On October 18, the Iberoamerican University Foundation inaugurated celebrations for its first 25 years with an event in Madrid attended by numerous diplomatic representatives and representatives of Iberoamerican organizations, together with Spanish social, cultural and academic entities.
The Real Sociedad Económica Matritense de Amigos del País (RSEMAP, Royal Matritense Economic Society of Friends of the Country), a prestigious entity founded in 1775, hosted the opening activities planned throughout the 2022/2023 academic year to celebrate FUNIBER’s 25th anniversary. The event, which took place in the emblematic Torre de los Lujanes, kicked off a series of academic, cultural, artistic, and social activities that will take place in the different places where FUNIBER operates, a Spanish foundation currently present in 32 countries.
The meeting began with speeches by Manuel Rodríguez Alcayna and Santos Gracia Villar, respective presidents of RSEMAP and FUNIBER. Gracia reviewed the beginnings of the Foundation and how it has grown during the last quarter of a century, seeking the democratization of higher education in the Iberoamerican and Iberophone world. In this regard, the FUNIBER’S president highlighted the extensive system of scholarships that has facilitated admission to university education for tens of thousands of students, many of them lacking economic means and living in areas that face special difficulties.
Roberto Marcelo Álvarez, Executive Director of FUNIBER in Argentina and Uruguay and Global Director of the Academic Area of Projects at the Foundation, took the floor afterwards and shared the entity’s activities in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking America.
After the institutional presentations, the conference “Articulation of the Iberian World and FUNIBER’s action in the last 25 years” was given by Dr. Frigdiano Álvaro Durántez Prados, director of Institutional Relations and the FUNIBER Chair of Iberoamerican Studies and Iberophony, promoted by the Foundation and participated by five universities from Spain, America and Africa: European University of the Atlantic (UNEATLANTICO, Spain), Universidad Internacional Iberoamericana (UNINI, Mexico), Fundación Universitaria Internacional (UNINCOL, Colombia), Universidad Internacional Iberoamericana (UNIB, Puerto Rico) and Universidade Internacional do Cuanza (UNIC, Angola).
In his dissertation, Durántez Prados reviewed the different ways of convergence that are shaping in recent years the Iberophonic or Pan-Iberian Space, that is, the group of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries without geographical restrictions. The professor emphasized that this greater integration is taking place both at the intergovernmental institutional level and through a meeting of civil societies, an area in which FUNIBER’s educational, social, cultural, and scientific work in Africa, America, and Europe is the paradigm of the pan-Iberian geolinguistic space.
After the conference, presidents Gracia Villar and Rodríguez Alcayna signed a friendship agreement between FUNIBER and RSEMAP, which concluded the event moderated by Rafael Maldonado de Guevara y Delgado, director of Communication of the foundation and professor of UNEATLANTICO.
Broad diplomatic and institutional presence
The event brought together a large diplomatic representation, notably the presence of the ambassadors of Cape Verde Ney Cardoso, Equatorial Guinea Miguel Edjang Angue and Dominican Republic Juan Bolivar Diaz, who was accompanied by the Dominican ambassador to Canada Michelle Cohen. Also accompanying FUNIBER on its anniversary were diplomats: Maria Emília de Almeida and Marlene A. Rodrigues Gomes, respective counselors of Economic Affairs and Press of Angola; Carolina Fernández Álvarez, Chargé d’Affaires of Costa Rica; Carlos José Arroyave, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of Guatemala; Liza Medrano, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of Honduras; Moufdi M’farej, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of Morocco; Paulo Teles da Gama, Counselor of the Embassy of Portugal, as well as Mariana Cavallo, Diplomatic Secretary of the Embassy of Uruguay.
The event was also attended by representatives of the various Ibero-American intergovernmental organizations: the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB), the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI), the Ibero-American Social Security Organization (OISS) and the International Youth Organization for Ibero-America (OIJ).
Along with the international organizations, representatives of different Spanish academic, social and cultural entities and institutions were present. These included the Directorate General for Spanish in the World, Acción Cultural Española, members of the Spanish Armed Forces and political authorities. Also in attendance were the Fundación Empresa & Clima, Agencia EFE, Fundación Cultural Ángel Herrera Oria, Faculty of Law and Chair of Financial Markets Law of the CEU San Pablo University of Madrid, CEU Chair of Historical Studies Casa de Austria, Gustavo Bueno Foundation, EGEDA and its educational platform Platino Educa, Academia de las Ciencias y las Artes Militares, Editorial Última Línea, El Trapezio, Método Gráfico, Asociación Española de Jóvenes Modernistas, La Gatera de la Villa and Asociación Derecho de la Cultura, among others.