The sights, sounds, and flavors of Central America were brought to Tel Aviv on September 12th, 2019, when the Central American embassies of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras celebrated 198 years of independence at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv.
Each country had a stand adorned with flags, flowers, and other items representing the country, along with brochures offering more information. Embassy representatives were on hand to explain more about the country. There was also an exhibition of paintings to enjoy, as well as typical Latin American cuisine to taste.
After guests received by all four ambassadors and enjoyed the opening reception, the official ceremony commenced with the playing of the national anthems of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Israel. Each ambassador sang his own country’s anthem, but the Ambassador of Guatemala delighted the audience by singing the national anthem of Israel in Hebrew. The master of ceremonies, Emma Maor, opened the evening by calling up the ambassadors, together with former Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel.
On behalf of the Ambassadors of Central America, H.E Mario E. Castillo, the ambassador of Honduras, welcomed and thanked all the guests on this historic occasion. The ambassador mentioned the importance of the values of “courtesy, tolerance, and understanding” in the region, and how democracy has led to political, economic, and social development. He noted the success of agriculture, including world-renowned coffee, and tourism, and also emphasized the importance of looking forward to future opportunities for growth and cooperation.
Ambassador Castillo mentioned the Central American Integration System (SICA) which has facilitated trade between the member countries and promoted regional growth, along with the 17th Meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Dialogue and Concerting Mechanism, and the first Mesoamerican Business Meeting, held in Honduras; with the participation of nine regional countries. This meeting was a farther step in advancing “inclusive and sustainable economic growth”, as well as “logistical mobility and commercial facilitation, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In concluding his remarks, the ambassador thanked Kerem Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Mashav, and Gina art gallery, and wished everyone a happy Jewish New Year.
Former Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel spoke on behalf of the government of Israel, emphasizing the deep and historic bonds between Central America and the Jewish people. Mr. Ariel noted the shared values, as well as vibrant cooperation between Israel and the Central American countries, in finding solutions to challenges ranging from climate change and resource depletion; global food security to technological threats and border defense. He finished his remarks with a toast to a future of peace, security, and prosperity for Central America.
Hernán Felman, Vice President of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL)-Jewish National Fund, also addressed the audience. Mr. Felman noted the successful partnership between the KKL and Central American countries on agricultural issues and expressed pride in the status of the KKL as one of the NGOs recognized by the United Nations for its work on the international scale.
Following the speeches, a toast was held for the independence and success of Central America, and continued bilateral relations with Israel. A video showed the beautiful sights of the four countries, and guests enjoyed live music and a wonderful dinner with traditional cuisine from Central America.
Among the distinguished guests were: Chief of State Protocol in the Israeli Foreign Ministry Meron Reuben; Modi Ephraim, head of the Latin American and Caribbean desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; David Cohen former Ambassador of Israel to El Salvador; Deputy Chairman of the Jewish National Fund and former Member of the Knesset Yigal Yasinov, and the Honorary consul of Costa Rica, Nathan Allalouf, and his wife, the owners of owner of Allalouf & Co. Shipping Ltd.
Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the embassies of Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala and Honduras, and offers best wishes on the momentous occasion.
Steven Aiello Founder--DebateforPeace
Photos by Silvia Golan