The relationship between Spain and Latin America is unique, complex and multidimensional. It runs deeper than diplomacy, politics and economics, and involves not only governments, but also a wide range of other, non-official players. In the final analysis, the relationship is not so much based on geo-strategy or security needs, or even economic reasons –although these factors are of increasing importance– but rather on linguistic, cultural and historical ties, as well as an affinity with Latin America at all levels (2).

The special nature of Spain’s policy on Latin America is reflected both in the country’s Constitution and in common law (3), which explains why this policy is considered to be a matter of state (Arenal 1994: 110.114). In any event, Spain’s Latin American policy, seen within the context of its overall foreign policy, has been conditioned from 1976 onward by three events.

First of all, bear in mind that Spain is a medium-ranking power, with all that implies in terms of limitations to developing an active and ambitious Latin American policy. As Felipe Sahagún has pointed out, ‘The main problem with Spain’s foreign policy today is that it is more concerned with the means than the ends’ (Sahagún 2000: 29). In the specific case of Latin American policy, this is even more serious –bearing in mind the special nature attributed to the relationship– given the gap between its aims and the modest human, material, and budgetary resources applied to achieve them.

The second element that conditions policy and which reduces the ability to act independently in terms of foreign policy in general and, specifically, in the case of Latin America, is US policy on the region. From the nineteenth century to the present, US strategic, political, and economic interests in the area have greatly limited Spain’s attempts to develop an active policy, as was the case with the strategic-military plan vis-à-vis Central America in the 1980s (4).

Thirdly, Spain’s membership of the European Union (EU) –it joined in 1986– means that it has had to place its Latin American policy in a new context. Now, Spain not only has its own policy, but is also conditioned by that of the EU and, more directly, the policies of other individual member states. The effects of this are twofold. On the one hand, the independence and political-economic objectives of Spain’s policy are considerably reduced, given the its status as a member state, while the country is also likely to be pulled in different directions by its links to two very different continents. Thus, the European dimension imposes clear restrictions on its own policy toward Latin America, limiting the possibility of considering ambitious goals of integration. On the other hand, this situation also extends, multiplies and strengthens the dimensions and possibilities of policy on Latin America, given the opportunity afforded to Spain to direct the EU’s attention to the region, while assuming an unprecedented weight and importance in Latin America (Arenal 1994: 200-202).

When discussing Spain’s Latin American policy from 1976 on, it is important to distinguish between two stages, each with different characteristics and aims (5). The first ran from 1976 to 1992, covering the government constituted by the Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) and part of the Socialist party’s (PSOE) term in power. This was a period marked by the need to define a new policy on Latin America, different to that under the Franco regime, which would change Spain’s image in Latin America and recuperate a non-paternalistic role for itself there. This called for new policy to be launched, explaining the importance given to the intensification of relations with the region at all levels. This phase began with the transition to democracy in Spain and its milestones are a more active policy in Central America, the entry of Spain into the EU, and culminate with the start-up in 1991 of the Ibero-American Summits, the II Summit held in Madrid in 1992 and the celebrations to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Discovery of Soth America – Meeting of Two Worlds. In this period, particularly toward the end of the 1980s when Washington was engaged its second Cold War and Spain was especially active in Latin America, Spain’s policies on Latin American clashed with those of the United States and a certain amount of bilateral tension emerged.

The second – post-Cold War – phase ran from 1992 to 2002, taking in the last Socialist administrations, and the Popular Party’s (PP) terms in office. This period is marked by a normalization of relations and a certain degree of pragmatism (6). Tensions eased with the United States, although some economic problems emerged. Foremost among the main characteristics marking this phase is the increasing influence of Europe in the policy on Latin American. While this tendency began in 1986, the importance of the process increased from 1990 onward. The EU’s foreign policy objectives became the determining factor in both Spanish domestic and foreign policy, specifically that on Latin America. This conditioning is particularly evident in the bilateral trade and development policies. Furthermore, a range of multilateral mechanisms were set up, such as the San José Forum in Central America, and the EU-Rio Group, as well as dialogues with the Andean Community, Mercosur, Mexico, and Chile, all of which Spain has been able to take advantage of to successfully promote its own Latin American policy.

The second characteristic of this phase is the Ibero-Americanization of Latin American policy. The yearly Ibero-American Summits of heads of State and governments, held since 1991, and their objective of creating a common Ibero-American space, or community, have become a key reference point. This Ibero-American dimension takes on a growing importance as regards relations toward Europe and the United States.

Thirdly, note the growing importance of economics within foreign policy, particularly in the case of Latin America. This process is directly related to the spectacular growth of Spanish investment in Latin America from the mid-1990s on, and instrumented through the adoption of a series of measures aimed at boosting the international presence of Spanish companies, while protecting economic interests abroad. Latin America became the principal destination of Spanish investment, absorbing an annual average of some 60% of the total, while the EU, in second place, accounted for 26%. Spanish companies are now the second biggest overseas investors in the region, close behind the United States (Arahuetes 2002). This outlay is characterized by its high geographic and sectoral concentration (7).

The growth of Spanish investment in Latin America from the mid-1990s should be seen in the context of events at home, marked by significant economic growth, which encouraged companies to increase their international presence and look for new markets. At the same time, Europe was strengthening relations with the region and signing fourth-generation framework cooperation agreements, aimed at to establishing free trade, with Mercosur, Mexico, and Chile (8). At the same time, Latin America itself was pushing ahead with privatization, liberalization, and deregulation programmes. This was backed up by such regional integration initiatives such as the North American Free Trade Association or Mercosur.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the international context. Globalization, free trade, the success of multilateral negotiations such as the Uruguay Round of the GATT, the creation of the World Trade Organization, increasing investment and world trade, as well as the establishment of regional trade blocks all played a role.

However, the above-mentioned reasons are not, in themselves, sufficient to explain the growth of Spanish investment in Latin America in the second half of the 1990s, or the fact that over 50% thereof was assigned to the region by the end of that decade. This phenomenon can only really be understood in the context of the common cultural, linguistic, and historical ties between Spain and Latin America, which have also afforded Spanish companies clear comparative advantages (Casilda 2002: 218-219).

A final characteristic of this phase is the increasing trend of Spain’s regional and municipal authorities establishing their own diplomatic relations with Latin America, with all the problems this might presuppose for the central government in coordinating and harmonising foreign policy. While the process began in the 1980s, it intensified in the following decade, creating considerable tension (9).

This second phase of normalization and pragmatism comprises two stages, each marked by the different bias of relations with the United States, implying two distinct models of Latin American policy. The first stage ran from 1992 to 2001. During this period, the policy, based on the excellent relations with Washington, sought to maintain a degree of independence, according to Spanish interests in Latin America. However, that independence would be weakened significantly from 1996 when the PP took office, although the policy model did not change immediately.

The second stage began in 2002, with a change of model in Latin American policy, reflecting the shift in Spanish foreign policy. The Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar, decided that the new, unilateralist approach of the United States toward achieving its foreign policy objectives in the wake of the attacks of September 11 presented a window of opportunity for Spain to gain international influence via closer ties to the United States. The fight against terrorism led by Washington, the war against Iraq, Spain’s non-permanent membership on the UN Security Council as of January 1, 2003, and the imminent enlargement of the European Union – which raised questions on the construction of the European project and extended the field open to the United States – all offered opportunities that could not be missed if Spain was to rub shoulders with the main international players.

Spain’s policy on Latin America thus underwent an important change, principally characterized by the strengthening of its allegiance to the United States, as well as greater regional coordination with Washington, all with the declared aim of boosting economic development and political stability in Latin America. However, this also meant a loss of independence and less European focus, as policy fell into line with Washington. In many cases, US policy in the region did not coincide with Spain’s interests, thus penalising these interests and proving detrimental to Spain’s image in the region. The result is a new approach to policy, which has raised many questions at both European and Latin American levels, highlighting the inherent contradictions.

