The Latin American Jewish Congress is holding its General Assembly in Venezuela "to strengthen the link with a community in difficulties. World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder is scheduled to address the meeting in the Venezuelan capital, which began on Sunday. Lauder is expected to raise the issue of anti-Semitism and of the threat posed by Iran.
LAJC officials will meet on Tuesday with Venezuela's Vice-President Nicolás Maduro. In December, President Hugo Chávez declared that Maduro would serve as interim president in case he could assume his new term in office because of his recurring illness. Chávez is currently recovering from a cancer surgery in Cuba.
Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins told JTA that he would continue to work for a strengthening of interreligious dialogue, for Jewish and Muslim regional communities to use their coexistence as an example to help bring about peace in the Middle East, and to support Jewish youth participation in politics through the LAJC's New Generations program, which already in operation in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
During this week's meeting the organization's agenda for 2013-2014 will be set and new officers will be elected. The Brazilian Jack Terpins is running for another term as head of the WJC's Latin American chapter. Delegates from all of the LAJC's member communities in Central and South America are present in Caracas.
Argentina will have, for first time, two LAJC vice-presidents, one from the national Jewish umbrella organization DAIA and another from AMIA, the Buenos Aires Jewish Community organization. Also for the first time, both Argentine institutions will present a joint paper about the Argentine government 's current negotiations with Iran on the 1994 AMIA bombing case. It focuses on advancing the cause in the judiciary field rather than through politics or diplomatic negotiations.
In recent years, the Venezuelan Confederation of Jewish Associations has expressed concern about anti-Semitic statements in Venezuela's state media and asked President Chávez's administration to ensure security at the country's synagogues.
Picture above: Meeting of WJC and LAJC leaders with President Hugo Chávez in 2008