VIO News Blog

February 4, 2009

Venezuelan Officials Repeatedly Condemn Synagogue Vandalism

More reports have come out regarding the deplorable attack on a Caracas synagogue. On the night of January 30th, around 15 people broke into a synagogue, damaged a copy of the Torah, and sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls. The AFP quotes Israeli officials asserting that “such acts could not have taken place without the benevolent gaze of the authorities at the highest level.” Yet President Chavez and other high-level officials have repeatedly condemned the attacks and have, furthermore, emphasized that the Venezuelan government repudiates all forms of anti-Semitic behavior. The OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza stated “I trust the people responsible for this attack will be found and punished and that the government will do anything in its power to protect the lives and property of the Jewish community in Venezuela.”

On Monday, Venezuelans celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Bolivarian Revolution. A brief New York Times article by Simon Romero is titled “Venezuela: Chávez Celebrates Chávez.”  This and other articles often fail to note the fundamental gains in human development that the Chávez government has brought to Venezuela over the past 10 years. Since 1998, the rate of households living in extreme poverty has declined by 54%, and the overall poverty rate has declined by 35%.

An article by McClatchy Newspapers marks the 10 years of President Chavez’s administration by writing that high inflation and continued food shortages pose challenges for Chavez in the February 15th referendum on term limits. The article fails to mention that rates of inflation remain significantly lower than those seen in the 1990’s.  Food shortages have also largely decreased, in comparison with previous years, due to the government’s efforts to boost domestic food production, and its easing of price controls on many staple food items.

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