VIO News Blog

January 7, 2009

Venezuela Expels Israeli Ambassador, Sends Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

After President Chavez deemed Israel’s invasion into Gaza “genocidal” earlier this week, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry acted to expel the Israeli ambassador in Caracas. A communique quoted by the AP and Bloomberg “emphatically condemns the flagrant violations of international law by the state of Israel, and denounces the use of state terrorism that has pushed the country to the margins in the concert of nations.” The AP also reports that Venezuela and Brazil are sending food and medical aid to Gaza.

CNN reports that an Israeli rep responded by claiming Venezuela gives “automatic support to the Iranian extremists” and has an “affinity with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.” Venezuelan officials only advocate peace, though, and are not alone in doing so. France’s Sarkozy, whom the Wall Street Journal calls “a sincere friend of the Jewish state,” is pushing for a settlement and has criticized Israel for using “disproportionate force” against Palestine.

The BBC reports that Venezuela’s sizable Arab community, which has openly protested the Israeli attacks, welcomed the expulsion of the Israeli diplomat. Meanwhile, the AP reports that Abraham Levy, the President of the Venezuelan Jewish Community, expressed disapproval. Levy was among those Jewish leaders invited to the presidential palace to meet personally with Chavez last August. The Venezuelan leader also signed a joint declaration with Brazil and Argentina condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination and racism on December 18th.

The AP reports that Venezuela’s energy assistance in the U.S. and elsewhere is jeopardized by the slump in oil prices, failing to point out that less assistance is needed at this time. Last year, prices were at a record $100 per barrel — double what they are now. Programs like Petrocaribe, which sells oil to small Caribbean and Central American Nations on preferential terms, have been altered slightly in response to changing demand.

Meanwhile, after news yesterday that Venezuela’s Citgo suspended deliveries of cut-rate oil to the U.S. charity Citizens Energy, company officials still have not given word of any final decision. ABC News quotes critics of Venezuela’s heating oil assistance program who reject it as an attempt to “buy friends.” Low-income Americans, though, welcomed last year’s $100 million in aid, provided at the behest of U.S. senators and with no strings attached.

Finally, the AP is reporting that oil prices will not remain low for long. Another price spike is expected by next year, according to experts.

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