Q&A with Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón
Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón recently delivered a Presidential Lecture in Bovard Auditorium on USC’s University Park campus. Photo by Steve Cohn.

Q&A with Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón

The world leader explains why he visited USC and his hope and vision for collaboration between his country and California. [3 1/4 min read]
Susan Bell

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón is the first Spanish head of government to visit California in the nearly 500 years since the Spanish first colonized the region. He recently answered questions about the ties he hopes to build between the Golden State and his country and why he included USC on his itinerary.

You have come to California on a historic visit — why did you choose to speak at USC?

Even though Spain and California share strong historical and cultural ties, this is the first official visit of a Spanish prime minister to this great state of California. On such an important occasion, I could not miss the opportunity of visiting one of the higher education leaders in Los Angeles, USC. This university is the centre of medical technologies, high intellectual pursuits, and the place where so many questions are being addressed: the rights of migrants, climate change, women’s rights, international relations, the history of democratic reform, practical politics, and economic sustainability. Furthermore, I believe that it is imperative that politicians reconnect with the new generations, such as the students of USC, whom I am sure will lead the transformations that our world needs in the next decades.

Is USC doing specific work that you believe will be useful in helping to build ties between Spain and California?

On my visit to California, I have met many people such as Governor [Jerry] Brown, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and the State Senate Leader, Kevin de Léon, and I have been able to see firsthand the progress the state and the city are making in many areas, from the environment to education. California is leading the way in many different aspects, and I want to increase ties between Spain and California in some of them, such as climate change, renewable energy, technology and education. In this sense, I believe that USC can play an important role in this process, as [it] is a leading higher education institution in California that is also leading the way in many of the mentioned fields. On the other hand, I would like to increase and improve the student exchange programs between Spanish and Californian universities — and, of course, it would be great to expand USC’s Spanish ties.

How do you envision Spain and California working together in the future, and what are the mutual benefits you hope that relationship will bring?

There are many areas where cooperation between Spain and California is possible in a way that will bring mutual benefits for both sides. In fact, many Spanish companies, talented professionals and academics have been working here in California for many years, showing that there are many things that Spain can offer to California. My country has some of the world’s best transport infrastructure and a highly qualified labour force. Spanish companies are world leaders in renewable energies, water management and biotechnologies.

On the other hand, California is leading on many areas of great interest for Spain, such as environmental policies or technology. For example, I want to turn Spain into a “Start Up Nation,” and I believe that the experience of California could be very helpful.

Moreover, we aspire to improve the ties with the Latino community in California, the most important Latino community in the United States. We share a historic and cultural bond that, in my opinion, should be reinforced. I believe that, in a way, Spain can become a sort of bridge for the Latino community in Europe, and the Latino community of California could become the bridge for Spain in the United States.

With all these goals in mind, we are working on stronger bilateral contacts between the governor’s office, State Senator Kevin de Léon and the Latino Caucus and the with the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. And, in this context, I am sure that USC, a university very dear to me, will be a good partner to my country as well.