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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la inauguración de la Cátedra en la Universidad de Nuevo México

Albuquerque, 20.10.2000

F

irst of all I should tell you that this ceremony fills me with great emotion, gratitude and hope. In this South-western Young American State full of original, pre-Hispanic History; in its cities and in its people and landscape, I have become aware of your profound Spanish roots; and with these I feel a deep sense of belonging, so that returning to New Mexico is for me close to coming black home.

These American lands are deeply imbued with the substance and the spirit of Spanish culture, which is evident in the life-style and the relations among your people. However, it has also been enriched by new words, new gestures and new ways of seeing and doing things that conform much of your identity today. In this land we, as Spaniards, can detect some of the core elements that have made us what we are. Of course, we share a common history, and this we should not forget. New Mexico has become the heartland of Spanish culture in this great and immense country, and that encourages us to feel that its future holds a special, honourable and valuable place for us as a loyal partner in forging the rich cultural variety that characterizes the U.S., much alike our own country, for the benefit of all.

The new ?Information Society? presents us with limitless possibilities to establish and multiply new and different forms of relationship and interchange. The Endowed Chair we are presenting to the public today, and for which I feel a personal sense of responsibility, is a token of the close collaboration that is possible or achievable between Spaniards and New Mexicans.

Mr. President, for your generosity in offering me to lend my name to the Endowed Chair, I thank you with all my heart. It is always an exceptional honour to have one?s name linked with Academic excellence, something this Endowed Chair will clearly aim to achieve.

Mr. Willard, I would like to express my most sincere thanks for the University of New Mexico medal you have just presented to me. This distinction, which I feel honoured to accept, ties me even closer, to this wonderful institution.

I owe special thanks to His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States in Spain and the person whose idea this project was, and who placed his love for both countries at the service of this noble enterprise. And I also deeply thank Iberdrola and its Chairman, Íñigo de Oriol, for backing this initiative, as an example of his belief in the social responsibility of private enterprise. Iberdrola?s generosity will benefit Spanish researchers and scientists by offering them the opportunity to train, teach and research at this prestigious American university. (We specially appreciate his effort in being with us today after de very recent and intense developments in the electric power market back home).

Indeed, there are few institutions better prepared or qualified to help us harness the future of new technological developments than the University of New Mexico, a university of established technical prestige with a Hispanic and universal tradition which makes it a natural and beneficial link between the Hispanic and Anglo-Saxon worlds. Besides the devotion to science and research that has made it the headquarters of the Ibero-American Teaching Consortium for these subjects, this university has one of the most prestigious Latin American and Iberian Studies centres in the United States and has concluded numerous Collaboration Agreements with Spanish and Latin American universities. Add to this the large number of Hispanic students on its roll, and above all the close ties between us, and one can understand the potential importance of a Chair based on such profound historical and cultural roots. All that remains is to let it and help it develop that potential.

It gives me special satisfaction to know that, just as it was originally conceived, this Chair will de devoted to the study of the new and complex problems raised by the so called ?Information Society? today. Few areas are better placed to promote the sharing of knowledge than those relating to the development of new technologies.

It has been demonstrated that scientific research, and technological development and innovation are enhanced by the use of Information and Communications Technologies; therefore it can be of decisive help in resolving some of the greatest challenges now facing our societies, in many different areas. These technologies are increasingly present in all fields of science and in all productive sectors, and most importantly, they are having a decisive impact on the lives of ordinary people, on how we get to share and extend any technological advancement or scientific breakthroughs.

Indeed, we are now witnessing profound changes that make us rethink or revise many of our habits, and may also undermine traditional values and concepts of industrialized society. The ?Information Society? constitutes a set of challenges and opportunities that are transforming our individual and collective lives. Health, leisure, work, labour relations, business organization and social relations in general, including international relations, can and should benefit in the new technological and cultural era. In this process of transformation, in which we place a great deal of hope, we should not however ignore the ethical and social aspects of what we do. The new discoveries in science and technology must be placed at the service of a new moral conscience that will register and express the aspirations of the people of our time, will respect human dignity, will foster social justice and will contribute to the well-being of all citizens without distinction.

