Our Story

In 2021, the Ibero-American Cultural Attaches Association (AACIA) celebrated its 45th anniversary. This journey began on January 20, 1976, when a group of Latin American diplomats working on cultural affairs decided to form the Inter-American Association of Cultural Attaches of Washington DC. Their goal was to promote Latin American culture and traditions while building a cooperative platform to reach larger audiences.

The Association expanded its horizons thanks to Dr. Javier Malagon, a Spanish humanist, historian, writer, and diplomat with a deep affection for Latin America. Under his initiative, Spain and Portugal joined the group, leading to the formation of the new Ibero-American Cultural Attaches Association. By 1993, the Association had adopted its by-laws, and in 1999, it became a non-profit organization under the laws of the District of Columbia.

In its early days, the Association celebrated the United States Bicentennial in 1976 with several events. In 1979, it launched its first art exhibition, "Diplomats in the Arts," sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank. Since then, the Association has continued its mission, partnering with numerous organizations, including the Meridian International Center, the Art Club of Washington, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Textile Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Katzen Museum, George Washington and American Universities, the Gala Theater, and many others.

One memorable moment was in 1981, when the Association received a personal congratulatory message from King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain for their cultural program commemorating the Millennium of the Spanish Language.

To bring Latin-American cinema to DC audiences, the Association partnered with the American Film Institute and the Kennedy Center in 1989 to organize "The Latin-American Film Festival." This event eventually moved to the AFI Theater in Silver Spring, evolving into the festival we know today. Since 2009, the Association has presented its own festival, screening thematic films in various embassies and featuring filmmakers and actors as guest artists.

In 1991, to mark the Quincentennial of the Encounter of Two Worlds, the Association inaugurated the Smithsonian’s Quincentenary program with a "Symposium of the Americas" and organized the "Art in the Ibero-American Embassies" exhibition at the Art Museum of the Americas. This exhibition led to 17 annual Ibero-American Art Salons, showcasing both renowned and emerging artists. The first Latin American Art Salon was held at the Embassy of Venezuela's Espacio Cultural in 1992, with the last one taking place in 2008 at the Katzen Museum.

From 2007 to 2010, building on the success of the 1988 Ibero-American Chamber Music Festival at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, annual editions of the Ibero-American Guitar Festivals were held in partnership with George Washington University and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian. Over 42 artists performed, honoring some of the greatest guitar players of Ibero-America, including Alirio Díaz from Venezuela and Heitor Villa-Lobos from Brazil.

Starting in 2010, the Association, in partnership with Photoweek DC, presented a series of annual photographic exhibitions at the Hillyer Gallery of Dupont Circle. These exhibitions, which continued until 2018, covered topics like immigration, climate change, environmental issues, and the role of Latin American women. Many of these exhibitions traveled throughout the DMV area. In 2019, a partnership with Dupont Underground produced the photographic installation "Urban Transformation," showcasing diverse perspectives on the transformation of major Latin American cities.

Despite the challenges of 2020 and 2021, the Association continued its activities virtually. To celebrate the impact of well-known Ibero-American writers in the United States, the Association coordinated with the Library of Congress to host a series of virtual dialogues involving humanities academics, students, and enthusiasts from both the United States and the Ibero-American cultural community. The Association also engaged audiences in conversations with contemporary artists featured in the National Museum of Women in the Arts' "Women to Watch" exhibit and presented a Short Film Festival called "Feel Good" and a virtual Guitar Festival.

A longstanding tradition of the Association is the Ibero-American Night, a vibrant celebration that brings together gastronomy, music, dance, and traditions from each member country. This fundraising event helps support the Association’s cultural programs.

As of today, the Association is proud to celebrate 48 years of promoting Ibero-American culture and fostering international cooperation.

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