Israeli businessman running for president of Guatemala

Marcus M. Gilban

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Guatemalan-born Israeli businessman is running for president of his native country.

Yitzhak Farhi, 58, moved to Israel at the age 46 after heading the Central American country’s 1,200-strong Jewish community. Farhi, who is Jewish, was a director of the Chevra Kadisha Jewish burial society.

In June, the dual citizen will run for president thanks to a Guatemalan television interview aired two months ago, in which he was asked about the secret of Israel’s success.

He replied that “ideals and unity” were behind the reasons and suggested that Guatemala could also benefit from adopting these principles.

“My four fellow candidates have all run in the past and they failed,” Farhi told Israeli media over the weekend.

Farhi received an offer from the ViVa party and announced his candidacy on Thursday. He is currently not among the front-runners in the race.

Farhi entered politics at an early age. He was among the founders of Guatemala’s National Advancement Party, which became one of the largest in the country.

Farhi is a resident of Ra’anana, the Israeli central city that serves as a magnet to wealthy immigrants for its high standards and international suburban atmosphere, but is returning to Guatemala to run in the June elections.

He currently serves as CEO of a company that specializes in providing health services. He promises he will return to the Jewish state if he fails to win the election.

Last year, Guatemala followed the United States and moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.