Ahmadinejad’s warm reception

Ahmadinejad’s warm reception by allies in Latin America met with criticism

13 January 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad completed his controversial tour of Latin America. Speaking in Ecuador, the he claimed the United States and its supporters were using nuclear allegations against Iran as a “political excuse,” saying: “I declare officially that Latin America is not the backyard of the United States of America anymore.” In Quito, Ahmadinejad got a bear hug from Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa. The Iranian president thanked Correa for his solidarity and said that „the era of imperialism and global arrogance is over.”

The president of Quito’s chamber of commerce, Blasco Penaherrera, criticized the visit, calling the foreign policy of Ecuador’s leftist president irresponsible. „It is going to make it much more difficult to make progress with our principal market, the United States,” he said.

Ahmadinejad also visited his friend Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, in Caracas, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega in Managua, and Cuban leader Raúl Castro in Havanna. In Cuba, the Iranian leader – who is shunned by most world statesmen – also held talks with Raúl Castro’s brother Fidel, 85, and gave a lecture at the University of Havanna.

The Latin American Jewish Congress strongly criticized Ahmadinejad’s visit to the region. In a statement, the Jewish umbrella body said: “In the last century, Jews witnessed two events that profoundly marked it: the Holocaust, in which a third of world Jewry was murdered by the Nazis, and the establishment of the State of Israel, which represented the fulfillment of a millennial hope of the Jewish people, who two thousand years earlier had been driven into exile. In both respects, Latin America played a positive role. After the war, the countries in our region embraced the survivors of the Holocaust, and Latin American countries’ votes UN allowed Israel to be recognized as an independent state by the United Nations.

„Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s visit to the region is a clear clash with both facts of history: He denies the Holocaust, and he calls for the destruction of Israel. Therefore, for Jewish communities in Latin America this president is not welcome – and he should not be welcomed by people of all faiths who value democracy, mutual respect, justice and life. He is not welcome, and will not be as long as he continues with his hateful statements and refuses to surrender for trial those accused of being responsible for the terrible, Iranian-led terror attack in Buenos Aires in 1994, which left so many victims still yearning for justice.”