2. The Popular Party’s Latin American Policy

The second stage of Spain’s Latin American policy, initiated in 1992, is conditioned by the PP administrations’ policies, after José María Aznar won the general elections in 1996. Although continuity with the models established by the previous Socialist government would be the keynote until 2002, Aznar immediately set about trying to establish differences with respect to his predecessors’ policies. These changes would be more marked with his second term in office, with an absolute majority for the PP.

These differences were concentrated in three areas. The first was the restructuring of the Foreign Ministry from 1996 and which, by 2000, had brought about major changes at the office of the Secretary of State for International and Ibero-American Cooperation (SECIPI). The focus of the SECIPI shifted from cooperation with Latin America via the Institute of Ibero-American Cooperation (ICI) to the coordination of Spain’s entire foreign policy toward the region (Molina and Rodrigo 2002: 200). This deep-rooted change in foreign policy culminated with the creation of the Council for Foreign Policy, directly responsible to the prime minister’s office. This effectively meant the institutionalization of the prime minister’s role in coordinating foreign policy – a process that had been underway since the return to democracy (10). This change would have profound effects on policy toward Latin America (11).

The second area relates to the PP’s strengthening ties with the United States. While the centrist and Socialist administrations had maintained relative independence in their approach to policy on Latin America, from the outset the PP decided to align itself with US policy on the region.

The third area where the PP set itself apart from the Socialists was in its policy on Cuba. Even before taking office, the PP had decided on its policy here. It was to distance itself from the Socialists’ approach of cooperation and pressure aimed at coaxing Castro toward democracy and greater respect for human rights. It was considered that this strategy had failed and that a more hard-line approach was required at both political-diplomatic and cooperation levels to force the Castro regime into democracy. The newly installed PP government echoed these ideas and implemented a new policy, which implied following the United States’ lead, although Spain rejected the Helms-Burton Law (12). This change in policy would lead to a profound crisis in Cuban-Spanish relations. The distancing of the two countries reached a low point after the VI Ibero-American summit held in Viña del Mar, Chile (November 9-11, 1996), followed by the presentation of a proposal to the EU Council of Ministers in Brussels on November 14 to implement political and economic measures against the Castro regime. This strategy became the basis of the EU’s stance toward Cuba (13). The change in policy toward Cuba since 1998, which has not produced any significant improvements in human rights or greater democracy, reveals the mistakes that the PP made in its Latin American policy in the early days of its administration.

Within the overall framework of Latin American policy in this second stage, a number of characteristics of the PP administrations since 1996 can be seen. Some complement the differences outlined above, while some are simply an accentuation of the general characteristics already pointed out.

Firstly, we can see a progressive, but clear tendency to refer less and less to Latin American policy in official speeches, reflecting the declining political profile of bilateral relations with the region. Secondly, there was a growing tendency to place Latin American policy in the context of the European Union and Ibero-America (14). This would bring about major contradictions and be increasingly conditioned by the PP’s ever-closer ties with Washington. Thirdly, economics would take on a growing role in relations, given the spectacular rise in Spanish investment in the region. The economic dimension to relations with Latin America is increasingly manifested both in terms of speeches and in government announcements (15), as well as in day-to-day diplomacy. However, this rise in investment in the region was also accompanied by a deterioration of Spain’s image there. Some countries evoked the image of the ‘new conquistadors’ (16), with the effects this could have on Spain’s efforts to increase its influence in the region and in the development of a common Ibero-American area.

The fourth characteristic of the PP’s approach to Latin American is the extensive use of cultural policies to reinforce the country’s political influence and improve its image abroad. Bearing in mind Spain’s cultural potential (17), as well as the importance of culture as a way to raise its profile in Latin America, the government decided to pursue an active cultural policy. The Strategic Foreign Action Plan, approved in 2000, gives priority to cultural policy in Latin America, albeit directed mainly at elite groups. The Fundación Carolina was created for this purpose toward the end of 2000, with the aim of educating emerging elite groups in Latin America. The foundation accounts for a significant amount of the grants awarded to already existing post-graduate programmes.

The fifth characteristic is the change in anti-terrorist policy regarding members of ETA in Latin America. Whereas the strategy had once been to distance members of ETA from the decision-making processes and action by allowing them to live in Latin America, seeking to weaken the terrorist group and open up negotiation channels, the policy now became one of actively seeking their extradition.

Finally, it is worth mentioning bilateral Official Development Aid (AOD) for Latin America. The region is still the main destination for AOD, accounting for about 50% of the total (18), reflecting the special relationship with the region. However, the funds dedicated to AOD did not increase in line with gross national income, compared with the policies of the Socialist administrations. In fact, there has been decrease from the 0.28% of 1994 toward figures that oscillate between 0.24% and 0.22% (see figure 6). We are still facing the challenge of reducing poverty through the development aid system. However, as the latest report by the Development Aid Committee’s (CAD) shows, there have been significant advances in this field, with the 1998 (19) International Cooperation Law, the establishment of a four year (2001-2004) Director Plan, the improvement of annual plans and the strengthening of coordination agencies (20).

3. Policy on Latin America in 2002

3.1 A changing scenario

Generally speaking, Spanish policy toward Latin America in 2002 followed the outlines mentioned above, but with some modifications reflecting the changing scenario worldwide, in Europe, Latin America and Spain, which have ultimately led to a change in policy. At a global level, leaving aside the economic crisis that affected both the United States and Europe, which deepened in 2002 with the resulting impact on Spanish interests in Latin America, the main factors influencing events continue to derive from the after-effects of September 11. The fight against terrorism and the ‘axis of evil’, as well as the hegemonic, unilateralist, and interventionist policies of the United States have substantially reduced other countries’ margins for political independence, unless they wish to enter into conflict with Washington. This scenario has seen an increase in tension as a result of the preparations for war against Iraq and discrepancies with some EU member States on timeframes and ways to resolve the crisis, as well as the new hegemony the United States is trying to impose. These differences have threatened the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and could well weaken the EU.

The PP has offered its unconditional support to the United States, strengthening those ties it started to make in 1996 (21), while at the same time moving closer to the less Europeanist states of the EU, such as the equally pro-Washington United Kingdom. This has weakened its position with the core of the EU, namely France and Germany.

Uncertainty has heightened throughout Latin America as a result of the widespread economic stagnation, and the economic, political and social crises that have hit some countries hard. This has highlighted the weakness of their political systems and the problems in governing, while greater poverty and social inequality have undermined governments. In turn, this has also affected the mechanisms for economic integration and, particularly, Mercosur.

The economic crisis, especially in countries with significant Spanish investment such as Argentina and Brazil, together with the political and social uncertainty, has directly penalised the share price and profitability of Spanish companies, undermining their confidence in the region’s future and requiring a significant provisioning effort in their accounts. This has produced a new and very different situation to that of the golden years (1995-2000), affecting both Spanish investment and its foreign policy in the region, which is highly influenced by economic interests.

Spanish investment in Latin America (see figures 1 and 2), which had already dropped considerably in 2001 (22), was scaled back further in 2002 (23). Some companies contemplated abandoning the region definitively if the crisis continued, despite the strategic and long-term commitments given when they entered the region. In view of the recent trend in investment and the extremely prudent investment policies now being adopted by many companies, it seems clear that investment in Latin America has reached, or is close to reaching, a peak. It is only logical, therefore, even if the political and economic situation there improves, that there will now be a significant slowdown in investment. The extremely favourable conditions of the 1990s look unlikely to present themselves again, and it is clear that Spanish companies will no longer continue to make Latin America their investment priority.

Latin America has undergone a strategic devaluation since September 11, moving into second place on the political agenda of the United States and the EU. On the other hand, the ambiguous US position on the crisis in Latin America, particularly in Argentina –obliging the IMF to adopt a case-by-case policy toward each country based on US interests (24)– is contributing to a growing discontent with Washington and the economic policies of the last decade. This situation could make it more difficult to emerge from the crisis.

