RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) – Brazil's president attended a Holocaust remembrance ceremony that honored Jewish and Afro-descendant victims.
President Dilma Rousseff and several Jewish and non-Jewish officials attended a Holocaust remembrance ceremony held Jan. 29 in Salvador, Brazil's third largest city.
"We are here to express ourselves about a stain in the history of humankind. Remembering is a way to build the mechanisms to prevent it from happening again. The Holocaust, which some deny, will always stand as a paradigm against intolerance. Democratic societies have the power to fight crimes like the Holocaust so that they will not happen ever again," said Rousseff.
She added that Brazil supports the creation of a "democratic and non-segregating" Palestinian state.
Claudio Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country's Jewish umbrella organization, paid an honor to Afro descendants, people of black African ancestry, who lost their lives during the Holocaust, or some 20,000 people who lived in Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Salvador, Brazil's third largest city with over 3.5 million inhabitants, has the largest population of Afro-descendants outside of Africa.
Earlier this month, Brazil's first female president approved an agreement to include Jewish themes such as the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in the curricula in some schools, universities, other educational institutions in Brazil. In January 2011, a few days after she had assumed the presidency, Rousseff attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.