MADRID — With Cuban President Fidel Castro a disapproving bystander, the nations of Iberia and Latin America agreed here Friday to a liberal agenda of political, economic and social goals aimed at carving a Latin niche in a world dramatically changed by the collapse of communism.
For Latin America, the agreements with Spain and Portugal offer a potential pathway of understanding between the developing South and the rich North, a friendly conduit into the European Community as it advances toward a continent without borders.
For the Iberian nations, the common goals--500 years later--tacitly acknowledge their special relationship with former New World colonies, ties they hope to transform into economic and political advantage within the Community.
Ending their two-day Ibero-American summit with a 38-point declaration of conclusions, Castro's fellow leaders were at no pains to spare his sensibilities. The Cuban president, brooding alone on the left of the summit spectrum, is struggling to keep communism alive in the Caribbean.
"We reaffirm our commitment to representative democracy, the respect for human rights and fundamental liberties as pillars of our community," the presidents said in their declaration.
The political agreements supported elected government, human rights, a free press, free trade, an end to protectionism, negotiated settlements of regional disputes and a pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons. The presidents condemned terrorism, the narcotics trade and money-laundering and called for greater cross-border police cooperation in combatting them.
Only on a single point did the other presidents support Castro's criticism of the United States, "rejecting (judicial) interpretations that entertain the notion that one country's laws can be applied extraterritorially." The assertion is a slap at the U.S. Supreme Court decision, in a case involving a Mexican citizen, that a suspect wanted in the United States may be seized abroad and brought back for trial without the other country's consent.
Educational and cultural undertakings by the summit included the promise of 800 annual scholarships, underwritten by Spain and Mexico, to enable graduate students to seek advanced degrees in Ibero-American universities. Three hours of daily educational transmissions are planned by satellite, and a three-year program will be aimed at eliminating illiteracy in two so-far-unidentified areas of Latin America where it is currently endemic.
At Bolivia's behest, the Ibero-American nations will also establish a fund to promote development among indigenous peoples. And at the suggestion of Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica, the community will fund scientific research to promote protection of the environment.
The 38 points were designed by architect Spain to be concrete without being too ambitious. Neither are they intended to be binding, but summit host Felipe Gonzalez, Spain's prime minister, reacted with asperity to suggestions that they might be frivolous.
The concept of a community of Latin nations, Gonzalez told reporters, has been made possible by the end of the Cold War and the collapse of dictatorship in the Iberian Peninsula--Spain and Portugal--and, more recently, in Latin America.
Establishment of what he called "a new political dynamic" as a supplement to existing international and bilateral relationships encompassing Latin nations "could not have been possible even 10 years ago" because democracy was the exception and authoritarian rule the norm in much of Latin America, Gonzalez said.
As their declaration made plain, though, representative government is the prerequisite for their new alliance as well as for hoped-for economic and social cooperation. That is why Castro was such an outsider at the summit.
"These rules must be for all. There can be no exceptions, no exclusions," Gonzalez said.
The closing declaration was issued in the name of all the participants, but clearly his peers understood that Castro subscribed to little of what they proposed.
"I have always believed Cuba can join the mainstream of Latin America," said Gonzalez, adding that it would first require "a peaceful change toward democracy."
Today, the visiting presidents journey to Barcelona for the opening of the Olympics amid security precautions unprecedented in Spanish history. Two small bombs lightly damaged a natural-gas pipeline 37 miles west of Barcelona on Friday morning. Police said it was apparently the work of a wraith-like leftist terrorist group called GRAPO, which is little known and thought to have only a handful of members.