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ADL Study Finds Latin American Countries Keep PLO at Arm’s Length

June 5, 1980
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Most Latin American countries — unlike the Western Europeans — have kept Palestine Liberation Organization representatives of arm’s length because they fear a “terrorist Trojan horse, ” according to a report made public this week by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

The ADL’s study, on the PLO’s drive to gain quasi-diplomatic footholds in Latin America and Europe — its chief targets in a “world-wide propaganda campaign” — found that only Cuba, Peru and Mexico have thus far allowed the PLO to open official offices.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s associate director, announced the findings as the closing session of the League’s National Commission meeting Tuesday. He said the majority of Latin American countries have resisted increasing pressures from Arab nations and the PLO.

“With their long experience with violence and terror, he said, “they are reluctant to accept PLO terrorists in their midst posing as respectable diplomats and representatives.”

In Western Europe, where there is a “much shorter experience with terrorism,” the PLO has made great inroads with varying degrees of diplomatic recognition, Foxman said. Austria and Spain have accorded the PLO virtual diplomatic status while 10 other countries have granted or intend to grant permission for the opening of PLO offices. They are: Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Sweden.

Although only three Latin American nations have let the PLO set up offices, the PLO has made other diplomatic advances and established links with terrorists in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama, Foxman said. He added that hundreds of Latin American terrorists are being trained at PLO bases outside the continent.

PLO infiltration of Latin America, combined with oil “intimidation” from the Arab states for support against Israel, has produced a “noticeable tilt” towards the Arabs since 1973, according to the report. “But what has helped prevent this tilt from becoming a possibly more serious shift to the Arabs in other Latin American countries,” said Foxman, “is that they have witnessed Brazil’s experience with PLO representatives in its midst for the post 10 years.”

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