Last updated: February 19. 2013 5:45PM - 273 Views

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CADIZ, Spain — In a historic role reversal, recession-hit Spain and Portugal on Friday courted the Latin American leaders of their former colonies, countries that now enjoy some of the strongest economic growth in the world.


Spain's King Juan Carlos opened the annual Iberoamerican summit, which brings together the heads of Spain and Portugal and the leaders of Latin America to discuss political issues and arrange business deals.


As heads of state from Mexico to Chile arrived in the Spanish port city of Cadiz, where conquistadores centuries ago unloaded riches taken from the former colonies, economic forecasters confirmed that Latin America will continue to grow at a fast clip despite the global economic slowdown.


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that the Latin American economy will shrink slightly from 4.4 percent this year to a still robust 3.2 percent in 2013, accelerating to 4 percent the following year.


Spain and Portugal, meanwhile, are in deep recessions expected to last into next year and hit by frequent protests over government cutbacks and higher taxes aimed at keeping the countries economically afloat. Portugal has needed a bailout for its public finances and Spain one for its banks.


While the Iberoamerican summit was traditionally a place for Spain to showcase its privileged role as a big brother for Latin American countries, it has seen that power diminished because of the four-year financial crisis, said Vincent Forest, an economist with the Economist Intelligence Unit.


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