With the largest population outside of Palestine, Chile's Palestinian community will celebrate its heritage with a cultural and sports festival organized in the South American country beginning Oct. 27.
Under the name Taqalid, or traditions, the Central Bureau of Chilean Palestinian organizations will host a weekend event filled with food, exhibitions and musical performances from Palestinian artists, as well as, sports competitions including soccer, tennis and tawle, a traditional Middle Eastern board game.
“This is a chance to celebrate the Palestinian traditions in family and to get a little closer to our land in spite of difficulties and distance,” said Nadia Garib, president of the Palestinian Federation of Chile and Taqalid’s spokesperson.
“In Latin America, there is approximately 30 percent of the Palestinian diaspora, and Chile has a strong leadership in the region, which is why we decided to call everyone to this great festival for Palestine where we can enjoy our rich gastronomy, music concerts, theater, among others," Garib said.
"We felt that creating this event was our responsibility because we are the largest community in the region and the one with the most consolidated institutions," explained Diego Khamis, Taqalid executive director and director of the Chilean Palestinian Club.
Taqalid was the brainchild of delegates from 15 countries that emerged after a January workshop in Chile. Promotions in Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia have drawn interest to the cultural activities and organizers are hoping to make it an annual event.
"This is not going to be an isolated event. We want it to be maintained over time and continue to be done in America and also in Palestine," said Khamis.
The four-day festival will also include a number of talks from a panel of special guests Omar Barghouti, co-founder of "Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions," BDS, and a parade of traditional Palestinian fashions made possible by Maha Saka, director of the Palestinian Heritage Center in Belen.
"Chile is home to much of the Palestinian diaspora and many of its members come from Belén precisely, so this kind of mutual cooperation will undoubtedly be a great contribution to the exchange of neighbors and the development of both communes," said Bethlehem's Mayor Anton Salman during an event in Las Condes with the city mayor where hundreds witnessed the signing of an alliance between the two cities.
Among the groups behind the cultural event are Belen Foundation 2000, Palestine Federation of Chile, Palestinian Club, Palestinian Sports Club, Ladies Charity Corporation Palestine, General Union of Palestinian Women, General Union of Palestinian Students, Solidarity Organization with Palestine, Arab Union of Beneficence, among others.