Three major candidates in Guatemala’s first Presidential election in two decades promised to expand relations with Israel if elected. One of the candidates also called for moving his country’s Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Addressing a luncheon meeting of the executive committee of B’nai B’rith District 23 (Caribbean), former Vice President Mario Sandoval Alarcon said he doesn’t understand why the present Guatemalan government has not transferred its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The right-of-center National Liberation Movement candidate’s comments brought cheers from the 150 B’nai B’rith guests.
The candidate of the left-of-center Christian Democratic Party, Vinicio Cerezo, compared Guatemala’s struggle for survival, peace and democracy with Israel’s formative years. He said that he was inspired by the strong defense of human rights emanating from a nation that had a special awareness about human suffering.
The third candidate, Jorge Serrano Elias of the centrist National Cooperative Front, hailed the close relationship of Guatemala’s 179,000-member cooperative farm movement with Israel’s Kibbutzim. Serrano, a leader of the cooperatives, indicated that his country’s farmers had received training in advanced techniques through exchange programs and scholarships provided by Israel.
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Although all three candidates talked about a strong link between Israel and Guatemala, Sandoval said he was “worried about the PLO presence in creating chaos and terrorism.”
A fourth Presidential candidate, who was unable to attend, was Jorge Carpio Nicolle of the right-of-center National Center Union Party.
Among the Jewish leaders at the meeting were Isaac Gilinski of Cali, Colombia, B’nai B’rith District 23 president; Marcel Ruff, president of the Organization of Central American Jews; Jaime Russ, president of B’nai B’rith Guatemala; Warren Eisenberg of the United States, director of the International Council of B’nai B’rith and B’nai B’rith executive committee; and members from Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.