The Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, Hugo Martinez, will be visiting Israel from 28 February to 2 March. This is his first visit in Israel as foreign minister since he took office about 20 months ago.
The visit reflects the special bilateral relations that the two states have enjoyed for many years and is expected to strengthen the diplomatic, economic and MASHAV ties between Israel and El Salvador.
During his visit, FM Martinez will meet with President Peres, Foreign Minister Liberman, and prominent figures in the Israeli economy. He will also speak at a special seminar about El Salvador to be held by Israeli businesspeople.
FM Martinez will visit Yad Vashem and lay a wreath in the Remembrance Hall. He will also participate in the unveiling of the name of a Salvadorian righteous gentile, Jose Arturo Castellanos who, as Consul General of El Salvador in Geneva during World War II, saved the lives of thousands of Jews by granting them Salvadorian identity papers. These papers helped the Jews escape from Nazi-occupied Europe. Castellanos was the first righteous gentile to be recognized from Central America.
More about Jose Arturo Castellanos
(Communicated by Yad Vashem)
Even before the war began, when he was a Consul in Hamburg, Castellanos urged his government to allow German Jews to emigrate to El Salvador. In response, he received written instructions forbidding him from providing visas to Jews. During the war years, Castellanos, as consul in Geneva, along with George Mantello, a Jewish man of Romanian origin who Castellanos appointed first secretary at his Embassy, issued some 10,000 visas and false citizenship papers to more than 20,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, in particular Hungary. In many cases, the papers issued were good for 2, 3 or 4 people, thus potentially saving the lives of thousands of Jews. Castellanos and Mantello did not take any payment for the papers. In May 2010, Castellanos was recogznied as the first (and thus far only) Righteous Among the Nations from El Salvador.
Thus far, some 23,700 people have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.