Venezuelan opposition figure held meeting with Israeli officials in 2012
By Richard Edmondson
We have been witnessing over the past few years what looks very much like a regime change operation under way in Venezuela. Recently I put up a post about a man who was doused with gasoline and set on fire by an anti-government mob. Since then I’ve come across a few tidbits of information that might be of interest to readers and that add weight to my thesis that: scratch the surface deeply enough, anywhere there’s trouble in the world, and you’ll likely find a Zionist connection.
Back in May of 2012, a Venezuelan opposition figure, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, made a trip to Israel, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I’m certain that Radonski’s new government will reestablish ties to Israel,” Ledezma said in an interview with YNet at the time.
Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez, had suspended diplomatic relations with the Jewish state following one of its previous attacks on Gaza. The “Radonski” the mayor was referring to was the opposition leader, Henrique Caprilles Radonski. It’s interesting that he would use Radonski’s Jewish name while visiting Israel. Most Western media refer to the famous (or infamous) Venezuelan putschist simply as “Henrique Capriles,” dropping the “Radonski” part. But maybe Ledezma was keen on emphasizing Radonski’s Jewish credentials while in Israel. And indeed, according to Wikipedia:
His [Radonski’s] maternal grandparents were Ashkenazi Jews who immigrated from Russia and Poland following World War II. His great-grand parents were murdered by the Germans in the Treblinka extermination camp during World War II. His maternal grandmother, Lili Bochenek, lived for 20 months in the Warsaw Ghetto. Capriles’s paternal grandfather, Armando Capriles-Myerston, was a Sephardi Jew.
The YNet article also mentions that Ledezma is married to Radonski’s cousin.
Radonski at the time was running against Chavez in a heated campaign for the presidency. The election was held in October. Chavez won by a ten percent margin. It was to be his fourth–and as it turned out his final–term as president. Venezuela’s immensely popular and internationally admired leader would die of cancer in March the following year.
Chavez, it needs to be remembered, was an outspoken critic of Israel, and the YNet article reports that Ledezma, while on his visit, expressed concern that Venezuela’s “historic” relationship with Israel might be severely damaged because of his policies.
“I don’t want to launch a personal attack, but a leader’s responsibilities go beyond his personal opinions,” the mayor told YNet. He then warned ominously. “We’ve seen the disasters history has brought when leaders turned racism into a national ideology. I wouldn’t want Venezuela to reach that point.”
The writer of the piece, Itamar Eichner, also accuses Chavez of, yes, you guessed it–anti-Semitism. I’ll say more about that in a moment, but first have a look at the following video. Chavez broke off diplomatic relations between Venezuala and Israel after the Zionist state’s “Operation Cast Lead” onslaught against Gaza in 2008-09. His remarks in this video were delivered apparently some time after Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara, which occurred in May of 2010 and which killed ten people.
Clearly Chavez was more than simply a “mild” critic of Israel. He was more brazen and forthright in his denunciations of Zionist crimes and aggression than any world leader we’ve ever seen, either before or since. He calls Israel a genocidal state. What other head of state has ever made that charge? There aren’t many. And of course interestingly he also accuses Israel of funding the Venezuelan opposition.
In his 2012 YNet piece, Eichner makes reference to an “anti-Semitic attack” purportedly made by Chavez made upon Radonski in a public speech just a few months previously:
Chavez, who feels threatened by the emergence of a legitimate rival, launched an anti-Semitic attack on Radonski, the grandson of Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust. “You have a pig’s tail, a pig’s ears; you snort like a pig. You’re a low-life pig,” the president said of Radonski in a televised speech delivered last February.
In reality, not only did Chavez not mention Jews in the speech alluded to, he did not, according to a report here, even mention Radonski by name.
“One of my tasks and responsibilities now, ‘low life,’ I mean Mr. ‘low-life’, is to remove your mask,” Chavez said in that speech. “Because no matter how you dress up, ‘low-life,’ you have a pig’s tail, pig’s ears, you have, what else? You snort like a pig, you’re a low-life pig. You’re a pig, so don’t try to hide it. Don’t dress up, low-life.”
He then added: “The more effort you put into trying to dress yourself up, the worse it will be facing me every day, low-life. You won’t be able to avoid the confrontation with Chavez, you will not be able to avoid it. It is a confrontation with our patriots, our country, and the national dignity of our people.”
