The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, was awarded on Monday, November 2 with the Recipient of the Order of Isabella the Catholic, granted by King Felipe VI of Spain, during a ceremony held at the residence of the Spanish Ambassador to Peru, Ernesto de Zulueta Habsburgo-Lorena.
The distinction was awarded to Bárcena by the Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America, Jesús Gracia. The Director General for Ibero-America of Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Pablo Gómez Olea, also participated in the event.
The Real Order of Isabella the Catholic was created in 1815 by King Ferdinand VII of Spain and its current rules establish as its main function rewarding those who contribute in a relevant manner to favoring Spain’s cooperation ties with the international community.
“This honor, although it bears my name, recognizes the role of the hundreds of men and women who work each day for development with equality in Latin America and the Caribbean under the aegis of ECLAC,” Alicia Bárcena said during the ceremony.
Recalling the teachings of Mexican intellectual Carlos Fuentes, the Executive Secretary said that “via Spain the Americas received the Mediterranean tradition with all its strength. Because Spain is not only Christian, it is also Arab and Jewish, Greek, Carthaginian and Roman, Gothic and Gypsy. Spain embraces us all; it is, in a certain way, our common place.”
As a symbol of this cultural syncretism, Bárcena also remembered the Cabañas Hospice, one of the most distinctive constructions in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, where the first Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government took place in 1991. This summit has now been held a total of 24 times. The Cabañas Hospice harbors one of the most known wall paintings of the renowned Mexican painter José Clemente Orozco, “The Fire Man”, which fuses the Mediterranean and Indoamerican men in just one single image.
Secretary of State Jesús Gracia said that Bárcena’s recognition responds to the sustained work that ECLAC and Spain have been developing in recent years through various cooperation programs, an endeavor that has been fundamental to “knitting the relationship between Spain and America.”
This award is a “sign of gratitude to the people with whom we have collaborated at this time and who have been very useful for Spanish foreign policy, for cooperation and for our relationship with Ibero-America,” he emphasized.
The Spanish official participated on Monday in the opening session of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is being held through Wednesday, November 4 in Lima and was convened by ECLAC, the government of Peru and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).