Venezuela’s foreign minister called the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay a throwback to the “era of Hitler.”In a testy exchange Monday between Nicolas Maduro and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the Organization of American States meeting in Panama City, Rice lambasted Venezuela for closing an opposition-linked television station last month.Maduro responded by accusing the United States of attempting to destabilize the Venezuelan government and violating human rights through its immigration policies and refusal to close the prison at Guantanamo. After Rice rebuked the government of President Hugo Chavez for silencing critics, Maduro again took the floor to make the Hitler remark.”[Guantanamo] is a monstrous thing, comparable only to the era of Hitler, that in this historical epoch there are clandestine prisons with faceless prisoners and nameless prisoners,” Maduro said.Rice walked out of the session as Maduro began his response.”There is a confrontation today between the government of the United States and the government of Venezuela that was evident with the discussion in the OAS,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s representative observer, Sergio Widder, said after the exchange. “But this comment and allusion to Hitler is unacceptable, as it trivializes what the Holocaust was.”The OAS meeting had been scheduled to discuss energy policy in the region, but has been overshadowed by the conflict between the Bush administration and the Chavez regime, including disputes over press freedom, the release of wanted terrorist Luis Posada Carriles by U.S. authorities and the general clash of power in Latin America.
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