Hugo Chavez Reelection Worries Jewish Leaders
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez won re-election, defeating Henrique Capriles Radonsky, the grandson of Holocaust survivors
Chavez took 54.42 percent of the votes to Radonsky’s 45 percent in the Oct. 7 poll, his term will end in 2019.
Chavez, a known friend of Iran, become a leading figure in modern Latin American history and will extend his rule over the OPEC member state to two decades.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed its concern over Chavez’s reelection, citing the fact that Venezuela has Shahab 3 long-range missile launching platforms on the country’s Caribbean coast aimed at Florida.
“Hugo Chavez’ triumph can only strengthen Iran’s political and military penetration of Latin America,“ Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for International Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told JTA Tuesday.
“Six more years of the Caracas-Tehran axis could be as perilous as an Afghanistan with oil,” added Samuels.
Argentina´s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner used Twitter to congratulate her regional ally: “”Your victory is also ours. Go Hugo,“ she tweeted.
Sergio Widder, the Wiesenthal Center’s director for Latin America, told JTA that “Chavez reportedly facilitated the recent http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/04/3108586/argentinas-jews-balk-at-negotiations-with-iran”>dialogue between Argentina and Iran, clearly aimed at closing both the AMIA Jewish Center bombing investigation and Buenos Aires’ demand for extradition of the Iranians complicit in that atrocity.”
Since taking power in 1999, the former solider has become a global “anti-imperialism” fighter, and close ally of leaders from Iran, Cuba, Bolivia and Belarus. Chavez has described Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as “genocide” and called Zionism racism.
In July 2012 Venezuela was accepted as a full member of the Mercosur regional free trade and political group, and will have increased influence in the bloc which also includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Mercosur’s members all recognize a Palestinian state.