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Latin Jews Meet in ‘Troubled’ Venezuela

The Latin American Jewish Congress is holding its plenary meeting in Venezuela “to strengthen the link with a community that has difficulties,” according to the organization’s executive director.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder is scheduled to attend the regional meeting in the Venezuelan capital, which begins Sunday, Latin American Jewish Congress Executive Director Claudio Epelman told JTA.

Latin American Jewish Congress officials are scheduled to meet Tuesday with Venezuela’s vice president and former minister of foreign affairs, Nicolás Maduro. President Hugo Chavez has declared that Maduro will serve as the Venezuelan president in case he cannot assume his new term in office because of his recurring illness.

Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins told JTA that he will continue to work to strengthen interreligious dialogue, work with Jewish and Muslim regional communities to use their coexistence as an example to help bring peace to the Middle East, and to support Jewish youth participation in politics through the New Generations program which already is working in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

During this week’s meeting the organization’s agenda for 2013-2014 will be set and new officers will be elected.

Argentina will have, for first time, two vice presidents, one from the Jewish umbrella DAIA and another from AMIA, the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center. Also for the first time both Argentine institutions will present a joint paper about the Argentine government ‘s current negotiations with Iran on the 1994 AMIA bombing case which focuses on advancing the cause in the judiciary field rather than through politics or diplomatic negotiations.

In October 2011, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, an ally of Iran, won re-election, defeating Henrique Capriles Radonski, the grandson of Holocaust survivors. Chavez is currently in Cuba recovering from cancer treatments.

In recent years the Venezuelan Confederation of Jewish Associations has expressed concern about anti-Semitic statements in Venezuela’s state media and asked President Hugo Chavez’s government to ensure security at the country’s synagogues.

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