Juan Manuel Díaz-Durán Mendez.
(photo credit: YOUTUBE)
Israel's public diplomacy in Central America received a boost Monday, when the Israel Allies Foundation announced that it had opened a new pro-Israel caucus in the parliament of Guatemala.
Guatemala has fewer than 1000 Jews. But it was the first Latin-American country to recognize Israel and was the first to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
The caucus in Guatemala in the 37th Israel Allies Caucus formed around the world. The last caucus formed were in Romania, Slovakia, and Lithuania. Guatemalan Congressman Juan Manuel Diaz Duran, who will chair the caucus, came to Jerusalem last week to meet with other caucus chairmen from around the world at the Israel Allies Foundation' chairman's conference.
"The solidarity and friendship between the people of Guatemala and Israel has been very clear, since 1947 when the Republic of Guatemala played a determining role in world events by casting the second vote at the UN to recognize the State of Israel," Diaz Duran said.
In recent days, Diaz Duran and fellow Guatemalan Congressman Fidel Reyes Lee formalized the creation of the caucus and committed to work to strengthen the relationship between Israel and Guatemala. The Congress of Guatemala is currently crafting a law that will formalize May 14th as "The Day of Friendship" between Israel and Guatemala.
Diaz Duran said he would try to build more Caucuses in Central American countries "to build an alliance and mutual support of friendship between Israel and Central America.” Besides Guatemala, there are Central American caucuses in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
"We have been working very hard with Congressman Diaz Duran to expand Israel support in Parliaments from Central America, and the leadership and commitment that we have seen in the past months in Guatemala has been decisive to show that we are on the right track," Israel Allies Foundation Latin America Director, Leopoldo Martinez said. “the growing support for Israel by Christian parliamentary leaders from Latin America is truly heartwarming and we see this trend accelerating in the forthcoming years as the IAF Latin America Program continues to gather political support for Israel in the region.
The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus was established in 2004 and consists of 19 members of Knesset from seven political parties. The caucus aims to build direct lines of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives around the world.
The Israel Allies Foundation is dedicated to promoting communication between parliamentarians and legislators who share a belief that the State of Israel has the right to exist in peace within secure borders. It coordinates the activities of 35 Israel Allies Caucuses around the world.
"Through faith based diplomacy and our network of Israel Allies Caucuses we will develop a new, vibrant and united wave of political support for the State of Israel unlike anything we have ever experienced from Latin America," said Israel Allies Foundation president Josh Reinstein.