The VII Italy-Latin America and Caribbean Conference will take place on 12 and 13 June in Milan at EXPO and the Lombardy Region. Attending will be more than 14 Latin American and Caribbean ministers, the president of the council, at least 3 Latin American presidents, Minister Gentiloni, EU High Representative Mogherini and other Italian ministers.
This bi-annual dialogue has been a constant for over ten years now, and is the only one of its kind in Europe along with the Spanish Cumbre. This edition will be the most important ever held as a result of the number and level — presidents — of attendees and the new addition of Caribbean representatives, a sign of the renewed vitality in the dialogue between Italy and Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 1966 Amintore Fanfani announced Latin America’s importance to enhancing Italy’s outreach and influence, thanks to the millions of Italian émigrés to those nations, and that such potential should be tapped at institutional levels. Not least, it was precisely the unanimous support of Latin American countries that made it possible for Italy to win its bid for EXPO 2015.
Many are the links, ancient and new, that bind us, but we must look to the future: as Octavio Paz said “Europe and Latin America are bound in the future”. We Italians often think that cultural affinities and a long history of Italian descendants are enough to understand Latin America, but that is simply mental laziness and a lack of cohesive political design.
The goal of the Renzi government is to build a relationship consisting of concrete proposals for Italy’s systemic presence in a Latin America that has undergone tumultuous change over the past ten years to become a global player; making a leap in economic-productive quality and the vital movement of ideas, redistribution policies and a new middle class. Many will be the challenges in areas that include urban planning, infrastructure development, inclusion policies and counter-organized crime, and Italy can do its part through its system of SME clusters, cooperation, culture, anti-mafia, territorial management and emergency response.
Dialogue with Latin America has to be wide ranging and oriented toward the future, and that is the goal of the 2015-2016 Year of Italy in Latin America — the experiences, journeys, discoveries and enterprises launched in January prepared the terrain for the success of this edition of the conference. The programme promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which aims to integrate and enhance Italy’s many-faceted presence on that continent, will range from exhibitions on geothermal energy and Pompei, to Caravaggio, aerospace cooperation, universities and food/wine products. A long year that will conclude with the Brazilian Olympics, featuring over 100 events meant to create opportunities for building stable collaborative initiatives.
In recent years, despite institutional fragmentation and economic constraints, Italy has been able maintain its relationship with Latin America and to give impetus to a shared vision. Premier Renzi will make his first visit soon, and plans to stop in many countries. Many Latin American prime ministers and presidents have visited Rome in recent months. We are in a phase of political intensity that has not been seen in many years, and which will be followed by increased exchanges at economic and university levels. The effort is to found a dense network of exchanges and know-how aimed mainly at young people.
The government is convinced that Latin America and Italy are capable of coming up with unique responses to global problems such as security, youth unemployment and inequality, and can together design a new globalization geared toward sustainable and shared prosperity. The VII Italy-Latin America and Caribbean Conference has the goal of outlining that new vision centred on human beings, respect for differences and peaceful dialogue.