The 21th Ibero-American Summit opened Friday night with heads of state and representatives of some of its 22 member countries gathering here to discuss the state's role during the global economic crisis.
In the opening speech delivered at the summit being held under the slogan "State Transformation and Development," Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo defended a stronger role of the state, emphasizing that "we should regain our economic sovereignty and dignity of our peoples."
Lugo said that states should provide "social participation" and that state agencies should govern investment and the market.
Moreover, states must guarantee access to health services and education to form a strategic alliance between society and the market, he said.
Lugo called for an adjustment of state structures to manage affairs more efficiently.
Enrique Iglesias, general secretary of the summit, said that as this summit was being held while the global economy was undergoing hard times, "it is necessary to consolidate trust" and adopt comprehensive measures, taking into account the experience of Latin America in the 1990s.
He argued that Latin American countries are required to face the deficits and the economic crisis that could affect emerging and developing countries.
Iglesias said that Latin American countries need greater integration to face global economic instability, and he urged the states to be alert to the spread of the crisis, strive for quality education, fight for equality and higher productivity, and modernize public institutions.
The Ibero-American Summit is an annual gathering of the heads of governments and states of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations in Europe and the Americas.
Moreover, in his opening speech, Iglesias congratulated Spanish King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on "the end of insane terrorism" by the Basque nationalist and separatist organization ETA.
"We congratulate the Spanish people on the end of crazed terrorism which never had reason to exist, a fight won by democratic methods, supported by the suffering and patience of its great people and the firmness of its government," Iglesias said.
Before the opening of the summit, foreign ministers of the countries met to discuss thorny issues and coordinate on a final declaration for the summit.
At this year's summit, many presidents failed to show up, including those of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador,Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela. Some Paraguayan newspapers described it as a "record absence" in the summit's history.