VENEZUELA: Chavez calls for Israeli leaders to face trial
On August 24, several thousand people gathered on the Calvary Steps in the Caracas suburb of El Silencio to hear speakers call for justice for the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples, and to hold up candles for peace in the region. The rally was jointly sponsored by the Latin American Parliament, the Venezuelan National Assembly and the foreign ministry. Speakers included Walter Gaviria, president of the LAP; Cilla Flores; president of the NA; and Pavel Rondon, vice-minister for external relations. On August 25, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez said that Israeli leaders should face war crime charges. Chavez said: "I believe that a genocide has occurred [in Lebanon] and that those in Israel who are responsible should be taken to international tribunals for this genocide." Chavez has blamed the "Israeli elite" and US imperialism for the carnage. During the war, Venezuela recalled its charge d'affaires from Israel, making Chavez a hero across the Middle East.