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By Eduardo Kohn, B’nai B’rith Director of Latin American Affairs

The Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly (GA) gathered this week in Asuncion, Paraguay, with the goal of working together to strengthen democracy and combat drug trafficking and the violence and danger which it creates in all countries.

But during the opening day of the GA, an unexpected event changed the beginning of the agenda.

On June 26 there was an attempted military coup in Bolivia. It was put down by President Luis Arce and his loyal majority of the army in less than three hours. But the OAS felt that democracy was under attack and so Secretary General Luis Almagro immediately condemned the coup and was unanimously backed by all the member states, which joined Almagro in a strong statement supporting President Arce and his government. Bolivia has an authoritarian government and all sort of flaws in its judiciary, but the coup erased any comment about the flaws, and each country member of OAS endorsed the support for Arce.

Two other political concerns were on the table. The Nicaraguan dictatorship and the so- called Venezuelan election by the end of July.

Nicaragua withdrew from OAS, so it is impossible for OAS to act, except to put on paper the concern for the violation of human rights and the condemnation of the dictatorship in the country.

The elections in Venezuela will have a lot of limitations—no real observers are allowed to participate—but as Venezuela is not part of OAS, again, concern can only be expressed by a statement.

According to OAS rules, every country has the right to speak for eight minutes about any matter or issue. A statement is not mandatory, but it does go on record.

Bolivia used its time to make a brutal attack against Israel. Bolivia broke relations with Israel, as Colombia and Belize did. The Bolivian delegate said that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, and that International Court of Justice must sanction Israel with no delay, and further, did even not mention Hamas or its savage Oct. 7 terror attack against Israel.

Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Alberto van Klaveren said that Chile condemned the brutal massacre committed by Hamas on Oct.7, but he added, “It is unacceptable the disproportionate use of force that Israel is using against civilians in Gaza.”

Israel is an observer in the OAS but no other statements like these two came up and the position of observer of Israel was not challenged.

Almagro in his opening remarks condemned anti-Semitism.

On the sidelines of the OAS, B’nai B’rith met with representatives of countries and civil society organizations about our concerns over increasing anti-Semitism and the need to combat it from the state, including meetings with Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador and Paraguay. There are others who could be in the same line of action.

But the ongoing attacks against Israel from Brazil, México, Colombia and Chile, joining South Africa in the accusation against Israel in the International Court of Justice, make it very difficult to combat the consequences of such rogue politics, which are more and more anti-Semitism.

Eduardo Kohn, Ph.D., has been the B’nai B’rith International Director of Latin American Affairs since 1984. Before joining B’nai B’rith, he worked for the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, the Israel-Uruguay Chamber of Commerce and Hebrew College in Montevideo. He is a published author of “Zionism, 100 years of Theodor Herzl,” and writes op-eds for publications throughout Latin America. He graduated from the State University of Uruguay with a doctorate in diplomacy and international affairs. To view some of his additional content, click here.