International Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated throughout Latin America on Jan. 27, the date 72 years ago that the Allies liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau. In recognition of this, the United Nations, in 2005, declared Jan. 27 International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
For this year’s commemoration in Argentina, Human Rights Office Director Claudio Avruj, who is also a former B’nai B’rith executive vice president of District 23, decided to move the commemoration from Buenos Aires to Santa Fe, a very important province in Argentina, and home of thousands of Jewish immigrants who settled there in the 20th century. They also founded the historic village Moises Ville. The event took place in the park of the Righteous Among Nations. This park is a memorial dedicated to non-Jewish men and women who helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santiago, Chile hosted an event, organized by B`nai B’rith Chile and the Jewish community, which was attended by more than 200 people. Ana Maria Tapia, a very well known B´nai B'rith member, received a tribute for her many years devoted to teaching the Holocaust in Chile.
Uruguay’s congress held a special session commemorating the day, and Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa, Israeli Ambassador to Uruguay Nina Ben Ami and hundreds of others attended the event. Members of Congress from all parties spoke about the importance of teaching the Shoah. Minister of Education Maria Julia Muñoz spoke at night, and her speech was broadcast live throughout the country. She made a special tribute to Holocaust survivors who came to Uruguay after the Holocaust.
Brazil held several events across the country in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. In Sao Paulo, a ceremony was held in the main Masorti synagogue led by Rabbi Michel Schlesinger. President of Brazil Michel Temer and Foreign Minister Jose Serra attended the event.
From left to right: Jack Terpins; Rabbi Michel Schlesinger; Consul Israel Dori Goren; Minister of Social Development Floriano Pesaro; Cardinal Odilo Scherer; Ricardo Berkiensztat; Bruno Laskowsky; Foreign Minister José Serra; Governor of Sao Paulo; Geraldo Alckmin; Mayor of Sao Pablo John Doria ; Fernando Lottenberg.
Paraguay held a special session in the U.N. Hall of Asuncion and Israeli Ambassador to Paraguay Peleg Lewi and several other ambassadors attended. Panama and Costa Rica held events in their Congresses.
Mexico held a special event at the Foreign Ministry, with keynote speaker Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso. In his speech he noted: “Mexico recognizes and remembers the veracity of this outrageous historic carnage. We will never doubt, not for a second, the existence of the Shoah and we do and will do so because we are sure that remembrance is an imperative of solidarity, not only with the Jewish people, the main target of this tragedy, but with other minorities who were also victims of the Nazis. It is more important than ever to remember the Shoah today, because we are facing and witnessing new ways of nationalisms which want to open again the doors of racism and discrimination.”