Caracas mayor: Venezuela will restore Israel ties if Chavez falls (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Itamar Eichner Published: 05.13.12, 15:50)
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Antonio Ledezma, who is in Israel for mayors´ conference in
Jerusalem, tells Yedioth Ahronoth diplomatic relations will be
reestablished if opposition candidate defeats Chavez: ´Our country
was one of the to recognize your independence´
Venezuela does not want its "historic" relationship with Israel to
collapse, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma told Yedioth Ahronoth in a
special interview published Sunday.
Ledezma (57), who attended last week´s mayors´ conference in
Jerusalem, said the purpose of his visit to Israel was "not to defy
the existing government (in Venezuela), but to present issues that
are important to me as a person who believes in democracy and freedom
of expression. I fear that Venezuela´s democratic values will be
The mayor 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
Venezuela severed its diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009
following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Ledezma refrained from
criticizing Chavez directly, but he did say that "in contrast to the
current political policy in Venezuela, I wish to convey the message
that the Venezuelan nation has respect for Israel.
"I don’t want to launch a personal attack, but a leader´s
responsibilities go beyond his personal opinions," the mayor
said. "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."
Ledezma defeated Chavez´s candidate in the 2008 mayoral race in
Caracas. Subsequent to his election, the Venezuelan National Assembly
passed a Capital District Law that transferred most functions,
funding, and personnel of the Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas to a new
Venezuelan Capital District, headed by an official directly appointed
´Disinformation on Chavez´s condition confusing´
Ledezma demanded a referendum on the legislation, but his attempt to
stop the transfer failed. To protest the move, he launched a hunger
strike and even announced his candidacy for president. However, he
withdrew his candidacy after failing to gain the support of
Venezuela´s largest opposition party.
Eventually, the opposition parties rallied around Enrique Capriles
Radonski, who is expected to run against Chavez in the next
elections, which are scheduled for October 7, 2012.
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.
"Personal attacks of a racist nature are inappropriate in any
political campaign in Venezuela or any other country in the
democratic world," said, Ledezma, whose wife is Radonski´s cousin.
"I´m certain that Radonski´s new government will reestablish ties
with Israel," he told Yedioth Ahronoth, adding that Venezuela
was "one of the first countries to recognize your independence."
Asked whether the opposition has a chance of seizing power in
Venezuela, the Caracas mayor said "I believe the opposition´s chances
are equal (to Chavez´s) and even greater, mostly because it is
bringing a message of renewal to all of Venezuela. I want to believe
that the current government will allow democratic elections."
Ledezma, who is visiting Israel for the first time, said the Jewish
community in Venezuela has diminished, "not because of anti-Semitism,
but mostly due to the problems the entire Venezuelan people are
suffering from: An economic recession, a drop in the level of
personal security and a general atmosphere that hurts the average
"As mayor I respect all of Caracas´ communities and appreciate the
Jewish community´s contribution," he said.
Addressing the conflicting reports surrounding Chavez´s battle with
cancer, Ledezma said, "I´m confused by the disinformation that is
published (in Venezuela), so it´s hard to tell. The truth is that
everything is in god´s hands." (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet
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