Where do Latin American Countries Stand on the Israel-Hamas War?

dome of the rock, Jerusalem seen behind barbed wire

The responses are as diverse as the countries

Most Latin American countries have weighed in on the Israel-Hamas war, ranging from singular statements at the onset to entire breakdowns of diplomatic relations with Israel. The conflict underscores the complex foreign relations between Latin American countries and the Israel-Hamas conflict. Historically, left-leaning countries in Latin America have sympathized with the Palestinian cause, while right-wing countries have followed the U.S. lead, often influenced by their foreign relations with the U.S.

The recent Hamas-led assault, which killed citizens from various Latin American countries, has prompted different stances and various needs for response, including humanitarian ones such as the case with Mexico, which sent planes to Israel to rescue Mexican nationals stuck in the country.

One day after the Hamas-led October 7 attacks, Colombia and Israel got into a foreign relations dispute when President Gustavo Petro compared Israeli attacks on Gaza to the Nazi persecution of Jewish people during World War II. This comparison led to tensions between the two countries. President Petro criticized Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's statements about Palestinians, likening them to Nazi rhetoric.

In response, Israel announced a “halt in security exports” to Colombia, which included fighter jets, surveillance equipment, and assault rifles used in Colombia's fight against drug traffickers and armed groups. President Petro didn’t back down, saying in a statement posted on X, “If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we will suspend them. We do not support genocides. The president of Colombia will not be insulted.”

The remainder of Latin America's Countries responses vary:

Argentina, home to a significant Jewish community, saw President Alberto Fernandez state his country’s condemnation of the Hamas attack on Israeli people. He stated through a statement on X that he called President of Israel Isaac HerzogI and conveyed the solidarity of the people and the Government of Argentina. He went on to state that Argentina strongly repudiates the atrocious attacks that Hamas perpetuated against the Israeli people.

Belize called for immediate de-escalation, supported a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and demanded that displaced Palestinians have the right to return to their displaced homes.

Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry expressed deep concern about the violence on both sides, with former President Evo Morales criticizing the official statement saying, it "does not denounce with political coherence the true situation that the Palestinian people are going through. "

"From Bolivia we condemn the imperialist and colonial actions of the Israeli Zionist government."

Brazil's Foreign Minister called for an end to violence on both sides and expressed concern about Israeli actions in northern Gaza saying Brazil had “received with dismay the news that Israeli forces called for all civilians – more than one million – living in northern Gaza to leave within 24 hours.”

Chile, home to the largest Palestinian diaspora outside of the Middle East, condemned both Hamas attacks and Israel's indiscriminate attacks against civilians, opting to underscore a two-state solution. Chilean President Gabriel Boric added that “use of force against civilians was never acceptable in armed conflicts.”

Colombia: President Gustavo Petro has consistently brought attention to the level of violence that civilian Palestinians are experiencing noting, “I was already in the Auschwitz concentration camp and now I see it copied in Gaza.”

Cuba’sMinistry of Foreign Relations issued its statement via X,” #Cuba expresses serious concern about the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, which is a consequence of 75 years of permanent violation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.’

Ecuador’s President issued a statement declaring full-throat support of Israel. Just recently in 2022, the Ecuadorian President became the first sitting president of his country to visit Israel. His delegation of 100 people was welcomed by President Isaac Herzog at the President’s Residence.

El Salvador, a staunch Israel ally, condemned the Hamas attack on Israel, with President Nayib Bukele saying, “...the best thing that could happen to the Palestinian people is for Hamas to completely disappear.” The president’s statement was noteworthy in that he distinctly differentiated between Hamas and Palestinians using the comparison between El Salvador’s notorious MS13 gang and everyday Salvadorans, noting that similarly, they are different groups.

Guatemala: President Alejandro Giammattei issued his statement on X, “On behalf of the people of Guatemala and its Government, I express our deepest condolences and support for Israel in these difficult times after the unjustified aggressions. We stand in profound solidarity with the families of the victims.”

Mexico: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was one of the last leaders to speak out on the war saying he wants to keep his country neutral in the conflict. Meanwhile, the president and Mexican government leaders are focused on attempting to secure the safety of Mexican nationals by asking Israel to open a humanitarian corridor that will allow foreign nationals to evacuate Gaza, which Israel is currently prohibiting.

Panama: “Panama firmly condemns the recent attacks against the people of Israel. We deeply regret the victims and injuries, and we reject all forms of violence. We express our solidarity with the Isrselí people in these difficult times,” said President Nito Cortizo on X.

Paraguay: President Santiago Peña issued an aggressive statement of support saying, “All our support to the sister nation of Israel in the face of the cowardly terrorist attacks it has suffered. We condemn, repudiate and reject these inhuman actions that threaten the peace of the world and that hurt us greatly by affecting a nation with which we have strong fraternal ties.”

This isn’t a surprise given that Paraguay’s new president announced just months before the October 7 Hamas-led attack that Paraguay intended to open an embassy in Jerusalem, ending a 5-year disagreement that began in 2018 when outgoing Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes announced that his country would open an embassy in Jerusalem, but just five months later, the embassy was moved back to Tel Aviv by Cartes’ successor Abdo Benitez, who said he hadn’t been consulted in the original decision and said that it hurt efforts to maintain a more neutral approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel promotes Jerusalem as an embassy site because it believes that in doing so, it strengthens its claim to the city as its capital. After Cartes moved the embassy back to Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to have Israel’s embassy in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, closed in retaliation.

After Peña’s recent announcement that Paraguay’s embassy would be moving back to Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen then announced that Israel planned to reopen its embassy in Asunción.

Peru: Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has largely remained absent from any definitive statement of support or denouncement of any group or country, choosing to instead make a statement on the safety of Peruvian nationals.

“The Consular Section of the Embassy of Peru in Israel has reported that so far there are no Peruvians affected by the situation of violence that the Middle East region is experiencing. The Foreign Ministry remains attentive to the status of our compatriots.”

Venezuela voiced concern about the situation in Gaza and called for an end to violence, emphasizing the need for international law to address Palestinian rights. Foreign Minister Yvan Gil said in part, “Venezuela expresses its deep concern about the evolution of recent events in the Gaza Strip, while considering that the escalation is the result of the impossibility of the Palestinian people to find multilateral international legality.”

Latin American countries' responses to the Israel-Hamas conflict demonstrate that just as Latinos in the U.S. can't be categorized as a singular group with a majority overlap in beliefs, neither can Latin American countries. Their politics, interests, and leaders land on every inch of the political spectrum.

List of Latin American countries sourced from the Washington Institute.

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