VIO News Blog

July 24, 2008

Allegations Rise As Elections Approach

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 9:53 am

Today Venezuelans celebrate the birthday of national hero Simon Bolivar who is best known for his vision to unite South America.  In world news, President Chavez arrived in Portugal yesterday, following visits to Russia and Belarus to discuss cooperation and future economic agreements.  Although circulated in the press, Venezuela denied yesterday that Russia has been invited to open a military base in its territory.

As Venezuela’s regional elections approach in November, articles discussing the internal dynamics of the country are on the rise.  Yesterday, The Christian Science Monitor provided a glimpse into the “clash” between community churches and Venezuela’s traditional catholic hierarchy.  The article notes that pro-poor churches are growing in popularity and size due to their historic mission and practice of taking politics out of the equation and focusing directly on improving the lives of the communities they serve.  The Catholic Church on the other hand, “wants all of Venezuela to hate Chávez, they are the ones politicizing,” notes Leonardo Marin Saavedra, bishop of the Anglican Latin American Church based in Canada, who has guided the Reformist Catholic Church of Venezuela. 

The Wall Street Journal alleges that anti-Semitism has grown in Venezuela under the Chavez administration in “Hugo Chávez’s Jewish Problem”.  The article highlights voices of openly hostile members of the opposition, regurgitating accusations that have never been proven such as the outrageous claim that Hezbollah openly operates in Venezuela and that Jewish centers have been targeted by police inspections because of their faith.  Just as those who criticize the state of Israel for its Zionist policies are labeled anti-Semitic, in Venezuela those who criticize equally outrageous behavior by opposition members (who happen to be Jewish) are characterized the same.  The Journal also takes a condescending approach when highlighting the sentiment of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela who has repeatedly worked with American Jewish organizations to foster better understanding between their two respective communities.  In response to allegations made by the Weisenthal Center, an American based Jewish organization, alleging anti-Semitism by the State, the head of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela disagreed and stated, by acting “without consulting us, on issues that you do not know or understand,” you have “interfered in the political status, in the security, and in the well-being of our community.”

In other news, a report by the International Crisis Group finds that democratic stability is being threatened in Venezuela.  The report, titled “Venezuela: Political Reform or Regime Demise?” says Chavez is experiencing increased criticism within his own ranks due to top down leadership which could cause upheaval.  In actuality, under the Chavez administration more attempts to foster international cooperation, development and economic stability at home have been made than ever before, resulting in more than 70 percent approval ratings according to a recent poll. In fact, criticism and accountability from the bottom up have been encouraged with the creation of various local community organizations that have been publicly praised by the President.  To the accusation that compromise should be sought with the opposition, there is not a more compromising government in Latin America today.  From the initial rewriting of the 1999 constitution to the recent amnesty pardon given to opposition members who actively supported the 2002 coup, the Chavez Administration has included and held out an olive branch to the opposition at every stage of the process.

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