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Viewing cable 09CARACAS1401, VENEZUELA'S JEWISH COMMUNITY SEES "DARK HORIZON"

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CARACAS1401 2009-11-02 21:09 2010-12-01 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
VZCZCXRO6645
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHCV #1401/01 3062111
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 022111Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3918
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0082
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 001401 

SIPDIS 

HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2029 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM VE
SUBJECT: VENEZUELA'S JEWISH COMMUNITY SEES "DARK HORIZON" 

REF: A. CARACAS 1389 
B. CARACAS 1271 
C. CARACAS 1090 

CARACAS 00001401 001.2 OF 002 


Classified By: Political Counselor Robin D. Meyer, 
for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 

1. (C) Summary: In an October 28 breakfast meeting with 
the Confederacion de Asociaciones Israelitas Venezolanas 
(CAIV) Board of Directors, XXXXXXXXXXXX, said
 he privately encouraged Brazilian senators to allow
Venezuela to join MERCOSUR. At the same time, Jewish 
community leaders told PolCouns the Venezuelan government's 
(GBRV's) attacks and "double-talk," constant criticism of 
Israel, growing alliance with Iran, and increasing 
limitations on freedom of speech contribute to a heightened 
sense of vulnerability by the Jewish community. End Summary. 

------------------- 
SUPPORTING MERCOSUR 
------------------- 

2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said he had spoken by phone
to a Brazilian senator and had privately urged the Brazilian
Senate on October 27 to allow Venezuela to join MERCOSUR,
believing that membership in the organization would help
 promote and defend human rights. Given the ongoing sense
of threat, CAIV members agreed on the need for close
relations with the U.S. and other Embassies as a form
of diplomatic protection for the Jewish community. 

------------------------ 
MEDIA ATTACKS SINCE 2004 
------------------------ 

3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said "2004 was a turning
point in Venezuela," when Chavez began 
referring to support of certain Jewish leaders for the 2002 
post-coup government as justification for verbal and physical 
attacks against the Jewish community and synagogues. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX said anti-Semitic programs and articles
have been regular features of government-owned media since
2004, and "international anti-Jewish campaigns have been
tailored for use domestically." XXXXXXXXXXXX emphasized
that the anti-Semitism is "government-sponsored." He noted that Emilio 
Silva, the author of a January 20 article on the government 
website aporrea.org which called for violent demonstrations 
at the Tiferet synagogue just 10 days before the synagogue 
was attacked, is still teaching at the pro-government 
Bolivarian University of Venezuela. They also noted that 
there are regular government media attacks on Miranda State 
Governor Henrique Capriles Rodonski as a Jew, despite the 
fact that, while of Jewish ancestry, he is Christian. 

---------------------------------- 
CONSIDERED FOREIGN, NOT VENEZUELAN 
---------------------------------- 

4. (C) CAIV continues to be in weekly contact with senior 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Temir Porras, and 
occasionally meets with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolas 
Maduro; they last met with him three months ago. They noted 
the irony of having the Foreign Ministry, rather than the 
Interior Ministry, as their designated GBRV interlocutor, 
which emphasizes the GBRV's view of the Jewish community as 
"foreign" rather than Venezuelan. While Chavez's rhetoric 
once clearly differentiated criticism of Israel from that of 
the Venezuelan Jewish community, since 2004 they believe he 
has merged his anti-Zionist views with anti-Semitic ones. 
(Note: Chavez has adamantly denied that he or his government 
is anti-Semitic. End Note.) They pointed to repeated 
"double-talk" from the GBRV, CAIV had a cordial discussion 
with former GBRV official Jose Vicente Rangel, and then he 
published a virulently anti-Semitic op-ed article; the GBRV 
admitted that Emilio Silva's January 20 article on 
aporrea.org was anti-Semitic and a "mistake," but took no 
action against him. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that the charge of having 
an arms cache, which was used as justification for the 2004 
searches of the Club Hebraica, has never been officially and 
fully resolved. In spite of repeated requests by CAIV, court 
officials claim they are "unable to find the necessary 
documents to close the case." 

------------------------------------------ 

CARACAS 00001401 002.2 OF 002 


VENEZUELA'S RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL AND IRAN 
------------------------------------------ 

5. (C) Members of the CAIV Board said they have felt 
"orphaned" since the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador and 
the breaking of diplomatic relations between the two 
countries. XXXXXXXXXXXX said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had 
issued a ban on visas for Israeli citizens. While grateful 
that the Canadian Embassy was taking on Israel's consular 
responsibilities (ref C), many members lamented that it was 
taking a long time to set up the new operation. (Note: Both 
the CAIV members and the Canadian Deputy Chief of Mission 
have attributed the delay to the training needed by the 
individual Israel selected to serve as its consular agent. 
The person had previously served as a receptionist at the 
Israeli Embassy. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Israel's choice
of this person was probably intended to keep Israel's profile
low. End note.) 

6. (C) The CAIV leadership was also very concerned about 
the growing relationship between Iran and Venezuela. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX thinks the GBRV "wants to use the treatment of 
the Jewish community in Iran as a model" for Venezuela, and 
there was widespread agreement among CAIV leaders that 
President Chavez's close alliance with Iranian President 
Ahmadinejad did not bode well for the Venezuelan Jewish 
community. Many members expressed deep concern about Iranian 
activities in the country, citing the lack of transparency at 
the international Maiquetia airport in Caracas on flights to 
and from Iran and the suspiciously inefficient Iranian 
factories for bicycles. "What are these factories really 
producing?" asked one CAIV member. 

--------------------------- 
A DETERIORATING ENVIRONMENT 
--------------------------- 

7. (C) Several CAIV members noted the effect of the 
decreasing democratic space on freedom of religion.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said that while there was freedom of religion, 
there was not freedom of expression. "When there are 
restrictions on freedom of speech you do not have freedom of 
religion," he said. CAIV members are also concerned about 
the effect of the new Education Law (ref B) on the Jewish day 
school. To a great extent, many members of CAIV agreed, 
religious freedom cannot be separated from the general state 
of human rights, and "the horizon is dark." Even though the 
number of Jews in Venezuela is declining as people leave the 
country, the threat to the community will remain, one member 
said, because of the prominence of many Jews in business, 
education, and Venezuelan society. 

------- 
COMMENT 
------- 

8. (C) The Jewish community's quiet support for Venezuela's 
entry into MERCOSUR suggests that it will be better protected 
by having Venezuela part of an alliance of states pledged to 
the Democracy Charter than by having Venezuela left only to 
its partnership with the "revolutionary" ALBA countries. 
This conclusion is similar to that expressed by opposition 
Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma (ref A), who told Brazilian 
legislators that Chavez was more dangerous isolated than if 
brought into an organization of democratic countries. 

DUDDY