Israel, and A Soundbite’s Daring Dig at a Dictator


Something’s going on when a Venezuelan non-governmental organization uses Israel to criticize Hugo Chavez with a daring soundbite. Reuters writes:

Homicides in Venezuela have quadrupled during President Hugo Chavez’s 11 years in power, with two people murdered every hour, according to new figures from a non-governmental organization.

The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), whose data is widely followed in the absence of official statistics, said the South American nation has one of the highest crime rates on the continent, with 54 homicides per 100,000 citizens in 2009 . . . .

That means Venezuela experiences every month about as many deaths as occurred in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s early 2009 offensive, Briceno said.

It’s a very gutsy dig at the Venezuelan leader — not only because critizing Chavez is risky business. The edge has to do with the fact that “El Commandante” expelled Israel’s ambassador in Caracas over the Gaza war and pressured the Jewish community to denounce the military operations.

More worrisome, though, is what this might mean for Venezuela’s Jewish community. Recently, the Organization of American States’ human rights watchdog found:

A report by the human rights watchdog of the Organization of American States warns of a possible “threat to the life and physical integrity of the Jewish community in Venezuela” due to the Chavez regime’s violations of the political and human rights of its citizens.

The Israel comparison reflects a desparation on the part of OVV. It’s a powerful soundbite Reuters could not have missed.