Bolivian President Apologizes to Argentine Jews for Iranian’s Visit
By Dialogo July 06, 2011
Bolivian President Evo Morales apologized to the Argentine Jewish community on 1 July and characterized as a “very serious mistake” the visit to his country by Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, accused of involvement in the attack on the Jewish mutual-aid society AMIA, with eighty-five dead.
“Evo Morales said that he had been surprised by what happened (the Iranian’s visit). He told us that it had been a very serious mistake, and he apologized to us,” AFP was told by Aldo Donzis, president of the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA), who met with the president in a Buenos Aires hotel.
Vahidi has been charged by the Argentine courts as one of the planners of the attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA), which left eighty-five dead and three hundred wounded, in Buenos Aires on 18 July 1994.
Donzis communicated to Morales the disquiet provoked by the episode that took place on 31 May, when Vahidi spent several hours in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (in eastern Bolivia), where he participated in a military ceremony presided over by the Bolivian president.
“We appreciate President Morales’s attitude enormously; it’s not common for a head of state to apologize, although we would have preferred that there had not been a reason for this meeting,” he added.
On that occasion, in response to the Argentine foreign ministry’s protest, the Bolivian government sent a letter of apology and affirmed that it had taken steps to see to it that the Iranian minister left Bolivian territory immediately.
“Vahidi deserved to have been detained in Bolivia, but since we can’t go back, this meeting (with Morales) is very important,” Donzis affirmed.
At Argentina’s request, Interpol maintains an open international request seeking the arrest of the Iranian defense minister, who was the commandant of the Al-Quds Force and the Revolutionary Guard Corps at the time of the attack.
Other former Iranian government officials who have been accused are former president Ali Rafsanjani (1989-1997) and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, among others.
The meeting with Morales was requested by DAIA, the leading political organization of the Argentine Jewish community, Latin America’s most numerous with 300,000 members.
According to Donzis, during the meeting with Morales they agreed to “work together on tolerance and inclusion.”
The attack on AMIA was the most serious in Argentine history and took place two years after the explosion that destroyed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, with twenty-nine dead and more than two hundred wounded.