The conference titled Southern Exchanges by Embassies of Latin America and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) and University of Pretoria (UP) recently, is being described as a milestone that will seek to enable south-to south relations to exchange ideas not only on diplomatic issues but also on human rights, food security, education and strategies of alleviating poverty.
During the two day conference held at UP’s Library Auditorium, Ambassador of Argentina to South Africa and Dean of GRULAC, Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, told The Diplomatic Society that the idea was for embassies to expand their focus to include other socio-priorities. He also said that academic institutions should share valuable expertise and build capacity in key sectors which will strengthen bilateral relations. “We are certain that through this collaboration within the GRULAC nations more can be achieved not only through diplomatic matters, but also on a range of issues such as societal issues specifically on human rights, food security education and trade investments between nations.” said Di Cerisano.
Among issues deliberated on include; political, economic and social issues related to these southern countries.
The 10 GRULAC nations who participated in the conference were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Echoing the sentiments of Di Cerisano, First Secretary of Brazil, Gustavo Sènèchal, speaking to the media, said the GRULAC concept was crucial in being the model that can unlock bridges which previously did not centre around investment and trade but rather on political ideologies. Sènèchal added that such a formation of nations will result in greater efforts such as on academic research, development of livelihoods, technical skills, and around the mining sector. “It is important that as nations we capitalize on this concept as it will definitely not focus on diplomacy issues such as in the past. I hope it will open other avenues.” added Sènèchal.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, emphasized that beyond nations and academic sharing ideas, students at the university will benefit specifically from exchange programmes that will form part of GRULAC agreements. “If you analyse each nation’s strength, be it on natural resources, research capabilities, policies on agriculture, and investment opportunities, through GRULAC our university will immensely benefit from this partnership. I am particularly pleased with the concept whereby nations, through universities, will be able to share knowledge and assist each other on research capabilities,” De la Rey said.
Yolisa Maya Director General Branch; Americans and the Caribbean, highlighted that the GRULAC partnership was key in the concept of diplomatic relations adding that such concepts will strengthen ties on various levels in sharing vital skills and empowering nations on matters of socio economic and investment trade and education.