SYRIA: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez slams Israel during Damascus visit
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The notoriously fiery Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took on Israel on Thursday during a joint press conference in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad, calling the Jewish state ‘genocidal,’ ‘anti-peace’ and accusing it of implementing ‘America’s imperialist policies.’ Chavez, a vocal leftist, went on to praise the Syrian people as the ‘architects and designers of the resistance,’ condemning American and European hegemony and the ‘unipolar’ world order, according to the official Syrian news agency, SANA.
The Venezuelan president is currently on an 11-day international tour, including stops in Libya, Algeria, Iran, Belarus and Russia.
For his part, Assad questioned Israel’s commitment to peace, describing the Israeli siege on Gaza as a ‘massacre against all Palestinians.’
He went on to talk about the similarities between the Arab and Latin American people, especially their ‘tendency toward strong independence from colonialism, old and new.’
Both Caracas and Damascus have adopted some form of moderate socialism, although in recent years Chavez has moved his country further left while Al-Assad has made efforts to open Syria to foreign investment and privatization.
The other thing the two countries have in common, besides strained relations with the United States, is oil. During his visit, Chavez reportedly signed a number of agreements, including a plan for a joint refinery in Syria.
On Friday, Chavez visited the Syrian city of Sweida where he was met by cheering crowds for the inauguration of newly named Venezuelan Republic Street. Venezuela is home to about a million Syrian emigres, many of them from Sweida.
-- Meris Lutz in Beirut
Assad in Damascus in April. Credit: Hassan Ammar / Associated Press