Arab and Latin American countries share the same concerns pertaining to progressive advancement in the fields of economic development, technical and scientific research and political democratisation. Both sides are searching for ways and means to enrich their quest through cooperation in a manner that enhances economic and political security needed to maintain international stability and world peace. Countries on both sides have been endowed with natural resources and a workforce with which they can complement each other through a partnership of mutual benefits. A free dialogue between the two regions is the right way to fulfil this lofty quest that is bound to create the opportunities for the people of the two regions to attain economic prosperity and political stability. Having said that, it is important to note that the majority of Latin American countries are being governed by liberal, rather leftist, parties that yearn to provide their people a democratic rule with economic equity that empowers all through education and job opportunities which will ultimately lead them to self-reliance. Arab countries in general are facing the same challenges.
In order to attain cooperation between these two ‘worlds’, a forum was convened in Abu Dhabi last December titled: ‘Prospects for Enhanced Arab-Latin American Partnership’. It was the fourth forum dealing with the theme ‘building a partnership for development’, hosted by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and attended by Dr Leonel Fernandez, the former president of the Dominican Republic and the president of the Institute for Democratic and Economic Development ‘FUNGLODE’. Addressing the forum, Shaikh Nahyan said that “despite the fact that the two regions are separated by a vast distance, both share numerous similarities in living circumstances, hopes and outlooks which demand of us to strengthen the political and economic ties between the two regions”. The forum, he added, was intended to “underline the contribution of both the regions to the events on the global stage and highlight the importance of their cooperation in all sectors for the sake of changing the world’s future”. His words and themes were echoed in speeches by Fernandez, Ambassador Hassnan Abdul Rahman, the Director of the Arab-Latin American Forum, and Mustafa Abu Naba, the man behind the scene who helped convene the event.
The four issues discussed were: (1) Exploring untapped opportunities for Arab-Latin American investment and trade partnerships. (2) Education, cultural and student interaction as the basis for long-term understanding and cooperation. (3) Scientific cooperation and academic exchanges. (4) Working together to promote Arab and Latin American mutual interests at global and multilateral levels and Arab-Latin American diplomatic coordination as a tool for strengthened international relations and global problem-solving.
Indeed, Latin America and the Arab world are vital regions with natural resources and booming economic growth that provide enormous opportunities for commercial and investment ties. Trade agreements that address the basic specialities of each market are needed to attain the objective of prosperity in both regions. The interchange and interaction in education, culture and the arts foster greater understanding and tolerance pertaining to each region’s civilisations and historical events. Greater initiatives for scientific research and projects based upon Arab and Latin American assets would lead to mutual benefits. This is why cooperation between the two regions in international organisations and multilateral forums will strengthen their individual and collective voices and votes. Close relationships between the countries can and will help render justice on issues being debated at the UN. Moreover, attaining economic prosperity under the rule of law, that provides self-sufficiency to the citizens of both regions, strengthens national independence and enhances international stability and security at the same time. Fighting poverty can only be done by educating the population to learn a skill that can command a price in the market of supply and demand. Education, scientific research, trade and investment between nations will enhance advancement of prosperity and stability for all who coordinate and cooperate in innovation and the empowerment of human and natural recourses for the mutual benefit of all.
In this spirit, setting up solid cooperation/partnership between the two regions on the economic, scientific, political and educational fronts will serve as an example to be emulated by other regions of the world. Indeed, the entire world is a global village”, where the well-being of a nation enhances the well-being of others.
Also, it is worthy to note that the extra dimension embedded in the working of this forum is the Latin American vote and its impact on local as well as presidential elections in the US. If this forum becomes an arena for cooperation and partnership between Americans of Arab descent and Americans of Latin descent in America, the Zionist lobby that has kidnapped the American Congress and made it a hostage to serve the agenda of the colonial/ apartheid Israeli occupation in Palestine, can be broken. The fate of the recent American presidential election was decided by American-Latino votes. These votes, supporting equality under the law, is the very aspiration of the Palestinians (and Arabs) seeking self-determination and peace based on justice. When votes of Arab-Americans are added to the votes of Latino-Americans, the political map in America will be changed positively.
Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.