Special to the JTA Latin American Conclave Assails Treatment of Jews in Soviet Union
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Special to the JTA Latin American Conclave Assails Treatment of Jews in Soviet Union

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Delegates from II nations, most of them non-Jews distinguished in the political and intellectual life of their countries, joined in a strong condemnation of the Soviet Union’s policies toward its Jewish citizens at the Latin American Conference on Soviet Jewry, which ended a four-day session here last week.

The delegates unanimously approved a final document denouncing the decline of Jewish emigration from the USSR, and the increased repression of Jewish religious and cultural activities, especially the unremitting campaign against Hebrew teachers.

The conference called on democratic member states of the United Nations and signatories of the Helsinki Final Act to raise these issues with Soviet officials at every possible opportunity.

The delegates who attended the conference will submit the document to their respective government leaders with urgent requests to intercede with Soviet authorities on behalf of Soviet Jews.

They represent Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Among the delegates were three former ministers of education, a former foreign minister, prominent members of parliaments, human rights activists and leaders of Jewish communities in South American and Central American countries.


The Conference received a message of solidarity from the administration of Argentine President Raoul Alfonsin. A prominent Argentine journalist, Luis Pan, told the gathering, “Maybe the growing democratization sweeping Latin America will prove contagious and even reach the borders of the Soviet Union, permitting those who seek to leave to be accorded this basic international human right.” Pan, who is president of the Argentine Committee for Soviet Jewry, added, “We know that miracles do happen, but faith and commitment are required.”

Sergio Nudelstejer, secretary general of the Conference and the American Jewish Committee’s director for Central America, stressed that “Only with non-Jewish support can the advocacy movement in Latin America, where Jews comprise less than 500,000 of the region’s 500 million people, have any real impact.”

Speakers at the Conference included Enrique Tarijo, Vice President of Uruguay; Adolfo Perez Esquival, 1980 Nobel Prize laureate and a human rights activist; Father Benjamin Nunez, founding director of Christian-Jewish Understanding in Costa Rica; and Mark Drashinsky, a former refusenik and Hebrew teacher who has been living in Israel since 1985.

The Conference announced that its next meeting will be held in Brazil in 1988, marking the 25th anniversary of its founding.

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