Finally, at the Spanish level, it is worth highlighting three events that have influenced policy toward Latin America. Firstly, the Spanish presidency of the EU during the first half of 2002 and, in May of that year, the II EU-Latin American Summit, with a marked effect on Latin American policy.

Secondly, on July 9 Ana Palacio replaced Josep Piqué as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Piqué, with a clear business and economic profile, was motivated by business opportunities for Spanish companies in the region. Palacio, a member of the European Parliament, lacks a clear profile in either international affairs or economic matters. She effectively took over the administration of a policy already established by the prime minister.

The third event was the break in parliamentary consensus on foreign policy, which had been in place since 1976. This became especially apparent when the PP supported the United States in its war against Iraq, as well as in its policy on Latin America, neither of which the opposition supported. This alliance with the Bush administration and the growing Atlanticism of Spain’s foreign policy – at the cost of its European and Latin American ties – has brought change in terms of the way Spain now projects itself militarily, politically, economically, and even culturally. The change in the foreign policy model has triggered a change in Latin American policy and, accordingly, a new phase in relations with Latin America. In this complex and changing scenario, there have been some significant modifications in the general policy on this region, giving rise to new challenges and problems. This situation has driven a revision of certain objectives and an intense diplomatic effort.

3.2 Bilateral Relations

At the bilateral level, the economic crisis and political instability in the region has prompted Spain to reassess its relationship with Latin America, particularly in the case of some countries. Given Spain’s economic interests in Argentina, the especially serious situation there has sparked considerable diplomatic activity. This has taken the form of trying to convince the Duhalde government to avoid measures that might threaten Spanish interests, and further deteriorate the country’s image abroad, while at the same time pressuring that government to reach an agreement with the IMF. This was accompanied by visits to Argentina by the heads of Spain’s largest companies to talk to the government.

This activity contrasts with Spain’s low profile within the IMF when it came to helping Argentina reach an agreement. The Socialist opposition has criticized the government for this adherence to neo-liberal logic and US interests, which dominate the multilateral body. The Argentine crisis was a clear example of how the Aznar government has coordinated its policies in line with those of the United States. Seen from a European perspective, it is worth pointing out that Spain was unable to mobilize the entirety of the EU’s members within the IMF – which make up 30% of the vote, as against Washington’s 17%. The shortfalls of both Spain and the EU have also been evident in the financial crises suffered by Mexico, Brazil, and Ecuador. It is striking that the EU has not managed to establish a common policy in this regard and make it felt in multilateral financial institutions (Sanahuja 2002 c). However, Spain’s image has suffered most in Argentina, as a consequence of the crisis (25). It remains to be seen whether this image will suffer further as a result of Madrid’s closer ties to Washington.

Brazil has been the subject of intense diplomatic and entrepreneurial attention, given the importance of Spanish investment there, the possible risk of contagion from Argentina, and particularly because of the uncertainties generated by Lula’s victory – with 61% of the vote – in the second round of the October 2002 elections. However, the soothing messages broadcast by Lula to the international financial community, the commitments made regarding financial and monetary responsibility, the appointment of businessman and Liberal Party member José Alencar as vice-president and the US$24 million agreed with the IMF for 2003 have all contributed to dissipate the initial fears. So much so that Spanish businesses are actively supporting Lula.

Relations with Venezuela have been marked by the growing political and economic instability there, and especially by the coup that briefly removed President Hugo Chávez from office between April 12 and 14. The Spanish and US ambassadors’ decision to visit Pedro Carmona, who was briefly president, provoked bilateral tension. The worsening of the political and economic crisis as a result of a strike initiated on December 2 by the Coordinadora Democrática opposition, as well as the need to find a constitutional and negotiated settlement, saw Lula create the Friends of Venezuela Group, made up of Brazil, the United States, Chile, Mexico, Spain (26) and Portugal. This body operates under the auspices of the Organization of American States, led by Cesar Gaviria. Once again, the Venezuelan case shows Spain’s alignment with the United States.

3.3 The European Dimension

The European dimension to Spain’s Latin American policy took on still greater importance during the first half of 2002, when Spain held the rotating EU presidency and the II EU-Latin American Summit was held in Madrid. The two events presented Spain with the opportunity to boost inter-regional relations, as well as sign free trade deals with Mercosur and Chile, open negotiations with Central America and the Andean Community, and leave open the possibility of an EU-Latin American free trade zone by 2010. To some extent, these aims coincided with those of Latin America. The occasions would strengthen the European and EU roles of Spain, while aiding Spanish companies’ privileged position in Latin America. At the same time, it would reaffirm Spain’s leadership of the Ibero-American community.

However, as it turned out, the European and Latin American scenarios were not the most favourable for realizing such aims. In June 1999, the I EU-Latin American Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, highlighted that the EU had now changed its policy on Latin America, abandoning the regionalist approach and opting instead to establish an ‘association’ while adopting a new multilateral strategy that, to all intents and purposes, showed that the EU’s interest in the region had waned.

The reasons for this change were diverse. Chief among them was that the new Commission, set up in 1999, was less sensitive to Latin America. Another factor was the difficulties that had emerged during the talks to set up a free trade deal with Mercosur on the Common Agricultural Policy (27) (CAP). Thirdly, the CFSP is clearly oriented toward Central and Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. At the same time, the EU had reduced the importance of economic cooperation and development aid, largely as a consequence of the world crisis, while at the same time downplaying the importance of human rights and democracy, given the new threats to international security. Fifth, September 11 reduced Latin America’s strategic importance. And finally, the economic and political crises that hit much of the region should be borne in mind, as well as the problems of Mercosur and the difficulties that the Americas Free Trade Area was running into. A clear expression of the reduced interest in Latin America was the deadlock in bi-regional relations that followed the Rio Summit in 1999. This was reflected by the fact that the EU did not issue its Latin America regional strategy for the period 2002-06 (28) until April 2002, just three weeks before the Madrid Summit.

The Madrid Summit (May 17-18, 2002), the principal objective of which was to move the project of bi-regional ‘Strategic Association’ forward, only confirmed the loss of importance of Latin America in terms of EU foreign (29), despite Spanish diplomatic efforts. The results of the Summit were meagre (30). As far as Spain was concerned, one of the few successes, aside from the leading role the country was given in EU-Latin American relations, was the bilateral agreement to combat terrorism, one of the Spanish presidency’s priority. From Latin America’s point of view, there was little real progress, beyond a show of good intentions, on Mercosur, Central America and the Andean Community. In the case of Mercosur, an agreement was postponed until after the WTO talks in 2004, or early 2005, despite the stated wish of Mercosur’s members to see a deal (31). This provoked disappointment within Mercosur, which had at least hoped for a commitment, as well as a final date for talks on the Agreement of Association and Free Trade with the EU. The feeling was that this would have represented a clear sign of support for Mercosur, along with tangible aid to Argentina in its efforts to overcome the crisis (Sanahuja 2002 a: 188). The Andean Community had been led to believe that a new association agreement with the EU was on the table. However, the offer was limited to political dialogue and development aid, leaving out the possibility of including any economic component until the conclusion of the WTO’s talks at the end of 2004. This was merely a starting point, which the Andean countries saw as unsatisfactory. The same thing happened with Central America, which saw how an offer to negotiate a new association agreement avoided any reference to trade, this aspect having been indefinitely postponed until the end of the Doha talks.

The results were more positive at a bilateral level, however. On the one hand, the EU signed a new association agreement with Chile which, like that with Mexico, would lead to the setting up of a free trade zone within ten years (32). The speed with which the talks were concluded is explained by the EU’s need to bring something to the table at the Madrid Summit. This success can be attributed to Spanish diplomacy and the relative ease of the talks on trade.

