RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — The outgoing Israeli ambassador to Guatemala was awarded the country’s highest honor in recognition of his cooperation in strengthening the political dialogue between the Central American nation and the Jewish state.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales decorated Amb. Moshe Bachar with the Order of Quetzal on the Grand Cross degree last week. The country’s minister of foreign relations, Carlos Raul Morales, said that the Israeli diplomat helped strengthen political dialogue at the highest levels, as well as promoting cooperation, especially in the areas of agriculture, technology, medicine, tourism and security.
Established in 1936, the Order of Quetzal is bestowed by the Guatemalan government on officials of nations, organizations and other entities whose artistic, civic, humanitarian, or scientific works merit special recognition.
“I wish we had half of what Guatemala has, with so much water and a beautiful geography. During these four years and four months, we tried to help the country because we have a very close historical relationship of friendship,” said Bachar, who will return to Jerusalem on Aug. 1.
In March, the Guatemalan government partnered with the local Jewish community to launch an educational project to study the Holocaust and promote the values of tolerance and respect. Israeli ambassador Bachar and Guatemalan education minister Oscar Hugo Lopez attended the inauguration of the project.
“Studying the Holocaust allows young people to see the tragic consequences of currents and movements,” said Yehudi Sabbagh, president of the Comunidad Judia de Guatemala, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization. “It also allows strengthening the values of tolerance and respect.”
In November, Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, was welcomed in Israel by government officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and the Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, all of whom thanked the country for its pivotal role in the creation of the Jewish state.
Guatemala is home to about 1,000 Jews out of a population of 15 million.