BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, tweeted “Heil Hitler!” to his 2.12 million followers.
The April 9 tweet is believed to be a sarcastic response to a tweet from Panamanian politician Guillermo Cochez about how Ecuador’s ex-president, Osvaldo Hurtado, called Correa a “typical fascist” in a recent speech to the right-wing organization Fundacion Libertad.
“Though Correa’s supporters claim his ‘Heil Hitler!’ was a sarcastic retort to the charge of fascism, it shows at best a conscious insensitivity to the victims of the Nazis,” Shimon Samuels, director for international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement Tuesday. “In the context of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s intimate neo-Nazi and Iranian jihadist ties, such language may serve as a provocation that endorses anti-Semitic violence.”
Correa long has been allied with antagonists of Israel and the Jews, including former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Chavez.
In a December 2012 interview, Correa compared the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people, to NATO bombings of Libya.
“I am familiar with the case, which is a very painful part of Argentina’s history. But look at how many died in the NATO bombings of Libya,” he said in a TV interview. “If we compare these two events, we can see where the true danger lies.”