The significance of the agreement, dubbed the jewel in the crown of EU-Latin American relations, is clear, given that it supposes the growth and strengthening of a model of relations that, in the medium to long term, would lead to a bi-regional strategic association (Cornago 2002: 32). Mexico also had reason to be pleased with the Summit’s outcome: a positive assessment of the 18 months of the association agreement, resulting in a revision of the agreement for 2003 to extend it in line with the Chilean version, and reducing the timeframe during which tariffs would be reduced. It was also agreed that Mexico would host the Summit in 2004.

On the face of it, it seems clear that the Madrid Summit did not produce a substantial improvement in relations between the EU and Latin America, with the exception of a few political and economic achievements in dialogue and political coordination and, of course, the association agreement with Chile. The Madrid Summit once again showed that Latin America occupies a secondary position among the EU’s foreign affairs priorities, and that the ambitious ‘Strategic Association’ project is still far from becoming a reality.

Despite its diplomatic efforts, Spain did not emerge much stronger from the Summit and, with the exception of its agreement with Chile and some progress on terrorism, its ambitious objectives have not been achieved. It is clear that the decline in Latin America’s importance to the EU has weakened Spain’s ability to pursue its aims there. At the same time, the Madrid Summit revealed the growing difficulties that Spain faces in developing an active role in Latin America without EU support, despite its alignment with the United States. Once again, it is clear that Spain must form a part of the EU’s inner circle if it is to reorient policy toward Latin America and be a key player in that process.

3.4 The XII Ibero-American Summit in Bávaro, Domincan Republic

3.4.1. From Guadalajara to Bávaro. The Ibero-American summits, officially known as the Ibero-American Conferences of Heads of State and Government (33), have been held on an annual basis since 1991. The single most relevant expression of the unique nature of Latin American policy and of the identity criteria that inspire and support, these summits are one of the key features of Spain’s Latin American policy. In fact, Latin American policy during the 1990s, particularly under the PP, has tended to become increasingly Ibero-Americanised (34). Also taking into account the enormous differences between the countries concerned, and the key role that Spain has played since the outset together with the political and economic weight it continues to bring to bear, the Summits have effectively become the most practical instrument of relations between Spain and Latin America.

According to Raúl Sanhueza, there are three stages in the history of the Ibero-American Summits. The first runs from 1990 to 1992, when Spain exercised its ‘exemplary leadership’, and sought to influence events indirectly and with prudence, in contrast say to France’s or Great Britain’s approach to their former colonies. Despite the existing inequalities and Europe’s growing role, Spain worked hard to ensure that the larger nations did not set the agenda.

The second stage, from 1993 to 1996, saw Spain’s leadership ‘decline’. This was a result of the scaling back of Latin American policy after the Fifth Centenary celebrations, and of the growing difficulties Spain faced in balancing its responsibilities as a member of the EU with its interests in Latin America. The economic crisis, as well as budget cuts, combined with the difficulties that the out-going Socialist administration faced, coupled with the initiatives of Argentina and Chile in preparing the 1995 and 1996 Summits, also contributed to the decline in Spain’s role in the annual event.

The third stage, closely linked to the spectacular increase in Spanish investments in Latin America and the PP’s term in office, runs from 1997 to the present. Spain’s leadership has been ‘hegemonic’ during this period. Madrid has used the Summits to further its short-term political interests and to centralize cooperation, while pushing for reforms in the functioning of the Summits that have only accentuated the existing asymmetries (Sanhueza 2002: 31-32).

Spain’s belief that the Summits were in decline – following the somewhat hasty departure of several leaders from the VII Summit in Isla Margarita in 1997 – and that it needed fresh impetus (35) contributed to this hegemonic leadership. This leadership was favoured by the fact that smaller nations, requiring assistance in terms of organisation, were assigned to run the subsequent summits. The Pinochet affair, which cast doubts on the Summits’ consecrated principles of non-intervention in other states’ affairs, also reduced Chile and Argentina’s involvement temporarily. During this final stage, Spain used the Summits as a forum to air controversial matters, focusing on issues that had previously been dealt with in general terms (36). Other countries followed suit, and the Summits became much more politicized (37).

In addition to the aforementioned limitations, we should consider Spain’s membership of the EU and the commitments that involves at all levels – with the concomitant reduction in Madrid’s ability to offer adequate solutions to the major issues facing Latin America. It is clear that many of the contradictions that have emerged in the country’s policy to Latin America are hard to reconcile.

While the Summits may have been conceived as a multilateral instrument of coordination and cooperation based on consensus, which would eventually lead to the creation of a common Ibero-American space, they have since lost a large part of their meaning. The majority of the member states no longer see the Summits as a multilateral mechanism aimed at achieving equality, or as able to address the problems and issues facing the region, or of establishing an effective international presence (38).

Nevertheless, the achievements of the 12 Summits should not be dismissed (39). Looking at the process of institutionalisation process, two matters should be highlighted (40). Firstly, the approval of a cooperation agreement by the V Ibero-American Summit in 1995 (in San Carlos Bariloche). This agreement establishes the principles regulating cooperation and institutionalises the mechanisms and procedures. Secondly, the approval, at the 1999 Havana Summit, of the Protocol and Statutes of the Secretariat for Ibero-American Cooperation (SECIB) as an international organization (41), and with Madrid as its base (42).

The functions of the Secretariat are to act as a support mechanism for those responsible for cooperation, to report on its activities to the National Coordinators during the preparatory meetings for the Summits, or whenever required, and to maintain strong links with the Pro Tempore Secretariat. In practice, however, the SECIB has taken on new tasks, exceeding the original remit of cooperation, and is now effectively a General Secretary for the Summits. As a result, a certain amount of mistrust has resurfaced among some member states. The Spanish dimension of the Summits is underpinned by the fact that this is a Spanish initiative, is reliant on Madrid for 80% of its budget and is based in Spain, thereby confirming the hegemonic nature of the current phase fact (see figure 7).

3.4.2. Bávaro 2002The XII Ibero-American Summit, held in Bávaro in the Dominican Republic on November 15-16, was a confirmation of the trend of the Summits since 1997. It revealed the growing difficulties that Spain faces in overcoming the contradictions involved in being part of the EU and of Ibero-America. Nevertheless, Spain has strengthened its leadership through Prime Minister Aznar’s proposal to reform the Summits, which virtually implies its re-working. This proposal, presented by surprise at the meeting of heads of State and government, was approved with few difficulties, despite not having been discussed at the diplomatic level beforehand (43) and certain countries’ reluctance regarding the strengthening and modifications in the nature of the Summits. This was a major success for Spain, and consolidated its leadership. At Spain’s suggestion the then Brazilian president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, (who ceased in the post shortly afterward) was designated to start up and head a working group. The objective of this group was to discuss specific measures and initiatives, with its findings being presented in the XIII Ibero-American Summit held in Bolivia in November 2003.

According to point five of the Bávaro Declaration, this process of reflection should aim to improve internal cohesion within the Ibero-American Community, which should boost its international profile. Under the terms of the Declaration, the specific areas to be covered were: ‘(a) Greater institutionalization of the system of Conferences. Consider the possibility of increasing the SECIB’s authority to create a Permanent Ibero-American Secretariat; (b) to study the mechanisms and procedures to make for better cooperation within Ibero-America, avoiding the current rigidity; (c) to study requests for links to the Ibero-American Summits.’

Cardoso’s team was also supposed to deliberate on requests to join the Summit from some English-speaking Caribbean states, as well as Equatorial Guinea and Puerto Rico, with the likely outcome that they would be given observer or associate status. The team was also to consider appointing representatives to the United Nations and other international forums. In the event that this process were to progress, we would be faced with a very different model to that set up in 1991 as well as a qualitative leap in terms of the structure and functions of the Summits. The next logical step would be to set up a permanent international Ibero-American organization.

