(JTA) — Representatives of Venezuela’s Jewish community expressed “concern and displeasure” regarding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to their country.
“The government’s right to choose its own allies notwithstanding, as Venezuelan Jews Ahmadinejad’s presence concerns and displeases us,” the umbrella group of Venezuelan Jewish communities, CAIV, said in a statement over the weekend.
Ahmadinejad traveled to Caracas on June 23 as the guest of his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez. Under Chavez, Venezuelan Jews have seen repeated police raids on community institutions. The U.S. State Department has accused Chavez in the past of “fanning the flames of anti-Semitic hatred.”
In its statement, CAIV mentioned Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust, threats to wipe Israel off the map and human rights violations. The statement also referred to Iranian suspects in the 1994 deadly bombing of the AMIA Jewish community building in Buenos Aires. The Iranian regime is hiding suspects linked to the attack, CAIV said.
Venezuela and Iran have signed 300 cooperation treaties, according to statements by Chavez. Ahmadinejad last visited Venezuela less than a year ago.
Ahmadinejad arrived in Caracas from Brazil, where he attended the United Nations’ Rio +20 conference on the environment.
Thousands took to the streets in several Brazilian cities to protest his presence. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff reportedly declined to meet Ahmadinejad during his visit.