The SAE Central and South America Regional Convention was held in Santiago, Chile on November 7-9, 2008 in an enthusiastic atmosphere celebrating the fact that Greek expatriate representatives from 9 countries in the Region attended the meeting for the first time, among them many representatives of the young generation.
The convention was opened by Archbishop Tarasios of Buenos Aires and South America in the presence of Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis, Greek Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad President Nikolaos Tsiartsionis, Greek MP Giorgos Salagoudis, General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad Deputy General Director Charalambos Hatzicharalambous, Chile’s Ambassador to Greece Sofia Prats, Greece’s Ambassador to Chile Chrisoula Karikopoulou, Education Coordinator Georgios Pappas among many.
Special guest was Vasilios Katsikos representing the “Krystallis” Epirus Folklore Society who was thanked for donating 45 traditional costumes to SAE.
The formal guests addressed the meeting following a warm welcome by Regional Coordinator Nikiforos Nikolaidis.
Deputy Foreign Minister Kassimis conveyed to the audience a message by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and stressed that this is the first SAE Regional Convention he had the pleasure to attend expressing deep satisfaction for SAE which has become an indisputable functional body having as a goal to unite and coordinate the Diaspora Greeks.
SAE President Tamvakis underlined that a proud and decent part of Greece lives and has an active presence in the faraway land of Central and South America managing through decades of hard work to pass on the Greek spirit and philhellenism to local societies.
Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad President Tsiartsionis conveyed the message of Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas adding that he couldn’t imagine that it was possible to be part of such a warm gathering while being so far away from home.
The Convention opening was completed with Greek dances performed by young students of “Cyprus” primary school and by the Santiago Greek Community dancers. Deputy FM Kassimis was very impressed and offered them a trip to Greece to learn the language better and get acquainted with the culture of the country they love so much.
Special committees were set up on Saturday, November 8 to discuss four themes made known to delegates in advance to have the opportunity to express their positions in a fruitful participation pursuant to Law 3480/2006. The themes were: 1.Code of Operation, 2. Youth, 3. Greek learning and 4. Activity Planning.
It is worth noting that SAE President Tamvakis attended all Special Committee meetings and the discussions held, as well as the convention proceedings.
At 4:00 pm the plenary session got underway and one representative of each committee presented the conclusions and proposals to delegates.
The Coordinating Council Code of Operation Committee presented a Code proposal that was unanimously accepted by the plenary session.
The Greek Learning Committee that met with the participation of Regional Education Coordinator Georgios Pappas and prominent Hellenists, such as Prof. Miguel Castillo Didier and Jeronimo Brigone, proposed that the teaching of the Greek language in the Region countries can be undertaken by local educators
not necessarily of Greek origin who will undergo special training. The proposal was accepted unanimously.
The Youth Committee, in which participated the Network’s Coordinating Committee, expressed the view that the support of the Greek authorities is necessary on vital issues for the Young, like the preservation of religion and language, and suggested the participation of the younger generation in the boards of the Greek Communities.
The Activity Planning Committee suggested, among others, the hosting of tours of artists, to further strengthen ties with Greece and promote the Greek culture to the countries with Greek communities, as well as access to the ERT public television satellite programme
Finally, the delegates approved Resolutions on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and the fair solution of the Cyprus issue.
In addition to the member-organizations from Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay, Panama, Peru and Chile, and in an effort to embrace all Greeks in the region, representatives of newly established Communities were also invited to attend as observers.
The success of the Convention is attested by the fact that all delegates attended proceedings consistently in an active and civilized manner.
After the holy liturgy on Sunday, November 9, the Greek Community in Santiago hosted a luncheon at the Cultural Center in honor of the delegates. The gathering ended with folklore dances performed by children and young members of the community and a typical Greek glenti enjoyed by everyone attending.