March 11, 2013 – Paris – AJC has called “unacceptable” a French government minister’s remarks after the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas.
"Chavez is a combination of de Gaulle and Blum,” said Victorin Lurel, the French Minister for Overseas Territories, referring, respectively, to the former French president and pre-World War II prime minister. “The world benefits from dictators like Hugo Chavez, who, for 14 years respected human rights.” Lurel represented France at the funeral.
Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of AJC Paris, said: “It is incomprehensible that a minister of the French Republic would praise an authoritarian regime, and compare its late leader, Hugo Chavez, to General de Gaulle and Leon Blum."
Chavez, who had called "Zionist Venezuelan Jews accomplices to a bloodthirsty and genocidal entity, which is the state of Israel," and publicly supported Iranian President Ahmadinejad, should not have been honored by any French minister, she said.
“After years of Chavez rule, Venezuela is at the bottom of world rankings for basic freedoms and human rights," said Rodan-Benzaquen. “Chavez used demagoguery, referendums and other legal mechanisms to destroy Venezuela’s vital democratic institutions and independence of the media.”