As Spain, Latin America’s Fortunes Shift, Ibero-American Summit Loses Steam

As Spain, Latin America’s Fortunes Shift, Ibero-American Summit Loses Steam

When the Ibero-American Summit convened in Panama on Oct. 16, it bore little resemblance in spirit and tenor to its launch in 1991. The idea that initially animated the annual gathering of Spain and Portugal’s heads of state and their Latin American counterparts emphasized the renewal of historical, cultural bonds in a context in which the two relatively prosperous European nations could lend a hand to help lift up their former colonies. Spain in particular was held up as a model for its post-Franco democratic restoration and would serve as Latin America’s entry point into European markets.

Judging by the latest gathering, that idea has been exhausted. In Panama, by all accounts, there were few traces of such solidarity, and the sense of common purpose has gradually diminished. Many factors—including the proliferation of integration schemes and summits, along with resulting fatigue—have contributed to the fading dynamism of that initiative.

Most fundamental has been a dramatic shift in conditions in recent years. A notably more confident and autonomous Latin America, which has experienced sustained growth over the past decade, coupled with the economic doldrums that have lately bedeviled much of Europe and especially Spain, have led to a drifting apart and even turning of the tables.

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