Brazil reelects Rousseff, Uruguay to hold presidential runoff


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who called Israel’s conflict this summer with Hamas “a massacre,” was reelected in a tight vote.

Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party edged Aecio Neves of the center-right Social Democracy Party, 51.6 to 48.4 percent, in a runoff Sunday to gain a new four-year term.

Also Sunday, in Uruguay, no candidate received the necessary majority in presidential voting, forcing a runoff next month.

Speaking about the Brazil vote, Jack Terpins, president of the Latin American Jewish Congress, told JTA that “with respect to the Jewish community, President Dilma has shown respect to our legacy more than once in her administration, attending the ceremonies of the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust. We want to continue enjoying the freedom of belief we have here.”

Terpins added that the Jewish community would work to strengthen the ties between Brazil and Israel.

In late July, speaking about the Israel-Gaza conflict, Rousseff said, “I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous. I don’t think its genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.”

Brazil, a country of some 110,000 Jews, pulled its ambassador from Israel during the conflict.

In Uruguay,  with 99 percent of the vote counted, the ruling leftist coalition candidate, Tabare Vazquez, was leading with 47.1 percent of the vote, but was short of the 50 percent majority needed to win the presidency in the first round. He will face Luis Lacalle Pou of the center-right National Party, who had 30.6 percent of the vote, in the runoff on Nov. 30.

The Jewish community has a fluid dialogue with Vazquez and Pou.

Eduardo Kohn, the director of Latin American Affairs for B’nai B’rith, told JTA that both candidates have spoken before the Jewish community in the last two months. Kohn said they agreed that “Hamas is a terrorist group, and as any terrorist group must be faced and combated. Both agreed that there should be a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians and the solution should be a two-state solution.”

Current Uruguayan President Jose Alberto Mujica said during the Gaza conflict that Israel was committing “genocide.” Vazquez, from the same party, when asked if he agreed with Mujica said that Israel “was not committing genocide.”

Pou, whose father was president between 1990 and 1995, criticized Mujica and the government not only for using the word “genocide” against Israel but for ongoing biased and unbalanced statements.

Vazquez paid an official state visit to Israel when he served as president between 2005 and 2010.

In Uruguay, home of nearly 20,000 Jews, anti-Semitic incidents rose during the recent conflict in Gaza, spurred on by charges by Foreign Minister Luis Almagro and Mujica that Israel was committing “genocide” and that “Gaza is a big concentration camp.”



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