The speech, keep in mind, was made in the midst of a heated campaign, and there was probably no mistaking, in the minds of the audience, that the “Mr. low-life” referred to was a reference to Radonski–but again Radonski was not mentioned by name, nor was there any mention of the latter’s Jewish ancestry or Jews in general.
Eichner also laments the close ties between Venezuela and Iran that were established under Chavez’s leadership:
The mayor [Ledezma] is one of the leaders of the opposition to President Hugo Chavez, who frequently criticizes Israel and constantly strengthens the South American country’s ties with Iran, the Jewish state’s arch enemy.
By constrast, Radonski had promised to end Venezuela’s “cosy relationship” with Iran, as The Telegraph put it in an article also published in 2012, vowing to do so on his “first day” in office no less.
“We don’t have a similar culture or history to Iran or to Belarus, but Chavez sees his foreign relationships as a political project as he wants to be friends with those who are against the US and Europe,” Radonski is quoted in the article.
Belarus is the only East European country that still maintains a close alliance with Russia. In 2010, the country had held a presidential election which saw incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko defeat Andre Sannikau in results which were widely denounced by the West.
“But Venezuela needs good relations with countries that have democracy and respect human rights. Iran and Belarus are not in that group,” Radonski added.
So let’s see…in 2012, Radonski was vowing to cut ties with Iran…while Chavez was openly supporting the Palestinians. Which candidate do you think Israel would have preferred to see win the election?
YNet, by the way, wasn’t the only Israeli media outlet playing the anti-Semite card. In March of 2014, the Jerusalem Post published a report about large numbers of Jews leaving Venezuela, allegedly some 18,000 since the year 1999 when Chavez had first became president.
Over the last 15 years, from the time Chavez came to power and in the year since Nicolas Maduro has ruled the country, the Venezuelan Jewish community has shrunk by more than half. It is now estimated at about 7,000, down from a high of 25,000 in the 1990s. Many of those who left were community leaders.
Widespread protests, along with inflation and food shortages, were some of the reasons given, but according to the Jerusalem Post the overriding factor was anti-Semitism:
They left after Venezuelan secret police raided a Jewish club in 2007, and after the local synagogue was ransacked by unidentified thugs two years later…
I don’t know about the police raid mentioned, but Wikipedia’s article on Chavez addresses the “allegations of anti-Semitism” in general, and does include a mention of the synagogue attack–it apparently was an “inside job,” or at least that was the finding of the CICPC, or the Venezuelan National Police. Here is what the Wiki article says:
In 2009, attacks on a synagogue in Caracas were alleged to be influenced by “vocal denunciations of Israel” by the Venezuelan state media and Hugo Chávez even though Chavez promptly condemned the attacks blaming an “oligarchy”. A weeklong CICPC investigation revealed the synagogue attack to be an ‘inside job’, the motive apparently being robbery rather than anti-semitism.
Now back to the Jerusalem Post:
…They left after President Hugo Chavez expelled Israel’s ambassador to Caracas, and when he called on Venezuela’s Jews to condemn Israel for its actions in Gaza in 2009.
The Post article also includes comments from one of the Jews who immigrated:
Sandra Iglicki, who left Venezuela for South Florida a decade ago but still goes back often, says it’s also been emotionally difficult to leave a country that for decades was good to Jews, serving as an anti-Semitism-free refuge for European Jewish families who fled the Nazis.
“It’s very painful for the community in Venezuela,” she said.
And there’s still some hope, even among expats, that the country eventually will right itself.
“If you talk to a lot of Venezuelans that are here, they’re waiting for this to be over,” Iglicki said in a phone interview from Florida. “I would love to go back to Venezuela.”
The article additionally cites “large demonstrations in Miami against the Maduro government”–demonstrations organized, according to the Jerusalem Post, by the Venezuelan Jewish expatriates in South Florida.
Getting back to Wikipedia, one other thing on their Chavez article is also worth mentioning. It seems that charges of anti-Semitism were additionally leveled against the Venezuelan president at a plenary session of the World Jewish Congress held in Jerusalem in 2009–the same year as the synagogue attack. This is in fact mentioned on the WJC website, in an article headlined “Venezuela’s Oldest Synagogue Vandalized by Armed Men,” which quotes a leader of the Venezuelan Jewish community by the name of Abraham Levy Benshimol.
