Especially the Southern Cone (i.e. Argentina, Chile, Brazi and Urugay) progressive leaders from all over the region congratulated designate Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, as expect a new Spanish approach in foreign relations.
Still petrified by the terrorist attack that left 200 killed and over 1.460 wounded in Madrid, Latin Americans closely followed the results of Sunday General elections in Spain. Historical ties made the victory of the Socialist candidate, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, had been followed with great interest that in countries like Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Chile, where a lot of Spanish citizens voted for either him or his Popular Party opponent, Mariano Rajoy.
In cities like Buenos Aires, both the Socialists and the Popular parties opened large headquarters to get the vote of the huge Spaniard community living there. Along the streets of the Argentine Capital, the faces of Rodriguez Zapatero and Rajoy could be seen in large posters, as if the campaign was to elect city’s major.
On Monday, the media largely reflected the victory of Zapatero, or to be more precise, the overwhelming defeat of Jose Maria Aznar, current right-wing Prime Minister. “Spain voted for peace”, read the headline of the Argentine newspaper Pagina/12. “Catastrophic defeat of Aznar”, said Clarin.
Congratulations to Zapatero came quickly. Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, also Socialist, phoned the designate Spanish Prime Minister late on Sunday. Argentine president Nestor Kirchner’s spokesman Anibal Fernandez said, the government was “happy” with Zapatero’s victory, quoting “ideological affinity” between both leaders and a similar approach on world’s affairs. Similar reactions were heard in Mexico, Brazil, and other countries.
“We want to have an equal relation with all Latin American countries, as the region is one of the three axis of our foreign policy”, said Zapatero at his press conference as elected Chief of the Spanish Government. The other two are: Europe and the Mediterranean area.
In effect, Latin American leaders expect a new chapter in their ties with Spain, as all along the eight years of Aznar ruling, they were chiefly focused on the business expansion of the Spanish multinational companies investing in the region. Venezuela had something of Aznar’s greedy policy when Spain supported the frustrated coup that oust president Chavez for 48 hours in 2002. Later, it became known that the Spanish oil company, Repsol, was interested in an eventual privatization of Venezuela's oil giant, PDVSA.
Another important issue Zapatero will face is the problem of the illegal Latin American immigration living and working in Spain. Some of them died or have been wounded in Madrid bombings, their families will be given Spaniard citizenship, however, many others wait for a definitive solution to their abnormal situation.