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Intal Creation


The Institute of the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean

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At the start of the 1960s, the economic integration of the continent was part of a much wider process of political integration. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) played a key role by contributing prolific studies and research works that analyzed the advantages of integration in its broadest sense.

In 1963, at the meeting of the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA) held in Mexico, IDB President Felipe Herrera proposed creating a mechanism to coordinate the various institutions concerned with integration that already existed in Latin America.

The European processes underway were a goal to achieve. The European Economic Community was proving to be an effective instrument for Europe’s resurgence and for the economic development of a considerable number of countries in that continent. Instead, there were many challenges posed by the asymmetric and heterogeneous picture of a Latin America with political systems characterized by their varying degrees of institutional and democratic development, as well as with low levels of technological progress and business traditions that were quite different from the ones in place in the old continent.

In 1964, on the occasion of the Meeting of the IDB Board of Governors held in Panama, President Herrera stated that before preparing the final project for the creation of an institution, he considered it suitable to carry out a study on existing institutions engaged in investigating into and drawing lessons from the problems of European integration.

Once the study was completed, it was concluded that the European experience showed that specialized institutes were not only feasible but necessary in order to find solutions to the problems brought about by the emergence of a united Europe and also to train the national and regional cadres that had made this integration process come true. Furthermore, the study confirmed that the Bank’s purpose to create an institution for the integration of Latin America was right, and throughout 1964, other studies and negotiations with the IDB member countries were conducted to draft the final project, establish adequate financing mechanisms, and choose the country where to set up the headquarters for the new institution. Regarding the latter, there was a firm conviction that it had to be based in Latin America as the new IDB unit would serve the interests of the Latin American countries.

The creation of the Institute for the Integration of Latin America (INTAL) was an initiative consistent with the Bank’s mission to support regional integration, which has inspired its activities since its beginnings, in accordance with the Agreement Establishing the IDB, which states that the primary purpose of the Bank “shall be to contribute to the acceleration of the process of economic development of the member countries, individually and collectively” and that one of its roles is “to cooperate with the member countries to orient their development policies [...] in a manner consistent with the objectives of making their economies more complementary and of fostering the orderly growth of their foreign trade.”

The conviction that INTAL headquarters had to be located in Latin America was followed by the question as to what Latin American city would be the best suited to this effect. It was then that the Argentine government offered Buenos Aires as its headquarters and communicated the personal interest of the then President of the Argentine Republic, Arturo Illia, in making Argentina the host country of the new Institute.

The IDB initiative won the unanimous support of its member countries, which agreed to cooperate —in the form of special contributions—to financially back the new institution. Thus, INTAL was formally created by a resolution of the IDB Board of Executive Directors dated December 3, 1964; its activities were officially launched on August 24, 1965.

Thus, INTAL was born as a permanent unit of the IDB, financed with the Bank’s resources and the member countries’ special contributions. To attain its purposes, INTAL shall conduct the following activities:

  • Carry out research, academic, consultancy and dissemination activities. Through scholarships for research and the organization of courses and seminars, contribute to the training of (a) officials from public and private organizations concerned with the integration process, and (b) specialists working for universities and higher education institutions.
  • Organize seminars for Latin American leaders in the economic, social and political fields aimed at analyzing problems associated with the integration of Latin America.
  • Advise the IDB on integration matters.
  • Collect, share with other institutions, and disseminate documents and studies on integration processes in different parts of the world and, particularly, in Latin America.
  • Cooperate with international organizations having either a global or a regional scope, and with universities, research and academic centers to define the assistance and cooperation required to attain their objectives and avoid duplication of efforts.

Thus, INTAL emerged as an awareness-raising and educational institution specialized in the Latin American integration process and as a driving force promoting research and teaching activities in this field. In his opening speech, IDB President Felipe Herrera emphasized that “no historical convergence seems more natural than a federation of Latin American peoples. After a century of being scattered due to lack of communication and feudalism, they are again in a condition to discuss their future union from the Bravo river to the Strait of Magellan, so as to undertake our great work of the future: unwind social justice for the sake of a continental nationality.” Read the complete speech.

As time went by, INTAL became a key actor in the study of the different dimensions of regional integration. In 1988, the then IDB President, Enrique V. Iglesias, said: “The legacy of the first years of INTAL was its valuable contribution to institutionalize integration mechanisms in the region, training human resources, offering adequate technical cooperation, and acting as a liaison between different subregional experiences. In fact, the creation of the vigorous integration hub envisioned by Felipe Herrera is a goal yet to be achieved; but the road taken has been rich and wide since then. It has been the merit of INTAL to have helped walking that road, circumventing obstacles and disseminating knowledge, offering training and technical input, which has already become the heritage of the different regional institutions and countries.”

At present, INTAL remains true to its original purposes, and has redoubled its efforts to support regional integration in a broader sense, contributing to the strengthening of regional bonds, working jointly with the countries of the region to tap into the opportunities and overcome the obstacles posed by globalization.

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