Europe and Latin America must strengthen their “strategic convergence” has defended the Ibero-American Secretary General (SEGIB), Andrés Allamand, in a debate on transatlantic relations in an uncertain context marked by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the supply crisis and the growing weight of China in Latin America. The participants in the annual conference of the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, held this Thursday at the Casa de América headquarters in Madrid, have agreed to point to a solid alliance between the two regions as one of the keys to responding to these challenges in an international environment marked by “the struggle between democracies and tyrannies”, in the words of José Juan Ruiz, president of the Elcano Royal Institute.
In the opening discussion, Allemand considered “particularly important” in the context of the war in Ukraine the fact that Latin America can respond to “Europe’s needs for energy, food and raw materials, which it has in abundance” . And he recalled that none of the 22 Ibero-American countries opposed the text condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine on March 2 in the vote at the UN General Assembly. Eighteen supported it and only four (Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua) abstained. “This political coincidence must be taken care of”, he added before stressing that “there is a strategic convergence between both regions” and that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and the Europeans make up a third of the members of the United Nations. They also account for 25% of world GDP and nearly half of the G-20 members.
“The West is not going to win the war against tyranny without allies,” Ruiz said, alluding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “and Latin America is a solution, since it is aligned with the world order that Europe has up until now defended. and the United States, based on interests, the nature of institutions and values. Latin America is the region of the world that has the best chance of joining our vision in these three areas. Without Ibero-America we will not be able to have a coalition that imposes democratic values against autocracies”, he stressed in the dialogue, moderated by the director of EL PAÍS, Pepa Bueno, and in which the United States ambassador to Spain also participated, Julissa Reynoso. The speakers have underlined the importance of an alliance between the two regions at a time when, in Bueno’s words, Europe is “self-absorbed” and faces “an acceleration of history”.
Ambassador Reynoso has stressed that the “concept of democracy” that Latin America, the United States and Spain share “will be questioned” if the needs of citizens are not met. Economic reforms should reduce the poverty-inequality axis, generate growth and do so in a sustainable way, the speakers pointed out. “Democracies face common challenges, but the answers must be individual”, assured the Ibero-American Secretary General. This “inclusive and sustainable” response, the generation of growth and opportunities, will in turn contribute to curbing the phenomenon of “forced migration” at source, according to Reynoso.
The ambassador regretted, however, that the common framework is “minimal”. The last summit between the Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) dates from June 2015. Since then, the foreign ministers of both regions have met only three times and high-level visits have also been rare . This relative distance has been taken advantage of by actors such as China, which has managed to displace the European Union as the second trading partner in Latin America, behind the United States, a position it had traditionally held.
This year’s conference of the bank – a multilateral financial institution that provides banking services to the public and private sectors of its 18 shareholder countries in Latin America, plus Spain and Portugal – was entitled “Europe-Latin America Relations. Alliances for a sustainable recovery”. Organized with the support of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation of Spain, the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations and Casa de América, has also hosted two panels, one on sustainable recovery and another on the global value of Spanish, in which they have participated Among others, the General Director of Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, Cristina Gallach; the special commissioner for the Alliance for the New Economy of Language, Gabriela Ramos; the Secretary of State for Ibero-America and the Caribbean and Spanish in the World; Juan Fernandez Wheat; and the former president of the Inter-American Development Bank Enrique Iglesias.
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