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Latin America: a historical ally of Palestine

Despite the fact that most Latin American countries recognize Palestine as a nation, total support is divided.

Boy raising a flag of Palestine

In Latin America, the Arab state has been able to find several allies in its cause. Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: América Latina: un aliado histórico de Palestina

Over the years, the nation of Palestine has struggled for recognition as a nation at the United Nations and different types of organizations. In Latin America, the Arab state has been able to find several allies in its cause.

Almost full support

Since 1974, the UN General Assembly granted the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the representative of the people and, later, Palestine, the status of an Observer country not a member of the United Nations.

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Precisely, for this vote, the support of several Latin American countries was fundamental. In 2012, the Assembly defined the status of Palestine in the organization and the Palestinian people had almost total support from the Latin American countries.

Panama was the only one to vote against, very close to what was voted by the United States and Canada. Additionally, only Colombia, Paraguay, and Guatemala, at the time, abstained from voting.

This process dates back to 2010, when several Latin countries began to recognize Palestine as a State, so much so that to date, Mexico and Panama are the only Latin countries to deny such recognition, very much in accordance with the position of their allies on North: the United States and Canada. However, the Aztec country maintains representative relations with the Palestinian Government.

The last country to give this support was Colombia, in the last year of President Juan Manuel Santos in 2018, when he took advantage of his last months to make a decision that could affect the strong cooperation and business relationship that exists between Israel and Colombia.

Diaspora

Due to the conflict that has been going on for decades, the Palestinian people have constantly emigrated in search of better opportunities. Several of these decided to reach Latin American lands, even though the region is home to a greater diaspora than other continents (only below the Middle East and North Africa).

Chile, with more than 300,000 people, is the South American country with the largest Palestinian descendants and citizens. So much so, that since 1920 the Club Deportivo Palestino has existed in Chilean football in the Chilean capital.

After the southern country, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru all have more than 10,000 Palestinians or descendants, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. There are even several personalities of Palestinian descent in important positions, both in government and in the economy or entertainment.

Jerusalem, another dispute

Another issue that divides Latinos is the stance toward Jerusalem. Only Guatemala has recognized this sacred city as the capital of Israel. The rest keep it neutral. After Donald Trump's decision in 2017 to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, there are 3 blocks within the Latinos.

At the UN, a motion was voted against the transfer of the American embassy. Guatemala (the only country in the world, together with the United States with an embassy) and Honduras decided to vote against that initiative.

At an intermediate point, but which in the end supported the United States, Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic, they abstained from voting.

While Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela supported this initiative.