Venezuela views its Jewish community as "foreign" rather than Venezuelan and wants to replicate Iran’s treatment of Jews, according to notes in a cable sent from the US embassy in Caracas and released by WikiLeaks.
The correspondence, sent following a meeting with members of the Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela (CAIV), reveals that the community believes "the horizon is dark" for Jews in Venezuela and that antisemitism is "government-sponsored”.
The diplomatic source quoted also said there was concern amongst Jews about President Hugo Chavez's increasingly close alliance with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and over what the country’s “suspiciously inefficient Iranian factories for bicycles” were really producing.
The cable also reveals “a heightened sense of vulnerability by the Jewish community” because of Venezuelan government “double talk”, limitations on free speech and “constant criticism of Israel.”
One person quoted said that the re - election of President Chavez in 2004 was a turning point, and that the president had used the support of Jewish leaders for the opposition to justify “verbal and physical attacks against the Jewish community and synagogues.”
Other points of worry included a pro-government university’s continued employment of an academic who called for violent demonstrations at the Tiferet synagogue in Caracas just 10 days before it was attacked.
Anti-Jewish sentiment in Venezuela has been a problem throughout the 12 years of Hugo Chavez’s presidency, although in September he met a CAIV delegation to discuss antisemitism in the country’s state-run media.
In November anti-extremist campaigners criticised the Venezuelan embassy in London for glorifying terrorism by holding an event to mark 10 years since the outbreak of the second intifada.