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Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 2000

The "Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation" had been conferred on me, I wrote to Mr. José Ramón Álvarez Rendueles, the President of the Foundation, telling him that I accepted this tribute as a gesture of appreciation for Brazil and her people.

Today I have the pleasure of visiting the historical and beautiful city of Oviedo for the first time, to receive the Award from the hands of His Royal Highness Prince Philip.

It is an praiseworthy award that brings me great joy, particularly as it carries the hallmark of Spain and the Iberian world.

It carries the hallmark of the history and culture of this country, which provides the world with an example of the vitality of democracy, an example of an open society and a vibrant, modern economy.

I would like to emphasise the symbolic meaning of this Prize being conferred upon me the same year that we celebrate the Fifth Centenary of the Discovery of our country.

This coincidence emphasises the historic and cultural affinities that link us to Spain; these are further highlighted when we learn that more than ten million Brazilians are of Spanish descent.

In recent times, Spain has become the largest European investor in the Brazilian market, and an ally to strengthen our rapprochement with the European union.

This is part of the context of a new union, as if Latin Europe - led by Spain - were rediscovering America.

But similarities go further than that.

They lie in the experience of the peaceful return to democracy and the commitment to human rights, in the fight against poverty and the protection of the environment.

They lie, for example, in literature, as in the splendid essay by Carlos Fuentes, published a short time ago in Brazil, which draws provocative parallels between the work of Machado de Assís and that of Cervantes, describing the great Brazilian novelist as the main representative, in the XIX century, of what he calls "the tradition of La Mancha", mixing humour and intelligence, irony and sensitivity.

Returning to Spain is always for me a cause for delight; this is doubled today in this Asturian atmosphere of hospitality and friendship.

This allows me to provide some reflections on the subject that the Prince of Asturias award refers to: International Co-operation.

The need for international co-operation is more and more pressing in the face of the process of globalisation.

There is no world government, but there is already a world economy.

There is no world government, but there are already victims of market exclusion, who demand collective actions motivated by solidarity and the ethical imperative for greater equality.

Countries suffer more and more the effects of events that occur abroad, sometimes in faraway countries. The financial crises in Asia in 1997 and in Russia in 1998 have had considerable impact on countries with emerging economies, and have disheartened countries where "the dispossessed of the earth" live even more.

There is a "deficit of government" at an international level, which is a deficit of co-operation between States on questions of global interest.

I shall mention some examples.

International financial changes are perhaps the most obvious dimension to the problem.

The present system does not ensure the foresight and security required to consolidate an environment favourable to productive investment that creates jobs and contributes to the advancement of science and technology, and to the aim of improving living conditions.

Steps forward have been made, such as the setting up of the G-20, which is firmly establishing itself as a forum for dialogue with greater representation for developing countries. Questions relating to the new international financial structure require deeper discussion.

Brazil does not want to simply be informed of the decision taken by the G-7. We want to broaden our participation in the world institutions for deliberation.

In international trade, it is impossible to defend the principles of a free exchange rate and at the same time maintain a vast, extravagant protectionist structure in the richest countries.

In 1999, according to OECD calculations, around three hundred million dollars have been spent on protecting the developed nations' agriculture and subsidising their exports.

Is protectionism perhaps one of the major causes of income inequalities between countries?

Isn't this one of the causes of the persistence of poverty?

This kind of protectionism goes against the rules of the economy and the principles of social justice.

When one speaks of poverty and inequality at an international level, Africa is undoubtedly the great challenge.

While a fraction of humanity enjoy unheard of prosperity, the African continent is torn by chronic conflict, poverty and disease.

The spread of AIDS, the lack of frameworks for its prevention - not to mention the question of treatment - forces a duty of solidarity upon us that is not only moral but also political.

The conflict in Angola, an anachronistic legacy of the cold war, is also causing great suffering. Conditions have to be created so that the people and government of Angola can devise their own road to progress and freedom. I can assure you that in the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries we are particularly interested in showing solidarity towards the efforts of this brother country.

The difficulties in the Middle East, with its tragic results of hostility, ill will and death, spill over into the XXI century, sadly, with no definite prospects of a solution.

This is not to mention the tragedies on European soil, in the Balkans, where, as in the Middle East, the blackened clouds of religious fundamentalism add to the dramas of the quest for power, as if the three great monotheistic religions were incapable of supporting an ethic of diversity and mutual tolerance.

Last week's events demonstrate the potential for conflict that still persists between Israel and Palestine.

They demonstrate how necessary the efforts of the international community to help the peoples of these countries to find paths to peace and justice together still are.