Continuing the practice Spain initiated in 1997 of using the Summits as a forum for discussing problems, a number of Latin American nations, led by Argentina, have publicly manifested their discontent at the course the relations between the EU and Latin America are taking, and at the lack of will shown by the EU to advance the liberalisation of agricultural trade. At that Summit, the 19 Latin American nations present and Argentina in particular criticised Spain and Portugal for the issue of EU subsidies and the protectionism of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – and its extension until 2013. At the end of the Summit, these countries also signed a separate document, laying out their position (44), which Portugal and Spain opted not to subscribe. This was not the only area of disagreement between Latin America and Spain and Portugal. Although the matter did not yield as many headlines, the Latin American nations also brought up the fact that the citizens of some member states, such as Ecuador, required visas to enter the EU, and the fact that Spain had supported this measure.

These events revealed the growing polarization of the Summits, and their progressive transformation from a forum for dialogue, coordination, and cooperation, into a talking shop for the issues facing member states. In short, the growing difficulties Spain faces in reconciling its European and American facets are evident. That is, for the time being Spain’s European vocation, interests and commitments supersede its Latin American vocation, interests and commitments (45). This situation is weakening the Summits’ ability to act as a forum for coordination and cooperation.

The Argentine crisis and the negotiations with the IMF were very much on the Bávaro agenda, and a special declaration on Argentina – albeit relatively neutral – was approved. Prime Minister Aznar’s comments to the press suggested he broadly supported Argentina in its talks with the IMF.

This Summit paid special attention to the role of Ibero-American cooperation as an instrument of solidarity, as well as of political, economic, social and cultural ties to strengthen the concept of identity and belonging to the Ibero-American community. The SECIB was charged with preparing a report on cooperation within the region in the current international context. A plan was also approved to restructure and re-launch the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. A significant step, and one which suggests bigger changes are perhaps afoot, was that the SECIB was instructed to adopt the necessary measures to find the resources to finance Ibero-American cooperation, by involving society at a wider level, including the private sector.

The Bávaro Declaration reiterated a series of positions already established at previous Summits, such as the rejection of the unilateral application of extra-territorial laws and, in particular, the application of the Helms-Burton law. Support for anti-terrorism measures, the fight against drug trafficking and corruption, support for the Doha Work Programme – aimed at securing greater trade liberalisation – and the need to find a just solution to the foreign debt question, as well as many other issues, were all raised.

In any event, the Bávaro Summit clearly showed that a formal process to change the format and nature of the Ibero-American Summits has been opened – under discussion and reflected in certain initiatives since 1998 – while Spain’s leadership and hegemony has also been reinforced. In this respect, Bávaro clearly represents a milestone in the Summit process.

4. Closing Considerations

In conclusion, it is worth making two final considerations on Spain’s Latin American policy. The first relates directly to this policy, and the second is an analysis of the Ibero-American Summits.

In view of the matters commented on above, it is clear that, despite the importance to Spain of a Latin American policy and the country’s multi-dimensional influence there, there is no overall project aimed at encompassing all sectors and players involved (46). The past still weighs on Latin American policy, which has not been subject to a systematic renovation. Contrary to events in other regions, it seems symptomatic that there is no framework plan for Latin America, updating the policy and clearly defining the aims and means on the world stage. Neither are there any country-specific plans, addressing the needs of particular countries, and of Spain’s interests, whether, political, economic, social, cultural, etc.

The lack of coordination between ministries on Latin American policy is striking. This is the case of the foreign and economy ministries, responsible for commercial and foreign policy, respectively, with the corresponding negative effects on the internationalisation of Spanish business (47). The traditional problems between these ministries as regards cooperation and development aid continue. The absence of an overall vision for Latin American policy is also hindering the establishment of an effective Spanish presence at multi-lateral forums such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the International Development Bank, where our input bears little relation to our quotas, being largely testimonial and often to the detriment of Spanish companies’ interests (48). This has had a negative impact on Latin American policy, currently dominated by economic interests, which is preventing Spain from exercising influence in these institutions through effective lobbying in cases that affect the country directly, such as the Argentine crisis.

This lack of coordination is even more apparent in the case of the autonomous regional communities. While some regions coordinate their actions with the foreign ministry, others, particularly the Basque Country and Catalonia, have their own strategies and operate through their own channels and according to their own criteria, thus preventing Spanish aid from realising its full potential.

But the lack of an overall project has not prevented significant changes relative to the Latin American policy in place until 2001. So much so, that we now find ourselves facing modifications in the policy model, reflecting the overall change in foreign policy.

The long-term political, economic, and cultural effects of this alignment with the United States remain to be seen, but there can be no doubt that Spain’s room for manoeuvre is being increasingly reduced, to the point of disappearance. This cannot be positive for Spain’s political, economic, and cultural interests, which do not always coincide with those of the United States. Neither can it be good for the two most important dimensions of Latin American policy: the Ibero-American, which was independent of the United States and gave Spain a leading role in the Ibero-American community; and the European, also free of US influence, which strengthened Latin American policy. This alignment with the United States, which in the European context brings it closer to Italy and the United Kingdom, could weaken EU policy toward Latin America and, in turn, the European dimension of Spain’s Latin American policy. Bear in mind that the Americas Free Trade Association is completely unrelated to Brussels’ Bi-regional Strategic Association.

This move toward the United States and the less-Europeanist of the EU’s members could also raise doubts as to the strengthening of Spain’s role in the EU, and of the EU as the means by which to reinforce EU policies on the region and, consequently, Spain’s Latin American policy.

It is clear that Spain’s European dimension has strengthened policy toward Latin America, given that there is no conflict of interest between the country’s interests there and those of the EU generally. However, it is still not clear whether Spain’s new Atlanticist policy will have the same result, given that Madrid’s and Washington’s interests in the region do not always coincide. The contradictions are clear. Beyond the questions that this change raises, which will undoubtedly affect the European component of Spain’s foreign policy, the other key issue to have emerged in 2002 is the growing difficulty Spain is facing in overcoming the contradictions between its two main areas of foreign policy – its commitments to the EU and to Ibero-America – which were particularly evident at the Bávaro Summit (49).

At present, the advances in European integration and, arguably, in the alignment with the United States, translate into limitations and difficulties in the process of creating a common Ibero-American space; at least that is the way Latin America sees it. The underlying reasons can be found in the identity criteria that define Spain’s Latin American policy and which are perceived as such by Latin American countries in their policy toward Spain –with the corresponding distortions this produces when making certain demands or trying to achieve specific goals in relation to Spain and, through it, to the EU.

Policies based on identity, as is largely the case with Spain’s Latin American policy, tend to create distortions when an emotional component is introduced. As a result, the players involved are not guided solely by interest, but also by criteria based on identity, which multiply or complicate problems and conflicts, as is the case here (50).

The solution to this problem of complementing European and Ibero-American interests in terms of the underlying identity criteria is far from simple. However, it is clearly not to be found by weakening European links, or by joining forces with those nations seeking a ‘low-calorie’ Europe; an approach that the current PP government seems to have embarked on. Nor is unconditional alignment with Washington the answer, given that its hemispheric project (eg, AFTA) has little to do with Spain’s interests. On the contrary, the answer lies in building a stronger Europe and playing a more active role in the EU’s core group, thereby deepening relations between the two continents. This requires joining forces with the countries committed to building the new Europe. Moreover, progress is impossible unless we clearly define our relations with Latin America once and for all, beyond the rhetoric that still very much characterizes the Ibero-American Summits. In short, this requires compatible Euro-Latin American and Ibero-American areas, which are distinct but complementary spaces in the context of Spain’s Latin American policy. Which is not to say that this will be easy or simple, either for Spain or Latin America.

