On Dec. 3 the government of Brazil announced that it was recognizing Palestine as an independent state within the borders defined in 1967. Argentina followed on Dec. 6. Uruguay is planning to recognize Palestine in 2011, Foreign Relations Vice Minister Roberto Conde has told the AFP wire service.
A total of 104 countries recognize Palestine, which declared itself a state in 1988. Until this month’s declaration, the only Latin American countries that recognized it were Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Israeli officials are reportedly concerned that Mexico, Ecuador and El Salvador may follow Brazil and Argentina’s lead. Once Uruguay has proceeded with the recognition, Paraguay will be the only full member of the important Mercosur trading bloc that doesn’t recognize Palestine. In his Dec. 6 statement on Palestine, Argentine foreign minister Héctor Timerman was careful to note that “Mercosur maintains relations of friendship and cooperation with Israel, which remain reflected in the Free Trade Agreement signed with the State of Israel.” (AFP, Dec. 6, via Terra.com, Argentina; Jerusalem Post, Dec. 10)
On Dec. 9 Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered his “solidarity” to Julian Assange, the Australian national who started WikiLeaks.org, a group that is in the process of releasing some 250,000 diplomatic cables from US embassies. Assange was arrested in London on Dec. 7 on sexual assault charges filed in Sweden. “I’m surprised they arrested the man and I didn’t see any protest,” Lula said. “The guy was just posting what he read.” Lula said WikiLeaks had “exposed a diplomacy that seemed to be untouchable,” and he warned Brazilian diplomats to be careful not to have the same thing happen to them. “If you don’t have anything to write, don’t write silliness,” he said. (Bloomberg, Dec. 9)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 12.