The relationship between Spain and the United States began before there was even a United States of America. Christopher Columbus’ historic voyage that led to the discovery of America was financed by Queen Isabella of Spain. Relations between Spain and the US were cordial for the most part during the early years of U.S. independence; that is until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War of 1898, which the US won and as a result wound up controlling Cuba and the Philippines. Following the war, economic issues dominated relations between Spain and the US, as Spain sought to enhance its trading position by developing closer commercial ties with the US and Latin America. When civil war broke out in Spain in the 1930s, approximately 3,000 American citizens volunteered to serve in the Spanish Republican Army, although the United States government remained neutral during the conflict. Following the Nationalist victory, public opinion in the US condemned Francisco Franco’s regime as a fascist dictatorship, but the United States government participated in various Allied agreements with Spain, aimed at ensuring that Franco would not permit the Iberian Peninsula to be used by Adolf Hitler against Allied forces.
Following the death of Franco in 1975, the US welcomed the liberalization of the Spanish regime under King Juan Carlos and sought to bring Spain further into Western military arrangements. In 1976 the bilateral agreement between Spain and the United States was transformed into a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. In addition to renewing United States basing rights in return for United States military and economic aid, this treaty provided for a United States-Spanish Council intended to serve as a bridge to eventual Spanish membership in NATO. Relations continued to be strong until 2004, when the government in Madrid withdrew its forces in Iraq and criticized the Bush administration’s war in that country. Deep differences on Cuba also worked against a spirit of collaboration. It is expected now that the administration of Barack Obama is in charge, and the US role in Iraq gradually shrinks, that relations will improve between Washington and Madrid.
Lay of the Land: Third-Largest country in Europe, occupying 85% of the Iberian Peninsula. It thrusts out from Europe toward Africa and the Americas, separated from France and Andorra in the northeast by the Pyrenees Mountains. Includes the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, and the tiny enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco. The Strait of Gibraltar, 8.5 miles wide, makes Spain a natural bridge between Europe and Africa. Exceptionally mountainous, with the second-highest average elevation in Europe, its heartland is a great plateau, “La Meseta”.
Spain was originally inhabited by Celts, Iberians, and Basques before becoming a part of the Roman Empire in 206 BC.
The founding of America owes much to the early monarchy of Spain, as it was Queen Isabella who financed the explorations of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of territories in the Caribbean. Relations between the US and Spain were at their most fractious in the late 19th century, when the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana, Cuba ignited the Spanish-American War of 1989. As a result of the American victory, the US gained control of Cuba and the Philippines.
Relations between the US and Spain became quite cold after Madrid withdrew its forces in Iraq after the first election of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Deep differences on Cuba also worked against a spirit of collaboration. Zapatero would not have been invited to Washington for the G20 meeting in November 2008 were it not for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who lobbied on behalf of Spain.
Despite problems between Washington and Madrid, the two countries maintained important day-to-day relations in regards to NATO, the maintenance of US military bases in Spain that have proven critical to the conduct of affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and levels of two-way direct foreign investment, particularly in financial services and energy.
US imports from Spain have been steadily rising, from $6.6 billion in 2003 to $11 billion in 2008. The two top imports during this time period were medical, dental and pharmaceutical preparations, up from $604 million to $1.09 billion, and other petroleum products, climbing from $279 million to $1.56 billion.
Spanish Government Helped US with Renditions
In recent decades, Spain has generally not suffered from major human rights violations, although violations do occur on a case-by-case basis. Threats to human rights also come from the terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and various societal problems, such as discrimination against minorities, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
State of Residency: New York
Title: Minister Plenipotentiary
Appointment: Sep 29, 1779
Note: Proceeded to post but was not formally received at court; left post about May 20, 1782.
The new ambassador to the United States from Spain is a career diplomat who has previously served in the U.S. and whose career has been tied to the political fortunes of Spain’s right-of-center political party, the People’s Party (PP), which won Spain’s most recent national elections in 2011. Appointed to his post in Washington in April 2012, Ramón Gil-Casares Satrústegui, currently Spanish ambassador to Sudan and South Sudan, replaces Ambassador Jorge Dezcallar, who has held the post in Washington since July 2008.
Born in Madrid on October 26, 1953, Gil-Casares was the son of a Franco-era diplomat and a childhood friend of former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, who was a classmate at the Colegio Santa María del Pilar, a private school in Madrid, until age 14. Gil-Casares earned an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Law at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in 1982.
Gil-Casares joined the Spanish Foreign Service in 1982, and had early career postings at the Spanish embassies in Equatorial Guinea, Uruguay and the Philippines. In 1990 he was appointed Deputy Director General of Cooperatives at the Spanish Institute for Development Cooperation, and later was deputy consul general of Spain in New York. In May 1996, he was named Director of the International Security Department in Prime Minister Aznar’s cabinet, and later also served as secretary of the Foreign Policy Council, a body formed in July 2000 to coordinate the activities of different ministries and agencies abroad. Gil-Casares became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in July 2002, serving until the April 19, 2004, election victory of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, which ousted Aznar’s PP from power.
In July 2005, the new Spanish government sent Gil-Casares to serve as ambassador to South Africa, residing in Pretoria with concurrent accreditation to the Comoros, Mauritius, Madagascar and Lesotho. Gil-Casares stayed in Africa for his next posting as ambassador to Sudan, where he has served since March 25, 2011; he also became the first Spanish ambassador to South Sudan on January 20, 2012, although he remained based in Khartoum. Additionally, he served from October 2008 to March 2011 as an advisor to the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate General for Africa.
Ramón Gil-Casares, embajador en EE. UU. (Heraldo)
Ramón Gil-Casares, nuevo embajador en Estados Unidos (by José Ángel Jarne Navalón, EPCPC)
Gil Casares será embajador en EE. UU. y Eduardo Gutiérrez, en el Vaticano (by Luis Ayllón, ABC.es)
A key fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s, Alan D. Solomont has been a major player in Democratic Party politics since the 1980s, while amassing a fortune in the nursing home industry and contributing millions to a variety of philanthropic causes, including many Jewish organizations. He was confirmed by the Senate as Ambassador to Spain on December 24, 2009.