Latin America Reacts To Israel’s Massacre In Gaza
By Ramona Wadi
In May 2014, the Jerusalem Post reported on Israel’s intentions to seek stronger economic ties with Latin American countries — with a particular focus on Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru — in an attempt to weaken its dependency on Europe.
“We are making a very concentrated and focused effort to vary our markets, from our previous dependence on the European market, to the growing Asian and Latin American markets, in which Israel needs to take a small market share and bring about growth, employment and social welfare in the State of Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at a weekly cabinet meeting.
These efforts were apparently paying off as early as February, when Israel was admitted as an observer nation to the Pacific Alliance, a South American trade alliance composed of Peru, Mexico, Chile, and Colombia. In June, prior to the commencement of the ongoing Operation Protective Edge, Colombia signed free trade agreements with Israel, among other countries.
But upon witnessing the tragedies unleashed by Operation Protective Edge, Latin American countries are now moving to sever diplomatic ties with the settler-colonial state — as some have done in the past — and Chile has already suspended its existing free trade agreements.
“We are declaring Israel a terrorist state”
The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez seems to have triggered a stronger stance in favor of Palestinian rights in Latin America, with various leaders severing ties with Israel or enforcing other detrimental measures.
Speaking about Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Chavez accused Israel of genocide against Palestinians. “The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They’re doing it openly,” he told the French magazine Le Figaro.
Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 elicited more strong statements from Chavez. “Another aggression against the Gaza Strip has begun. Savage, savage: the State of Israel bombing the Gaza Strip again.”
The atrocities inflicted by Israel during Operation Protective Edge — an ongoing mission that has left nearly 2,000 Palestinian civilians dead so far — have unleashed a stronger reaction still. Now, however, that reaction is more widespread, going beyond what is usually expected from Venezuela and Bolivia, which severed diplomatic relations with Israel in the past.
President Maduro - sending medical to Gaza
Like his predecessor, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has insisted on describing Israel’s aggression as an extermination program against the Palestinian population.
In addition, Maduro has declared the intention of the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA) to establish orphanages to shelter Palestinian children whose parents have been killed in Israeli attacks. The shelters, to be named after Venezuela’s late President Chavez, are to be established in each ALBA country — Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Ecuador, Saint Lucia and Dominica.
According to Cubadebate, Venezuela will also be sending medical aid to hospitals in Gaza.
Evo Morales - Israel is a terrorist state
Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales, who had previously called for Israel’s indictment at the International Criminal Court, has cancelled a decades old agreement that allowed Israelis to travel to Bolivia without visas, saying, “in other words, we are declaring Israel a terrorist state.”
Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, and Cuba have also adopted firm positions with regard to diplomatic and economic relations, splintering Israel’s previous ambitions of rendering Latin America complicit in its colonial schemes. Of course, how long such stances last and how steadfast they remain will define the extent of Israel’s isolation from Latin America.
Ecuador, as well as Brazil, Chile, El Salvador and Peru, have all recalled their diplomatic envoys to Israel — a move that has angered Israel and generated even more pretentious rhetoric. According to a news report on Haaretz, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declared the diplomatic move “hasty” and a step that “constitutes encouragement for Hamas, a group recognized as a terror organization by many countries around the world.”
Cuba - stands by Che Guevara's 1959 visit to Gaza
Cuba, meanwhile, remains a constant reference in the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle, with the best manifestation of Cuban solidarity being Che Guevara’s visit to Gaza on June 18, 1959 following the triumph of the Cuban revolution.
Given its penchant for supremacy, these Latin American reactions to Operation Protective Edge have infuriated Israel, which is now regurgitating the usual “terror” discourse in an attempt to win back sympathy for its massacre mission. As always, misrepresenting and manipulating facts is taking precedence in Israeli rhetoric, with the expectation that the entire world will designate Hamas a “terror organization.”
Contrary to what Palmor stated, the diplomatic repercussions befalling Israel are not “a prize” to Hamas, but a collective recognition of the necessity of making Palestinian resistance, self-determination, and land reclamation a reality.