RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Guatemala-born Israeli businessman is running for president of his native country.
Yitzhak Farhi, 58, moved to Israel at the age 46 after heading the Central American country’s 1,200-strong Jewish community. Farhi, who is Jewish, was a director of the Chevra Kadisha Jewish burial society.
Farhi was spurred to run by a Guatemalan television interview in which he was asked in June about the secret of Israel’s success. He replied in the interview, which aired two months ago, that “ideals and unity” were behind the reasons and suggested that Guatemala could also benefit from adopting these principles.
Farhi received an offer from the ViVa party and announced his candidacy for the June elections on Thursday. At this point he is not among the front-runners in the race.
“My four fellow candidates have all run in the past and they failed,” Farhi, the CEO of a company that specializes in providing health services, told the Israeli media over the weekend.
Farhi entered politics at an early age. He was among the founders of Guatemala’s National Advancement Party, which became one of the largest in the country.
He lives in Raanana, a central Israeli suburb with many immigrants from around the world, but is returning to Guatemala to run. Farhi promises he will return to the Jewish state if he fails to win the election.
Last year, Guatemala followed the United States and moved its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.