As regards the Ibero-American Summits, although the events of 2002 have been important, the same problems keep cropping up, pushing us to reconsider the context in which the Summits take place. This is largely defined by the spectacular growth in the role of diplomacy, as well as the overall increase in summits of all kinds and the subsequent devaluation of the role they have to play. Finally, Spain’s unconditional alignment with Washington has also played an important role in changing perceptions. As a result, the process of reform needs to be aimed at finding an appropriate common ground and defining its use to those taking part.

The Ibero-American Summits cannot compete directly with the Hemispheric Summits or the EU-Latin America meetings, or be used to create a comparable space to AFTA or the Euro-Latin American Free Trade Area. However, they still help to diversify Latin America’s international relations and establish a different dimension within the hemisphere, which addresses the needs of the Ibero-Americans more directly.

The biggest problems inherent in applying a specific definition to this area do not relate to Spain’s membership of the EU – given that Europe’s interests in Latin America are neither hegemonic nor military-strategic. Thus, Spain and European can play complementary and mutually beneficial roles. However, Spain’s new policy of automatic alignment with the United States is likely to give rise to problems. Washington’s strategic and hegemonic ambitions in Latin America effectively rule out any role for Spain or a common Ibero-American area, with Spain becoming an extension of US policy in the region. This may well mean that the Summits become meaningless for the Latin Americans, thus weakening the Ibero-American multilateral mechanisms identified with Spain and Portugal. Spain as an extension of US foreign policy is unlikely to bring any benefits to the Ibero-American Community.

In this context, consider the following. Firstly, the Ibero-American Summits remain a multilateral forum that is closely identified with Spain, without having become a priority for the Latin American nations. Spain’s hegemonic leadership, initiated under the PP, has reinforced this image and reality. It is debatable whether this hegemonic leadership will benefit the Summits in the medium to long term and whether it will even favour Spain’s interests beyond the short term. The most positive aspects of the Spanish proposal are that the Summits should not have been allowed to slide into decline and that they need to be redefined. The question is whether this format will work and whether we will see progress toward a more effective model, given that all the parties involved agree that this would be both useful and necessary.

Secondly, a number of questions, that have largely been sidelined so far, need to be raised. The first relates to the political nature of the Summits. To date, they have principally been an instrument for dialogue, coordination and multilateral cooperation. Despite the occasional reference to national problems, they had generally avoided becoming political instruments that could create problems for bilateral relations between its members. The Summits, beyond any general statements or the need to address specific issues such as terrorism or the EU’s common agricultural policy, had always avoided such controversial issues as human rights, emigration, drug-trafficking, the WTO talks, or relations with the United States. Although it is true that the tendency of recent years – particularly on the part of the Spanish government – has been to add such issues to the agenda, thus gradually politicising affairs, this has not been formally proposed as a means of changing the nature of the Summits.

It is time to take a close look at the opportuneness of this change, implying a transformation and creating major problems for some participants, such as Cuba. The confirmation of this new reality would reinforce the process of change within the model, which would probably increase most member states’ interest in the Summits. Nevertheless, taking the Summits beyond the forum concept would also challenge Spain’s hegemony, although it is still too early to be able to gauge the likely longer-term effects. In any event, regardless of this transformation, it seems clear that the SECIB needs overhauling and that it should become a Permanent Secretariat, aimed at making the Summits into an international organization. This is the only way to overcome the problem of the Summits’ lack of visibility on the world stage in the periods between events.

Along the same lines, the requirements outlined in the Bariloche Agreement to set up cooperation programmes should be more flexible (51). Multilateral cooperation is not only one of the main reasons behind the Summits’ existence, but also the foundations of the common Ibero-American area. The importance of all the measures designed to reinforce or strengthen cooperation cannot be overstated. Reducing the number of votes – to five countries, for example – needed to reach an agreement would be a way of improving flexibility. This would open the door to a few countries setting a fast-track approach to create this common area, with other countries following suit in their own time. Similarly, it would allow for a reduction in the number of cooperation programmes, while concentrating efforts on the most important issues.

Thirdly, developing point 52 of the Bávaro Declaration would represent a major contribution to achieving the above objectives, as it calls for society’s involvement in the search for additional resources to finance cooperation. This point has been overlooked at the Summits, which have generally failed to connect with the general population of the countries concerned. This contrasts with the reality that unites our society, which comprises a vast and diverse network of associations and links of a truly Ibero-American nature. This implies that the Summits, particularly through the SECIB, need to overcome their so far strictly diplomatic nature and articulate the appropriate mechanisms to formalize the existing ties, independently in most cases.

Throughout 2002 we saw a change of policy on Latin America, representing a considerable risk for Spanish interests, given the break with consensus – leaving Latin American policy subject to the fluctuations of politics and electoral needs – and the weak supporting arguments, as well as the uncertain results in the medium to long term. However, this change is subject to an important personal factor: what will happen when Aznar is no longer Prime Minster? If the PP wins the elections again, will Aznar’s successor continue his policies? If this is the case, the changes made will have been more than just the exercise of personal power. Or will Aznar’s successor return to the previous foreign policy model – including that applied to Latin America – thus confirming the eminently personal and short-term nature of the decision?

Figure 1. Geographic distribution of net flows of Spanish direct investment, 2000-02 (millions of euros, percentage of world total, and variation rate)

Countries/Groups€ mn% of Total€ mn% of Total% Change€ mn% of Total% Change
OECD Countries13.593,9270,411.737,7386,53-13,654.773,8572,08-59,33
European Union12.266,5963,589.733,3771,00-20,653.444,3052,01-64,61
Tax havens625,273,2442,420,31-93,22-17,87-0,27-142,14
North Africa-2,53-0,0111,710,090,564.332,000,07-63,00

Source: Trade Ministry, based on Register of Spanish Foreign Investment.  

Figure 2. Net flows of Spanish direct investment to Ibero-America by country, 2000-02 (millions of euros, percentage on total Latin America, and variation rate)

Countries/Groups€ mn% of Total€ mn% of Total% Change€ mn% of Total% Change
Central America and Caribbean684,1413,65992,8761,5145,13409,8725,33-58,7
Costa Rica-0,180,000,360,02434,42-0,16-0,01-143,26
Dominican Republic3,620,075,870,3662,098,160,5038,96
Panama (*)12,15-14,28-217,47-5,0164,91
El Salvador0,000,000,000,000,0028,701,77
South America4.325,9186,34622,0738,54-85,621.208,5474,6994,28
Total Ibero-America5.010,05100,001.614,94100,00-67,771.618,41100,000,21

(1) Panama is considered a tax haven and is not included in the total, or the percentage calculations.
Source: Trade Ministry, based on Register of Spanish Foreign Investment.

Figure 3. Geographic Distribution of Spanish Bilateral Official Development Aid (AOD) 2000-02 (based on Annual International Cooperation Plan, PACI)

  Geographic Area200020012001 (without Nicaragua’s debt cancellation) (1)2002
€ mn% of Bilateral AOD€ mn% of Bilateral AOD€ mn% of Bilateral AOD€ mn% of Bilateral AOD
Asia y Oceania135,8015,20107,338,58107,3312,8823,214,34
Sub-Saharan Africa99,0712,3279,557,9379,5511,9068,1612,76
North Africa38,774,8258,704,6958,707,0474,6513,97
Middle East22,302,7438,643,0938,644,6423,424,38

(1) In 2001 a three-way operation was set up to liquidate the debt accumulated by the unsuccessful Celulosas de Guatemala S.A. (CELGUSA). Guatemala repaid Spain in bonds representing Nicaragua’s debt with Guatemala, cancelled in turn in the context of the HIPC initiative. The agreement, worth €578.03 million, implied condoning €417.14 million, attributed to Nicaragua in statistical terms. This figure accounts for around one-third of overseas bilateral aid for Ibero-America. The operation, unrelated to regular aid programmes, considerably distorted the figures for 2001, so they are also given excluding this amount. Sources: PACI for 2000-2001 and forecasts for 2002, Secretary of State for International and Ibero-American Cooperation (SECIPI). The geographical areas are ordered by the relative importance of the funds in 2001. The 2001 data do not reflect the €424.03 million budgeted as FAD credits, micro-credits and other contributions, not yet assigned geographically. The totals do not coincide as rounding is used in the calculations.  