“Where we live, anti-Semitism is sanctioned. It comes from the president, through the government, and into the media,” Benshimol is quoted as saying.
The article on the WJC website is dated Monday, February 2, 2009 and refers to the plenary session as having occurred “last week.” The attack on the synagogue in Caracas occurred during the night of Friday, January 30/Saturday January 31, 2009–which means that it took place, curiously, in the same week as the plenary session in Jerusalem. Another curious aspect is the proximity to the Israeli onslaught in Gaza. Operation Cast Lead began on December 27, 2008 and lasted until January 18, 2009–meaning that as the World Jewish Congress held its meeting in late January, images such as the white phosphorus bombing of the UN compound in Gaza City were going viral around the world. Israel, by the way, had initially denied using white phosphorus, but later admitted that shells containing the substance had been used “in compliance with international law, while strictly observing that they be used according to the type of combat and its characteristics.”
But returning to Venezuela and the 2012 presidential election…the election took place on October 7, and Chavez’s inauguration for his fourth term was scheduled for January 10, 2013. But as inauguration day arrived, the president was undergoing medical treatment in Cuba. His days were numbered.
Now let’s fast-forward to the year 2014, a year of major unrest in Venezuela. Nicholas Maduro has now succeeded Chavez as president:
- In February of that year, Maduro expelled three US diplomats, accusing them of “having meetings” with student opposition groups. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said the groups in question were those “that seek to generate violence in the country.” Protests at this time have been rocking the country for days.
- Also in February, a little later in the month, a motorcyclist was decapitated with a trip wire strung across the road by opposition protestors.
- In March, Venezuelan authorities arrested members of three paramilitary groups armed with C-4 explosives and military-grade weapons.
- Also in March, a government supporter by the name of Gisella Rubilar, a mother of four children, was shot dead while she and others from her neighborhood were clearing a road block that had been set up by the opposition. Two others were wounded and had to be hospitalized.
- In May, Venezuela arrested 58 foreigners for allegedly sparking anti-government protests. The arrestees reportedly included Columbians, one American, a Spaniard, and an Arab.
- In October, Robert Serra, a Venezuelan legislator was assassinated along with his companion, Maria Herrera. Serra, just 27 years old, was a government supporter and rising star in the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
- Moving into the year 2015–in February, Maduro announced that a coup attempt had been foiled. The plotters reportedly had planned violent protests as well as bombings at the Miraflores Palace and the office of Telesur. Among the charges were that officials at the US embassy tried to bribe people in strategic positions to participate in the coup. The US dismissed the charges as “ludicrous.”
- In March, President Obama branded Venezuela as a “national security threat,” and announced new US sanctions.
- By May of 2016, violent protests were breaking out once again. Radonski held a press conference and called on his supporters to take to the streets, and a US plane reportedly entered Venezuela’s airspace at the same time.
- In June, the government was accusing the private sector of creating artificial shortages of goods, including food.
- And finally to the present year: violent protests broke out once again in April of 2017, the disturbances including vandalism of public property as well as deadly clashes between security forces and opposition protestors.
If there is a “smoking gun” in all this indicating a possible Zionist link to the destabilization efforts now under way in Venezuela, it would perhaps be the Ledezma visit to Israel in 2012. A rather fascinating article about that trip was posted at the time on the website Venezuela Analysis. Written by Correo Del Orinoco International, a Venezuelan news agency, the article reports that Ledezma met not only with Netanyahu, but also with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Commenting on the closed-door meeting he had held with the two Israeli officials, the Caracas mayor is said to have told reporters he had wanted to spread “the message that the Venezuelan nation has respect for Israel,” and also said he had sought to convey “the Venezuelan people’s solidarity with the Jewish community.”
When asked by reporters to comment on Ledezma’s remarks, Lieberman is said to have responded that “nations in the global village of today need reasonable governments that help encourage cooperation among peoples.”
Ledezma made the trip to Israel ostensibly to attend a mayor’s conference, and apparently the trip was funded by the taxpayers of Caracas–even though while in Israel the mayor spoke on behalf of the national opposition’s “Democratic Unity Roundtable” or MUD.
