Chavez, Ahmadinejad differ on Holocaust

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said

he does not agree with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s assertion that the Holocaust never occurred.

In an interview Sept. 24 with CNN’s Larry King, Chavez, who used his recent trip to the United Nations as a pulpit to criticize Israel, stopped short of condemning the Iranian president, whom Chavez has said is among Venezuela’s closest allies.

“I do not deny the Jewish Holocaust. And I condemn it,” Chavez said. “But in South America, when the Europeans arrived, there were close to 90 million Indians; 200 years later, we only had 4 million remaining. That was a holocaust. And the Europeans denied this holocaust.”

Chavez, who severed diplomatic relations with Israel last January following its military offensive in Gaza, accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza during his speech Sept. 24 to the U.N. General Assembly. Chavez said his criticisms were directed toward the government of Israel and not its citizens. On King’s show, Chavez continued to criticize Israel, calling it a “war-mongering” country. — jta