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In 2013, Ruta Quetzal BBVA commemorates the fifth centenary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Núñez de Balboa


WEBWIRE

• Francisco González highlighted the fact that for the first time the entry competition for participating in the Route includes a social enterprise project because “it is a key lever for improving our society and we are convinced that young people can provide major ideas for driving forward this improvement”
• The epic adventure of Vasco Núñez de Balboa: The 28th Ruta Quetzal BBVA will leave from Panama City in June and cross the Canal to visit the fortifications on the Caribbean coast before going up the Membrillo river and following in the steps of the explorer from Extremadura to the South Sea, crossing what is now Darién National Park
• The European section: After concluding their stay in Panama, the expedition members will cross the Atlantic and visit landmarks associated with the adventure of Núñez de Balboa and the court of Charles V in Spain and Belgium

Francisco González, Chairman and CEO of BBVA, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, State Secretary for the European Union, and Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo, director of the expedition, have presented the 28th edition of Ruta Quetzal BBVA, “De la Selva del Darién a la Europa de Carlos V. La Gran Aventura del Descubrimiento del Mar del Sur” (From the Jungle of Darién to the Europe of Charles V: the Great Adventure of the Discovery of the South Sea" During the trip, those taking part will travel to Panama to commemorate the fifth centenary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Núñez de Balboa. In Europe they will experience the Renaissance environment that contributed significantly to the American adventure and visit some of the landmarks linked to the court of Charles V in Spain and Belgium.

In his presentation, Francisco González, Chairman and CEO of BBVA, explained that for the first time one of the tests forming part of the competition to select those taking part on the Route is the preparation of a social enterprise project. Participants will have to present an original initiative designed to provide a sustainable solution to a social problem in their local environment. “Social enterprise is a key lever for improving our society and we are convinced that young people can contribute major ideas for driving forward this improvement,” said González.

The 28th edition of the Ruta Quetzal BBVA will take the 225 expedition members on Núñez de Balboa’s journey of discovery of the Pacific Ocean, which he named the South Sea. Through it, they will get to know the long and fiercely contested search by the European powers to find a new route to the Asian continent.

Francisco González added that BBVA wants to share with all of those taking part “its commitment to education, respect for diversity, solidarity, personal improvement, the value of teamwork and ethical behavior, which are fundamental values for the development of future generations.”

The Route begins in Panama City in mid-June and crosses the isthmus by the Canal before traveling up the Membrillo river and following in the steps of Núñez de Balboa through what is now the Darién National Park, until it arrives at the South Sea.

Following its stay in Panama, the expedition will cross the Atlantic to be received in Madrid by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. After visiting various landmarks linked to the adventure of Núñez de Balboa and the court of Charles V in Extremadura and Madrid, the members of the expedition will move on to Belgium to get to know the land where the Emperor was born and visit some of the most important institutions in the European Union.

Ambassadors for the disabled

Applications are invited from young people of any nationality born in 1996 or 1997 who are in secondary school in Spain. To participate, applicants must submit a social enterprise project as well as an original work on one of the following subjects: “The Epic Adventure of Vasco Núñez de Balboa,” “From the Europe of Charles V to the European Union” or “Panama, Biodiversity Zone.”

BBVA has also again demonstrated its commitment to people with disabilities, as a preferential group within its Corporate Responsibility program. It has renewed its agreement with CERMI, the ONCE Foundation and Ruta Quetzal BBVA for two young people to be among the ambassadors for the disabled in 2013 as a boost to social inclusion, as was the case in 2012.

Collaborating institutions

At the presentation, thanks were extended to the King and Queen of Spain, who in 1979 asked Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo to launch a program to forge bonds among Ibero-American nations, for their support of the expedition, to Spain’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for their patronage, and to Madrid’s Complutense University, which selects the expedition members and designs the academic program.

Also receiving thanks for their collaborative work were the Government of Panama, Canal de Isabel II, TVE, Hispasat and Panama Jack.

The Ruta Quetzal BBVA 2013 expedition will begin in Panama City, whose strategic location made it one of the most important capitals in the Spanish colonial regime. A royal road linked it to Portobelo in the Caribbean, and it was the port from which the fleet sailed to the Spanish possessions in South America.

From there, the members of the expedition will follow the Las Cruces trail, one of the lines of communication constructed by the Crown to guarantee the flow of goods and commodities to the metropolis. Along the trail, those taking part will have the chance to get to discover the fragile biodiversity of this nexus between North and South America, and learn about the Spanish efforts to connect the Caribbean with the South Sea.

The expedition will then travel to the Caribbean along the Panama Canal. As a result of the extraordinary riches generated by the construction of the royal roads, combined with the privileged strategic position of the isthmus, the area came under attack from pirates and privateers sponsored by the European powers and the Caribbean coast required increasingly more protection. On the Caribbean, the Route will visit the fortifications constructed in the 18th century in Portobelo. It was off the coast here that the privateer Francis Drake was buried at sea in a lead casket.

The members of the expedition will also have the chance of meeting the Kuna and getting to know their culture. This Chibcha-speaking people occupied extensive territory between Panama and Colombia at the time of the conquest.

Starting from Kuna de Carreto, Ruta Quetzal BBVA will relive the adventure of Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the explorer from Extremadura. Sharing in the explorer’s journey, which combines demanding expeditions by land with navigation by river, will be an extraordinary occasion to get to know the rich variety of flora and fauna in the region. To get to the South Sea, the young people will cross the Darién National Park, a Biosphere Reserve that combines a wide variety of habitats, from beaches and mangrove swamps to extremely humid forests, that are home to a rich fauna which in recent years has been threatened by human action.

The Route in Europe

Following its stay in Panama, Ruta Quetzal BBVA will cross the Atlantic to be received at the Royal Palace in Madrid by their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. The expedition will then try to recapture the feel of the Renaissance environment in which Núñez de Balboa lived, and which contributed to such an extent to his American exploit, in a visit that will take in San Martín de Valdeiglesias, Jerez de los Caballeros, Fregenal de la Sierra and Yuste Monastery.

After visiting some of the landmarks linked to the adventure of Núñez de Balboa and the court of Charles V in Spain, the participants will move on to Belgium to study the figure of the Holy Roman Emperor in Ghent, Bruges and Brussels. In Brussels, the members of the expedition will also visit some of the most important European Union institutions.

The Ruta Quetzal BBVA 2013 will conclude with the award of diplomas to the participants at the closing ceremony of the Academic Program, organized by the Complutense University of Madrid.



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