JPOST: Guatemalan Presidential Hopeful - Israel’s Enemy Is Guatemala’s Enemy
By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman | August 1, 2019
Israeli first-responder awarded Guatemala’s “Ambassador of Peace” reward.
“He who is Israel’s enemy is Guatemala’s enemy,” said presidential hopeful Alejandro Giammattei, in an interview published by the Israel Allies Foundation earlier this week.
The candidate confirmed that if elected, he would he keep Guatemala’s embassy in Jerusalem and act against the terrorist organization Hezbollah in his country.
Guatemala moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, one day after the United States moved its embassy. “There we have it, by faith and conviction, and there it will stay,” Giammattei said of the embassy.
“We had the idea that you can take people who have biblical support for Israel and turn it into real political action and we can start doing things that people thought was unheard of, and that’s exactly what happened this week,” Joshua Reinstein, head of the Israel Allies Foundation, said of the move at the time.
Reinstein runs the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, a multiparty caucus of MKs aiming to foster communication between Israeli legislators and Christian leaders and politicians around the world. There are 40 Israel Allies Caucuses worldwide under the auspices of the Israel Allies Foundation. The last one to open was in another Latin American country, Colombia.
Congressman Juan Manuel Díaz-Durán, chairman of the Guatemalan Israel Allies Caucus, also spoke at the embassy event. He said that “the solidarity and friendship between the people of Guatemala and Israel has been very clear since 1947, when the Republic of Guatemala played a determining role in world events by casting the second vote at the UN to recognize the State of Israel.”
Giammattei, who will replace President Jimmy Moralesi if elected, also spoke in his interview about a recent decision by the Argentine government to designate Hezbollah as a terror group. He said he would make efforts to do the same in Guatemala.
“The designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group under Guatemalan law does not depend solely on the president, but has to be ratified by the Congress of the republic – but I am willing to do it,” he said.
Giammattei is a candidate with the Center-Right Vamos (Let’s Go) party. He is facing off against Sandra Torres from the Center-Left UNE Party (National Unity of Hope) in the final round of voting set to take place on August 11.
Torres has also supported Israel during her campaign, stating that she, too, has remained “in favor of Guatemala’s embassy remaining in Jerusalem.”
Guatemala opened its pro-Israel caucus in 2017. Though the country has fewer than 1,000 Jews, it was the first Latin American country to recognize Israel and the only Latin American country to open an embassy in Jerusalem. Today, about 41% of Guatemala’s 15 million people are Evangelicals, according to a report by the Friends of Zion Institute for Strategic Studies.
Morales, himself an evangelical Christian, received the Friends of Zion Award from founder Dr. Mike Evans in January for his historic decision to move the Guatemalan Embassy to Jerusalem.
This week, Shay Salmon, an Israel-born ZAKA volunteer, was awarded the “Ambassador of Peace” honor during a ceremony at the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala.
Salmon assists ongoing emergency preparedness training for two ZAKA units in Guatemala. He was also among a team of first responders in the aftermath of the devastating June 2018 volcano disaster. Salmon stayed in Guatemala, caring for the survivors and homeless from the disaster, and helping to build a new neighborhood known as “New Jerusalem.”
“ZAKA Guatemala is a unique unit, under the direction of ZAKA Guatemala commander Rabbi Yosef Garmon, who initiated the idea of establishing ZAKA units in a Latin American country,” explained ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav. “Since completing their training, they have been engaged in round-the-clock activities, helping others with professionalism and dedication. It is a great sanctification of God’s name to see Jews and non-Jews working together for one another.”
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