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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la ceremonia inaugural del 400 Aniversario de la Fundación de la Ciudad de Santa Fe

Nuevo México(Santa Fe), 06.10.2009

T

he Princess and I are especially pleased to join you at this Inaugural Ceremony marking the 400th Anniversary of the City of Santa Fe's foundation by the Spanish Crown. This occasion offers us the opportunity to remember the past, celebrate the present and strengthen the future of our friendship between Spain and the United States of America.

First, allow me to convey congratulations and warm greetings from Their Majesties the King and Queen and from the people of Spain. Of course, we join them in this, while we also give our heartfelt thanks to the Mayor of Santa Fe for inviting us, and for his kind words. We feel especially grateful to all the authorities and the people of this wonderful and big-hearted city for their very friendly welcome.

It gives me great pleasure to express how much we share the pride felt by the citizens of Santa Fe on this historic anniversary. We are so happy to be here with you to celebrate it, and to take this lovely opportunity to visit again the beloved State of New Mexico and the United States, a close friend and ally of Spain.

I believe this celebration is already a great success, thanks to the support of local authorities, the magnificent efforts of the Organizing Committee, and the ensuing wave of public involvement and enthusiasm. And for us it is a real privilege to to participate in such an important commemoration of the History of this great Nation, and of Spain's heritage in North America.

Today, we want to recall all the Spaniards who, in different moments of History, contributed to the forging of this noble and hospitable land of New Mexico: Juan de Oñate, Pedro de Peralta, Diego de Vargas, and so many others... of whom we still see today their names inherited and used by New Mexicans and Spaniards alike. They all deserve our respect as we look back with historical perspective and learn from the achievements and misgivings they were part of. But we would also like to acknowledge here all those who have contributed to forge modern New Mexico, the one you all live in, enjoy and continue to dedicate your hopes and daily hard work.

The rich History of the United States already spans across centuries. Of course we are often reminded of this whenever we commemorate historic events related to Spain's American legacy -the European country with the longest- standing presence here. Several months ago, the King and Queen of Spain celebrated in Florida the 450th Anniversary of the founding of Pensacola -which proudly calls itself, the "First Place City". Within a few years, we will also celebrate the 450th Anniversary of the City of Saint Augustine (2015) and the 500th of Ponce de Leon's arrival to the coast of Florida (2013).

Many more celebrations will surely follow, because the Histories of our two countries are so deeply intertwined. From the 16th Century, Spanish settlers, civil servants, soldiers and clergy arrived in this territory, then inhabited solely by indigenous peoples. I still have fond memories of my participation in a very moving and enjoyable gathering, in the year 2000, with their descendants, representatives of the native Pueblo Indians.

The Hispanic roots of the U.S. are becoming increasingly known, and better acknowledged; so we Spaniards are happy and also proud to recall, once again, that they are at the care of the very origins of your great nation.

When the city was founded, it was originally christened Santa Fe de los Españoles y de San Francisco de Asís-"Santa Fe of the Spaniards and of Saint Francis of Assisi". A strong reminder of the Hispanic heritage and also of the importance the Spanish language has today as a revalued part of it.

Spanish is now the second most important language of international communication -with nearly 500 million speakers in more than 20 countries- and the number two in North America, as well as the third most-used on the internet. New Mexico is an excellent example of the enduring presence of the Spanish language in the U.S., where its teaching and promotion enjoy the effective support of several centers of our Cervantes Institute.

But I am also pleased to mention that many significant elements arrived directly from Spain and later became very distinctive of the United States: Indeed, to a great extent the origin of the ranching culture of the American West, traditional institutions such as the missions, ranches, forts, and its first towns, as well as models of city planning and architecture, land ownership rights and distribution among others, were also contributions of the long presence of Spaniards in this part of the North American continent.

This extraordinary, New Mexico History Museum is tangible evidence of the amazing History shared by indigenous peoples of the area and settlers from Europe and other parts of the world, who brought with them different creeds and cultures enriching the precious diversity you now treasure. Allow me to congratulate all those who have made this magnificent exhibition space possible, located in what was once the Palace of the Governors.

Likewise, I would like to convey a very special recognition to the National Hispanic Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, which we visited yesterday -a true example of excellence and respect in the effort to keep our common heritage in US territory. Congratulations to all those responsible for the wonderful institutions, where, thanks to the generosity of its administrators, our Instituto Cervantes has placed, now its headquarters for the State of NM.

Our presence here in Santa Fe and in New Mexico leads me, inevitably, to mention the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, (the National Historic Trail). This route provided a direct connection, along 1600 miles, between Mexico City and Santa Fe. Not only people traveled this route, but also the ideas and cultures, the plans and dreams of progress and civilization that were carried along with them.

The old ties between New Mexico and Spain did not die out after the epic era of conquest and colonization; they were even present well into the 19th century. In this respect, I would like to remember the figure of Pedro Bautista Pino, sent by Santa Fe as its representative to the Spanish Parliament which met in the city of Cadiz to draft and adopt our country's first ever Constitution in 1812, soon after our own war of Independence against the Napoleonic troops. This Constitution was written by representatives elected from all the territories that were then part of the Spanish Crown.

In Cadiz, Deputy Bautista Pino, who was both New Mexican and Spanish, presented a number of requests on behalf of New Mexico concerning higher education. Centuries later, this is a field where Spain has wished to show its special regard for this State, with the creation nine years ago of the Prince of Asturias Endowed Chair at the University of New Mexico.

Let me use this opportunity to congratulate and recognize, most sincerely, all those who have contributed, in so many ways, to make possible this Endowed Chair in Information Science and Technology, with the highest standard of excellence.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This 400th Anniversary of Santa Fe is also a very good occasion to highlight and remind ourselves that the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain are today allies, partners and very close friends. Based on our democratic values and working together in multilateral frameworks we share growing responsibilities, and together must face the huge challenges and problems confronting this complex, globalized world in which we live, like the economic and financial crisis, climate change, or threats to stability and security in different parts of the World.

The United States and Spain have enormous opportunities in the field of economic cooperation, with companies exploring new projects that will result in economic growth and new jobs. Spain has a dynamic business sector whose profile is steadily rising in the U.S., with presence and investments in cutting-edge industries of this vast market. For example, world-leading Spanish corporations are now generating renewable energy in New Mexico, and in other States such as South Dakota, Colorado and Pennsylvania; granting loans in Texas, Florida and New Jersey; and offering state-of-the-art transportation technology in Illinois, Indiana and Washington.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have come here today to celebrate the ties that first linked New Mexico and Spain, four centuries ago. It is important for us to be here, not just because of the great historical and cultural significance of this event, but also because of its immense value for our present and future interest to strengthen -even more- our friendship between with United States. A friendship that Spain holds in the highest regard and to which, as Heir to the Throne, I devote grate effort and affection.

Once again, on behalf of the Princess and myself, I extend you all our most heartfelt congratulations, for these first four hundred years.

And now, it is indeed a great honour for me to declare solemnly and officially open the commemorative events of the 400th Anniversary of Santa Fe.

Thank you very much.

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