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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The relationship between Spain and Latin America (LAC) goes back to the fifteenth century, yet it is after Spanish democratization in 1975 that this was defined as ‘a special relationship’. A fundamental component of Spain’s foreign policy and international strategy since then, in practice, however, it has experienced a constant tension between the idea of community and the pursuit of material interests. To understand Spain–LAC relations one must explore the changing interplay between ideas and interests, as well as the institutional frameworks, their context, and time. This chapter shows that accommodation and compromise between the idea of an Iberoamerican community, based on a shared history and common values, on the one hand, and material objectives, on the other, were easily reached during the 1980s and 1990s, assuring Spain’s leadership in LAC and in the European Union (EU). With the turn of the century, though, this strain became more pronounced as Spain’s agenda turned more strongly towards economic considerations and became imbued with a vertical logic, whereas the institutional frameworks put into place, and which were built on the notion of community, turned out to be insufficient to process the conflicting pressures. Spain–LAC dynamics seem to have moved from special relations to an increasing detachment.

Keywords: Latin America, Spain, European Union, Iberoamerican community, ideas, interests, institutions, time, foreign policy

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