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Palabras de Su Majestad el Rey Don Juan Carlos en el festival "Iberian Suite: Global Arts Remix”

Kennedy Center Washington, 03.03.2015

Madam President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal Distinguished guests, First of all, I would like to thank the Kennedy Center for giving me the opportunity to be here tonight with all of you.

It is always wonderful to return to this city, which holds so many good memories for me.

I remember well my trip to Washington in June 1976, just months after being proclaimed King. I was warmly welcomed by President Ford and invited to address the joint session of Congress. On Capitol Hill, face to face with representatives of this great nation, I realized that I could always count on their support for the difficult task ahead.

I have had the privilege of reigning during a fascinating period in our history. Nearly four decades throughout which Spain returned to democracy, developed its welfare state, became an economic power and opened up to the world, recovering its rightful place among the nations of Europe and America.

I feel very proud about the strength of the bonds that unite our two countries and about the Spanish deep historical roots that once traveled to America. They still impregnate the art and culture wide across this beautiful country. A Classical, Jewish, Arabic and Christian heritage that, blend with the richness of the many American cultures, has shaped up the reality of this New World. There was a time when Spain and Portugal embraced the world, from Peru to China, from Manila to San Francisco. The routes traced by our ships opened the roads of the globalized world we now enjoy. A civilization that remains alive in both our languages, in the imagination of our artists and in our music. This Iberian Suite Festival is a magical entry to this wonderful world

That first trip of 1976 was followed by many other visits. Trip after trip, I rediscovered with excitement the traces that the Spaniards who came before us left here: the cities, such as St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the continental United States. Or the highways which first joined the United States and Mexico: los Caminos Reales. Or the missions of Texas and California, with its splendid architecture. Or the unique cultural heritage treasured by Spanish descendants in New Mexico or Florida.

And, of course, I feel that a special tribute should be paid to the legacy left by many Spaniards, of which Bernardo de Gálvez is a fine example. A skilled and loyal general, whose victories in Florida were vital for the success of the American Revolution,  and to whom, just two months ago, a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress conferred honorary citizenship of the United States.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To sum it up, I feel very proud about the strength of the bonds that unite our two countries and about the Spanish deep historical roots that once traveled to America. They still impregnate the art and culture wide across this beautiful country. A Classical, Jewish, Arabic and Christian heritage that, blend with the richness of the many American cultures, has shaped up the reality of this New World.

There was a time when Spain and Portugal embraced the world, from Peru to China, from Manila to San Francisco. The routes traced by our ships opened the roads of the globalized world we now enjoy. A civilization that remains alive in both our languages, in the imagination of our artists and in our music. This Iberian Suite Festival is a magical entry to this wonderful world.

A splendid gift that the Kennedy Center, Spain and Portugal want to give to this city. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did coming back to Washington.

Thank you very much.

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