American countries as well as recognising and valuing the diversity of their people.
Spain as an Observer
Spain has participated as an observer in diverse multilateral organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) since 1972; the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) since 1982; the Central American Integration System (SICA) since 2004, and in the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) since 2011.
Furthermore, in 2012, Spain was the first country to participate as an observer in the Pacific Alliance and has backed the different economic, political and commercial integration processes, such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), MERCOSUR and the Latin American and the Caribbean Economic System (SELA).
Spain, liaison between Europe and America
Spain, as a member of the EU, plays an essential role in the design of European policy for Latin America. In 2010, Madrid hosted the 6th Latin American, Caribbean and European Union Summit (EU-LAC), in which innovation and technology for sustainable development and inclusion were the core topics.
Spain’s cooperation with Latin America is being adapted to the new reality. Many countries have reached considerable levels of development, whereby the knowledge economy, technological transfer or cooperation between excellence research centres have become priority areas.
Spain considers it essential to support effective economic reform processes for the redistribution of wealth and equity and continue working towards sustainable development and against insecurity or drug trafficking.
The Spanish Cooperation Plan 2013-2016 establishes the concentration of actions in twelve countries in Latin America and the Caribbean: Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and the Dominican Republic.
Cultural Exchange, Mutual Enrichment
Spanish culture has been consolidated into a rich variety of manifestations on both sides of the Atlantic. Many Spanish and Latin American artists (from writers like Mario Vargas Llosa to filmmakers, such as Luis Buñuel or singers like Joaquín Sabina) have developed their careers on both continents, been influenced by the trends in each country and have gone on to influence future generations.
One of the main flag-bearers of this cultural relationship is the Miguel de Cervantes Spanish Literature Prize, the most prestigious award for the creativity of Spanish and Hispano-American writers whose work has helped to significantly enrich the literary heritage of the Spanish language.
In 1979, at the suggestion of the King of Spain, journalist and adventurer Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo set up Ruta Quetzal (now called Ruta BBVA). This program, targeted at adolescents between the ages of 16 and 17 aims to foster cultural exchange between Spanish-speaking countries, including Brazil and Portugal. It is a journey that combines education in values, cultural exchange and adventure.
Since 1990, the expedition has been declared a cultural programme of "Global Interest" by UNESCO
and around 9,000 young people from all over the world have had the opportunity to travel and discover the human, geographic, social and historic dimensions of other cultures.
In parallel, Fundación Carolina has fostered cultural relations and cooperation in education and science between Spain and the countries of the Ibero-American Community of Nations since 2000.