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Section title Democracy Programme

The Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID) has just launched a new programme under the name of "Democracy Programme", which aims to promote, strengthen and enhance democracy through various actions that incorporate new voices and perspectives that favour political and social dialogue and the exchange of experiences and knowledge between Spain, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Programme is part of a broader initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAUEC), together with the AECID and the Carolina Foundation, "For a new social contract: Renewing democracy to leave no one behind", to deepen and strengthen democratic processes.

In order to give content to this Programme, a prior process of work and consultations was carried out, which took the form of five Debate Meetings for Latin America and the Caribbean, in which more than 120 social, political and economic actors from the local, state and regional spheres of 20 countries, as well as international organisations, participated.

All the information on the development of the process is available here  Por un nuevo contrato social. Renovar la democracia para no dejar a nadie atrás.  

As a result of these Meetings, a diagnosis of the causes of the erosion or questioning of democracies has been validated: the loss of value of democracy as a political system, including some of its defining features: dialogue, pluralism, deliberation, tolerance and the generation of agreements; the concentration of power in the Executive, the capture of public policies by private interests and, consequently, the limitations on control by other powers and by social actors, including the media and organised civil society; the limitations on the exercise of rights and freedoms, which directly impacts on the possibilities for citizen representation and participation; the development of opposing positions, ideological polarisation and political confrontation, which reduce the possibilities for peaceful coexistence or the generation of debates and agreements; the inability to develop public welfare systems due to institutional inefficiency in the provision of public services and the difficulty of implementing policies that improve the quality of life of citizens.

Based on this diagnosis, the Democracy Programme, which understands that the essence of the promotion of democracy is above all political, and that cooperation must therefore support political processes, will seek to protect, improve and consolidate democracy, and to this end will promote:

  • SPACES AND MECHANISMS FOR DIALOGUE that promote the revaluation of democracy and dialogue and rapprochement between actors.
  • VOICE and CAPACITY of actors and institutions that can promote democratic values and curb authoritarian tendencies.
  • PROTECTION of coexistence

To this end, and with a clear proactive approach, the Programme is oriented towards the creation of a space for intervention with the following priority lines of action:

  1. PACTOS: Support for Spaces of Dialogue for the Generation of Consensus and New Social Pacts: the Social Dialogue and the Fiscal Pact.

1.1. Debate on the value of democracy as a model of coexistence and management of the public sector.
1.2. Generation of spaces for dialogue, discussion and generation of eventual agreements in the social sphere around various axes of social transformation.
1.3. Promotion of dialogue and discussion on the relevance of reforms to the fiscal and tax systems.

This part of the Programme will be implemented through knowledge creation and management activities. The Spanish Development Cooperation Training Centres, especially the one in Cartagena de Indias, will play an active role in the implementation of the Programme.  The INTERCOONECTA Programme will incorporate some of the issues identified in the Democracy Programme.

2. VOICES. Improving Representation and Political Participation and Supporting the Building of Inclusive Democracies.

2.1. Promoting the creation of democratic and stable structures with real mechanisms for access and promotion in public life.
2.2. Incentives for dialogue between parties and movements, and encouragement of the creation of channels and spaces for interaction, with the aim of building trust between social actors.
2.3. Support for the emergence and formation of new leaderships, of a more plural and collective nature, and with values based on listening and horizontality.

This part of the Programme will be implemented through bilateral cooperation projects via the Spanish Cooperation Offices.

3. RIGHTS. Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, especially Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press.

3.1. Promotion of a diverse and pluralistic media space in which the different media share a journalistic and deontological ethic based on democratic values.
3.2. Dissemination of good practices in the use of social networks, favouring equal access to them and promoting protection mechanisms against disinformation processes and hate speech.
3.3. Accompanying and supporting journalists, reporters, activists, academics in the free expression and dissemination of ideas and points of view that favour a reasoned and balanced dialogue.
3.4. Accompaniment and support for human rights and territorial defenders.


To work on the third objective, a support programme for human rights defenders will be designed to complement the Human Rights Office (ODH) programme.

The objective of this complementary programme is to support human rights defenders, with special emphasis on journalists and territorial defenders, by promoting protection and subsistence mechanisms in the territory. It provides for the mobilisation of these people within their own country in cases of serious threat or danger and, when deemed appropriate, their transfer to other countries in the region or to Spain within the framework of study programmes.

1. Early warning systems for the identification of defenders at risk.

Creation of stable groups for the transmission of information on the situation of defenders in situations of vulnerability, danger or threat. Establishment of a coordinated mechanism for proposing interventions.

The groups will be made up of Embassy/OEC focal points, focal points of Spanish NGDOs working in the country on Spanish Cooperation (EC) projects, whether AECID, Autonomous Communities or local entities, and local CSOs that are partners of EC actors.

2. Emergency Fund for emergency responses.

Creation of an emergency fund for emergency interventions: (i) Economic support; (ii) Physical security measures for people or facilities; (iii) Legal advice.

3. Regional scholarship programme.

As a last resort, the situation of students and professionals who have had to leave their countries and have no possibility of returning is assessed. These people cannot exercise their profession in the host countries, which means that they lack the resources for their own survival.

The programme's approach for these cases would be to offer a scholarship programme (online studies in the host country or face-to-face studies in countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region or in Spain).

  • Specific programme for Nicaraguans (IOM)
  • Specific programme for freedom of expression defenders (Carolina Foundation).
  • Support programme for people persecuted or threatened for exercising their profession (Carolina Foundation).


Information updated on: 04/12/2023