A diplomatic cable from Caracas (published by Wikileaks today) confirms that the Galuth is no place for Jews. Once, the Jews of Venezuela were the wealthiest of Latin America, prospering with the oil boom and a growing economy. Many Jews from Argentina emmigrated to Venezuela and picked up the dollar bills that were metaphorically covering the pavement. I remember a friend of my parents who started to make ugly vynil handbags in Caracas and almost instantly became very rich.
Things changed radically with Hugo Chavez, to the point that most of the Jews have emigrated to Miami and the rest are begging protection from the US Ambassador in Caracas. A cable reveals that leaders of the Jewish community of Venezuela complained to Ambassador Meyer about having to meet with the foreign minister rather than the interior minister to raise their concerns, giving the impression that they were perceived as foreigners. The Jewish leaders said they were worried they would be turned into second-class citizens (sic!) and asked to strengthen ties with the US Embassy in case of an outburst of violence against the community (that is, they were expecting pogroms and begged for American protection).
Given the ongoing sense of threat, CAIV members agreed on the need for close relations with the US and other embassies as a form of diplomatic protection for the Jewish community.This reminds me of the Jews in Damascus hundred and fify years ago, when they begged European consuls to grant them some kind of extra-territorial status hoping for protection. And the Budapest ghetto in 1944-45, when Jews didn't dare to walk the street without protection papers from the Red Cross, the Swedish or the Swiss Consulate, the Vatican, or from anyone still respected by the local Nazi criminals. Pic.: The Swedish "Wallenberg" Schutz-Pass, that saved the lives of hundreds of Hungarian Jews.
The shocking truth is that the American Ambassador in Caracas is reporting current events, not something that happened long ago. Living "physical" Jews are begging in our days for some kind of American schutz-pass. They are not picturesque folk schtetl-Jews speaking in nasal Yiddisch "jargon" (toward whom young American Jews may feel little empathy), but regular professionals and businessmen one meets in the street. They are people like me and they. It needs little imagination to see that this can happen to any other Jew anywhere in the diaspora.
Another angle of the secret report of Jewish community leaders meeting with the American Ambassador in Caracas is how the local dictator Hugo Chavez will react to it. He may perceive the Jews meeting with the "enemy" as confirmation that they are unreliable Venezuelans and a foreign element in the Bolivarian Venezuela he is striving to build. Wikileaks publication harms Venezuelan Jews, but also destroys illusions and forces us to look at reality as it is. Which, for Jews in the Galuth, is not rosy.