The economy, insecurity and anti-Semitic attacks contribute to rise in migration
It seems like the Jewish community of Venezuela has started its own diaspora. The figures by the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) show that half of this sector of the population has fled the country for various reasons.
"10 years ago we were 18,000; we are now around 9,500 (members of the Jewish community)", the president of the CAIV, Solomon Cohen, told the Jerusalem Post.
According to the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism, based in Tel Aviv, the number of Jews in Venezuela came to 15,000 in 2008, meaning that in one year, approximately 5,500 have left the country - the majority of Venezuelan Jews.
Cohen explained that there are three reasons why the Jewish community are leaving the country: "First, the economy has not been well for the past 10 years, second security in general is very bad. We have many murders", he says.
According to the president of the CAIV, the third reason for emigration is anti-Semitic attacks. He affirmed that there have been 200 events against the Jewish community.
Cohen Solomon is in Jerusalem, where he presented the report on the reality of the community to the World Jewish Congress. The security issue of the Venezuelan Jewish population was addressed.
"The biggest concern for Venezuela's Jewish community is its fear that some of the statements by the President, Hugo Chavez, be transformed into a situation of violence against Jews", he told the Jewish News Agency, Saul Gilvich, general secretary American Jewish Congress.
The President of the Delegation of Israeli Associations of Argentina (DAIA), Aldo Donzis, confirmed that "there is a permanent concern" within the Jewish community of Venezuela because of the constant anti-Semitic manifestations in the press".
Indeed, the latest report published by the Stephen Roth Institute on Anti-Semitism in Venezuela - for 2008-2009 - mentions that most anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist expressions come from circles close to the President, Hugo Chávez, and details the comments made officials and supporters of the president in the state-owned media.
However, the president of the CAIV stresses the need to maintain dialogue with the Venezuelan government, which had a breakthrough with Chavez's meeting with world leaders and representatives of the Jewish community of Venezuela on August 13, 2008.
"We have direct communication with government departments responsible for providing security", said Cohen, adding that those lines of communication are well established, "although we wish we had more than that".
Meanwhile, the Israeli government monitors the situation. The Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rafael Barak, and the Minister of Public Affairs and Diaspora, Yuli Edelstein, both attended the World Jewish Congress.
1 day ago