B’nai B’rith leaders from throughout Latin America met in Quito, Ecuador, June 26 and 27, to discuss important issues facing the Jewish communities in Latin America and around the world. Primary issues of focus included Durban III—the 10 year commemoration of a United Nations conference on racism that degenerated into an anti-Israel hate-fest—the question of a Palestinian state and B’nai B’rith’s present and future plans in the region.
B’nai B’rith Latin America President Pablo Grinstein, Vice Chair Denis Hernstadt, B’nai B’rith International Consultant Ram Tapia and Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn joined members of the local Jewish community at the meeting hosted by local Board of Governors Member Narciso Attia.
At a dinner hosted by the Jewish community on June 26, Grinstein spoke about challenges facing the B’nai B’rith Latin American community, highlighting Durban III and the question of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. The day-long session on June 27 focused on B’nai B’rith’s plan to work in conjunction with the congresses and foreign ministries of Latin American states in an effort to reverse the decision to recognize Palestinian statehood.
Former President of Ecuador Osvaldo Hurtado spoke at a luncheon on June 27 about the economic and political future of the region.
“Populist regimes practice an obsolete system and have no future,” Hurtado said. “They are supported in current favorable economic circumstances, but the [failures] of democracy in those regimes are unsustainable for the majority of the people.”
On the topic of the new coalition, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to be inaugurated on July 5, Hurtado said “CELAC has no meaning and no sense, and no future—but so far presidents sign agreements to build such organizations, and afterwards, no one knows [their] future or why they exist.”
B’nai B’rith International will hold its annual policy conference in Latin America in December. The Montevideo, Uruguay gathering will be the first time B’nai B’rith has held its policy conference in Latin America.