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Call for unity marks the beginning of Veracruz summit, several members absent

Call for unity marks the beginning of Veracruz summit, several members absent

Posted by Juan Gavasa on December 09, 2014

The XXIV Ibero-American Summit has begun in this Mexican coastal city with a call for unity among the member nations despite the marked absence of several key countries such as Brazil and Argentina. Under the theme "Education, Innovation and Culture," the heads of state from Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal inaugurated on Monday the annual summit, the first in which Spain's King Felipe VI will participate following his ascension to the throne in June.

The monarch was the first at the summit to highlight the need for the Ibero-American members to act intelligently and pragmatically, as the group of nations would have much more to offer to the world if they were united. He urged joint efforts in all speheres including political, economic, cultural, social, educational and science as much as possible.

Ibero-American General-Secretary Rebeca Grynspan urged all the leaders to seek to complement each other as a community instead of competing, in order to form a "symmetric and horizontal relationship." Grynspan, who replaced Enrique Iglesias as general secretary this year, underlined that the summit should be one of renovation and cited an old African proverb which says "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Hours before, at the Ibero-American Communication Forum, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, "Ibero-American identity enriches us and the unity strengthens us." However, despite these calls for regional unity, this year's summit again witnessed the absence of several members as at previous editions.

Of the 22 member nations, heads of six countries -Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela- were absent, while El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren pulled out of the event at the last moment.

However, Sanchez was replaced by Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez.

The absence of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, on health grounds, and that of Brazilian Dilma Rousseff was known beforehand. However, Bolivian President Evo Morales, who had confirmed his participation at the event, canceled.

At the inaugural ceremony, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto highlighted the importance of the three core ideas, which fall under the theme of the summit, which will conclude the process of renovation of the group, initiated two years ago in Cadiz, Spain.

The leaders will continue their discussions Tuesday behind closed doors and approve a document and a series of resolutions which were agreed upon Monday by the foreign ministers of the participating countries.

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