Gustavo Petro and Spain: Laying New Foundations with Latin America

Climate change and the new formula for the relationship between the EU and Latam were among the relevant issues in Gustavo Petro's speech in front of the Spanish Congress.

Gustavo Petro on his visit to Spain

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LatinAmerican Post | Alejandra Caballero

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Leer en español: Gustavo Petro y España: sentar nuevas bases con América Latina

On May 3, Colombian President Gustavo Petro addressed the Spanish Parliament. In the framework of his first state visit to Spain, the South American president asked the parliamentarians that the role of this country in the framework of the CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and EU Summit be oriented towards leadership in the creation of joint actions to combat climate change. Spain will assume the Presidency of the EU, so its role would be crucial to strengthen multilateral relations between the two regions, especially in the framework of these meetings.

Within the framework of the presidential visit to Spanish territory, the Colombian President emphasized in his speech: "We can change or become extinct. There is no time for more." This shows the Colombian Government's clear position regarding fossil fuels and the need to seek sustainable alternatives. These statements are complemented by what was raised by the Colombian head of state in the framework of the CELAC meeting in Buenos Aires last January, where he stated, "In Latin America, we have some geopolitical cards to discuss. Saving the Amazon rainforest is the third pillar of an exit agenda for the climate crisis."

Faced with a possible leadership of Spain on the climate issue, harmony between both governments is expected in the coming years, considering the statements of both heads of government during the official visit. In this context, Pedro Sánchez warned in the bilateral meeting with Petro in the Moncloa Palace on May 4 about the importance given to both countries' challenges towards future generations, especially on issues of biodiversity and interest in an energy transition. "Thanks to a connected and more digital future, we have the opportunity to bring prosperity to areas unfairly mistreated by isolation that we can now overcome through progress," declared the President of the Spanish Government.

Similarly, the Spanish president emphasized the impact of Spain in the face of climate change, as well as the role of Colombia in the process of being a "crucial country to fight this battle," highlighting the need to generate synergies between various countries for scientific development towards sustainability.

A New Path with LATAM

In addition to emphasizing climate change, Petro also proposed in his statements in front of the Spanish congressmen "laying different foundations for relations with Latin America," exclaiming: "You are going to lead Europe. We are going to meet you at a summit. What are we going to say there? Where do we take those relationships? Will we leave things as they are or lay a different foundation? The world demands a different foundation."

The Summit between the Latin American and Caribbean countries and the European Union will occur on July 17 and 18 in Belgium. According to El País, "The objective, according to diplomatic sources, is to recover the ground lost in recent years, which China has taken advantage of to become the first trading partner of the region's countries (except Mexico) and one of the largest foreign investors."

For now, it is expected that beyond the speech and declarations by the members of the EU, the CELAC countries would be expecting a real and viable plan in terms of foreign investment in the region and a reactivation of possible political and economic agreements between the states belonging to both hemispheres.

You can also read: Dollarization in Argentina: What are the advantages and disadvantages of this idea by Javier Milei?

Countries like Colombia already have an FTA with the EU; however, it is expected that within the framework of the meeting, the first initiatives will emerge to advance various Free Trade Agreements with Mexico, Chile, and the Mercosur economic bloc. Advancement of the negotiations to materialize these agreements would be essential to reactivate European influence in the region as a counterweight to the territory gained by China and Russia in recent years in the trade and political power in Latin America.

Similarly, within the framework of the CELAC-EU meeting, the presentation of various investment packages towards LATAM is expected, which would not only be supported by European countries but also have the support of different international organizations such as the IDB ( Inter-American Development Bank) and the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

Support in the Peace Process in Colombia

During the meeting between Sánchez and Petro, the support Spain will provide in the respective government reforms underway in Colombia with a view to the Peace process was highlighted. Sánchez reiterates his commitment to "the ambitious and courageous project of Total Peace."

"I have reiterated to President Petro the commitment of Spain, of the whole of Spanish society, not only of the Government, to support his ambitious plan, also courageous, his Total Peace project, which aims to build a broad and lasting peace," Sanchez mentions. From this, Spain formally supported Colombia by contributing one million euros to be disbursed in 2023.

On the other hand, the Spanish president emphasized the importance of continuing the negotiations with the ELN (National Liberation Army) armed group and has arranged to accompany said dialogue process.

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