The Israel Latin America Network (ILAN), established last year by Jewish Mexican-Syrian businessman and philanthropist Isaac Assa, is expanding to the United States, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala and other countries in Central America.

“Over the last year we directly developed unique connections between the State of Israel and Latin American countries,” said Assa on June 9 at ILAN’s first award ceremony, held in partnership with the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

“Through ILAN, we formed strategic alliances with a number of branches throughout America, which will strengthen the economic, diplomatic and social resilience of the countries,” Assa said.

“In a few years, the Spanish-speaking population in the United States will increase to 100 million people, and therefore strengthening these connections is a supreme goal in the interest of the states and the peoples. With the help of the Israeli brain, the innovation and the local courage, we will be able to make groundbreaking international achievements.”

ILAN presented Shimon Peres Lifetime Awards to internationally prominent Israelis who have promoted relations between Israel and Latin America in the areas of health, quality of environment, economy and technology.

Among the recipients were the Technion’s Prof. Shulamit Levenberg, who developed the technology behind Aleph Farms cultivated steak; Dr Amir Kereshonvich, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Schneider Children’s Medical Center, who with his wife, Hila, set up a volunteer-led initiative to perform complicated brain surgeries on children from the developing world; Henrique Cymerman, an Israeli journalist of Portuguese-Sephardi descent who serves as the Middle East correspondent for a several media outlets and is president of the Chamber of Commerce between Israel-Jordan and the Persian Gulf States; Tato Bigio, founding partner and CEO of UBQ Materials, which converts household waste into recyclable raw materials; and Ella Castelenus, a new immigrant from Mexico who founded Hola – Land, a platform that connects Latin America and Israel, and a partner in Cantera Capital, a fund for enterprises in Israel and Mexico.