Figure 4. Geographical and income-based breakdown of bilateral Spanish Official Development Aid (AOD) and of members of the Committee for Development Aid (CAD), 2000 (proportion of total bilateral AOD)

CAD RegionSpainAverage CAD Members
Sub-Saharan Africa1629
North Africa127
Middle East34
Less Developed Countries1226
Other Low Income Countries2833
Total of low income countries4059
Low-to-Medium Income Countries5035
Medium-to-High Income Countries96
Total of Medium Income Countries5941

Sources: Committee for Development Aid, Development Cooperation Review, Spain, Paris, CAD/OECD, 2002.  

Figure 5. Official Development Aid (AOD) to Latin America and the Caribbean, by country and instrument, 2001 (millions of euros)

Refundable Bilateral AODNon-refundable Bilateral AOD
CountriesFAD Credits and Micro CreditsCancellation of Foreign DebtProgrammes and ProjectsTotal Bilateral AOD
Country Programmes
El Salvador14,160,0037,2851,44
Peru– 0,190,0030,6330,44
Dominican Republic7,110,0012,0019,11
Other countries
Costa Rica1,620,002,043,66
Uruguay– 0,160,002,151,99
Trinidad and Tobago0,000,000,040,04
Chile– 5,440,002,21-3,23
Argentina– 7,660,003,30– 4,36
Mexico– 16,930,006,64– 10,29
Non-specified Caribbean and Latin American15,020,0041,9756,99

Source: PACI-monitoring 2001, Secretary of State for International and Latin American Cooperation (SECIPI).

 (*) In 2001 a three-way operation was set up to liquidate the debt accumulated by the unsuccessful Cellulosas de Guatemala S.A. (CELGUSA). Guatemala repaid Spain in bonds representing Nicaragua’s debt with Guatemala, cancelled in turn in the context of the HIPC initiative. The agreement, worth €578.03 million, implied condoning €417.14 million, attributed to Nicaragua in statistical terms. This figure accounts for around one-third of overseas bilateral aid for Ibero-America. The operation, unrelated to regular aid programmes, considerably distorted the figures for 2001, so they are also given excluding this amount. Source: Committee for Development Aid (OECD).  

Figure 6. Contribution of Ibero-American States to SECIB, 2002

CountryQuota (US$)Quota (€)
Costa Rica3.735,2694.377,637
El Salvador3.524,5624.130,694
Paraguay3.601,183                        4220,491
Dominican Republic3.677,8044.310,289

Source: SECIB.

Celestino del Arenal, Professor of International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid


(1) I would like to express my thanks to José Antonio Sanahuja for the preparation and explanation of the figures that appear in this work.

(2) See Arenal and Nájera 1992. In a similar vein, Brysk, Parsons, and Sandholtz, from a constructivist perspective, point out that to understand the political, economic and institutional relationships that Spain, France and the United Kingdom have with their former colonies, it is not enough to merely cite political, economic or strategic interests, or turn to realist or neo-realist theories. Rather an explanation should be sought in criteria of identity (Brysk, Parsons, and Sandholtz 2002).

(3) Article 56.1 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 places the King as the head of the Spanish state as regards relations with ‘the nations of its historic community’. This is also shown in Article 11.3 in reference to dual nationality treaties. Common law also contains a number of dispositions that are deferential to Latin America (Roldán 2001:126). This is illustrated by the existence of a Commission for Ibero-American Affairs in the Spanish Senate. This special character is reflected in many legal dispositions between Spain and the countries of Latin America.

(4) For Spain’s Central American policy and its conditioning factors, see Arenal 2000 a:254-259.

(5) The stages that I distinguish in Latin American policy do not correspond to the general stages that, in my opinion, characterize Spanish foreign policy due to the unique character of the former. For my datelining of Spanish foreign policy, see: Arenal 1991 and 1994: 73-75.

(6) For a broader consideration of the current normalized and pragmatic approach to Spain’s Latin American policy, see: Grasa 2001: 67-69.

(7) Some 86% of Spanish direct investment in Latin America went to Argentina (30%), Brazil  (28%), Chile (13%), Colombia (8%), and Mexico (7%). By sector, investment was mainly concentrated in financial services, telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, hotel and catering, and food processing (Arahuets 2000). See also: Durán 1999, Casilda 2002, Ontiveros and Fernández 2002, Casilda, Fernánez and Pampillón 2002.

(8) For an analysis of the fourth-generation framework cooperation agreements that the EU has signed with Mercosur, Chile, and Mexico, see: Arenal 1997: 125-135.

(9) See: Freres and Sanz 2002 a.

(10) Royal Decree 1412/2000, of July 21 (BOE of July 22, 2000).

(11) This was the case with Adolfo Suárez and Felipe González – albeit for different reasons – as well as José María Aznar. The first two adopted a highly personalized approach to bilateral and regional relations, while the latter only did so at a regional level at the Ibero-American Summits, as a reflection of the Ibero-Americanization that Latin American policy was undergoing.

(12) A few days after the new government was installed, taking advantage of an official visit by then vice-president Al Gore, at a joint press conference on May 25, 1996 Prime Minister Aznar stated that he would take a tougher stance on Cuba, suspending official cooperation except for humanitarian aid, winning praise from Gore.

(13) Spain’s proposal, which suggested the suspension of economic cooperation except for humanitarian aid, was largely in line with US policy on the island. It incorporated all the requests put forward in September by the special US envoy during a tour of European capitals. If approved under those terms, it also meant a break with the policy followed by the EU until then.

(14) This change is clearly reflected in the speech that then foreign minister Josep Piqué gave at CESEDEN on October 31, 2001 on ‘National Interests in Foreign Policy’. During the speech, Piqué emphasized the European aspect to relations with Latin America, as well as the need to create a common area through the Ibero-American Summits.

(15) See: the speech given by Piqué on December 18, 2000 at the Club Siglo XXI on ‘Spain’s New Foreign Policy Frontiers’.

(16) For Noya, who has carried out an exhaustive study on Spain’s image abroad on the basis of opinion polls, the reasons for this syndrome are the increase in investments and their concentration in a few sectors and entry via privatizations – bringing about a sense of loss of sovereignty, leading to mistrust in the politicians that implemented the measures – the expectations generated among ordinary people, and the abuses that have accompanied the process in some cases (Noya 2002: 185).

(17) Spain undoubtedly has all the elements of a major cultural power – history, a thriving language, a rich historical heritage and huge cultural influences abroad. Culture is the fourth-largest economic activity. But it is also true that this potential has not been realized, given the lack of resources, the absence of an effective cultural policy and, despite the aforementioned progress, the lack of effort in projecting the country abroad. Guillermo Adams labels Spain as a potential cultural power (Adams 2001).

(18) In 2002, the AOD earmarked for Latin America is expected to represent 53.20%, a figure that had not been reached in previous years (figures 3, 4 and 5).

(19) Law 23/1998, of 7/VII (BOE of 8/VII/1998).

(20) See: OECD 2002. A broader look at Spanish development cooperation in general and with Latin America in particular in Gómez Galán and Sanahuja 1999, and Saenz Gil 2001.

(21) The incident on the Island of Perejil, off the Moroccan coast, was settled by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and not by the EU. This showed not only the unconditional alignment with Washington, but also the special relationship that Spain is trying to establish with the United States.

(22) Arahuetes points to the end of an expansive cycle (1995-2000) of direct investment in Latin America by Spanish companies, and the beginning of a new stage, characterized by a sudden fall in the flow of Spanish capital and the restructuring of business strategies (Arahuetes 2002).

