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Vice-President Carlos Quintanilla-Schmidt of El Salvador
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Vice-President Carlos Quintanilla-Schmidt of El Salvador

I feel deeply honored to be here representing President Francisco Flores, who sends his sincere apologies for not being able to be this evening with you as much as he would have liked to, since urgent state matters related to the national agenda require his presence back home in San Salvador.

On behalf of the Government and the People of El Salvador, let me acknowledge President José María Aznar of Spain, "es un honor estar con tan distinguido amigo", Mr. Brajesh Mishra, National Security Advisor of India, Mr. Andrew Card from the White House, Mr. Yuval Shteinitz, member of the Israeli Parliament, the foreign Ministers of the incoming NATO states and Ambassadors from other ally nations.

But above all, let me express El Salvador's recognition to the honorable Harold Tanner, President of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) for hosting this Annual Dinner honoring America's Allies. As the Vice-president of El Salvador, I am proud to be here tonight just when the State of Israel - an ally and friend since its creation - has turned fifty-five.

Congratulations!!!

On behalf of The Salvadoran people and government allow me to express our deepest gratitude to AJC for make us part of this tribute. For us this event not only recognizes El Salvador's historical compromise with freedom, tolerance and justice, the same values that the Jewish Community share with us. Also, this is a unique opportunity to ratify the condition of true friends and allies of El Salvador with Israel and The United States in this moment of history when the threat of global terrorism endangers our countries.

The history of the relationship between Israel and El Salvador is full of examples that demonstrate our common dreams, aspirations as well as visions. But there is not a single best proof of solidarity between our people than our actions to save more than 30,000 Jews from the horror of the Holocaust.

This historical solidarity have been maintained consistently by El Salvador since the inception of the State of Israel. We are proud to be a country where anti-Semitism is an unknown word. In spite of critics that our country maintains its Embassy in Jerusalem at the expense of huge costs in the international community, The Government of President Francisco Flores decided to maintain our Embassy in Jerusalem as a proof of our solidarity and eternal friendship with the Jewish people.

In the future ahead we will face new challenges that will only be surpass successfully with our commitment for freedom and human dignity: the peace process in the middle East, the global war against terrorism, the strengthening of tolerance and the matters of interest to our respective diasporas.

The Salvadoran Diaspora came to the United States fleeing from tragic circumstances in the same way your ancestors did. Nowadays, more than two million Salvadorans call this great country "home" and are seeking the same American dream the Jewish community has already fulfill.

We are grateful of the support we have received from AJC in order to provide immigration stability to our Diaspora. Now that we are advocating in the United States Congress for a permanent relief for Salvadorans under Temporary Protection Status (TPS), we will need more than ever of your unequivocal support to achieve this goal.

As you also well know, the Central Americans countries are currently engaged in negotiations for a free trade agreement (CAFTA) with the United States. Our objective is that trough CAFTA we will be able to consolidate democracy, lift from poverty, fully integrate our economies and become a stable, prosperous and secure region. All these values are shared, promoted and defended by the American Jewish Committee, and that is why we are confident that CAFTA will be strongly supported by AJC and its members.

In closing, I want to reassure you our commitment to freedom, peace and security. Those are the values that make us proud members of the Coalition of the Willing. Rest assure that our country will always stand by for the Jewish people and for the welfare, security, peace and freedom of our great nations: Israel, The United States of America and El Salvador.

Thank you and Shalom to you all!

Date: 5/8/2003 12:00:00 AM