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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la cena de la Fundación España Florida 500

Freedom Tower. Miami. Florida (EE.UU.), 18.11.2013

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​ lo largo de mi vida he tenido la suerte de visitar esta bella tierra del Estado de Florida en varias oportunidades. Y siempre he sentido la hospitalidad de su gente; su afecto y el profundo orgullo que tiene ‒y expresa con pasión‒ por la antigua y sólida identidad hispánica de este Estado. En esta ocasión, la Princesa y yo, hemos percibido nuevamente ‒y agradecido como no podía ser de otra manera‒ esos mismos sentimientos de afecto y de cariño; y admiramos vuestro aprecio hacia los vínculos ‒de ayer y de hoy‒ que nos unen. Por tanto, muchas gracias por su acogida.

Pero esta vez nos ha congregado un aniversario muy especial que nos impulsa a reflexionar sobre el origen de esta gran nación que son los Estados Unidos y sobre los estrechos lazos que, desde hace medio milenio, ligan a nuestros dos países.

Porque, efectivamente, la llegada de —el primer español y europeo— Juan Ponce de León a las costas de Florida supone, por un lado, la misma génesis de los EEUU como país diverso con muy diferentes orígenes y, por otro, el inicio de una relación varias veces centenaria con España que, 500 años después, sigue fortaleciéndose en beneficio de nuestras dos naciones.

And this is why I am so pleased to address all of you tonight in this vibrant city of Miami. Indeed it is such a special time, when we commemorate the heroic arrival of Juan Ponce de León to the shores of Florida one Sunday in April 1513.

The discovery of Florida led to a major colonization effort that faced huge challenges and difficulties. The intrepid Ponce de León, sailed from Puerto Rico on a ship laden with dreams, arrived at the Florida shores, and blazed trails through a land that is today the United States.

His arrival in Florida marked the beginning of the first chapter in the history of the United States, with a Spanish presence that lasted 300 years, encompassing the territory of 17 states in today's Union. 

Ponce de Leon´s adventure embodies, above all, the spirit of sacrifice and endurance that make possible to take on extraordinary endeavours. The Hispanic world became then possible, united by a universal language and culture which helped to create a common heritage, common to the New and Old Worlds. We cannot understand today's Florida without this Spanish presence; nor can we imagine the United States of today without its Spanish legacy.

Miami, a land of welcome, is a city with a booming economy, where it is possible to enjoy all different accents and expressions of the Spanish language.

Today, Florida, and Miami in particular, offer us magnificent economic opportunities to address the challenges of the future. The United States constitutes a strategic market for Spain, as proved by the rising Spanish investment in this country in recent years. Today, Spain is the world’s 10th largest investor in the United States, and Florida accumulates 40% of our total investment in this country.

More than 350 Spanish companies are currently established in Florida ‒180 in Miami‒, managed by Spaniards who have settled here, far from their home country, and who are contributing with their work and energy to improve Spain's image in the United States. An image characterized by a job well done; innovative, serious and responsible work.

Spanish companies have invested more than 6.5 billion dollars in Florida and their presence continues to strengthen the ties between Spain and the State of Florida in terms of exports and imports; especially significant is the fact that Spanish exports in Florida alone total 500 million dollars. I am firmly convinced that in the very near future we will intensify this commerce, as well as Spanish investment in Florida and US investment from Florida in Spain.

The “Spain-Florida Foundation 500 Years” is a tangible example of the good work of Spaniards in Florida, of their organizational capacity, and a permanent incentive for Spain-US collaboration.

This evening, I wish to make special mention of Dr. Eduardo Padrón, President of Miami Dade College, whom I had the pleasure to present with the Juan Ponce de León Award.

Throughout his life, Dr.Padrón has been a model of the virtues embodied in this Award: outstanding contribution to the development of Spanish heritage in Florida.

Dr.Padrón is the President of one of the major US institutions of higher learning, with more than 175,000 students. Dr.Padrón holds many international degrees and distinctions that endorse his status as one of the world's principal education leaders. His public record is a good proof of this, and of his work as one of the top university Presidents, making him one of the most influential Hispanics in the United States.

As an endorsement for his brilliant career, he has recently been appointed by President Obama as Chairman of the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. This distinction, therefore, is an addition to his extensive list of achievements, a special acknowledgement of his lifelong work.

Finally, aware that Florida is home to the most diverse Hispanic community in the entire United States as well as to the thousands of Spaniards living and working here, the Princess and I wish to convey all our affection and heartfelt recognition for their generous contribution to the development of a great nation: the United States of America.

Thank you very much, and enjoy the evening.

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