News & Media

November 29 and 30, 2012
Relations between the Middle East and Latin America

On November 29 and 30, 2012, the Latin American Studies and Cultures Center, and the Research Center for Development and Peace related to the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, along with the Interdisciplinary Research Network on Arab Countries and Latin America (RIMAAL) - France, organized an international colloquium entitled “Relations between the Middle East and Latin America: a Decade of South-South Revival” in the Conference Hall, at USEK Main Campus. A number of Ambassadors from the Latin American countries as well as military, diplomatic, educational and social figures attended the conference.

The Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities, Prof. Hoda Nehme inaugurated the colloquium and welcomed the attendees on behalf of the University President, Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz. She stated that this cultural event is evidence of the determination to coexist in an environment where mutual understanding and knowledge prevail.

The Director of the Latin American Studies and Cultures Center, Mr. Roberto Khatlab took the floor next and pointed out that the link between the Middle East and Latin America was established a decade ago through three summit gatherings in the Latin American and Arab countries of Brazil, Qatar and Peru. He added that Lebanon has actively participated in these summits and, during the last summit held in October 2012, President Michel Sleiman suggested that Lebanon becomes the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the South American-Arab Countries (ASPA). Furthermore, the Lebanese President suggested that investment banks to finance projects of both regions should be established. Mr. Khatlab indicated that since the foundation of ASPA, commercial exchange between the two regions drastically rose, and that the Latin American Studies and Cultures Center aims to transform the University into a platform of cooperation between Lebanon and Latin America.

Myriem Aboutaher, member of the Interdisciplinary Research Network on Arab Countries and Latin America (RIMAAL) - France, explained that the Network was founded in 2011 and its main objectives are: exchanging business to contribute to the dialogue between researchers, calling for dialogue and contributions, developing research through publishing books and organizing conferences, and sparing no effort in improving five main business languages in the world (Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, French and English).

The Director of the Institute for Latin American Studies (IHEAL), and of the Center for Research on the Americas (CREDA - Paris III) - France, Sebastien Velut, praised the efforts deployed by the Interdisciplinary Research Network on Arab Countries and Latin America (RIMAAL) in studying the roots of the relations between the two regions. He added that the subject of this colloquium is relevant today because it tries to draw the map of the Lebanese diaspora in the world, thus also highlighting the importance of Latin America, and this event occurs at a time when new democracies are emerging along with new constitutional and institutional models in both regions and the creation of a Global South with the emergence of some powerful South American countries, such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia, etc., who are aspiring for a status completely different from that of KSA and Qatar.

During the successive sessions of the colloquium, the following subjects were examined: emerging countries with a protesting diplomacy, South-South exchanges: from commerce to development, as well as the crises in the Middle East from the perspective of Latin American Diplomacy.

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