expected, become the more structured and influential than the Commonwealth. The Francophonie is essentially a relationship between France and Africa; in the Western Hemisphere only Canada and Haiti are members and in Asia it is only Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In each of these countries the percentage of the population that functions in the French language is a minor fraction of the whole, except for Haiti and, in Canada, Quebec and New Brunswick. It is in Africa that large populations of francophones outside Europe are to be found and where the institutional structure is the densest and most extensive.
In contrast with the Commonwealth, the Francophonie is explicitly based on use and preservation of the common language and its primary activities are cultural in nature. Established in 1969 at a conference held in Niamey (Niger), the formal organization of the Francophonie, L’agence de coopération culturelle et technique (ACCT), has as its objectives multinational cooperation in the areas of education training, culture, science and technology, and the rapprochement of the peoples of member nations. In contrast to the scores of official and unofficial entities listed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Francophonie comprises just 19 organizations and associations half of which are concerned with language and literature written in French.xxi
One of the primary multilateral institutions that preceded the Francophonie was the Franc Zone, a currency area based on the French Franc. Established in 1930, the Franc Zone was designed to maintain fixed exchange rates between the French Franc and the currencies of France’s overseas Departments and several countries of the Communauté financierè africaine. Its objective was that of ensuring stable economic conditions throughout the zone and of encouraging the trade flows of primary goods to France and of French manufactures to the lesser developed countries primarily in Africa and Asia. This initiative was terminated in 1994 after repeated requests by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as a distortive and inefficient intervention.xxii But it was the evolution of the global economy that made the Franc zone unimportant for France. During the inter-war years trade between France and its colonies grew from 14 per cent in 1926 to over 26 per cent in 1938. But by the time Charles deGaulle returned to the presidency in 1958, trade had declined to about 6 per cent and the Franc zone accounted for less than 2 per cent of France’s direct investment abroad. Thus the only linkage that was sustainable in the post-World War II years was the linguistic and cultural one.
A small number of individual Latin American countries have also participated the Commonwealth and the Francophonie for decades, but the most promising recent initiative at closer ties has been that of Spain. With its legacy of domination, the relationship between Latin America and Spain has languished since the struggles for independence in the 1820’s. Latin Americans were torn between the positions of José Martí, who argued for “our America” free from external cultural influences, and of Domingo Sarmiento, who sought to introduce the “civilizing” influences of European, primarily British and French, science and learning.xxiii However, even establishment of the Iberoamerican Union in 1900 could not hide the face that neither Latin Americans nor Spaniards were much interested in developing closer ties.xxiv In 1992, the government of Spain sponsored the Universal Exposition in Seville to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’