(23) In general terms, Spanish investment abroad fell by 49% in 2001. This, however, should be seen in the context of the global economic crisis, which did affect Spain and Latin America alone. From 2001 on, international investment has decreased. Compared with 2000, international investment contracted by 51% to US$750,000 million in 2001, the biggest drop in 30 years and the first in the last decade (Casilda 2002:383).

(24) The IMF’s treatment of Argentina in applying a rescue package was discriminatory compared with Brazil and Uruguay, and was scandalous in comparison with the dealings with Turkey. US strategy and policy are the underlying reasons.

(25) It is worth noting the position taken by the Argentine media over the Spanish-Moroccan crisis arising from the Perejil affair. Unlike the rest of the continent, which was generally sympathetic to Spain’s position, Argentina was critical of Madrid. According to Ortiz, the reasons are to found in the country’s feelings over the Falklands Island conflict, as well as the presence of Spanish companies in key sectors of the economy (Ortiz 2002). This negative perception of Spain is corroborated by opinion polls. See: Noya 2002: 177-185.

(26) In view of Spain’s actions during the coup, President Chávez objected to the presence of Spain in the Group of Friends.

(27) The current reform of the CAP does not look as though it will address Latin America’s demands for a reduction of tariffs and agricultural subsidies. This, combined with the WTO talks, does not present a very promising outcome for trade talks with Latin America.

(28) European Commission, Regional Strategic Report on Latin America. Programme for 2002-2002, IV/2002. On November 15, 2001, the European Parliament, more sensitive to the need to improve bi-regional relations, adopted the ‘Salafranca Report’ on ‘A Global Association and Common Strategy for relations between the EU and Latin America’. This called for a reactivation of relations and the establishment of an overall policy on Latin America based on real issues.

(29) Parallel to the Madrid Summit, an alternative Trans-Atlantic Social Forum was held, called ‘Another America is possible’. This grouped representatives from more than 70 organizations in Latin America and Europe, and criticised the basis for relations between the EU and Latin America.

(30) The 55 priorities agreed at Rio, reduced to 11 by Tuusula and which should have been achieved by the Madrid Summit, were delayed or simply not complied with (Sanahuja 2002 b: 69-71). Three documents were approved in Madrid: the ‘Madrid Commitment’, an evaluation of the objectives proposed in Rio and the ‘Common Values and Positions’, covering a number of international questions. The Madrid Commitment, aimed at building a bioregional  ‘Strategic Association’, has made little progress on the 2002-2006 regional strategy on Latin American already presented by the Commission.

(31) The Interregional Framework Agreement on Cooperation between the EU and Mercosur was signed in Madrid on December 15, 1995. The negotiations aimed at reaching a free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur have made no progress so far. Now, the idea is for the talks to finish by 2005, when the AFTA comes into being.

(32) The EU-Chile Association Agreement was formally signed in Brussels on November 18, 2002.

(33) The Ibero-American Summits group 21 European and American Spanish and Portuguese-speaking nations.

(34) This priority assigned to the Ibero-American Summits has been a constant in the statements made by the different foreign affairs ministers. See: Josep Piqué, National Interests as part of Foreign Policy, a speech given at CESEDEN on October 31, 2001; Ana Palacio, Statement of Foreign Affairs Minister, Ana Palacio, to the Congress’ Foreign Affairs Commission on guidelines of her department’s policy (BOCG, nº 554, 24/IX/O2)

(35) The Isla Margarita Summit represented an inflection point, triggering a rethink as to aims and scope (Piñeiro 2000: 81).

(36) This was the case over Gibraltar at the Isla Margarita Summit in 1998, or with terrorism at the Panama meeting in 2000. Terrorism had been condemned in general terms since the Guadalajara Summit. However, in Panama in 1991, at Spain’s suggestion and with Mexican backing, El Salvador proposed the express condemnation of ETA terrorism, which was approved by all the countries present, except Cuba. For the first time in its history, the Summit approved a proposal that had not received unanimous support.

(37) Chile had already tried to use the Bariloche Summit as a forum to garner support for a resolution condemning the nuclear tests undertaken by China and France in the Pacific. Argentina subsequently won backing for its position on the Falkland Islands at the Isla Margarita Summit in 1997.

(38) For the consideration of the Summits as an international regime, which Sanhueza deems an ‘anomalous regime’, see: Rojas Aravena 2000: 15; Sanhueza 2002: 33

(39) The main results are the formal recognition of the existence of an Ibero-American Community, or a common Ibero-American area that operates in three main ways. Firstly, as a forum for dialogue and discussion, without exceptions, among Ibero-American leaders. Secondly, as a way to coordinate policy, enabling its members to act in unison and with a single voice in international affairs. It is also a multilateral area of cooperation, and which has generated numerous programmes of this type. The third main achievement is the creation of an institutional structure to facilitate the functioning of a common area. This common area is founded on the principles of democracy, human rights, respect for international law, sovereignty, non-interference, the non-extra-territoriality of judicial decisions, freedom of the press, free elections, the predominance of civil powers, the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism, equality of development, etc. For a broader consideration of the results of the Summits, see: Díaz Barrado 1994:81-111: Arenal 2000 b: 33-36, and 2002: 78-80; Díaz 2000; Ruiz-Gimenez 2002; SECIB 2001 and 2002.

(40) For a more detailed analysis of the institutionalization process, see: Portales 2002:54-55.

(41) It became an international organization on May 2, 2002. The SECIB’s statute was ratified at the end of 2002 by 15 states, 12 of which are up to date on their quotas.

(42) Some Latin American states were reticent about its creation. For example, these doubts were reflected in the Oporto Summit in 1998, when the Spanish proposal to create a Cooperation Secretariat ran into difficulties from some countries. As consensus was not possible on the structure, the matter was postponed until the Havana Summit in 1999. Finally, the fact that Spain assumed responsibility for 80% of the cost and that the Secretariat’s functions were to be strictly limited to cooperation, allowed for its creation.

(43) The Spanish delegation applied the only tactic possible in the context of the Summits to avoid the failure of its initiative. On the one hand, this involved avoiding, at all costs, revealing the content of the proposal until the last moment and that the proposal be discussed through the Summit’s own diplomatic channels, in which case its destination was far from clear. On the other hand, the initiative was to be presented directly and by surprise to the meeting of the heads of state and government, who would be hard pushed to reject it, given the mood of cordiality at the meetings.

(44) Spain and Portugal rejected the Latin American proposal that their complaints be included in the Summit’s concluding remarks or in the Bávaro Declaration.

(45) The problems of reconciling both vocations are not only evident in relation to trade and immigration policies, but also in other areas. At the IV Summit in Cartagena de Indias in 1994, Spain and Portugal could not support the candidacy of Carlos Salinas de Gortari to head the WTO, as they had to support the EU’s candidate. In the V Summit in Bariloche in 1995, the Chilean proposal to strongly condemn China’s and France’s nuclear tests in the Pacific was modified due to Portuguese and Spanish pressure, as they refused to include the reference to France in the final document (Ruiz Jiménez 2002: 87).

(46) See: AIETI 2000 for a proposal for a renewed Latin American policy.

(47) For a broader consideration of this point and the problems it generates, see: Mallo 2001: 187-192.

(48) Ayuso 2001: 104 and Mallo 2001: 191-192

(49) See: Sotillo 2000:308

(50) This explains the deterioration of Spain’s image – particularly in Argentina – as a result of the increase in Spanish investment and the mistakes that some Spanish companies made. If these had been British or US companies, the reaction would have been different and less emotional.

(51) The Bariloche Convention states that, for a cooperation programme to be incorporated into the Summit, it must be the initiative of at least three countries and be approved by at least seven others, who assume financial or technical responsibilities.


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Celestino del Arenal

Written by Celestino del Arenal