Hundreds Gather to Honor Chile’s Special Connections with Pennsylvania

November 16, 2011
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Many of the city's most influential business leaders gathered at the prestigious Union League of Philadelphia for award ceremonies honoring Pennsylvania's Governor Tom Corbett and the world's largest Chilean grape importer and international business innovator, Peter Kopke, Sr. The Chilean American Chamber of Commerce honored Governor Corbett with their Fourteenth Annual Friend of Chile Award.  He represents the generations of Pennsylvanians who secure, ship, transport and enjoy the international fruits and produce that come through the Ports of the Delaware River from Chile. The Friend of Chile Award is a tribute to the Commonwealth's international diplomacy and its four decades-long  relationship with Chile.

Governor Corbett outlined the many ties between his state and the South American agricultural powerhouse. He also spoke fondly and painted vivid recollections of his time spent in Chile, visiting his daughter when she was a student at the University of Santiago. He recounted Pennsylvania's successful efforts helping to free trapped miners in Chile's mountains. The governor said that kind of aid and understanding demonstrates the depth of the bonds between us.

"In this room we have citizens of two of the oldest democracies in the Western Hemisphere. We appreciate the fact that free trade markets are made by free people. And we are true friends. The commercial alliance between Chile and Pennsylvania has opened the gates of prosperity for the people in both lands."  Corbett continued, "It is the foundation for peace and it is the bridge to a lasting relationship. I want to make sure that continues and make sure this port continues to grow."

Concurring with remarks made by Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack and the President of the Chilean and American Chamber of Commerce, Robert Palaima, the Governor said, "I am committed to the Port of Philadelphia." Corbett also noted the historic importance of the Philadelphia Port dating back to the founding of the United States. He said he is asking the federal government to continue the dredging of the Delaware River, to insure its continued strength and viability. Corbett concluded, "I am committed to making this port the best port on the East Coast."

His Excellency Arturo Fermandois, Chile's Ambassador to the United States, joined the Chamber in offering congratulations and spoke of the strong relationship between his country and the people of Pennsylvania. He noted the extraordinary efforts of Peter Kopke, Sr. in these diplomatic efforts.