Juan Guaido, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, holds a copy of Venezuelan constitution during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 20.
(photo credit: CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS/ REUTERS)
Referring to International Holocaust Remembrance Day that was commemorated on Sunday, the day that Netanyahu announced recognition of Guaido, the Venezuelan politician tweeted, “The Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated 74 years ago, and today, just as our country is also fighting for its freedom, we thank Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu for the recognition and support.”
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
On Sunday, Netanyahu issued a video statement – which Guaido put on his Twitter feed – saying that “Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela.”
The decision came despite some concern in Jerusalem that it could have a negative impact on the 6,000 Jews remaining in Venezuela, who in the past have been the target of some antisemitic incidents.
In 1985, according to the American Jewish Year Book, some 20,000 Jews lived in Venezuela, and JTA said that in 1999 there were some 25,000 Jews there.
Jews began leaving Venezuela in significant numbers under the presidency of Hugo Chavez – the far-left president who aligned the country closely with Iran and was stridently anti-Israel – that began in 1999. While some came to Israel, the majority went to the US and other countries.
A Guaido government in Caracas would be expected to significantly improve ties between the two countries which – once strong – sank to rock bottom under Hugo Chavez, who cut off diplomatic ties with Israel and expelled Israel’s ambassador in 2009 after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
During a particularly nasty speech against Israel following the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010, Chavez was quoted as saying, “I take this opportunity to condemn again from the bottom of my soul and my guts the State of Israel: Cursed be, State of Israel! Cursed is cursed, terrorists and assassins!”
Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, continued with his predecessor’s anti-Israel policies after Chavez died in 2013, though in 2017, Venezuela’s foreign minister reportedly told the country’s chief rabbi that Caracas was interested in re-establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel – words that did not lead to any tangible developments.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>