The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has issued a new report, “Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela,” that reviews civil, political, and social rights in the Latin American nation. The Commission expressed concern about reports of anti-Semitic incidents targeting the Venezuelan Jewish community.
The report cites written testimony from B’nai B’rith International Assistant Director of the Center for Human Rights and Public Policy Adriana Camisar, who noted several anti-Semitic incidents, including graffiti that had appeared on Jewish buildings in Venezuela with slogans such as “Child Killer,” “Jews Out,” and “Jewish Dogs.” Camisar also noted a growing number of swastikas on Jewish institutions.
“This report provides conclusive evidence of the Venezuelan government’s hostility toward Jews,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “The fact that Caracas did not cooperate at all with the report, even denying IACHR inspectors into the country for first-hand observation, demonstrates how closed and repressive Venezuela has become.”
An independent arm of the Organization of American States, the IACHR noted numerous violations of democracy and human rights in addition to issues of anti-Semitism.
“Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez, has become inhospitable to all seekers of democracy and human rights,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “When not overtly or covertly encouraging anti-Semitic acts, Caracas turns a blind eye to incidents that a democratic government should forcefully condemn. It is unacceptable for anti-Semitism and other hate crimes to be endorsed—either overtly or covertly—by a government.”
As a civil society organization accredited at the Organization of American States, B’nai B’rith International, an organization with members throughout Latin America, has been involved with the working group that is preparing an Inter-American Convention against racism and all forms of discrimination and intolerance for years. B’nai B’rith is taking a lead role in ensuring that the draft convention includes a specific reference to anti-Semitism.
Venezuela provides an important example of how urgently such language is needed.