Much is expected of the United Nations.

That is why advancing in its process of reform is indispensable.

This reform should include overcoming financial and material difficulties, but it should also cover intangible, but no less important facets such as legitimacy, which, when all is said and done, is the sine qua non condition for the effectiveness of international action.

The actions of individual countries, or even of regional groups with the consent - at most formal consent - of the Council of Europe, however justified their aims might be, still leave the world with the feeling that the order that is re-established is arbitrary.

Where does Brazil stand in this scene?

Internal transformations - with democracy, economic stability and the resumption of growth - have allowed us to take a more prominent stance in dealing with the broader questions on the international agenda and in unprecedented breakthroughs in regional and sub-regional integration.

The biggest demonstration of this is Mercosur (the economic community of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).
Parallel to the construction of Mercosur, our strategic alliance with Argentina moves ever-more promisingly into the future.

The Brazil of today feels that it has considerable responsibility on an international level, and particularly in the regional field, although it has no pretensions whatsoever to power and prominence.

In this spirit I have taken the initiative - for the first time in the history of the region - of inviting the presidents of all the South American countries to a meeting that took place less than two months ago in Brasilia.

It provided the opportunity to reassert the individual identity of South America.

For deplorable historical reasons, South America has been looked upon at certain times as a land of backwardness and dictatorships.

Today it is asserting a new international image, not by rhetoric but through the transformation of its reality instead.

This is why we support the peace process in Columbia, and the efforts of this country in the fight against drug trafficking.

This is why we defend the strengthening of democratic institutions in Peru. Without improper interference, but not remaining silent in the face of specific threats to democracy.

This is why in the past we helped to maintain constitutional order in Paraguay, with the "democratic clause" that is not applied now only in the Mercosur, but in all South America.

At the same time, it has been possible to resolve differences that had been disrupting the harmony of the region for a long time, as is the case of the agreement between Ecuador and Peru, which Brazil is proud of having contributed to, and which I myself, as President, have had the satisfaction of taking part in.

But co-operation in today's world is not limited to a single playing table, to a single area. Every country has multiple identities and participate simultaneously in different co-operation mechanisms.

Brazil and Spain share in Iberoamerican identity, as a tool for solidarity and joint action.
Very soon I will be with His Majesty King Juan Carlos, President Aznar, and other Ibero-American leaders at the Panama summit.

Shortly after I will have the pleasure of visiting Mexico for the swearing-in of the President elect. It will be a historic moment, a assertion of democracy and of political pluralism in this great Latin American country, to which both Spain and Brazil have such profound links.

I would also like to refer to Cuba, a country that Brazil maintains links of confidence and dialogue.

Our times are times of change, and my hope is that we can achieve complete normalisation of relations with Cuba in the inter-American field, with the suspension of embargoes and the reassertion of human rights, the wellbeing and the prosperity of the Cuban people.

I would like to return to my starting point: affinities between Brazil and Spain.

Dialogue between our two countries, besides its merits in the bilateral sense, has broader dimensions.

If we want a pluralist international system that is unfavourable to monopolies and the concentration of power and wealth, the association between Brazil and the European Union will be an essential step.

Brazil and Spain have a special responsibility in efforts to bring the two regions together, which we consider to be urgent, and even dependent on the calendar for negotiations in the field of Free Trade for the Americas Region.

And it is a responsibility that we exercise not only out of interest - and there are real interests at stake - but also with satisfaction, so many are they points that link us and so string is the legacy we have to celebrate.

And above all because for both countries "international co-operation" means, especially, co-operation between people interested in the particular human being, in men and women, young and old, who aspire to a better life.

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highness,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The great sea journeys, the epic of the "Conquistadors", the dialectic of colonialisation and independence, all created bridges that allow us to aspire to union between the old and the new world, between a Europe that is rich in traditions - but at the same time so prodigious in promises and possibilities for the future - and a Latin America whose greatest tradition is creating new opportunities: for development, justice and freedom.

Latin America, which poverty and exclusion still mark a gap with democratic, integrated and prosperous Europe.

This Latin America and its struggles for democracy and better living conditions for its peoples has formed part of my academic life and life as a public figure.

Latin America, whose challenges I have attempted to study since I was a research student in Chile and even before.

Latin America, which is also Ibero-America and which has always brought me closer to so many friends in Spain.

For all these reasons, I feel honoured to receive this Prince of Asturias award from the hands of Your Royal highness Prince Philip.

I will keep it as a special memoir of everything that Spain means to me, with the greatness of its people, freedom and culture.

Thank you.

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