Mérida, February 5th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Wednesday, representatives of Venezuela and the United States to the Organization of American States (OAS) shared concerns about last Saturday’s attack on a prominent synagogue in Caracas and accused each other’s governments of playing a role in the incident. Also, the Venezuelan foreign relations minister met with representatives of the Venezuelan Jewish community to offer condolences and to guarantee a successful investigation.
During an ordinary session of the OAS Permanent Council, U.S. envoy Lewis Amselem echoed a throng of recent accusations that Venezuela is anti-Semitic and non-democratic.
“This perturbing incident deserves condemnation in the strongest terms and serves as an unfortunate warning of what can happen in a highly politicized climate that permits intolerance to advance,” said Amselem. “A climate of inclusion and respect is essential for a successful democratic government.”
Venezuela’s representative at the OAS, Roy Chaderton, responded, “Venezuela accepts these preoccupations but rejects any insinuation that it is the political climate in Venezuela.”
Chaderton also suspected that the fervor of condemnation against the Venezuelan government for the incident is a campaign tactic by the opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that will be voted on this February 15th.
“They make a big scandal in order to put the government of Venezuela in an uncomfortable position in the run-up to the February 15th referendum,” said Chaderton. “It is a political maneuver with very important international support.”
The perpetrators of the attack dismantled security cameras, defaced copies of the Torah, and spray-painted anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans on the walls of the synagogue, in an act that some say was encouraged by President Hugo Chávez’s expulsion of the Israeli ambassador last month in protest against the Israeli siege of Gaza.
President Hugo Chávez and his foreign relations minister, Nicolás Maduro, have repeatedly denounced the attacks in public statements and the government has opened investigations, promising to put the perpetrators in jail.
OAS General Secretary José Miguel Insulza expressed confidence in the outcome of the investigations. “I trust the people responsible for this attack will be found and punished and that the government will do everything in its power to protect the lives and property of the Jewish community in Venezuela,” said Insulza.
Meeting with Jewish Community Representatives
Also Wednesday, Maduro held what he called a “fruitful” meeting with representatives of the Venezuelan Jewish community, in which he reiterated the government’s repudiation of the attacks on the synagogue.
“We confirm personally in the name of President Chavez our absolute condemnation of this attack on the sacred place of the Jewish Community,” said Maduro. “We ratify our willingness to maintain the lines of communication open and we call on those who practice the [Jewish] religion not to listen to the campaign that seeks to politically manipulate an event that we repudiate.”
The minister expressed little doubt that the attack was an electoral tactic of government adversaries who met with the U.S. government in Puerto Rico last month for purposes that are still unknown.
“We are sure they did this in a specific moment in order to stir up the waters and disrupt the climate of peace in which Venezuelans are living as we approach voting day,” said Maduro. “Could it be part of the Puerto Rico plan?”