Netanyahu in Latin America
Almost 70 years after the birth of the Israeli state, its prime minister visits the subcontinent
On an unprecedented journey, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu traveled to Latin America where he visited Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico. He is the first Israeli head of government to embark on a diplomatic tour in Latin America. His first stop was Buenos Aires, where he met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, then headed to Bogota, where the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received him with open arms; in Mexico, his last stop, he met up with Enrique Peña Nieto.
The Israeli prime minister seeks to improve Israel's image that seems to be tarnished by occupation settlement expansion, and suspension of dialogue with the Palestinians. For Netanyahu, Latin America is a cornerstone so in his visit he not only approved understandings to strengthen diplomatic relations, but also to consolidate commercial ties, since he brought with him a group of 30 Israeli businessmen who were interested in the region.
"We are strengthening ties with Latin America. It is a large market, an important bloc of countries,”, Netanyahu stated at a ceremony recently held at Israel's Foreign Ministry. "There is no doubt that an agreement with the Palestinians can help the world open up for us; the world is already opening despite this", stressed the prime minister. After his recent diplomatic speeches in African and Asian states, this approach serves to repair the oblivion of the countries of the subcontinent that with their UN vote gave the possibility of birth of the Hebrew State after the partition of Palestine under the British mandate.
The Latin American countries selected for Netanyahu's visit have a commercial or historical importance. In Argentina lives the largest Jewish community in the region and the seventh in the world, as well as the interest to locate new trade routes that help establish a greater diversity of Jewish companies in Latin American territory. Colombia, on the other hand, although it does not have a large Jewish community, it has ties deep enough that place it as strategic ally for Israel. About 550 million dollars exported the Israeli defense industry to Colombia, and many Hebrew companies have consolidated in Colombia because of its strategic and central position. Mexico on the other hand is seen by its economic and demographic weight as central Latin American country and a fundamental ally to look for an approach with all the Latin American block.
Netanyahu's visit to the Latin American region coincides with Nicolas Maduro's tour to Kazakhstan. The purpose of Maduro's visit to Kazakhstan was to attend the summit of the Islamic Organization for Cooperation (ICO). Although the ICO has members from very diverse countries, some secular like Albania or Bosnia, Maduro justified its adhesion to the block like answer "against the American imperialism".
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto