(JTA) — Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, criticized the country’s acting president for describing his supporters as "heirs of Hitler."
Capriles and acting President Nicolas Maduro are both expected to officially announce their candidacy for Venezuela’s presidency. Maduro was named by the late president Hugo Chavez as his preferred successor.
Maduro on Sunday compared complaints by the opposition against Cuban doctors working in Venezuela with the persecution of Jews by the Nazis.
“The heirs of Hitler are leading a campaign in Venezuela against the Cuban people,” Maduro said.
Capriles on Monday decried Maduro’s statements during a news conference.
“Does he know who Hitler was? If he does, then what he said was atrocious because he’s saying that those who do not think like him are killers,” Capriles said.
Capriles said last month that he would run for president. Last October in national elections, Capriles won 44 percent of the vote but lost to Chavez by 11 percentage points.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, state-run media urged Venezuelans to reject "international Zionism" and vote against Capriles, describing him as having “a platform opposed to our national and independent interests."
Chavez also said the Mossad, Israel’s secret service, was out to kill him and accused Israel of financing Venezuela’s opposition. Government media described Capriles as “Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie."