King Felipe addresses economic conference, receives key to San Juan
By John McPhaul
The King of Spain, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia (Felipe VI) called Tuesday for businessmen from Puerto Rico and Spain to take advantage of cultural and historical ties for mutual economic benefit in his closing message at the Spain and Puerto Rico Business Meeting forum at the Sheraton Hotel in the Convention Center District.
“It is essential to act quickly and correctly,” the king said. “Launch specific projects that solve problems and that undoubtedly provide permanence and solidity for the future, that allow this economic recovery as soon as possible so that companies, after all, can generate employment and wealth wherever they are established.”
“In this sense, public-private collaboration is key and for this reason, the administration and businessmen must work together in order to find meeting points and collaboration … for the benefit and social well being of our respective citizens and countries,” he added.
Felipe VI noted that “Spain is a market that allows Puerto Ricans to have access to a much larger market, that of the European Union with almost 450 million inhabitants.” “Therefore, we encourage you to analyze and study the different opportunities in Spain with this perspective,” he said. “Specifically now that important funds are going to be invested throughout the union in new projects focused mainly on everything that has to do with digitization, energy transformation and, therefore, sustainability.”
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia told the economic conference that with the arrival of federal funds for reconstruction, there is an opportunity to increase commercial ties with Spain.
“Puerto Rico has a promising future,” the governor said. “There is much to do, and we would like nothing more than to be able to count on Spain, its government, its companies and its people in such a monumental project.”
Earlier in the day the king received the key to the City of San Juan from the hands of Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo as part of the celebration of the capital city’s 500th anniversary.
“San Juan turns 500 years old, but in truth it is older,” the king said in his message. “Because … on Nov. 19, 1493, Admiral Christopher Columbus baptized it as Saint John the Baptist. In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the original establishment in Caparra, located to the west of this current capital. It was Ponce de León himself who founded what is now the capital of Puerto Rico in 1521 and it is the anniversary that we celebrate today.”
Romero Lugo noted in his remarks that the celebration frames what should be the vision of the Capital City in the coming years.
“By projecting ourselves into the next five centuries in San Juan, we are sowing the seeds of brotherhood, harmony and cooperation among Hispanic peoples,” the mayor said. “We want to reassess our geographical position as a tourist asset of interest, resume our role as the key between the hemispheres and the door to the Caribbean, from an economic, commercial, social, cultural and tourist perspective.”
Later, they unveiled a plaque commemorating the fifth centennial of the approval for the transfer of the capital city from Caparra, in Guaynabo, to what is currently known as Old San Juan.
The activities of King Felipe VI began at 9 a.m. when he arrived at La Fortaleza, where he was received and briefly met with the governor.
Later, he arrived at the Las Siervas de María Convent and greeted the nuns. From there, he walked to the minor Basilica of Saint John the Baptist where he crossed himself. Then he went to the Mayor’s Office, where the protocol activity was held, after which Felipe VI opened the Spain and Puerto Rico Business Meeting forum at the Sheraton. The king’s public agenda culminated with a visit to the San Juan Museum.
The consul general of Spain in Puerto Rico, Josep María Bosch Bessa, summed up on Tuesday the economic development part of the king’s visit to Puerto Rico.
“Seventy representatives of Spanish business groups have come, some of them very important,” Bosch Bessa said in response to questions from the press. “And there are also 30 or 40 Puerto Rican companies that are going to attend the forum. I believe that this will significantly promote contact between these companies, so that Puerto Rican companies are interested in the Spanish market and Spanish companies in Puerto Rico.”
“I believe that the great objective of this meeting is for Puerto Ricans and their businessmen to see that the natural door for Puerto Rico in Europe and in the world is Spain,” he added.