Israel's relations with the states of Latin America, comprising all the Spanish speaking countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean, dates back to even before the official independence of the State of Israel. In November 1947, when the UN
General Assembly voted to partition the territory of
the British Mandate in
Palestine, more than half of the Latin American member nations voted in
favor of creating a Jewish state.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Israel's relations with countries in the region
were strengthened, due in no small measure to joint programs in which
Israel shared its experience and skills in areas such as agriculture,
medicine, organization of cooperatives and rural, regional and community
development. Thousands of Latino trainees participated in study programs
in Israel during this time.
Developments during the 1960s and 1970s, however, led to a lessening
of support for Israel within the countries of Latin America. This hardening was apparent mainly within the United Nations and its affiliated bodies.
Today, though, relations have thawed considerably and Israel maintains
full diplomatic relations with all the countries of Central and South
America and the Caribbean, except Cuba. These relations
are reflected in productive cooperation in the political, economic and
cultural spheres, as well as in a large number of bilateral agreements
in many areas. The only two embassies located in Jerusalem are those of El Salvador and Costa Rica, a fact which adds a facet to
the traditionally friendly relations with the countries of the region
and especially those of Central America.
The friendly bilateral relations are only partially
reflected in the multilateral sphere - in the votes of most countries
of the region in the United Nations and other international organizations - inter alia due to their traditional
affiliation with the Non-Aligned States and the Group of 77. The political-economic-social
Rio Group has so far manifested a more balanced and positive position
Commerce between Israel and Latin America is extending steadily. A Free Trade Agreement
between Mexico and Israel, concluded
in 2000, added a new dimension to this sphere. Exports, including chemicals,
high-tech software, agricultural produce, machinery and electronics,
and imports, consisting mainly of meat, grain, corn, sugar, cocoa, coffee
and metals, are both on the increase, and Israeli banks, construction
firms and agricultural planning and development companies are active
in the countries of Central and South
America and the Caribbean.
Cultural and scientific agreements for the exchange
of artists, students and athletes
operate between Israel with some 20 countries and are coordinated by the Institute
of Israel-Iberoamerican Culture in Jerusalem.
In 2005, Israel signed a framework agreement with MERCOSUR, an established economic market that promotes free trade between Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
In June 2009, the Conference of Latin American Parliamentarians met in Jerusalem with the aim of exposing of Latin American legislators to the Israeli reality and regional issues. Twenty-six senators and members of parliament from thirteen countries attended the event, including the president of the El Salvador Parliament and the chairs of foreign affairs committees from Chile, Mexico and Paraguay.
In February 2014, Israel was accepted as an observer state of the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc that consists of Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica. Israel exports around $900 million worth of goods to the Pacific Alliance annually and the country's accession will enable it to conduct trade more efficiently with these countries.
Two-way trade between Israel and Mexico in 2015 amounted to $700 million, a 300% increase since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement in 2000. Mexico exports cement as well as agricultural and mining products to Israel, it's top trade partner in the Middle East.