The statement below was issued on January 15 by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). For more information, visit http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org. Since this statement was released, the Ecuadorian government of President Rafael Correa has condemned Israel's "crimes against humanity" and advocated sanctions be applied. In the Arab world, Qatar and Mauritania have suspended diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.
With his decision on January 15 decision to break off all diplomatic ties with Israel "given the inhumane persecution of the Palestinian people", Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez has once again demonstrated just why he has become a hero to Palestinians — and leader for all those peoples struggling for freedom and justice around the world.
The move comes one week after Venezuela's decision to expel the Israeli ambassador.
"I would like to be able to give Chavez a Palestinian passport so he could become a Palestinian citizen. Then we would elect him and he would become our president", said Mahmud Zwahreh, mayor of Al-Masar, a community near Bethlehem where 8000 people live in poverty.
Chavez — who is under constant attack from the United States administration for leading a revolution of the poor and dispossessed in Venezuela — has publicly denounced the Israeli military as a "killing arm" of US imperialism.
"The yankee empire has no mercy and the evidence is what they are supporting in Gaza, where a real slaughter, bombardments every 15 minutes and a ground invasion are taking place; this is all supported by the current government of the United States", he said on January 6.
Venezuela's foreign minister Nicolas Maduro told Al-Jazeera television that "the criminals who govern Israel have carried out a holocaust against Palestinians for 60 years", and Venezuela is using every forum available to demand that Israel immediately end its invasion and occupation of Gaza and the murder of thousands of people.
Venezuela, in cooperation with the Arab and Muslim community and other Latin American countries, is sending cargo planes with more than 90 tonnes of medicines, food, drinking water and milk, among other items, for the people of Gaza.
Within Venezuela, the US-backed right-wing opposition has attacked this humanitarian action, saying that Chavez is giving away money Venezuela needs to face the world economic crisis.
"If the world had any conscience, the president of Israel should be taken before an international court, together with the president of the United States", Chavez said.
The AVSN joins with the revolutionary government of Venezuela to demand that Israel immediately cease its attacks and withdraw all military personnel from Gaza, and to urge the United Nations to apply the numerous resolutions adopted in favour of the Palestinian people, and against the state violence practiced by the government of Israel, as the only path towards a lasting peace.
The Venezuelan government has been almost alone among world governments in expressing unqualified solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemning Israel's brutal and criminal attacks on Palestine.
Alongside Cuba (whose socialist government has never acknowledged the state of Israel) and Bolivia (where revolutionary President Evo Morales has also cut off all diplomatic ties as well as demanded that Israel's leaders be tried for war crimes), Venezuela is leading an "axis of good" against imperialism and for peace with justice in Latin America, the Middle East and the rest of the world.
For this, Chavez is hated by the imperialist leaders, who are conducting a permanent war of propaganda, sabotage and violence against the Venezuelan revolution.
We urge all people in Australia taking action in solidarity with the Palestinian people to also express their support for the principled actions of Hugo Chavez and his government by joining the AVSN.