Orinoco also supplies a rather intriguing perspective from a well-known Venezuelan academic and political analyst.
Late last week, Venezuelan philosopher and TV journalist Miguel Angel Perez Pirela denounced the meeting between Ledezma and the Israeli Prime Minister, calling it “further evidence” of opposition plans to “destabilize” the country. Pirela reminded viewers that MUD spokesmen have now met with former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, with right-wing members of the anti-Chavez community in Southern Florida, and, now, with Israel’s Netanyahu.
Pirela explained that Ledezma spent tax-payer funds to ﬁnance his trip to Israel, and used his time in the Middle East to request Israeli support for MUD presidential hopeful Capriles Radonski. In exchange for support, he said, Israel was promised “access to the country’s resources” if the opposition were to somehow take this year’s presidential election.
“He who doesn’t want to see has the right not to; he can joke things off and accuse us of paranoia”, said Pirela, “but this smells rotten”.
“There are strong signs that they [opposition ﬁgures] are showing us the exact location from which the bullets will be ﬁred”, he said, suggesting recent opposition meetings in Colombia, Miami, Florida, and Israel are evidence of a larger opposition strategy to destabilize Venezuela with international support.
That article was published on May 21, 2012. And the rest, as they say, is history. On March 5, 2013–less than a year later–Chavez died of cancer. He was 58 years old. There have been lingering suspicions that the illness was induced.
All of this is not to say that Israel assassinated Chavez. Certainly the US had plenty of reason for wanting him out of the way as well. Moreover, the cancer in Chavez’s body predated Ledezma’s trip to Israel–possibly by as much as a year. Also worth noting–as I did in a previous post–is that Leamsy Salazar, Chavez’s chief bodyguard, defected to the US in 2014 and was placed under a US witness protection program.
Maduro does not seem to be as strong or capable a leader as his predecessor (of course, filling the shoes of Hugo Chavez would be a difficult task for anyone). One of our readers, Ariadna Theokopoulos, a close observer of Latin American politics, put it this way: “Sadly, Maduro is nothing like Chavez. He is a catastrophe. Dithering when he should be decisive and blindly impulsive when he should be cool and calculated, He allowed the Capriles Corporate Cabal to horde and withhold food and basic necessities, which led to dire economic straights. He said he had proof they were doing it but all he did was rant in interminable speeches about ‘imperialist forces.’ Chavez would have acted swiftly: confiscating, nationalizing, as he did in the petroleum industry.”
In a recent debate, here, journalist Eva Golinger, a long-time supporter of the Bolivarian revolution, discussed the public mood in Venezuela today. The debate, aired by Al Jazeera, sought to address the question of whether the country has recently taken an “authoritarian” direction under Maduro–for instance, the government suspended regional and municipal elections late last year and has now taken steps toward drawing up a new constitution.
“There is a hard core of support for the revolution at any cost–that wants to push through this crisis and come out never letting the opposition regain power,” Golinger said. “There are others who would like to see a resolution, who don’t want to give up the achievements that were gained throughout the past 15-17-18 years, but at the same time they don’t want things to continue as they are, and they don’t like Nicholas Maduro and the way that he’s managed the government since Chavez passed away and he was elected.”
Hopefully the revolution will survive. Maduro may not be the perfect leader, but he would be preferable, in my view, to any puppet that might be installed by the US.
There are some admirable leaders on the world stage today. By and large they are the same ones most heavily demonized by the mainstream media. But for standing up and speaking truth to power, Chavez was in a class by himself. He was a friend of the Palestinian people–and gratitude for that friendship was expressed by a Palestinian artist last year on the third anniversary of his death.
It’s interesting she would depict Chavez and Yasser Arafat standing together. Both men were contemporaries, both outspoken critics of Israel, both died within ten years of each other, and both are believed to have been poisoned.
While certainly it’s possible to imagine Zionist connections in areas of conflict where there are none, it is also indisputable that Zionists were fiercely outspoken in their advocacy for the war in Iraq, and that Zionists, likewise, have had a significant hand in events in Syria. Contacts between Israeli officials and the Venezuelan opposition make it reasonable to assume a Zionist link to the destabilization in Venezuela as well, or at the very least that Zionists at the US State Department have played a lead role in formulating US policy toward the country with Israel’s interests in mind.