In January of this year, Bolivia severed ties with Israel in retaliation for its operations in Gaza. Prior to this, Bolivia had a cordial and beneficial relationship with Israel. Bolivia’s relationship goes back to its vote for the establishment of Israel on November 29, 1947. For many years there was an Israeli embassy in Bolivia and many Bolivians were given scholarships and grants to study in Israel. Needless to say, things are now at an all-time low.
Bolivia is not the only nation in South America willing to greet Ahmadinejad with open arms. He has just come from a very cordial meeting with President Lula da Silva of Brazil. He continued on to Caracas to meet his brother in arms, Hugo Chavez. The new relationship that Iran has forged with Brazil legitimizes the Ahmadinejad regime more than many of its relationships with “third world” countries. As one of the world’s largest economies, Brazil is just the partner that Iran is looking for on the world stage. Its ongoing relationships with Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador are predictable, as this group has made an anti-imperialist alliance. The participation of Brazil in this group of Iran supporters, however, is something new.
Argentina is one of the only countries in the region that continues to resist the overtures of Iran in South America. Iran’s recently appointed minister of defense, the terrorist Ahmad Vahidi, is wanted by Interpol and the Argentinian government for the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) bombing in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994. His appointment as minister of defense last year was viewed by Argentina as a direct affront to their ongoing investigation of the AMIA bombing.
In a pilgrimage that commemorates the history of the Jews in Bolivia, Carlos Aliaga also goes to the rural region of Coroico and to the Jewish cemetery in La Paz. As he remembers the Holocaust and the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany, he hopes that history will not repeat itself and that the Bolivian people are not as quick to embrace Ahmadinejad and his totalitarian ideology as the Germans were with Hitler.
If we remain indifferent to the deniers of history like Ahmadinejad, we run the risk that other events are denied: that Genghis Khan and his armies invaded the Middle East in the 13 century; the abuses of the indigenous peoples of America by the Spanish conquerors; the Incas’ attempt to decimate the Urus and the Chipayas; the dead and disappeared of the military dictatorships of the ’70s and ’80s in Latin America; the deaths of more than one million Cambodians during the terror of Pol Pot; the killings in Darfour, etc.