Mérida, February 13th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com)– After meeting with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan Israeli Association publicly expressed its appreciation of the government’s prompt condemnation and successful criminal investigation of a recent attack on a Caracas Synagogue.
“The Jewish community in Venezuela is profoundly grateful and moved by the manifestations of solidarity and appreciation that we have received from all sectors of Venezuelan society,” said Elias Farache, president of the Venezuelan Israeli Association.
Farache individually thanked each of the top government officials who publicly declared their repudiation of the January 30th burglary and vandalism of the synagogue. He also thanked the national Criminal, Penal, and Scientific Investigations Corps (CICPC) for its thorough investigation and arrest of a total of 15 suspects over the past week.
“We are grateful to the President of the Republic Hugo Chávez, to Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás Maduro, to Minister [of Communications and Information] Jesse Chacón, to the director of the CICPC, and to the whole professional team at the Attorney General’s office,” said Farache.
Reading a public statement to the press, Farache recognized the government’s commitment to supporting the Jewish community in Venezuela and fighting anti-Semitism.
“The national government has shown its commitment to struggle to eradicate feelings that are foreign to the Venezuelan people, and to restore peace and tranquility to our community,” said Farache. “We are convinced that only by way of the frank dialogue that has been opened will we achieve this.”
Following the meeting with Farache, Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás Maduro reaffirmed the government’s “sincere and transparent attitude in search of the truth,” and sent “a message of friendship and desire for sincere cooperation in the investigation,” which he promised would continue.
Last Monday, Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El-Aissami announced eleven suspects had been arrested for the burglary and vandalism of the synagogue, including the rabbi’s bodyguard, who allegedly intended to steal money from the synagogue’s coffers, and the security guard who assisted the break-in.
CICPC investigators also arrested seven other Caracas police officers, an investigator from the CICPC homicide department, and four other suspects, all of whom allegedly participated in the vandalism, which included painting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans on the walls.
El Aissami said Monday that the hate speech was a diversion meant to impede the investigation and direct blame toward the government, which had dismissed the Israeli ambassador in January to protest Israel’s assault on the Gaza strip.
Venezuelan opposition leaders and major private media, amidst a heated campaign against a proposed constitutional amendment that will end term limits on elected offices if approved by voters this Sunday, accused the government and their allies of encouraging the attacks on the synagogue.
On Thursday, the Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro said the government has “absolute respect for religious freedom,” and asked Venezuelans to look past the media campaign around the attacks. “The investigations regarding the Synagogue case have been characterized by a search for the truth, beyond the speculations and manipulations of the case,” said Maduro.
Maduro also differentiated between Venezuela’s opposition to Israel’s attack on Gaza and its attitude toward the Venezuelan Jewish Community.
“Foreign policy has nothing to do with our relationship with religious communities… we establish a clear separation between our respect for religious communities and international conficts,” Maduro said Thursday.