Spain, U.S. Want Latin America To Assume New “Global” Role

By Dialogo
February 02, 2010

Spain and the United States agreed on the need for Latin America to assume a role of "global interlocutor" to participate in overcoming problems like the economic crisis and confronting challenges like climate change. The Spanish secretary of state for Ibero-America, Juan Pablo de Laiglesia and Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela met in Madrid. The two officials particularly discussed issues like the humanitarian situation in earthquake-stricken Haiti and the political crisis in Honduras, as well as cooperation between the United States and the European Union on Latin America. De Laiglesia took advantage of the meeting to explain to his U.S. colleague "the objectives Spain hopes to achieve during its six-month EU presidency," he said in an interview with Efe once the meeting had concluded. "We found full agreement that Latin America is a global actor who must be recognized as such and that we have to recognize that role in the solution of problems on the global agenda," De Laiglesia said. He emphasized that the exchange of views with Valenzuela was "extremely fruitful and constructive," and he announced that Spain and the United States have the intention "not only to continue it but to provide it with a more solid institutional structure via the constitution of working groups on specific questions." The first of those issues will be development aid to Latin America, he said. De Laiglesia emphasized that the various efforts among Spain, the EU and the United States will "always be recognizing the leadership" of the Latin American countries themselves "in setting objectives and mechanisms for that cooperation." Regarding Haiti, De Laiglesia said that he had discussed with Valenzuela "the need and the urgency of refining all the mechanisms of coordination to ensure efficacious help in attending to the emergency, but also in the area of reconstruction and support plans in the medium and long terms" to overcome the devastation of the Jan. 12 earthquake, which left more than 170,000 people dead and some 1.5 million homeless. Honduras was another central issue in the conversation between Valenzuela and De Laiglesia, the latter of whom expressed the stance of Spain and the EU with regard to the crisis sparked by last June's coup against Honduran President Mel Zelaya. "The assumption of the presidency by (Porfirio) Lobo and the resolution of the totally unacceptable situation that President Zelaya was in imply the creation of a scenario in which it becomes possible to contemplate a recovery of normality in relations between Honduras and the rest of the Ibero-American and global community," said De Laiglesia.