Spain Trying to Improve Image in Latin America

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryWhen many people in Latin America think of Spain, they think of the country as the historical enemy that ruled and oppressed their ancestors. During the wars of independence, the enemy was Spain and the Spanish armies that traversed the lands of Latin America. When many people in Latin America think about Spain, they think about the cruelty the Spanish Crown visited on the Latin America rebel armies and even the ordinary civilians who fought to be free. There is no question in the minds of the Spanish government that they have an image problem in much of Latin America. So, the Spanish monarch King Juan Carlos I and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in conjunction with the Carolina Foundation, have launched a new program called “Brand Spain.”

“Brand Spain” will do two things with regards to helping to improving Spain’s image in Latin America. First, the program will help finance programs, scholars and buy materials for teaching about Spain, Spanish culture and history, and creating an atmosphere of understanding between students and scholars from Latin America and Spanish scholars. Second, and just as important, the program will provide scholarships for those Latin American students who wish to study in Spain but who cannot afford to go there. Likewise, the program will provide funds so that people in Latin America, either as individuals or in groups, can go on trips to Spain. The Carolina Foundation has provided U.S. $134.85 million to fund “Brand Spain.”

This is a wonderful way for the Spanish government, through private means, to try and connect with a continent that shares a great deal of its culture, language and history with Spain. Spain has actually tried to do something similar to this program before. Even so, it has never been easy to foster relations with Latin America. Memories of what Spain was die hard—many tales of Spain’s bad points having been passed from generation to generation. But Spain has changed from what it historically was, and the Spanish government is trying to foster a better and richer side of what Spain is today. I hope that “Brand Spain” will help to bring about a new and better understanding between Spain and Latin America.

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