On this note, I also wish to thank our Ministry of Science and Technology for supporting the project unveiled today. Spain is currently facing a historic opportunity in the process of technological and industrial modernization, and unlike other economic turning-points in our history, this time we are ready to assume our rightful role in the concert of nations, for a number of very sound reasons.

Concern about technological innovation is evident in all spheres of our society, in the media and in political discourse. Spanish enterprises have clearly understood the message that unless they adapt their production and distribution processes to the new technologies, they cannot survive against ever stiffening competition.

At this moment, our young people are willing and able to meet these challenges. We need to make full use of the possibilities offered by the efforts of our young researchers and the tremendous potential of our research centres and universities, which are becoming increasingly well adapted to the new technological environment and ever more attuned to the needs of the country?s productive apparatus.

The recent creation of a Department of Science and Technology, whose Minister is with us here, is yet another sign of the Government?s growing interest in technological innovation. Along the same line, it is essential for our long term development to pursue public policies that support science and to allocate more people and resources to the new technologies.

However, this major push forward that Spain will be making in the coming years will and should not take place in isolation, only working closely together with other countries can we be more aware of the advances taking place beyond our frontiers, and therefore assimilate and help develop them.

Spain now plays a leading role in an ambitious and promising European project, we are very much engaged and believe that it is the only way we have to move forward but this does not mean we are unmindful of our profound transatlantic connection. There is no contradiction between our European and American identities; on the contrary, the one reinforces and enhances the other in a special symbiotic relationship that bares great opportunities for the future and has already been very fruitful for the past 20 years.

Allow me to say a few words en Spanish

Nuestro papel histórico en el espacio iberoamericano se ve precisamente facilitado por nuestro papel en la vieja Europa, y a partir de ahora, las estrechas relaciones que estamos iniciando con Nuevo México abrirán, sin duda, nuevos caminos y nuevas perspectivas en el fortalecimiento de nuestras relaciones con Iberoamérica, con la que nos sentimos afectiva y responsablemente implicados. En ese sentido no debemos olvidarnos del gran activo que nos vincula cultural, económica y socialmente y que constituye el principal legado de España a estas tierras, nuestra común lengua. La construcción del espacio común iberoamericano en el tablero del mundo de la Globalización pasa por la presencia del español en la investigación científica, sin la cual no es posible el desarrollo tecnológico, y en su necesaria presencia en las grandes redes electrónicas. El hecho de que se expresen en español 400 millones de personas en el mundo y de que se prevea su uso, en los Estados Unidos, por mas de 100 millones de hispanohablantes, justifica sobradamente el esfuerzo compartido que hemos de llevar a cabo para que el español tenga el protagonismo que le corresponde en la futura Sociedad de la Información.

It is in this scenario that we have founded our Chair, planted on deep roots and fertile soil, with the prospect of a stimulating life. There are certain signs that unite us, signs that have survived the passage of time and constitute the most solid of foundations. Our History and the Endowed Chair; the past and the future; a Spanish enterprise and a New Mexican university; the best of tradition and the latest information technologies; Spain and America, united with new ideas and new plans for exchange and cooperation. It just can?t go wrong!

True, the days of Oñate and Coronado were other times, but they were the painful yet auspicious beginnings of an enriching history which today allows us to look forward to a better future for our peoples. Risk, imagination, will-power and dreams are still essential stimuli for progress. The spiritual and worldly adventure embodied by the wagon trains of Oñate gave off new and unforeseen fruits. With the passage of time and the toil and imagination of men, the little adobe huts that these Spanish pioneers found have been transformed into centres of cutting-edge scientific research, so that New Mexico today is a leader in the United States and the world in high technology.

The verses of Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá speak of ?those valorous Spaniards? who discovered in the West Indies what had hitherto remained hidden from European eyes. This they did, in the words of Villagrá?s song, ?by dint of courage and strong arms?. It is now up to us to provide the toil and the imagination. It is now our challenge, our responsibility and our hope, and in this Chair and this enterprise you will find me always at your side.

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